We’re going to look at something a little unusual today. The world of the industrial power supply is a little different from what most of us are used to. Power supplies in this market have to be super well built, long lasting units that just work for years on end without complaining. Redundancy is often preferred, so billion dollar companies don’t take any costly downtime thanks to failed hardware. For years, we haven’t seen redundancy come to the consumer market. These are expensive power supplies, and few people need them.
Or so I thought. FSP is looking to bring the redundancy game home to us, and have clearly thought that there is more need for these units than we may be aware. Are they right? This should be a fun review. Folks, I give you the FSP Twins 500W.
SUPPLIED BY: FSP
PRODUCT: Twins 500W Redundant
PROD LINK: Twins 500W Product Page
PRICE: $399.00 @ NewEgg
Price is at time of testing!
Hold on to your hats, folks, for we are in uncharted waters today. That’s right… we’re sailing the Sea of Redundancy today on a ship made of wires and capacitors. FSP looks to be creating a product for a market that doesn’t yet exist, and I for one am intrigued.
Of course, users knowledgeable about the industrial power supply market already know about the myriad of redundant power supply solutions out there. This is a market in which power supplies must be up and running at all times in order to prevent losing money to downtime. And for years, the market has been well provided for. Companies like Zippy, Delta, Etasis, and 3Y Power Technology (part of FSP) exist to cater for the various needs of the industrial market, and so offer a number of solutions for every conceivable need. Some have power supplies in the multiple kilowatt power range to satisfy power needs beyond what us home consumers can even imagine, but most offer a bewildering array of redundant solutions to make sure the juice stays up all the time.
What they haven’t seem to have thought of yet is that maybe some of us home users might need redundancy too. FSP seems to have clued into that today. Of course, we’ve always been able to go after the industrial stuff ourselves. We can buy 1U, 2U, or 3U industrial cases, shove a good redundant in there from Zippy, and go to town. But that gets expensive fast. Redundant power supplies are always expensive, and that applies to this unit as well. But at least this unit, designed for an off the shelf ATX housing, does not require a special industrial case which can also cost you good money. This way, the only expensive thing you need to buy is this here power supply. You can then shove it in a $10 Goodwill special case if you want to.
Honestly, I can’t believe FSP seems to be the first one to realize there may be a market for this thing. Even Zippy, makers of every possible PSU permutation I can think of, doesn’t seem to have a competitor. And this is a company that offers redundant units that take ATX/PS2 sized power supply modules.
No, FSP seems to have beaten everyone to the punch on this one, drawing on their acquisition of 3Y to help connect the dots. And there are a lot of dots to connect. Not only does FSP need to deliver stable and clean power, they have to do it in a way that us end users are going to like. Industrial users don’t need super low ripple or mythic regulation, they just need the units to run in spec and just keep running and running. We have different expectations.
And this is going to make things bloody hard for FSP today. Why? Because this thing is two power supplies in one. 1000 watts over two power supplies in one housing, balanced so that one module can run the whole system indefinitely if the other fails. FSP has upped the ante even more by adding software monitor support as well. Now FSP has two power supplies that must work together to impress me… that’s a tall order.
Let’s see… features. ATX redundant, no bracket needed. Yay! Software. Yay! Complete protection. You better hope so, FSP, because this is supposed to be full boat industrial grade gear. I want all the overtemp, overvolt, short, and other protection you have to offer. Industrial units also monitor fan operation to shut themselves down when the fan fails. I want that, too, and FSP has given it to me. Good.
The 80 Plus Gold 230V certification is a point of a little uncertainty, though. See, that certification does not apply to the full Twins experience, which has no certification of its own. That certification is only applicable to each redundant module by itself, which is not something I am really equipped to test. Which means we won’t know what to expect for efficiency at 115V or even 230V operation when both modules are in use. I will tell you this, though… in rare circumstances like this, I default to 80 Plus White for my scoring page. If it does White, it gets the pass. If not, out comes the red pen. I’ll do as much testing as I can, but because everything working together has no 80 Plus rating I cannot in good conscience expect it to do full Gold efficiency when it comes to scoring.
