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 let's 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 "Redline" PC3200 DDR Memory (Supplied by Mushkin)
Sapphire X850 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're looking pretty good here. While the 3.3v rail is down just a tad under stress, it isn't anywhere near the point where we would need to show concern. Both other rails showed voltage levels over their rated values, so we should have no troubles at all in terms of our power needs.
Also of note is the dual 12v power rails on this model of power supply. This has become a popular feature lately and for good reason. A normal power supply offers somewhere in the area of an 18-24 ampere limit on the 12v rail. The dual 12v rails in this Enermax unit provides 18 amps per channel. This gives a total of 36 amps from the 12v rail. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that this is a good thing for the enthusiast.