I'm going to be honest. When I heard I was getting a Sparkle power supply to review, I immediately began to do some research on sparkly things. I dumped a package of glitter all over my desk, I baked a cake only to put a bunch of sparklers on it, and I watched all the Twilight movies to see what sparkly vampires looked like. After the vacuum cleaner clogged and the fire department left, I only narrowly avoided a trip to the loony bin when I was found catatonic in front of my TV set.
So, I'm going to wing it on this one. The only sparkly thing I'm going to look at today is what you see in the picture above - a monster 1250W 80 Plus Gold unit from Sparkle. Not to be confused with Sparkle Power, which is a subsidiary of Fortron-Source Power, Sparkle Computer has been known mostly for video cards up until now. Now, with the help of OEM Great Wall, they're looking to make a great big splash in the power supply world.
I can't wait to get started on this one. Not only is this my first Sparkle unit, it's my first Great Wall built unit.
As always, the box has some interesting marketing to discuss.
Modular Power Supply -I like modular.
80 PLUS Gold Certified -I like gold.
Double Ball Bearing Fan
All Connector AU Coating To Keep Ultra High Efficiency -Good to see they're keeping that gold theme going right down to the connector pins. It's open to debate, however, that gold plating really offers much benefit to computer power supplies.
Full Thermal Control With Super Silent Fan
12V Peak At 120A -Sigh... peak numbers used as marketing again. Sorry, guys, but I don't load test to peak numbers. While the unit may well be that capable, it is not that likely you will ever need to test these claims on a unit this size. Very, very few systems need that kind of power.
Temperature Control Design Mode -Uhhh... what? I'm not sure what this one means. Does it randomly whip out a pen and draw up new circuits for its fan controller?
Active PFC Design -And a good thing, too. Can you imagine the kind of heat that would come from your household wiring if this thing had no PFC?
Keep PSU Fan Running For 5-10 Seconds After Shut Down To Dissipate The Remaining System Heat And Prolong System Life -Don't You Just Love It When People Capitalize Every Single Word Of A Sentence? Fan delay on power off - a feature I like.
Ultra-quiet 13.9cm Fan With Intelligent RPM Control Guarantees Cool Performance And Silent Operation -Yes, I believe we covered this several bullet points ago.
99.9% 12V Power -Again, a somewhat confusing bullet point. Is the remaining 0.1% power at 63 volts? I kid, I kid. And by that, I mean I have the maturity of a six year old kid. It's likely they mean that this unit can put out 99.9% of its continuous full power rating entirely on the 12V rails.
SYNC Transformer Array
Double Main Electrolytic Capacitors
DC To DC Circuitry Design With Solid Capacitors -Aha... DC to DC. This would lend some credibility to the 99.9% power claim. Such designs derive the two minor rails from one fat 12V supply... it's relatively easy to make them able to dump all their power onto the 12V rails without having voltages go out of spec.
Forward Safe Guard Circuitry Design -Useful for basketball games when Shaquille O'Neal is coming at you like a freight train, I guess. You can use the power supply like a flail and whack him with it before he runs over you.
Dual Layer Main PCB 2.0mm Thickness
Sextuple 12V Rails
100A Mosfet 12V Rectifiers -Could be a good thing if there are a lot of them. Could be a bad thing if there's just one. We'll see.
30k µF Low ESR Secondary 105° C Electrolytic Capacitors
Triple AC EMC Filtering Stage
Dual Capacitors Design To Protect System Safety When Sudden Shut Down -And again I say... huh? Is this some obscure hint about the hold up time being higher than normal? Hold up time is the length of time the unit holds its output voltages when the AC power is disconnected. I don't test for that, because most units have very little variation there. You get a fraction of a second and then whammo - your computer is going down. You need lots of hold up time? Buy a UPS. Make it a big one, if you want it to run a power supply this size on battery at full power.
Moving on to other parts of the box, here we see a table with a list of connectors and modular cables. This table is wrong when it comes to the EPS/ATX 12V and PCI-E connectors. See my own table later on this page to see what the unit really comes with.
Beneath a cardboard divider and a folder with some literature in it, we find the power supply itself well packed in foam inside a velvet bag. Let me just get all this stuff unpacked for you.
A bag of modular cables, a folder full of literature, some velcro cable ties, a bag of screws, a heavy gauge power cord, and a bag of power supply.
Here's what was in that folder - a $100 Sparkle gift card, an 80 Plus report, a user guide, and an information sheet on the 5 year warranty. All of this stuff was crammed full of marketing, as well. The user guide had some useful specs buried deep within it, like the fact that this unit is rated to run full power at 50 degrees. We'll see about that, yes we will.
Only in the user guide, on the very last page, did I find the actual combined 12V output spec. 1250 watts, or 104.2 amperes. So, we get 100% 12V output, not 99.9% as claimed on the box.
Here's the power supply itself. That purple fan was beastly hard to photograph... you should have heard the words coming out of Mr. Fuji as he fiddled with his white balance to try and get the whites to come out right and still get the purple fan to look right. Ultimately, this was the best he could do. The fan looks a little more pink-ish in reality. I'll see if I can get a shot of the fan that looks more accurate in disassembly, on page 4.
The finish on this unit is a mirror like dark smoky color. Not my favorite on a power supply... it just seems so 90's to me. I mean, it looks good and all, but it doesn't really do much for me.
Here's the exhaust grille. The unit certainly looks packed full of electronics, doesn't it?
This would be the view from your case window, if you have such a thing.
Believe it or don't, the fan color is actually closer to those heatsinks below it than this picture makes you think. They're not the same color, but they're not as obviously different either.
Here's a picture of the finish reflecting the image of a Toonie. That's a Canadian two dollar coin for the uninformed. So named for being twice the value of a Loonie, which is a one dollar coin with the picture of a loon on it. No, not my picture - the bird kind of loon. We made these coins just so we can get pictures of the puzzled looks on Americans' faces when they see one for the first time.
And here's the label for the unit at last. Hmm... 20A per 12V rail? Not going to lie, that's low. That's really low. Especially for a 1250W unit with only six 12V rails. That's assuming I don't crack the unit open and find out it's really one big 12V rail in there or something.
Here are the modular connectors. It's been a while since I last saw modular connectors like these... last time I saw them, I was load testing a Kingnod built NorthQ 650W unit.
Here are the hardwired cables. The box says there's only the ATX connector and one modular 4+4 pin EPS12V connector. My unit had two of those EPS connectors.
The box also said there were only two single 6+2 pin PCI-E cables. Mine had four. The box count of two was accurate on the double connector cables. You know what? I would have actually preferred four of those double 6+2 pin PCI-E cables, instead of the four singles. A power supply powerful enough to run four video cards should come with connectors enough to plug them all in. With this unit, the best you can do is six 6+2 pin PCI-E connectors at any given time.
To be fair, though, we haven't yet seen whether or not this unit can put out enough power to run four cards. The whole point might be moot. We'll see on the following two pages. Meantime, let me just crack the unit open and double check those 12V rails... ah, interesting. Folks, this unit does not have overcurrent limiting on the 12V rails. At all. This unit has a single 104A 12V rail.
Type of connector:
ATX connector (535mm)
4+4 pin EPS12V/ATX12V (560mm)
5.25" Drive (550mm+150mm+150mm)
3.5" Drive connectors (+150mm)
6+2 pin PCIe (550mm)
6+2 pin PCIe (+150mm)
Unit Dimensions(L x W x H)
175mm x 150mm x 86mm
You know what's cool? This unit doesn't use red wires for the 5V rail. They're all a reddish purple color. That's a new one on me.
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