Articles: Cases/PSU
 

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It goes without saying that the overwhelming majority of computers working in our homes and offices are far from top-end. They are average in performance and do not need high-wattage power supply units. A 400 or 500-watt PSU is going to be just enough. It’s about such PSUs that we’ll be talking in this review. Not all of them are hot-new, yet they are all available in shops and so deserve taking a look at.

Testing Methodology

Click the following link for a description of our testing methodology and equipment and a brief explanation of what the specified and tested parameters of power supplies mean: X-bit Labs Presents: Power Supply Units Testing Methodology. If you feel overwhelmed with the numbers and terms this review abounds in, refer to the Methodology.

You can also go to our Cases/PSU section to check out reviews of all other PSU models we have tested in our labs.

We will mark the actual power consumption of three system configurations (discussed in our article PC Power Consumption: How Many Watts Do We Need?) in the cross-load diagrams. This will help you see if the tested PSU can meet the requirements of a real-life PC.

Testing Participants

Cooler Master Elite Power RS-400-PSAP-J3

Cooler Master offers various kinds of PSUs. Notwithstanding the boastful name, the Elite Power series this model belongs to is actually at the very bottom of the company’s product range.

The PSU is shipped in a uniform Elite Power box. The wattage rating of the specific model is indicated by a sticker on the front side.

On the back of the box you can find a table listing power connectors the different Elite Power series models offer.

Exterior Design

We can’t expect anything extraordinary in terms of exterior design from an entry-level PSU.

Indeed, the Elite Power RS-400-PSAP-J3 has an unassuming appearance.

It’s got an unpainted steel case, a 120mm fan placed closer to one side, and small vent slits in the panel with power cables.

Circuit Design

It’s easy to identify the real maker of the PSU. There is a FSP logo on the daughter card.

FSP is a respectable maker, but the circuitry of this PSU is outdated. The PCB and the overall design are almost identical to those of FSP’s 60PN(PF) and 60THN-P series units we tested as far back as 2005.

The difference from the mentioned oldies boils down to the controller cards and the shape of the heatsinks. This platform used to be successful in its time and is still used by FSP in entry-level PSUs.

As the consequence of the respectable age of the platform, the Elite Power RS-400-PSAP-J3 has neither dedicated voltage regulation nor active power factor correction. Its efficiency isn’t likely to be high, either.

There are high-quality Teapo capacitors at the output. The OST capacitors installed at the PSU’s input are somewhat lower quality.

Cables and Connectors

The Elite Power RS-400-PSAP-J3 is equipped with the following cables and connectors:

  • One mainboard cable with a 20+4-pin connector (45 cm)
  • One CPU cable with a 4+4-pin connector (53 cm)
  • One graphics card cable with a 6-pin connector (48 cm)
  • One cable with three PATA power connectors and one floppy-drive plug (43+12+12+12 cm)
  • Two cables with two SATA power connectors on each (43+12 cm)

The cables are all fixed and have no sleeves. There is a plastic strap on each stretch of each cable (in between connectors), so you can lay them out more or less neatly. The mainboard cable may prove to be too short for a system case with a bottom PSU bay.

Specifications

The text on the PSU label can shock anyone. We can read the pretty round number “400 watts” on the product box, but the small letters on the label tell us that the total load on the +3.3V, +5V and +12V rails must not exceed 327.9 watts! We can’t get as high as 350 watts even if we add the maximum load on the auxiliary lines (-12V and standby voltage). We must confess we hadn’t expected such a blatant lie to the customer in a product that comes under the respectable Cooler Master brand.

The PSU can yield 276 watts across the +12V rail, which is not much by today’s standards, even if we take 327.9 rather than 400 watts as the PSU’s full output power. The load capacity of 120 watts is quite sufficient for the +3.3V and +5V lines.

The specifications suggest that this product is based on the FSP ATX-350N model with the addition of more power connectors and the label that promises extra 50 watts which the PSU can’t actually deliver.

UPS Compatibility

The PSU was stable with my APC SmartUPS SC 620 at loads up to 285 watts irrespective of whether powered by the mains or the UPS’s batteries.

 
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