Introduction, Specifications, Availability and Pricing
A little over a year ago, Corsair drastically changed the way power supplies would be built in the coming years. They did so out of nowhere and seemed to have caught everyone with their pants down. Until now, the only digital units that we have seen have been numerous iterations from Corsair. These units have performed superbly in every single aspect that you could wish for and we've had nothing but great things to say about them, except for the price.
Thermaltake thought it was about time that someone gave Corsair a run for their money and they've been hard at work to make sure what they come up with would be well worth the wait.
What they've designed is the new Toughpower DPS series. The DPS is a digitally controlled, fully modular power supply and comes in 750W and 850W models out the door with more to follow shortly.
Thermaltake also spent a long time polishing their software for the DPS series and it is what delayed the launch of this power supply for so long. We won't be covering the software in this review, but instead will be going over it with a separate review so that we can go into the full details of what it has to offer. This review will focus solely on the DPS power supply itself, so let's start by taking a look at the I/O specifications for the DPS 850W we've got on the bench today.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The Thermaltake DPS-850 features a single 12V rail that is rated for 70A or 840W. The 3.3V and 5V rails are rated for 25A each with a maximum combined output of 130W. The 5VSB rail is rated for 3A or 15W. The maximum combined output for the DPS-850 is 850W.
Thermaltake is one that you can always count on to make sure that you're covered with features and protections. As you can see, the Toughpower DPS-850 features a full suite of protections, including over-temperature protection. The DPS-850 is a fully modular power supply. All cables are of the flat ribbon type. The power supply is rated for 80 PLUS Gold efficiency. Finally, Thermaltake rates the DPS-850 for 100% continuous output at 50C.
The DPS-850 has an MSRP of $219.99. This makes the Thermaltake DPS-850 one of the most expensive 850W power supplies on the market. Newegg, at the time of writing, has the power supply in stock, but you'll have to cough up shipping for it too, bringing the price up to $227.98. Thermaltake offers a seven year warranty on the DPS series.
Thermaltake hasn't changed their packaging for the DPS series. The front gives a great look at the unit itself, along with some highlights of the unit.
It's surprising that this is a digital power supply and it seems downplayed a bit, as it isn't something that really stands out.
Flipping to the back of the box, we are presented with a pictorial breakdown of the power supply. This half covers the aesthetics, component quality, and the ability to monitor the power supply in real-time.
The other half gives us the connector availability and I/O specifications for the power supply.
There isn't much on this side of the box that we haven't seen already, but it does tell us that we have the ability to share records from our power supply to Facebook and email. The rest of the sides don't have any useful information on them.
Inside the Box
The power supply is protected by a full inch of foam on all sides of the power supply. If the power supply is damaged in shipping, it is going to have to be by someone who did it maliciously.
The top features the I/O specification label and serial number for the DPS-850. Here we can get a good view of the semi-gloss black finish on the power supply.
Both sides are the same on the power supply and the red stripe wraps around the both sides and the front of the unit to keep the power supply from being just another black box.
Flipping to the front of the unit, we find that all connectors are well labeled. Note that the USB connector is a standard style mini-USB. Unlike the Corsair units we've seen, there is no need for special cables or additional dongles. It just plugs directly into the headers on the motherboard.
Everything is quite standard on the back of the power supply with the honeycomb mesh grill with AC input and on/off rocker switch. I'm not a fan of the Thermaltake logo right in the middle, as it restricts airflow.
Taking a look at the bottom, we find a fan grill that is a bit different than what we've seen in the past. It is a welcome difference and helps with the unit's aesthetics quite a bit.
All of the modular cables are fully sleeved.
From left to right, Thermaltake includes the power cable, USB cable, rubber isolator mounts, zip ties, warranty pamphlet, mounting screws and user manual inside the box as well.
Cabling Arrangement and A Look Inside
Thermaltake does a great job of giving you what you need yet keeping it simple with their cables. There are no oddball cables with mixed connectors and all of the cables are of decent length. There are more than enough connectors of all types to make sure that you can use the full 850W available, except for the single EPS12V connector. It would be nice to see a second one available in case it is needed instead of needing it and not having it.
Rail distribution is as simple as it gets with a single 12V rail. There is no need to worry about load balancing here.
A Look Inside
Just as we've seen with the Corsair units, the digitally controlled power supplies allow for significantly reduced component count. While things look rather bare on the inside, this also means there is less heat loss through components and thus better efficiency. This also means better airflow and cooling.
A single Nippon Chemi-con bulk capacitor sits on the primary side of the power supply.
The secondary side is littered with more Chemi-con caps.
The Yate Loon D14BH-12 140mm fan provides the active cooling for the DPS-850.
Test Results and Final Thoughts
Our load tests utilize a couple of FAST ATE active load testers and a variety of other equipment such as an oscilloscope, power conditioner, temperature probe and a power consumption meter. You can read more about our standard testing approach here.
The tests performed are based around six conceivable setups that are out there and progressively load down the PSU up to the power supply's limits or 1000W, whichever comes first. Since our test equipment's limits are higher than that of the Thermaltake Toughpower DPS-850 850W power supply, we can test it to the maximum.
The above tests represent typical loads that we have measured from various systems and are meant to give a rough idea of where your computer might fall in line with our tests. Please keep in mind that each system is different and actual loads can vary greatly even with similar hardware.
Let's start by taking a look at the voltages to see how well this unit did during testing. Starting with the 12V rail, we see 2% regulation from start to finish with a total drop of .13V. The 5V rail managed to stay within 2% of specification with a total drop of .05V from start to finish. Moving towards the 3.3V rail, we see that regulation was within 2% of specification with a total voltage drop of .05V.
DC Output quality for the Thermaltake Toughpower DPS-850 850W was great and well within specifications. During Test 1, we saw 10mV of noise on our scope. When we increased the loads in Test 3, the ripple climbed to 19mV at a little over half load. During Test 5 under a load of 850W, the oscilloscope showed a maximum of 28mV on noise on the 12V rail.
The Thermaltake Toughpower DPS-850 850W is rated for 80 PLUS Gold efficiency. This means that the power supply must perform at 87%/90%/87% efficiency at 20%/50%/100% loads respectively. As you can see, the DPS-850 passed on our bench, and wasn't close to failing at any point.
For the first time since Corsair introduced digital power supplies to the consumer market a year ago, we now have some competition on the market. Thermaltake knew that they would have to bring their A-game to the plate if they were going to attempt to compete with what Corsair has to offer. They've done quite a good job of this just by looking at the power supply without the software.
As far as performance goes, the DPS-850 does very well. Voltage regulation just barely misses the 1% mark across the board, with all three rails showing within 2%. DC output quality is also very strong, staying under 30mV even at full load. Finally, the efficiency is great for a Gold rated power supply.
This may sound all sunshine and roses, but the problem is that the Corsair AX860i does everything the DPS-850 does and it does it better. Voltage regulation, DC output quality and efficiency are all better. Making things even worse is that it is cheaper and has been on the market for almost a full year.
Even with this being said, the Thermaltake DPS software helps offset this some, as it is much more polished that what we've seen so far from Corsair. Expect the second part of this review soon when we cover the DPS software. Until then, take the DPS-850 for what it is... a great power supply with a bit of a hefty price tag.