Ultra X2 750W Titanium Modular PSU

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Product: Ultra X2 750W ATX - Titanium PSU
Provided By: Ultra Products
Real-Time Price:

Introduction:

Every company that makes power supplies seems to have several dozen different models on the market at once.  This of course is due in part to different wattage ratings as well as different technologies that go into these different units.  Some companies have a value series, quiet series, and performance series.  Any of these units may or may not be modular and can have several 12v rails, or one large 12v rail.  Ultra Products is no exception.  We've recently looked at a few of their X3 series PSU's that come with a single 12v rail and today we are mixing things up a bit with a look at their latest X2 unit.  This PSU comes with two 12v rails and is supposed to offer stability on one rail if the other rail becomes a bit unstable.

We've once again dropped this unit on our PSU Test Bench to see how it will perform under idle, average and loaded conditions.  We won't be using a multi-meter though as we want more accurate results.  We'll be using a Tektronix Digital Scope for maximum accuracy and reliability.  That being said, let's jump right in.

 X2 Box
X2 Box
Cable Box
Cable Box

 

The X2 Series packaging looks very similar to the X3 packaging and this is a good thing.  The X2 box looks sharp and flashy without being tacky and will grab the attention of the consumer when it's sitting on a shelf.  Inside the box is another box that holds all the cables, screws, documentation and the power cord.

The main thing that separates the X2 from the X3 is its Dual-Rail Technology.  A brief summary of the main features is shown in the graphic below.

X2 Info

X2 750W Details:

This PSU comes with enough cables for most users, although I found it a bit lacking for my personal taste.  Our main PSU test bench has a pair of 8800GTX graphics cards on it and this PSU only has 2 - PCIe Connectors.  We weren't able to power the cards completely from this PSU and had to employ the Power Partner for a couple of additional PCIe connectors.

Box Of Cables
Box Of Cables

We tried using a couple of Molex to PCIe "Y" Adapters, but these place too much stress on the 12v1 rail and the PSU would shut down as soon as we loaded up the system running 4x Folding @ Home and 3DMark06.  The 12v1 Rail is shared between the 24-pin motherboard connector, PCIe Connector 1, and all Molex, SATA and Floppy connectors.  The 12v2 Rail has to handle the 4-pin and 8-pin auxiliary motherboard cables as well as PCIe Connector 2.

Cable Length

As I've discovered, there are as many connections as the PSU can actually support.  If you had more cables and connections, you would overload the PSU and cause your system to crash.

 

Below is more information from Ultra regarding the X2.

All New Redesigned 750 Watt X2-Extreme Edition (X2)
Just when the technicians and designers thought they had the perfect power supply in Ultra's legendary laboratories, its crack team of geniuses one-upped their own incredible product. Enter the hard-working power supply with the glossy titanium finish – the X2 750 Watt Power Supply.

Why X2 is Better than Ever
If you’re familiar with the X-Connect (1st Generation) you know that it’s the world’s first completely modular design. That means you only have to connect the cables you need. This leaves your system’s airflow unimpeded by clunky, chunky air stifling cables. The end result? Airflow that cools and protects your precious components. This born-to-be-modded power supply goes several steps beyond its award-winning predecessors. The Ultra 750-watt titanium finish X2-Extreme Eddition features FlexForce technology, which delivers easy cable routing while remaining hidden within your case. FlexForce’s special design allows air to travel 30-percent more effectively than standard cables. This results in a quantum leap in performance. Plus the 750-Watt X2-Extreme Edition dresses its cables in a sleek, titanium UV reactive finish.

Dual Rail Technology for More Stable Power
Specially developed for extreme gaming rigs! This 750-watt X2-Extreme Edition features Dual Rail Technology. The X2's critical 12V power are divided into two separate rails. This distributes cleaner power to your CPU, offering better stability and greater overclocking potential. You’ll get phenomenal system performance with the this 750-watt X2-Extreme Edition!

 

 Dual Rail

According to Ultra's site the X2 750W PSU breaks down its output as follows:

 

Output

 

 

The 5v and 3.3v rails are under-rated on the spec - and this is a good thing.  In reality the 5v rail should be able to handle 140W solo and the 3.3v rail is capable of 79.2W.  These combine to a total of 219.2W + the actual 600W rating of the 12v rails.  Maximum theoretical output is 841.3W - according to hard math, but this isn't accurate.  We'll see later on that the 12v rails should be rated much lower than 25A, and this PSU cannot actually produce its rated output.

