by Oleg Artamonov
01/22/2009 | 02:47 PM
This is a roundup of five power supplies from Enermax, a well-reputed brand among experienced users. These PSUs fall into two groups. One group includes the rather old and well-known models manufactured under the trademarks of Galaxy, Infiniti and Liberty. Two of them were covered by our reviews one and two years ago. And the other group includes products from the new MODU82+ and PRO82+ series. We have actually tested aMODU82+ PSU not that long ago, but we return to this series in this review for the sake of comparison with PRO82+ which, according to the manufacturer, has the same characteristics but costs less due to the lack of detachable cables.
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 In-Depth. If you feel overwhelmed with the numbers and terms this article abounds in, check out an appropriate section of the mentioned article for explanation.
You can also go to our Cooling/PSU section to check out reviews of other PSU models we have had in our lab.
This PSU comes in a huge colorful box.
Especially impressive is the text on the box informing you that the PSU can power up four CPUs, four cores in each CPU, five graphics cards, and 24 hard disk drives. I don’t want to question this fact (especially as the tiny text nearby says that it’s just a possibility while the reality depends on the power consumption of specific components), but I do wonder if this PSU is necessary for a system including far fewer CPUs, graphics cards and HDDs.
There are two smaller boxes inside: one contains the PSU proper and the other contains detachable cables, a mains cord, a user manual and small accessories such as screws, stickers, etc.
The PSU is up to the dimensions of the box, measuring 220 millimeters in length (75 millimeters more than a standard ATX unit). Well, the mention of five graphics cards and two dozen HDDs should have already made it clear that the Galaxy DXX is not for cramped system cases.
Besides the On/Off switch and mains connector, there is a two-color LED on the external panel. It reports the status of the PSU: normal operation, activated protection or fan failure. There is also a rather loud tweeter for the last two situations, so you are sure to get informed when the fan of your Galaxy DXX stops for some reason. The square button next to the LED is for resetting the protection.
The PSU is modular with detachable cables (besides a few fixed cables that are always used in any PC). The connectors differ in color and keys, so you won’t be able to plug anything wrong.
Despite its huge dimensions, the PSU has high component density due to the large heatsinks and a couple of transformers. The latter are used in parallel rather than as two independent sub-PSUs as in the Thermaltake Toughpower W0133 or Corsair HX1000W. The PSU has active PFC (its choke is in the top of the photograph, to the right of the two large capacitors) and dedicated voltage regulation (the group of chokes in the bottom of the photo).
There is a third, smaller, transformer next to the two large ones. It is covered with a white plate from above. This is a transformer of the standby 5V source. Although Enermax puts an emphasis on it in the marketing materials, calling the Galaxy DXX a “triple-transformer PSU,” I have to say there is nothing special about it. Every ATX-compliant power supply has a standby source and, accordingly, a similar transformer.
The high-voltage rectifier uses capacitors from Hitachi. JP CE-TUL capacitors are installed at the PSU’s output.
I could find no fault with the Galaxy DXX as concerns the soldering or mounting of large components, from chokes to wires.
The PSU has an original cooling system with one large 135mm fan (RL4T B1352512MB-3M model from Globe Fan) and one 80mm fan (SuperRed CHA8012DB-OA model from Cheng Home Electronic).
It is equipped with the following cables and connectors:
Included with the PSU are:
A pouch is provided for storing the cables, but the cardboard box they lie in by default seems to be more practical to me.
Thus, you can connect nearly anything to your Galaxy DXX. Considering the included adapters, the PSU offers five power connectors for graphics cards and a dozen SATA power connectors. Two things should be noted here. First, the additional mainboard connector is not very necessary (it is rare and identical to a Molex plug). And second, there is the adapter for ensuring the PSU’s compatibility with certain mainboards. Enermax is rather vague about its purpose but the design of the adapter suggests that it serves to redistribute the +12V supply. Running a little ahead, I have to confess that there were problems with the +12V load during my tests. The PSU would not start up if this load was lower than 100W (in my PSU tests the +12V load usually starts at 15-25W which is quite enough for stable operation of most PSUs).
