Eight power supply units encounter The Beast

Eight power supply units encounter The Beast

There was a time when the power supply was the most neglected component inside the PC. The PSU was an afterthought for most, usually a generic unit that came bundled with a case. And there it would sit, often not-so-quietly, entrusted with the important task of supplying power to other components that were usually chosen with far more consideration and deliberation. Over time, the odds that a generic PSU’s voltage lines would start sagging were pretty good. If you were lucky, this would only cause system instability. However, in more serious cases, other system components could be damaged.

Thankfully, the enthusiast community has taken power supply units more seriously as it has matured. We know there’s much more to the equation than simply a wattage rating; we’re looking for consistent DC voltages, minimal AC ripple content, high efficiency, low noise levels, and effective cooling—and those are just the basics.

Manufacturers have picked up on enthusiast, er, enthusiasm for quality power supply units, promising to deliver cleaner and quieter power more efficiently as wattage ratings scale skyward. Some have even developed unique features, including monitoring and control software, adjustable voltage lines, integrated USB hubs, and modular cabling solutions in attempts to differentiate their products in an increasingly crowded market.

To help make sense of the wide selection of power supply units available, we’ve rounded up eight contenders between 700 and 1000 watts from Antec, Corsair, Gigabyte, Hiper, PC Power & Cooling, Super Talent, Tagan, and Ultra. Keep reading to see how they compare in the real world and when pushed to their limits by our beastly test rig.

Lining up the competition
There are many metrics to consider when selecting a power supply. To get things started, we’ve summarized a few of the basics in a handy chart comparing the competitors we’ll be looking at today.




80 Plus?



Antec TruePower
Quattro 1000W
1000W 80mm rear Yes Yes 5 years

Corsair TX 750W
750W 140mm bottom No Yes 5 years

Gigabyte Odin GT 800W
800W 140mm bottom Yes Yes 3 years
Hiper Type R Mk
II 880W
880W 140mm bottom No No 3 years $198.99
PC Power &
Cooling Turbo-Cool 860W
860W 80mm rear No No 7 years
Super Talent
Atomic Juice 700W
700W 120mm bottom No No 5 years
Tagan BZ 800W 800W 140mm bottom Yes Yes 3 years
Ultra X2 750W 750W 120mm bottom Yes No Lifetime

As you can see, we have units between 700 and 1000 watts. This is certainly pushing the upper range of what’s necessary for most PCs, but it’s easy to build a high-end system that demands this much juice. Even as processors display admirable restraint in their power consumption, each new crop of graphics chips seems to be more power-hungry than the last. With both AMD and Nvidia expanding their respective CrossFire and SLI multi-GPU schemes with additional cards, there’s certainly a place in the market for high-wattage PSUs.

Of the units we’ve assembled today, Antec’s TruePower Quattro has the highest output rating, nailing the kilowatt mark. Behind it, we have four units spanning 800-880W and three bridging the gap between 700 and 750W. Our test suite is designed to be largely independent of wattage, so PSUs with lower output ratings won’t be unfairly penalized when compared with beefier competitors.

You’ll notice that there are no generic units listed in the chart above. As we discovered in our last PSU comparo, it’s difficult to find generic PSUs above 500W. We couldn’t find anything appropriate in the 700-1000W range to which we’ve narrowed our focus for this round-up.

A power supply’s output wattage is important, but that output capacity is ultimately tempered by how efficiently a PSU converts AC power from the wall outlet to DC power for use by system components. Efficiency isn’t just for tree-hugging ecomentalists, either. Inefficient PSUs expel wasted energy in the form of heat, which requires more cooling that in turn leads to higher noise levels.

To help single out more efficient PSUs, the industry has come up with an “80 Plus” certification recognizing models that are—you guessed it—at least 80% efficient. Interestingly, only four of the PSUs we have on the bench today carry the 80 Plus badge. Of those that don’t, two claim efficiencies higher than 80%. Hiper says its Type R is over 85% efficient, and PC Power & Cooling indicates that the Turbo-Cool is 84% efficient. Super Talent’s Atomic Juice PSU pulls up just shy of 80 Plus with a claimed efficiency of 79%, while Ultra’s X2 looks to be the gas guzzler of the lot with an efficiency rating of just 72%. There’s no need to rely on manufacturer claims, though. We’ll be probing efficiency in a number of different tests to get a better idea of how these ratings pan out in the real world.

Unfortunately, it’s not so easy to test the reliability of a power supply, so we’re left evaluating each manufacturer’s warranty coverage. Three years is the norm for enthusiast-class PSUs, but judging from the models we have lined up today, five-year warranties are just as popular. Notable exceptions include PC Power & Cooling’s seven-year warranty for the Turbo-Cool and the lifetime pact that covers Ultra’s X2. You have to register online to activate the X2’s lifetime warranty, otherwise coverage stalls at three years.

Elsewhere, our PSUs differentiate themselves in terms of cabling and cooling. Cabling gets a little complicated, so we’ll dive into that subject in more detail in a moment. Cooling is relatively simple, with PSUs differing in terms of fan placement and size. Larger fans are generally capable of moving more air at slower speeds, generating less noise in the process. This isn’t always the case, however, so we have a full suite of temperature and noise level tests to measure the actual impact of each PSU’s cooling scheme.

Getting a grip on cabling
Exactly half of the power supply units on the bench today are modular, allowing cables to be added or removed as required by a given system configuration. Each PSU also offers a unique mix of connectors that we’ve outlined below.

