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Fortron Source FSP350-PN(PF) power supply review

Author: Vidar Langberget.
Posted : 2004-03-03 12:27:58.0
Category :


In the last couple of years, the PC market has changed from being almost 100% performance focussed, to becoming very noise conscious. While delta fans running at 7000rpms were accepted a few years ago, even fans running at 3000rpms are considered noisy today. This combined with the rapidly rising power requirements from todays high-end components, the performance, cooling and noise of power supplies have become a central issue in an enthusiasts buying decision.

The FSP Group that produces the Fortron Source power supplies are one of the leading power supply manufacturers in the world. Their headquarters is based in Taiwan, but their main production facilities are located in mainland China. Their 30 production lines are capable of producing 2 million power supplies each MONTH. That should give you some sense of their size.. Many OEMs have been using their power supplies for many years. AOpen for example have used their power supplies in their cases. One of the reasons for their popularity is the extremely low failure rate. Their corporate goal is less than 1% failure rate. In reality, the real failure rate is a lot lower than that.

The reason for the low failure rate most likely stem from their extensive testing of all power supplies they produce. All PSUs go through 6 test stations on their production lines. While some of the test stations only perform relatively small tests, all PSUs go through a burn-in test. For 2 hours they are tested with 80% of their rated output in temperatures between 35-45 degrees Celsius. Then they are turned on and off every twenty seconds for half an hour. A few pictures from these tests:

All PSUs also go through what is called Hi-Pot testing, which is shorthand for high-potensial testing. It involves sending high voltage electrical signal into the PSU, to see if the insulation in the PSU is effective. This is one of the most widely used safety tests for PSUs.

The reason Fortron Source have become such a well known brand in the enthusiast market is their power supplies with 120mm fans. As one of the first on the market with low-cost 120mm power supplies, they became a good alternative for anyone looking for a relatively silent PSU. The FSP350-PN(PF) that I'll be reviewing is a 350w PSU with a 120mm fan. 120mm PSUs have become so popular because the added airflow in a 120mm fan compared to a 80mm or 92mm fan means that it can run at lower RPMs, and therefore produce less noise. The rear of the PSU has a lot of holes in it, to improve airflow:

As you may have noticed, the model number of the PSU Im testing has a PF at the end. This means that the PSU have built in power factor correction. Power factor correction improves the efficiency of the power distribution, i.e. when you are distributing electricity you loose a fraction of it when you transport it around the power grid. With PFC, you minimize that loss. The loss you experience is normally lost as heat. There are two types of PFC, Active PFC and Passive PFC. Active PFC uses a circuit to correct the power factor, while passive uses a filter on the incoming AC input. Active PFC is more efficient than passive, but it is also more expensive. The FSP350-PN(PF) uses passive PFC to keep costs down.

A picture of the fan inside the PSU:

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