Be Quiet! Dark Power Pro 10 650W PSU - Introduction

Today we are having our first contact with the products of an European manufacturer, Be Quiet!, a company with a strong presence in Europe but not very well known in the USA and Canada; yet. The German company informed us that they are planning to invade the US markets in early 2013. Although Be Quiet! also produces cooling-related products, the company is heavily focused on power supplies, offering tens of units through seven series. In this review we will be having a look at the Dark Power Pro 10 650W power supply, a unit of average output but of the best series Be Quiet! currently offers.

Be Quiet! Dark Power Pro 10 650W  

The Dark Power Pro 10 series forms the spearhead of Be Quiet!'s power supply products, with units ranging from 550W up to 1200W, all of which come with a long list of features, while some are even 80Plus Platinum certified; not the unit we will be working with today however, as the 650W version of the Dark Power Pro 10 comes with an 80Plus Gold certification. The power output is adequate for the vast majority of gaming systems and the list of features at the very least interesting, so it is our job to find out more about this unit's quality and actual performance. The Be Quiet! Dark Power Pro 10 MSRP prices for the US market will be:

be quiet! DARK POWER PRO 10 550W

$149.00

be quiet! DARK POWER PRO 10 650W

$169.00

be quiet! DARK POWER PRO 10 750W

$189.00

be quiet! DARK POWER PRO 10 850W

$229,00

be quiet! DARK POWER PRO 10 1000W

$249.00

be quiet! DARK POWER PRO 10 1200W

$309.00

Remember; the MSRP price usually is considerably higher than the street price of any such product.

Be Quiet! Dark Power Pro 10 650W fan view 

Manufacturer’s features and specifications

 

General data

Continuous power (W)

650

Peak power (W)

720

Form factor ATX 12VVersion

2.31

Form factor EPS 12VVersion

2.92

Modular cable management

Yes

Special technology

LLC - DC/DC

Voltage (Vac)

100 - 240

Frequency (Hz)

50 - 60

Input current (A)

8-4

PFC

active

Power factor at 100% load

0.99

Compliant to Intel C6 mode

Yes

Power consumption in standby (W)

0.082

Average life time (h / 25°C)

300.000

Operating temperature up to (°C)

40

 

Output

+3.3V (A)

25

+5V (A)

25

+12V1 (A)

20

+12V2 (A)

20

+12V3 (A)

25

+12V4 (A)

25

+12V5 (A)

-

+12V6 (A)

-

-12V (A)

0.5

+5Vsb (A)

3

Max. combined current 12V (A)

54

Max. combined power 12V (W)

648

Max. combined power 3,3V + 5V (W)

125

Hold-up time (ms)

21

Unboxing the Dark Power Pro 10 650W

The box 

Our Dark Power Pro 10 650W unit arrived in a large, strong cardboard box, inside which the power supply is very carefully packed and sandwiched between thick packaging foam. The artistic theme is very dark and serious, obviously trying to make a professional impression.

The box (rear) 

Be Quiet! printed a lot of information on the back of the box, from the list of features down to the length of each individual cable, making the packaging itself essentially a basic manual.

 Bundled items

A very complete bundle awaits those who will buy a Be Quiet! Dark Power Pro 10 unit as the company included virtually everything they could include with a power supply, with the very minor exception of a case badge. The company provides cable ties, cable straps, a set of five long black screws and another set of five thumbscrews, a bracket with the OCK switch (more on that later), a jumper to bypass OCK and even four cables which provide eight extra 3-pin fan connectors.

Modular cables 

Instead of a pouch, Be Quiet! stores the modular cables in a solid cardboard box. The cables are typical color-coded wires covered with ordinary black sleeving. Each bundle is held by a straight cable strap, therefore there are five more straps here than those we counted before. The picture below depicts the length of each cable and the number of connectors.

Cables and connectors

External Design of the Dark Power Pro 10 650W

The Dark Power Pro 10 

The Dark Power Pro 10 certainly does not look like your common run-of-the-mill power supply. The metallic parts of the power supply are sprayed with a metallic glossy black paint. A rubberized plastic frame surrounds the rear of the chassis and a rubber strip the front, absorbing all vibrations from and to the power supply. Finally, Be Quiet! is using a proprietary cover forming a parallel wire grid instead of a regular circular fan guard.

 Side Stickers

Instead of embossing or painting the metal, Be Quiet! used large metallic stickers on the sides of the Dark Power Pro 10 power supply. Both stickers have been perfectly applied inside an embossed area. We can also see the rectangular warranty sticker on the left side of the power supply.