Unlike many other PSU's we've tested, the label on the Ultra X2 750W Titanium PSU matches the information on the site.

 PSU Label
PSU Label

 

On the next page, we'll take a closer look at the PSU, crack it open for an inside peak and then head on to testing.


Closer Look:

No matter what you say about this PSU, it is a beauty.  If looks really mattered and indicated performance, we'd already be giving this PSU a "Top Pick" award.  That being said, beauty is only skin (powder coat or plating) deep and what matters in the end is how it performs.  Still, you have to give a little credit to Ultra Products for the fit and finish of this unit.

Rear Grill
Rear Grill

 

Ventilation and cooling are well taken care of with a large 120mm fan with a very attractive and quite unrestrictive fan grill.  Ultra proudly has their name emblazoned across the grill and it adds to the class and curb appeal of this unit.  The rear of the PSU is almost entirely open mesh that allows the hot air to escape and aids in cooling the components.

 X2 Profile
X2 Profile

 

You can see that this is a totally modular PSU as even the 24-pin motherboard cable is modular.  Also modular plane are connections for two 6-pin PCIe cables, an 8-pin and 4-pin auxiliary motherboard cables, 5 Molex cables, and two SATA cables.

You can see a close-up of this modular backplane below, as well as a picture showing how shiny this unit is.

 Modular Backplane
Modular Backplane
 Shiny Finish
Shiny Finish

 

Closer Look Inside:

While not as hardcore as some when it comes to testing hardware, we do like to see what's inside most products and insist on voiding warranty and taking them apart.  The outside is superficial and whether you are a hardcore enthusiast, what really matters is what is inside.

Inside PSU
Inside PSU

 

The inside is fairly tidy, albeit a little on the light side of things.  We've seen much larger capacitors, transformers and choke coils in PSU that were rated with similar output and this doesn't inspire a lot of confidence.  In order to make room, some of the components have been installed on daughter boards that are mounted in different locations.

 Daughter Boards
Daughter Boards
Connector Gap
Connector Gap
Rail Distribution
Rail Distribution

 

Maybe I'm just getting fussy, but the inside of this PSU looks like it was built by a guy on a Friday 20 minutes before quitting time.  There is a lot of excess glue strung around inside, and the 24-pin motherboard connector isn't even plugged all the way in.  The soldering on the modular place looks pretty good however, although some of the ground wires look a little shaky.

Fan Blockage
Fan Blockage

 

While the 120mm fan is all nice a good, a quick look shows that it has about 30mm of one side blocked off.  This blocked part sits over the modular backplane and is possibly meant to keep the shoddy wiring from catching in the fan.  I'm sorry, it's not that bad, but there is no real reason to block off the fan on the inside unless something will catch in it.

On the next page, we'll plug in this unit and see how it performs with no load, an average load and then at a 510W load.


Testing the X2:

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 X2 750W Titanium unit from Ultra Products.


Test System:


14W (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 14W.  It's also noteworthy to mention that the Power Factor at this non-load situation is a mere 0.46.  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.

-12v at 14w
-12v at 14w
 3.3v at 14w
3.3v at 14w


 5v at 14w
5v at 14w
 12v1 at 14w
12v1 at 14w

 

Voltages all look very good and are slightly above their actual rated values, but well within specification.  We've seen some PSUs overvolted as much at 0.7v on a 12v rail, but the X2 looks much closer to where it should be.  Ripple and noise is a little high on both 3.3v and 5v lines, but that isn't indicative of regulation when a load is applied so we'll let it slide - for now.


300W Tests:

Next we fired up our test rig and overclocked the CPU to a modest 3.0GHz and left it idling in Windows.  This produced a fairly static 300W load.  At this point we saw the Power Factor measure 0.68 on this PSU.  Keep in mind that higher is better as it indicates a more efficient PSU.  Previously tested Zalman PSU's measure over .90 in terms of Power Factor, so the X2 is a little weak in this area.

