Back in January, we looked at the Zalman ZM700-GVM. It turned out to be a decent performing unit, but was pretty unremarkable except for the fact that Zalman's OEM of choice picked that very moment to pile all kinds of build quality issues into that little box. At the time, I was looking forward to taking another look at Zalman. I had a second unit from them, 80 Plus Gold, on the shelf that promised better performance.
Well, the time has come. I'm going to test that second unit now. But I'm not so sure I'm looking forward to it anymore. See, in the intervening time, reports have been piling in that the Sirfa platform used in today's review unit has a little bit of trouble shutting down when overloaded. Now, normally I don't run units intentionally overloaded. It's up to you to figure out how much power your components need and then size the PSU accordingly. But this is also not the first time I've heard of Sirfa (or Sirtec) built units not shutting down when they should. I nuked two Coolmax units that way, because those units came overrated and required me to inadvertently test the overpower protection.
So, this review is going to feature one more test step than most. One I usually only bring out for the gutless wonders. More about that later.
For now, let's sprinkle a little marketing hype on this review. 80 Plus Gold, of course... we saw that in the last picture. LLC resonant topology... that's becoming common for these high efficiency designs. DC-DC converters... a massive improvement on what we saw with the last Zalman unit, and expected in this unit's market segment. Heavy duty protection? Uh... we better hope so.
There's more marketing elsewhere on the box. Nothing we haven't seen before in countless other units, but at least the green IC for standby graphic raises hopes that we might see high efficiency in the standby tests. Over 80% across the board would be great, but it seems like only the really high end stuff gets to that point yet.
The box also has a version of the load table printed on it. Assuming the label on the unit itself agrees with this, I'll test to these numbers. As expected for a DC-DC design, all of the secondary output power is available on the 12V rail because that's where the minor rails get their power, too.
Enough about the box... let's unpack it, now. This seems to be a running theme for Sirfa built units: stick the unit in a small box on top of a thin layer of foam, nothing on top, and then close up. I've seen them saddle their buyers with this countless times now, and I don't think this offers enough shipping protection. I had a Rosewill show up with a broken PCB because of this.
Inside the box we have a power supply, a rather decent user guide, some zip ties, some screws, some modular cables, and a stout power cord. Why not get Sirfa to throw in a cable bag, too, Zalman? I know they can do it. It doesn't add much cost, does it? I don't know, it's just I'm starting to expect those cable bags now on Gold models. Will I score on that? Let's just get the testing done first and I'll make that call later.
Add our RSS feeds to your favorite RSS Reader or homepage.