Death of a Gutless Wonder III: The Labors of Hercules

REVIEW INFORMATION
SUPPLIED BY: Hercules
MANUFACTURER: Hercules
PRODUCT: HRC512F 500W
PROD LINK: N/A
PRICE: $19.95 @ eBay
Price is at the time of testing!

If you’ve been here before, you know the drill. It’s over there next to the circular saw. Anyway, I’ll be using the usual suspects to load test this unit, with a couple of differences here and there.

One of my two SunMoon SM-268s will be loading the unit down. In addition to it, I’ll be using two power meters. The Rek RF9901 will be providing standby measurements as usual, but then will be sitting out the rest of the review. Why? It’s the way things work with these gutless wonders. When they blow, they often do it on the primary side. This causes them to suck a large amount of current without warning, which in turn fries the power meters attempting to measure them. I cannot lose a $300 power meter to this thing, because I’m only going to be clearing about twenty bucks profit on this whole article. So, the old Brand 4-1850 is going to come out of retirement on the rest of the load tests. I have spare current sensing resistors for it, so I can repair it myself quickly and easily. Not so, the Rek.

In addition, I’ll be using the Tektronix TDS-2012B scope, dual probe thermometer, and Extech DMM for more measurements.

Ready? Let’s start the fun now.

HRC512F 500W – StandBy Tests
Test # +5VSB DC Watts/
AC Watts
Eff. P.F.
Load Tests
1 0.5A 2.58W/
6.30W
41.0% 0.450
5.15V
2 1.5A 7.6W/
12.7W
59.8% 0.510
5.04V
3 3.0A 3.21W/
7.80W
41.2% 0.488
1.07V

LOL! We haven’t even gotten past the standby efficiency tests, and we already have a big fat fail. This unit is rated to 3A on the standby rail, and it cannot do it. You try, it only gives you a volt or so. Fun times.

And look at the efficiency… absolutely terrible.

What’s that? You want a regulation number? Try 79.2%. ATX spec is 5%. We didn’t just miss the mark, old Herc here got into the space shuttle and went to Neptune.

Oh, this is going to be a fun review. Let’s see what the low load test does for it.

HRC512F 500W – Low Load Tests
Load
Level
+3.3V +5V +12V -12V 5VSB DC Watts/
AC Watts
Eff.
Load Tests
10.3% 2A 3A 2A 0.2A 0.5A 51.5W/
71.7W
71.8%
3.32V 5.12V 12.30V -11.60V 5.11V

Actually, it’s not too bad here with a 52 watt load. All voltages well in spec and healthy. Really, all we have to complain about here is the dismal efficiency, as reported by the Brand power meter.

Time to fire up the main tests and see what happens.

HRC512F 500W – Cold Load Tests
Test #
+3.3V +5V +12V DC Watts/
AC Watts
Eff. Intake/
Exhaust
Progressive Load Tests
1 4.5A 6A 4.5A 106W/
138W
76.8% 23°C/
27°C
3.26V 5.07V 12.35V
2 9A 12A 9A 208W/
285W
73.0% 24°C/
34°C
3.18V 4.92V 12.50V
3 11A 15A 11A 256W/
372W
68.8% 25°C/
39°C
3.14V 4.81V 12.62V
4 17.5A 24A 17.5A FAIL N/A FAIL
FAIL FAIL FAIL
5 22A 30A 22A FAIL N/A FAIL
FAIL FAIL FAIL
Crossload Tests
CL1 22A 30A 1A FAIL N/A FAIL
FAIL FAIL FAIL
CL2 1A 1A 22A FAIL N/A FAIL
FAIL FAIL FAIL

Lookie what we got here. The unit ran until test three, completed the whole test, and then as soon as I hit the button for test four it shut down. It wouldn’t come back up until I asked for a lower load again. So, it seems we do have working overpower protection. Just to confirm, I hit the big red button on the load tester that normally goes unused, and tested it. The load tester hit 224.8W before the unit shut down again.

Yep, Herc’s overrated to hell and gone. But what about the performance? Well… efficiency is craptastic, for one. The best it did was in test one, stopping a fair bit short of even 80 Plus Standard guidelines. Good thing this unit has no 80 Plus certification to aspire to. That said, I may be pulling points anyway due to the promise of high efficiency we saw in the marketing earlier.

Over on the voltage readings, we find another pile of suck. 3.7% regulation on the 3.3V rail, 5.2% on the 5V rail, and 2.1% on the 12V rail. So, only the 5V rail has gone out of the ATX specification of 5% there. And you might not think that’s too bad, right? Wrong. Look at the voltages again. In test three, the 12V rail is out of spec on the high end. You can only go to 12.6V. The 3.3V rail is also riding on the very low end of the spec at 3.14V.

In other words, the 5V and 12V rails have both torpedoed the ATX specification, and the 3.3V rail was close to doing the same. This is the hallmark of a terribly craptastic piece of power supply engineering, people. And we haven’t even gotten to the hot box yet, or seen the scope shots.

And you might be thinking to yourself that my load patterns kind of set this unit up for failure. Look at this review, and then one of my others, and you see a far more balanced and easy to handle load scheme on the others. Why is this, you ask? It’s because I have to go by the label specifications. If it says 500 watts total, I have to go for that number. On this unit, the only way to do that is to max out all of the rails, according to the label. Clearly the unit cannot handle such treatment. But blame the people who make and sell this hunk o’ tin, not yours truly. I’m just looking to show you what you can expect by trusting that label.