Thermaltake is one of the largest suppliers of CPU heatsink-fan combos on the market today. They are truly a pioneer where after-market or OEM products are concerned. This long-term experience manifests itself in extensive product research which leads to some cutting edge offering's. When you see Thermaltake products on store shelves, you can see they put some effort into presentation. Of course quality packaging doesn't equate to quality performance and one can argue some of the best performing products arrive in plain white boxes. Ergonomics goes much deeper than the box where Thermaltake is concerned and they continue to expand their product line seeking to meet the needs of the ever changing PC and PC-enthusiast. Their newest cases aptly named Armor, eptimoze that phiolosophy. Tt works to ensure their products look as good as they perform. Today we're here to discuss PSU's and Thermaltake wasn't necessarly the first name popping into people's heads when they thought about Power Supplies, perhaps PurePower series may change all that.
As CPUs and systems evolve their power requirements change as well. A common misconception is that while voltage (or Vcore in the case of Processor's) may in fact decrease, current requirements decrease as well. In fact the opposite is true. With recent Vcore reduction, the required amperes have actually increased. This is primarily due to the enginnering principle (Moores Law) that while modern CPU's continually decrease in size, their transistor count should increase. Another nasty complication resulted from problems associated with smaller "Fab process" such as current Current Leakage, this is also one reason behind recent CPU heat issues. While the layperson might think CPUs would require less power as they transitioned down to the 90nm process, in fact the opposite has occurred. I'm sure you've seen the recent heat-pipe heatsinks resembling apartment buildings, and watercooling is just around the corner as the new standard. Were at a stage unprecedented in Desktop Computers where power demands upon PSU's have substantially increased. Add to this the power needs asssociated with SLI and this year alone should see several companies producing PSU's which surpass the 700W level. Thermaltake has anticipated this, hence the Purepower 680APD PSU.
As usual Thermaltake packaged their product extremely well, and the box even had a carrying handle. An instruction book is included as well as a ATX jumper, and AC powercord. The first thing I noticed while lifting the box out of the foam peanuts was the weight.
While weight alone obviously cannot determine the quality of a PSU, it is a valid indication of the unit's build quality. There's simply no getting around the fact large capacitors, transformers, copper wiring, and of course large heatsinks combined, add weight. When I was an avid Audiophile into high end (high cost) audiophile componetry, I rememebr the best solid-state amps such as Krell amplifiers, would often weigh as much as 120lbs each and the same went for my favorites vacuum tube amps, such as Jadis. The science of sonics literally boils down to hefty hand wound copper transformers, highest quality capcitors, and solid silver wiring within. the point being, where large amounts of current are involved certain devices simply cannot be avoided, nor substituited.
The Purepower 680APD features four standard molex braided leads, each with up to three molex and a single floppy connector. Two SATA braided leads each with two connectors, able to power four SATA drives. One PCI-ex (6-pin) graphic-card braided cable with two 6-pin connectors for SLI. BTX wtih ATX jumper standard cables, also braided.
In a multi-rail design the goal is to utilize proprietary voltage rails each carrying a percentage of the total current. In this manner individual lines are relegated for a specific device. For exmaple 15A may be delegated to the CPU, and another for the peripherial such as the PCI-ex card/or cards. Voltage delineated in this manner works better for overall current control and power stability. In simpler terms it's easier to control several small amount's of current then a single large amount which is then shared. The result is one of the higher 12V rails on the market today for each component albeit the processor or PCI-ex card/s.
As indicated in the specification chart Thermaltake utilizes some powerful cooling fans on this unit at 39.5CFM and 45CFM, the latter temperature controlled. These fans working in tandom provide impressive air-flow, in fact taken individually they move more air then many CPU fans! Yet I must admit for 80mm cooling fans, this has to be one of the quietest PSU's Ive had in my system. Barely audible over any of the fans on the Thermaltake SHARK case it's installed within, my room hasn't been this peaceful in some time.
