Reviews - Aspire X-Qpack's Included 420W
Sample Provided by: Apevia (By jonny on Thu, Oct-05-2006)

Page 1 -

The Aspire X-Qpack chassis is no doubt a fantastic case.  Simply Google "X-Qpack" and you'll no doubt find glowing reviews everywhere.  Although it's not unusual for me to do a chassis review for SystemLogic, I think yet another X-Qpack review would be quite redundant this late in the game.  If you want me to touch on why I think it's such a great case:  It's almost as small as an SFF, but utilizes a standard micro ATX motherboard and full height cards, it's lightweight aluminum, it comes with UV reactive windows, it has a handle, it comes with a 120MM fan, it's not very expensive.... like I said, it's a great case.

Are there any cons?  Well, sure...  The motherboard tray could stand to use thumbscrews, the paint and windows scratch easily, no manual (do you really NEED a manual to build an ATX case?) no place for a front fan (but intake vents are provided in the side panels,)  and it comes with a power supply.

What?  Coming with a power supply is a con?  Well, considering the PSU probably makes up about $20 of the street price of this thing and I would be better served with a brick installed in place of the power supply (solely for self defense reasons) I would say the PSU is a con.

I couldn't find any reviews that really touched on the performance of the 420W power supply that's included in the X-Qpack. So when I had the opportunity to build one for a friend, I pulled the PSU and put it on the tester. Please keep in mind, this "review" is a bit of an improvisational "hit and run" so please excuse typos and the cheesy Motorola i850 photos.  Some of the content of this review is the low point of my professional career.

 
Inside of the Aspire X-Qpack's PSU, it doesn't look too bad. Much like a decent power supply, only scaled down.

The Aspire 420W that comes with the X-Qpack is unique.  It's a standard ATX power supply, but it's only 4" deep so there's plenty of room between the back of the PSU and the back of the opticals.  This allows the builder to use virtually any optical drive and have plenty of room to move cables around inside the computer.

Type of connector:
Aspire X-Qpack
420W PSU
ATX connector
20+4
2 x 2 12V connectors
1
2 x 3 PCIe
0
8-pin Xeon/EPS connector
0
6-pin Xeon/AUX connector
0
5.25" Drive connectors
4
3.5" Drive connectors
1
SATA Drive power connectors
1
Fan only connectors (thermostatically controlled 12V only)
0

The internals of the PSU were reminiscent of a microATX power supply, but even a high quality micro ATX power supply is only capable of 230W (PC Power and Cooling) or 250W (Enermax.)  So how does Aspire pull off 420W?

 
Here's the Aspire (top) sitting next to a normal sized Powmax. The Aspire is easily 3/4 the depth.


If we look at the two from the rear, we can see the Aspire is still a regular ATX form factor.

At first, I was very optimistic of the Aspire power supply.  The specs looked good on the label and the actual quality inside, the "girth" and layout of the components, looked very good. Essentially, I could assume that this would be as capable as a full size PSU, only with a lower total wattage capability.  Let's warm up the SunMoon.....

I set a number of presets on the load tester.  Little did I know, I'd only be able to use one.  I started with 8A on all of the primary rails.  This worked, but the 12V rails were very low.  I then tried to proceed to "Test 2" which was supposed to just add 2A to each of the 12V rails.  An increase of a mere 48W.  The power supply tripped and shut down.  I cycled the power on the Aspire unit a number of times and continued to attempt the > 300W load.  Every time the power supply's overload protection tripped the power supply.


Hey! An acetate sheet blocking half the fan to direct airflow. We've seen that before!

I then tried to "ramp up" the amperage, but whenever I got either 12V rail up to 10A, the power supply would trip.

I then proceeded to do my high 5V crossload test.  Despite the fact that the 3.3V and 5V combined was juiced all of the way up to their maximum tolerance, the power supply did NOT trip this time.  But since I only had a 4A load on 12V1 and nothing on 12V2, my total wattage was 266.5W.

Results from Aspire X-Qpack 420W load tests
+3.3V +5V 12V1 12V2 Watts Efficiency PF
Simulated system load test
8A 8A 8A 8A 255.2W 68% .70
3.2V 5.1V 10.69V 10.65V
High 5V Crossload
14A 32A 8A 0A 266.5W 67% .70
3.18V 4.92V 13.62V 13.64V

I should have looked at an older Aspire X-Qpack power supply's label to realize that the specs were completely bunk....

 

Early Aspire X-Qpack 420W
+3.3V
+5V
+12V
-12V
-5V
+5VSB
20A
25A
13A
0.8A
0.3A
2.0A
Max Combined Watts
420W

The internals of the power supply changed very little over a year's time yet somehow Aspire is now able to boast 6 more amps on the 3.3V, 3 more amps on the 5V, and an additional 12V rail.  Right.  Chalk these guys up as another plaintiff in my class action lawsuit against false power supply labeling.  It couldn't do 300W, the voltages were way out of spec (the 12V dropped to 10.65V with only a 192W load on the combined 12V rail,) the efficiency stinks, there's no PFC....  How much worse can it get?

Needless to say, this power supply is a total bust.

So if you get an Aspire X-Qpack, what should you do for a power supply? Well, first I would suggest using very shallow optical drives, like the Lite-On or Sony drives. They're only 165 to 170MM deep instead of 180 or 185 like most, so they don't protrude beyond the 5 1/5 bay frame inside the case. If you do, then you have a full 7" of power supply clearance from the back of the case to the back of the 5 1/4 bays. And that 7" doesn't mean 180MM. 7" is tight enough. Don't push it. And if considering a modular power supply, take into consideration the depth and position of the modular connectors.


The cables are nicely sleeved... but there aren't that many of them!

THE GOOD:

  • Nicely sleeved cables.
  • Compact size allows for ease of use in X-Qpack.

THE BAD:

  • No PFC.
  • Poor efficiency.
  • Not even cable of putting out 300W. Where did Aspire get the specs on the label?!?!

THE MEDIOCRE:

  • The fact that somehow the price of this brick is factored into the price I pay for an X-Qpack really pisses me off.

 
 

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