Spire SP-ATX-600W Power Supply

by Matthew Harris on July 4, 2007 in Cases & PSUs

If you look around you’ll find that there are more brands of power supplies than you can shake a stick at. Some of them are really good while others aren’t even worth being hit with the aforementioned stick. Does the Spire Rocketeer IVSP-ATX-600W fall into the first or second category? Read on and decide for yourself.

Page 2 – Closer Look

The unit itself doesn’t come packed in foam isolators as we’re starting to see in more and more units, instead it’s simply packed into a bubble wrap baggie. It’s actually a bit more environmentally friendly than using styrofoam and most geeks will be incline to hang onto the baggie to reuse it for shipping parts that they sell later. I would be happier to see the baggie made from the large bubble, bubble wrap rather than the small stuff since it would give better protection during shipping especially when subjected to the tender mercies of some of the parcel companies we have stateside.

Here’s a look at the specs for the unit. 3.3V @ 30A, 5V @ 54A and two 12V rails @ 20A each or 38A total. The 12V current isn’t too shabby as long as the regulation under full load is good.

The unit is finished in a rough nickel finish and the fan grill provides about the only "bling" by being gold. In a world filled with "pretty" PSU’s the Rocketeer IV is decidedly plain.

The cables are fairly long but only the main ATX cable is sleeved. The rest are twisted though so that helps to prevent them from coming undone in the case and creating a mess. Since we’re on the cables let’s cover the connector load out.

  • 1- 20+4 ATX
  • 1- 4+4 (4 pin or 8 pin) ATX/EPS 12V
  • 6- 4-pin molex
  • 2- 4-pin floppy
  • 2- 5 conductor SATA
  • 2- 3X2 (6-pin) PCI-e power

As we can see the Rocketeer is SLI capable for the cards that only require a single PCI-e connector. It has a decent load out for molex powered devices but the native SATA support is sadly lacking. Personally I like to see a minimum of four native SATA connectors on a PSU of this wattage caliber but I’d much prefer to see six.

Finally we take a look at the rear of the unit to see how well the exhaust is implemented. As I said earlier, this is not a dual fan unit and this illustrates that vividly. The rear grill is very open and there should be a minimal drop in flow from the 120mm fan.

Let’s open this puppy up and see what it brings to the table.

When we get the unit opened we see that it’s based on a Topower build and a low end one at that. The filtering on the AC side is minimal at best with nothing more than a pair of 1000uF caps. No chokes at all aside from one very small transformer towards the rear of the unit. This could bode ill for the performance of the unit as any noise on the primary side can find it’s way over the the secondary side in the form of ripple or AC noise on the DC outputs.

Judging by the simplicity of the design I’m leaning towards this unit being group regulated. This means that the regulation circuitry for the 12V pulls double duty by regulating the 5V and 3.3V as well. This means that when one set of rails is heavily loaded you can see the other set end up with elevated voltages as the regulation circuitry attempts to shore up the loaded rails. This is most apparent during heavy cross loads with more current on either the 12V rails than the 5V and 3.3V or vice versa.

Another look at the secondary side of the unit. At least this side fares a bit better with filtering with a couple of goodly sized chokes and a smattering of caps. For those that are wondering, the caps are by Jenpo, a company that I’ve seen used by Topower before although the jury is still out as to the quality of their product.

Cooling duties are handled by a Globefan that’s rated at 93CFM. Since Spire lists this unit as being silent I can only assume that the fan control circuitry is pretty aggressive as to the voltage being supplied to the fan. Globefan lists this fan in the upper thirties as to db output versus Spire listing the Rocketeer IV at a mere 19db. I will say that during testing the unit never got overly loud so I’m pretty sure the fan’s throttled way back.

I just wanted to point this out, see the rectifier that the red arrow is pointing to? Yep, it has no cooling whatsoever. I think that this little omission will come back to haunt Spire in the future. Not that I saw it fail but I’m sure that over time it will lead to problems.

Enough looking at the Rocketeer IV, let’s throw this shrimp on the barbie and see if she cooks.

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