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Subject: SKYMTL's 500W+, Sub-$105 PSU Roundup
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SKYMTL Mar 23, 2007 06:02 PM Reply | Bookmark
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Well, here we are in what seems to be an almost weekly occurrence: another power supply roundup by yours truly. This time we will be looking at a little more powerful models than we were last time; 500W to 600W models that all come in at under $105. Sounds like a great deal doesn’t it?

In this day and age we are faced with ever increasing power demands from higher-end components such as Nvidia’s 8800-series and AMD’s almost-mythical R600 cards. To power these beasts (or at least the 8800-series because of AMD’s tight lips about their card) and a proper processor, consumers should be looking at a minimum of a 450W power supply. If you start adding more than one hard drive and perhaps some overclocking, you are suddenly faced with the purchase of a 500W or more power supply. While this proposition can make some people weak in the knees (and bladders) there are relatively cheap 500W and above power supplies out there. It is in exactly these situations where the PSUs in this roundup come into play.

These following power supplies promise good performance for a fraction of the price of higher-end units but are they able to live up to those promises? Well, we will have to see now won’t we…. on to the competitors I say!!!

Note: All PSUs come in retail packaging; no OEM-packaged units are in this review.

FSP Blue Storm II 500W

NCIX Link:

Price: $100
Warranty: 2 Years
Fan Size: 120mm
Cord Lengths and Connectors:
-Molex: 6 Connectors
o2x 27” length (3 connectors)

-SATA: 4 Connectors
o2x 21” length

-PCI-E: 1 Connector
o2x 15.5” length

-4-Pin Floppy: 1 Connector
o1x 32” length (at end of Molex cord)

-20+4 ATX Connector: 15” Length

-4-Pin CPU Connector: 16” Length

So here we are with an old favorite in this category: the FSP Blue Storm 500W which has been thoroughly revamped with totally new internals. Unlike many of the other power supplies in this roundup, FSP makes their own power supplies and thus can supposedly exert more control over the quality that comes off of their production lines. FSP is billing this as a spiritual successor to the original Blue Storm but with enhanced features such as APFC, better efficiency and higher output. The older Blue Storm was in fact a 460W power supply which was rated at 500W peak output instead of 500W continuous output. On the flip side of things, this particular power supply is rated at 500W continuous output and 530W peak output.

Package includes your standard fare but with a few noteworthy extras. Other than the power cord and the screws you get (in my opinion) a very well-written manual, tie wraps and a nifty 3D case badge. Let me tell you, those velcro tie wraps go a huge way in clearing the wire clutter behind your desk or taming the snake’s nest you have inside your computer. While it may have cost a few pennies, it goes to show you that even the small things matter.


What can I say; this power supply is very….blue. The wonderful sleeving on most of the cables is blue and the casing itself is powder coated matte blue as well. Heck, even the 120mm fan is blue. Since I don’t have a window on my case I wouldn’t mind the color but it might be something you take into account if you tend to show the inside of your computer off by using a case window. You can also see that this power supply has APFC by the omission of the telltale red switch in the back. The sleeving on the cables is just the right thickness to allow you to bend the cables any which way you want. I’m telling you, FSP hit the nail on the head with the sleeving….until….

Eeeek!! The two PCI-E connectors are sleeved in red and PINK. Why this is done is beyond me but it really makes the whole wiring bundle look a bit like a shredded Smurf doesn’t it? The cable length is almost bordering on unacceptable as it is one of the shortest in this roundup. It had no problem winding its way through my Antec Sonata case but it may cause some concerns for people with larger cases or power supplies in odd mounting positions. I did have a problem with the PCI-E connectors as they are quite short. Something I wish every power supply manufacturer would use can be seen right here:

Every Molex connector has two upraised pieces of plastic which you push down against in order for the connector to be detached more easily. Bloody brilliant.

The label shows us that the Blue Storm has a healthy 18A available on each of it’s +12V rails (note that these are virtual rails and not true separate rails) which is good even for next-generation graphics cards. In this case the +12V1 rail feeds power to the CPU while the +12V2 rail feeds power to the PCI-E connectors and all the accessory connectors. Let’s see what’s in store for us when we open this thing up…

Just like in my first Budget PSU Roundup, we see the FSP likes to keep it very minimal with the interior design and component selection in its power supplies. The first thing I can notice is how closely this power supply’s internal layout reflects that of the older FSP Green Line power supplies. The Green Line is billed as energy-efficient power supplies which should bode very well for this unit in the efficiency tests. Indeed, even the PCB has the markings of the Green Line units

It appears that this PCB is used for nearly all of FSP’s newest models. This is no cause for concern as the only thing that changes are the components used with the higher-wattage units using higher quality capacitors, transformers.

I was very impressed with the cap selection on this power supply as FSP decided to use a single high-quality 390uF OST cap on the primary with several industrial-grade 105*C rated CapXons on the secondary. The difference between this power supply and the Sparkle 400W I reviewed my first review is like night and day.

The fan used on this power supply is a Yate Loon 120mm sleeve-bearing fan which is rated at 2200Rpm pushing 88 CFM of air at a quiet 40db.

Cooler Master Extreme Power Duo 600W

NCIX Link:

Price: $77
Warranty: 1 Year
Fan Size: 120mm
Cord Lengths and Connectors:
-Molex: 6 Connectors
o2x 28” length (3 connectors)

-SATA: 3 Connectors
o1x 29” length

-PCI-E: 1 Connector
o2x 17” length

-4-Pin Floppy: 2 Connector
o1x 33” length (at end of Molex cords)

-20+4 ATX Connector: 17” Length

-4-Pin CPU Connector: 17” Length

The next power supply we are looking at is the Cooler Master Extreme Power Duo 600W. This unit looks to be the most powerful in this roundup by a fair margin and is a great price to boot. At about $77, if it can prove to put out 600W it is a great deal for your money. Cooler Master has seen fit to use Seventeam as the manufacturer of choice in this case (not all of Cooler Master’s power supplies are made by Seventeam) which is a great move in my opinion. Seventeam is very well known for their rock-solid server grade power supplies and we should therefore hope that some of that stability rubs of onto this power supply.