Main power

Aux 12V


4-pin peripheral


4-pin floppy

Antec TruePower
Quattro 1000W
20/24-pin 4-pin, 8-pin 2 x 6/8-pin,
2 x
9 8 2

Corsair TX 750W
20/24-pin 4/8-pin 4 x 6/8-pin 8 8 2

Gigabyte Odin GT 800W
24-pin 4-pin, 8-pin 4 x 6/8-pin 5 6 1
Hiper Type R Mk
II 880W
24-pin 4-pin, 8-pin 2 x 6/8-pin,
2 x
7 4 2
PC Power &
Cooling Turbo-Cool 860W
24-pin 4-pin, 8-pin 2 x 6/8-pin,
2 x
8 6 1
Super Talent
Atomic Juice 700W
20/24-pin 4/8-pin 6-pin, 6/8-pin 6 6 2
Tagan BZ 800W 20/24-pin 4-pin, 8-pin 2 x 6/8-pin,
2 x
7 8 2
Ultra X2 750W 20/24-pin 4-pin, 8-pin 2 x 6-pin 6 3 2

The connector counts above reflect the total number of plugs available with each PSU. However, with most modular units, the total number of SATA, four-pin peripheral, and floppy connectors offered is actually greater than the maximum number that can be used at a given time. The Tagan and Ultra units are notable exceptions, with both including only as many cables as can be used at once. This approach simplifies gauging connector capacity, but it also misses some of the point behind a modular PSU. For many, the benefit of a modular design is the ability to remove unneeded cables to reduce clutter inside an enclosure. However, when enough cables are provided, modular designs can also give users flexibility in how they bias their PSU’s connector payload. The ability to juggle connector counts should become increasingly handy as devices that use standard four-pin power connectors become scarce.

Modular considerations aside, note that three of these units have 24-pin primary power connectors that may not be compatible with motherboards that employ 20-pin plugs. To guarantee compatibility with 20-pin motherboards, you’ll want a PSU with a hybrid 20/24-pin primary power connector.

A hybrid 8/6-pin PCIe connector next to a standard 6-pin plug

Hybrid connectors can also be found on the auxiliary 12V line. Here, each of the PSUs we’ve rounded up offers four-pin and eight-pin options. Some do so with a single hybrid connector, while others opt for individual lines for each connector type.

PCI Express connectors give us more hybrid options, as well. Of the eight models in question, only the Corsair TX and Gigabyte Odin serve up four eight-pin PCIe connectors. Most of the rest of the pack makes do with a pair of 8-pin PCIe connectors alongside a couple of 6-pin plugs. Ultra and Super Talent are exceptions, with each providing only two PCIe power connectors. The Ultra is in worse shape, stuck with a pair of 6-pin plugs. Atomic Juice fares better with at least one PCIe connector capable of supplying eight-pin power.

Cable reach
Connector counts are only one part of a power supply’s cabling complement. Cable reach matters, too, particularly for those with full tower enclosures that separate system components across vast stretches of case real estate. Extra reach is also useful if you want to route cables carefully out of sight, lest a tangled mess of wires distract those peering through a case window from appreciating the painstakingly detailed guts of your system.

With the help of our trusty measuring tape, we’ve measured the maximum cable reach for each PSU. The reach measurements shown for SATA and four-pin peripheral connectors refer to the reach of the last connector on the longest cable.

Primary power cable reach is especially important for those running upside-down cases that mount the PSU below the motherboard. The units from Corsair and Hiper look like the best bets for those folks, offering at least 23 inches of reach. The Odin and X2 pull up a little short, unable to stretch their primary power connectors even 20 inches.

The Corsair and Hiper units tie in auxiliary 12V cable reach, but both are an inch off PC Power & Cooling’s Turbo-Cool, which stretches its 12V line 24.5 inches from the PSU. The Gigabyte and Ultra products again offer the shortest cables.

Only three inches separates the longest PCIe power connector from the shortest here. In a reversal of fortunes, this time it’s the Hiper Type R at the back of the pack and the Ultra out in the lead. Corsair’s TX continues to provide greater cable reach than most of its rivals.

SATA and four-pin peripheral reach really shakes things up, with the Turbo-Cool and Atomic Juice units coming out ahead. The Tagan BZ also provides plenty of SATA cable reach, but not so much when we switch to four-pin peripheral connectors.

The Type R and X2 are well short of the pack. Their SATA and four-pin peripheral cables give up at least six inches to their closest competitors. The Type R and X2 still offer plenty of reach for mid-tower enclosures and even some full towers, but if you’re looking to route SATA connectors to a large array of drives in a massive case, you’ll want some additional length.

Rated capacities
We’ve already discussed the total output wattage rating of each of the power supply units in the spotlight today, but that’s only one component of the output rating story. Modern PSUs divide power across three main lines at 3.3, 5, and 12 volts, with each of those lines carrying a maximum current rating. As if that weren’t complicated enough, most PSUs also spread 12V power over multiple individual lines.

Maximum output current (A)

DC Output




Antec TruePower
Quattro 1000W
25 30 18, 18, 18, 18

Corsair TX 750W
30 28 60

Gigabyte Odin GT 800W
30 28 18, 18, 18, 18
Hiper Type R Mk
II 880W
30 30 30, 30, 18, 18
PC Power &
Cooling Turbo-Cool 860W
22 26 64
Super Talent
Atomic Juice 700W
36 30 18, 18, 18, 18
Tagan BZ 800W 26 26 20, 20, 20, 20,
20, 20
Ultra X2 750W 24 28 25, 25

There are exceptions, of course. Corsair’s TX and PC Power & Cooling’s Turbo-Cool both consolidate 12V power into a single line rather than spreading it over multiple rails. Most of the others spread 12V power over four rails, usually with identical maximum current ratings for each. Tagan takes things one step further, distributing its 12V power across a whopping six rails, each of which carries a maximum current rating of 20 amps. Ultra’s X2 sits at the other end of the spectrum with only two 12V lines.

Don’t get too married to these current ratings, though; they’re only the tip of the iceberg. To get a handle on each PSU’s true capacity, we have to determine the maximum output wattage of each voltage line. The math is easy enough thanks to Ohm’s Law, which allows us to calculate wattage given voltage and amperage. However, power supply units with multiple rails are typically limited by how much power can be spread across those multiple lines—a total that’s usually less than the sum of each rail’s output capacity. Most PSUs also place limitations on how much power can be shared between the 3.3V and 5V lines. And then there’s the maximum output wattage across the 3.3, 5, and 12V lines, which often falls short of the PSU’s total output rating in order to reserve capacity for lesser-used voltage lines like the -12V and 5V standby rails.

