QuietOC

OCZ ModXStream Pro 600W Power Supply

Posted in Power by QuietOC on March 16, 2010

No one really needs a 600W power supply. Sure you can put a bunch of components together that will use 600W of power, but the fact remains, no one actually needs that bunch. However all of us have our failings and mine happened to be a $130 quad core processor from AMD. Even that wouldn’t have been a problem except I refuse to operate any component at the designated speeds. The P in PC stands for me, after all.

AMD even encourages this rebel behavior, perhaps from their underdog status in the great x86 war. So this Black Edition processor I bought is not locked by them, the way they and Intel arbitrarily lock most of their processors. AMD also has some decent software which is a great key to open the thing that is not locked.

Anyway, soon the massive slab of silicon that is a Phenom II X4 940 was sizzling away at 3.8 GHz running some calculations I had no intention of using. A few minutes into this my wife and I notice a sweet burnt smell in the air. It wasn’t breakfast. It was likely some of the magic that lives in the heart of all power supplies returning to its maker. I also noticed that the power meter happened to be reading above the rated load power of the 2 12V rails in my 430W CoolerMaster. Needless to say I suspended further testing that night to research an affordable upgrade of this necessary component.

Now I have always been a big advocate of smaller power supplies. We however live in decadent times.  A modest 300W In Win with its 120 mm fan replaced with a slower one has been my main means of converting 120V AC into DC power for computer use. The 430W CoolerMaster was in fact a step in the wrong direction, so it is normally relegated to the most unused system, but it did claim to support a higher load than the In Win so it went in this time.

Power draw is proportional to performance cubed. This is where you need to decide how enough is enough. Really it is pretty arbitrary, and I decided that a realistic 500W would be more then plenty. Then the marginal cost of another 100W of rating sealed the deal. The rating that really matters is not the big one on the side. It is the little one that is the combined +12V rating, and this 600W unit is really a 505W unit.

The thing that really sold me from the reviews was acoustics: a nice open rear mesh with a big 135mm intake fan and good fan speed control. This combined with some marginal quality, respectable efficiency, and a decent rebate sold me.

A word about bling: the included cabling is pathetic. What is the point of modular cabling when there are three un-modular cables where at most only two of them is going to be used? Why does there need to be crappy extra sheathing on all the wires? All the cables and connector spacings are either way too long or too short and the extra cables are all the same. The 300W In Win was clearly superior, but not perfect like it could have been since it came with the case. Perfect cabling is only reserved for hardcore geeks or underestimated barebone systems.

I did manage to only use two of the modular cables. I had to give up securing my SSD to the side of the lower floppy bay, but it is not like it is going to hurt that drive to be flopping around. So the couple of inches from the back of the power supply to the SATA burner power plug is spanned by 18″ of low gauge wire. The 9″ or so to the lower floppy bay is fine, and the same distance to the front hard drive mount is fine. 3 SATA drives, one cable. A separate cable for each might seem to be even better. I think the goal of power supply design now though is to increase parasitic power loss whenever possible.

Oh yeah it was really handy to have an actual 6-pin PCIe power plug, not. Seriously it is nice not have unused Molex plugs dangling about. Those are the easiest way to let the magic smoke out of your components. Nothing like the smell of a toasty case speaker wire to brighten your day–thank you my two year old.

So, was the ModXStream worth it? Sure, of course the Phenom II X4 940 still isn’t stable at 3.8 GHz, but at least I no longer have the sweet smell of expiring capacitors.

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