Reviews - 2008 Supplementary PSU Roundup - Part 2
  (By OklahomaWolf on Sun, Nov-23-2008)

Page 1 -

A couple of weeks ago, I started off looking at the first two of four supplementary video card power supplies, the Ultra Power Partner and FSP Booster X3. Today, I'll be continuing things by looking at a pair of Thermaltakes, the Toughpower Power Express 450W and 650W models. So far, the FSP unit has managed to stay ahead of the competition, but these are much more powerful models. Thanksgiving is coming up real quick for my United States buddies - will these give you something to be thankful for, or make you revisit that pumpkin pie in the worst way possible? Let's get started.

Our first look at the two Thermaltakes makes it hard to determine which side of each box is the front, for they've thrown in a little brown paper belt to obscure things, as well as brag about efficiency over 80%. Not that that's a bad thing at all - you'll recall the Ultra model not doing so good for efficiency.

I'll just start things off with the 450W unit, and then work my way up the power ladder. I guess with only two units, it's more of a step stool than a ladder.

With the brown belt removed, it becomes apparent that we're looking at the back of the box, featuring some pictures of both ends of the unit and some fancy graphics of the cabling.

Going to the sides of the box gives us some information about the unit inside. It also confirms that you are indeed looking at the box for a computer power supply right up top there. The "features" points are a little hard to see, so I'll reprint them:

  • Support NVIDIA SLI & other multi-GPU technologies.
  • TWO 6-pin & TWO 8-pin PCI-Express connectors support up to four graphic card setup.
  • Fit into any empty 5.25" drive bays in any system.
  • Excellent and stable output maximize the performance of the graphic card(s).
  • Share the load and increase the life of the main power supply.
  • Money Saver: save your money for not purchasing a new high-end power supply.
  • Three LED display: red LED for power, two blue LED for 12V1 and 12V2.
  • Great reliability: MTBF > 100,000 hours.
  • Protection: Short-Circuit, Over Voltage Protection, and Over Current protections.
  • Safety/EMI approvals: UL, CUL, TUV. BSMI, FCC, and CE certified.

They sure are excited about there being TWO of each connector aren't they? I do have to wonder though - how many four card setups did they test with this unit to make that claim? I have to be honest... I think this unit would have trouble with that, even though the main PSU will be supplying some of the juice through the PCI-E slots themselves.

I'm also a little wary of the money saver claim - you can get some awesome units right around $100 these days, and if this unit isn't significantly below that price then it will be a poor value. We'll see about that over on the conclusions page.

Finally, I would like to see overtemp protection in these things. These little units are sitting right there among your optical drives. While common sense should dictate that these should go as high up in the case as possible, the last thing we want is a baked DVD burner. This is the first major disappointment from this unit, for the Ultra and FSP units both had that overtemp protection.

This here would be the front of the box. Again, 80% efficiency is bragged about.

The final of the four main sides of the box has the features listed all over again. I'm not going to bother with that again though, I'll just go ahead and unpack things for you.

Upon opening the box, we're greeted by a velcro'd bag of cables, an owner's manual, and one of Thermaltake's green "Key 3 Spirit" papers which brags in eight languages how awesome Thermaltake is.

Ah, look! There's a computer power supply in this here box! I guess the box was right all along. It would have been interesting to find, say, a slot machine power supply in here instead. "What? The box said nothing to prepare me for this!!!"

Yeah... I wonder about me too.

The contents of the box all laid out on the table. We have a power supply (a computer one too!), a bag full of modular cables, a carrying bag for the modular cables, an expansion slot bracket and power cord, owner's manual, Key 3 sheet, and finally a little bag out of sight here that contains a grommet for the expansion slot bracket and some screws.

Yeesh, that's a small owner's manual. Let me show you up close:

My hand is 8.5" long, people. Each page is 140mm x 85mm. That's a tiny manual. But, to my surprise, it's a very complete one. Not only is there a full set of installation instructions and specifications, everything just short of a new Harry Potter book is in there too, it seems. Nineteen pages in total, all English, with the last four of them blank so you can start a diary.

Dear Diary:

Have to write small to get this all on. Started installing the new Thermaltake into the computer today on the dining room table. Sliced my thumb open again on that stupid protrusion in the case by the drive bays. Neighbors complained about my cussing. Asked me to get out of their house. They had no bandages at home, and I wanted a snack anyway, so I went to the convenience store after that. The lady working there made me leave because I was bleeding all over the place. Went back home. Fiddled with the Thermaltake some more. Got impatient with the front panel of the case again, pulled too hard, and it went flying across the room. Broke a lamp. Mom's gonna be PISSED. Finally got the Thermaltake installed, but I was so mad by then I broke a capacitor off my GTX 260 trying to plug in the power connector. Gave up for the day.

Well, you get the idea. Not that anything like that ever actually happened, or anything. I was just demonstrating how those pages could be used. Yeah, that's it.

Here's a shot of the power cable with its special power connector on the power supply end. Unlike the FSP and Ultra, this unit has a three conductor power cord. Ground connections are nice.