The packaging and included accessories is your normal retail-packaging fare with a power cord, instruction manual and screws.


This power supply is quite standard by all outside appearances. It is clad in a matte black finish and only the main ATX cable is sleeved. Luckily that sleeving is relatively pliable but a problem does present itself when using the other, non-sleeved cables. For some reason, the Molex, SATA and PCI-E connectors are only tie-wrapped 12” away from the main power supply. By contrast, most other power supplies have their wires tied 4” to 6” away from the power supply. What happens in this case is that the cables all become tangled and take quite a bit of time to sort out. Thankfully the cables themselves are quite long so you won’t have much of a problem routing them through your case. Since this is based on a Seventeam power supply, I was also hoping for an EPS12V 8-pin CPU connector but there is only a 4-pin.

Something else that needs to be mentioned is the lack of Active PCF on this unit. Since I was hoping this power supply was based on a high quality server unit, I was wanted to see AFPC. Finally, it must be mentioned that the warranty on this unit is quite short at 1 year.

You may notice a few things about the label that will jump out at you right away. First and foremost among those is the fact that there is no peak or continuous output numbers listed à la Blue Storm. We can also see than even though this is supposedly a 600W power supply, the output numbers are nearly identical to the 500W Blue Storm II.

The first thing that struck me when looking at the interior of this power supply is the pure-copper heatsinks. The PCB itself has an interesting “H” design to it and upon close inspection, it turns out that this power supply is indeed built by Seventeam but it is not a 600W power supply. This unit is actually based on a 500W design (ST-500BKP) which isn’t surprising considering the output amperages. I must say, it is a bit of a disappointment though.

The caps on both the primary and secondary filtering stages are CapXons with the primaries being 1200uF units rated at 85°C.

The fan used on the Cooler Master is a 120mm model made by Protechnic. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any information about this model due to a dyslectic Protechnic website.

Nmedia MP-500 (500W)

NCIX Link:

Price: $61
Warranty: 1 Year
Packaging: Full Retail
Fan Size: 140mm
Cord Lengths and Connectors:
-Molex: 5 Connectors
o1x 33” length (3 connectors)
o1x 25” length (2 connectors)

-SATA: 2 Connectors
o1x 22” length

-PCI-E: 1 Connector
o1x 16” length

-4-Pin Floppy: 1 Connector
o1x 36” length (at end of Molex cord)

-20+4 ATX Connector: 15” Length

-4-Pin CPU Connector: 15” Length

Another roundup and another nMedia power supply rears its head. Once again this power supply is manufactured by Shezhen Chi Yuan though nMedia puts a few of its own touches on it. This power supply is amazingly priced at around $61 and for that you get the standard retail packaging with a power cord, screws, instruction manual and 500W power supply! How they managed to get all of this in a retail package for under $70 is beyond me. If this power supply lives up to the decent performance I found with the 400W unit, we may have a great contender on our hands here.

A note about nMedia Customer Support

Upon testing this power supply I thought it prudent to contact nMedia regarding some concerns I had. I was stunned to have my email replied to within a few MINUTES with a clear and courteous response answering all of my questions. One thing is for sure: with nMedia you will get outstanding customer service.


The exterior of this power supply is identical to that of the MP-400 in every way, shape and form. Even the number and lengths of the cables and connectors are the exact same when compared to that of the MP-400 and only the ATX cable is sleeved. Once again, the cable length of this nMedia unit may concern some people as it one of the shortest of all power supplies tested in this roundup. This is also the only power supply in this roundup with a single PCI-E connector though the cable for it is 1/2” longer than those on the FSP. I have been assured by nMedia that they will soon be releasing new version of this power supply with two PCI-E connectors. Hopefully they will address the cable lengths at the same time.

You can see on the picture above that the nMedia does not have APFC. Considering the great customer service I received from nMedia, I was hoping for a little longer warranty. Unfortunately, there is a 1 year warranty period just like the Cooler Master.

The label reads very much like that of the 400W unit where there are only the combined outputs for the +5V and +3.3V rails. If we do a little math, it looks like the +12V combined output should be about 320W but the amperage values themselves are below those of the other power supplies in this roundup. Once again, this power supply does not carry RoHS certification. At about $60, you can’t really expect miracles I guess….

Let’s see what the insides look like.

Does this look familiar to anyone else? The interior is virtually identical to that of the MP-400….it is actually stunningly similar. The only differences that I can pick out quickly are different caps being used on both the primary and secondary along with a small difference in the PBC layout.

Just like the MP-400 having a 200W-300W PCB, this unit has a 350W-450W PCB. What gives? I wish that I could tell you but I really have no idea other than I hope Shenzhen wouldn’t put 500W components on a 450W-rated PCB. Other than that, I will let you come to your own conclusions.

Remember what I was saying about this unit having different caps than the MP-400? Well, here is the proof. Instead of a Nippon / Teapo combination, this unit uses Teapo 1000uF caps on the primary with a combination of Teapo and KSC caps on the secondary. While Teapo has been known to produce good quality capacitors, KSC’s quality is unknown to me.

The fan on the MP-500 is a wind tunnel sized 140mm job which spins at a maximum of 1200RPM while pushing 75CFM of air at a whisper-quiet 28db.

