Ultra Power Partner 325W Additional PSU

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Product: Ultra Power Partner 5.25” Bay 325W PSU
Provided By: Ultra Products
Real-Time Price:

 

Introduction:

Power requirements of today’s high-end computers have reached gigantic proportions.  It wasn’t that long ago that you would have got laughed at and been considered crazy to have a 600W or greater PSU.  Today, it’s very easy for a high-end machine to draw 600W and some machines can even draw up to 800W consistently.  High output power supplies are very expensive.  Once you exceed 800W, the cost per Watt of output rises dramatically.  A 600W PSU can cost around $100 and a 1000W PSU will easily set you back $250 or more.

Box Of Power
Box Of Power

 

If you need a bit more power than you get from your current PSU, but can’t afford a new big whopping 1kW or greater unit, the Ultra Products Power Partner 325W PSU may be exactly what you’re looking for.  This is a small “booster” PSU that fits in a 5.25” bay and adds an extra 12v rail and an extra 5v rail to your system.

If you’ve just dropped a few hundred dollars on a new graphics card or two and can’t afford to drop $250+ on a new PSU as well, this $70 upgrade may be enough to get you by and help tide you over.


In the Box & Bundle:

Although this PSU comes is a fairly small box, it is quite heavy.  The PSU comes well packaged and arrived in good shape with no shipping damage.  In the box is a quick install guide, a power cord, a PCI Slot pass-through bracket and of course the non-modular PSU.

 In The Box
In The Box
 Bundle
Bundle

 

The bundled cables include 2 Molex connectors, 2x 6-pin PCIe connectors, 1x 8-pin PCIe connetor and the 24 pin pass-through connector required to “jumpstart” this PSU when the main PSU is engaged.  These cables use Ultra Products’ FlexForce system and are very flexible and manageable, but because they are not modular they do add quite a bit of cable clutter to your machine.

Bundle of Cables
Bundle of Cables

 

The overall appearance of the Power Partner PSU is quite clean and nice.  It has a fine microfilter inside the front grill to keep dust out of the unit.  It is cooled by a pair 30mm fans and these pull in fresh air from the front and exhaust the hot air inside the case.  In most circumstances, the PSU generates very little heat, but if it is loaded and providing 200W or more, it actually generates a lot of heat and this will be dumped into your case – causing increased case temperatures resulting in higher CPU and GPU temperatures – especially with traditional air cooling.

The PSU has a steel case and the finish isn’t nearly as impressive as Ultra’s X3 PSUs.  I think that Ultra could finish this unit a little better for a bit better curb appeal.

 Front Closed
Front Closed

 

Before we jump into testing, let’s take a look at the specifications and features of the Power Partner from Ultra.


 

Features & Specifications:

The following information has been taken from the Ultra prduct page and posted here for your viewing convenience.  For all the details, please make sure to head on over to Ultra's site for all the details.

 

Power Partner 325-Watt ATX Power Supply
If your current power supply is not enough for your most recent upgrades, but you just can't justify replacing your main power supply unit, then Ultra has a solution for you!

The Power Partner is a 325W power supply that fits into a 5.25" bay. It can provide power to additional graphics cards and even features the most current 8-pin PCI-e connector. The Power Partner provides both +12V and +5V rails and provides two 4-pin peripheral power connectors, so it can be used to power opticals, hard drives, water pumps, TEC coolers... the list of uses is nearly endless!

Installation is easy and the unit can be implemented in nearly any system. Simply route the power cord in through a slot in the back of the case, slide the Power Partner into a 5.25" bay, connect the main connector in-line between your current power supply and the motherboard, connect the Power Partner's power connectors to your graphic cards, peripherals or whatever else you need to deliver additional power to and you're set! No more having to worry about how much overhead your power supply may have left.

 

 Boost Your PSU

Output

AC INPUT
115V/230V 6A/4A 60/50Hz
MAX OUTPUT
CURRENT
+5V
+12V
5A
26A
325W
Max
Combined
Watts
325W

Total Output Power:
325W (Full Load, Nominal Input Voltage)
Efficiency:
73% Typical at Full Load and Nominal Input Voltage

Input

AC Input Voltage: Automatic Full Range (115-230 VAC)
AC Input Frequency:
50-60Hz
AC Input Currents:
· 6A (RMS) at 115VAC input
· 4A (RMS) at 230VAC input

 

 


Connectors Available

1 - 24-Pin Motherboard Connector
2 - 4-Pin Molex Connectors
2 - 6-Pin PCI Express Connectors
1 - 8-Pin PCI Express Connector

Additional Features

  • Supports AMD and Intel Motherboards
  • Low Acoustic Noise
  • Meets ATX Version 2.03, and ATX 12V Version 1.2 Specifications
  • Short Circuit Protection
  • In-Rush Current Protection
  • Thermal Overload Cutoff Protection
  • MTBF > 100,000 Hours at Full Load, 110VAC and 25°C Ambient Condition
  • FCC and UL Recognized

 

On the next page we'll open up the PSU and start testing.