To make sense of it all, we’ve put together a table showing the maximum output power for each PSU’s 3.3, 5, and 12V rails. Where applicable, we’ve also indicated the maximum combined 3.3 and 5V power, the maximum combined 12V power, and how much wattage the PSU can spread across all three main rails.

Maximum output power (W)

DC Output




Antec TruePower
Quattro 1000W
82.5 150 216, 216, 216, 216
200 840

Corsair TX 750W
99 140 720

Gigabyte Odin GT 800W
99 140 216, 216, 216, 216
180 744
Hiper Type R Mk
II 880W
99 150 360, 360, 216, 216
180 768
PC Power &
Cooling Turbo-Cool 860W
72.6 130 768
Super Talent
Atomic Juice 700W
118.8 150 216, 216, 216, 216
155 864
Tagan BZ 800W 85.8 130 240, 240, 240,
240, 240, 240
170 768
Ultra X2 750W 79.2 140 300, 300
160 600

Now that’s a mean-looking table.

Some PSUs, such as Super Talent’s Atomic Juice, don’t set maximum combined wattage ratings for their multiple 12V lines. That’s why the Atomic Juice’s 864W combined 12V output looks so formidable, until you look at the PSU’s combined 3.3, 5, and 12V output, which is only rated for 680W.

With a kilowatt of power to distribute, Antec’s TruePower Quattro is predictably the most generous when we look at combined output ratings. The Quattro’s maximum combined 3.3 and 5V output of 200W is the highest of the lot, and its 840W of combined 12V output is eclipsed only by the Super Talent’s lack of a combined 12V output rating.

Interestingly, three of the PSUs we’ve gathered—the Type R, Turbo-Cool, and BZ—are rated for 768W of combined 12V output. The Odin GT and Corsair TX also offer combined 12V power in the 700W range, with the Ultra X2 falling well short with a maximum 12V output rating of only 600W. The X2 does carry a higher output rating for its combined 3.3 and 5V output than one might expect, however. When it comes to 3.3 and 5V power, the Turbo-Cool finds itself at the back of the pack with Super Talent’s Atomic Juice.

Lining up maximum combined wattages is useful for determining how each PSU biases its output capacity. It also gives us a handy reference to draw from when determining test loads that will stress each power supply to its limits.

Loading up The Beast
A cornerstone of our power supply testing methodology is a custom-built load generator created by forum regular justbrewit that we like to call The Beast. If you’re unfamiliar with its frightening array of resistors, I strongly suggest checking out this page of our last PSU round-up, which details the rig’s internals and our testing methodology.

Behold The Beast!

We use The Beast to push each PSU to 25, 50, 75, and 100% of its output capacity while measuring DC voltage, AC ripple content, and gathering data that can be used to calculate overall efficiency. However, since The Beast is limited to applying loads in 2A increments, we borrow a page from The Price is Right and use amperage loads that come as close as possible to our targets without going over. The chart below shows the amperage loads applied to each PSU.

Total loads (Amps)

















Antec TruePower
Quattro 1000W
4 6 16 10 12 32 14 18 50 20 24 66

Corsair TX 750W
4 4 12 8 8 24 14 12 36 18 16 50

Gigabyte Odin GT 800W
4 4 12 8 8 26 14 12 38 18 16 52
Hiper Type R Mk
II 880W
4 4 14 8 8 28 14 14 42 18 18 58
PC Power &
Cooling Turbo-Cool 860W
4 4 14 8 8 28 12 12 44 16 18 58
Super Talent
Atomic Juice 700W
2 2 12 6 4 24 10 8 36 12 10 48
Tagan BZ 800W 4 4 12 8 8 26 12 12 38 16 16 52
Ultra X2 750W 4 4 10 8 8 22 12 14 34 16 18 46

When testing with The Beast, each power supply was hooked up using its primary and auxiliary 12V connectors, two PCIe power connectors, and six four-pin peripheral connectors. We used a Pico ADC-212 digital oscilloscope to probe the 3.3 and 5V wires on the primary power connector. 12V lines were probed in the primary power connector and also with one of the PCIe power connectors. In the graphs on the following pages, 12V power from the primary connector will be marked 12V1, while power from the PCIe connector will be 12V2.

Apart from additional testing at 25% capacity, our methodology is largely identical to what was used in our last PSU round-up. However, we have tweaked our efficiency calculations a little to use actual average DC voltages along the 3.3, 5, and 12V (from the primary power connector) instead of arbitrary 3.3, 5, and 12V values. That should give us more accurate results and compensate for any voltage sagging under load.

Our testing methods
Testing was conducted in two parts. First, PSUs were run in the system detailed below for a series of power draw, temperature, and noise level tests. They were then hooked up to The Beast to test power delivery and overall efficiency.

All tests were run three times, and their results were averaged.


Athlon 64 X2 5000+ 2.6GHz
System bus HyperTransport

Asus M2N32-SLI Deluxe Wireless Edition
Bios revision 0906
North bridge nForce 590 SLI SPP
South bridge nForce 590 SLI MCP
Chipset drivers ForceWare 9.35
Memory size 1GB (2 DIMMs)
Memory type

Corsair CM2X512A-5400UL

CAS latency

RAS to CAS delay
RAS precharge
Cycle time
Audio codec Integrated nForce
590 SLI/AD1988B with drivers
Graphics 2 x

GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB
with ForceWare 162.18 drivers

Hard drives
2 x

Western Digital Caviar RE2 400GB


Windows XP Professional

OS updates
Service Pack 2

We used the following versions of our test applications:

The test systems’ Windows desktop was set at 1280×1024 in 32-bit color at an 85Hz screen refresh rate. Vertical refresh sync (vsync) was disabled for all tests.