Enermax FMAII 535W

NCIX Link:

Price: $105
Warrnty: 3 Years
Fan Size: 2x 80mm
Cord Lengths and Connectors:
-Molex: 7 Connectors (2 on Infinity Cable)
o1x 33” length (3 connectors)
o1x 21” length (2 connectors)

-SATA: 6 Connectors (3 on Infinity Cable)
o1x 29” length (3 Connectors)

-PCI-E: 2 Connectors
o2x 19” length

-4-Pin Floppy: 2 Connectors
o1x 27” length (at end of 21” Molex cord)

-20+4 ATX Connector: 15” Length

-8-Pin EPS12V Connector: 17” Length

-Infinity: 30” length (2 Molex, 3 SATA connectors)

Now we have a look at one of the “big boys” or this roundup; the Enermax FMAII 535W power supply. This is the successor to Enermax’s Whisper II 535W (released more than two years ago) even though there is next to nothing that makes this unit any different. Indeed, the only things that have changed are a slight upping in the +12V OCP rating and the inclusion of an “Infinity” cable. Enermax seems to make all of their own power supplies though there are hints in some that Enermax sometimes farms out their production to one large OEM or another. At $105 this is the most expensive power supply in this roundup but there are advantages to this unit such as the 3-year warranty and what is included in the retail box:

Inside the box you get a laundry-list of extras, some of which are very interesting. Aside from the standard power cord, screws and instruction manual you get an Enermax lanyard (for keys and a can of mace), case stickers for those pimp-my-rig contests and a promotional brochure. Ok so the last item is only advertisement but whether you call these extras gimmicks or great additions, I like the fact that they are included. They make this power supply stand out.


Not only is this power supply the only old-school grey unit in the roundup, it is also the only one that allows users to control the fan speed.

Going a little further, we see that this is another power supply that does not have APFC. I find it extremely odd that the photo on the package does not show the power factor switch on the back of the FMA.

Let’s take a look at those cables as they deserve a section all on their own…

First and foremost let me say that it is nice to see that some of the cables are sleeved and there are the same kind of push-release Molex connectors as found on the FSP. The inclusion of the EPS 8-pin (4+4 pin) connector wins Enermax a huge point in my books.

On the other hand I think that the sleeving job done on the PCI-E Connectors and the 4+4 EPS12V CPU connector is something that needs to be better thought out. Why Enermax decided to join the PCI-E and the EPS cables in the same sleeve is beyond me. Cable routing is virtually impossible when these cables are basically joined at the hip. With some motherboards it is a lesson in futility trying to get this one cable to reach your graphics card and your 4-pin (or 8-pin) CPU connector. Add to that the fact that the sleeving is stiffer than a pair of starched Levis and some of the Molex connectors are extremely hard to plug in. And just when I though it couldn’t get any more frustrating…

Both the motherboard connector and the 4+4 8-pin have the same break-off design which can’t even be considered “break off”. It’s more like a…hanging design. Coupled with the stiff-as-a-corpse sleeving, it is next to impossible to install these into a tight space.

Here we can see two features that contribute to make this unit unique. The Infinity cable is a brilliant idea to save space but also provide the functions of a Molex or an SATA cable. Enermax figures (and rightly so) that consumers might be looking for more of either cable and gives them the option to choose. Note that Enermax does not recommend you use the SATA and the Molex connectors at the same time.

The other connector you see is a fan-speed monitoring connector. When you plug it into one of your motherboard’s fan headers and you have the right software, you will be able to see at what speed the power supply fans are running. However, this does not give you the option of controlling the fan speeds through software; you still need the rear knob to do that.

As can be seen, the output amperages are VERY respectable at 22A for each rail and Enermax even goes to the trouble of listing the combined amperages and wattages. This is something seen on all too few power supplies probably because the manufacturers are afraid people will see that the amperages indicated are faker than Pam Anderson’s inflatable life rafts. Enermax illustrates a good point here by showing that even though each separate rail is capable of outputting 22A (44A combined), together they are “only” capable of outputting 34A. This goes for EVERY power supply available on the market but Enermax is one of the only ones with the stones to actually write it on the label.

And now for those of you wondering what the inside of this thing looks like:

Ooooo….look at those shiny gold heatsinks!! Personally, I find that this power supply seems to be built like a tank with Matsushia caps on the primary and CTC 3300uF industrial-grade (105°C) caps on the secondary. I am really looking forward to seeing how this thing performs

The main intake fan is a Globe Fan 92mm ball-bearing fan which is rated at 2500Rpm pushing 52 CFM of air at a quiet 38db.

Silverstone ST50EF-PLUS (500W)

NCIX Link:

Price: $100
Warranty: 3 Year
Packaging: Full Retail
Fan Size: 120mm
Cord Lengths and Connectors:
-Molex: 6 Connectors
o2x 35” length (3 connectors)

-SATA: 6 Connectors
o2x 39” length

-PCI-E: 2 Connectors
o2x 22” length

-4-Pin Floppy: 1 Connector
o2x 40” length (at end of Molex cords)

-20-pin ATX Connector: 28” Length (add on to 24-pin)

-24-pin ATX Connector: 21” Length

-8-Pin EPS12V (CPU) Connector: 21” Length

-4-Pin CPU Connector: 28” Length (add on to 8-pin)

Moving quickly down the list we now come to the Silverstone Element ST50EF- Plus power supply. This 500W unit should not be a stranger to you as it has been featured in countless reviews over the internet. In this case we will have to see how it holds up against some of its closest competitors. This particular power supply is built by Enhance for Silverstone and you will see later on that it shares many its characteristics with the Enhance 400W unit I tested in the last roundup. We can see right away that Silverstone is making a statement with the 500W Continuous output claim right on the front of the retail box. They also state that this is supposedly an efficient power supply which does have some pretty heavy backing as you will see later. What you get bundled with this power supply is very interesting…

Instead of using the tried, tested and true “break away” connectors (by now you probably know that I can’t stand them) Silverstone went the route of providing adaptors for both the 24-pin and the 8-pin. These connectors will convert the 24-pin and 8-pin into a 20-pin ATX and a 4-pin CPU connector respectively. Not only does this add a substantial amount of length to both connectors but you don’t have to worry about the break-away cables breaking off from one-another when you go to install them. This is a great idea and I applaud Silverstone for doing it.


The Silverstone has a long list of advanced features that place it head and shoulders above its competition; APFC, RoHS compliance, an 8-pin EPS12V connector and 80+ certification are a few of the highlights. It shows great determination on Silverstone’s part to bring all of these features to the consumer at a $100 price point.