The PSU is rated for a continuous output power up to 850W, 95% of which can be provided across the +12V rail divided into five “virtual” output lines. The lines are combined into two groups, each of which is served by a dedicated power transformer (as I wrote above, the PSU has two such transformers) with a max load of somewhat higher than 400W. Take note of the high load capacity of the +5V and +3.3V rails (up to 200W combined) and of the +5V standby source (up to 30W). It is not easy to load these rails so heavily in practice, however, so such a high load capacity is going to be redundant.
The PSU worked normally at loads up to 850W, but its protection woke up immediately when the load on the +12V rail was lower than 100W. That’s why the diagrams below begin with a load of 100-150W instead of 25-50W. I have to confess that this is not a problem of a specific sample. The earlier-tested Galaxy DXX 1000W would shut down at a load below 90W, too.
Together with an APC SmartUPS SC 620 this power supply worked at loads up to 340W and 330W when powered by the mains and batteries, respectively. They switched to the batteries without problems, and the UPS was stable at that.
The output voltage ripple is surprisingly low. It is far below the permissible maximum even on the +12V rail which bears most of the total load.
The +12V voltage is very stable (but as I mentioned above, the PSU’s protection was triggered when the load on that rail was lower than 100W). The +3.3V is 1% worse, yet only under extremely high loads. The +5V voltage sags noticeably, but does not leave the permissible limits, either. Anyway, a modern PC configuration loads the +5V rail by only a few dozen watts, so the deflection of this voltage is going to be no higher than 3%.
The PSU is 85% efficient. The power factor is 0.98. The numbers are good and coincide with the specifications, but don’t match the results of the best of modern PSUs.
The PSU’s fans are both connected to the same controller and have similar speed graphs as the consequence. The 135mm fan starts out at a modest 833rpm and has this speed at loads below 400W. Then it accelerates steadily. The 80mm fan behaves in a similar manner, but has higher speeds. It starts out at 1500rpm and accelerates to over 3000rpm at the maximum.
The PSU would be quiet if it were not for the 80mm fan. The latter creates an audible noise at high loads and the 135mm fan cannot be heard at all. So, the Galaxy DXX is average in terms of noisiness. It is good at low loads but noisy at high ones.
Summing it up, the Galaxy DXX 850W leaves an ambiguous impression notwithstanding its excellent selection of cables, high manufacturing quality and stable parameters. It has large dimensions and average level of noise and refuses to work with low loads. Therefore, it is not a good choice if your current PC configuration has a rather low power draw and you want to buy a PSU with a reserve of wattage for the future. Moreover, there are a lot of smaller models in the 850W category that are comparable or better than the Galaxy DXX 850W in terms of noisiness but work without problems at loads as low as 20W.
The next model comes from the Infiniti series. And while the Galaxy DXX 850W is the junior model in its series, the Infiniti 720W is, on the contrary, the senior model in its.
The text on the box informs you that the Infiniti series can work with three graphics cards (150W each) and 18 hard disk drives. I don’t think there are many users among us who wouldn’t be satisfied with that.
The Infiniti series PSUs have standard dimensions. There won’t be installation related problems even in compact system cases. Comparing it with the Galaxy, the PSU lacks a second fan and a protection reset button, but the status indicator is present still.
The back panel offers two connectors for graphics card cables and six connectors for other peripherals. The connectors differ in color and keys, so you cannot plug something wrong.
The internal design is typical for a modern PSU: active PFC, one transformer, and dedicated voltage regulation. The component density is so high that it is hard to read the markings.
I have no gripes about the quality of assembly.
One capacitor from Hitachi is installed at the PSU’s input. JP CE-TUL capacitors are installed at the output (the manufacturer is so obscure that I didn’t even find its website).
The PSU is cooled by one 135mm fan, the same as in the above-discussed Galaxy DXX (Globe Fan RL4T B1352512MB-3M).
It offers the following cables and connectors:
Included with the PSU are:
Funnily enough, the PSU has two graphics card connectors but there are three cables included with it. You have one spare cable! As a matter of fact, you can connect only one top-end graphics card to this PSU without adapters because it offers only one 8-pin (6+2) plug. Of course, its wattage is high enough even for two cards. The problem is in the connectors only.
