PC User On Reddit Exposes Dirty Trick Cheap PSU Makers Employ To Dupe Consumers

Inside view of a power supply unit (PSU) with its cover removed.
A user on Reddit who goes by the handle RedditCringe990 posted some interesting images of the inside of an off-brand power supply unit (PSU), and it serves as a reminder of why you should never cheap out when buying one of the most important (and underrated) parts of your PC. It doesn't matter if it's a modest build or a budget system, it's just not worth the risk—go name brand or bust.

Speaking of risk and things you should never do, before we get into the details, let's get a disclaimer out of the way. Don't open up your PSU, or any PSU for that matter. It can hold a dangerous charge even when unplugged. If it's not working or something's wrong, contact the manufacturer or the place you bought it from for a resolution, rather than risking shock by mucking around inside.

So, what exactly are we looking at here? It's a cheap Equites T500 PSU with a 500W rating. We're not sure what prompted RedditCringe990 to open it up, but upon doing so, he found this damning piece of evidence...

Tin of metal shavings next to an opened power supply unit.

What you're looking at is a block of iron filings. In case you're wondering, the answer is 'Yes' it would be highly unusual to find a tin of metal shavings sitting inside your PSU. There's only one possible purpose, and that's to artificially add weight to the PSU.

in the old days before online shopping shoved brick and mortar stores aside, the weight of a PSU could be an indicator of quality. That was never a hard-and-fast rule, but the theory was that weightier PSUs employed heavy duty parts and/or more parts overall, and could be trusted more than a lightweight unit.

That can still apply to some extent, though these days you won't really know how heavy a PSU is until it's delivered to your door. Before you buy a PSU, however, you should research the specific model, which should reveal more about its reliability than the weight. Otherwise you could end up with a unit like this one.

Several people on Reddit chimed in with their own thoughts.

"That is not a 500W PSU. In fact, I'd barely call it a PSU. It has no input protection, no output protection, doesn't seem to have an OCP controller (you'd see the shunts) or anything a PSU needs. Heck, there's no class-Y capacitor, no inrush limiting, and I'm fairly sure those two resistors aren't discharge resistors," Reddit user Hattix posted in the thread.

"If you add up its current output, it can do 168 watts on 12 V, 70 watts on 5V, and 43 watts on 3.3V, which gets you to 281 watts. This is a common total for a 250 wat PSU: Even its label says it is not 500 watts! Notice how it has no regulatory conformance marks. If you plug that in, you invalidate your home insurance and if you sell it, you're breaking the law more or less anywhere. Best used with salt, a stake, and a lawyer. Do not use that PSU," Hattix added.

We're not sure about the legalities, but we certainly concur that this PSU exposed on Reddit should not be used. Our advice? Stick to name brands (Corsair, EVGA, Seasonic, and Super Flower, to name just a few), research potential models, and avoid unknown and/or generic brands no matter how enticing the price. And if you're curious about how much juice you need, use an online PSU calculator for a rough estimate.
Tags:  PSU, Power Supply