The only cables that are sleeved are the ATX, EPS12V and PCI-E connectors. Without a doubt, it would be nice to see all of the cables finished with the same sleeving but I can live with only these being sleeved. It should also be noted that this power supply has the longest connectors of this entire roundup. Installing the ST50EF in a full tower case should not pose any problem at all.

Judging from the label I was concerned that this power supply would have trouble booting on my DFI motherboard considering the +5Vsb output is the exact same as the Enhance 400W. If you remember, because of the DFI boot problems with the Enhance I needed to change out my motherboard. I am happy to report that this Silverstone booted without a problem.

The other values are pretty much the same ones as seen from some other power supplies in this roundup with 18A being available on each of the +12V rails. Unlike the Enermax, there is no mention of combined amperages.

Let’s see if the components used inside live up to the high quality we see outside….

One thing is for sure: this power supply offers some serious looking heatsinks. From the look of it, the Enhance-built Silverstone looks nearly identical on the inside to the Enhance 400W from my first roundup.

Looking at the caps, it is apparent that this power supply is built to go to war with its rivals. With a mammoth industrial-grade 330uF Teapo capacitor rated at 105°C on the primary and numerous smaller Teapos and Su’scon caps on the secondary and its server-grade heritage, I have high hopes for the performance of this unit.

The single intake fan is an ADDA120mm sleeve-bearing fan which is rated at 2200Rpm pushing 85 CFM of air at 38db.

Mushkin HP-550 (550W)

NCIX Link:

Price: $100
Warranty: 3 Year
Packaging: Full Retail
Fan Size: 120mm
Cord Lengths and Connectors:
-Molex: 6 Connectors
o2x 24” length (2 connectors)
o2x 17” length

-SATA: 8 Connectors
o2x 35” length

-PCI-E: 2 Connectors
o2x 18” length

-4-Pin Floppy: 1 Connector
o2x 23” length (at end of 17” Molex cords)

-20+4-pin ATX Connector: 17” Length

-8-Pin EPS12V (CPU) Connector: 18” Length

I hope that you have been reading up until this point because this power supply is different from all the others. This is the Mushkin HP-550 modular power supply. Yes, I actually said modular…at a price of $100 for this 550W unit. Built by Topower, this unit promises all the bangs and whistles of some higher-end power supplies at a budget-minded price. Topower has been known to build some really good power supplies and some really suspect ones as well so I am hoping this Mushkin falls into the former category instead of the latter.

Right away you notice that the box is absolutely titanic in size compared to those of other manufacturers. What I really like about the packaging is that there are no outlandish claims plastered all over the box; instead we get a white box with the Mushkin logo and a simple picture of the power supply. Minimalist is in these days and I have to say I really like the packaging, it is downright classy. Upon opening the box we are greeted with….

ANOTHER BOX!!! All of the cables and other accessories are located in this small box. You get all of your modular cables plus a power cord, screws and a very well laid-out instruction manual. Let me tell you, this does not feel like a $100 power supply.


Right off the bat I can tell you that the exterior finish of this power supply is phenomenal. It is a polished black silver finish that you have to see for yourself. The only problem is that it shows fingerprints very easily.

Since we have this shot, you can see that the main ATX 20+4 pin and the EPS12V cables are not modular while all of the other connectors are. The blue plugs you see are for the PCI-E connectors while the black ones are used for all of the other cables. One other note is that I would love to have seen a modular connector with 2 Molex connectors and 1 floppy connector instead of having to use a whole extra connector if I wanted to plug in my floppy drive.

It is very refreshing to see each and every one of the cables is completely sleeved but I have a few minor issues with the cables for this power supply. First and foremost, I think that the PCI-E cables are far too short. Sure they might be longer than the majority of the PCI-E connectors in this roundup but the last 2-3 inches are taken up by a rigid EM/RFI inhibitor which makes routing these cables a major pain.

While the idea is a novel one, you can see that the end of the cable has to make some nasty turns in order to fit into certain places. In addition, because of the sheer bulk of this contraption it is nearly impossible to feed the PCI-E cable through the nooks and crannies used for proper wire routing.

It should also be mentioned that this unit does not have APFC.

Here we are with another manufacturer that is not afraid to show the actual output of the rails. It looks like even though the rails are rated at 20A each, the combined output is actually 28A (336W) which is quite decent.

On the back of the power supply we see a “Rail Fusion” indicator. Supposedly, Rail Fusion will activate once the load on one +12V rail exceeds the rated 20A maximum output. It will then “combine” both +12V rails making the power supply act like a single-rail unit. This would be a great feature….but I couldn’t get it to work.

I had one other minor issue with this power supply….

For a budget unit it is HUGE. From right to left we see the Silverstone, the Nmedia and finally the Mushkin. This should definitely be a consideration for you if you have a smaller case.

Let’s pop the lid off this one….

It looks to me like they had a bit of room to spare in this unit so why Mushkin chose such a massive casing for these internals baffles me. The caps used on the primary are of some unknown brand yet the caps on the secondary filtering stage are nearly all Jenpos…a brand I don’t know much about other than that they exist.

The modular interface itself doesn’t take up too much room but up close you can see how much soldering work goes into it.

The fan inside this unit is your standard 120mm unit but this one has a green LED inside. It is a sleeve-bearing fan made by Globe Fan which is rated at 2400RPM pushing 81 CFM of air at 39db.

This message was modified by the poster at 03 29, 2007 03:33 AM

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Instruments Used:
Belkin 1100VA UPS
Rexus PSU tester
Fluke 187 Digital Multimeter
UPM Power Meter
Tektronics TDS3032B Oscilloscope

Test Platform:
DFI Lanparty SLI-DR Expert
AMD X2 3800+ (at 2.6Ghz)
2GB Corsair PC4000 Ram (at 520Mhz)
EVGA 8800GTS (Stock, OC 650/1900, SLI)
1x Samsung Spinpoint 250GB SATA Hard drive
Antec Sonata Case
Pioneer DVD Writer

Important note:

Because of processor limitation, 8800GTS cards in SLI are seriously bottlenecked in Company of Heroes. Thus, while they still drew quite a high amount of power, when coupled with a higher end system or playing at higher resolutions they would probably draw much more.