The PSU can yield over 93% out of its total output power of 720W across the +12V rail which is split into three “virtual” lines (although the manufacturer talks about three independent +12V power rails in the marketing materials, this is not really so; there is only one 56A +12V power rail inside the PSU). Each of the three graphics card cables is assigned to a specific +12V line. The CPU cable is attached to the 12V2 line, sharing it with one of the detachable graphics card cables and some HDDs.
The PSU worked normally at loads from 20W to the maximum. It had no problems at low loads. Together with an APC SmartUPS SC 620 this power supply worked at loads up to 365W and 335W when powered by the mains and batteries, respectively. They switched to the batteries without problems, and the UPS was stable at that.
The high-frequency output voltage ripple is far lower than the permissible maximums on every power rail. And there is no low-frequency pulsation altogether.
The +12V voltage is very stable but somewhat higher than the nominal value. That’s why its diagram is mostly yellow. There is nothing wrong in this: the 3% deflection won’t affect the operation of your PC. The +3.3V voltage is stable, too. The +5V voltage sags heavily at loads higher than 100W on the +5V rail, but the +5V load is not going to be higher even than 50W in a real PC, so there is nothing to worry about here, either.
Although Enermax declares an efficiency of 82% for the Infiniti series and 85% for the Galaxy DXX, the Infiniti is 1% better according to my test, reaching a maximum of 86%. There is a sudden slump in the left of the graph because I started to measure from as low as 25W.
As you remember, the Galaxy DXX is not quiet due to the additional 80mm fan. The Infiniti has no such fan whereas its main 135mm fan is the same as in the Galaxy DXX.
Alas, the Infiniti is not quiet, either. Its main fan is the same, but faster, rotating at 1050rpm at minimum load. As a result, the PSU is average in terms of noisiness. Most users are going to be satisfied with it, but it won’t suit people who prefer silent computers. Moreover, one of its chokes produced a buzzing sound at loads higher than 300W, but I guess it was a defect of the particular sample rather than of each PSU in the series.
Considering that 720 watts is far enough for the majority of modern gaming computers (with a single Radeon HD 4870 X2 which consumes up to 260W or with two less advanced graphics cards), the Enermax Infiniti 720W seems to be a more interesting offer than the bulky Galaxy DXX which is incompatible with low loads.
The Infiniti will suit an advanced gaming configuration, even with top-end CPU and graphics card models, because it offers high output power and stable voltages. Its fan is somewhat noisier at low loads that we might wish, but you should consider Enermax’s PRO82+ and MODU82+ series (tested later in this review) if you seek for silence.
We already tested a Liberty series PSU in our labs. That was the 620W ELT620AWT model without the suffix DXX in its name. According to Enermax, this suffix denotes the support for graphics cards with 8-pin power connectors.
The text on the compact box informs you about the capabilities of the PSU: it can support two quad-core CPUs, two graphics cards, and a whole lot of hard disks. As usual, it depends on what exactly components you use: a couple of GeForce GTX 260 will need about 280W and a couple of top-end CPUs will need some 200W more from the same +12V rail… Anyway, the Liberty DXX should be quite enough for a system with one CPU, one graphics card (of any category), and a few HDDs.
The PSU looks like the Infiniti series models. It has the same housing but is painted black. There is no LED indicating the PSU’s status and the fan grid has become somewhat different. That’s all the external difference, actually.
The Liberty DXX seems to resemble the Infiniti inside, except that the heatsinks are painted gold rather than black now (the color of the heatsinks is unimportant at temperatures of a few tens of degrees and with active cooling; this is just the manufacturer’s aesthetic choice). However, significant differences can be seen at closer inspection.
The main difference is that one toroidal choke is missing at the PSU’s output. There were three of them in the Infiniti and only two in the Liberty. This means the lack of dedicated voltage regulation. To be exact, the +3.3V rail still has a dedicated regulator but the +5V and +12V rails share one regulator.
Talking about the quality of Enermax Liberty power supplies, I have to recall the defect described at the badcaps.net forum: the ferrite rings used to be fastened on the legs of the FETs with glue which eventually became conductive due to the constant exposure to high temperature. As a result, the PSU would have a short circuit and fail.
