When it comes to testing a power supply, there are a lot of choices in how to tackle the job. I have found that while a multimeter can give scads of data, most of us don't have a clue what all these facts and figures mean. Even the elite of the enthusiast crowd doesn't always keep up with the inner workings of a power supply. So what do we do?
Since a majority of our readers tend to be deeply into overclocking their systems, why not run the power supply in an overclocked system and then stress it out? After we get things worked up nicely by running 3DMark loops and burning CD disks, we'll take a reading of the power levels right in the middle of this mess. This ought to give us a workable answer as to whether or not this product can give us the power we need under stressful conditions. If it can give solid results under this type of operating condition, it will let us know that it can handle the regular chores that we are likely to throw at it.
So lets start off with a look at the test rig:
DFI LANParty NFII Ultra B Motherboard (Supplied by DFI)
Athlon XP Mobile 2400+ @ 2.3GHz
Thermaltake Volcano 12 HSF (Supplied by Thermaltake)
2x 256MB OCZ PC3500 DDR (Supplied by OCZ)
Sapphire Radeon 9800 Pro (Supplied by Sapphire)
TDK 52x CD-RW
Pioneer 16x DVD
Western Digital 80GB 8MB Hard Drive
Seagate 40GB 2MB Hard Drive
5x 80mm case fans
1x 120mm case fan
All right then, the processor is running at 1.65v, the memory is at 2.8v and the AGP is at default. The system is overclocked and the video card is known to cause weaker power supplies to cringe in terror. Add the stress factors mentioned above and we should get a fair look at what this PSU is capable of.
As a final note, most manufacturers claim a leeway of +/- 5% of any given output level. Using this as a common ground, we should end up with rail voltage levels of 3.135-3.465v on the 3.3v rail, 4.75-5.25v on the 5v rail and 11.4-12.6v on the 12v rail. Keep this in mind when we go through the numbers below. Higher values can be beneficial, lower values bear watching.
After running the stress tests several times and taking different results from the power supply, all ended up being within 2/100v of this screenshot. This is a very tight tolerance for any PSU and ranks among the best we have tested to date. This shows that you can expect very stable power to all peripherals and components. Very nice indeed.
As a side note, if you check out the advertising blurbs for this model, Antec is claiming it will maintain power levels within 3% of the stated voltage rails. Looking at the results above you can see for yourself that they do indeed meet this goal.
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