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Q-Technology 300Watt "Silent" "Athlon" ATX PSU :


WARNING 1: This product was supplied for review/test as a FREEBIE

WARNING 2: www.quietpc.com were told burningissues would test this thing till it popped. Read on . . . . .

Most PSU's deserve to be grey: like second-rate politicians they drone on drably while you're trying to get some work done; likewise they're not that great at handling power.

On the plus side, that grey box that comes with your store-bought system or replacement case is dirt-cheap & does the dullest of jobs.

High-end systems need a bit more juice though, & there are quite a few users who like or need to be able to hear themselves think as they work: between them these two markets make a fair-sized niche which the Q-Systems PSU's aim to fill.

What's special & how it's done: This ATX PSU is "AMD approved" up to & including the 1GHz CPU's & is also designed to be quiet: "Athlon" PSU's don't produce any more juice than an ordinary one rated at the same Watts; what they do is provide a higher proportion of the rated Wattage from the +3.3/+5v rail - which is what your mobo, CPU[s], AGP-accelerator, PCI-cards, & SDRAM all feed off. This PSU is rated at a generous combined 165 W from the +3.3/+5v rail.

Your drives [fixed & removable] & fans are fed off the +12v rail, which is here rated at 120 W.

These rails are just well-regulated transformers, converting domestic current to the right voltages for your computer; a by-product of this conversion is waste heat, & inside every PSU are large alloy heatsinks, one to each rail & more-or-less well-cooled by air drawn from inside your case & exhausted out the back by an 80mm case-fan - which, as a bonus, scavenges waste heat from your case.

The greater the quantity of current transformed & drawn, the greater the amount of heat needs to be transferred from the heatsinks to the cooling airflow. This PSU uses a variable-speed low-noise double ball-bearing fan, which at all the loads we were able to put the PSU under runs real slow & very quiet - you just can't hear it at any load over the [quiet] 26db of a Golden Orb. Like a well-sorted 'clockers' case, the interior of the PSU offers a relatively unobstructed path to the cooling flow & channels this flow carefully past & over the heatsinks:

- as you see, the whole internal-facing panel of this PSU is pierced for air-intake, & all major heat-producing components are clustered in front of & near the fan [the small PCB over & beyond it is the speed-controller]. Design detailing goes as far as the fan grille & case-opening being optimally specified & made for minimum obstruction & noise, & the PSU having 5 Molex-plug output lines on fairly long leads, including 2 x floppy-plugs.

Test System Loads:

+3.3v/+5v rail: 2 x 366@550 Celerons [2.05/2.10 vcores] - around 70 Watts total - we chose .25 process Celerons for this test due to their higher current-draw than FC-PGA's; MSI 694D-ProA mobo with 256Mb 150CAS2 HSDRAM; Matrox Millennium G200 SGRAM accelerator; 2 x PCI SCSI-hosts - total draw approx 125 Watts maximum.

+12v rail: 2 x 7.2k rpm IBM GXP 30Gb HD's [RAID0-array]; 10k rpm 9.1Gb U2W SCSI HD; 5.4k rpm UW SCSI HD; 2 x floppies; 2-3 x [varies] SCSI CD-devices - again around 120 Watts notional maximum draw - plus various fans & external devices.

All in all this is about as much as you can cram into a GlobalWin 802ATX midi-tower - not a small case. Many if not most experienced users would recommend a 400W+ PSU for this much power-hungry kit & most users make about half these demands at most on their PSU.

Test: [duration 3 months] The major stress on a PSU is at start-up - that's when a component or fuse will pop if you've overdone it, or when a big sag in the measured voltage will occur if the regulation is poor or if the thing's near its limits: as with most inexpensive IDE RAID, our Promise controller doesn't allow a staggered spin-up, & we tried to set both SCSI-hosts to spin up their drives as near in time as possible.

Once the system is up & running, moments of high voltage stress would be when, say, transferring large files from a RAID-array to a 10k rpm U2W HD at the same time as running two instances of Prime95 [one to each CPU]. So, wearing our torturer's kit & cackling insanely, that's what we did.

We took repeated +5v & +12v voltage readings with two digital multimeters direct from PSU lines [not the relatively meaningless readings you can take inside an OS from a monitoring utility like MotherBoardMonitor - these are moderated by the [in-] accuracy of the motherboard's monitoring IC & can tell you nothing about the all-important start-up performance of a PSU]. The readouts from both multimeters closely agreed throughout.

Startup 12v range

12.10-12.28v

W2K 12v [no load]

12.12v

W2K 12v [Prime95 x 2]

12.28v

W2K 12v [Prime95 x 2 & 540Mb image-file transfer]

12.28v

Startup 5v range

5.03-5.07v

W2k 5v [HLT idle]

5.07v

W2K 5v [1 x Prime95]

5.03v

W2K 5v [2 x Prime95]

5.01v

W2K 5v [Prime95 x 2 & 540Mb image-file transfer]

5.01v

BTW - voltages as reported from the monitoring IC to MBM5 were all approx 0.1v wrong [low] - no relection on MBM - just GIGO

Analysis:

The 12v rail effortlessly coped with the loads we put it under.

The +3.3/+5v rail was loaded to about 75% of its rated combined limit: the drop in +5v when one then two instances of P95 are run is closely paralleled by MBM5 readings of vcore drops - each CPU's vcore independently drops 0.04v under 100% load [then holds solid]. This drop is sufficient to affect overclocking stability on this very tricky motherboard & means each CPU's default vcore must be set 0.05v higher than strictly necessary to give complete stability.

Having said this; the system thus set will run stable 24/7 multi-tasking under continuous 100% load.

Summary: This PSU performs as specified: it is very quiet & has an amply high-enough output from the +3.3/+5v rail to run a IGHz AMD CPU or 2 x Intel FC-PGA's satisfactorily, together with all cards & memory you're likely to have: the 12v rail will run all the 12v devices you've places to fit into a midi-tower.

Under the quite high total load at which we tested it, the PSU's supply to each CPU sagged 0.04v under 100% CPU load; we noticed a smaller but similar drop when loading a single CPU [to 32.5 Watts]. This is a normal enough with any PSU; but may affect overclocking performance if you load this PSU as high as us & are running near the vcore adjustment limits of your CPU[s].

We have no reason to believe a 400Watt+ PSU would perform better in our system - unless such a PSU had superior regulation/smoothing circuitry on the +3.3v/+5v rail. The [theoretical] extra power, especially on the 12v rail, is unnecessary & would merely provide more waste heat - & noise.

We started off saying most PSU's deserve to be grey: this one deserves to be . . . . hmm . . . green?

 

Burningissues would like to point out that opening a PSU [as above] will both void your warranty & may expose you to dangerous voltages.

We would like to thank Glenn at www.quietpc.com for encouraging us to try to break this product. We failed.

copyright shoarthing November 2000 for Burningissues.net - all rights reserved - any manufacturer or distributor seeking to have a similar product tested to similar standards please contact me or the webmaster

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