One way or another, I would NOT recommend anything under a good 700W power supply for a pair of 8800GTS cards. These tests are done as benchmarks ONLY.

Efficiency Testing:

To test efficiency, plugged in my UPM power meter to the Belkin UPS and determined what the highest sustained power draw from the outlet was over a 1 hour test period. All tests were run twice and if there were anomalies, I tested a third time.

The first efficiency test’s “Load” value was done with an overclocked processor and the graphics card at stock speeds while running Company of Heroes. The values are the highest sustained power draw over the 2 hour test period.

The second efficiency test’s “Load” value was done with an overclocked processor and a heavily overclocked (both 2D and 3D overclocked to the same value) graphics card. Company of Heroes was played while Orthos was running on the processor in the background.

The third and final efficiency test was run with 2 8800GTS 320MB cards in SLI running at stock speeds with the processor overclocked to 2.6Ghz. Company of Heroes was then run for 1 hour to determine load values.


By looking at this chart we can understand why some computers fail to boot when coupled with a cheap or under-powered power supply. Upon startup, a computer consumes an amazing amount of power which may be too much for an inadequate power supply.


FSP Blue Storm: I was pleasantly surprised with the efficiency of this power supply. Even though it didn’t live up to the numbers that the Silverstone was pushing out, it was quite close across all of the tests. A very good showing by FSP.

Cooler Master 600W: This power supply really proved to be a disappointment because I was really hoping to see some better efficiency results. Instead, it gobbled up over 40W more power at load than the Silverstone. Just to be sure, I ran all the tests with the CM three times, all ended up leading to the same efficiency results.

Nmedia MP-500: Considering this is the least expensive power supply in the entire roundup, it put out some extremely respectable numbers. Even though we have once again proved that the “over 85% efficiency” listed on the box is false, the results are nonetheless impressive for a $60 power supply.

Enermax FMAII 535W: The Enermax netted the second highest load consumption which is not exactly something to be proud of but it did not come close to the power draw of the Cooler Master.

Silverstone ST50EF: Quite simply this is the most efficient power supply in this test. The FSP tried to give it a good run for its money but in the end, the Silverstone won by a fair margin. Considering this unit consumes nearly 20% less power than the Cooler Master, you can see that its 80+ certification is not just window dressing.

Mushkin HP-550: While this power supply is not as efficient as some of the others, it is a solid mid-pack performer. What should be noted is that even though the “Load” value is only 1W below that of the Enermax, the average consumption of the Mushkin was quite a bit below that of the Enermax. Since the values fluctuate so rapidly, I have no way to accurately log these peaks and valleys in consumption. Thus, this result only reflects the PEAK power consumption.


Here I am putting quite a bit more stress on the power supplies by running the overclocked processor with Orthos and bumping the speeds of the 8800GTS to 650/1900.


Once again the Silverstone is the clear winner but not by that much of a margin; the FSP is still keeping pace and even gaining a bit of ground in this test. The nMedia MP-500 is also keeping pace quite well in this test and once again I am stunned by its performance against power supplies that are much more expensive. Finally, the Mushkin’s peak numbers reflect its actual performance a bit better even though it stays firmly in the middle of the pack while the Enermax and Cooler Master continue to push the results to new highs (or lows if you look at it that way).


This is the one test that made these power supplies crap their pants and call for mommy; 8800GTS cards in SLI.

A note about the Enermax performance numbers:

You can see that the even though the Enermax was able to run this test I experienced serious performance issues in Company of Heroes. While using all of the other power supplies (except the nMedia) I received a minimum of about 52fps in the CoH SLI performance test. When using the Enermax, I received a minimum of 24fps. This test was run 4 times, each with the same result. Thus, the Enermax fails this test.

This illustrates how important a proper power supply is to the performance of your computer.


Right off the bat you can see that the nMedia called it a day and decided to shut off when the 8800 cards were put under load. While this is a bit of a disappointment, you can’t expect miracles from a $60 power supply. The performance of the Enermax has already been discussed but I will say it again: even though it consumed power, it still failed the test.

Other than those two hiccups, all of the other power supplies performed as they did for the previous ones with the Silverstone on top, the FSP still gaining ground (it is SO close) and the Cooler Master guzzling power like no one’s business. Observing the HP-550 is somewhat interesting as it seems to be getting more efficient as the power demands increase.

Voltage Regulation Testing:

To test voltage regulation I used the same tests as the efficiency. They were all done over two tests of 1 hour where the voltage drops were logged with the Fluke 187 multimeter installed on a typical Molex connector. The tests were as follows:

The “Idle” value was done with an overclocked processor and the graphics card at stock speeds while running the Windows Desktop.

The “Load” value was done with an overclocked processor and the graphics card at stock speeds while running Company of Heroes.

The “Load (OC)” value was done with an overclocked processor and a heavily overclocked (both 2D and 3D overclocked to the same value) graphics card. Company of Heroes was played while Orthos was running on the processor in the background.

The “Load (SLI)” value was run with 2 8800GTS 320MB cards in SLI running at stock speeds with the processor overclocked to 2.6Ghz. Company of Heroes was then run for 1 hour to determine load values.


Once again, I am going to keep this short and sweet; because I do not have (and the typical user does not have either) enough components that draw power from the +5V rail to put much stress on it. Thus, I did conduct the tests with the system I had and all the power supplies passed the tests (except SLI for the Enermax and Nmedia) within +/- 5% of +5V. I did not add a chart as it would look VERY boring.



FSP Blue Storm: For some reason the Idle test showed the +12V rail at 12.3V; while this is still within the 5% +/- of 12V, it is the highest in the test. Overall, the voltage regulation of the Blue Storm is rock solid across all of the tests.

