Fan only connectors (thermostatically controlled 12V only)
When I was told Aspire had a 680W power supply, I thought "I've got to get one of these." Not only did I get one, I got two of them: One with active PFC and one without.
Aspire calls this line of power supplies "the Beast" and I'll tell you what... this thing is a BEAST! The housing is all aluminum, made up of four pieces. It's depth of 6 3/4 inches (170MM) makes is a little longer than your average 6" deep power supply (almost as deep as some good modular units.) The power supplies are cooled with a 120MM LED fan with a giant "Aspire" grill over it. The back (outside) of the power supplies have 80MM fans on them while the active PFC model had an additional 80MM fan on the front (inside) making for a total of three fans.
Active PFC power supplies typically run hotter and require additional cooling. Active PFC can also lower your power supplies efficiency for two reasons: One, the heat the active PFC puts out comes from somewhere, right? The generation of heat coincides with lost wattage. If we were able to make heaters that didn't require power, power supply engineers would be billionaires in the HVAC industry. One also loses efficiency due to the increase of ambient heat within the power supply. Any power supply has a naturally de-rating curve (some better than others) where a power supply's efficiency and capability decrease as temperatures increase. That's why it's always such a bug-a-boo topic of discussion that most power supplies are tested in unrealistic 25 degree Celsius labs when the inside of a PC case is going to be much warmer. And also why I tell you to take high load tests that I do with a grain of salt because although I "warm up" a power supply for an hour, it's still 25C in the room I'm testing in.
Despite efficiency loss, active PFC has it's benefits, especially for the European crowd, that far out way the loss of wattage on YOUR END of the wall outlet. If you have a power supply with an excellent PFC, then your computer's input waveform is "simplified" and despite actually pulling less wattage, will pull less VA's and will make the power company very happy. WTF does that mean? I can't explain it in one paragraph, but Dan does a very good job of explaining it and of deep linking photos of my damaged computer parts (you didn't think I knew?) ;-)
Results from Aspire Beast 680W (non PFC model) load tests
Simulated system load tests
High 5V Crossload
Low 5V Crossload
During the load tests we see as much as a .3V drop in the 12V rails going from 281W to 566.8W. This might sound bad compared to some previous reviews, but in an attempt to get the Beast as close to 680W as possible, I juiced it up as much as 285W during that drop!
Things got a bit silly during the Low 5V crossload test, when we get to see the 12V rails shoot way up to 12.96V! No doubt, we don't want to use this power supply in an older machine. The potential for killing components requiring 12V is pretty good here.
Furthermore, we saw a crazy drop in the High 5V crossload test, which exhibited a 12V rail that was well below the 5% tolerance of the Intel spec. Apparently the Beast doesn't like crossloads of any kind.
Efficiency is a bit mediocre at 75% during normal loads, but still better than some cheap power supplies. The efficiency was consistently 2 to 3% lower on our active PFC model. Power factor on our non-power factor model was a typical .73. On our active PFC model, it held at .99 throughout testing.
Now let's pop the covers open and have a look inside of the Beast.
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