Spire SP-ATX-350WT-PFC – 350W “Jewel” review

Input filtering

The SP-ATX-350WT-PFC is not even cheaped-out on the input filtering. Well, not completely at least. It has one film X capacitor and two ceramic capacitors directly at the input receptacle. But the ceramic capacitors do not have Y safety rating!! That is one point down. What makes disassembly of the unit easier are the connectors for the input wires and PFC coil. The grounding is somewhat poorer though, it relies on a single screw in one of the corners of the main PCB.


Some other components are on the main board – two more ceramic caps (also not safety types), single film cap and common-mode choke. The varistors near the input capacitors are not present and the thermistor is replaced by a piece of wire.


The X capacitors (between the live and neutral) and Y capacitors (between live and ground/neutral and ground) are used to filter out high-frequency ripple that emanates from the power grid. That is the noise of which manifests in the form of feedback from electronic devices which lack adequate filtering due to cost cutting. But also from devices where filtering was very difficult to implement (powerful devices, e.g. microwave ovens). It also prevents ripple from this unit itself from feeding back into the grid.

Chokes are used for the same reason, and together with the X/Y capacitors they form an input filter. Such filters are often made as one component, they may also be integrated together with AC receptacle. These components may also (partially) help to filter smaller voltage spikes in the power grid. To suppress more serious spikes (for example from distant lightning strikes hitting the power grid), the MOV (metal-oxide varistor) is used. Thermistor is then used to suppress current spikes when first connecting the unit to power (i.e. flipping the power switch).

The Y capacitors are also often situated between the high-voltage primary and the low-voltage secondary sides. These days, more Y capacitors are used even between primary common (ground after an input rectifier) and earth ground to suppress internal interference and keep it from getting to the secondary side. It is because really high-frequency ripple goes everywhere it can to some extent (including coupling through the insulation, metal casing etc…). That is also why the AC wires themselves are often inserted through the ferrite toroid inductor (to suppress such coupling).

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7