The Modular PSU and the Modern Gaming Rig - A Replacement Tale

The Modular PSU and the Modern Gaming Rig - A Replacement Tale

  • By: Geofry S. Glenn
  • Posted 27th Dec 2011

A Comparative Glance
and What I Chose

The next few hours were spent huddled over the display on my notebook computer, a pad of paper and pencil next to me, and the hasty scribbling of power estimates for all of the kit that I thought I might add one day, maybe... Just to be safe I needed to include all of that because I did not want to find myself having to replace the PSU down the road because I screwed up and failed to obtain adequate capacity!

-- Ultra X4 1200-Watt Modular Power Supply ($260 Average Retail) --

Ultra took a new approach to the Modular PSU with its Ultra X4 model, which has an emphasis upon increased and improved airflow both in the case and through the PSU -- giving your chassis a nice clean-look while at the same time improving the airflow in both directions. An integrated short circuit protection and thermal overload sensors scheme automatically protects your rig -- it seems that they learned a lesson from the past after all -- so that surges and overheating never become an issue.

The initial wordage on the box suggests that the model includes just a 3-Year standard warranty and I have to confess that this limited warranty caused some red flags to pop-up in my mind straight away! The industry standard these days is a 5-Year blanket warranty as that is the projected lifespan of the average system and PSU -- logic dictating that the changes in tech in PC design will make it necessary to replace the PSU completely every five years or so as new and different connection requirements are deployed you see...

So I was thinking that, while Ultra's customer service is thought to be among the best in the industry, and their manufacturing faculties among the more reliable, the idea that they would not support or warranty so significant a piece of kit beyond three years bothered me -- but then I saw that this 3-Year Limited Warranty ONLY applied to owners who failed to register their PSU!

It turns out that as long as you register the unit, Ultra provides a FULL Lifetime Warranty, and that makes all the difference in the world to me because hey, they should provide that on so significant and well-engineered a piece of complex computer kit!

The stand-out features for the Ultra X4 Model include:

-- 80+ Bronze Certified -- Configurable and conservative energy consumption;
-- 135mm Low Noise Fan -- Reduced Acoustics and Higher Cooling Rates;
-- ATI CrossFire Certified -- A Major Requirement regardless of Model;
-- Full Lifetime Warranty for Registered Units.

-- Cooler Master RSD00-SPHAD3-US Silent Pro Hybrid ($300 Average Retail) --

The job of providing efficient and reliable power to keep your PC going is one that a PSU manufacturer should not need to emphasize, but when they do go to the trouble of pointing out the obvious, it is nice to know that they had a good reason for doing that... When Cooler Master told us about their new RSD00-SPHAD3-US Silent Pro Hybrid Power Supply in a phone conference, they were careful to mention this because in addition to being a Hybrid -- a growing and significant distinction in this modern era of green living -- like the 80 Plus Gold Certification that the model has earned and its ability to maintain a full 80% power efficiency even at its rated load are significant factors in any evaluation of the unit!

Rated for 1300 Watts -- which exceeds our basic requirements but that is OK -- this Modular PSU is engineered for the ATX form factor to make it an easy install since 99% of the gaming rig cases out today are built around that specification.

While all of the standard power requirements are addressed, the model is also capable of powering a multiple GPU setup, with thermal control built around its 135mm fan, and the combined components built to comply with a minimum MTBF Rating of 100,000 hours!

The core features that stand out for this model include:

-- 135mm Cooling fan
-- ATX Form factor with integrated mainboard controllable soft switches;
-- SLI/CrossFire-Ready -- Supports multiple GPU configurations;
-- 80 PLUS Gold Certified; ensures more than 80% power efficiency