Power supply manufacturers always try to walk a fine balance between quality and price. Sometimes, the cool modular cabling, LED fans, polished exterior and huge wattage capacity are features many buyers consider optional. This audience is more concerned about the performance and value of a power supply instead of a few nifty extras. Tagan offers power supply products that cover both audiences and have been doing so since 2001.
Tagan Technology Corporation is a division of Maxpoint GMBH in Germany with branch offices in the United Kingdom, France and Taiwan. Here in the U.S. the products are marketed under the Tagan brand, but to confuse things a little more, the products are also marketed under Nanopoint Technology, a company defined as a manufacturer of power supply units, mobile and data storage enclosures, PC accessories and peripherals.
Today, we take a look at a member of the Tagan SuperRock series of power supplies. Our sample is an 880 watt version, the TG880-U33II. Other capacities are available which range from a modest 400 Watts through 1200 Watts. These power supplies are non-modular units that make a number of claims regarding voltage stability, efficiency and high-end components. We look past the brochure and subject the power supply to our new PSU test regimen and then take it apart to see if the claims are all true. Can the Tagan SuperRock 880 Watt live up to the claims? - Heads I win; tails we have an electrical fire.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The label makes claim to 864 Watts of 12V power, or a healthy 72 amps of the 880 Watt total capacity. Many 1000 Watt power supplies do not command that much 12V capacity. There are four rails for 12V support with 18 amps each. So, some quick math and we have 18x4 or 72 amps. This is an interesting capacity since you would never be able to use it all. Most systems will need to use anywhere from 50 to 70 Watts from the 3.3/5.5VSB/-12V capacities. It makes me wonder if we really have a 1000 Watt power supply in a lower capacity version. We will find out.
You will note the only feature exceptions are the 50C power rating and modular cabling. Since the ATX standard only requires the manufacturer to rate the PSU at unrealistically low 25C operating temperature, the true power rating may be significantly less at 50C since power loss can occur as operating temperatures rise to this level. There are no claims on the box or manual indicating any type of temperature specific power rating, so I have to assume that it is the 25C standard. Now, the one interesting note is that instead of the usual 85C capacitors, the Tagan TG880-U33II uses 105C. We will see if this has any bearing on the power supply performance at 50C.
The power supply is 80 Plus Bronze certified which means the unit operates at a minimum of 82% efficiency at 20% load, 85% at 50% load (typical) and 82% at 100% load. This means the unit uses less power at the socket to perform the same work as less capable power supplies. Certification standards range from the base 80 Plus, through Bronze, Silver and lastly, Gold, with each offering improved efficiencies. We will certainly be validating this claim.
The power supply is a relatively new release and, unfortunately, I was not able to find it from any popular retailer here in the U.S. - While this is understandable for a newly released product, it will be hard to determine what kind of value this power supply offers without a solid street price. If I had to guess (and, it really is a guess), I would expect this power supply to be competitive at a price of around $180.
The power supply comes in a nice retail box with an image of a red race car to exude the image of performance. The 80 Plus Bronze certification logo is proudly displayed on the front along with the series and part number. It definitely looks like this might grab your attention on the retail shelf.
The back of the box has very little information, but it does show the international market this product targets. The information is in very small print and summarizes some of the features of the power supply.
The side nicely highlights the power cables included. No confusion here.
Now, instead of the other side which simply indicates the type of plug included (US, UK, or EU), we instead take a look at the bottom of the box. This offers some good information with the power supply power rating and iconized views of the 12CM fan, four 12V rail, Active PFC, 80 Plus efficiency, Low Noise output and RoHS compliant build status (no Lead). It also boasts the unit was designed in Germany since the Germans always build things better, right? - We will put that to the test.
In the Box
Opening the box, we find that the power supply is well packed in a foam casing and plastic wrap to avoid any scuffs from the attached cables. This packing should ensure the unit arrives with no damage.
And since the packaging is relatively simple, here is another view of the foam casing that protects the power supply from your delivery service.
The manual is a nice glossy production with easy to read information and, like the box, includes a few language versions (German, English and French). The manual covers the cabling pin outs, the voltage ratings and some very clear directions on installation of the power supply.
The unit comes with the standard 18 gauge power cable, some mounting screws and a couple of black wire ties.