So I took my flashlight and scrutinized my sample of the Liberty DXX and found no trace of the pernicious glue. The ferrite rings are still in their places, and there is some glue inside them (or lacquer – you can’t be sure unless you unsolder the transistors and remove the rings from them) but it is a different color than in the photos from badcaps.net and doesn’t flow out. I also checked out the other PSUs reviewed in this article and found no glue bridges in them, either. So, the manufacturer seems to have successfully solved the problem.
A Hitachi capacitor is installed at the PSU’s input. A JP CE-TUR capacitor is at the output.
The back panel offers eight connectors for detachable cables: six for optical and hard drives and two for graphics cards. The connectors differ in color and keys, preventing you from plugging anything wrong.
The PSU is cooled by the 135mm fan from Globe Fan that we have already seen in the above-discussed models. Despite the translucent impeller, the fan lacks highlighting. But it has a velocity sensor which can be connected to your mainboard’s fan connector (you won’t be able to control the speed of the fan, though).
The PSU is equipped with the following cables and connectors:
Included with the PSU are:
Thus, the PSU provides enough connectors for a system with one top-end or two mainstream graphics cards without adapters. The combined cables with connectors for both PATA and SATA devices are original, but they can only be useful for people who install old HDDs along with newer ones.
The Liberty DXX can yield only 70% out of its total output power of 500W across the +12V rail. Compare this to over 90% with the previous models. Anyway, the available 32 amperes is going to be enough for a single-chip graphics card of any level (up to GeForce GTX 280) and a dual- or quad-core CPU.
The PSU worked normally at loads from 15W through 478W during my tests. Together with an APC SmartUPS SC 620 it could work at loads up to 335W and 320W when powered by the mains and batteries, respectively. The pair switched to the batteries normally, and the UPS was stable then.
The output voltage ripple is within the norm.
As I wrote above, the main difference of the Liberty DXX from the Infiniti series is the lack of dedicated voltage regulation. The cross-load diagram shows the consequences: the +12V voltage sags under high load. As a result, you should not load the +12V by more than 300W: when the voltage sags more than 3%, some graphics cards may report a lack of power although the industry standard formally permits a 5% deflection.
The efficiency is low, reaching 81% only. This is not high for a modern PSU. At full load the efficiency even lowers to 78%.
Notwithstanding the relatively low efficiency, the PSU is quiet enough under low loads. The fan starts out at a speed of 900rpm, being almost silent then. At loads higher than 150W, the speed is growing up linearly, reaching 1800rpm. The noise is audible then but has a comfortable spectrum: it is just a hiss of the air without any sounds from the impeller, bearings or electronics.
Summing it up, the Enermax Liberty DXX500W is a good power supply for gaming computers with one graphics card (a single-chip card because the PSU may be not enough for dual-core solutions like the Radeon HD 4870 X2) and almost any CPU. Its high manufacturing quality, good electrical parameters and comfortable level of noise make it a good choice for people who don’t need higher wattages. And such users are the majority.
However, the Liberty DXX has got strong opponents: the newest series of Enermax PSUs that will be discussed in the next sections.
I tested the 525-watt EMD525AWT model from the MODU82+ series earlier and was very pleased with it. The high assembly quality, good electrical parameters and very quiet operation make the MODU82+ one of the best choice among today’s PSUs.
The MODU82+ series includes three models ranging in wattage from 425 to 625W. So, I will discuss the senior model now.
The PSU comes in a medium-size box. Instead of a list of graphics cards and HDDs this PSU can power up, the box now offers you tables with model specifications and a list of the included cables.
Although its dimensions did not change, the case is different from the Infiniti and Liberty series. There are no fundamental differences except for the rolled-in edges around the fan. This shape should reduce the noise of the airflow. Besides, the fan is reduced in size to 120 millimeters. Well, our readers should already know that a proper adjustment of the fan speed is more important than the size of the fan.
The PSU has a modular design with seven connectors for detachable cables: five for HDDs and other peripherals and two for graphics cards. The connectors are shaped differently, so you can’t confuse them.
The MODU82+ is different from the previous PSUs in its interior design. A quick glance is enough to identify that this is a different platform with different components.
