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Ultra X3 1000-Watt Energy Efficient Modular PSU
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Date: Oct 11, 2007
Section:Misc
Author: Jeff Bouton
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Introduction and Specifications

Today’s power supplies are a far cry from those that were available just a few years ago.  With the increasing power demands of the latest GPUs and high-end processors, the need for ample, stable power has increased exponentially.  With more and more attention being paid to efficiency and energy conservation, one has to question though, just how much power do you need?  Not too long ago, a 750w PSU was considered huge and today we are seeing PSUs rated as high as 1600 watts.  Naturally, the demands for such wattage vary depending on personal needs, but in most cases this kind of capacity is simply unnecessary, not to mention expensive.

In this article we’re going to take a look at the Ultra X3 1000 Watt Energy Efficient Modular PSU. Boasting high efficiency and a modular design, the Ultra X3 has more than just 1000 watts of power to offer.  In the pages ahead, we’ll compare the unit to a few other PSUs in its class to see just how the X3 compares in a typical PC environment.


Ultra X3 1000-Watt Energy Efficient Modular PSU
Big, Quiet and Powerful

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  • Supports AMD and Intel Motherboards
  • Low Acoustic Noise
  • 135mm Fan
  • Meets ATX Version 2.2, v1.3, and
    ATX 12V Version 2.2 Specifications
  • Short Circuit Protection
  • In-Rush Current Protection
  • Thermal Overload Cutoff Protection
  • MTBF > 100,000 Hours at Full Load,
    110VAC and 25°C Ambient Condition
  • FCC and UL Recognized


The Ultra X3 1000 Watt PSU comes with a basic User's Manual that offers technical specifications and instructions on how to properly connect the unit's modular cables.  Four mounting screws are included as well as a standard power cable.  Complementing the Ultra X3 1000w PSU is a complete collection of cabling to cover a broad range of scenarios.  There is a standard 24-Pin ATX power connector as well as 4-Pin and 8-Pin +12v power connectors for powering the motherboard.  The package also includes four 6-Pin PCI Express power connectors and two 8-Pin PCI Express connectors as well, for PCI-Express graphics cards. 

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For peripheral power, Ultra X3 provides two SATA cables that can support three devices, while another two pairs support two devices per cable.  Similar Molex variants were also provided, with one cable supporting two devices another two add floppy support to the mix.  Rounding out the bundle is a single three device Molex cable, a short 7.5" single Molex connector and a 3-Pin Fan connector that can connect up to three fans.

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Ultra X3 1000-Watt Energy Efficient Modular PSU

 
The Ultra X3 1000 Watt PSU - Up Close
Technology Overview

The Ultra X3 1000 Watt PSU is both functional and attractive.  The outer shell has a platinum mirrored finish that compliments its quality feel.  The end of the unit sports all of the required modular connections to marry up to the included cabling.  While each plug isn’t labeled, the series is unique, making it easy to discern which cable marries up to the appropriate output.

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Total Output Power:
1000W (Full Load, Nominal Input Voltage)
Efficiency:
85% at Typical Load

Input
AC Input Voltage: 115V/230V

AC Input Frequency:
50-60Hz
AC Input Currents:
· 13A (RMS) for 115VAC input
· 8A (RMS) for 230VAC input

The Ultra X3 is rated for a total of 1000 watts of peak power.  The +5V and +3.3V outputs combine for 160W at 28 and 24 amperes respectively.  +12V power maxes out at 840W and 70 amperes while -12V and +5VSB outputs combine for 19.7W and 25W.

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Cooling the Ultra X3 is an oversized 135mm ball-bearing fan that provides adequate airflow while maintaining low noise.  The rear of the unit is entirely perforated for reduced air resistance as well, and the fan speed is throttled based on temperature to help furhter control fan noise.  In our test environment, we found the PSU to be exceptionally quiet and could not detect any audible differences to coincide with fan speed fluctuations.  In the end, the Ultra X3 was virtually silent throughout testing.

