In a market where the latest and greatest computer power supplies are all huge monsters capable of delivering gobs of current at a time, the middle ground of units promising just enough power at affordable prices with good reliability is often overlooked. Today I’m looking at a unit that promises to slide right into that middle ground, do a good job powering the average system without driving you to the poorhouse, and look good doing it: the FSP Blue Storm II.
SUPPLIED BY: Fortron-Source Power
PRODUCT: Blue Storm II 500W
PROD LINK: FSP’s current offerings.
PRICE: $75.99 @ Directron
Price is at time of testing!
A lot of things in this life are blue. The sky is blue. Marge Simpson’s hair is blue. My shirt is blue. My face is blue. Maybe I should stop holding my breath waiting for the gas prices to drop.
Something that landed on my test bench today is also blue, the Fortron-Source Blue Storm II power supply. A replacement for the venerable Blue Storm AX500-A, which I’ll admit to personally recommending probably hundreds of times to various fellow geeks in need back in the day, this model promises higher efficiency and better compatibility with today’s hardware than its predecessor did. Let’s find out for sure, shall we?
As always, we begin our adventure with a box picture. Power your PC, it commands. Well, okie dokie artichokie Mr. Box, sir. I was just planning on letting the computer sit here so I could look at it, but if you insist, I’ll go right ahead. The box also insists that the unit is silent and cool. Well, we’ll just see about that, won’t we dear reader? Join me in an evil cackle now, won’t you?
One item of note is that the box also declares the unit inside to be a 500W unit. We’ll just have to see about that… some of you may be aware that the old AX500-A was in reality a 460W unit. I recall this fact being a thorn in my side the whole time that unit was on the market. I hope to discover in this review that the times have changed, and we are now getting honest looking part numbers from FSP.
Upending the box, we can get a good look at various colorful logos. PCI Express! 20+4 Pin! Fully Safety Approval! Super Quiet < 25dB! These are among the things promised on this side of the box, but I had to stop and chuckle at that silence claim. 25dB is extremely quiet, and quite frankly I have to question that one. Load testing should tell the story… if I can hear the fan over the SunMoon’s fan, it’s nothing like 25dB.
On the back of the box, there are bullet points in no less than four languages extolling the virtues of the Blue Storm II yet again. Me being my lazy self, I’m going to make y’all squint at the above picture rather than reprint the bullet points here. But wait a sec… what’s True Total Power? Perhaps that’s some Engrish way of saying that 500W means 500W on this unit. Again, the load testing will reveal the truth.
Opening the box, we see a blueberry… I mean, blue colored FSP power supply nestled gently inside a soft cocoon of bubble wrap, with it’s good friends Power Cord and Case Screws to keep it company.
With the box unpacked, we see that a few more good friends to the Blue Storm II made the trip too. Specifically, Yuser Manuel, Velkro Strapps, and Casen Badgen. I like the inclusion of those Velcro straps, actually, they’re a lot easier to deal with than zip ties and much purtier than twist ties.
Unwrapping the cabling, I was intrigued to see two different color schemes in the sleeving. Blue is for your average ordinary everyday stuff like the ATX cable and hard drive Molexes, while red is for the two PCI Express cables, like the one above. And, if you happen to be color blind and/or unable to count, FSP has provided labeling on some of the connectors so you can see what’s what. Nifty.
And now, it is time for a label shot and load chart.
|FSP Blue Storm II 500W – DC Output|
|Max Combined Watts||152W||9.6W||12.5W|
Well, this is certainly looking promising. Where the old AX500-A proclaimed its 460W abilities on its label, this unit is suggesting it really can do 500W. I can’t wait to validate that on the load tester. Somewhat less than encouraging is the game of peak-a-boo the label is playing, giving one the impression that one can draw 530W out of the blueberry. Those of you who know me may recall that I am never a fan of peak numbers on the sides of any electronic product, and this is no exception for the simple reason that these numbers are often completely unattainable for any meaningful period of time. They’re almost always the work of the marketing guys.
Here’s a good shot of the unit’s multicolored tentacles for your enjoyment. As you can see, the sleeving is quite nicely done, going right up inside the PSU enclosure itself. And now to bust out the ol’ tape measure and show you another table.
|FSP Blue Storm II 500W – Cabling|
|Type of connector:|
|ATX connector (410mm)||20+4 pin|
|2 x 2 12V connectors (395mm)||1|
|2 x 3 PCI-e (410mm)||2|
|2 x 4 PCI-e||0|
|8-pin Xeon/EPS connector||0|
|5.25″ Drive connectors (415mm+140mm+140mm)||6|
|3.5″ Drive connectors (+145mm)||1|
|SATA Drive power connectors (400mm+145mm)||4|
|Fan only connectors (thermostatically controlled 12V only)||0|
I have to admit, I find it a wee bit strange that this unit has the ordinary 4 pin 12V connector, and yet has no provision for the EPS 8 pin connector. While FSP would be pretty much correct in thinking that this unit is probably ill suited for boards needing the kind of power draw that connector provides for, more and more units in this power supply’s niche are coming with that connector. Case in point, the Seventeam 550W I reviewed last time.
12V load distribution is about as balanced as a dual 12V model is apt to get with 12V1 serving everything but the 12V CPU connector itself and one of the two PCI-E connectors. As long as the CPU isn’t a power hungry monster, in other words, this unit should be able to throw down with an SLI rig as long as one isn’t throwing too overly demanding cards at it.
Let’s move on to the fun part, shall we, and see if we can’t make blueberry pie out of the Blue Storm II.