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 fall into the enthusiast realm, why not run the power supply in an Athlon64 based 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:
Abit AV8 Motherboard - VIA K8T800 Pro chipset (Supplied by Abit)
Athlon64 FX-53 @ 2.4GHz(Supplied by Newegg.com)
Swiftech H2O-120 water cooling (Supplied by Swiftech)
2x 512MB Mushkin PC3200 DDR (Supplied by Mushkin)
Sapphire X800 XT PE (Supplied by Sapphire)
D-Link 10/100 NIC
Western Digital 80GB 8MB SATA Hard Drive
Seagate 40GB 2MB Hard Drive
Sony 3.5" Floppy Drive
2x 80mm case fans
2x 120mm case fan
All right then, the processor is running at 1.55v, the memory is at 2.8v and the AGP is at default. The system is a powerhouse 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.
Overall we ended up with very workable numbers from the Vantec ION2 power supply. The 12v rail is the only rail that didn't read over its stated power level, but it is also the only rail that didn't fluctuate during testing. It was very stable and didn't bounce around at all.
The other rails, on the other hand, did do a little dancing during the testing phase. While not enough to really cause any problems, I still like to make mention of the fact. The 5v rail fluctuated between 5.09 and 5.17v and moved constantly. The 3.3v rail showed a more gradual change and moved between 3.33-3.36v, so again not a huge amount. Even at the lowest recorded levels, the two bottom rails were still running just a bit over the rated voltages, so it is highly unlikely that this will cause any problems in a hardcore system.