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Review: 400-500Watt PSU shootout

by Steve Kerrison on 15 August 2006, 08:32

Tags: NorthQ, FSP Group (TPE:3015), be-quiet

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qagee

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Specifications


We've got two be quiet! PSUs - one a 'Pro' 430W and the other a regular 470W model. We'll find out what makes a 'Pro' model special shortly. The third PSU is from NorthQ and is a 400W-rated model. Finally we also have a spanking new 400W model from FSP Group.

NorthQ NQ-4800-400 be quiet! Dark Power Pro 430W be quiet! Dark Power 470W FSP Zen 400W
Rated output power 400W 430W 470W 400W
Power specification ATX 2.0 ATX 2.2 ATX 2.2 ATX 2.2
Power switch? Yes + remote Yes Yes Yes, with LED
Input voltage (AC) 230V, 50Hz 200-240V, 50Hz 200-240V, 50Hz 99-265V, 47-63Hz
Fan(s) 140mm 120mm 2x 80mm low-noise None
Cable runs 24-pin EATX with split
P4
3 x 4-pin Molex, 1 floppy
3 x 4-pin Molex, 1 floppy
1 x PEG
2 x SATA
2 x SATA
24-pin EATX with 20-24 pin adapter
EPS + P4
3 x 4-pin Molex, 1 floppy
3 x 4-pin Molex
1 x 4-pin Molex
1 x 4-pin Molex
1 x PEG
1 x PEG
3 x SATA
3 x SATA
1 x 4-pin Molex + 1 x 3-pin Fan
1 x 4-pin Molex + 1 x 3-pin Fan
1 x 4-pin Molex + 1 x 3-pin Fan
Modular: Limited to 2 x PEG + 4 other runs
24-pin EATX with 20-24 pin adapter
EPS + P4
3 x 4-pin Molex, 1 floppy
3 x 4-pin Molex, 1 floppy
1 x 4-pin Molex
1 x PEG
1 x PEG
2 x SATA
2 x SATA
1 x 4-pin Molex + 1 x 3-pin Fan
1 x 4-pin Molex + 1 x 3-pin Fan
1 x 4-pin Molex + 1 x 3-pin Fan
24-pin EATX with split
P4
2 x 4-pin Molex, 1 floppy
2 x 4-pin Molex
2 x 4-pin Molex
1 x PEG
2 x SATA
Max. currents +3.3V: 30A
+5V: 28A
+12V: 14A+15A
-12V: 0.5A
+5vSB: 2A
+3.3V: 26A
+5V: 28A
+12V: 20A+20A (28A Max. combined)
-12V: 0.8A
+5vSB: 2.5A
+3.3V: 26A
+5V: 33A
+12V: 20A+20A (30A Max. combined)
-12V: 0.8A
+5vSB: 2.5A
+3.3: 20A
+5v: 14A
+12v: 14A+13A
-12v: 0.5A
+5vSB: 2.5A
Max combined 3.3V & 5V output 130W 170W 185W 130W

Only the FSP Zen PSU accepts a full range of voltage inputs, which is probably of little concern to most users, but it's good to see at least one model here with broad input power compatibility. All should be quiet!, with their large or low-noise fans. We're fairly certain the Zen will be pretty quiet!, what with not having any moving parts...

The most notable features that can be pulled from the spec. table, are the Dark Power Pro's modular cables, and the NorthQ's power remote (more on that when we come to look at the PSU) and the Zan's fanless design.

The spec. sheets for PSUs often reveal some interesting numbers. NorthQ's NQ-4800-400, for example, seems to be able to provide the highest current at 3.3V, while it's the lowest-rated PSU of the bunch. In fact on paper it can give out 50% more juice on the 3.3V than the Zen 400W. We'll see how well the numbers match up to actual capabilities when we apply some load to these PSUs.