Today we have the pleasure of checking out one of XFX's newest power supplies: The Pro 850W. The Pro 850W is one of three new "Core Edition" power supplies from XFX. They lack the frills and modularity of XFX's other PSU efforts, but come in at an astonishingly low price.
The box has an interesting effect, to say the least. It's a little hard to read at certain angles. What XFX was trying to do here is make the box look like the rear grill of the PSU. There is a flat colored deboss and a glossy emboss all over the entire box. The larger, yellow font is easy to read, but the smaller white font is hard to read unless you're in certain lighting or looking at it at a particular angle. Thing is, there is SO MUCH text on the box that they had to use a smaller font to fit it on.
The half flat, half glossy finish of the box also makes the box difficult to photograph because the gloss reflects light while the flat absorbs it, so please forgive the quality of the photos. The following seven photos are close ups of the box showing all of the marketing bullet points. I'll reiterate what each picture says so you don't have to strain your eyes trying to read the text in the photos.
I'm going to go ahead and throw a spoiler out there so the following makes better sense to those of you who don't frequent our forums on a daily basis where we talk about topologies and the manufacturers behind certain brands on a daily basis. The XFX Pro 850W is based off of the Seasonic SS-850HT, which is essentially a 840W +12V switch mode power supply that uses DC to DC VRM's to regulate +3.3V and +5V. Of course, the unit provides a secondary power supply that provides +5VSB as long as the unit is plugged in and switched "on", regardless of whether or not the PC is actually on or not. Of course, the -12V is rectified using a simple diode to reverse polarity of the +12V. We'll discuss the internals of the PSU more later, I just wanted to get this out of the way now to make explaining the marketing bullet points on the box easier.
First, I want to go over some of the unsubstantiated marketing found on the box. Then, as to not leave a bad taste in my mouth or yours, I will go over the marketing that tells us that we may actually have a decent power supply on our hands.
So this power supply has "EasyRail Technology" that provides maximum power. According to the box, EasyRail technology gives you "one continuous rail allowing you to stack on numerous power hungry components". I'm pretty sure they're talking about the power supply having one +12V rail, as opposed to splitting it up into multiple +12V circuits with over current protection on each. Although I supposed that, since the +5V and +3.3V are regulated off of the +12V using DC to DC, you could technically say this PSU has "one continuous rail". So apparently the technology here is a lack of technology (lack of OCP, which stands for "Over Current Protection", which is a protection circuit that shuts down the PSU if the situation that a short causes an overload). The part of fiction in this paragraph is that anything other than a single +12V rail will have you "worrying about (your PC) crashing." If OCP is exceeded on a PSU that has a split up +12V rail, the PSU shuts down. That's what OCP is designed to do.
As for "One Rail, One Setup", this part does make sense to me, but without explanation is sounds like marketing B.S. The fact is, some PSU's on the market will group different connectors on different rails. For example: they might put a bunch of peripheral power connectors on one rail with a couple PCIe connectors and the put the other PCIe connectors on another rail with the CPU power connectors. If the user has an unusually high demand of power for either peripherals (like a large RAID array) or CPU (like dual quad-core CPU's), the user may have to decide what +12V rail they want to put their graphics cards on to avoid tripping the OCP.
So here (above picture) its getting really thick. "Traditional multi-rail PSU's might claim to have higher wattages, but it's achieved by combining multiple smaller, lower wattage rails." Ok... let's take a break here and search the Internet for a power supply that reports its total +12V output capability by adding up their separated +12V rails.
The way split +12V rails work is you have one +12V rail. This rail is then split up into two, four, six.. whatever the manufacturer feels is required to provide adequate power to all attached components without tripping the OCP.
When you see "combined output power" on the label, this is the actual +12V output capability. So let's say we have an 850W PSU that's equivalent to the specifications of this XFX and has 840W available on the +12V "combined" rail. Let's say they decided to split this +12V rail up into four +12V rails, each with the OCP set to 22A each, which is equal to 264W capability per rail. From what I'm reading in the first part of this paragraph, XFX is saying that this "traditional multi-rail might claim" to be a 1050W because if you add up the split +12V rails, you come up with 1056W and then we add to that the +5VSB capability and we come out around the neighborhood of 1100W. Am I drawing the wrong conclusion from this?
If this is what XFX is trying to communicate, I think it's safe to say that the Diablotek 1050W we reviewed a while back is sort of a candidate for this scenario as that was a 550W PSU being sold as a 1050W. You could take the fact that the Diablotek has two +12V rails, each allowing for 39A of power. Add them up and you have 936W. Of course, Diablotek doesn't even put the "combined +12V rail capability" on the box, so I'm sort of stretching here to make a point in XFX's defense, but even then I think that power supplies like the Diablotek 1050W is the exception not the rule. If XFX is trying to position themselves as a superior candidate to power supplies from Diablotek, Deer, Powmax and the such, instead of real contenders like Antec and Corsair, I think they don't have much self confidence.
The thing to really worry about with power supplies is when deceptive companies are selling lower wattage PSU's as higher wattage units. Trying to come up with a way to explain how these companies deceive the general public is truly a waste of retail box real estate and it seems desperate.
Finally, let's take a look at the comedic example XFX illustrates at the bottom of the above photo. Here, they show a PSU that has a 200W capable +12V rail that's spit into two equal, but separate 100W rails. First off, there are no conventional PC power supplies with only 100W available on each +12V rail. That would be a +12V rail with an OCP set at just over 8A. But in XFX's defense and for the sake of argument, let's say that their illustration is at 1/3 scale.
What we see here is essentially the same sort of marketing PC Power & Cooling used to use in their now defunct "myths" page. In reality, a PSU's +12V rail is split up, but the OCP's have overlaps. So, using our previous example, if our 840W +12V rail was split up into four equal, but separate 17.5A rails, there would be unused power on some of the rails, while others could be easily overloaded. Unfortuantely, this is an unrealistic scenario. OCP's are always set with an overlap. +12V rails are NOT divided up evenly. This is done so there isn't any "unused" and "trapped" power on any given rail. Any "unused power" on one rail can simply be used by another. Also, this mumbo jumbo actually contradicts the message XFX is trying to communicate further up the page where they're stating that because others are summing their +12V rail's values, they're able to overexaggerate their PSU's capabilities.
So now we find that only "real gamers choose EasyRail". All of you that don't use a PSU with "EasyRail", which can be any PSU not made by XFX whether it has a single +12V rail or not, aren't real gamers. Sorry to have to break that to you. Here we find more generalizations that equate to nothing more than marketing fluff: "Multi-rail PSU's are safe and often preferred, but it's just not equipped to handle the power-hungry components of today's gaming systems". So even if it's a PSU with multiple +12V rails with OCP's set to 38A each (enough juice to support two 300W PCIe graphics cards using two 6-pin and two 8-pin PCIe power connectors each), XFX is telling us that it's just not equipped to handle that kind of load. It is true that with "smaller, individual rails... its more common for over current and system shutdowns to occur" depending on the PSU, how many +12V rails the +12V is split into and what the OCP is set to on each individual +12V rail, but this could have been stated without all of the additional B.S.
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