Date: February 1, 2007
Author(s): Matthew Harris
So, you’re on a budget and shopping for a new power supply. You want a decent wattage and a modular cable setup but don’t have much to spend? There are a few choices that might suit you, today we look at an offering from Ultra and see if it has what it takes to garner your hard earned dollars.
Ultra has been around for a few years now. They basically invented the modular PSU for mass consumption with their X-Connect line of power supplies and have not rested on their laurels since. Today they have offerings from the uber budget 350W to the uber PSU with their upcoming 2000W and everything in between from the mild to the wild.
Today I’m taking a look at a milder offering, the XVS 600W modular budget PSU. The XVS 600 is a no-frills unit. It doesn’t have Ultra’s signature modular connections nor does it support SLI. Instead the modular connections are of the molex variety but I’m getting ahead of myself. First let’s take a look and see what Ultra has to say about the XVS 600:
All New X-Connect® V-Series (XVS)
Never before has so many features been bundled together and offered at such a great value. Our new XVS power supply combines durability and high-performance with a quiet 120MM cooling fan and Ultra’s patented modular interface. All of the cables are Ultra’s exclusive FlexForce design, offering unparalleled ease of use. Because users only plug in the cables they need and can easily route cables underneath and behind components, the airflow inside the chassis can be improved by 30%!
Use only the cables you need!
No need to clutter up your computer with useless cables. This not only increases airflow within your case, but it gives the inside of your case a clean professional look.
120mm Cooling Fan
Low noise 120mm fan will maximize airflow through the power supply as well as keep the noise level of your pc down.
FlexForce Cables are designed to be easily routed and hidden within your case while increasing the airflow.
What is FlexForce?
115V/230V 10A/6A 60/50Hz
Total Output Power:
600W (Full Load, Nominal Input Voltage)
78% Typical at Full Load and Nominal Input Voltage
AC Input Voltage: 115V/230V
AC Input Frequency: 50-60Hz
AC Input Currents:
· 10A (RMS) for 115VAC input
· 6A (RMS) for 230VAC input
ATX 12V Version 1.2 Specifications
110VAC and 25°C Ambient Condition
As you can see there’s just a single 12V rail rather than the usual dual rails. More and more PSU manufacturers are moving to larger single 12V designs despite the Intel 240VA recommendation towards multi rail designs. Personally I like this move towards a large 12V rail rather than mincing the rail into bite-sized portions. If you’ve got a PC that doesn’t need 18A going to PCI-e graphics cards but uses 25A on start up to spin up an insane amount of hard drives a single rail design has you covered. That said the XVS has a rather modest 35A 12V rail but for a mid range PC 35A is more than enough.
The box for the XVS 600 is pretty large and lists the various features and benefits of the unit. Not just in English but in French as well so our northern cousins will not be left out in the cold (no pun intended).
Inside the box is the PSU, manual, cables, power cord and screws. The cables are black rather than the titanium finish that Ultra lists on their site. No matter though they are of the Flex-Force variety and are still great for hiding out of sight in your PC case with some forethought when installing everything.
There are 6 – 4 pin molex, 2 – SATA, 1 – 4 pin floppy, 1 – 6 pin PCI-e 1 – 4 pin ATX 12V and a 20 + 4 pin ATX power cable. The 20 + 4 and 4 pin 12V ATX cable are hard wired into the PSU, the rest though are modular. The modular connections aren’t the typical ones found on the X-Connect and X-2 instead they’re terminated with a molex on the end (male) and plug into a female molex mounted in the body of the PSU.
A little birdy tells me that the XVS 600 is an X-2 with the rails "tweaked" to deliver 600W. Looking inside we certainly see that it bears a striking resemblance to the X-2 internally.
Here’s a shot of the X-2 just for comparisons sake. Amazing the similarity isn’t it?
A closer look reveals that they’re indeed the same inside as far as the naked eye can see.
The XVS uses cheaper Capxon capacitors instead of the Japanese Koshin caps used in the X-2. I suppose that the budget has to be found somewhere. We can also see that like the X-2 the XVS 600 doesn’t use active PFC. Will this be an issue? Read on to find out.