Removing the Purepower lid, we see the fans are almost located directly across from each other and some consideration has been given to airflow, as the heatsinks run parallel with that flow.
From another perspective...
A PSU concentrating this much power is bound to appeal to the PC-Enthusiast and/or Overclocker. Although not as accessible as some might like, there are in fact voltage potentiometers, or pots for each voltage rail. In fact there are quite a few.
In the photo above we see a total of five pots, three on the bottom of the unit, 3.3V, 5V and 12V. Taking a closer look we see the bottom three are clearly labled, although the 3.3V isn't visable at this camera angle.
Even more exciting were the three pots located at the top of the unit which allowed further fine tuning of each proprietary 12V rail.
Just ledgible on the far left potentiometer above, the printing on the PCB reads "UR8" indicating this is the voltage adjustment for the 8A, 12V #3 rail. While adjustability is definately a plus, a well built PSU shouldn't require any "fine-tuning." While I've been guilty of increasing the 12V rail on my OCZ Powerstream during Prescott overclocking, the rail wasn't reading low, I was just being cuatious. On a well constructed PSU voltage rails should remain steadfast under most conditions, including overclocking.
CPU - AKA3500DIK4BI CBBID 0451FPMW (Winchester 90nm)
Motherboard - DFI Lanparty nF4 Ultra (BIOS NF4LD218)
Memory - Corsair XPERT TWIN-XP1024-3200XL
Graphics - ATI X800 XT PCI-ex
Optical - Pioneer DVD/CD 16X
HDD - Maxtor Diamond Max 9 Plus SATA 120GB
PSU - PurePower 680APD
Case - Thermaltake SHARK
Cooling - Corsair COOL
Testing invloved running the system at it's default clockspeed, and measuring voltages at IDLE, and then LOAD. Next I overclocked the system from it's default CPU speed of 2210MHz (200FSB), then raising Vcore from 1.4V to 1.5V and clock speed to 2530MHz (230FSB) I've provided screenshots of the Smart Gaurdian Utility along with CPUID, and S&M burn utuility. The first scren below exemplifies defaul speed/Vcore including the 12V, 5V and 3.3V rails.
The SmartGaurdian utility was surprisingly accurate. To explain why there's a CPU "fan-readout" on the Smart Guardian screen, I'd plugged the LAING Delphi (DDC 12V) pump's sensor wire into the CPU header on the LANPARTY motherboard. The CPU fan header is one out of three with sensor capability, out a total of five headers on the motherboard. Of course software can be notoriously inaccurate, and even taking readings from the BIOS will be less accurate then our next and final test below using a digital multimeter.
For the truest rail voltage test, I ultilized an (on loan) Fluke-187 digital multimeter. Following the simple PSU testing guide at ExtremeOverclocking.com I inserted the Fluke probes into the reverse end of Purepower's BTX mainboard connectors (switching among corresponding lines) while plugged into the DFI running at IDLE, and while running S&M burn utuility to reproduce LOAD.
Thermaltake'sPurePower 680APD can be found at Dealtime for approximately $150 plus shipping. The Purepower 680APD packs the power to meet just about any system environment, with headroom to spare. While the 3.3V and 12V rails were just slightly under specifications, the 12V feeding the CPU was just 4/10th's of a volt under. This is well within an acceptable range. PurePower 680APD is hefty, healthy, handsome, and runs whisper quiet. PSU's have come a long way since the days where overclocking might result in a re-boot. Perhaps this is attributable to CPU technology such as Intel's D-VID where power is regulated based on processor load and temp, but not temp alone as in Thermal Throttling. The Athlon64 on the other hand doesn't utilize such architecture, at least not to the extent Intel's D-VID does. Point being this processor was the ideal catalyst for putting the PurePower 680APD through its paces. Beyond S&M I also tested this unit running SETI, and multiple 3D benchmarks with even better results. I would like to thank Annie at Thermaltake for all her help on the review.