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Types of PC Power Supplies

Date Added: May 19, 2012 10:03:02 AM
Author: Pams
Category: Business: Engineering

There is no doubting that a power supply is one of the most important factors to a computer running well. It is what converts the electricity from the wall into usable electricity for your computer. You will notice though that with a laptop it is slightly different than with a desktop. With a laptop, you have to have the electricity go through another adapter before it is used by the computer. Understanding the different types of power supplies can really help you find replacement parts for your computer, or just upgrades from the current setup that you have for power.

AT & ATX Power Supplies

In the world of power for computers, there are two major suppliers—AT and ATX. The main difference between the two is that the AT supply is used for most of the older computers. The ATX supply is the latest and greatest in the industry, and has allowed us to keep up with the evolving world of computers. You would be amazed at the difference between the two of them; it is almost night and day. You would also notice the addition of sleep mode and things of that nature. This is where we can conserve energy or turn of the computer without having to push a button. It was certainly quite innovative for it’s time.


The one golden rule throughout the computer hardware industry is that these two power supplies are not compatible with each other’s motherboards. So, you could use an old AT supply on a new ATX compatible motherboard. You could risk doing a lot of damage to the computer attempting to do so. You could also end up damaging the computer processor, and thus the idea of saving a few bucks by going with the older supply doesn’t seem so wise after that.

How Can You Tell Which One You Have?

It is fairly simple to tell which one you have. If your computer was not made in the late 90s, then you probably have ATX. 1997 is the year that they decided to make the switch, so if your computer was made after that, you have the newer supply of the two. If your computer was made before that, you can bet that you have the AT supply. You can also tell by the fact that your computer supports sleep mode and other modern functions. As this narrows it down to ATX really quickly.

What Does It All Mean?

At the end of the day knowing which power supply that you have doesn’t make too big of a difference to the average user. Although, if you plan on upgrading your computer anytime soon piece by piece instead of buying a new computer, you are probably going to want to make sure you upgrade the power supply as well to match up with the demand of the new parts you have installed. Many people upgrade everything else on their computer and forget to upgrade the power, leaving them with hardware problems later on because they don’t have the right setup.

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