In The Box
Once we crack open the seal of the box, the first thing we're greeted with is a smooth black finish on the power supply. While this may not make a huge difference to all readers, I have found that the black color is a great tactical addition for aesthetic purposes. Since the coloring is dark, it doesn't grab the eye and make itself noticeable. For those who have windowed cases with some interior customization, this will let the beholder see what you intended them to look at without being an eyesore.
Besides the black power supply, you also get an adapter cable, a power cord and a small instruction manual. While I'm not afraid to RTFM when needed, I've yet to have a real need to utilize them with regards to a power supply, but for the beginner out there it is included.
Like most modern power supplies, the ION2 has a honeycombed mesh grating on the rear panel. Since current models push a lot of power at sustained levels, the heat buildup is something that has been addressed. Working in conjunction with the 120mm fan in the bottom panel, the venting along the back allows for a solid airflow to keep things both cool and quiet.
Other than that, you'll see little else on the rear portion of the unit. This includes a universal selector switch to choose between 120v and 240v of power. This is now done automatically. I'm thinking that they knew folks like me who have had the misfortune of not checking this switch position in the past and burnt up a perfectly good PSU. If you too fall into this category, then fear not since the problem has been fixed.
Of course when we have a power supply, we have all kinds of cabling and connectors. A feature that is new to this model is a fully sleeved cabling layout. When sleeved cables began to become popular, manufacturers usually only used the material on the primary and 4-pin supplemental power cables. Vantec has taken this a step further and have sleeved all cable strands leaving the box. Even the wiring between Molex cables is sleeved to make sure you keep everything looking neat and clean. Besides making the inside of the case look better, it will improve airflow throughout the enclosure.
As far as the connectors available to you, you get quite a few. Included in the wiring harness are a 24-pin primary connector, a 4-pin supplemental power connector, 2 SATA connectors (hard wired, not adapters), 1 PCIe connector, 8 standard 4-pin Molex connectors, and 2 FDD connectors. Overall we have most bases covered for even an enthusiast rig.
But wait... did I say a 24-pin primary connector?
Fear not, Vantec also includes a 24-pin to 20-pin adapter. This shows a little good planning on the part of the manufacturer. Some of the newer motherboards hitting the market are using a new 24-pin main coupling. When using a power supply with a native 20-pin connector and using an adapter to make it a 24-pin variety, several of these new mainboards have not worked well. In comparison, I have tested several 24-pin power supplies and have yet to have an issue with using the adapter. This helps make sure you will have the maximum chance for compatibility regardless of what type ATX power connector you need.
So far things are looking good. There are some newer features that look promising and the overall appearance is sharp and clean. While this is an important aspect of purchasing a new power supply, we need to delve into the numbers too. So lets get cracking and see what this thing can do as far as power is concerned.