Reviews - SinTek 500XPS (aka 500 SLI) 500W
Sample Provided by: Sintek (By jonny on Tue, Aug-29-2006)

Page 1 -

I've never heard of SinTek, but apparently their niche is power supplies. What a coincidence! That's my niche too!

Above and below, you can see photos of the detailed SinTek box. SinTek wishes to offer the consumer, not just a modular power supply, but a modular power supply with voltage controllers, a fan speed controller and an LCD temperature display.

Inside the box we find our power supply, a bundle of modular cables, a power cord and a manual.

The PSU is cooled by a 120MM blue LED fan on the bottom and an 80MM fan in the rear. There is a mesh grill on either side of the PSU. This mesh really serves no purpose as the side of the fan housing are immediately on the other side of where we see this mesh. It does make the unit look cool.

You can also see the temperature display in both the above and below photos. Unfortunately, the display is too high up on the PSU housing to be seen through the side panel window in most cases.

The modular interface of the SinTek is probably one of the nicest looking I've seen. The aluminum surface of the housing is embossed where the connectors are mounted. The holes for the connectors are cut just large enough to allow for the connector to stick through. The four "dots" you see in the corners are actually the "nut" side of the screws that hold the interface to the power supply housing.

The connectors are labeled, "SATA," "Peripheral" and "PCI-e." The SATA and Peripheral connectors are actually interchangeable. If you look closely, you'll see the PCI-e is actually keyed differently.

Let's count the connectors on the modular cables we get with the SinTek....

Type of connector: SinTek 500XPS
ATX connector 20+4
2 x 2 12V connectors 1
2 x 3 PCIe 2
8-pin Xeon/EPS connector 0
6-pin Xeon/AUX connector 0
5.25" Drive connectors 6
3.5" Drive connectors 1
SATA Drive power connectors 6
Fan only connectors (thermostatically controlled 12V only) 0

As you can see from the photo below, the cables are very nicely sleeved and heat-shrink tubing is used right up to the base of each connector.

The label on the SinTek is all screwed up. Notice the -3.3V. Is that new to the ATX12V spec? Where's the +5VSB? Also, do the math: (-12V) X (2A) = 10W??? (-5V) X (0.6A) = 7.2W???

Below is the what the specs are supposed to be...

SinTek 500XPS 500W +3.3V +5V +12V -12V -5V +5VSB
Peak Output 30A 30A 34A 0.6A 0.6A 2A
Max Combined Watts 180W 408W 7.2W 3W 10W
479.8W 20.2W
500W

You'll notice that on the inside of the power supply that there's a couple knobs. One knob is labeled "Memory" and it controls the voltage on the 3.3V rail. The other knob is labeled "PCI Express" and it controls the 12V rail.

What struck me funny is that memory isn't the only thing that uses 3.3V and PCI Express isn't the only thing that uses 12V and when you turn the knobs it's not like only the voltage on those particular leads are affected. In my opinion, they should just be labeled 3.3V and 12V. If they have to dumb it down so much that they can't even label the knobs for the appropriate voltage, then they're addressing people that shouldn't be allowed to adjust their own voltages in the first place!

I will say that the knobs definitely work. I set the "Memory" knob so the output of the 3.3V rail was exactly 3.3V during load test one, and I set the "PCI Express" knob so the output of the 12V rail 12.10V during load test one (it was bound to drop.) Below is a picture of the other side of the knob. There nothing significant to see here. I just like taking pictures of electrical components.

Results from SinTek 500XPS 500W COLD load tests
+3.3V +5V +12V Watts Efficiency  PF
Intake Exhaust
Simulated system load tests
3A 5A 8A 145.8W 79% .67 23°C
28°C
3.30V 5.21V 12.10V
5A 10A 14A 250.3W 79% .70 23°C
29°C
3.28V 5.18V 12.06V
8A 15A 20A 364W 78% .74 23°C 30°C
3.25V 5.16V 12.05V
10A 20A 26A 460.1W 75% .76 24°C 33°C
3.24V 5.14V 12.00V
5A 15A 34A 505W 72% .76 24°C 46°C
3.34V 5.22V 11.70V

Going from test 1 to test 4, I increased the 12V rail from 8A to 26A. During this, the voltage only dropped .1V. That's fantastic! And the efficiency wasn't too bad for a PSU that doesn't taut efficiency (78 to 79%,) but when I cranked the 12V up to 34A for test 5, I had to lower the 3.3V and 5V down to 5A and 15A or go over the PSU's 500W rating. This crossed me over into the "crossload zone."

Voltage dropped a whole 0.3V when I did this. Efficiency dropped and temperatures shot up. Perhaps a 34A capability claim on the 12V rail is a bit optimistic?

Needless to say, the actual crossload test results were disappointing. With 3A on the 3.3V and 4A on the 5V, the 12V rail dropped all of the way down to 11.36V. I had to crank the 3.3V back up to 5A and take the 5V up to 7A just to get the 12V rail back to spec at 11.40V.

Speaking of temperatures; during testing I had the fan speed adjuster turned all of the way down. I found any position other than the lowest fan speed position produced unacceptable noise levels. Even during load test 1. Fortunately, noise levels were very acceptable at this minimum setting. It seems that fan speed is either all or next-to nothing. The power supply didn't seem to get too hot, which actually surprised me as it seems that the fan speed adjuster completely over-rode any thermal fan controller this power supply may or may not have.

