BFG entered the power supply market just about two years ago, introducing some decent products that in the end really did not stand out in a crowd. This definitely went against the grain for BFG. But fast forward to early 2008 and their hard fast determination to innovate and release a unique product resulted in the BFG ES 800. While it may have looked similar to other power supplies on the outside, the internals were certainly different. This new design delivered on the promise of a unique and effective power supply design and reviewers were impressed.
Today we have the opportunity to review the continued evolution of this unique design in the form of the BFG EX-1200 Watt power supply. Unlike the ES 800 before it, this power supply is definitely not shy on the latest features and power capacity. It boasts modular cabling, six PCI-E cables, a whopping 40 amps available on each of the 12V rails and something called frequency conversion technology to improve efficiency at lower loads.
So, we have a power supply that is efficient with low power delivery while offering huge capacity. It is kind of like a friend with a pick-up truck, always there with additional capacity when you need it. Sounds like a winner to me. Let's see if the bench tests tell another story. But, before we do, let's take a closer look at the BFG EX-1200 Watt power supply.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The specifications speak volumes to the unique capabilities of the BFG EX-1200. We have a 1200 Watt power supply that can deliver 1180 Watts which is a full 98% of the power supply capacity to the 12V rails with absolutely zero load required on any of the other voltage rails. That's right, zero, nadda, zilch. You could, in effect, use this power supply to exclusively supply 12V power and actually have it power up. True, the power is split over four individual 12V rails instead of a single large rail which would normally present some cause for concern, but, in this case, each one can handle up to a whopping 40 amps. That is more available power on a single 12V rail than many 600 Watt power supplies can deliver altogether. So far, so good.
Let's take a look at the common power supply feature list. We almost have a full house of green check boxes except for one, the 50C rating. Since the ATX standard only requires the manufacturer to rate the PSU at an unrealistically low 25C operating temperature, the true power rating may be significantly less at 50C. The BFG is rated at a more modest 40C, which is certainly more realistic than the 25C ATX specification, but still, this presents an open question. Can it deliver at spec at 50C? Our hotbox test, which brings up the ambient temperature to about 45 to 50C, will definitely uncover any weakness if it exists.
The box claims 80 Plus certification, but a quick review of the 80 Plus certification site comes up empty. I checked all the Andyson and BFG units published on the site and found none with a 1200 Watt capacity. However, the logo is on the box which would not be allowed without a passing grade, so one can only assume that the results are probably just not yet public. We will have to follow up on this one. A quick note; all of the certified Andyson units have historically tested at the some of the highest levels of efficiency according to published results. Another good omen for the BFG EX-1200.
So, where can you get one? The BFG EX-1200 power supply is available from Newegg as of March 24, competitively priced at $249.99 USD and looks to be a relative bargain for this class of power supply. Factor in the lifetime warranty (if you register your purchase in the first 30 days), the deal gets even sweeter. Now, if you forget to register your power supply, you are rewarded with a one year warranty so make sure you make a quick visit to bfgtech.com, register, and get your warranty in place. That lifetime warranty will be handy since the BFG EX-1200 offers enough capacity and features to last you a very long time.
The power supply comes neatly packaged in a tastefully designed black box with enough information provided to know exactly what you are buying. The handle is a nice touch, but in my case it simply served to move the box from my front door to the testing lab all of 80 feet away. Under these extreme loads, I am happy to report that the handle did not stretch, bend or break.
The back of the box provides some information about low noise and efficiency. There is even a guide on how to install a power supply in four basic steps for those of us in unfamiliar territory. Along the bottom you will find the 80 Plus logo and NVIDIA SLI certification labels; nothing too enlightening here.
The side nicely highlights the power supply capacity and a breakdown of the power supply features along with a nice summary of the cables. There is nothing better than a picture to make the message clear. There should be no surprises when you open this box.
And finally, a little bit of marketing which includes a little more explanation of the included features and capabilities highlighted elsewhere.
