Technology

After we published the review of the Turbo Cool 1200W, we talked about the topology a bit. Somehow, our opinions differ in regards to what the best approach is. Why do you think the design is fine the way it is now?

Doug Dodson (DD): In order to get the UL and TUV certificates we had to test and qualify all of the components in the power supply. Every component passed the temperature tests with plenty of margin, so we don't think the topology has any flaws as you stated in your review.

From the topology side of view the design is very sleek; I am just concerned about all those components that are blocking the airflow.

DD: We actually have several wind-tunnels going through the power supply that leave enough space for the air to go through. That is enough for cooling all of the components.

But the temperatures you showed were reached with one of the noisiest fans in the industry.

DD: Yes, but the Turbo Cool 1200W was designed for servers, workstations, and triple-SLI setups that dissipate a lot more heat than simple home PCs. The Turbo Cool 1200W is rated for full load operation at 50C ambient temperature. As an industrial-rated PSU, it obviously requires a higher capacity fan than a consumer PSU rated at 25C-35C ambient. In other words, it's not the topology that demands a high-capacity fan as much as it is the highly-reliable 50C rating.

Speaking of PSU Myths published on your website, what is your opinion about modular cables today since you found them unstable? The fact is that most of the users want modular cables just to be free to remove them when they're not needed.

DD: Just because users like them doesn't make them good. The fact is that with lower wattage consumer PSUs you can probably get away using cable management because the voltage losses are relatively minor and reliability isn't critical. With higher end power supplies above 800W, it would be careless to use such a design because the voltage drop through the connectors is significant and the applications tend to be mission critical.

What is your opinion on the constantly increasing wattages of power supplies? Why there are so many power supplies today offering more than 1000W? There is obviously no need for them at the moment.

DD: The need for high wattage PSUs was created by platforms with multiple CPUs and GPUs. When you see the market of power supplies in general, you will see lots of lower end manufacturers claiming high wattages. In some cases they can only reach half of the stated output, so consumers need to buy a PSU labeled as 1000W to get a continuous 500W. In the high-end sector, you can choose a quality PSU with a more moderate maximum output, because it can actually deliver that amount of power.

But I don't see many power supplies with lower outputs and more cables. I actually had to ask you to build me a custom power supply with all the connectors I wanted.

DD: You asked for connectors to support 3-way SLI (6 PCI-E) from an 860 watt power supply. According to NVIDIA, that setup requires an 1100W PSU. We built the custom Turbo Cool 860 anyway to show you how conservative our ratings are. The reason the 860 doesn't come with six PCI-E standard is because we can't market the product for 3-way SLI without NVIDIA certification and they won't certify a PSU under 1100W for 3-way SLI, no matter how well it works. For users running 3-way SLI, we have our NVIDIA certified Turbo Cool 1200.

Why are the high-end power supply manufacturers still pushing such high wattages?

DD: Systems with multiple CPUs and GPUs can actually draw around 1000W. In other cases, users want the advantages associated with operating at 40-70% capacity. These include wider input operating range, longer hold time, lower noise and ripple, cooler, quieter operation, and longer product life.

And this is good for the companies of course because they make higher margins from higher wattage models?

DD: That's not necessarily true. The margin on the Turbo Cool 1200 is below average because the unit uses expensive low-volume components. The real advantage of building high wattage power supplies, besides bragging rights, is that it moves our proprietary technology forward and that knowledge can then be used to improve the performance of the high volume midrange products.

That sounds reasonable. This is also for example how the single 12V rail got into place. Why exactly is one 12V rail better than separate rails, and why is this not a safety issue for the user?

DD: One 12V rail is better because all of the power supply's capacity is available to the system. With a multi-rail 12V design, as much as 30% of the PSU's capacity can be trapped on under-utilized rails. For example, if one 12V rail rated at 18A is for the CPU, and the CPU only draws 8A, the remaining 10A cannot be utilized by other components in the system.

That's true. I had an AnandTech reader writing me about a problem with his setup powering up 18 hard disks at the same time. I suggested he either gets two power supplies, using the second just for the HDDs, or that he use a power supply with a massive single 12V rail. Eventually he ended up with one of your Silencer 750W power supplies and that completely solved the problem.