Above, we can now see the 120MM fan illuminated with it's blue LED's.. The LED's actually shine brighter as the speed of the fan is increased.

Below is a close up of the thermal display on the side of the PSU housing.

The thermistor for this thermal display is hot glued to the hottest part of the power supply: The heatsink that all of the voltage rectifiers are attached to! (See below) Idle I was getting only 23.8°C sitting on the bench of a 23°C room.

Once the PSU was in the case and putting out 500W, the thermal display was showing 71°C (see below) while the exhaust air temperature was only 46°C.

Speaking of heat... let's put the cover on this case and run the tests again....

Results from SinTek 500XPS 500W HOT load tests
+3.3V +5V +12V Watts Efficiency  PF
Intake Exhaust
Simulated system load tests
3A 5A 8A 145.8W 78% .67 31°C
34°C
3.30V 5.21V 12.09V
5A 10A 14A 250.3W 79% .70 32°C
35°C
3.28V 5.18V 12.06V
8A 15A 20A 364W 78% .74 32°C 36°C
3.25V 5.15V 12.05V
10A 20A 26A 460.1W 75% .76 34°C 39°C
3.24V 5.14V 12.00V
5A 15A 34A 505W 72% .76 35°C 46°C
3.28V 5.20V 11.70V

Despite the warmer intake temperatures, the PSU didn't run much hotter than it did during the open case tests. In fact, at 46°C, test 5 wasn't any warmer at all!

I did something different with the oscope this time. For the 12V ripple, I show both the .05V scale I usually use (yellow line) as well as a .01 scale (purple line.) This gives you a better idea of what the ripple is on the 12V rail. Unfortunately, I can only do this with single 12V rail PSU's like the SinTek.

SinTek 500XPS
500W
+3.3V +5V +12V
Test 1
Test 2
Test 3
Test 4
Test 5

The 12V rail showed a 60mV ripple during test 4 and 5. The 3.3V and 5V were fine until test 5 where they both exceeded 50mV.

The UL number on the sticker belongs to Wintech. There's also a "WIN" part number on the box for the power supply. But the PCB doesn't look like Wintech and there's no markings on the transformers (photos of the guts will come later.) Of course, not all Wintech built power supplies say "WIN" on the transformers. The Ultra X2, for example, says "ULTRA." But the transformers on the SinTek are completely blank and earlier reviews of the SinTek on the web showed a "WIN" part number on the transformer.

I know someone that knows someone (a friend of a friend?) that works at Wintech, so I asked them what Wintech platform this PSU is based on. They told me that they only made about 500 units for SinTek in early 2005 (the date code on my unit was May of 2006) and that they don't know why they're using the Wintech UL number or Wintech part number on the box. Huh!?

The fan isn't labeled either. There's only a big black sticker over the hub of the 120MM fan. There is nothing under the sticker. The 80MM fan has no markings either.

From overhead, it does certainly have the same layout as a Wintech. It even has a pair of JEE caps on the primary side. If you look closely between the main PCB and the modular interface, you can see the power connector for the thermal display. It's wired up with a simple Molex peripheral connector.

Below we see the inside of the modular interface. It looks very well thought out and neatly soldered.

Now that we got that all out of the way, let's score this thing...

Performance (weight of 40%) gets an 7. The power supply simply can't do an acceptable 500W continuously. It crossloads too easily under realistic loads, and the rails that have the low load on them have ripple that is out of ATX spec. Of course, at 400W it performed fine and that more power than most people need, but for the money this unit costs, I would want every bit of power I'm supposed to get!

Aesthetics (weight of 10%) is 10. The SinTek is just all over slick. The aluminum housing, the sleeved cables, the blue LED fans... even the fine mesh grills on the side that serve absolutely no purpose at all look cool.

Value (weight of 30%) score is a 5.5. Considering how "low power" this unit is and that it typically costs $129, I couldn't possibly give it a high value score. Simply put, there are better units, including modular units, that put out more power for less money.

For functionality (weight of 20%,) I'm giving this power supply a 9.5. This power supply has almost everything! Modular, sleeved cables, plenty of them and all 18" long. It has a fan speed controller, 3.3V and 12V rail potentiometers, and a thermal display that tells you how hot the rectifiers are getting! Slick, slick, slick.

That gives us a total score of 7.5.

Performance 7
Aesthetics 10
Value 5.5
Functionality 9.5
Total Score 7.5

SUMMARY:

If this were a 400W power supply, it would have a better performance score because the ripple wouldn't be so bad and there wouldn't be such a crossload issue. But then the price tag would be too high for a 400W. It's already rather high for a 500W!

But considering all of the neat little toys you get, like the voltage adjustment knobs, fan speed controller and the thermal monitor that you'll likely never see once the power supply is mounted in the case and given the fact that most people considering this power supply probably wouldn't even need 500W, I'm not going to completely shun this product. In fact, if all you have is a single GPU card, I would say that this power supply would probaby provide some fairly decent service.

And if you're considering the 600W version, take a close look at the label. It seems that there's the same amount of power available on the 12V rail as the 500W unit. Does it still crossload the same and has the same ripple at high loads? I suppose I'll have to get my hands on one some day and find out!

The Good....

  • Modular
  • Thermal Display
  • Fan Adjustment Knob
  • Pots for 3.3V and 12V rails
  • Very nice looking aluminum housing

The Bad....

  • Crossload issue
  • Very loud unless fans are turned all of the way down
  • Very expensive

The Mediocre....

  • No PFC
  • A lot of ripple at high load

 
 

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