In the Box
Opening up the box, we see that the power supply is nicely packaged in foam to prevent any damage to the unit. This is the common way most high-end power supplies are packaged and this is no exception. Over all, the packaging appears up to the task of getting the power supply to you in one, non-dented piece.
Now, I may be a little old school, but I like some relevant information in the included manual. You know, the power distribution on the rails, where the cables go, the temperature rating and a summary of the power supply features. This manual simply includes some generic install instructions that work for any power supply. So, if you want to know anything about your power supply once it is in your system, you better keep the box, especially considering where the label is placed. A quick query to BFG and they indicated that all the power supply information is available online, but will not be published until release.
I expected a thicker 14 gauge power cable considering the power supply capacity, but instead it only includes your standard 18 gauge power cable rated for 10 amps. Doing that math and that is 120 times 10 for 1200 Watts, just enough. While not a deal breaker, it seems a little odd to have such a nice power supply and a skinny little power cable sticking out of the back. This will work just fine, but still, it would have been nice to include. BFG did see fit to include a few velcro cable ties to tidy things up in your system. That was a welcome touch.
Now, let's take a closer look at the BFG EX-1200.
The Power Supply
The power supply has a nice, understated look about it. Polished black finish, embossed BFG logo on the sides and a simple white print on black label offer a nice classy finish. The size of the unit is also noteworthy; the BFG EX-1200 is a very compact power supply considering the impressive capacity. BFG managed to cram all this capability into a regular ATX sized power supply.
Here is a view of the fan side of the power supply. This is what you would see in many of the newer BTX cases. The logo is mounted to the 135 mm fan grill to remind you what brand you purchased, just in case you forgot. The overall look and feel is nicely executed.
The back side of the PSU is relatively standard with hexagon mesh, but the mesh reaches all the way to the edges. It looks like this unit will breathe very well.
The BFG EX-1200 is not fully modular. There are the necessary feeds that most installs will require hard wired to the unit. If you require more connections, the modular cables can be added. It will certainly help eliminate unused cables in your system. One odd item is that the two modular PCI-E cables are labeled (12V2, 12V3), but there is no corresponding label on the modular panel. That will likely not matter since each rail can handle up to 40 amps, but it would still be nice to know where you are sourcing your power.
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 also three ATX CPU connectors on two cable runs with one the flexible 4+4 variant, the second a standard 8-pin along with a single 4-pin connector. That should cover the need of any current motherboard.
The 20+4 main connector can be seen here. It is nicely sleeved almost all the way to the end of the run. Here you see the two CPU cable runs. The 4+4 cable is routed on 12V1 which is shared with the main connector as well as all of the molex and SATA power runs, even the modular ones. The 8-pin and 4-pin CPU power cable is routed on 12V2. This setup will easily accommodate the use of a dual CPU motherboard with no risk of overloading any particular 12V rail thanks to the 40 amp per rail rating and separation of the loads.
Here are the three PCI-E power runs. Included are three 6+2 pin and three 6-pin cables with each on a dedicated 12V rail (12V2, 12V3 and 12V4). That means that each video run can supply up to 40 amps for an individual card if you use the 4+4 cable for your CPU power. That is more than enough to power any modern graphics card. What is interesting is that there are two 6-pin connectors on each of the three PCI-E cable runs along with the 8-pin adapter to add two additional grounds. It is kind of nice to route one power run to a graphics card that supplies both connections. This should make for a nice clean install.
And finally, here is a look at the standard molex and SATA power cables. There are four SATA and two molex runs available at full capacity, enough to power 12 SATA devices and six molex power devices. That is more than enough connections for the storage junkies.
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.
The components look well organized. There are two large Japanese sourced capacitors, as promised, Nichicon 450V 470uF items rated at 85C. Good quality capacitors look to be used throughout. The unit also looks to use a single large transformer for 12V power.
