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picoPSU Review

This picoPSU is probably the world’s smallest ATX power supply. If you are building a small computer, where small form factor is of the essence, then this tiny little PSU could be something very interesting to you. Particularly so if you’re using one of those really small enclosures, such as the M350 universal mini-ITX enclosure I reviewed previously.

In small embedded computers, you’re likely to go with a very low powered system.  An Atom board, for example, is unlikely to draw more than 20 W of power. You don’t want to use an over-sized PSU as it’ll be very inefficient. However, you’ll be hard pressed to find any conventional PSU under 200 W. That’s where a tiny PSU like this one becomes very useful. This picoPSU is rated for just 80 W.

In case you’re wondering, 80 W is plenty enough for even some mainstream Intel Core i3 desktop processors. For example, the Intel Core i3-3250T Processor has a max TDP of 35 W, and there are desktops built with power supply specs of just 65 W.

The other thing is about fitting in a small form factor enclosure. You might not even have dedicated space at all to fit a PSU in enclosures like the M350. This is one fascinating feature of the picoPSU. It’s so tiny, it simply sits on a tiny PCB attached to the 20-pin ATX power connector.

The picoPSU is a DC-DC power supply, requiring a 12 VDC input. This means you do have to use a AC-DC adapter outside the enclosure. Yes, I know, you may be thinking that it’s just moving the bulk to some place else. That’s partly true. But you got to admit this does let you build a small tiny computer. Don’t forget the better power efficiency of using a right-sized PSU.

Conclusion

This is the go-to PSU for tiny embedded or small computer projects.

Pros:

  • Really tiny, doesn’t use any dedicated PSU space

Cons:

  • Needs an external AC-DC adapter

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