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CEBIT 2005: FSP power supplies

by Paul Dutton on 17 March 2005, 00:00

Tags: FSP Group (TPE:3015)

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qabbo

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FSP - Zen and the art of Green Power

Silent and ultra-quiet power supplies for PC professionals

As the electrical demands of both faster, more powerful microprocessors and ever more esoteric 3D graphics accelerators has increased, power supply units (PSU) for PCs - home or business - and not forgetting servers too, have increasingly come under the spotlight.

CEO of FSP, Dr. Allen, looks ready to grab the retail market by the horns

Despite this, more than a decade ago there were only a handful of power supply manufacturers and, we believe, that in truth, the situation hasn't really changed that much. Yes, there are more brands of computer power supplies - lots more - and there are more companies which sell power supplies, but ultimately there still aren't that many actual manufacturers.

FSP Group is a power supply manufacturer, and as any genuinely competent and experienced PC professional will attest, FSP Group is a PSU manufacturer which has stood the test of time, continuing to develop and deliver products which can be relied upon in even mission critical environments.

Although primarily an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) for household name system integrators and a great many of the very well known system chassis manufacturers, in very recent times FSP has chosen to make efforts to respond to market changes in the retail sector; this by introducing various products aimed at PC enthusiasts, and from recollection has included at least one which 'featured' the kind of (increasingly pass¨¦) illumination that's appeared on some of the cheap, nasty and unreliable products of companies, perhaps perceived by an often unwitting audience, as its competitors.

However, one thing FSP seems not to have done, is compromise on the fundamental quality and functionality of the product itself.

In an increasingly price sensitive market, this, it would seem, has been a challenge for FSP, and perhaps understandably so.

In general terms we're sympathetic to the frustrations expressed by established manufacturers such as FSP, when the not much cheaper offerings of new PSU suppliers ¨C which are often not even the actual PSU manufacturer anyway (but just a 'trading company' with some questionable marketing skills and an alternative interpretation of the word 'truth') - make claims about the capability, international conformity and specification of products which are at best simply misleading, and at worst plain lies to defraud customers.

If, in the UK for example, it's the responsibility of the Trading Standards authority to protect consumers, then we suggest such a body ought to be taking greater steps to ensure that such companies are keeping honest.

It was intimated to HEXUS that Dr. Allen, the CEO of FSP, was so concerned that its entry into the retail market should not compromise the solid reputation it had established in other sectors, that he sent an internal communication that every element of FSP's marketing messaging should be checked to ensure technical accuracy.

HEXUS will shortly be publishing its own tests to sort the wheat from the chafe, and during the course of our testing we'll see if FSPs ultimate claims stand-up to our own long-term, real-world experiences of its products.

In the meantime we dropped by FSP Group's exhibition booth at CeBIT and saw several new products which we think are worth keeping an eye out for; especially worthwhile if - like us ¨C you want your power supplies quiet or absolutely silent, and when in standby aren't unnecessarily racking up the electricity bill.

The first of these has been developed to meet a particular challenge which was news to us - it seems that there's a new EU or even International directive or something (apologies we'll research this in more detail when we return to Blighty) which will tax computer products by physical weight.

Historically the physical weight of a PSU has been a loose, and decidedly unscientific, indicator as to the quality of a PSU, however in our general experience it has been the case that heavier power supplies have often proven to reliably meet a manufacturers claims. So with the impending 'tax on weight' of computer kit, the challenge has been for FSP and other manufacturers to try to produce a physically lighter product, but one that still fulfills or betters the market expectation of sustained stable output, even in adverse temperature ranges.

'Green Power' is the brand FSP has applied to identify two of its new models of PSU which it believes meets this challenge and, it says, is FSP's ¡°green proposal for optimising energy consumption¡±.

The FSP 'Green Power' FSP350-60GLN and FSP400-60GLN, are claimed to provide a genuine total output power of 350W and 400W respectively, and at full sustained load, within its operating temperature range of 0¡ãC through 50¡ãC , are said to generate ¡Ü30dB(A).

Although this noise level is relatively is low in itself, FSP state that during typical operation its thermostatically controlled 120mm fan should generate ¡Ü28dB(A), and under a light load, say during word-processing or surfing the web, only ¡Ü25dB(A).

FSP additionally claim a rate of efficiency which exceeds 85% at full load, and when your PC is switched off each has a low power consumption of less than 1W.

Both these models apparently meet the latest Intel ATX 12V V2.0 specifications, feature the requisite 6- pin PCIe connector for extreme graphics cards such as ATi RADEON X800 XT Platinum Edition and NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra, native S-ATA device connectors, and come complete with an ATX 24-pin to 20-pin conversion adapter to provide compliance for older mainboards.

FSP say that it has achieved the PSU weight reduction by utilising lighter, higher quality internal components than previously seen in this class of PSU. When we get one in HEXUS Labs will look into this.

The second new product from FSP is its ZEN power supply.

FSP ZEN is a passively cooled i.e. totally fanless and therefore almost totally silent PSU ¨C well, silent as in beyond the audible range that you can hear.

If this product is not already listed on its website at www.FSP-group.com we'll provide detailed technical specifications when we get them, but from what we've seen, we suggest this is going to be a very popular product indeed. Certainly for audio and video editors, but for other markets, where aside from its effectively silent operation, this could be just for its appearance and detail of finish alone. As can be seen in the picture below, the high quality French Blue finish of its highly perforated chassis, might even be some form of powder coating, and furthermore FSP have matched this with a similarly coloured Tygon sheathing on the cables.

The version we handled has a claimed total output power of 300W. Presently we're uncertain whether a higher output variant is on the cards - again, we'll let you know when we know.

However it should be remembered that the claims of a reputable PSU manufacturer, with almost two decades of supply experience to Tier 1 customers in the commercial and industrial sectors, should rightfully be viewed with a lot more confidence, than the hyperbole of a PSU 'manufacturer' that has just emerged into the market with a primary proposition based on price...