All the tests and methods we employed are publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.

Antec’s TruePower Quattro 1000W
Everyone loves racing stripes

Manufacturer Antec
Model TruePower Quattro 1000W
Price (Street)
Availability Now

With an even kilowatt at is disposal, Antec’s TruePower Quattro is the company’s highest wattage PSU. The Quattro also has a higher output rating than any other PSU in this round-up, setting expectations high for Antec’s latest. Surprisingly, though, the Quattro isn’t the most expensive PSU of the lot. In fact, when you consider its $186 street price, one might even call the Quattro a bargain—on a dollar per watt basis, if nothing else.

Perhaps even more surprising than the Quattro’s reasonable price tag are the unit’s retro racing stripes, complete with its wattage rating passed off as a race number. It looks fantastic. Once installed in a system, however, the stripes are really only visible if you happen to duck your head inside the case. You might, if you had a thousand-watt power supply to gaze up at, but the novelty would probably wear off pretty quickly.

Antec keeps the retro theme going with the Quattro’s cooling configuration, which relies on a single 80mm exhaust at the rear of the unit. Most modern PSUs have moved the fan to the bottom where there’s room for 120mm and even 140mm units. Larger fans can move more air at slower speeds, generating less noise in the process, so it’s disappointing to see Antec clinging to an older layout. We’ll see whether the Quattro is actually louder than its competition in a moment.

Measuring 86mm tall, 150mm wide, and 180mm deep (3.4″ x 5.9″ x 7.1″ for the metric-impaired), the Quattro is quite a bit deeper than most of the other PSUs we’ve gathered today. That makes installation with tight enclosures a little tricky, but given the Quattro’s output wattage, I can’t imagine many folks will be looking to squeeze it into smaller mid-towers.

Antec has done what it can to minimize the Quattro’s footprint, employing a modular cabling system that allows users to remove unused leads to cut down on cable clutter. Modular cabling is relatively common among modern PSUs, so the Quattro hasn’t broken any new ground here. However, all the cables are neatly sheathed, and there are plenty of options if you want to bias output toward four-pin molex connectors or SATA power plugs.

When hooked up to The Beast, the Quattro manages consistent voltages for each rail across all load levels. Note that 12V, er, voltage doesn’t vary much at all between the primary power connector (12V1) and the PCIe connector (12V2). That’s a good thing.

For the most part, the Quattro also maintains relatively little AC ripple content on each rail. There are a few exceptions, however. Ripple content is a little higher on all rails at our 25% load. The 12V PCI Express line also has higher ripple than the others throughout, although it’s well within Antec’s 120 millivolt ripple allowance for the 12V line.

Our efficiency calculations suggest that the Quattro is more efficient when under moderate loads than at either extreme. At 25% and 100% loads, efficiency actually falls below 80%. Interestingly, though, efficiency is actually lower with a 25% load then when the PSU is pushed to its limits.

Corsair’s TX 750W
Upping the wattage

Manufacturer Antec
Model TX 750W
Price (Street)
Availability Now

Corsair’s HX 620W took home a coveted Editor’s Choice award in our last power supply round-up, setting the bar high for the TX 750W. With an additional 130 watts under the hood, the TX is off to a good start. Factor in a price tag that’s only about $10 higher than that of the HX, and things start looking even better.

Don’t get too excited, though. Apart from output wattage and price, the biggest difference between the HX and TX comes in the cabling department—the HX has modular cables, while the TX does not. That’s certainly not a dealbreaker for the HX (the only other Editor’s Choice winner in our last round-up was a PC Power & Cooling Silencer that didn’t have modular cables, either), but it does neatly differentiate Corsair’s HX and TX lines.

Unlike Antec’s Quattro, the TX isn’t much to look at. Halloween colors certainly don’t help, but it’s not like you’re going to see them once the TX is installed in a system. Even if you’re running a case window, odds are that it won’t stretch high enough to provide a view of the PSU.

The TX doesn’t have a fan at the rear, instead opting for generous venting that allows for airflow through the PSU. A massive 140mm fan mounted at the base of the unit generates plenty of airflow with which to feed the exhaust vents.

From this angle, if I cover up the orange bits, the TX doesn’t look half bad. Maybe it’s the matte finish, combined with the black fan and grill, that reminds me of stealthy military hardware. Corsair’s done a nice job sheathing all the cabling in black, too.

DC voltage regulation is spot on with the TX. Even under full load, there’s no appreciable drop in output across any of the voltage lines.

AC ripple content is pretty consistent across the board, as well. There’s very little variance here, not only between the rails, but on each as we scale the load from 25 to 100%.

The TX’s efficiency looks really good at lower load levels, but starts to dip when we hit a 75% load. The Corsair’s efficiency doesn’t fall far, but it does dip below 80% at full load. Still a good showing overall, though.

Gigabyte’s Odin GT 800W
A power supply with software

Manufacturer Gigabyte
Model Odin GT 800W
Price (Street)
Availability Now

Gigabyte makes a little bit of everything. We’re all familiar with the firm’s motherboards and graphics cards, but it recently dipped its toe into the power supply market with the Odin GT. And this isn’t just a me-too product; the Odin is packed with unique features and even accompanying software. The extra goodies don’t come cheap, though. With a $200 street price, the GT is one of the most expensive PSUs in this round-up despite the fact that it’s only rated for 800W of output power and has just three years of warranty coverage.

So where does all the money go? Certainly not into visual flair. The Odin looks decidedly plain, which is fine but certainly a departure from the garish color schemes that permeate Gigabyte’s motherboard and graphics card lineups.

Like several other models in this round-up, the Odin is cooled by a 140mm fan mounted at the bottom of the unit. As one might expect, there’s ample exhaust venting at the rear. That venting actually stretches across one of the PSU’s “inner” walls, as well.