Cooler Master: Once again the Cooler Master proved a bit of a disappointment. Even though it is still within the specifications, the voltage drop in SLI was quite significant. Other than that, it performed well within the norms.

nMedia MP-500: The nMedia once again provided good performance in this test with great voltage regulation until the SLI test….where it crashed under the weight of two 8800GTS cards under load. Up until this point the nMedia is proving to be a good power supply but it does not hold up to the others performance-wise.

Enermax FMAII: While the Enermax seems to have passed all of the tests, the dreadful performance provided by it in SLI mode carries on to this test as well. Once again, I saw frame rates in Company of Heroes fall through the floor. On the other hand, it did show decent +12V voltage regulation.

Silverstone ST50EF: The proof of this power supply’s industrial-grade components affecting performance becomes apparent in this test. The first time I ran the OC test, I thought my multimeter had up and died; the voltage didn’t budge from 11.94V. All of the other power supplies had the voltages jump up and down constantly. I believe the other tests speak for themselves.

Mushkin HP-550: While not quite as steady as some of the other units tested here, the Mushkin nonetheless displayed great voltage regulation across the board. There was a bit of a fall-off when the SLI tests were running but as you can see it was well within the ATX-spec’d norms. This is a very good showing for the only modular power supply in the roundup.


This is a very significant test in the fact that AC Ripple can be the cause of many common computer problems. Short term effects of excess ripple can be anything from an unstable overclock to memory errors while long term effects can include premature component failure and decreased component performance. The ATX v2.2 ripple tolerance is anything below 120mV on the +12V rail.

To test for ripple the following tests were run twice for 30 minutes while the ripple was being measured by the Tektronics o-scope. The values were the highest peak ripple measurement.

The “Idle” value was done with an overclocked processor and the graphics card at stock speeds while running the Windows Desktop.

The “Load” value was done with an overclocked processor and the graphics card at stock speeds while running Company of Heroes.

The “Load (OC)” value was done with an overclocked processor and a heavily overclocked (both 2D and 3D overclocked to the same value) graphics card. Company of Heroes was played while Orthos was running on the processor in the background.

The “Load (SLI)” value was run with 2 8800GTS cards in SLI running at stock speeds with the processor overclocked to 2.6Ghz. Company of Heroes was then run to determine load values.



FSP Blue Storm: I was a bit worried with this unit considering the 400W FSP / Sparkle unit I tested in the last roundup had quite a few problems with ripple suppression. Luckily, this power supply passed with flying colors. Even when running the system full-tilt in SLI mode, this unit displayed amazing results for a $100 power supply.

Cooler Master 600W: This is one test I was hoping the Cooler Master would do well in considering its OEM’s background. It did not disappoint…until the SLI test that is. Things were going beautifully until the SLI’d 8800GTS cards kicked into high gear and the corresponding ripple shot up into the 90s. While this is still below ATX specifications allow for, it is more ripple than I want to see on a power supply in this class.

nMedia MP-500: In these tests it looks like the nMedia is starting to behave a little more like a $60, 500W budget power supply. Under load, the ripple was much higher than I would have liked to see during each of the tests. Sure, it was still below ATX specs but it was significantly higher than any other unit in this roundup. I was really hoping for some great results (like in all the other tests) but looking at past offerings from Shenzhen, I am not all that surprised.

Enermax FMAII: The results for the Enermax are firmly in the middle of the pack throughout all of the tests. It should be mentioned that even though I included the results from the SLI test, the Enermax was not providing enough power to the SLI’d graphics cards. Thus, the 80mV score should be largely ignored.

Silverstone ST50EF: Once again, Silverstone’s choice to use Enhance’s server-grade gaming power supply chassis for their unit is paying off in spades. With barely a twitch from the O-Scope through ALL of the tests, we actually ran these tests four times just to recheck the results. The results are very good from the start to the finish.

Mushkin HP-550: I was actually very happy with the results I got with the Mushkin in these the ripple tests. It was better than many of the other power supplies and was very close to the FSP across the board. I was actually quite surprised at how quiet the +12V rail was in all of the tests.


The power supplies were fully installed in my Antec Sonata case and I disabled all of the case fans except the rear 120mm which I left at the “low” setting. The only test that was conducted was the “Load” test of 1 hour of gaming with Company of Heroes. Any power supplies that could run the SLI test were tested using the pair of 8800GTS cards as well. The case door was closed and the case was put in my desk approximately 36” away from my ear.

FSP Blue Storm: Since the Blue Storm uses a 120mm fan it was dead silent until the 20 minute mark of the standard test and the 15 minute mark of the SLI test. Luckily, even though it spun up to fast speeds it was still nearly silent and could barely be heard above the whooshing noise of the 8800GTS cards. Let me tell you…those cards get HOT. The temperature coming out of the back of the FSP did heat up around the time the fan spun up but quickly cooled off again.

Cooler Master 600W: Everything with the Cooler Master went completely smoothly in this test. The fan was barely a whisper throughout the tests even though it really kicked itself into gear around the 40minute mark. The heat (or lack of) coming out the back was fairly consistent throughout the tests.

nMedia MP-500: Looking back to my hair-raising experience with the MP-400’s jet-turbine of a fan, I approached this power supply like an armed stick of C4. Luckily, all my worries were soon put to rest as the fan on this unit is dead silent. The titanic fan spins its lazy rotations with the barest whisper until…..the 20 minute mark of the tests. It then spins up and the dust bunnies behind my desk go scampering across the room faster than if Elmer Fudd was chasing them with a tank and a bucketful of attitude. Let me tell you; at full rpms this 140mm fan moves a crazy amount of air. The PSU stays totally cool throughout the tests….duh.

Enermax FMAII: Even though this power supply has the smallest fans of the roundup, they stayed blissfully silent. The only thing that concerns me is that by the 40 minute mark of the normal test (not the SLI test) the heat coming out of the power supply was quite intense even with the fan knob maxed out.

Silverstone ST50EF: Silence is the name of the game here as well. The 120mm fan on the Silverstone keeps quiet even powering the SLI system. Something I did notice at first was a faint clicking noise when the fan sun up but that quickly disappeared never to return again. The air being expelled through the back stays quite cool throughout all of the tests.

