Folks, here's a name we've never seen in the lab before. FirePower has sent me a power supply, and I aim to review it. Now, this name isn't entirely new to us. Back in the day, there used to be this company called "OCZ." Until recently. See, OCZ up and vanished into bankruptcy land one day, and all their products were thrown into tech limbo to languish until they were sold off to new companies. Now, OCZ happened to have bought the PC Power and Cooling brand way back in the day. You remember them, right? Well, at the time, acquiring that particular brand was a real feather in OCZ's cap. OCZ's own power supplies were selling well, but adding PC P&C's name (as well as some of their talent) to the fold added no small amount of legitimacy to things.
Of course, we all remember what happened with that. Changes were made to the PC P&C line, some of which were necessary as the OEM of their Turbo-Cool units, Win-Tact, had apparently soured on building high end industrial grade units and wanted out of the whole market. That was a pretty sad day, actually... Win-Tact knows their business like few others do. That's why PC P&C was so successful back in the day... at a time when most companies were still foisting overrated crap on consumers, PC P&C was offering high end industrial grade fifty degree rated units that compromised on nothing. Yes, they were loud, but you just accepted that if you wanted the server grade gear back then.
Anyway, after Win-Tact left the game, the PC P&C brand floundered a bit before eventually taking up with the OEM EVGA knows and loves today in Super Flower. But by then, it was too late. The PC P&C brand never had a chance to recover before OCZ itself went down and took PC P&C with it.
Or so we thought. Back in the early part of last year, out comes this unknown company called FirePower. I'd never heard of them. They swooped in and gobbled up OCZ's power supply business for just under a million bucks. Now, to my eyeballs, I can see the appeal of making that move. PC P&C's name alone is probably still worth all of that and then some. But it's not quite that simple... OCZ's units haven't always been very competitive. They did have a few hits in products like the old Topower build PowerStreams, which I'm sure caused Antec many sleepless nights, but I always had the impression that the power supply side of OCZ was motivated more by the financial side of things than quality. The FSP Epsilon based GameXStream being one somewhat ho-hum example. There has to be a good balance between the two, or you end up losing the game to the competition. It's not that they were ever really bad units, it's just that they often did little to make a guy say, "Hey, you know what? I'm going OCZ this time."
So, with all that being said, let's see what this here Fatal1ty 750W unit looks like on the load tester. FirePower is a relatively small company, and I want to see if I can perhaps help them bring PC Power and Cooling back to the position in the market that it used to enjoy. The catch is, they're not going to be able to do it through the PC P&C name alone. No, that name should be used on the high end stuff only, because that's the way it used to be and you don't want to dilute that valuable name. You had your Silencers and your Turbo-Cools, and they were both high end industrial grade lines. The trouble is, that end of the market is rather exclusive and the profit margins are usually lower. What we need to do is put FirePower's own branded units on the map first... something they can make real cash off of. Then we'll concentrate on getting the PC Power and Cooling name out there again, making EVGA, Antec, Seasonic, and Corsair lose sleep at night.
Sound like a plan to you? All right, let's get started by seeing what FirePower currently brings to the table.
We're off to a great start, here. Continuous operation at forty degrees? That's the first thing I wanted to see here, and I do see it. If you're looking to make a name for yourself in the power supply game, that's the minimum number you're going to want to throw at the gamers this thing is pointed at.
Haswell compatible? Non issue there, but a harmless marketing bullet point. All power supplies are compatible if you turn off the C7 sleep state, and even with it turned on all you have to do is look for indy regulated or VRM designs to get full compatibility. And this thing needs to be one of those, because that's what it's competing with.
Single 12V rail? Eh... another non issue. There's nothing wrong with multi-rail done correctly.
Low ESR capacitors? Another good thing, though I'll tell you right now that low ESR capacitors are actually required to build any computer power supply. Even the junk units have them, though the quality will usually be seriously lacking in that case. It's more important to find out what quality of capacitors are being used... we'll do that on page five.
135mm fan that's thermally controlled? Standard stuff these days, and expected by the crowd this unit targets. The days of 80mm screamers on the back panel are over... you do not use them and expect to compete in 2015.
The rest of it is pretty standard fare. I like the mention of industrial grade protections... you need that to compete with the likes of EVGA and Seasonic. 80 Plus Gold? Another plus, though as I've said before the certification itself does not guarantee quality.