Here’s a closer look at the modular interface, yep that’s it, five molexes. This means that the PCI-e connector has three wires feeding off a single 12V pin and that the SATA power is no better than an adaptor. There’s no 3.3V line since a molex has grounds and 5V and 12V. Right now this doesn’t matter since no SATA drives to date require 3.3V but if it’s part of the standard you can be assured that eventually it will be implemented and when that happens this PSU won’t be compatible. Of course who’s to say that by that time you’ll be using a mere 600W PSU to power a PC system.
Last but not least a look at the cables and how they look plugged into the unit. All told it’s a pretty clean look and as you can tell the cables are plenty long for use in larger cases.
Now that we’ve taken a look at the XVS 600 let’s hook it up to the tester and see what it’s really made of.
All tests are run on a SunMoon SM-268+ ATE (Automated Test Equipment) active PSU load tester. This tester can measure the load on 6 rails at 5 preset levels and outputs a signal via BNC to an O-scope for ripple measurement. The ripple is measures with a USB Instruments Stingray DS1M12 and logged.
|1||12.16V @ 4A||5.14V @ 5A||3.46V @ 2A||97W||.61||77%|
|2||12.08V @ 12A||5.12V @ 8A||3.42V @ 5A||218W||.63||80%|
|3||11.99V @ 20A||5.09V @ 11A||3.37V @ 8A||338W||.64||78%|
|4||11.91V @ 28A||5.07V @ 14A||3.32V @ 11A||456W||.65||74%|
|5||11.92V @ 35A||4.99V @ 20A||3.24V @ 17A||588W||.67||68%|
As we find out the XVS 600 starts out strong with good voltage on the rails and decent efficiency and keeps this up through the first three stages of testing but as the pressure increases the voltages begin to drop off but not drastically. In fact they stay well above the 5% of the ATX spec on the upper wattage tests but the efficiency rolls off pretty sharply as the unit approaches 500W.
In all reality this won’t be much of an issue for most users as typical modern PC’s don’t go far beyond 300W under full load if that. Typically a home PC will run from 100W to 200W during general use to intense gaming so the excellent efficiency exhibited by the XVS 600 will be a boon due to the fact that less wattage will be converted to heat. Remember that this PSU doesn’t feature active PFC so hitting 80% efficiency is quite the coup d’état. Keeping the efficiency above 75% is also very respectable but I’m disappointed that it dropped to a very low 68% under full load.
Let’s take a look at the ripple… yes that’s right, I’m going to show you ripple results. The Stingray allows me to save screenshots of the ripple results so I’m showing them to you.
Looking at the ripple results we see that as the loads on the 12V and 5V rails increase the ripple becomes more active while the 3.3V rail stays very steady. While the 12V and 5V rails look like they’re out of shape by test 5 they’re really not that bad. The 5V rail peaks out at 40mV while the 12V rail never goes above 70mV which is well under spec. The nice thing about the 3.3V rail staying so clean is that everything riding that rail such as the ram and PCI devices will have a very clean input and as far as ram is concerned that should mean added stability.
All in all I’m pretty impressed although I must mention that during test 5 I did suffer a slight mishap. While I was taking the O-scope screen shots the XVS 600 suddenly shut down. I was rather nonplussed as to why it shut down. I thought maybe it was due to overheating or possibly it didn’t like the 588W load placed on it due to it being a "tweaked" 550W PSU.
After waiting for 30 minutes for the overheating protection to reset it and not having it happen I decided to open it back up and see what was the cause. Come to find out it was a blown fuse. I looked closely at the fuse and it appears that the fuse was faulty. Yes, stop sniggering, I know it was blown but I mean that it was faulty to begin with. The solder joint holding the element in the fuse was "dry" meaning that the element was not bonded securely to the endcaps which resulted in the fuse overheating the element and pre-maturely failing.
Lets rattle the box and see what falls out shall we?
The XVS 600 is a semi modular PSU that aims at the budget user. As such it loses a few things such as upper load efficiency, a few connectors such as EPS 8 pin and SLI capability and only gives you two SATA connectors. In exchange you get a PSU that offers stable voltages with good regulation and above average efficiency at middle loads. The XVS 600 is super quiet too, not once was I able to discern any fan noise from it even under full load.
For around $80 street price is the XVS 600 worth the trade offs? I think so. If you need a stable PSU for a upper midrange PC such as a C2D and 8800GTS with a couple of gigs of ram, and a hand full of drives the XVS 600 would be a good choice. All in all it’s a stable, well regulated power supply that offers good user options and won’t break the bank. That said I’m awarding the XVS 600 8/10.
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