Ultra X3 800W Modular PSU - Let the Testing Begin!

Article Index
Ultra X3 800W Modular PSU
FlexForce Cables and Inside the PSU
Let the Testing Begin!
650W Load Tests and Final Thoughts

Testing the X3:

In the past, we've prided ourselves on real-world testing.  For graphics cards, CPUs and memory, what matters is what takes place in real applications and games.  We also held that philosophy for PSU testing, but after a while, we realized that there is more to a PSU that being able to run a machine stable over a few weeks or months.  In reality, if there is a lot of ripple, this can damage sensitive traces on your $700 graphics card or $1300 CPU.  A multi-meter alone is not good enough to check PSU voltage stability.  It's for this reason that we've updated our PSU testbed, and will continue to improve the detail and quality of our PSU reviews.  That being said, we will still be testing the PSU in a system and will be including stress tests from real components in the real world.

We recently purchased a Tektronix TDS2002 60MHz Dual Channel scope and it has already become invaluable around the shop here at BCCHardware headquarters.  I've used it to troubleshoot everything from PSU's to Radars, and we are using it today to check the stability of the X3 800W unit from Ultra Products.


Test System:

 

15W (No Load) Tests:

We initially plugged the PSU into an EZ PSU Tester 3 in order to power it on for our "idle" measurements.  As noticed below, the voltage rails were fairly stable with no load, but these aren't necessarily indicative of overall load performance.  According to our Kill-a-Watt, the power draw was 15W.  We have started to include these non-load results and compare with other power supplies to see how they manage a non-load situation, and how much power the PSU itself will draw.

 3.3v at 15W
3.3v at 15W
 5v at 15W
5v at 15W
   
 12v at 15W
12v at 15W
 -12v at 15W
-12v at 15W

 

The graphs above scare me a little bit as far as overall voltage ripple and noise go.  The 3.3v line is up to 3.44 volts and is showing 46mV of noise.  Keep in mind that maximum ripple on this line should not exceed 50mV and we're almost there.  You can see the ripple in the 5v line under a non-load situation.  That doesn't concern me too much, but the fact that it is out of spec at 58mV concerns me a bit.  Moving on to the large 12v line shows noise measured at 52mV - well within the 120mV spec.  You'll also notice that this line is "Hot" at 12.6 volts.  We'll have to see how it regulates when loaded, but 12.6 is pretty high - right on the 5% border line.  On this PSU, we've also included -12v information.  The -12v line is showing 54mV noise and is running high at -11.7v.  This will likely smooth out when we put a load on the PSU.

 

380W Tests:

To load things up a bit we overclocked the Q6600 to 3.0GHz and let the system run Folding @ Home for team BCC.  This put some stress on the PSU and brought it up to just under half of the rated output.  Even with four Hard Drives, a couple of 8800GTX graphics cards in SLI and a bunch of other gear, we're only up to 380W.  This shows that unless you're doing some incredible things, a medium ranged PSU will likely have enough juice.

 3.3v at 380W
3.3v at 380W
 5v at 380W
5v at 380W
   
12v at 380W
12v at 380W
 -12v at 380W
-12v at 380W

 

When pulling more power through the X3 we see the ripple and noise once again play a factor.  While the average voltage measurements look fine according to a multi-meter or software such as OCCT, in reality, noise and ripple happen very fast and other testing methods cannot capture the rapid rippling that takes place.  It is for this reason that we've started to revamp our PSU Testing Methods.  The 3.3v ripple actually increased once again to 50mv and is the maximum allowable ripple and noise according to the ATX max specification.  The 5v ripple has also increased and is also measured at 50mv, but the 12v line is solid at 54mv out of the allowable 120mv.  Voltages are also coming in line now, but all are on the high side.  The 3.3v line measures 3.41 and the 5v line is at 5.1v.  The 12v line is still hot at 12.5, and the -12v line is now dropped to acceptable measures at -12.4.

While many people may not see a drawback of running higher voltages, it is a bit of a way for companies to "cheat" on their delivered AMPs in my opinion.  If you have higher voltage, you don't need as many Amps to do the same task.  As long as everything is within reason, this is not a bad thing, but constant over-voltage can cause issues down the road.  That being said, under-voltage is more dangerous as it requires higher amp and causes the voltage regulators to produce more heat.

On the last page we'll take a look at full 650W tests and wrap things up.