In the Liberty and Infiniti the PFC and main regulator controllers were two separate chips while the MODU82+ uses a Champion Micro CM6802BG chip that combines both mentioned controllers in one case.
KZE series capacitors from the respectable United Chemi-Con are installed at the PSU’s output. The PSU features dedicated voltage regulation.
The most interesting part of the MODU82+ is its fan. It is a 120x120x25mm thing running on ball bearings. The actual manufacturer cannot be identified. Perhaps this model is manufactured specifically for Enermax. The photograph shows that there are four wires going from the fan’s motor: two for power, one for the tachometer, and one for fan speed control.
This is the peculiarity of the fan. Such fans are widespread in the world of CPU coolers, but the MODU82+ is the first PSU in our labs to have a controlled fan.
Well, the speed of a typical 2- or 3-pin fan can be varied, too, by changing the supply voltage, but the advantage of 4-pin fans is that they offer a far broader adjustment range. Their minimum speed can be only 20-30% from the rated one or even less!
The ends of the fan’s blades are folded in a special way, but I am not as versed in aerodynamics as to comment knowingly upon the practical value of this folding.
But let’s get back to the PSU. It is equipped with the following cables and connectors:
Included with the PSU are:
Thus, this PSU can work with two premium or four mainstream graphics cards if they have no more than four power connectors in total. Each of the PSU’s PCIe cables splits into two connectors at the end, which is enough to connect two cards installed in neighboring slots. Each of the four graphics card connectors is of the 8-pin variety (designed as 6+2 to be compatible with 6-pin connectors).
The PSU can yield 96% of its total 625 watts across the +12V rail divided into three “virtual” output lines, 25A (300W) each. This limitation of the maximum current allows connecting any modern graphics card, including a Radeon HD 4870 X2 that consumes up to 260W, to one +12V line.
The PSU worked without problems at loads from 20W through 625W. Together with an APC SmartUPS SC 620 this power supply worked at loads up to 365W and 340W when powered by the mains and the batteries, respectively. The pair switched to the batteries normally, the UPS was stable.
The high-frequency output voltage ripple is far below the permissible maximum and nearly nonexistent on the +3.3V rail.
Besides the high-frequency ripple, there is low-frequency pulsation of a strange form. Anyway, the PSU keeps within the required limits even if you count this pulsation in.
The three main voltages boast superb stability. It is only at nearly-maximum loads that there is a 3% deflection from the nominal values.
The PSU is very efficient indeed. Its efficiency is over 80% even at a load of 50W! It is 87% efficient at the peak and 84% efficient at full load.
As for noisiness, the fan started at about 500rpm. You can’t hear the fan at such a speed unless you put your ear close to it. The speed is constant at loads up to 250W and then grows up along with the load. The PSU remains very quiet until a speed of 1000-1100rpm (over 400W) and then you begin to hear the hiss of the airflow and the sound of the fan’s bearings. Anyway, the noise is within comfortable limits even at full load, when the fan is rotating at about 1700rpm.
Thus, the MODU82+ 625W is actually silent at low loads. You can’t hear its fan through the panels of the system case at 500rpm. Comparing this model with the 525W model from the same series we tested earlier, there is no notable difference between them in terms of noisiness. You can choose between the EMD525AWT and EMD625AWT basing on how much power your PC needs.
Summing it up, the MODU82+ 625W has confirmed the success of the new series of Enermax PSUs. These top-quality, stable and nearly silent PSUs offer all the necessary connectors and will suit not only a gaming system but also a HTPC or any other PC whose owner wants to have a quiet computer.
With all its indisputable advantages, the MODU82+ has one significant drawback. It is costly. It may be worth the money, but you have to admit that this is quite a large sum. Therefore Enermax released the cheaper PRO82+ series. It has the same specifications as the MODU82+ series but does not have the detachable cables.
Let’s see if this is the only difference.
The PSU comes in a medium-size cardboard box of an eye-catching and remarkable design.
It is no different from the MODU82+ in front view, except for the somewhat darker paint.
The back panel does not have connectors for detachable cables anymore. All the cables go out of the case in four braids: for the mainboard, CPU, drives, graphics cards.