That said, you will still have my full opinion if I think this unit isn’t living up to its full potential, efficiency wise, and I do plan to do some limited 230V efficiency testing. Sound good? You… do read the full review and come to your own conclusions, not just skipping to the end to ultimately complain about my scoring… don’t you?
Let’s move on. We have a lot of ground to cover today. FSP is breaking new ground, so they have to be the ones to convince us to buy an expensive redundant power supply. And they’re definitely doing all they can to do just that, having the box explain to us just what advantages redundancy can give us.
What is not really clear to me at this point is where we can get replacement redundant modules. Power supplies like this aren’t big on the normal retail distribution side of things. You can’t just hit NewEgg and order redundant modules for a lot of the industrial units in the industrial market, you usually have to seek out local distributors to hook you up with a quote. And indeed, a quick search on NewEgg as I type this reveals only the full Twins package being available – they do not stock the FSP520-20RGGBB1 modules by themselves. FSP, you’re going to have to make these modules available if you want this kind of thing to take off in the consumer market.
Nobody looking seriously at these things is going to buy them if the modules cannot be found by themselves. You’re putting an industrial unit into a new market, one where your ideal consumer needs their power online 24/7. If said consumer isn’t confident a new module can’t be obtained easily, this isn’t going to work because said consumer will either save money and not bother with redundant, or go get a real industrial housing with a different redundant solution. And you know the fierce competition you’re up against, there. You cannot go halfway with this if you want to be successful.
We’re at the end of the box shots. Well, almost. Not much here but an ad for the power app, which I plan to do nothing with this time out. There’s too much to do on this unit, using the PC software alone.
Time to unpack. Opening the box, we find more boxes.
And in opening these other boxes, we are commanded to ENJOY OUR NEW DEVICE. Everything looks really well packed. Excellent.
Ok… we have two power cords, two redundant modules, one housing, one manual, some screws, and a bag of goodies.
The bag of goodies contains a Berg adapter, a USB interface adapter which turns the frame’s motherboard USB header into a standard USB A connector, and a bracket with screws in case you wish to mount the unit’s tail end to your case.
That bracket is actually kind of interesting… a lot of old power supplies used to come with those, because the four screws on the rear of your case were never actually intended to support a lot of weight. Really heavy units in the old days would use the bracket to take the weight off those four screws. But it’s been such a long time since I saw a case that took advantage of these brackets that I don’t quite know if FSP really needed to include it anymore.
We’ll take a quick look at the housing now with the modules uninstalled. FSP has gone with an interesting setup, here… the minor rails, including the negative 12V, are done inside the housing along with the USB interface. The 12V and standby rails are done within each redundant module, each capable of meeting the full power rating of the entire frame.
The housing stretches to an imposing 190mm deep. That seems like a lot for a 500W unit, but remember this housing takes two 520 watt modules. And I love that it takes modules bigger than the frame capacity… that tells me FSP is as dead serious about keeping this thing running as they would be if this were a full industrial grade product. Overkill is what keeps units like this running 24/7 reliably, and FSP clearly knows it.
A look from the far end shows us some of the electronics for the frame. There’s not too much to it… the minor rail VRM is passively cooled by the housing, because there’s no way to set things up to use the module cooling fans. I don’t have a problem with that, because the minor rails don’t add up to much power.
Here we see not a lot. The frame is set up to allow easy sliding of the modules, so there are a couple slots cut into it. We can see the frame label from here, so let’s flip things around.
There’s the label, so I can do my load table. This unit is a triple 12V design, because most industrial units serious about being industrial have all the protection they can cram in there. This is one instance where I really prefer multi-rail over single 12V.
They likely rigidly conform to the Intel SSI spec, as well, meaning the trip point will be right around 240VA. That should be no problem… you don’t buy these things for high end gaming rigs with power consuming video cards. You buy them for mail servers and other things of that nature. Maybe you want to set up a small web server in your basement… that’s what this thing is for.
|Twins 500W – DC Output|
|Max Power @ 50°C||120W||500W||6W||15W|
Oh, and of course it’s good for full power at fifty degrees. Units like this are expected to meet that mark.