As you might surmise from the above picture, today we're looking at two units in one review. Back when the really power hungry video cards first started appearing, somebody somewhere realized that these cards were surpassing the ability of the average computer power supply to power. Especially at risk were the "with $50 case you get free power supply" gutless wonders out there that tended to explode if you put more than 200 watts of draw on them, sneezed in their general direction, or even looked at them cross eyed.
And so, the idea was born that one could offer a supplementary power supply designed specifically to offload the power requirements of these cards from the main power supply. These units would fit inside your normal 5.25" drive bay and be entirely self contained units.
Today, we're looking at two of these supplementary units - the 325W Ultra Power Partner and the 300W FSP Booster X3. In a future article, I'll be looking at a couple of these units from Thermaltake as well.
First up, we'll have a look at the Ultra. Our first look inside the box shows us a very rudimentary instruction sheet on how to install the unit. It features such essential steps as plugging the line cord in.
Inside the box we find the Power Partner itself, the instruction sheet, and a bag of goodies.
The contents of the bag consist of another smaller bag of screws, an expansion bay bracket used for passing the power cable outside one's case, and the power cable itself. There is no ground wire on the cord - the unit expects the computer case to already be grounded by the system's main power supply.
There are two sets of intake vents on the unit. First, there's the entire front panel, which has a filter behind it. Then there are those slits in the top cover. Gee, thanks Ultra! Now we can't use the bay above the one we install this into! Actually, considering the amount of heat this thing is likely to give off, I'm thinking you'd probably want this at the highest point in your case anyway.
The fannage in this unit is provided by two 40mm fans. I'm not sure, but I think fans like this don't have a reputation for silence. I could be wrong. For those asking, these fans suck air from the front of the case and exhaust it out these fans. Oh boy! More heat for the CPU! That there red voltage select switch tells me something - no PFC on this baby.
You may be wondering how the Power Partner knows to turn itself on when the rest of the system comes on. Well, it happens with the aid of this here adapter/extension for the main ATX cable of the main power supply. There are two wires attached to the PS_ON pins which run to the Power Partner. When the board tells the main PSU to fire itself up, the Ultra intercepts the call and fires itself up too.
Not only does the Ultra carry a big stick for the 12V rail with which to power one's video cards, it carries a bonus 5V rail too, though it's not very powerful. This lets you power fans or hard drives off this thing as well. That UL file number there doesn't trace to a valid result, but fortunately I know who the OEM is thanks to getting inside for a peek. It's Yuelin.
Ultra Power Partner 325W
The few cables that the Power Partner packs are done up in Ultra Flex Force cables. That is, flat black ribbon cable.
Type of connector:
Ultra Power Partner
ATX connector (530mm)
5.25" Drive connectors (500mm)
2 x 3 PCIe (510mm)
2 x 4 PCIe (510mm)
Unit Dimensions(L x W x H)
160mm** x 145mm x 41mm
*two wire cable to ATX 24 pin extension adapter
**including front bezel and fan grilles
Now that we've had a look at the Ultra, let's flip on over to the FSP side of the coin. Say... what country minted this thing anyway? Is this even legal tender? Be right back... I need to go try something.
Nope, you can't buy a Coke with a coin that has pictures of power supplies on it. I'm apparently banned from the grocery store now, by the way. Something about a lunatic coming in once to often trying to buy soda with random pieces of metal. I'm sure they'll change their mind.
The Booster X3 offers pretty close to the same capacity as the Ultra did, but with a few differences. First, it has active PFC according to the box, which is a nice addition. And, the front of it lights up in blue.
Opening up the box, we find the Booster X3 in a little foam coffin. I'll just open up the owner's manual for you.
The user guide isn't too much different from the Power Partner's, except it's in full color this time.
Looks like we get a few more goodies with the FSP. A power cord, an expansion bay adapter with another power cord to run to the PSU itself, a set of modular DC output cables, and a bag full of screws and zip ties.
Hmm... I wonder if that big clear piece on the front will interfere with cases that have doors on them. If the box is any indication, it's that clear plastic piece that lights up in blue.
Compared to the Ultra, the FSP has a clean and uncluttered look about it in back. Since the fans are in front on this model, all that's needed here is a simple grille. As with the Ultra, the fans pull in air from outside the case and exhaust it through the back panel. The connector in the middle is for a 5.25" drive Molex connector. See, you plug one in from your main power supply, and when the FSP detects voltage at this connector it fires up. A little different from the way the Ultra works, but no more or less effective.
FSP Booster X3
As you can see, the FSP only has the one rail to mention. This should mean it's pretty efficient, but FSP only specs it at 80%. We'll have to see about that in load testing.
Type of connector:
FSP Booster X3
2 x 3 PCIe (550mm)
Unit Dimensions(L x W x H)
190mm* x 145mm x 41mm
*205mm with clear plastic front panel
A cable count is easy too. Only two PCI-E connectors... that's it. No hard drives, no 8 pin connectors. Perhaps the big brother to this one, the Booster X5, has those 8 pin connectors.
Now that we've taken a look at these two units, let's see what they're made of. I need some Halloween candy, so I'll go get some and meet you on the next page.
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