 -12v at 300w
-12v at 300w
 3.3v at 300w
3.3v at 300w

 

5v at 300w
5v at 300w
12v rails at 300w
12v rails at 300w

 

The 300W load tests tell an interesting story.  When running this load, we see the X2 at its best.  The -12v and +12v rails are all very good at this and are well within their maximum allowable ripple and noise measurement.  The 12v1 rail is the quietest at 48mV - well under the 120mV specification.  The other +12v rail is 54mV as is the -12v rail.  The 3.3v is already faltering as it falls outside the 50mV rating.  It measures 52mV.  The 5v rails squeaks in at 46mV.  Note that both 12v rails are pictured in the same image.  12v1 is shown as yellow and 12v2 is shown as blue.

On the last page we'll wrap up testing with our maximum load tests and draw some final conclusions.


510W Tests:

We've seen the X2 750W PSU start off kind of shaky with some high ripple and noise values on the 3.3v and 5v lines, but it smoothed out a bit with an average load.  The Dual Rail Technology on both 12v rails has remained solid so far.  These next tests show the power stability at 510W as we put this PSU to the test with our main system.  We were unable to run both 8800GTX cards in SLI from this PSU though as there aren't enough connections and putting "Y" Molex to PCIe adapters on the system caused the 12v1 rail to overload and the system to power off.  Following are the measurements of our test system when running at 3.0GHz on the Q6600 with both graphics cards at stock speeds.  Each PCIe connector was ran to a difference card and the additional power was provided to each card by the Ultra Power Partner.  The system is running four instances of Folding @ Home for team BCC, and is looping a single demo test in 3DMark06.  We are running 3DMark at 1920x1200 at 8x AA and 16x AF in order to stress the graphics.  This heated things up and brought us a nice 510W load.  Power factor under 510W load was 0.70.

-12v at 510w
-12v at 510w
3.3v at 510w
3.3v at 510w

 

 5v at 510w
5v at 510w
 12v at 510w
12v at 510w

 

I was very disappointed to find that this PSU can't even power our test system.  While it is a pretty hefty system, it measures a draw of 650W maximum from the wall and PSU specifications are rated as output - not input.  The PSU output should be around 520W and the X2 PSU can't even provide that.  The best we could do was 510W Input - which equates to about 370W output as this PSU is only rated as being 72% efficient.  We could put a few more watts through it, but we couldn't get anywhere near its rated output.

 

Pictured above, the images show the 3.3v and 5v rails out of spec, while all 12v rails are within acceptable parameters - barely.  The 12v2 rail is flapping around to the tune of 102mV and we've included a video clip showing how active and unstable the 12v lines are.

Performance Summary:

The Ultra X2 750W PSU had some major issues throughout testing.  When I fired up the test system and relaxed with some UT3 gaming, I noticed a perceptible squealing over my JBL Active Noise Canceling headphones.  Upon inspection, I found this sound coming from the PSU with only a draw of 350W according to the Kill-A-Watt.  After several hours of burn in testing this went away, but this is an indicator of poor capacitors or a poor choke coil.  According to a multi-meter, the rails were well within spec at both non-load and full-load tests.  Analyzing the power with the Tektronix scope showed different results.  We constantly saw lots of noise on the 3.3v and 5v lines that actually exceeded the limit of the ATX specifications.  This PSU failed to perform as stated.  Period.

 Mean Voltage

 Ripple

 

Please consult our PSU Testing Methods guide to better understand how we test the power supply and where we get our information from.  If you have any questions, they will likely be answered in that document.

 

Conclusion:

This is really tough to draw a conclusion on this PSU as we are currently unsure if we have a faulty unit, or if the X2 Titanium is just not that good of a PSU.  While it looks fantastic, has modular connections and is quiet, all of this is like gold plating cattle manure if it can't provide you with a solid running system.  We have contacted Ultra to get another 750W X2 PSU and will update the article or the forum comments section with updated results when we get another unit.  In the meantime, I'd be very cautious about dropping my money on this unit and would in fact stay away - unless you're building a low-end system and want the appeal of a shiny finish on your PSU.

 

Pros:

  • Excellent finish - nice and shiny.
  • Completely modular
  • Very quiet 

 

Cons:

  • Not enough cables to put a 750W load on this unit
  • Can't provide a 600W load even though it's rated much higher
  • Unstable rails can cause system instability and shutdown

BCCRating
 
 
I look forward to following up with an additional PSU to confirm our results.  Testing with a multi-meter though showed this PSU to be fine and that is how many other sites test PSUs.  We stand behind our methods and see that this PSU couldn't even power our system.  It is our first "F" we've awarded a product.
 
Please post your thoughts, comments and questions in the forum at the "Comments" link below.