When it comes to testing a power supply, there are a lot of choices in how to tackle the job. I have found that while a multimeter can give scads of data, most of us don't have a clue what all these facts and figures mean. Even the elite of the enthusiast crowd doesn't always keep up with the inner workings of a power supply. So what do we do?
Since a majority of our readers tend to be deeply into overclocking their systems, why not run the power supply in an overclocked system and then stress it out? After we get things worked up nicely by running 3DMark loops and burning CD disks, we'll take a reading of the power levels right in the middle of this mess. This ought to give us a workable answer as to whether or not this product can give us the power we need under stressful conditions. If it can give solid results under this type of operating condition, it will let us know that it can handle the regular chores that we are likely to throw at it.
So lets start off with a look at the test rig:
DFI LANParty NFII Ultra B Motherboard (Supplied by DFI)
Athlon XP Mobile 2400+ @ 2.3GHz
Thermaltake Volcano 12 HSF (Supplied by Thermaltake)
2x 256MB OCZ PC3500 DDR (Supplied by OCZ)
Sapphire Radeon 9800 Pro (Supplied by Sapphire)
TDK 52x CD-RW
Pioneer 16x DVD
Western Digital 80GB 8MB Hard Drive
Seagate 40GB 2MB Hard Drive
5x 80mm case fans
1x 120mm case fan
All right then, the processor is running at 1.7v, the memory is at 2.8v and the AGP is at default. The system is overclocked and the video card is known to cause weaker power supplies to cringe in terror. Add the stress factors mentioned above and we should get a fair look at what this PSU is capable of.
As a final note, most manufacturers claim a leeway of +/- 5% of any given output level. Using this as a common ground, we should end up with rail voltage levels of 3.135-3.465v on the 3.3v rail, 4.75-5.25v on the 5v rail and 11.4-12.6v on the 12v rail. Keep this in mind when we go through the numbers below. Higher values can be beneficial, lower values bear watching.
After running the power supply through the gauntlet, we end up with some very workable numbers. I run the test series several times, though, and noted fluctuations of up to 1/10v in the power levels across the 5v and 12v rails. While we are still well within our tolerance levels, we are not getting a truly consistent flow of power. That said, I was still able to thrash the system and never had a glitch in stability.
Also of note: Like many new power supplies to hit the streets, this one has a dual 12v rail system. For those who have been keeping up with the new Socket 939 motherboards for the Athlon 64 processor, you'll recall I've mentioned some other brand name units have problems with this new motherboard design due mainly to the dual rail system. The AcBel was capable of running a Socket 939 system without stability issues.
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