Top side 

We found the sticker with the electrical specifications and certifications of the power supply on the top side of the chassis. Be Quiet! placed it facing the right side of the unit, so that it will be readable from the outside of a windowed computer case if the PSU has been installed below the motherboard tray.

 Front side view

Except from the plastic frame, nothing else is interesting about the front side of this power supply, which is just like that of any other modern unit; perforated, with a typical A/C receptacle and on/off switch.

 Rear side view - modular connectors

An aluminum plate forms the frame of this power supply's rear side. There are fifteen connectors; four for the fan power cables, four for the PCIe cables, one for the CPU 12V cable, five for the SATA and Molex cables and finally one for the OCK bracket connector. The OCK bracket is a simple switch which allows the user to choose between a four 12V rail OCP mode and a single 54A rail mode. For those who do not which to install the PCI bracket, the power supply defaults to its standard four rail mode without anything connected and Be Quiet! includes a jumper which forces the unit to permanently operate under single 12V mode. Finally, the hole from which the cable are coming out from is square and covered with a flexible rubber gasket, creating a stunning visual effect.

A look inside the Dark Power Pro 10 650W

 Silent Wings cooling fan

One of the most important features of this power supply is the Silent Wings fans, a proprietary design by Be Quiet! with a FDB (self-lubricating bearing) and ribbed blades. Be Quiet! says that this fan will only generate 17.5dB(A) at maximum load; The test conditions are uncertain but we are sure that the fan did not reach its maximum speed, as the aerodynamic noise of an 1800RPM fan alone would generate much more noise.

 Inside view

The OEM responsible for the Dark Power Pro 10 650W power supply is Fortron-Source, also known as FSP Group, a company which is focused on efficient designs of average power output. Note that the more powerful units of the series do not share the same OEM and their quality and performance might be entirely different than that presented in this review. The assembly quality of the 650W version is good, with only a few soldering joints obviously made by hand but still are well done.

 Filtering stage

Two Y capacitors and one X capacitor initiate the first level of the filtering stage. We found two more Y capacitors and one more X capacitor on the main PCB, alongside with two filtering chokes. Surprisingly, there is also a MOV in there, a component which FSP loathes and never installs in their own units. A basic heatsink holds the input bridge rectifier.

 Primary side

The APFC starts with a large choke and two Matsushita 270μF/450V industrial grade (rated at 105°C) capacitors. There are three transistors and a boost diode on the heatsink near the edge of the main PCB, which are the active components of the APFC circuit. Another heatsink next to it holds the primary side transistors. Only two inversion transistors have been installed, forming a half-bridge configuration and letting us wonder whether a full-bridge configuration would increase the efficiency of this design even further.

 Secondary side

The basic metallic slab next to the main transformer is the heatsink of the active components forming the secondary stage. Four transistor form an efficient converter which generates a single 12V output, which is then divided via four OCP channels (which can be merged). The 3.3V and 5V lines are generated on the vertical daughterboard, where two DC to DC converters chop the 12V line down to spec.

Test Setup

The load

In order to be able to effectively and efficiently test any computer power supply unit, we developed and constructed our own proprietary testing station. Our testing station consists of a number of power resistors and small capacitors, which in turn are connected to a RS485 electronic relay array which allow our load to be controlled through computer software alone.

USB interface and connection panel

When accuracy and speed are of critical importance, a simple multimeter or voltage meter is not sufficient for the task. To ensure the quality of our testing, an USB laboratory interface is being used to continuously monitor and record the readings of all voltage lines simultaneously. For ripple measurements, an oscilloscope is necessary and we chose the USB Instruments Stingray, the most widely used oscilloscope amongst low voltage PSU engineers and testers.

Measurement instruments

For accurate testing and repeatable results, a stable power input is also required. Thus, we are providing power to our test samples through a 3kVA VARIAC which allows us to control the input voltage of our test samples and also perform efficiency tests under both 110V AC and 230V AC input. A Lutron DW-6091 is also being used, monitoring the input voltage, real and apparent power, power factor and amperage.

The software

A power supply testing procedure would not be complete without thermal and acoustics tests. For our acoustics tests we are using a SL-5868P digital sound level meter, placed 1 meter away from the unit (DIN standard). Two PT100 sensors and their respective displays are being used to monitor the ambient temperature and the exhaust temperature of the unit.