Next up, a closer look at the Tagan TG880-U33II power supply.
The Power Supply
First impressions are very good. The casing is a textured flat black color with a silver fan grill with a black and silver logo. It is a clean, classic look. For those familiar, you will notice an uncanny similarity to a Silverstone power supply, the OP1000-E, but more about that later. If you are looking for a power supply that has a little flash to show off in a windowed case with a fancy LED fan, cool modular cables or the like, this unit would not be it. Then again, it all comes down to taste. Like a good book, you should never judge it by the cover. Ultimately, how the power supply delivers power is the most important quality.
Here is a view of the fan side of the power supply. This is the side up that you would see in a BTX case. The power supply offers a nice clean basic look.
The back side of the PSU is relatively standard with hexagon mesh. You will note the status light to provide a visual indicator that the power supply is in a ready state. You will also notice that the power cable is vertical. Tagan claims the vertical AC socket is less likely to interfere with a system case.
Here is a look at the cable side of the power supply. You can see that all the cables are sleeved into the power supply. You will notice that there is no plastic ring protector around the opening. These are normally installed to insure that the power cables are not shorted out on the casing. A quick brush of the finger along the edge answers the question. The metal is thick and has been deburred and rounded. No chance of a cut on these edges.
All of the cables are of good length, nicely sleeved and provide flexible connectivity. The 8-pin and 6-pin PCI-E runs will help power the very latest graphics cards. There are two ATX CPU connectors with one being the flexible 4+4 variant and the other the standard 8-pin that is also EPS compliant.
The 20+4 main connector can be seen here. It is nicely sleeved almost all the way to the end of the run. This runs shared power with the MOLEX and SATA cables. There are also two CPU runs. The first, the 4+4-pin connector is exclusively on 12V2 while the other 8-pin CPU power cable is actually spread over two rails, 12V2 and 12V3. So, if you are going to use this power supply for a system with one CPU, make sure you use the modular 4+4 to ensure you draw from the one 12V output and do not affect your graphics card(s).
Here are the four PCI-E power runs. Included are two 6+2 pin and two 6-pin cables with each pair on dedicated 12V rails (12V3 and 12V4). That allows up to 18 amps per graphics card. Considering a GTX 280 uses about 15 amps, this should be more than enough for each rail to power a single GPU graphics card each. If you are looking at installing a dual graphics card like the GTX 295, you may require more than the 18 amps supplied by the single rail. A work around is to use one connector with blue striped wires (12V4) and one with the green stripe (12V3). This will ensure your card has more than enough power. If you are looking at using two, you may want to consider a different power supply with more power available on the PCI-E dedicated 12V rails.
And finally, we take a look at the standard molex and SATA cabling. These are also of generous length and will offer flexibility in almost any sized system case enclosure. Four of these cable runs are included and are connected to 12V1 which will share load with your motherboard. This should not pose an issue.
A Look Inside
Next, we open up the power supply to take a quick look at how well things are built where it really counts. Please keep in mind that opening a PSU will void your warranty and can be dangerous.
You can see the two large transformers that supply 12V power nestled between the heat sinks. These appear to run in parallel instead of using a single large transformer. You will also notice that there are three large main capacitors in the PSU versus the normal use of two. They are Hitachi branded capacitors rated at 450v 270uF @ 105C. Yep, those are certainly Japanese capacitors. But, looking at everything else in the PSU and we see your standard Teapo capacitors. You may or may not recognize the same layout as the SilverStone OP series power supplies since Tagan looks to have sourced from the same Impervio Electronics according to the UL certification number - E311876.
Here is a look from the cable runs. The board is indeed the same one used for the 1000 Watt version. The board is marked with TG-880/1000. It seems the only difference is no cable runs attached to 12V5. This is probably a good sign for the ripple and 12V capacity as the power supply may be loping at peak claimed loads. And, like the Silverstone 1KW unit, the Tagan 1KW version can handle 80 amps of 12V load. The big difference is the rail breakdowns. The Tagan has OCP enabled on each rail while the Silverstone has it disabled for a single large rail output. So far, the Tagan is looking good.
While I am inside the power supply, I like to trace back the rail mappings to see where things are sourced. Like many power supplies, it looks like we have virtual rails shunted off the main dual 12V source. There are five in all. The power distribution is, as follows.
