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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  • FXi - Wednesday, February 13, 2008 - link

    Fact is there are ways to overcome the issues, or at least minimize the issues, with using modular cables. Once you have used them, it's hard to do without. And since a good portion of PCP&C's business comes from enthusiasts, not just servers, there should be consideration for both markets. He makes it sound more like he can't solve the issues when he talks about the risk involved.

    Silence? If 90% of the PC Power supply market is or has moved to 120mm and larger fan designs, would you call a failure to do so as well stubborness or good design? Greater volume of air with less noise is the benefit, and users appreciate it, and in fact demand it often now. It's long past time to go back to the lab and figure out how to incorporate it without losing the other good qualities of PCP&C designs.

    $.02
    Reply
  • anandtech02148 - Tuesday, February 12, 2008 - link

    currently i assembled a asus p5v hdmi microatx g35, 1hard drive,
    6gig 800mhz ddr2,1 dvd rom, 1 3870, and e8400 cpu all this running on
    antec 380wtts..i'm thinking of switchin my 3870 to 8800gtx will this psu be enough?

    should i get 2 north korean nuclear reactor?
    Reply
  • TheJian - Tuesday, February 12, 2008 - link

    You should be fine considering you're not going to be pulling more than 300w. Would I buy an Antec 500 instead? Yes. But I want my PSU to last until I toss it, not until I burn it up. I will admit my sister has an old PC Power and Cooling 350 (which has never had over an AthlonXP 3200+, well a barton 2500+ running at 3200+ speeds...LOL) that's over 7 years old and running like a champ. My old 425w from them is running in a friends PC after nearly 6 years. IF you buy overkill for what your job is you get a PSU that lasts FAR beyond the warranty. I've never had a PC Power and Cooling PSU fail (and I sold a lot as a reseller). Of course I always sell overkill because I don't want to fix them :) But I did tell the customer that IS what I'm doing.

    http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/core2...">http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/core2...

    Check above for a good estimation of power. It's almost a dupe of your system. They have a bunch of cpus heavily overclocked and running a 8800GTX I think it was - yeah check here for whats in it:

    http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/core2...">http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/core2...

    These are quads so you should be fine. In fact the 8400 is in there too. You can easily check vid card reviews to see how much difference there is in watts from a 3870 to 8800gtx. Sorry I don't have time to do that homework for you :) Good luck with the upgrade. If that PSU is 2yrs old or so I'd upgrade to a 500 Antec. You don't want it to burn out in 6 months and take some other parts with it. Realistically if you're running your PSU over 70% of it's value (60 in my book) I'd think about more power. Overkill probably at 60% but I've never had a BSOD and asked "hmmm...I wonder if it was my PSU"...LOL
    Reply
  • anandtech02148 - Wednesday, February 13, 2008 - link

    thanks for the info..i normally don't check xbit labs.. too many tech info sites..but i'll take a look now.
    you're scaring me with the 6months burn out psu lol
    the 8800gtx is sweeter for cod4 on a 1920 res than 3870.
    i choose a 380watts cause we're thinking summer will come and you need to crank the AC too :)
    Reply
  • TheJian - Wednesday, February 13, 2008 - link

    I check everywhere...LOL As much as possible anyway but xbit only maybe once a month. I try to hit them all at least that much (I know, I'm an addict...:) or maybe it's just a product of being bored some days). Actually the 8800GTX beats the 3870 at 1920x1200 resolution in EVERY GAME I've seen tested. Check a few at TomsHardware here:

    http://www23.tomshardware.com/graphics_2007.html?m...">http://www23.tomshardware.com/graphics_...del1=106...

    Just keep changing which game/resolution you want tested in the drop down list (assuming you already picked your two cards for test 3870+8800GTX). I think the 8800GTX wins 4/4 there (all of them) in that res. Knowing you may be in a HOT summer area of the world makes me lean even more to 500w PSU. I'd want my PSU running cool normally because I'm not really pushing it at all, then when summer comes it won't cause a problem even if you get 114f weather :)

    Sorry to scare you :)
    Reply
  • dailytechsucks - Monday, February 11, 2008 - link

    I like how you attacked him over building you an UNDERATED PSU that YOU requested. Then, you attack him over a noisy fan on an 1100W PSU. What a tool. Reply
  • mindless1 - Monday, February 11, 2008 - link

    I think a lot of people aren't realizing that if PC P&C just built PSU the same as everyone else, it devalues their product. They are INDUSTRIAL grade, when something deviates from the norm for certain benefits, one has to decide if that's really what they want.

    Nobody ever mentions things like whether their supposed 500W system draw would allow their quieter PSU to last for the life of the system. They act as though $1000 system running for a year is proof of something when it's not the first year that counts as much as the last year, until the viable lifespan of that system is over.