It is only at the end that each braid splits into individual cables with connectors. This is handy to some extent because the cables can be neatly laid in the system case and do not entangle. But I guess the power cables for peripherals should have been made as two different braids, one going from the PSU to the optical drives (usually located at the same height in the system case) and another going down to the hard drives.
The interior design is no different from the MODU82+ except for the lack of a card with output connectors.
The PSU has an active PFC device based on a Champion Micro CM6802BG controller (that does double duty as a main regulator controller) and features dedicated voltage regulation.
KZE series capacitors from United Chemi-Con are installed at the PSU’s output.
The PSU is cooled with the same fan as the MODU82+. It is a 120x120x25mm fan with a 4-pin connection, speed control and tachometer feedback.
The fan has the peculiarly folded blades, too.
The PSU is equipped with the following cables and connectors:
As I wrote above, the power cables of peripherals are combined into a single braid that splits into individual cables only at the very end. The same is true for the graphics card cables:
The individual cables are long enough for you to connect two or even four graphics cards, but it would be handier if the cables were organized into two rather than one braid.
The electrical characteristics are identical to those of the MODU82+ 625W. The PSU has three “virtual” 12V lines with a max current of 25A on each and a combined current of 50A.
The PSU worked without problems at loads from 20W through 625W. Together with an APC SmartUPS SC 620 this power supply worked at loads up to 360W and 340W when powered by the mains and the batteries, respectively. The pair switched to the batteries normally, the UPS was stable.
The high-frequency output voltage ripple is far below the permissible maximum.
There is also low-frequency pulsation of a strange form but the PSU keeps within the required limits even if you count this pulsation in.
The output voltages boast superb stability. The +3.3V voltage is the only one to deflect by more than 3% from the nominal value, but this occurs at the maximum load. None of the voltages comes close to the maximum permissible deflection of 5% (this limitation is described in the industry standard) at any distribution of load among the power rails.
The PSU is 88% efficient at the peak and higher than 80% through the entire range of my measurements (from 50W to full load). An excellent result!
The fan speed graphs of the PRO82+ and MODU82+ nearly coincide: the fan starts at 500rpm and maintains a constant speed until a load of 200W. Then the speed grows linearly to 1700rpm. The subjective impression is the same: the PRO82+ is silent at low loads and very quiet at loads below 400W. At the higher loads you can hear the hiss of the airflow and the sound of the fan’s bearings, yet the noise remains within comfortable limits even at the maximum speed.
Thus, the only difference between the MODU82+ and PRO82+ series is that the latter lacks detachable cables. The circuit design, voltage stability, efficiency and noisiness of these models are identical. So if you want to buy a quiet PSU but find the MODU82+ too costly, you may be interested in the cheaper Enermax PRO82+.
Concluding this test session I will give you a brief summary of highs, lows and special features of each of the tested PSUs.
The Enermax Galaxy DXX is a specific product with ordinary characteristics. It is bulky, not quiet, and has problems working at low loads. Formally speaking, the Galaxy DXX is not a bad power supply, but I also can’t find a reason why you should prefer it to others.
The Enermax Infiniti is free from the Galaxy’s drawbacks but full of its advantages such as good stability of the output voltages, high wattage, and a rich selection of connectors. This PSU can suit a top-end gaming system with two graphics cards and a fast CPU.
The Enermax Liberty DXX differs from the previous two models with its lower wattage and simplified circuit design. It does not have dedicated voltage regulation. Anyway, it should be quite enough for a gaming PC with one graphics card.
The MODU82+ and PRO82+ models make the best impression, of course. Having the same wattage as the junior model of the Infiniti series, they are not just versions of older PSUs in new cases. They are a true breakthrough. Their superb manufacturing quality, excellent stability of the output voltages, very high efficiency and quiet operation make them a perfect choice not only for gaming PCs but also for any quiet PC.
It is most appropriate that Enermax did not enter the other manufacturers’ race for kilowatts which are not needed by 99.9% of all users. Instead they released the new PSUs in a reasonable range of prices and wattages: from 425 to 625W. On the one hand, the MODU82+ and PRO82+ power supplies can be used to assemble a modern gaming system with one or two graphics cards. And on the other hand, you don’t have to pay extra for unnecessary wattage if all you want is just a high-quality and quiet power supply for your home PC.