Articles: Cases/PSU

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In my last article about 1000W power supplies I wrote that a modern PC could be actually satisfied with much less power. A configuration with a quad-core CPU and a couple of top-end graphics cards would consume no more than 500W from the power supply. It is only hardcore overclockers that utilize Peltier elements or Freon compressors that may indeed require twice or thrice that amount of juice.

However, PSU manufacturers go on pumping up the capacity of their products and I now have the test results of models with a wattage rating up to 1500W. My job is to test, and it’s up to you to decide if your PC really needs that much power. I can only tell you one funny thing: the combined wattage of all the PSUs tested for this review exceeds 10 thousand watts!

Testing Methodology

Check out our article called X-bit Labs Presents: Power Supply Unit Testing Methodology In-Depth for a description of our testing methodology, the equipment we use, and a brief explanation of what the specified and tested parameters of power supplies mean. If you feel overwhelmed with the numbers and terms this article abounds in, check out an appropriate section of the mentioned Description for an explanation.

Antec TruePower Quattro TPQ-1000 (1000W)

The 1000W PSUs covered in my previous report were mostly cooled with 80mm fans and were quite noisy as the consequence. So I only expected quietness from models with 135mm fans.

Anyway, the 1000W model that opens up this review employs an 80mm fan again although the manufacturer promises quiet operation.

The PSU would be no different externally from any other regular PSU if it were not for its peculiar coloring. Using a pair of white stripes Antec has produced a hint of the racing car of recent past. The word Quattro in the model name provokes car-related associations as well but it means four +12V lines here.

There are five connectors for detachable cables on the rear panel. Note that the connectors are mechanically identical despite the different colors and labels. Each of them has keys (slanted corners) in the last two contacts of the top row and in the first one of the bottom row. In other words, nothing prevents you from plugging any cable into any connector.

Moreover, the electric wiring of the connectors is identical. Each of them has two ground wires, two +12V, one +5V and one +3.3V pin. I think that graphics card connectors should have been made differently, with three +12V pins and three ground pins; the other two voltages are not necessary for graphics cards altogether. This would make the PSU more reliable because it is the pins that are the weak point of every power cable (that’s why the number of pins is ever increasing along with the power consumption of PCs: graphics cards have moved from Molex connectors to 6- and now even 8-pin plugs, and mainboards have progressed from 20-pin to 20+4 and 24+4-pin connectors). So, this engineering solution seems questionable to me.

Most of the interior is occupied by well-ribbed heatsinks, which is logical considering that the TPQ-1000 is cooled with only one 80mm fan. Take note that the PSU is based on one power transformer (there are quite a lot of dual-transformer designs among competing products). It was fitted into the necessary dimensions by increasing the operating frequency of the PWM regulator.

The additional card on one of the heatsinks is not only a fan speed controller but also a circuit that limits the current in the “virtual” +12V lines. The card’s input receives +12V from the PSU’s rectifier and then this voltage goes to three resistors with a very low resistance. The PSU’s 12V cables are connected to the resistors at the other side. Thus, the voltage drop on the specific resistor is proportional to the load current on the cable attached to it. If this voltage reaches the threshold corresponding to 20A, the protection circuit wakes up to shut the PSU down. There are three resistors on the additional card, responsible for the 12V2, 12V3 and 12V4 lines. The 12V1 line is taken from the main PCB. This kind of separation – when there is actually one common +12V power rail inside the PSU but the output cables are divided into a few groups, each of which has a certain limitation of the maximum load current – is employed in a majority of PSUs for which multiple +12V output lines are declared. That’s why I call such lines “virtual”.

Four +12V output lines are declared for the TPQ-1000, actually. Each has a max load of 18A but the combined load is 70A rather than 72A (18*4). In other words, the load capacity of the common internal +12V power rail is 70A.

The PSU has the following cables and connectors:

  • Mainboard cable with a 20+4-pin connector (53cm long)
  • CPU cable with a 4-pin connector (55cm)
  • CPU cable with an 8-pin connector (55cm)
  • Two graphics card cables with 6+2-pin connectors (54cm)
  • Two connectors for graphics card cables
  • Three connectors for peripherals

Included with the PSU are:

  • Two graphics card cables with 6-pin connectors (54cm)
  • Two cables with three Molex connectors and one floppy drive mini-plug on each (53+15+15+15cm)
  • Two cables with three SATA power connectors on each (55+15+15cm)
  • One cable with two SATA power connectors (53+16cm)

All of the cables are sleeved. The sleeves are fastened by means of rubber rings at their ends.

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