Spinning the Odin reveals a modular cabling system and neatly sheathed cables. Here we get our first cues that the Odin has a few tricks up its sleeve. Notice that among the large six-pin plugs for modular cables there is also a collection of five smaller outlets. And then, in the bundle of cables attached to the PSU, we find what looks curiously like a five-pin USB connector. Whatever could those be for?

To find out, we need to dig out some of the other goodies that come bundled with the Odin. First among them is a handy carrying case for modular cables that contains a few extras we haven’t seen before: four temperature probes and a three-pin fan connector that all plug directly into the PSU. Scrounging around in the Odin’s box also reveals an application CD that contains a copy of Gigabyte’s Power Tuner software.

Power Tuner is what it sounds like: tweaking software for the power supply. Communication is handled over a five-pin USB connector that plugs into your motherboard, just like Nvidia’s Enthusiast System Architecture. This isn’t actually an ESA power supply, though; Power Tuner is entirely Gigabyte’s creation, and for a first effort, it’s very slick.

From the monitoring interface pictured above, we can keep tabs on the PSU’s current and peak wattage load. Individual voltage lines can also be monitored alongside the current on the major voltage rails. Fan speed and temperature monitoring is supported, as well. This is where those four temperature probes come into play.

Power Tuner is more than just a monitoring app. One can modify the PSU’s fan speed profile to set initial fan voltages and the temperature at which fan speeds begin to ramp up.

If you really want to get your hands dirty, Power Tuner can also be used to tweak individual voltage rails. Ranges vary from rail to rail, but there’s enough on each for a little fine tuning. You might want to have a multimeter handy, though; Power Tuner’s reported voltages for each rail were a little off those that we measured with our digital oscilloscope.

As if Power Tuner weren’t stacked enough already, users can also set alarms tied to wattages, voltages, current, fan speeds, and even temperatures. Voltage and fan speed settings are also saved to the PSU, so there’s no need to have the Power Tuner app running all the time. It only takes a couple of megabytes of memory, though, and registered just 1-2% CPU utilization with our test system’s Athlon X2 5000+ processor.

Before discussing this first wave of Odin test results I should note that this PSU didn’t entirely get along with The Beast. Everything was fine with 25, 50, and 75% loads, but things started flaking out with our 100% load, which called for 52A on the 12V rail. With the 3.3 and 5V lines fully loaded, we were only able to push the 12V line to 46A before the PSU would shut down. Dropping 3.3 and 5V loads to 2A each allowed us to get the 12V line up to 48A, but no further. The 12V line is rated for 62A on its own.

We emailed Gigabyte about the issue, and they were unable to replicate it in their labs with some very fancy test equipment. In fact, they said they were able to push an Odin’s 12V line up to 67A—5A beyond its maximum spec.

The Beast, however, could only coax 46A from this Odin’s 12V line with the 3.3 and 5V lines at a weighted 100% load, so that’s how we tested it.

DC voltages are a little low on each rail, but they’re well within tolerances and never short by more than a tenth of a volt.

Ripple results look pretty good, as well. There are a few deviations here and there, but AC content averages out to less than 20 millivolts per rail across each load level.

The Odin GT is the first PSU in this round-up to eclipse 80% efficiency across the board. It’s nice to see a PSU live up to its 80 Plus badge, even if we had to back off on the 12V rail for our 100% load.

Hiper’s Type R Mk II 880W
USB included, spoiler not

Manufacturer Hiper
Model Type R Mk II 880W
Price (Street) $198.99
Availability Now

Hiper was born in the UK in 2001, so it’s a relatively new player in the power supply market—and an ambitious one as well, if the Type R Mk II is any indication. With a $200 price tag and an 880W output rating, the Type R is very much a high-end unit equipped to challenge the best the industry’s more established players have to offer.

But Type R? Why channel a brand popularized by riced out Acuras and Hondas with oversized spoilers when one could have drawn from the likes of Jaguar, Aston Martin, and Lotus? For once, a power supply could’ve had panache. Now, instead of British Racing Green, we’ve been given ultra-bright electric blue.

To be fair, most of the Type R’s outer skin is riddled with ventilation holes, so there isn’t as much bright blue as one might expect. You do get some chrome, though, thanks to the base-mounted 140mm fan. Just don’t expect much of an exhaust note. Hiper bills the Type R as a low-noise model, and with that much ventilation and a massive fan, it should be pretty quiet. We’ll find out just how quiet in a moment.

Around the back of the unit, we find something you don’t encounter often on a power supply: USB ports. The cable bundle includes a USB connector that plugs into a standard motherboard header,
making the Type R one part power supply, one part USB hub. It’s hard to get really excited about a USB hub, even when it’s housed inside a power supply, but there’s more. The USB connector on the far left is capable of supplying juice even when a system is powered down, which is perfect for charging a cell phone. Power to this port is provided by the PSU’s 5V standby line.

We don’t normally cover product packaging here at TR because, well, it’s rarely interesting. However, the Type R comes in a nifty plastic case that one could actually use as a sort of tool box. This isn’t the sort of thing that adds immense value to the package—that is, unless you really want a cheap plastic toolbox—but it’s another novel feature in an industry filled with cookie-cutter designs that don’t offer much variety.

There are goodies inside the toolbox, too, including a separate case that holds a number of pass-through four-pin peripheral and floppy cables. These give the Type R a measure of pseudo-modular cabling in that users have some freedom to tweak cable configurations. Separating this small collection of cables from the big bundle doesn’t do much to reduce clutter inside a case, though.

The Type R maintains consistent DC voltages when hooked into the beast. At worst, the 12V line deviates by 166 millivolts, which is a little under 1.4% and well within Hiper’s +/- 5% tolerance.

AC Ripple looks good, even under our heaviest loads.

And we have our second power supply deliver greater than 80% efficiency when up against The Beast. The Type R starts out at 83.5% efficiency and slowly drops to 80.6% as we move from a 25 to 100% load.

