You may not be familiar with FSP Group as a brand, but, you may have actually bought one under a more familiar name like Antec, OCZ, Silverstone, or Zalman. FSP Group has been providing OEM built power supplies since 1993. Expanding on this business, they are now marketing directly to the consumer under the FSP label instead of the Fortron name you may be somewhat familiar with.
So, FSP Group is not a newcomer to the power supply business with well over a decade of design and manufacturing innovation along with more 80 Plus certified power supplies than any other OEM manufacturer.
In the lab today is one of these direct branded power supplies, the FSP Group POWER_MOD 700W. This item is squarely aimed at the mid-range market with capacity support for one high-end or a couple of entry level graphics cards in SLI/Crossfire configurations. It offers all of the latest items you might look for in a power supply; semi-modular, 80 Plus certified, SLI capable and stable.
A quick peek at the label and the odd item that sticks out is the three PCI-E power runs, which is a little odd for a power supply sporting the SLI certification, but, hey, I am getting a little ahead of myself. Let' s see how this unit stacks up.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The specifications look competitive for a moderate capacity power supply with a decent 18 amps available on each of the four 12V rails for 55 amps combined. Assuming normal 3.3V and 5.0V loads, this will work out to a more modest 52 amps which is still plenty of power. The question will be how well the power supply can deliver this power to the PC system. It all comes down to how the power is divided across the available rails. We will see if this unit has the right blend.
A review of the features comes up strong with a couple of exceptions; the 50C rating and 80 plus certification. Since the published 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. A quick check of the included manual does indicate the FSP Group POWER_MOD 700W is rated at this lower 25C operating temperature. This fact is noted in the manual along with another interesting note about a significantly lower 600W capacity at 50C. Assuming your system operates at a more realistic operating temperature of 40 to 45C, the power supply will likely deliver about 620 to 640 Watts if the specification holds true.
The box makes no claim to the 80 Plus certification. This seems a little odd considering FSP Group offers so many other 80 plus certified models. A quick review of the certified list offers a dizzying array of potential candidates that have similar 700W capacity, but none look to be a verifiable match. This is not necessarily a negative since almost everything FSP Group manufactures is 80 plus certified, so you could probably assume this unit is based on one of the certified units. We will see if this unit is indeed 80% efficient under load.
The power supply is available from many online etailers with prices ranging from about $110 to $150. Newegg lists the power supply for 114.99 U.S. Dollars at the time of writing. FSP also sell direct at ShopFSP.com; you can find a listing for it here.
The power supply comes in a simple box with the distinguishing features highlighted like the quad rails, active PFC and the 120 mm fan. Now, it might just be me, but the box graphics have a little bit of a dated feel with the lightning bolt shield graphic and blocky letters. But, ultimately, the box serves a couple of purposes other than looking pretty. The first function is to simply indicate what is hidden within and it does accomplish that. And, second, to protect the item within from your friendly, neighborhood delivery service.
The back of the box provides similar information as the front along with the power supply power rating. There is nice photo of the modular side of the power supply to highlight the modular support. And, again the big lightning bolt logo that gives the dated feel. It is definitely not a contemporary design.
The side nicely breaks out the included cable connectors to avoid any surprises. It also highlights the supported processors and SLI / Crossfire certifications.
The last side restates the same information and basic items like the box contents and weight. A very basic design, but you don't buy a power supply because it comes in a cool box, right? That's a good thing since this one is a bit on the blah side and would likely not draw attention competing on a retail shelf.
In the Box
Opening up the box we see that the power supply is decently packaged in bubblewrap to prevent any light abuse during shipping. It is very light protection and is common with value oriented power supplies to keep packaging costs to a minimum. This box better get packed in foam peanuts in a bigger box before any type of shipping to avoid damage to the power supply.
The manual provides some good reference information about the power supply including capacity, connection types and temperature ratings. I like to see this kind of information in the included manual. A nice plus.
The unit comes with your standard 18 gauge power cable, some mounting screws and a couple of Velcro wire ties to tidy up your cabling which is a nice touch.
Now, let's take a closer look at the FSP Group POWER_MOD 700W power supply itself.
The Power Supply
The power supply has a nice, understated look about it with a basic black finish, embossed logo on one side and a simple white print on black label. The unit has the now common hexagon mesh on the exhaust side to improve air flow which is force fed by a quiet 120 mm fan. There was a time when this design was the exception, but has now become the norm leveraging a single large fan for cooling service. Overall, the unit has a nice clean design.
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. You get to view the embossed logo in this orientation which is a nice addition to the clean black design.
The FSP POWER_MOD 700W 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 easily be added. The modular cables all attach to the third and fourth 12V rails with peripherals on the third rail and both modular PCI-E connections on the fourth rail.
All of the cables are of good length, sleeved and provide flexible connectivity. The 8-pin and 6-pin PCI-E runs will help power one of the very latest graphics cards. There are also two ATX CPU connectors with one the flexible 4+4 variant and one a standard 8-pin on the first and second rails.
The 20+4 main connector can be seen here along with the CPU power cables. Each of these is defined on a separate 12V source; 12V1 for the CPU, 12V2 for the 8-pin and 12V3 for the main connector.
Here are the three PCI-E power runs, one wired and two modular. I'm not sure why the red color was chosen to sleeve the modular PCI-E cables. My preference is always to keep all the cables and connectors the same color; call me picky. Included are two 6+2 pin and one 6-pin cable with the wired one on 12V2 and the modular runs on 12V4. This combination offers up to 36 amps for video power. That is more than enough to supply the 28 to 30 amps required to power a couple of GTX 280 graphics cards.