Mushkin HP-550: This power supply was really something to behold. For the life of me, I couldn’t hear the fan spinning at all. At one point I had to check if it was even running; it’s that quiet. This would be a huge problem if the power supply was on the verge of overheating but the air coming out was room temperature. Maybe I wasn’t putting enough load on the thing….

This message was modified by the poster at 03 23, 2007 05:04 PM

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SKYMTL Mar 23, 2007 06:03 PM Reply | Bookmark
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FSP Blue Storm: At about $100 the FSP presents a great value for your money. There were none of the issues with ripple as seen in my other FSP review and the completely sleeved cables are a great addition. From its soft and bendable sleeving to the push-release Molex connectors, this power supply is simply a joy to work with even in a cramped case. Voltage regulation was simply amazing, putting some of the more expensive models (which you won’t see in this roundup) to absolute shame as was the efficiency. The only thing that might put some people off from buying this unit is the smurfette-like colors used for the cable sleeving and the powder coating on the unit itself. Personally, I care more about performance than looks and with this unit, FSP has built a power supply to be proud of.

Cooler Master 600W: Unfortunately, the Cooler Master 600W unit left me with a somewhat mixed taste in my mouth. On one hand it is priced to move at $77 (and A LOT less when on sale) and is able to run an 8800GTS card without too many problems. On the other hand its efficiency is horrible, the voltage regulation could be a whole lot better and the cables were a bit of a pain to work with. I would have like to have seen how this power supply behaved in SLI without the 8800GTS cards being held back by my processor. All in all, I would say that this power supply behaves more like the 500W unit it really is versus the 600W unit it is advertised as. Luckily, the saving grace for this power supply comes in the form of silent operation and relatively good ripple suppression in the lower ranges.

nMedia MP-500: The nMedia MP-500 somewhat surprised me with its performance. It had great efficiency, good voltage regulation and quite silent operation. I’ll freely admit to being shocked at the scores coming from a $60 power supply. Yet with praise also comes some critique for this power supply; at higher output, it displays quite a bit of ripple which is indicative of a power supply being pushed too far. In addition, it was the only power supply in this roundup to completely crash the system when trying to run the SLI test. I know that you can’t expect everything from a $60 power supply but it IS labeled as a 500W unit and we have seen what a real 500W power supply can do in this roundup. Other than that it does bug me a bit that there is only one PCI-E connector. All in all, I like this power supply as a good 450W unit but not as a full-fledged 500W power supply. I am really excited to see what nMedia has coming up down the road.

Enermax FMAII: While the Enermax may be the “oldest” power supply in this roundup, it is also the most expensive. In this respect I think the consumer is paying more for the Enermax name than actual performance versus the competition. I could write a whole page about what I couldn’t stand about the connectors, cables and sleeving but I will spare you. Let’s just say that I think Enermax’s push to do something different with the cables backfired big-time. Other than the annoyances with the cables, you will be happy to know that I think the Infinity cable is absolutely brilliant. It is so simple yet so effective; I wish every manufacturer would use something similar. As for the overall performance of this unit I would have to say that it is somewhat lacking for it being rated at 535W. In my opinion, this was once a great power supply that is beginning to show its age.

Silverstone ST50EF: This has got to be without a doubt the worst power supply of this roundup….yeah right. The Silverstone power supply performed flawlessly in every test that I could throw at it and then some. It was tops in every one of the tests and comes with some well though-out adaptors not to mention a 3 year warranty. Add to that the fact that it has some seriously long cables and you can rest assured that your $100 is definitely well spent on this power supply.

Mushkin HP-550: Last but not least in this roundup is the Mushkin HP-550 power supply. Personally, I love the fact that this power supply comes in under my $105 budget, has modular cables AND performs very well in all of the tests. Sure, it does not top the charts in any test but it offers solid performance across the board in an extremely attractive package. Remember all those reviews and naysayers saying that modular power supplies sacrifice performance for modular cables? Well, this power supply proves them wrong. There are some small caveats such as the size of the unit itself and the EM filters at the end of the PCI-E connectors but these do not detract from the value of what Mushkin has brought to the table. I would have really liked to have tested this with a system that could have put some real stress on the 2 8800GTS cards. Considering this power supply wasn’t perceptively heating up after an hour in the SLI test, I think there was still some untapped potential in the HP-550. All in all, this is a power supply that deserves to be on your short list in this category.


So, this ends another exhaustive power supply roundup and I still have a few cans of red Bull left! Hurrah!!

After the dust settled you might be wondering which power supply comes out as the clear winner. Well, the answer to that is both short and long. In my opinion, all of these power supplies brought different flavors to the table; some were easy on the bankbook while performing quite well while others cost a fair amount and left me wondering where the performance was. Every power supply in this roundup has its merits and it is up to you to read through the reviews I have done and choose which one is best suited for your needs. Are you looking for pure performance? Then the Silverstone ST50EF or the FSP Blue Storm II are the power supplies you should be looking at. Are you looking for good all-round performance with the great convenience of modular cables? Then grab the Mushkin HP-550.

I could go on and on but I will leave the rest to you, the reader of this review. It is up to you to make a decision when the time comes to buy a new power supply. At least now that decision will have a little more information to back it up…

This message was modified by the poster at 03 23, 2007 05:04 PM

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Mark_9 Mar 23, 2007 06:07 PM Reply | Bookmark
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Great job as usual SKY!

Thanks again for doing one of these for us.

+15 and a tip too!

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crazyazn Mar 23, 2007 06:13 PM Reply | Bookmark
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Excellent job bro...+10 and tip.

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michael_g Mar 23, 2007 06:56 PM Reply | Bookmark
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lol worried...still a top notch review!!!sorry for pointing out the mistakes! well done man!very nice work

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{--M--} Mar 23, 2007 07:07 PM Reply | Bookmark
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It seems odd that the Enermax had poor performance in the SLI tests. If the voltage and ripple is within norms, then everything IS getting power as it should.

