Exclusive Interview with PC Power & Cooling Founderby Christoph Katzer on February 11, 2008 3:00 AM EST
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Not long ago we had a long talk with PC Power & Cooling founder Doug Dodson about power supplies and the question came up why there aren't lower wattage power supplies with enough PEG connectors to support higher end graphics card setups. The reason why will be answered shortly but Doug also agreed to build us a custom power supply based on the newly introduced Turbo Cool 860. The article about that power supply is already online, and as a follow-up we wanted to post this interview.
For the curious, that's Christoph on the left and Doug on the right…
We met Doug and the PC Power / OCZ crew at this year's CES show in Las Vegas, and he took the time to answer a few questions we had. We have three topics to cover: Technology, Markets, and Work. These will concentrate respectively on the technology offered by PC Power & Cooling, the newly extended markets created by the acquisition from OCZ, and how the work changed during this time until today.
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FXi - Wednesday, February 13, 2008 - linkFact 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.
anandtech02148 - Tuesday, February 12, 2008 - linkcurrently 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?
TheJian - Tuesday, February 12, 2008 - linkYou 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.
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:
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
anandtech02148 - Wednesday, February 13, 2008 - linkthanks 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 :)
TheJian - Wednesday, February 13, 2008 - linkI 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:
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 :)
dailytechsucks - Monday, February 11, 2008 - linkI 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.
mindless1 - Monday, February 11, 2008 - linkI 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.
TheJian - Monday, February 11, 2008 - linkThe 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 :)
mindless1 - Monday, February 11, 2008 - linkIt 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.
TheJian - Tuesday, February 12, 2008 - linkI 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.