Monday, August 27, 2007

The insanity of ATX power supplies

On Friday, the power supply for my work station gave up with a fizzle. This morning, a new power supply was delivered to me and I started mounting it. Doing anything hardware-related in a modern PC is painful, but this seemed unusually stupid.

The power supply in itself is mounted in the chassis with four screws, all of them easily accessible from the back of the computer. So far, so good. In the other end of the power supply, inside the computer, a tangled octopus of cables sprouts. Most of them are equipped with multiple connectors along the length of the cable. Lots of these cables are strapped to the chassis in hard-to-reach places or pulled through tiny holes that are hard to reach, and that force you to wiggle those damn connectors long and well before being able to pry the cables out.

One good thing should be noted: all the cables have different connectors that can't be forced into the wrong socket, and the connectors are not symmetrical to the only way the connectors fit is the right way.

A bad thing was that it wasn't possible to get the old power supply out or the new one in without using force to bend a couple of the petals of the huge cooler thingy that is attached to the CPU.

The old power supply has the following stuff coming out of it:

  • Big cable for the motherboard.
  • Smallish cable also for the motherboard, but in a different place.
  • Another pretty big cable that I don't know what it's for.
  • Very small cable which is actually labled(!): "PSU FAN MONITER CONNECTOR" (sic!).
  • Cable with two SATA disk power connectors.
  • Cable with two regular hard disk power connectors.
  • Cable with two regular hard disk power connectors and a floppy power connector.
  • Cable with three regular hard disk power connectors and a floppy power connector.
  • Cable with two regular hard disk power connectors, but labeled "FAN ONLY".

Not surprisingly, my work station does not actually have nine hard disks or other media devices, and neither does it have two floppy drives. There are several meters of cables here that won't ever be used.

I wonder how long it will be until someone comes up with the idea that a power supply only needs one cable, connected to the chassis. The cables can then be integrated in the chassis, with small cables sticking out in drive bays, close to the motherboard power connector, etc. Having to subdue an octopus just to exchange a computer component feels unneccessary.

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1 comment:

Anton Ymer said...

Good point. Also, the power supply should be left outside the chassis. There should be no need for an extra heat source in the ATX-box. A single massive +/-12V/5V connector should suffice.