One item worth mentioning is what Ultra dubs Flex-Force Technology, which is a fancy name for extremely flexible cables.  The cabling is the easiest to manipulate, most flexible cabling we've encountered in a PSU, with virtually no spring or memory to it at all.  The idea behind Flex-Force Technology is to be able to easily route the cables so they can be hidden for maximum airflow within a case.  After setting up this PSU in a test case, we found the cables to be the easiest we've had to work with to date.
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Test System and Vital Stats While Idle
Test System Details
Specifications and Revisions

System Configuration

  • AMD Athlon X2 5200+ (2.6 GHz / 1 MB L2)
  • ASUS M2N32-WS Professional / Nvidia nForce 590 Motherboard
  • OCZ 4GB DDR2 PC2-6400 Platinum Memory (2 x 1 GB, CAS 5-4-4-15)
  • Nvidia GeForce 8800GTX 512MB
  • Nvidia Geforce 8600GS 256MB
  • Western Digital "Raptor" 150GB
  • Seagate ST340062 400GB
  • ASUS 16X DVD+/-RW Drive
  • Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate Edition (64-bit)

We tested this power supply by pitting it against similar units in its class.  The closest match we had on hand was a Tagan TG1100-U95 1100w PSU.  The second model was a ThermalTake ToughPower 750w PSU that also boasts a modular design.  We tested the power supplies by recording their AC watt usage with a dedicated hardware watt meter which monitored total system power consumption.  The focus of the review is to record each power supply's overall power consumption within an identical hardware set up.  Naturally, we want to see lower wattage levels to demonstrate which unit is the most efficient model tested in various scenarios. Power consumption should also play a role in fan noise as more power draw usually results in higher temperatures, which can result in increased fan speed and noise.

With our first test, we focused on total system wattage draw at the outlet while the testbed was powered off.





Both the Ultra X3 1000w and ThermalTake ToughPower 750w had a 5 watt draw with the system was completely powered down, while the Tagan weighed in at 6 watts.

Next, we powered up the system and record wattage while the system was idle.  Each configuration was allowed to sit idle for thirty minutes before recording the wattage.



The 750w ThermalTake ToughPower PSU provided the lowest draw at 243w while the 1100w Tagan TG1100 was highest at 268w.  The Ultra X3 1000w was within 10w of the ToughPower 750w while separating itself from the Tagan TG1100 by 15w, idling at 253w.

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Vitals Continued: Load Testing
Load Testing:  100% CPU Load
Just Add Power

In our next test, we set our test machine up to run two iterations of Prime95’s torture test set for maximum power draw and heat.  As with our Idle testing, each PSU was allowed to run for thirty minutes before recording the readings.


 

When we review the results of the CPU load test, we find similar scaling as recorded in our idle tests.  The ToughPower 750w managed the least draw at 309 watts while the Ultra X3 1000w ran 8w higher at 317w.  The Tagan TG1100 proved to be the most power hungry of the three, drawing 335w, 18w higher than of the Ultra X3.
 
Load Testing:  100% CPU Load Plus GPU Load
Just Add Power

To further stress each PSU, we continued to run Prime95’s torture test while loading a level of BioShock at 1600x1200 with maximum settings in game.





With the increase in wattage draw from the GeForce 8800GTX graphics card, the test machine, when powered by the Thermaltake ToughPower 750w increased by 44w while the Tagan TG1100 increased by 49w and the Ultra X3 added 59w.  We have to suspect that the Ultra X3 may have increased in temperature more so than the comparison models, which caused its large fan to spin up, which in turn could account for the noticeable increase in wattage draw when stressing the graphics card concurrently with CPU load testing.
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Performance Summary and Conclusion
 

Performance Summary: We found the Ultra X3 to perform rather well.  With our testing focused on efficiency, the Ultra X3 PSU tracked closer to the performance of the 750 watt Thermaltake ToughPower, while the Tagan TG1100 was the most power hungry of the three models tested.  We should note that the Tagan TG1100-U95 was the only PSU of the three to exceed voltage output across the board as seen below, while the Ultra X3 tended to run approximately 1.5% less than rated voltages.  In all tests, none of the PSUs we tested fluctuated in voltage output, and all remained relatively steady whether running at idle or during our load testing.



The Ultra X3 1000w Power Supply compared favorably to the other models tested in this article.  With a peak rating of 1000 Watts, the Ultra The Ultra X3 1000 Watt Power Supply looks to be a viable option for those looking for a quality, high-wattage PSU. The modular design and ultra flexible cabling also makes the unit an excellent candidate, especially when cable management is a concern.  We were also impressed with the near silent operation as well as its overall efficiency.  With a 1000w peak rating, the X3 can handle the load of most any system with room to grow as technology evolves.  The unit is also backed by a limited lifetime warranty; all things considered the Ultra X3 1000w Power Supply is an attractive option for anyone looking for a quality Power Supply Unit.

Selling in the neighborhood of $250, the X3 is actually priced competitively with other 1000w PSUs.  Backed with quality features and an excellent warranty, the Ultra X3 certainly represents a solid value.

  • Competitive Pricing
  • Quiet
  • Modular Design
  • Ultra Flexible Cables
  • Limited Lifetime Warranty
  • Voltages Slightly Lower than spec.


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