IN WIN Commander Series 1200 watt Modular Power Supply

Mike arms himself up with IN WIN's Commander1200 power supply and puts it into battle to see what it can handle.
| Nov 24, 2008 at 11:00 pm CST
Rating: 90%Manufacturer: IN WIN

Introduction

IN WIN Commander 1200 Modular Power Supply
IntroductionFor many of us old timers who have been playing with computers for a while, the name IN WIN conjures up images of system enclosures. It should since the company has been around since 1985 with their primary goal being the sales and marketing of their enclosure product line. Since that time they have expanded a bit and their lineup now includes enclosures, external hard drive enclosures and power supplies.One of their latest concepts is a new product line that aims directly toward the heart of the enthusiast level builder. Though a smaller niche group of buyers, we tend to look toward the high-end products that are going to cost more then the average user is willing to spend.The target of today's article is the new Commander Series of power supplies. These units are rated from 650 watts to 1500 watts of power output and consist of a total of five models, so you are assured of getting the power you will need for your own custom build. The Commander we will be testing today is one of the big boys, the 1200 watt Commander. We will delve into this new power supply and let you know what kind of features are included and what kind of power you can expect to be produced. After all, this is your money we're talking about so we will want to make sure it is worth the expense.So kick up your heels and relax a bit as we take a closer look at the IN WIN Commander 1200 watt PSU. Let's put it to the test and see if it is worth consideration for your next power build.

In The Box

In The Box
IN WIN Commander 1200 Modular Power Supply
Given the naming scheme of this product, it is no real surprise to see a military style packaging and appearance. With the camouflage coloring on the box to the olive drab paint on the power supply itself, it fits right in with the Commander moniker. For those concerned with this color, however, it is dark enough to be unobtrusive in an enclosure with a window. If a black colored PSU will fit your color scheme, then this one will also fit in with no issues.As for what you actually get, there isn't a lot of extra stuff, but there is plenty for the task at hand. Besides the main unit you get a package of the modular cabling strings, a power cord, the mounting screws and a few zip ties to help you with your cable management. Also included are a protective bag for the main unit and a nylon portfolio-type casing for the extra cables.
IN WIN Commander 1200 Modular Power Supply
The main unit itself, as noted earlier, is of a modular design. As we have pointed out before, this is a great feature for those who are concerned about cable management since you only attach the strings containing the connectivity options you need. The others remain stored away and you don't have to worry about keeping them out of the line of the main airflow. Just one of those things that isn't really necessary, but is certainly nice to see.As far as power is concerned, the Commander 1200 is rated at 1200 watts of continuous power draw. The unit has four 12v rails with two being rated at 20A each and two being rated at 36A each. This gives plenty of overhead for high-end graphics solutions, but even if you need more power along the 12v rail, the Commander is an auto-switching model meaning that the 12v rails will combine if one becomes overloaded. Both the 5v and 3.3v rails are rated at 30A each giving a lot of system flexibility.
IN WIN Commander 1200 Modular Power Supply
The external facing of the Commander 1200 is rather plain in appearance, consisting of nothing more than a power port and a toggle switch that allows you to turn the power supply on and off. The remaining space is taken up by a mesh facing that allows ample air to be circulated through the unit. For those concerned about lighting effects, there is a light red glow that comes from the toggle switch. Keep in mind that this will be facing outward, so will not interfere with any lighting you may already have in place.
IN WIN Commander 1200 Modular Power Supply
To keep the air moving through this beast of a power supply, IN WIN uses a large 140mm fan in the bottom face of the unit. This allows for a lot of air to be moved through the enclosure with a minimal amount of noise. Like most power supplies currently available, it has a thermistor installed internally that allows the fan to automatically adjust in speed to combat excessive heat. During our tests, I was never able to hear the fan of the power supply. It is nice and quiet but works well to keep your PSU from overheating.It should also be noted that there is no LED lighting in this fan so it will not interfere with colored schemes you may already have installed. Just my opinion, but this is in keeping with the militaristic theme of the PSU; no lighting to give away its position.
IN WIN Commander 1200 Modular Power Supply
As noted earlier, this is a modular model with only a few native connections actually coming from the internals of the power supply enclosure. Native cabling includes a 20+4 pin primary, an 8-pin (EPS) connector and a 4+4 pin (ATX) connector. These cables are cinched together as they exit the housing, then are wrapped in a mesh material to keep your air channels as open as possible.The remaining power needs are modular and will be attached to this internal panel. The red and blue ports you see above are color coded for the graphics subsystem and are designed to help you keep from drawing too much power from a single rail. The four ports to the left are for your other cable assemblies and can be set up in whatever manner you desire. To keep dust from clogging the unused ports, plastic covers are inserted into all the openings. Just remove the ones you need for your system and leave the remaining ones in the unit.
IN WIN Commander 1200 Modular Power Supply
As far as cabling is concerned, there are many to choose from. Modular cable assemblies include 3x PCI-E6, 3x PCI-E6+2, 10x SATA, 8x Molex and 2x FDD. The SATA connections are set up on two strings of 5 connectors each with the shortest length to connector measured at 21" and the longest distance measured at 46". The Molex and FDD connectors are set up on two strings in a 4x1 configuration (four Molex and one FDD per string). Minimum length for the Molex strings was measured at 20.5" and maximum length was measured at 38". The FDD connectors are at the end of each string and measure in at 44".
IN WIN Commander 1200 Modular Power Supply
A final note regarding the modular cabling concerns the Molex connectors. Though this feature is not as uncommon as it once was, I always like to see the Molex mod as shown above. It is a simple concept, but can make things a lot easier when you need to disengage a Molex. The connector is inserted in a normal manner. When you need to remove it for any reason, simply pinch the plastic tabs and it causes the Molex to easily come out of the peripheral. Nothing really fancy, but it is a nice feature and is incredibly handy for those (like me) who are constantly changing out components.Now that we have had a chance to see what we get for our money, let's see how well this thing performs!

