Difference Between High Quality Power Adapters and Cheap AC Adapters

Currently there are more and more companies selling ultra-low cost laptop ac adapters in market.  These power adapter sellers base their business model on selling the lowest cost laptop chargers that they can obtain.  The problem is that to reduce cost, the factories use cheaper materials and also omit important filtering and safety components.  While these laptop adapters may work, their designs can place unnecessary stress on the internal components of your computer and could compromise safety.

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Input & Output Filtering

Surges, spikes, noise, and other power quality problems are found in most AC wall outlets.  Surges and noise place extra stress on the internal components in your computer that could lead to failures or cause strange transient problems in computer operation.  In extreme cases, the energy could be great enough to cause immediate damage.

Quality power adapters include input and output filters that are designed to supress surges and reduce the effects of poor AC power.  Better filter circuits use a group of several components that work together to provide a higher level of protection.  Low cost adapters use only the most basic filters that often have only a single component.  Cutting corners on the filtering can save some cost, however it will also increase the chances that your computer will be affected by a power quality problems.

Outside Appearance

For the most part a quality adapter and a low-cost adapter look pretty close from the outside.  This similar appearance makes it hard for people to determine an adapter’s quality from the small photo on a website.


When you look at the adapters side by side, one clear difference is the size of the cable that goes to the computer.  Reducing the size of the wires is a common cost-cutting tactic.  Thinner wires with less insulation separating them and less rubber protecting the wire to box connection will fail more quickly under day to day stress.  There is also a safety issue involved.  If the cable begins to break, the electricty must squeeze down a smaller path.  This can cause the wires to overheat, melt, and possibly catch on fire.  The heavier cable found on quality adapters will resist damage and if it is damaged, the larger wires will have less of a chance to overheat.

Inside Components

If you look inside of these two adapters you will see quite a few differences that highlight how low-cost adapters cut corners on important protection and safety components to make a “cheap” product.

Vibration & Short-circuit protections

Laptop Adapters have a hard life.  They are often dropped, kicked under desks, fall off tables, or otherwise treated roughly.  The result can be internal components that shift or break.  If these components touch it can cause the 90W ACER Aspire 5590 Series Power Adapter to fail or even create a fire or electric shock hazard.

Quality adapters glue large components & structures together.  This allows these components to support each other and reduces the chances of the components shifting or breaking as the result of a physical shock.   These adapters also include insulation tape placed a key locations to prevent shorting in case some components do shift. Low cost adapters often omit these protections to reduce cost.  Omitting these protections makes the adapter less durable and possibly subject to a safety problem.

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