DD: That is one of the problems you can solve with a single rail, yes.

So what about safety concerns with let's say 90A on one rail?

DD: The safety agencies wouldn't approve our units if there was a risk to consumers. I've done tests using my own body to prove it's not an issue.

(That's something we really would have liked to see ourselves!)

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  • fausto412 - Monday, February 11, 2008 - link

    That guy he interview was very good at answering the questions. i hope we get more inteviews like this one posted. i actually feel like my next power supply should be pc power and cooling branded. Reply
  • Bozo Galora - Monday, February 11, 2008 - link

    Well gee, maybe when they get around to selling this thing or its offspring to the public at large, it will be able to compete with Nehalem?

    Oh golly, an ES STOCK 2.66 non overclocked Nehsalem does an 8 second 1M super pi.
    http://infomars.fr/forum/index.php?showtopic=1524">http://infomars.fr/forum/index.php?showtopic=1524

    Hmmmmmmmmm.
    Reply
  • Bozo Galora - Monday, February 11, 2008 - link

    Oooops.
    Somehow clicked the wrong article - heh
    Reply
  • tynopik - Monday, February 11, 2008 - link

    PS: that report has been debunked, it's not true Reply
  • Rocket321 - Monday, February 11, 2008 - link

    According to Newegg, the Antec NeoPower NeoHE 380 power supply is SLI certified. 380 watts.

    According to Antec this PS can also run at 100% load 24x7 guaranteed and comes with a 5 year warrenty.

    I bought this PS because after looking at AnandTech's power draw on several systems showing quad core, 8800gtx, very high end usually pulling less that 300 watts.

    No I'm not going to be able to run "tri-fire" but c'mon..lol

    Then again I don't drive a SUV so maybe I don't fully comprehend the American need for excess quantities.
    Reply
  • mindless1 - Monday, February 11, 2008 - link

    You have a good point but that 100% load rating may be at a lower ambient temp than yours sees. If the ambient is higher than the context it's rated under then the total output has to be derated to account for this.

    It wouldn't be hard to derate a 380W PSU below 300W simply by using it in a typical case with components using 300W.
    Reply
  • bob4432 - Monday, February 11, 2008 - link

    for ~98% of the desktop pcs, a quality 400W unit is more than enough. why continue to make these higher W units when really very few people need them?

    pretty interesting business model when you are counting on ignorance as one of your income arenas...

    then again i don't suffer from other inadequacies others might and am happy running my rigs w/ a antec EA 380 or 430....
    Reply
  • mindless1 - Monday, February 11, 2008 - link

    Why make them is easy. The goal is NOT to try to buy barely enough PSu for your needs. When you buy a car if you intend to drive 65MPH on the expressway do you select one that can barely go 70?

    If you plan on having 4 cubic feet of food in the freezer do you want exactly 4 cubic foot capacity?

    The wattage rating on a PSU is it's sustainable upper limit, not a lower limit nor average to match against system consumption. As the interview onlined, there are significant benefits choosing a PSU rated for more than the system will use. It's only extreme penny pinchers who tend to end up with less desirable results that try to cut every last cost.

    Consider another example, OEMs who use median to higher quality PSU but are often bashed by gamers for including a 300-350W PSU in a system they hoped to do a video card upgrade on. To some extent, the PSU should be matched to the reasonable expansion capabilities of the case and buyer, not just what is plugged in the very first time. A good PSU may last for multiple system upgrades or entire system replacements if you're the type that won't use the same CPU, video, etc for more than 3 years or so.
    Reply
  • Olaf van der Spek - Tuesday, February 12, 2008 - link

    So if you buy a 3 ghz CPU, you're going to run it at 2.4 ghz?
    PSUs should be rated at sustainable output at good efficiency, like other components.
    Not rated for some fantasy conditions.
    Reply
  • Olaf van der Spek - Monday, February 11, 2008 - link

    > pretty interesting business model when you are counting on ignorance as one of your income arenas...

    Doesn't that always apply to quality and brand names?
    Reply

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