Complete test setup during trial run

Testing results (Regulation & Ripple)

 

 

Considering the power output and league of the Dark Power Pro 10 650W power supply, the electrical performance is very good. The power supply holds a voltage regulation of 1.5% on the 12V line between 20% and 100% load, an excellent result which only very high performance units currently achieve. The voltage regulation on the 3.3V and 5V lines goes up to 2.4% for the same power range; worse than the 12V line but still well below the psychological "high performance limit" of 3% which most enthusiasts are looking for. Ripple filtering is very good as well, with the worst figure which we recorded being 44mV under maximum load, a mere third of the 120mV design limit. 

Testing results (Efficiency, Noise & Thermal)

 

We did expect the efficiency of the Be Quiet! Dark Power Pro 10 650W power supply to be very high since it comes with an 80Plus Gold certification, yet it still managed to positively surprise us by delivering figures which would easily earn it a Platinum certification if the test were to be conducted only with a 110V A/C source. Unfortunately, with Be Quiet! being a European company, the power supply could not reach the efficiency required at 50% to earn it an 80Plus Platinum certification when a 230V A/C source is being used. Still, the efficiency is generally significantly higher than most other 80Plus Gold certified power supplies.

 

The Be Quiet! power supply does live up to its name, with the volume levels remaining below 26.5dB(A) even under maximum load, making this power supply whisper-quiet under normal operating conditions. For reference, 25-26dB(A) is the point where the humming noise from the PSU becomes discernible over a distance of 1m.

 

It is common for units which display low noise levels to have mediocre thermal performance but this is not the case with the Dark Power Pro 10 650W unit. Apparently, the high electrical efficiency and the good Silent Wings cooling fan do create a great cooling combination, as the running temperatures remain very low despite the low rotational speed of the fan. 

Be Quiet! Dark Power Pro 10 650W Review Conclusion

Be Quiet! is planning what many European companies have tried in the past, to infiltrate the north American consumer market; a quite bold move, considering that most companies before them have failed to reach fruitful results. Be Quiet! however is not fooling around; the company already has a strong lineup of high quality and interesting products, as well as a good base market in Europe and Asia, therefore their odds of success are not bad. Today we had a look at their high performance power supply series and we have to admit that we found the craftsmanship and design superior to that of most comparable products available today. Aesthetically, the Dark Power Pro 10 has numerous little features and improvements which, although they are not important when examined individually, all of them combined turn an otherwise generic and uninteresting power supply to a classy and luxurious design. When it comes to performance, aside from it being one of the most quiet power supplies that money can currently buy, it also offers superb electrical performance with excellent ripple filtering, voltage regulation and very high efficiency (80Plus Platinum levels for US/Canada consumers and anyone else behind a 110V A/C grid).

 Silent Wings P10 fan in Dark Power Pro 10

The Dark Power Pro 10 650W power supply does have nearly all that it takes to draw the attention of enthusiasts and gamers; it is visually attractive and unique, built like a tank and its overall performance is astonishing. On the other hand however, the MSRP prices which the manufacturer supplied to us are exceedingly high, to the point that the 650W version of the Dark Power Pro 10 will be in the same pricing range with 800-1000W products from other manufacturers if the actual retail price is not significantly lower.

be quiet! DARK POWER PRO 10 550W

$149.00

be quiet! DARK POWER PRO 10 650W

$169.00

be quiet! DARK POWER PRO 10 750W

$189.00

be quiet! DARK POWER PRO 10 850W

$229.00

be quiet! DARK POWER PRO 10 1000W

$249.00

be quiet! DARK POWER PRO 10 1200W

$309.00

While Be Quiet! declares that the 650W unit should be retailing for $169, for $173 one can today buy a Corsair HX850 or go down to $104 and get an Antec 650W Platinum. The Antec PSU may not be a modular power supply but has the same power output, nearly half the price tag and, ironically, also uses a Fortron-Source design. No matter how well made the Dark Power Pro 10 unit is and how great it looks, competing will be extremely difficult if the retail prices are not significantly lower than those suggested by the manufacturer. Fortunately, retail prices usually are anything between 10% and 40% lower than the MSRP price and even a 10% lower price would turn the 650W version of the Be Quiet! Dark Power  Pro 10 range into a very competitive product.

 Inside view - modular connector PCB

Legit Bottom Line: We found the Dark Power Pro 10 650W to be a product of superb quality, combining an excellent overall performance with a great external design. The only true enemy of Be Quiet! Dark Pro series  may prove to be the retail price which, if street pricing isn't significantly lower than the MSRP tag, competition will surely be troublesome.