And finally, here is a look at the standard Molex and SATA power cables. There is support for up to five SATA and five Molex devices along with one floppy connector. That should be enough to power almost any gaming system unless you plan to have more than three or four hard drives. This is in line with other power supplies in this power range.
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 potentially be dangerous.
It is a relatively simple build. There is a single large Teapo capacitor which is common on value class power supplies. The design is very basic and is similar to other value class units with more emphasis on reducing the cost. We will see if this basic design can hold up under load testing.
Here is another look at the internals. The cooling looks adequate but definitely follows a minimalistic design which is normal in value oriented power supplies. So, nothing spectacular here to note above a basic build. One interesting note, the power supply looks to be the same as the 850 Watt version and has an adjustable pot. Oft times, a power supply is designed to handle a range of loads and the output is simply adjusted to reduce the potential of the unit. This also has the benefit of producing cleaner power at lower capacities. It certainly makes building a power supply less costly by leveraging a single form factor.
While I am inside the power supply, I like to trace back the rail mappings to see where things are sourced. In this case, I am just validating what is reported on the label. Like many power supplies, it looks like we have virtual rails shunted off the main 12V source of which there are four in all. The power distribution is, as follows.
Now, a couple of notes about the power distribution. First, 12V1 is dedicated to the CPU with the 4+4 CPU cable. Considering that a QX9650 at 4.0 GHz draws about 8.8 amps, the 18 amps capacity is more than enough even with extreme over-clocking. 12V2 serves the first 8 pin PCI-E run as well as the second 8 pin CPU connector. Again, 18 amps is more than ample for CPU duty or a single graphics card power run or both. 12V3 is limited to the motherboard and peripherals. A fully loaded 790i SLI board draws about 8.5 amps and if you add some fans, hard drives and DVD devices, you would probably see another 5 amps or so to keep well within the 18 amp limit. Lastly, 12V4 serves the modular 8 pin and 6 pin PCI-E power runs. This would be enough to service a video card like the GTX 280 (15 amps) or even potentially a GTX 295 (20 amps). We will test this ability.
Realistically, it looks like the power supply should be able to handle a couple of GTX 260 or GTX280 cards using one of the 6 pin PCI-E power adapters normally included with the video card. We will test that in our power loads.
Well, off to the lab to see how this basic power supply can hold up under load.
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. We will use our mid level capacity load tests to stress the FSP POWER_MOD 700W power supply.
The FSP POWER_MOD 700W Watt Power Supply delivered some very good results on 12V performance as well as 5V. Ripple was well within specification and is competitive for this class. There was one low spot, however, with 3.3V voltage regulation. Considering we hit the 3.3V rail with nominal loads that represent a realworld power draw of about 30% of capacity, the results were less than solid. Everything remained within ATX specification, but a little tighter control of the 3.3V power output would be nice. Overall, power control was more than acceptable for a relatively simple design.
FSP claims 80 plus efficiency and again meets expectations. In fact, this unit tested quite a bit better than the basic 80% efficiency. Results were actually over 85% during target loads for which this power supply was designed to service. If you have a single high-end card, this power supply will deliver good clean power. While it is not as clean as some recently tested power supplies, it is still very competitive, especially in the one hundred dollar range (US).
The one surprise was the ability to deliver full power at 45C plus temperatures. The manual indicated otherwise, but the FSP POWER_MOD 700W performed well at these elevated temperatures. There was no obvious stress on the PSU at 45C plus temperatures when contrasted with the open air ambient testing. I was looking for shut down or voltage drop under stress at the higher operating temperatures, but the FSP POWER_MOD 700W championed on at capacity.
Test 3 and up we loaded the power supply with a little extra load using the included power adapter with the graphics card to allow four PCI-E power runs. It does put 12V3 under duress to power the motherboard, fans, hard drives, DVD players and the like due to the extra six amps required by the 6-pin PCI-E connection.
In all cases, the power supply was able to deliver. While not the best bet to power a higher end SLI system, it was capable of performing the task. Test 5, we just added a little extra headroom for overclocking an SLI or Crossfire system. The graphics cards would draw about 28 amps and the motherboard, CPU and accessories about 19 amps. The last test represents some extra cooling and more overclocking capacity. Again, the FSP POWER_MOD 700W performed well.
The FSP POWER_MOD 700W was a nice surprise. Yes, it has a basic design and yes, it has elements shared with value oriented units, but it was definitely able to deliver rated power at both ambient and, in spite of documented limitations, elevated operating temperatures. The power supply market is definitely crowded in this capacity range and the FSP has certainly earned consideration. If you are looking for a good, stable power supply in the 700 Watt range, the FSP POWER_MOD 700W unit has earned our respect and warrants attention as a good value solution.
That aside, the SLI certification is a little odd with the current crop of modern gaming cards like the GTX 260 which uses two 6-pin connectors. This power supply is only native with three PCI-E connections, so native SLI support is limited to graphics cards with a single power connection. The other item that cost this unit points was the use of different colored nylon sleeving on the two modular PCI-E runs and another on the third PCI-E run. Call me picky, but I like to see a common theme.
Normally, I like to see standard loads at about 50% with maximum at about 65% to ensure the power supply operates cool and quiet with room to absorb transient loads which is about 350 to 450 Watts (test 2 and 3) which is an SLI system with graphics cards that use a single power connection. This explains the use of the three power PCI-E connectors instead of four since supporting GTX 260 cards in SLI is not the expected use. You could run that configuration or better on occasion like a benchmark system or the like, but I would certainly not load it that high for a long gaming session in a hot room for eight hours.
The FSP Group POWER_MOD 700W power supply does a great job at what it is designed to do; clean, stable power with a modest SLI based load or support for a single high end graphics card. You will not be disappointed with this power supply under these defined loads.
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