This makes me wonder if maybe there is a significant voltage drop at the PCIe cables and connectors.

Is it possible that you could re-run the SLI test with the Enermax and measure the voltage directly at the solder terminals on the video cards?

Since the PCIe connectors are on their own virtual rail with nothing else, I'm wondering if maybe there is too much drop accross the load-sensing resistor or the split in the PCB where the rail splits.

This message was modified by the poster at 03 23, 2007 06:10 PM

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Labrie Mar 23, 2007 07:12 PM Reply | Bookmark
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Are you planning on doing a high end best of the best psu review anytime soon? While these budget ones are great, I'm interested to see how they compare to the 700W+ psu's so I can review my shopping list. Thanks for the reviews by the way, good job.

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SKYMTL Mar 23, 2007 07:42 PM Reply | Bookmark
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Unfortunately, no. The power supplies are no longer in my hands. I was meaning to do a test at the solder terminals but I sort of ran out of time and patience with the Enermax.

I agree that there could have been a large drop across the load-sensor but I think I would have caught some hint of that in the other tests. Especially the OC test where the Enermax was quite steady.

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TehSocks Mar 23, 2007 07:43 PM Reply | Bookmark
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This message was modified by the poster at 03 23, 2007 06:44 PM

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SKYMTL Mar 23, 2007 07:46 PM Reply | Bookmark
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Not at this time. I want to upgrade parts of my system so I can have the 8800 cards running closer to spec. With my X2 3800+, the graphics cards are not nearly under the stress they should be. Thus, a 700W PSU would have an easy time of it.

If I can't actually stress a PSU, I won't bother reviewing it because the results would not be very honest. Once I have upgraded my system, I will put a few more powerful PSUs to the test.

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Rebellion Mar 23, 2007 11:13 PM Reply | Bookmark
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Great job again SKYMTL! So whats next? 700 - 800 Watt PSU's?

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Killuminati Mar 23, 2007 11:39 PM Reply | Bookmark
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Great review thanks alot. But why did int you throw in the GamerXtream 600W? I was wondering how it would compare to the Silverstone 500W.

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BIG Boss (fighting for what's right) Mar 23, 2007 11:47 PM Reply | Bookmark
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Did you buy all those PSUs? Just for review, or you really use them?

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SKYMTL Mar 24, 2007 06:33 AM Reply | Bookmark
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Nope, 500W-600W, Sub-$150 roundup I think. But I have to get my system upgraded first.

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SKYMTL Mar 24, 2007 06:36 AM Reply | Bookmark
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The 600W Gamexstream is $25 more expensive than the most expensive PSU in this roundup. If I added it, I would have had to add the Corsair HX520 and some others as well. The roundup would have become too large and would have lost focus on the price-range I was aiming for. You will see the 600W GameXstream in the next roundup.

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SKYMTL Mar 24, 2007 06:38 AM Reply | Bookmark
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These were donated by a friend and had to be returned. I am hoping for the next review, the actual manufacturers will be a little more open about me reviewing their products.

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monoceros Mar 24, 2007 08:28 AM Reply | Bookmark
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Awesome reviews as usual. +10 and Tip

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SKYMTL Mar 24, 2007 10:34 AM Reply | Bookmark
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ÜGMachine{mmmm ratings yumm :rolleyes: } Mar 24, 2007 12:03 PM Reply | Bookmark
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awsome review!! me thinks tis as good as johnny's! good job and +15

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Killuminati Mar 24, 2007 01:33 PM Reply | Bookmark
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But it can be PM'd to $96.

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SKYMTL Mar 24, 2007 01:45 PM Reply | Bookmark
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Yes but this is based on NCIX's prices and I don't think they would appreciate me saying that a PSU is available cheaper elsewhere. Don't worry you will see that GameXstreams in my revews really soon.

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Killuminati Mar 24, 2007 02:09 PM Reply | Bookmark
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Same comapany as NCIX thoguh

Yeh I understand. Once again nice review and I will be waiting for that GamerXtream review.

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R. B. Inc. Mar 24, 2007 02:28 PM Reply | Bookmark
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Great job Sky, as usual, but I'd much rather read this on site, where its divided properly and formatted, instead of long posts on a forum.

Damn it, I wish my molex connectors had those tab things, I absolutely loathe taking out molex plugs as they're so damn tight.

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Bu||etproof Skin Mar 24, 2007 02:32 PM Reply | Bookmark
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Outstanding review and excellent explanations. I read every word and absolutely love how simple it is to understand your reviews. You gave us all valuable information on some of the most purchased PSUs available from NCIX. Impeccable English and only one grammar mistake that I can recall; PBC instead of PCB once; even though you typed it probably over a dozen times! Simply put: Fantastic job.

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SKYMTL Mar 24, 2007 04:38 PM Reply | Bookmark
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Being worked on as we speak.

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J_M Mar 24, 2007 04:59 PM Reply | Bookmark
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Delete Image. Please use this feature thoughtfully.  Report this image 

Been adding these (from Sunbeam) to almost every PSU I use - NCIX used to stock 'em but I can't find em now. I'm almost out . Kit comes with the tool and 10 connectors - UV reactive too! I'm gonna put in the product request 'cause I can't go back to the old style.

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SKYMTL Mar 25, 2007 06:53 AM Reply | Bookmark
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I agree. I wish that more manufacturers would use that Molex design and would use a proper 20+4 pin design as well.

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Not An Expert Mar 25, 2007 07:47 AM Reply | Bookmark
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When did Fortron move to 12v1 being for the CPU for this PSU? AFAIK, it's always been 12v2 on their dual +12v units.

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SKYMTL Mar 25, 2007 09:48 AM Reply | Bookmark
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No idea. Remember this is the Blue Storm II. I traced the +12V1 wire from the PCB solder points to the CPU connector. In addition I traced the +12V2 wires from the PCB to the PCI-E and accessory connectors.

Finally, unlike the original Blue Storm this one is ATX v2.2 compliant. I know this doesn't have any bearing in regards to your statement but it is something I did not include in my write-up.

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