Aerocool Power Supply Units Roundup

We known Aerocool Company for their diverse system cases, but they also produce power supply units. In fact, they have four different PSU lineups. Today we are going to introduce to you two of them: three power supplies will represent the Value series and one – the highest-end Strike-X series.

by Dmitry Vasiliev
03/26/2012 | 10:42 AM

Following many other firms that have previously not been involved into anything power supply related, Aerocool has decided to try its luck in this field. The company has rolled out as many as four power supply unit families:

 

Today, we are going to take a look at two out of the four product lines. We’ll test three PSUs from the Value series (we only lack the junior model) and a Strike-X model which has a wattage rating of 800 watts and sports 80 PLUS Silver certification.

Testing Methodology

The following article offers a detailed 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

Aerocool VP-550, VP-650 and VP-750

These are Aerocool's most affordable Value series products. The series is comprised of four models with wattage ratings from 450 to 750 watts. We have them all except for the 450W model.

Each Value series PSU is packed into a small box with a carry handle.

You first have to take off the film to use the handle, though.

Each packaging is individual for the particular PSU model, although all share the same, predominantly black, design style. The product's model name can be found on the face side of the box.

The power connectors and electrical parameters of the PSU are listed on the back of its box. The accessories are simple: mounting screws and a mains cord.

Exterior Design

The external difference between the different Value series models boils down to the label with electrical specs and the slightly varying selection of cables.

The exterior design is far from eye-catching. The case is black. The fan’s impeller is black. The vent grid is, unsurprisingly, black. Each model is rather small, its dimensions matching the cooling fan.

The back panel is a honeycomb mesh. There are no other additional vents in the case.

Circuit Design

Some details of the interior design betray the real maker of these PSUs. It is Andyson and it's not good news. Most Andyson-based PSUs we've tested in our labs have been rather inferior in quality.

The VP-550 (top) and the VP-650 (bottom) have the same interior design except for the differently shaped heatsinks. There are also some discrepancies concerning the ratings of certain components which are due to the difference in wattage.

These are obviously low-end PSUs as is indicated by their low component density. However, they do have active PFC, which is a rare thing to see in this price category. There is no dedicated voltage regulation. You can't expect to find it in a $50 PSU.

The 750W model is substantially different from its series mates in its PCB, layout and components.

Its functionality is the same, though. The only extra feature we can find is active PFC. Well, we must confess we know this interior design already. It is almost identical to that of the Hiper M600.

The only difference from the Hiper M600 seems to be the supervisor chip. It's a Weltrend 7510 instead of a PS223. The other two Value series products have the same chip, by the way.

There are electrolytic capacitors from WG and Teapo at the output of the lower-wattage models. Teapo components are high quality but WG capacitors do not have such a good reputation.

The 750W model is only equipped with Teapo capacitors.

Cables and Connectors

The VP-550 has the following cables and connectors:

The mainboard cable is sleeved whereas the others are just tied up with plastic straps. The VP-650 and VP-750 additionally have a third cable with two SATA and one PATA power connector.

The selection of connectors and the length of most cables are satisfactory for PSUs of that wattage. Perhaps the 550W model has too few SATA power connectors.

The only problem is that the CPU power cable is going to be too short to reach to a bottom PSU compartment unless you route it through the interior of your system case rather than behind the mainboard’s mounting plate.

Specifications

The three models are identical in their specs except for the +12V rail. Besides the maximum +12V load (as is typical of Andyson platforms, it is not very high compared to the PSU's full output power – no higher than 80% with these Aerocool PSUs), the load capacity of each of the two virtual +12V output lines is different: 20, 22 and 25 amperes according to the particular model's wattage.

These Aerocool products have no 80 PLUS certification although Andyson's own PSUs based on the same platform as Aerocool's VP-750 sport 80 PLUS Bronze certification.

UPS Compatibility

Working together with our APC SmartUPS SC 620, the three PSUs were all stable at loads up to 335-345 watts when powered by the mains and could switch to the UPS's batteries at 310 watts.

Cross-Load Voltage Stability

Alas, each PSU was poor in this test.

The VP-550 is only more or less good in terms of its +3.3V voltage. The 5V voltage goes out of the permissible range both at very high and very low loads. As for the +12V voltage, which is the most important one for modern computers, it diverts too much from the required level at low loads.