You will notice a small PCB riding in the center of the power supply. This is a self contained unit to supply 5V standby power (5VSB) that drives items like USB devices. By separating the unit, it makes this particular voltage more efficient and easier to manage since it is the only item driving power when your PC is off.
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 12V source. There are four in all. The power distribution is, as follows.
Now, a couple of notes on the power distribution. First, 12V1 is dedicated to the ATX cable, 4+4 CPU cable and all of the molex and SATA connectors. In my amperage meter testing, under load, my eVGA 790i SLI board draws about 8.5 amps with three graphics cards while a QX9650 running at 4.0 GHz draws about 8.8 amps. If you add a few hard drives, fans and a DVD writer, you would have an additional 8 amps or so, totaling about 25 amps of the available 40.
Optionally, you could power the CPU with the 8-pin or 4-pin connector attached the second 12V rail. Depending on your configuration, you would likely select one over the other since it could potentially affect efficiency. For example, with three graphics cards like the GTX 280, you would probably use the 4+4 connector to power the CPU and leave 12V2, 12V3 and 12V4 to each power a graphics card.
Alternately, with a couple of graphics cards like the 4870X2 installed, the 8-pin connection would make sense to spread 12V loads on all four rails, 12V3 and 12V 4 for video, 12V2 for the CPU and 12V1 for the motherboard and peripherals. We will test each of these scenarios.
Off to the lab to see how this interesting design will work.
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. Since anyone investing in a 1200 Watt power supply would not be using an entry level system, we are starting the loads out with a couple of mid-range graphics cards like the 9800GTX in SLI to represent Test 1 and then increase loads to represent higher end cards and quad configurations for which this PSU was designed. Now, without further adieu, the BFG EX-1200 lab results.
The BFG EX-1200 Watt Power Supply delivered some exceptional results right where it counts on a modern system, the 12V rails. Under all loads, voltage levels proved to be incredibly stable. ATX specifications permit up to 120 mV of ripple on the 12V source and the BFG EX-1200 results were, once again, very solid with measurements barely over 20 mV, even under high loads. That is a better result than some power supplies under light loads. 3.3V regulation was also top notch with results near a constant 3.31V. The only chink in the armor seems to be the 5.0V regulation, but, to be fair, those results were still very good and well within ATX specifications.
BFG claims 80 plus efficiency and again exceeds expectations. In fact, under about 50% load, the BFG EX-1200 was almost 90% efficient. This does drop slightly when one 12V rail is completely unloaded (12V3 in Test 3) to emulate a single dual GPU card like the 4870X2. Efficiency returns once load is placed back on all four 12V rails. If you follow our earlier recommendations on load distribution, you will benefit from higher efficiency. In Test 5, which represents the most strenuous power loads of a triple SLI or quad SLI/Crossfire system, we still saw 87% efficiency. This result is the best we have seen to date. For those looking to go green by using less power with their PC, this power supply will certainly help.
One extra test, 4B, was run to emulate a triple SLI load on the power supply while Test 4 represented a quad SLI load. So, instead of 45 amps on two PCI-E rails, we spread this load on three rails (15 amps on each PCI-E output). We also moved the CPU power to the 4+4 cable on 12V1 instead of the one we used through all of the tests on 12V2. This ensured that all 12V rails had load. As the results show, the BFG EX-1200 operated perfectly. No matter what peripherals you are using, this power supply can handle the load, quietly and efficiently.
Two years ago, BFG entered the power supply ring with a bit of a whimper. The products were decent but hardly distinguished themselves from their competitors. Well, that is now old news. BFG has managed to distinguish themselves from the crowd in the form of a BFG EX-1200 power supply with excellent features, solid design and industry leading capacity.
I have tested a lot of power supplies in my time and if I had to pick one to own, this would be it. Yes, it is that good. This power supply represents some of the latest engineering accomplishments in power supply design. It is compact, powerful and efficient.
If you are looking for a power supply to handle the latest graphics cards, processor and gobs of peripherals, the BFG EX-1200 will certainly deliver and earns our highest recommendation.
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