PC Power & Cooling’s Turbo-Cool 860W
Putting the, er, screws to the competition

Manufacturer PC Power & Cooling
Model Turbo-Cool 860W
Price (Street) $270
Availability Now

Purchased by OCZ Technology last year, PC Power & Cooling remains one of the most respected names in the power supply business. The Turbo-Cool 860W is the company’s latest creation, and with a $270 MSRP, it’s the most expensive unit in this round-up. Our expectations for the Turbo-Cool were already pretty high given that PC Power’s Silencer 750W took home an Editor’s Choice award in our last PSU comparo, but sticker shock has elevated them even further.

Rather than following the industry trend of spreading 12V power over multiple rails, PC Power & Cooling believes a single 12V line is the best approach. In fact, the company is so enamored with massive 12V rails that the Turbo-Cool actually feeds its 3.3 and 5V outputs off the 12V line. That sounds ambitious, especially since the PSU is already rated for a whopping 64A of 12V output.

The 860W model is the baby of a Turbo-Cool lineup that includes kilowatt and 1200W models, and yet, in its standard ATX form factor, the 860W looks rather unassuming. Take off the sticker, and nothing about the Turbo-Cool’s exterior hints at its prodigious power. Even the cooling is old-school, relying on a single 80mm exhaust fan at the rear of the unit.

You won’t find anything fancy on the cabling front, either. Plenty of leads are provided, but the four-pin peripheral and SATA lines aren’t sheathed all the way down, which strikes us as a little sloppy for a power supply in this price range.

The Turbo-Cool does have an ace up its sleeve, though. Three screws spread across two locations give users the ability to fine-tune the PSU’s 3.3, 5, and 12V lines. The screws themselves are a little tough to turn, particularly the one associated with the 12V line (on the far right in the picture above) because it doesn’t line up perfectly with the ventilation holes around it, but you shouldn’t need to fiddle with them regularly.

Maintaining consistent DC voltages isn’t a problem for the Turbo-Cool. You’ll note that we haven’t been able to nail 3.3, 5, and 12 volts exactly here, despite having access to adjustable rails. This is as close as the screws would take us.

AC ripple is virtually nonexistent on the Turbo-Cool. I don’t believe we’ve ever seen such consistently low AC content in a power supply.

Efficiency looks good, too. The Turbo-Cool manages over 80% across all load levels, hitting a high of nearly 85% at a 50% load.

Super Talent’s Atomic Juice 700W
More talent than OJ?

Manufacturer Super Talent
Model Atomic Juice 700W
Price (Street) $125
Availability Now

Known more for memory and solid-state hard drives, Super Talent is the latest PC component maker to jump into the power supply market. They’ve done so with a new brand—Atomic Juice—that sounds a whole lot better than Super Talent as far as we’re concerned. The first Atomic Juice PSUs are available in 600 and 700W capacities, and we have the latter on the bench today.

Atomic Juice PSUs were announced a few months ago, and they’re still relatively scarce online. We could only find a few vendors selling the units, with the 700W model running around $125.

When compared with some of the other PSUs in this round-up, the Atomic Juice is relatively simple fare. Really, this is a standard power supply, although one that’s been dressed up a little with blue paint and orange lighting that comes on when the unit is powered up.

A 120mm fan mounted at the base of the unit handles cooling, pushing exhaust air through vents located at the rear. Cables are neatly sheathed, as well. So all the basic checkboxes have been ticked.

The Atomic Juice’s 5V line delivers nearly perfect DC voltage, but the 12V rail trends a little high. Still, even its greatest deviation from 12V is well within the PSU’s tolerances for this rail.

Ripple isn’t as low as we saw with PC Power’s Turbo-Cool, but it’s still very competitive with the other PSUs in this round-up.

Unfortunately, efficiency is not, at least under heavier loads. The Atomic Juice starts out well enough, boasting a whopping 88.5% efficiency with a 25% load. By the time we reach its limits, however, efficiency drops to just 77%. That’s by no means horrible, but even at 75% load, this PSU’s efficiency is under 80%.

Tagan’s BZ 800W
Modular with a twist

Manufacturer Tagan
Model BZ 800W
Price (Street) $219.99
Availability Now

Tagan’s BZ power supply lineup stretches from a base 700W model all the way up to 1300W. There are several ESA-certified units along the way, as well. Unfortunately, the 800W model we have in-house for testing isn’t ESA-compliant. Tagan has elected to roll out ESA compatibility with higher wattage models first, and you’ll need a BZ with at least 1100W to play in the Enthusiast System Architecture.

ESA certification would have gone a long way toward justifying the BZ’s relatively high $220 street price. That’s a lot to pay for only 800 watts. Fortunately, the BZ has a number of unique features that set it apart from the competition.

First among these is a little switch that toggles between normal and “turbo” 12V modes. In its normal configuration, the BZ spreads 12V power across an astounding six voltage lines. Switch to turbo, and those lines are consolidated into a single rail. Turbo mode is recommended for heavier loads, so that’s where we set it for testing.

Modular cables are a big part of the BZ’s appeal. The key isn’t so much the modularity but Tagan’s execution. Each modular connection point is ringed with color-coded LEDs that light up when the PSU is in use. Even the connectors themselves have unique appeal.

Rather than using simple plastic plugs, the modular cables screw into the power supply with metal fasteners. Screwing them in takes a little extra effort, and it can be a bit tricky if the PSU is already installed in a crowded case, but the end result reminds me of some of the higher quality power supply mod jobs I’ve seen over the years.

Tagan does sheathing, too, even going so far as to encase the PCIe leads in heavy plastic. Everything comes neatly bundled together in a carrying case.

The case also has a few interesting extras, including some anti-static gloves and a rubber spacer that helps to dampen vibrations when the PSU is installed in a system. The spacer is a particularly nice touch, although I have to wonder if power supply fans really spin fast enough to generate vibrations.