Besides, the VP-550 was not stable at zero load on the +3.3V and +5V rails.

We’ve got the same picture with the VP-650 except that its +3.3V voltage is even less stable.

The VP-750 produces the worst results in this test. Each of its voltages deflects from the required level by 5% or even more in one or another part of the diagram.

So, Aerocool’s Value series PSUs cannot deliver stable voltages. Although they can power up a computer, you can’t be sure of its stability under any circumstances.

Output Voltage Ripple

Sharing the same hardware platform, the VP-550 and VP-650 could be expected to deliver identical results in this test. However, the three models turn out to be very different here.

The high-frequency voltage ripple of the VP-550 keeps within the permissible range, but there are occasional spikes shooting over the allowable limits.

The same goes for the voltage ripple at the double frequency of the mains. It is not as strong as the high-frequency ripple, but there are still occasional voltage spikes that go out of the permissible limits.

The VP-650 has fewer voltage spikes than the VP-550.

Its low-frequency voltage ripple is always within the norm.

The VP-750 produces the worst results in this test, too. The high-frequency voltage ripple is almost as strong as permitted by the industry standard on the +12V and +3.3V rails, the individual voltage spikes shooting far above the permissible limits.

The same goes for the low-frequency voltage ripple.

Temperature and Noise

Each of the Aerocool Value PSUs is cooled by a 7-blade 120mm Young Lin Tech fan (the DFS122512H model with a rated speed of 1800 RPM).

The speed regulation algorithm differs depending on the PSU’s hardware platform.

The two lower-wattage models have a fan speed of 800 RPM at a load of 50 watts. The fan accelerates linearly right from the start, reaching its top speed of 1800 RPM at a load of near 500 watts. As a result, the fan is audible at a load of 250 watts and noisy at 300 watts and higher.

The Aerocool VP-750 controls its fan more efficiently. Its start speed is somewhat lower than 750 RPM and remains the same until a load of 250 watts. Then, the fan accelerates linearly, reaching its top speed at a load of 600 watts.

The fan is audible at a load of 400 watts and higher and noisy at 500 watts and higher.

Thus, Aerocool’s Value series is rather noisy except for the VP-750 model which can be viewed as average in terms of noisiness.

Efficiency and Power Factor

The power factor of the VP-550 model is only 94% at high loads, which is a poor result for a PSU with active power factor correction. The VP-650 is better in this respect, having a power factor of up to 98%. That’s close to the typical value of 99%. It is the VP-750 model that has the lowest power factor of the three: 91.3%. This might be expected, though, as the Hiper M600 performed just as poorly in our earlier test.

As for efficiency, the two lower-wattage models have a peak efficiency of 84% and were about 78% efficient at full load.

The VP-750 is more efficient at low and medium loads, but only 77.9% efficient at full load.

Standby Source

The standby voltage of the VP-550 sags by 4% at full load.

The other two models keep this voltage within 3% from the required level. We show you the graph of the VP-750 because the VP-650 is in fact the same in this test.

Summary

Aerocool’s Value series is far from impressive. These PSUs are not very efficient and do not deliver stable voltages. They are also noisy, except for the VP-750 model which is, unfortunately, the worst in other parameters.

The VP-650 seems to be less of a failure than its series mates, yet its actual parameters are nothing but mediocre.

The only good news about these PSUs is that they are among the most affordable products with active PFC available on the market. But do you really want to put up with such poor performance?

Aerocool Strike-X 800W

Aerocool’s Value series hasn't shown anything to impress us. Let's see if this model from the flagship Strike-X series can do that.

Our sample seemed to have come through some other reviewers already. We even found a user manual for a Hiper PSU in its box, so we can’t tell you anything about the accessories that are supposed to be shipped with it.

The product box is large and painted black and red. Unlike the packaging of the Value series, it lacks a carry handle.

The PSU's connectors and electrical specs are listed on the back of the box.

Exterior Design

Aerocool’s flagship series looks far more inspired than the unassuming Value. It features a cherry-black color scheme, different surface textures, an X-shaped fan grid and modular design.

The case has no other vent openings save for the fan grid and the honeycomb mesh of the back panel.

The X-shaped vent grid is of course the most remarkable visual feature of this PSU.