Now, for a couple of observations about the power distribution. First, 12V1 is dedicated to the ATX motherboard power and all of the molex and SATA power. This is a good choice since these two loads will likely never exceed 18 amps. In my testing, under load, my EVGA 790i SLI board draws about 8.5 amps and all the other items, including fans, hard drives and the like added another 7 amps. That's 15 amps.
12V2 is dedicated to the CPU and on my test system with a Q9650 at 4.0 GHz the CPU draws about 8.8 amps while running wPrime 2.0 to load each of the CPU cores at one hundred percent. So, even with two quad processors, the 18 amps should be sufficient (just) to power two. Now, just to make sure, the power supply has the second 8-pin CPU connector blended onto 12V3.
12V3 and 12V4 are dedicated PCI runs if you do not use the 8-pin CPU connector. The blue striped cables are 12V3 and the green striped ones 12V4. Each rail commands 18 amps to power up almost any two graphics cards. Like other multi-rail power supplies, there are some open questions on whether these two dedicated PCI-E outputs could handle a couple of GTX 295 or 4870X2 cards.
Well, I think we have talked enough about the Tagan TG880-U33II. We now know it is similar to the Silverstone, sourced from the same OEM and has some very good design elements. Time to torture, ahem, test the power supply.
Our load tests leverage a couple of FAST ATE active load testers and a variety of other equipment such as a hotbox, oscilloscope, power conditioner, temperature probe and a power consumption meter. You can read more about our standard testing approach here.
Our first five tests represent incrementing classes of modern gaming systems with the last test catered to the full spec of the power supply at up to about 1 kW. We measure voltage output at each load, ripple and efficiency. Now, for the Tagan SuperRock 880 Watt results:
The Tagan SuperRock 880Watt power supply delivered some decent results. As expected, the 12V performance was excellent. Even with 23 and 24 amps on the PCI-E rails in Test 4 and 5, the 12V performance remained above 11.80V. Very nice. The ripple on the rails were so low I had to double check the equipment to make sure something was not loose. After a double take, ripple results proved to be excellent with a 35mV result against the permitted ATX standard of 120 mV. The 5V performance also operated without a hitch. Solid results throughout. Ambient or at 50C, the unit operated perfectly on the 12V and 5V outputs. That was the good news, now for the bad news.
The 3.3V results were disappointing. The Tagan TG880-U33II did well up to 5.5 amps, but once I bumped 3.3V loads to 9 amps, things fell apart. This should not have been an issue as it only represented one third of the 3.3V capacity, especially after getting such good results on the 12V and 5V output. I actually went back and re-ran all the tests and double-checked the 3.3V output with a Fluke multi meter with the same result. Tests 4 and 5 both yielded 3.3V output below ATX standards. And, oddly enough, 3.3V output was worse on the ambient load tests.
I thought it may have been due to a possible overload on the 12V PCI-E rails that dragged down the 3.3V output somehow, but in Test 6 the PCI-E loads were only 18 amps and we saw the very same 3.3V output result. I thought it may have been me, but after plugging back in another power supply that did well on the 3.3V tests, it did so once again. The problem definitely lay with this unit. Ah well, they can't all pass.
So, what about efficiency? - The Tagan TG880-U33II definitely proved that it deserved the 80 Plus Bronze rating (20% load - 82% or higher, 50% load - 85% or higher and 100% load - 82% or higher). Normal use (Test 3) saw efficiency around 88%. Wow. In fact, tests bear out that the unit would have actually qualified for the 80 Plus Silver certification. Now, if it was not for the low 3.3V output, this unit would have scored very well for this class of power supply.
The Tagan has a lot of potential. It has a solid design, good components and high efficiency. The 12V and 5V output regulation is some of the best I have seen. Where it falls down is on 3.3V output regulation.
As a saving qualifier, the 3.3V performance was fine at defined PC loads this power supply is likely to see, but if you are paying for 880 Watts, you want to know it will deliver on output. Well, unfortunately, it appears the Tagan TG880-U33II SuperRock comes up a bit short in that respect.
PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.
United States: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com
United Kingdom: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.co.uk
Australia: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com.au
Canada: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.ca
Deutschland: Finde andere Technik- und Computerprodukte wie dieses auf Amazon.de