Made in China, of course. Seriously, though... while the idea of a made in USA computer power supply might sound attractive, I don't think you would want to pay for one. Or perhaps you would, but your cheapskate neighbor wouldn't or couldn't. There's a reason all this stuff comes out of China, and that reason is money. Can it be done? Absolutely. You could build a power supply factory right there in the United States and cram it full of employees who like to be paid living wages. Bring Bill Gates' wallet with you, because that might be what you need to do it. Well... that might be an exaggeration, but you get the idea.
Of course, the marketing hype train on this unit leaves the FirePower station and makes a loud and long stop at Fatal1tyville, too. Now... I don't know this Fatal1ty guy from Adam. I doubt he knows me. I don't really care one way or the other, but it seems like a lot of people do and love to bash this guy for "selling out." Or making too much cash... or something. Apparently there's some kind of penalty for success. Here's my two cents on that... the most business savvy people out there all understand one thing: they have a brand. Sometimes that brand is a company, sometimes that brand is themselves. And they know how to market that brand. Johnathan Wendel here is one of them. Shaquille O'Neal is another. You haven't forgotten about Dr. Dre, have you? These guys made their initial success in gaming, basketball, and music. They then struck while the iron was hot, took their names, and bargained themselves into greater success. They understood that being good at gaming, basketball, or music does not guarantee you future income. Arthritis, injuries, and laryngitis could have ended things at any time. So, they did something about it.
A lot of us don't do that when we enjoy some success in life. Most of us don't do that. Johnathan here did, realizing that you can't be a "professional gamer" (whatever the heck THAT is) forever, and he's doing well because of it. I have to respect that. Again, I don't know him. I don't know what he's like as a human being. Maybe he's a good guy, or maybe he instead lives to pet cats against the grain. I just don't know, and haven't checked his arms for tell-tale claw marks. But I'm not going to sit here and rag on him for being smart about business. He's smarter about it than I am... I'm sitting here pounding away at these reviews week after week, making barely any cash to live on, and I've done nothing with my brand. I'm sure my name carries some weight in the industry by now. Would you buy an Oklahoma Wolf branded power supply? Well? Would you? Hey, who let those crickets in here?
Now... all that being said... using your brand effectively is not saying that this automatically guarantees success. You can't just put your famous name on something and wait for the checks to roll in. You now have to police your brand. You have to make sure that every doo-dad and thingamajigger with your name on it is worth having your name on it. Why? Because one bad product could sink your brand and then the money goes away.
I expect that this review will end up telling us quite a bit about how well Johnathan is keeping tabs on his own Fatal1ty brand. Now, both FirePower and Mr. Fatal1ty have to impress me. Should be interesting, eh?
End rant, begin next review picture.
Ooh... do you see what I don't see? I see no Berg connectors. Could it be true? I hope so. I hate those things, and I don't use them. I haven't since the last century, really. The only thing better to me than Berg connectors on their own adapters is no Bergs at all.
Enough words. Let's unpack stuff.
Wait... before we do that, a suggestion to FirePower. Just a little friendly tip from me to them. This unit appears to have gone with the Rosewill approach to packaging. Power supply in a foam tray, nothing on top but a manual. Guys, I've had Rosewill units show up with broken circuit boards because of this kind of thing. At the very least, add another foam piece for the topside of the unit. It's cheap insurance against having to process too many RMAs, which can only help the bottom line.
Inside the box, we have a bag of cables and stuff, a "thanks for buying this" note, a power supply, and a manual. I love the note, actually... more companies should thank us for our business.
The manual is... well... just ok. It's better than nothing, but a far cry from the kind of documentation we get from Silverstone. But we can cut FirePower some slack, here... they're a relatively small company trying to profit on an $850,000 investment to become a bigger company, and they just had to print up all kinds of new boxes, stickers, and manuals. That's not even mentioning the gobs of cash it costs to go out and get power supply certifications. What does Ecova ask, twenty-five grand per unit? Not sure.
I'm still going to score on it, but I'll throttle back on my natural tendency toward snarkiness when I do so.
Inside the bag, I found a power cord, a pile of modular cables, some big zip ties, one velcro cable tie, and two bags of screws.
I don't think I'll complain about the accessories on this unit. Only one velcro tie is kind of lame, but not a deal breaker.
Add our RSS feeds to your favorite RSS Reader or homepage.