Circuit Design

Could the user manual for a Hiper PSU we found in the box really mean something? The Strike-X 800W turns out to have much in common with the Hiper K800!

Well, the DC-DC converter cards are different and there are two input capacitors instead of one, but the overall similarity is unmistakable.

Like Aerocool's Value series and Hiper PSUs, the Strike-X 800W is actually manufactured by Andyson.

As opposed to the Value series, this PSU has a PS232S supervisor chip.

The heatsinks are similar to those of the Hiper K800 in size and position except that the additional input capacitor made it necessary to remove some fins from one of them.

The Strike-X 800W is equipped with electrolytic capacitors from Teapo. The barrels at the input are rated for an operating temperature of 85°C. The output capacitors are rated for 105°C.

Cables and Connectors

The Strike-X 800W has the following cables and connectors:

Included with the PSU are:

The cables are all sleeved. They are long enough and offer enough connectors for any configuration. The second CPU power cable seems redundant, though. It is likely to remain unconnected in most computers.

Specifications

Unlike the other Andyson-based PSUs we’ve tested so far, the Strike-X 800W can deliver almost all of its output power across the +12V rail. The auxiliary voltages (-12V and +5V standby) are not included into the total: the PSU can yield 800 watts via the three main power rails.

The load capacity of the +5V and +3.3V rails exceeds the requirements of any modern computer.

The PSU is 80 PLUS Silver certified.

UPS Compatibility

Working together with our APC SmartUPS SC 620, the Strike-X 800W was stable at loads up to 374 watts when powered by the mains, but could not switch to the UPS’s batteries even at 280 watts.

Cross-Load Voltage Stability

Although not perfect in this test, the Strike-X 800W did much better than Aerocool’s Value series. None of its voltages goes out of the permissible range.

The most important +12V voltage is almost ideal at low loads, but deflects by up to 4% from the required level at high loads.

The +5V voltage is going to be within 2% of the required level in the load range typical of real-life computers. However, when there is a near-maximum load on the +12V rail, the +5V voltage may be 3 or 4% off.

The +3.3V voltage largely remains within 3% of the required level. It is only in idle mode, when there is low load on each power rail, that it is 4% off the required level.

This voltage stability would be good for a PSU that lacks dedicated voltage regulation. But the Strike-X 800W having such regulation, we must confess we expected it to perform better in this test.

Output Voltage Ripple

The high-frequency voltage ripple is not strong but there are occasional high spikes (beyond the permissible range on the +5V rail).

The same goes for the low-frequency ripple: it is weak but there are occasional spikes above the permissible limits on the +5V rail.

Temperature and Noise

The Strike-X 800W is cooled by an 11-blade 135mm Young Lin Tech fan (the DFS132512H model with a rated speed of 1700 RPM). The fan has a translucent red impeller but lacks highlighting. There are three partitions attached to one side of its frame that help optimize air flows.

The start speed of the fan is slightly above 600 RPM and remains the same until a load of 200 watts. Then the fan accelerates smoothly, reaching 1600 RPM at 730 watts and higher.

The fan is audible at loads above 400 watts and downright noisy at 600 watts and higher. We guess that your computer is going to have noisier components, like a graphics card cooler, at such a high load, though.

Overall, the Strike-X 800W is average in terms of acoustic comfort.

Efficiency and Power Factor

The power factor of the Strike-X 800W is high, up to 99%, just as you can expect from a PSU with active power factor correction.

At the reference loads of 20, 50 and 100%, it was 86.2%, 89.1% and 85.3% efficient. This complies with the 80 PLUS Silver requirements but by a very narrow margin at full load (we want to remind you that we have to test our PSUs in our 220V mains although the 80 PLUS certification refers to 115V mains in which efficiency is somewhat lower).

Standby Source

The standby source meets the industry requirements but is 4% off the required level at low and full loads.

Summary

The Strike-X 800W is not a failure like Aerocool's Value series, yet it is hardly a success. It is just a satisfactory product without anything extraordinary about its technical specs.

However, this product comes at a very attractive price. In fact, it costs about as much money as less efficient PSUs of similar wattage from non-flagship series of other brands such as Thermaltake TR2, FSP Epsilon and Corsair GS.

Coupled with its long cables and original exterior design, this may make it interesting as an affordable but high-wattage and high-efficiency PSU.