    Even some of those Antecs with the heat-intolerant caps would tend to run for a year or longer. Maybe those Antec owners wished their fan had moved a bit more air. I just don't see why someone buys an industrial rated higher wattage PSU if their system doesn't seem to fit that description, and if it does it's likely to have video card fans that make the PSU fan noise less obtrusive.
    Reply
  • TheJian - Monday, February 11, 2008 - link

    The only question I wanted asked wasn't. If it was a 120mm fan in their PSU I'd be more inclined to buy again. Currently my dad is about to dump his perfectly good TurboCool 510 because it's far noisier than my Enermax which runs silent. His is noisy all day. It's not a high pitched whine but still it sucks for $210 when bought its unacceptable to sound like a buzzing bee all day long. I went cheapo on an enermax with dual fans and he's sold on switching. They should fix this before they lose customers. We both know the PC Power and Cooling is the best out there but he doesn't care. Both fans in the enermax run slow and the back one shuts totally off a good portion of the time. My PC is silent almost always and much more powerful (1.8ghz OC to 3.0 with 4 HD's etc...it's loaded) than my dads. I'd venture to guess that 90% of his noise comes straight from the PSU (we both have the same Antec Super Lanboy aluminum case and dual 120mm fans so the only difference is the PSU and vid cards, and I have 2 more drives than him). The remaining portion is his old 9800 Pro. What gives? Why not a 120mm or even dual 80mm's running less rpm to cut noise like enermax? I've never liked the fact that PC Power and Cooling doesn't have an Intake fan sucking off some cpu heat but the rear 120mm takes care of that anyway in the lanboy case. But I'd still like dual fans or a 120mm. I've built a ton of PC's (owned a PC business for 8 years) and have always been impressed by the quiet middle of the road PSU's compared to all our PC Power and Cooling PSU's in the family (350w, 425w, and two 510's over the years).

    I actually got stuck with the enermax as an RMA for someone so I just kept it for testing in a 2nd PC and have liked it for almost 2 years. I got rid of my 425 for the same reason as my dad...LOL. If their claim is super high end PSU's (800w+ he said) are in a server what's their excuse for noisy 510's? Even their 750 Silencer can be noisy. For their money I'm expecting the silencer's to be the normal Turbo cool and something nearly silent all day for the word Silencer to be attached to it. I see that they have a "super silent" 510 coming but why isn't their whole line being converted to this? The rest of us just like noise or something? All of their "TURBO" labeled PSU's should be labeled "TURBINE". Because they sound like engines running all day. They never change. Constant BUZZ. I love the quality but hate the BUZZ. The only BUZZ I want is from a good beer or shot glass please :)
    Reply
  • mindless1 - Monday, February 11, 2008 - link

    It wasn't designed to be a quiet PSU for a home environment, so why did you buy it if that mattered more?

    If you don't mind voiding the warranty I suggest you just swap in a lower RPM fan, something like a dual ball bearing NMB rated for about 2200 RPM. The result should cost $4 and be acceptible since PC P&C uses a very conservatively high ambient rating system and your dad's system doesn't use near 510W.
    Reply
  • TheJian - Tuesday, February 12, 2008 - link

    I was thinking the same thing with regards to the fan switch, though the idea of tossing away 2.5yrs of warranty is hard to fathom if it fails. But what I didn't put in the post was my dad is about to go core2 dual (with overclocking in mind of course) and an 8800GT or above. The PSU was bought for this upgrade actually, not the originally built PC. You know, you buy with the future in mind, and here we are in the future - it was admittedly complete overkill before. But yeah I don't really like voiding the warranty on a 5 year PSU.

    However I disagree with it not being a home PSU. According to this article and Doug Dodson's responses he says 860+ PSU's from them are for servers etc (discussing the 1200w he said this). I'm inclined to believe all below that are HOME versions (even though he states a home PC with quadcore and quad SLI can push 1000+ at home...hmmm). I've had the same noise coming from their 350 and 425w versions previously as they all use the same fan. They have always been loud. OK, not video card/northbridge loud when loaded, but the only thing you hear when your PC was built with low noise in mind. I'm not saying it would drive you insane (well, depends on the person I guess) but as you get less noise you seem to want even less or none. You can't go back :) Its like cable internet. Once you've downloaded at 10mbit on cable even DSL seems like a 56k modem...ROFL. I'd apply that to noise as well :)

    I think we didn't notice much until the 9800pro (his previous 9700 pro was noisy and so was the old Barton chip). Once he went to A64 and had to RMA the 9700pro (they sent back an 9800pro...thanks ATI) everything was much more noticeable in the PSU I guess. Currently I don't think he's pushing even 220w (it's pretty loaded with cards and ram but still), which it would seem should trigger something in the PSU that would ratchet down the RPM like all our other PSU's. I have built lots of Antec's/Enermax's that will stop the rear fan completely when you're sitting in Word/Excel or browsing the web. Also at the time their Silencers were wimpy so I avoided them (they still don't have the regulation of the highend turbocools at 1% last I checked). In the end I'll probably mod the fan if the new build comes in at 300w or so. I think just a few decibels would be great so we probably wouldn't need lower the fan much to get to that "ahhhh" feeling :) Or we'd "maybe" look at the new 510 coming out if it doesn't take too long. They'd better not slap a $200 tag on it though, knowing the only difference is an adjustable fan probably which everyone else seems to be able to accomplish on a $50-80 PSU.
    Reply

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