DC voltages look pretty good on the BZ. Even the greatest outliers—12.249V on the 12V rail and 3.410V on the 3.3V line—are well within tolerances.

We actually had to expand the scale of our AC ripple graph by five millivolts to keep the BZ in frame. That doesn’t bode well, but despite looking much worse than the other PSUs we’ve tested, the AC content on the BZ’s DC lines is still within acceptable ranges. There’s certainly more AC ripple here, but not so much that we’re concerned.

The BZ only manages 80% efficiency up to a 50% load. When pushed harder, efficiency drops as low as 76.4%.

Ultra’s X2 750W
Mirror mirror…

Manufacturer Ultra
Model X2 750W
Price (Street)
Availability Now

Ultra’s X2 is the first power supply we’ve seen to carry a lifetime warranty. Sort of. Out of the box, the PSU is actually covered for three years; the lifetime upgrade is only available with online registration. You have to complete the registration within 30 days of purchase, as well. Having to jump through hoops for additional warranty coverage is a little annoying, but it seems reasonable for a lifetime term.

Surprisingly, expanded warranty coverage doesn’t come with a price premium. The X2 750W can be had for as little as $99 online, making it the most affordable PSU in this round-up. Keep in mind, however, that the X2 only has two PCIe power connectors, neither of which are of the 8-pin variety.

Ultra scores points on the aesthetics front, not so much because I personally like the style of the X2, but because they’re tried to do something different. The mirror-like finish is actually pretty slick, and the windows are a nice touch. The chrome bits are a little much for me, though, and I’m not so keen on having the Ultra brand impeding airflow on the fan guard.

The X2 is a modular design, and unlike the others we’ve seen today, each and every cable can be detached from the PSU. Ultra makes a big deal about this feature, calling its original X-Connect the first completely modular power supply design. The utility of a removable 24-pin power connector is a little lost on me, though; you’re always going to need it connected.

At least Ultra has maintained a consistent color theme across the X2’s cable complement. The silver ribbon cables are nice and flexible, although a little short in some cases. But they get the job done.

Unfortunately, the X2 does not. Like with the Gigabyte Odin, we had problems getting the X2 stable at full capacity. The PSU’s 12V rail would only handle up to 34A before shutting down—well short of the 46A called for by our weighted 100% load. Even after dropping loads on the 3.3 and 5V lines to 2A each, we could only squeeze 36A out of the X2’s 12V rail. According to the X2’s specs, it should be able to handle as much as 50A on the 12V line.

We contacted an Ultra representative about the issue and were told that at least one other reviewer reported a similar experience. The company says it suspects a pre-production defect is to blame, but our sample came in a full retail box. 750W X2 units continue to be sold online, as well, and it’s unclear whether they’re also affected by the defect.

Since you can buy one of these units today, we elected to complete our testing, dropping the 12V load at 100% to 34A.

DC voltages are within manufacturer tolerances, but they do deviate from target values more than we’ve seen from other PSUs in this round-up. The sagging 12V line doesn’t inspire much confidence, either.

Neither do our ripple readings, which show increasing AC content on each rail as the load increases. Even at 100% load we’re well within acceptable ranges, but the trend isn’t an encouraging one.

Efficiency isn’t great, either. The X2 is the only PSU of the lot that never hits 80%, dropping below 70% under our heaviest load.

We don’t want to make too many direct comparisons between test results gathered from The Beast because each PSU was run under different loads corresponding to its individual specifications. However, efficiency is important enough to make an exception. Here we’ve graphed the efficiencies of each PSU at 25, 50, 75, and 100% capacity to see how they stack up against each other.

Some PSUs fare slightly better than others here, but it’s difficult to draw too many conclusions given how close the results are.

Presented as a line graph across multiple loads, you can see that most of the contenders are pretty close. The Ultra X2 is an obvious outlier, with consistently lower efficiency than the rest. However, most of the units cluster between the high 70s and low 80s.

System temperatures

Our next batch of tests deployed the PSUs in a real-world system with a pair of GeForce 8800 GTS cards in SLI and a couple of hard drives. For these tests, the systems first sat at idle for 10 minutes. They were then subjected to a 10-minute load consisting of Prime95, Oblivion, and an IOMeter file server test pattern.

System temperatures were measured using a combination of Nvidia’s nTune system utility for the GPUs and Asus’ PC Probe software for the CPU and motherboard.

At idle, we’re looking at temperature spread of no more than a few degrees. No one PSU dominates, but the Hiper Type R does fare the best overall.

Things spread out under load, particularly when we look at CPU and motherboard temperatures. Atomic Juice reigns supreme on those fronts, proving that you don’t need a 140mm fan to keep things cool. As units from Antec and PC Power & Cooling prove, you can even get away with old-school cooling. The Quattro and Turbo-Cool both employ 80mm rear fans that deliver lower temperatures than some models that use base-mounted 120mm or 140mm fans. Neither leads the pack, though.

The high CPU temperature we observed with Ultra’s X2 is a concern. Motherboard and GPU temperatures are reasonable, but the five-degree difference between the X2 and its closest rival is tough to ignore.

Noise levels
Noise levels were measured at idle and under load using an Extech 407727 Digital Sound Level meter placed 1″ from the rear of the system and out of the direct path of airflow. You’ll notice “missing” results for some of the PSUs at idle. We’ve omitted them because our meter only registers noise levels above 40 decibels, and most of the field is quieter than that at idle.

The Type R and Odin GT generate less than 40 decibels at idle, making them noticeably quieter than the others. Corsair’s TX also does well here, followed by units from Tagan and Super Talent. The real outlier is the Turbo-Cool 860W, whose 80mm exhaust fan is comparatively deafening.