The power supply itself is finished in that same off brown color the rest of the Thermaltake Toughpowers are finished in. That there warranty sticker proved to be so loosely stuck on, I was able to peel it off the unit without using a knife. As tampering deterrents go, this one needs a little work to be effective.

While the AC receptacle on this puppy is nice and stout, it's also ugly as sin, protruding out of the back of the unit like a big zit. It adds a fair bit of length too, once the power cord is plugged in.

Like the FSP and Ultra, this unit uses two 40mm fans to cool it. See those modular connectors on the end? The red ones are for the PCI-E cables while the black one is for the PS_ON cable that goes down to the mainboard.

The finish on the front of the unit is a pleasant matte black with a plastic film on it to protect it. I left the film on for this picture. You can see the three LED's they spoke of right there on the right.

With the AC input specified as 100-240 VAC, we can be sure of one thing - active PFC is employed. So, thus far only the Ultra unit is lacking power factor correction. While the UL file number doesn't lead very far on this unit, I was able to nail down the OEM as being Channel Well Technology. As you can see, this unit is dual 12V with 30A available on each. Combined limit is 37.5A or 450W.

+12V1 +12V2
30A 30A
Max Power 450W

A lovely cable shot rounds out our pictures of the 450W unit. As you can see, there are two PCI-E 8 pin and two PCI-E 6 pin, with a set of two adapters to drop the two 8 pins down to 6 pin. The big ATX adapter in the center has a pair of wires coming out of it, with a black two pin connector on the end. See, you plug this adapter into your mainboard. You plug your main PSU into the end of the adapter. You plug that black two pin connector into the Thermaltake. This way, the Thermaltake turns on using the same signal from the board the main PSU uses to turn on. It's rather like the Ultra in that regard, except on this unit the cable is fully modular rather than hardwired.

Type of connector: Thermaltake W0157RU
ATX Connector (145mm) 20+4 pin*
2 x 3 PCIe (500mm) 2
2 x 4 PCIe (500mm) 2
2 x 4 PCIe to 2 x 3 PCIe Adapter (150mm) 2

Unit Dimensions(L x W x H)

195mm** x 145mm x 41mm

*Extender/adapter uses a 500mm wire pair for PS_ON purposes
**227mm with power cord attached

Now, let's have a look-see at the 650W big brother. Man, if 650W can't power a pair of 280's, nothing can.

A bigger box for a physically bigger power supply. Looks like this model uses two 5.25" drive bay slots.

Look familiar? The features list is identical to the 450W model.

And that's not all that looks identical. Same two 8 pin modular connectors, same two 6 pin modular connectors, same power cord connector, same two pin PS_ON connector. What's different is that big bad 80mm fan.

Aw... we got another computer power supply, so says the box. I was hoping for a new power supply for my JVC SVHS deck. Not that I watch video tapes anymore.

Once again, the first thing we see upon opening the lid is that Key 3 Spirit sheet and an owner's manual. The manual is pretty much the same thing as the 450W - ultra tiny with several blank pages.

Dear Diary:

Brought the 260 back to the store. They gave me a new one. Slipped on the ice outside and got laughed at by some brat kid and his three hundred pound dad. Then the dad slipped and I laughed at him... really hard. He hit me... really hard. Got out of the hospital and back home and continued my Thermaltake installation. Broke the SATA connector on the DVD burner trying to plug it back in. Threw it across the room. Broke the other lamp. Mom's gonna go nuclear. I'll replace the drive tomorrow. Hope I can find two more lamps too. Got everything plugged in and together, and hit the power button - Thermaltake works but the main PSU blew sparks. Stupid generic pile of junk.

Wow, that's a big unit in there. Once again, all the goodies are in that modular cable bag.

This time, I made sure to bring that little bag of screws and grommet out front and center for you to see. Otherwise, there's pretty much no difference from the 450W in the included accessories.

Once more, we're enjoying that off brown color. Well, I don't know if "enjoying" is the right word there. I don't really care for this color.

Yup, it looks just like the picture on the box. Big Adda 80mm fan. On both of these units, the fans blow into the case by the way, just like the units in part 1 of the roundup.

The same matte black finish is used on this unit too. As you can see, the protective plastic is peeling off this sample. Again, the unit has three LED's which tell you which rails are active, and whether the power is on.

Again, the OEM for the unit is Channel Well. The numbers aren't too much different from the 450W, except the combined 12V capacity is now 54A. That could power three 280 GTX's.

+12V1 +12V2
30A 30A
Max Power 650W

Looks familiar, doesn't it? In fact, the cabling is 100% identical to the 450W model. 

Type of connector: Thermaltake W0158RU
ATX Connector (145mm) 20+4 pin*
2 x 3 PCIe (500mm) 2
2 x 4 PCIe (500mm) 2
2 x 4 PCIe to 2 x 3 PCIe Adapter (150mm) 2

Unit Dimensions(L x W x H)

195mm** x 145mm x 85mm

*Extender/adapter uses a 500mm wire pair for PS_ON purposes
**227mm with power cord attached


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