Testing

TestingWhen it comes to testing a power supply, there are two courses to travel. One takes you down a path using a device to stress out the PSU and provide data regarding the power levels across all three rails. The second, and the one I make use of, utilizes an actual test system to give a more real-world account of what the power supply is capable of. While both methods have their merits, I prefer to use an actual computer to more closely resemble the manner of use that you, the potential customer, will put the product through.That said, let's take a quick look at the test system. I have continued to beef up the system to put a more realistic strain on the power supply.MSI X48C Platinum motherboard (Supplied by MSI)Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 processor2x 1024MB Corsair XMS2-8500-C5 memory (Supplied by Corsair)2x Sapphire X2900XT graphics boards in CrossfireX configuration (Supplied by Sapphire)2x Western Digital 250GB SATA hard driveWestern Digital 160GB SATA hard drivesSony 52x CD-ROM optical driveSamsung 16x DVD-R optical drive1x 200mm fan4x 120mm fansWhile this isn't a Quad-GPU setup, we are certainly in the realm of having a system that is going to put a significant power drain on any power supply. Each of the X2900XT boards is capable of pulling close to 250 watts of power. Testing will consist of checking the power levels across all three rails at idle and again while the system is under stress. This should give us a good look at the capabilities of the power supply being tested.Results
While I realize that I am not maximizing the available power of the Commander unit, the components in our test rig are enough to put a hefty strain on even high-end power supplies. That said, I noted very little drop in the voltage rails under load. This bodes very well for the unit's ability to handle the rigors of enthusiast level systems. During our tests I made note of a slight fluctuation in the 5v rail of 0.01v. All other rails were rock solid and produced no fluctuations during our testing phase. I would have no reservations recommending this unit to someone who is in need of a powerful PSU.

Final Thoughts

Final ThoughtsWhen all is said and done we look at a few of factors to decide whether or not a power supply of worthy of consideration. The first thing we take note of is features. The IN WIN Commander 1200 offers a modular design, plenty of connectors, ample cable lengths for larger enclosures and a unique take on the color scheme.The next thing we need to know is the level of performance. In this case we saw all power levels above their rated levels and a minimal drop in voltage when the test system was placed under a load. The voltages were very stable and even the noise level was very acceptable.Finally we want to know just how hard our purchase is going to hit our wallets. Power is good, but most of us are on at least some sort of budget. The Commander 1200 has a MSRP of about $370US, and at that price it would fall close to the middle of the price range for this high-end of a power supply that offers a modular cabling system. Of course, who wants to pay full retail price, though? With a little online searching you can pick up this beast for closer to the $280-290 price range, which makes it one of the lowest priced 1200 watters on the street.If you are in the market for a powerful PSU that has features to spare, a modular design, no extra lights and a price tag that is more than acceptable, you will find it hard to come up with a better deal than the IN WIN Commander 1200. Some may not like the color scheme, but I think a lot of us will. At under $300, though, it is going to be a hard deal to beat.
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