ATX Power Supplies Fans

ATX Power Supplies Fans

ATX or Advanced Technology eXtended refers to a form factor specifying the interconnectivity requirements between processing units or mother boards, power supplies units, and computer cases. Developed by the Intel Corporation in 1995 to upgrade the older AT (Advanced Technology) specification, ATX represented significant improvements in the standardization of connectors and parts as well as significantly lowered costs.

Typically the ATX form factor includes a number of different components including the power supply unit or PSU, pin-out connector cables, which come in a variety of different models, cables for connecting to the electrical mains and cooling fans which draw air through the chassis of the machine.

The ATX specification has gone through a number of different iterations and updates since 1995, with the current version (ATX12V v2.3) boasting significant efficiency improvements and lowering the minimum 12V load requirements.

Understanding Power Supplies for the ATX form factor

In order to update or replace power supply units under the ATX specification, it’s important to have a few different pieces of information. ATX defines some of the important specifications of how mother boards, power supply units and computer cases are connected and organized depending on the physical dimensions of the computer, the mounting point, the input and output panels, the power unit and the connector interfaces.

Depending on these characteristics, ATX specifies how the system should be organized to ensure maximum efficiency of power use and safety of the components.

The power supply fan is a key component of this form factor. Under the original ATX specification, the power supply was to be located in close proximity to the motherboard, with the power supplies’ cooling fan drawing air outside the chassis of the machine and expelling it directly onto the processing unit.

However, in later versions of the ATX form factor, this has been altered, with the power supply fans now typically drawing hot air from within the computer case and expelling it outside the chassis.

PSUs can also make use of a number of different connector interchanges depending on the machine—this is another important factor to identify when considering replacing or updating your power supply unit. Some of the basic types include:

  • The 20 pin ATX connector, one of the first and most common configurations for power supplies unit.
  • The 24 pin ATX connector, a similar configuration to the above, typically for use with a 430 watt or 500 watt power supply.
  • The P4 ATX connector, designed specifically for use with motherboards possessing an Intel Pentium 4 processor.
  • The 8 pin CPU connector, similar to the 4 pin connector described above, available for a number of different wattages.

Home replacement and safety

When replacing any of the components of your power supply unit, whether the fan, the connector, the fuses or the cables, it’s important to remember to first disconnect the power cables from the mains and the unit.

However, even after it is disconnected, it is not uncommon for PSUs to retain a small charge, which can give a nasty shock if the components are not properly grounded before beginning work.