You're not a hardware company until you have a PSU...
If you want power, we're soon to have it coming out our ears as everyone seemed to have new PSUs at CeBIT making an already overwhelming marketplace, even more packed with offerings.
However, unlike years gone by, the game has been upped in all areas. More and more companies are coming to us tell bit-tech
they now only use in house designs, rather than rebadged OEM models, and even if one company has a new feature, you can bet that someone else, somewhere has matched it.
The difficult part is that everyone will tell you their process is better – so who do you trust? What if everyone turns out to have excellent results when we come to test it, who do you buy from? In some respects we're at the complete other end of the scale to some other hardware markets – too much
choice and likely no clear result.
You're not new, unless you feature DC-DC conversion!
Several companies at the show claimed to be the first to feature a DC-DC converter for the 3.3V and 5V rails – this improves efficiency quite considerably. Basically the only
internal "messy" AC-DC conversion is from the wall socket to 12V – this means it can be tuned for greater efficiency and you don't need three sets of components for all three voltage types.
With that in mind, there's a far simpler 12V to 5V and 12V to 3.3V conversion with dynamic balancing between all three major voltage types depending on where the load is needed in the system. Most motherboards will convert 12V down to whatever it needs for the CPU, chipset, memory and so on anyway, so less and less is needed on the 3.3V and 5V rails.
And onto the power supplies...
For starters Cooler Master has revamped and expanded a few of its PSU ranges – the Silent Pro series ranges from 500W, 600W and 700W and claims
a 99 percent active PFC and 85 percent "typical" efficiency however this is under 40˚C testing, not 50˚C and a typical case temp with few fans or in a hot country will often sit 43-48˚C (we were quoted elsewhere). Also, if the fan intake is directly from the CPU cooler underneath it, that doesn't represent the case temperature and cool air.
All are 80Plus certified, while the 600W and 700W also have SLI certification. All the units come with a large 135mm fan and quote a MTBF of more than 100,000 hours. The MTBF is typically limited by the fan as the only moving component, so check who supplies it as to its quality. Also this MTBF will be at 40˚C not 50˚C.
The cables used are flat and black like the Ultra X3 we reviewed not long ago – these are our particular favourite because not only do they blend into the background but you can also fold them out the way easier. Unfortunately all the same cable types are the same length – there's no variation providing a greater diversity of use, which is exactly what you want from a modular unit. The unit does come with integrated rubber vibration dampening around the edges as standard though!
Cooler Master's UMP series is its new high end range and features units rated at 700W, 900W and 1,100W. The units feature a 120mm fan and they’re rated between 87-88 percent typical efficiency with a 99 percent active PFC. All are SLI and 80Plus certified but are still rated to just 40˚C. The Ultimate stamp on the side is very militant-esq, as is the very hard wearing rough, matte black exterior that really does look good. Both series use a single 12V rail and the UMP range uses the aforementioned DC-DC converter as well.