All the contenders get louder under load, and none are able to slip under the 40db mark. Again, Hiper’s Type R leads the pack, this time followed by Super Talent’s Atomic Juice, and close behind it, the Gigabyte Odin GT. The PSUs from Ultra and Corsair are pretty loud under load, as well, but they’re still a few decibels short of the Quattro and Turbo-Cool. Both of those PSUs rely on 80mm exhaust fans that are clearly louder than their 120 and 140mm counterparts.

Power consumption
Power consumption was measured at the wall socket for the entire system, sans monitor or speakers.

PC Power’s Turbo-Cool takes top honors under load, drawing five fewer watts than its closest competitor. Taken with its second-place finish at idle, we’d have to call it the most efficient overall.

Of course, most of the PSUs are closely matched here. Only 8W separates the bulk of the pack at idle, and only 12W under load. The obvious exception is Ultra’s X2, whose poor efficiency translates to notably higher power consumption than the others.

We’ve covered a lot of ground today, stressing eight power supply units to—and in some cases beyond—their limits. With only a couple of exceptions, the PSUs worked as advertised. Each maintained DC voltages and AC ripple content within manufacturer-specified tolerances, and overall efficiencies were pretty close.

That said, each PSU offers a unique blend of performance, wattage, features, and price. The sum of those factors elevate some models above others if you’re looking to power an enthusiast PC. Below, we’ve summarized our thoughts on each PSU.

Antec TruePower Quattro 1000W — With the highest wattage rating of the lot by 120W, you might expect the TruePower Quattro to be the most expensive. But it’s not. In fact, with a street price of just $186, it’s among the cheapest. Getting a kilowatt for under two bills is impressive in its own right, but when you throw in Antec’s five-year warranty, modular cables, and good all-around performance, the Quattro really hits its stride. Sure, this isn’t the most efficient PSU at lower loads, and it’s not the quietest, either. Instead, it’s the best compromise of the lot, making it our Editor’s Choice.

Antec TruePower Quattro 1000W
February 2008

Corsair TX 750W — The TX is a value model for Corsair, so you don’t get a lot of frills: no modular cables, no fancy features, just solid power delivery and a five-year warranty. With street prices hovering around $150 for a 750W model, that’s not a bad deal, especially since the TX is pretty quiet at idle. But it’s rather loud under load—too loud, we think, given its relatively modest wattage.

Gigabyte Odin GT 800W — I like what Gigabyte had done with the Odin GT, even if our sample’s 12V line wasn’t quite up to snuff. Power Tuner’s monitoring and tuning capabilities are very robust, and their inclusion is a daring move for a newcomer to the market. However, I can’t help but think that Power Tuner’s unique appeal will be short-lived as ESA-compliant PSUs with similar capabilities hit the market. Otherwise the Odin is a good design, with modular cables, low noise levels, and better than 80% efficiency across the board. We’d like to see better warranty coverage given the $200 asking price, especially considering the unit’s 800W output rating.

Hiper Type R Mk II 880W — Integrating a USB hub into a power supply is a little gimmicky—case integration seems more appropriate—but I really like the idea of having a USB port at the back that can charge devices even when a system is powered off. Couple that with the Type R’s high efficiency and the lowest noise levels of the lot, and you have a very unique and capable PSU. The Type R’s $200 street price is a little steep for a unit with only a three-year warranty and no modular cables, but Hiper makes it up with thoughtful little touches, earning this PSU a TR Recommended award.

PC Power & Cooling Turbo-Cool 860W — We love PC Power & Cooling’s Silencer 750W and were expecting a lot from the Turbo-Cool. For the most part, we weren’t disappointed. The Turbo-Cool delivered the cleanest power we’ve ever seen from a PSU, with extremely high efficiency, especially in our real-world test system. The $270 price tag is a bit of a concern, though, even when you consider the seven-year warranty. What really sours the deal is the Turbo-Cool’s obnoxiously high noise levels. The Turbo-Cool idles a whopping six decibels louder than its closest competitor and more than 16dB louder than the quietest PSU in the round-up. That’s simply unacceptable for a desktop system. If you’re deaf, or if you want beautifully pristine power for a noisy server room, the Turbo-Cool’s a great option. Otherwise, we’ll pass.

Super Talent Atomic Juice 700W — Although relatively standard fare, the Atomic Juice is a good first effort from Super Talent. They’ve managed to hit the basics, delivering clean power at a low price while keeping noise levels reasonable. This PSU’s efficiency is also quite high under light loads, but as soon as you crank things up, efficiency quickly drops below 80%. There’s room for improvement on that front, and with the connector payload, which we wish included more than two PCIe connectors. We’d be more inclined to recommend the Atomic Juice if it were cheaper, but spotty availability may be keeping its street prices artificially high.

Tagan BZ 800W — Although they’re not always easy to connect, I’ve yet to see nicer modular cables than those included with the Tagan BZ. However, those cables may also be responsible for the BZ’s slightly higher AC ripple content, which (while within tolerances) was higher than the other PSUs in this round-up. The BZ’s performance was otherwise decent, with consistent DC voltages and acceptable if unremarkable efficiency. But with a $220 street price and only three years of warranty coverage, there just isn’t enough here for us to recommend the BZ over the others. Not unless you’re building a PC purely for looks, that is.

Ultra X2 750W — This is the least expensive PSU of the bunch, which is fitting, because it’s also the cheapest. Not only did the X2 fall well short of its rated 12V capacity, but it also produced the highest CPU temperatures in our real-world test system. Throw in a little DC voltage sagging and a striking increase in AC ripple under heavier loads, and it’s hard to find a silver lining. There is one, in the form of a lifetime warranty, but only because you’ll probably have to use it. Steer clear of this one.

The last time we rounded up power supply units, we had a couple of Editor’s Choice award winners and two units that earned TR Recommended distinction. This time, only the TruePower Quattro and Type R Mk II really separated themselves from the rest of the pack. Among the others, we wouldn’t necessarily recommend one over another—well, apart from the Ultra X2, which we recommend avoiding at all costs.

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