Inside the Power Partner:

It wouldn’t be a BCCHardware PSU review if we didn’t open up the unit for a peek inside.  Four screws and a “Warranty Void if Removed” sticker is all that stands in your way if you want to open this unit.  That being said, I do not recommend that you open any PSU for any reason.  This will void your warranty and put yourself at risk of electric shock.  If you feel that you must open a PSU, think again and please don’t.

 Back Open
Back Open
 PSU Inside
PSU Inside

 

Ultra has made the most of the room available inside the 5.25” bay enclosure.  There is not a lot of extra room, but everything manages to fit inside and still be neat and tidy.  If this unit had to provide -12v and 3.3v power as well, it would have to be extended in order to fit everything inside.  Because it only handles a single 12v rail and a single 5v rail, everything manages to work out.

You can see in the picture above on the left that there is a voltage switch that allows you to choose between 110v and 220v.  Many full-sized ATX PSU’s do this automatically, but this must be manually selected on the Power Partner PSU.  You can see the rear fans have grills installed to prevent cables and fingers from getting whacked by the spinning fans.

Long heatsinks extend from the front to the back and seem to provide adequate cooling for this unit.  It is rated at a maximum efficiency of 73%, although we saw the power factor sit at a consistent 0.61 during load testing and 0.55 during idle testing.  This is a pretty poor PF rating as many power supplies run well over 95%.

 

Setup & Testing:

To test the Power Partner PSU, we offloaded an 8800GTX to the PSU as well as an optical drive and a couple of SATA hard drives from our main test system.  During non-load testing we simply hooked up the Power Partner to our EZ-PSU Tester 3 and then took reading with our Tektronix TDS-2002 Digital Oscilloscope.  For more information about our PSU Testing Methodology, please consult our updated guide here.

 5v at 5W
5v at 5W
 12v at 5W
12v at 5W

 

The non-load test measured a draw of 5W and while many of you may not think that non-load tests are worth reporting, we find that they are a great indicator as to load performance farther on.  In a non-load situation, we say the 5v line produce 5.15v – a very respectable number.  Ripple and noise on this line was within ATX specifications and measure 46mV.  Maximum allowable ripple and noise is supposed to be 50mV, so this didn’t pass with flying colors, but it did pass.

The 12v line reported in at 12.4v – higher than many other companies PSU’s, but right in line with what we’ve come to expect from Ultra.  The ripple and noise on this line was 68mV – and fell well below the 120mV requirement of a 12v line.


200W Load Tests:

We loaded up the system, ran some 3DMark 06 at 1600x1050 with 8x AA, 16x AF, while transferring data from one drive to another while playing a DVD movie.  This drew between 198W and 201W on the 325W rated PSU, and while it can handle more than that – it is a load that would be quite representative of real-world usage in many machines.

 5v at 200W
5v at 200W
 12v at 200W
12v at 200W

 

With a 200W load, we saw the Power Partner 325W PSU waver a bit.  Our 5v line remained voltage-stable with an average voltage of 5.12v, but the ripple exceeded maximum ATX specs and it topped out with a peak-to-peak average of 62mV.  Although the system remained stable throughout testing, the PSU fell outside of specifications on the 5v line.

The 12v line fared better, and in fact did not drop any voltage at all – even when we overclocked the 8800GTX graphics card attached to the PSU.  Voltage remained stable at 12.4v although you can visibly see ripple on the line.  Peak-to-peak measurements showed 72mV which is still 48mV inside the ATX specification.  To summarize visually, take a look at the charts below.

Average Voltage

Average Ripple

 

Final Thoughts:

The Ultra Products 325W Power Partner is a good idea, but when MSRP is $90, it really isn’t a great value.  If you’ve recently spent $100 on a 600W PSU and you need a few more Watts, for $90 this unit gives you another 12v rail and some extra voltage, but when combined with the cost of the original PSU, it really doesn’t save you any money.  Where this fits – and to be fair, the market it’s aimed at – is in a system that is sorely underpowered with an older ~450W PSU and when the system is upgraded, the original PSU cannot keep up.  The user can’t afford to drop $150+ on an 800W or greater unit and the Power Partner is a valid choice.  For $90 though it’s not necessarily a great choice, and is a little expensive per watt of performance.

When you take into account the extra cable clutter, higher case temperature and shaky 5v line, I can’t really recommend this unit to many people.  If you are on a razer thin budget this may be a last resort, but if you can save your money for another month or two and buy a larger PSU with modular cable management, you’ll be happier in the long run.

 

 

 

Pros:

  • Easily add extra power to help an overworked PSU
  • Fits in a 5.25” bay
  • Microfilter on front prevents dust from entering PSU

 

Cons:

  • Non-modular connectors add a lot of clutter
  • Airflow is “backward” and adds heat to the system
  • 5v line is shaky – typical of Ultra PSUs lately
  • Expensive per watt

 

BCCRating

Top Pick

 


I’d like to thank Ultra Products for sending on over this Power Partner PSU.  Although it has a few problems, we fully intend on keeping it around for an upcoming article for use on a system that will exceed a steady power draw of 800W.

If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to post them in the forum at the following “Comments” link.  You don’t even have to be registered to post feedback on our reviews, so head on over and drop your comments today!