Greetings once again, my good readers. Some of you may be wondering why I'm sitting here yelling everything I'm typing at the top of my voice. Well, it's because today's review sample told me to. That, and it's tough to outdo myself in terms of how weird I can get and still remain a free man.
Today's review unit is the Inwin Commander 1200W. You might be thinking that at 1200W, surely this must be the top of the line for Inwin. Not so, says I. There's one more above this - a 1500W model that can only be run at 240V and is not UL approved for North America. But, since I can't test that one at this point in time, you're going to have to settle for the 1200W.
The box of the Commander is anything but flashy, though it does have that very cool military fatigues look going on. I guess they figure if you see this massive box on a shelf somewhere you don't need to be told there's one heck of a serious power supply inside it.
But, if we flip the box around we can see that indeed there are a few bragging points listed on the back, along with a spec table. This is a bit hard to read in the above picture, so I'll just reprint everything here.
Supports NVIDIA SLI & Quad SLI and ATI Multi-Core GPU Technologies
High Efficiency up to 88%
Modularized Cable Management System
8(6+2)Pin & 6 Pin PCI-E Power Connectors for Multi-GPU Graphic Cards
Four Independent +12V Rails
14cm Double Ball-Bearing Fan
Patented 4 Pin Molex Connectors
Intelligent Fan Speed Control for Optimal Acoustic
Active Power Factor Correction (PF>0.99)
Supports ATX 12V 2.3/ EPS 12V 2.91
Independent Voltage Circuit
Protections: Over Current, Over Voltage, Over Power, Under Voltage and Short Circuit Protections
Japanese Industrial Grade Components (Capacitor, etc.)
All in all, there's not really anything much we haven't seen about a billion times before on units like this one. Although I will admit I'm curious to see if we can hit 88% efficiency on this monster.
After the Commander instructed me to get on with things and open the box, I took this picture. Looks like we get a free map of California with these. That should prove very useful in tracking down the A-Team. But then, I remember what happened when they came up against that impostor A-Team... they might not be so hospitable to the J-Team showing up. That is, if the planet could handle a meeting between their Murdock and ours (which happens to be me) without causing the universe to implode.
Ah, there's the Commander now. Let me just get the contents of the box unpacked for you all to see what's included.
The box contents include one great big power supply, a user guide cleverly disguised by Hannibal to look like a map, a box of screws and things, a bag of modular cables, a fancy black bag in which to store the modular cables, and an even fancier white bag in which to store whatever you want. Why, if Inwin threw in a paper clip too the team could build a full scale assault vehicle with everything in here.
The contents of the little black box in the picture above turned out to be a 16 gauge line cord, a wee bag of screws, and exactly three zip ties. My imaginary B.A. is sitting over at the table with these items right now, arguing with my imaginary MacGyver on how best to cobangle a machine gun from them. Fortunately, my imaginary Michael Weston and Montgomery Scott aren't here right now, or this whole house would have exploded from the sheer awesomeness of such a meeting.
The user guide, once opened up, turned out to be somewhat disappointing. Not only did B.A. see it and emphatically state that he wasn't gettin' on no plane, I had a lot of trouble reading this thing. See, with all that background printing on there against a dark gray, it's hard to make out the actual useful data. The information in the guide is adequate, but you gotta be able to see the typeface to read it. No good, Inwin... it's cool to look at, but I went crosseyed trying to read what was in here. Well, more crosseyed than usual, anyway.
The Commander itself makes an imposing figure, does it not? There's the power switch, a big red affair that looks like you need me to send over B.A. himself to muscle it around, the dark green camo looking finish, and that big yellow "1200W" painted on the side.
Speaking of the side, here it is up close. This is the first unit I've looked at that actually has bragging points painted right on the unit itself, in the form of those six icons.
Turning the big Commander around, we see the back of the unit where the modular connectors appear to be blocked off with cool little plugs. Not so cool is the lack of a grommet around the hole where the hardwired cables come out. This could lead to chafing of the wires, and given enough rubbing back and forth I could see some bare wires getting exposed.
The modular connector panel up close. The color coding tells you which 12V rail each jack is dealing with, and allows you to match up the modular cables accordingly. Red is 12V3, blue is 12V4. The remaining connectors are 12V1.
This label shot is rather interesting. Look at the rail distribution... does it look familiar? It does to me, for you see this unit is based on the Channel Well PUC design, which is really a two PSU in one affair. The way these operate is one PSU module powers half of the 12V load along with 5V, while the other half powers the rest of the 12V load and 3.3V. The load table confirms this, as you can see below.
Now, this is not the first time we've looked at this design here at jonnyGURU.com. Most recently, we saw it in the Corsair HX1000, but we looked at it even before that back when the site's founder took a peek at the Thermaltake 1200W and 1000W models here, here, and here. This platform, as mentioned earlier, goes up to the 1500W level.
Here's a shot of the cabling showing the color coding for the modular cables. On the surface, this seems more than adequate. However, I'm still a bit disappointed. As you can see, there are three PCI-E cables each for the red and blue connectors (12V3 and 12V4). This is enough to power three way SLI easily with any cards on the market right now. But, there are two problems here. First, this power supply is capable of 36A on each of those two 12V rails, which means you could likely power a fourth card off this bad boy if it only had the connectors to allow it.
Second, with only three PCI-E connectors for each of 12V3 and 12V4, that third card will have to get power from both 12V3 and 12V4. This may not be ideal as, if you will recall, each of those rails is on a completely different side of the design. In effect, you have one PSU powering 12V3, and the other powering 12V4. If the loads aren't balanced, you could run into crossloading issues this way (ie overloading one side or the other). So, 'tis probably best to keep 12V3 and 12V4 apart from each other on their own cards unless absolutely necessary. If you have two cards, use the red cables to power one and the blue cables to power the other, in other words. Don't mix them if you can help it. Only mix them if you have that third card in there.
Finally, and this is a minor nitpick, like all other PUC based units I've seen, the PCI-E cables have ferrite beads on them down by the video card connectors. The claim is that these reduce interference to the VGA cards attached to them, but this is not a claim I've ever been able to validate. They certainly don't reduce ripple, and I can't see them doing much to reduce the EMI coming off the mainboard considering the cards are plugged into the mainboard's PCI-E slots anyway. If anything, they're there for marketing and possibly for making the cables look good. Any actual performance benefit is negligible at best.
Type of connector:
ATX connector (485mm)
8-pin EPS12V connector (535mm)
8-pin EPS12V connector (535mm)
2 x 3 PCIe (500mm)
2 x 8 PCIe (500mm)
5.25" Drive (500mm+150mm+150mm+150mm)
3.5" Drive connectors (+150mm)
Unit Dimensions(L x W x H)
200mm x 150mm x 86mm
*connectors are 6+2 pin modular type
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