Antec Neo HE 430 power supply

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FEATURE HIGHLIGHTS

Feature Highlights of the Antec Neo HE 430 (from Antec's web site)
FEATURE & BRIEF COMMENT
Highly efficient (up to 85%), one super-silent 80mm fan keeps Neo HE cool; less than 18dBA noise level. These all sound good on paper...
Advanced Cable Management System improves internal airflow and reduces system clutter by allowing you to use only the cables you need. "Advanced Cable Management System" is code for detachable cables.
Universal Input with Active PFC: Use anywhere in the world without worrying about input voltages; Active PFC improves voltage stability and delivers environmentally-friendlier power. Active PFC is required in the EU, and reduces the total VA load of the power supply on the mains. This is relevant when choosing a UPS, which is usually rated and priced by VA capacity.
Dedicated Power Circuitry: Delivers safer, more reliable output to your system?s delicate components. Includes dedicated voltage outputs, triple +12V output circuits, voltage feedback circuitry, and tighter ±3% regulation for improved system stability. Most good quality power supplies are capable of 3% voltage tolerances, but few rate it this way. In this case, the 3% rating comes from EPS12V, which recommends tighter tolerances than ATX12V.
ATX12V v2.2 compliant; backward compatible with all ATX12V systems. ATX12V 2.2 introduced more stringent efficiency requirements, but if the "HE" lives up to its name, this won't be a problem.
Three +12V output circuits provide maximum stable power for the CPU independently of the other peripherals. Good for dual-VGA SLI / CrossFire systems.
Accurate power rating allows Neo HE to deliver its full rated power, 24 hours a day rated at 50ºC. "Accurate" because most power supplies run pretty hot under load — and many aren't rated to do so.
PCI Express graphics card power connector. Almost standard issue now...
Low-speed 80mm fan delivers whisper-quiet cooling and ensures quiet operation by varying fan speed in response to load and conditions. "Low-speed" usually means low-noise, but there are too many loud power supplies on the market to take Antec's word for it...
SATA connectors for your Serial ATA drives. This one is standard issue.
Industrial grade protection circuitry prevents damage resulting from short circuits (SCP), under voltage protection (UVP), power overloads (OPP), excessive current (OCP) and excessive voltages (OVP). Generally, the more the better. UVP and OPP are unusual.

Many of the Neo HE 430's more noteworthy features are required or recommended by the EPS12V form factor, which is generally a little more stringent than the standard ATX12V. The reason for this is that EPS12V is primarily a form factor for servers and high-end workstations. Our 430W sample is not EPS12V compliant, but the higher capacity models in the Neo He series are, and some of the EPS12V features seem to have trickled down.

The two main EPS12V features are:

  • Three +12V rails (see the box below for what this means)
  • Tighter (±3%) voltage regulation

Designing a modular power supply with multiple +12V rails presents some unique challenges: Which rail should supply which connector?

The +12V Aux connector is hardwired, and cannot be removed. It is powered by 12V2.

As for the other two 12V lines... The two leftmost ports appear to be assigned to one rail, while the three rightmost are assigned to another. Why? This text in the manual implies it (even though it refers specifically to the 500 and 550):

"NOTE: For Neo HE 500 and Neo HE 550 only. When using dual graphic card systems (i.e. SLI), we recommend that the PCI connectors be attached as follows: one PCI connector to one of the first two 6-pin sockets and the second PCI connector to one of the next three sockets to the right."

All the +12V rails have the same shared maximum capacity. The "+12V1", "+12V2", and "+12V3" are just labels assigned to the different sources, there is no functional difference between them. The really important thing to remember is that the combined 12V current capacity at full power is the most important spec. As you will see later in our test results table, the 12V load used to achieve full power output was ~25A.


The most likely split between the +12V1 and +12V3 rails.

"INDEPENDENT" +12V RAILS

Exactly how "separate" the various +12V rails are is a matter of ongoing confusion. "Separate" seems to imply that the line voltage is generated and regulated independently of the other rails, but, most of the time, this is not actually the case.

Understanding how the rails are separate requires understanding why there are multiple rails in the first place. The following quotation from the EPS12V 2.9 specifications provides a good explanation of their purpose:

"System designs may require user access to energized areas of the system. In these cases the power supply may be required to meet regulatory 240VA energy limits for any power rail. Since the +12V rail combined power exceeds 240VA it must be divided into separate channels to meet this requirement. Each separate rail needs to be limited to less than 20A for each +12V rail. The separate +12V rails do not necessarily need to be independently regulated outputs. They can share a common power conversion stage. The +12V rail is split into four rails. Refer to section 6.4 for how the 12V rail is split between different output connectors."

240VA protection is a form of over current protection (OCP) that applies specifically to the +12V rail, since only the +12V rail has the potential to draw this amount of power. Limiting the power draw to 240VA effectively limits the maximum current to 20A, since the output voltage is nominally fixed at +12V, and 240VA = 12V × 20A. Because some exceptionally power hungry systems may require more than 240VA at a time, power supply designers often use different OCP circuits for different connectors that draw from the +12V power source.

What this means is that "separate" +12V rails have separate protection circuits; it does not mean they are regulated independently. A power supply with separate +12V rails is should be capable of delivering up to the 20A limit imposed by the OCP circuit on each rail. Typically, it cannot deliver this amount of current on each rail simultaneously.

More information about independent +12V rails can be found in this sticky thread in the SPCR forums.

The required voltage regulation for EPS12V is identical to ATX12V: ±5% for the main voltage rails. EPS12V recommended regulation calls for -3% / +5%. The Neo HE claims a bi better, ±3%.

The ±5% regulation required by ATX12V is perfectly adequate for running a system at stock speeds; voltage regulation is mostly an issue when the specified voltages of the system are being tested — or exceeded — by overvolting or undervolting. In these cases, voltage regulation becomes more important, since any spikes or valleys in the supplied voltage may push the system into unstable territory. A better regulated power supply should be more stable under these extreme conditions.

The Neo HE should theoretically be a good choice for users who are tinkering with the voltages in their system. I say "theoretically" because even though Antec specifies ±3% regulation, it does not mean that other power supplies are not also capable of this level of performance. There are many power supplies we've tested that easily maintain ±3% regulation up to quite high power output.

OUTPUT SPECIFICATIONS


The majority of the power is available on the +12V rails; the +3.3V and +5V rails are rated lower than usual.

The majority of the output capacity is available on the +12V rails. This closely matches the power distribution of the powerful systems that we tested recently. In contrast, the +3.3V rail and especially the +5V rail are rated lower than most other power supplies, as per the latest ATX12V 2.x standard. One drawback is that the Neo HE is not appropriate for systems older than a couple of years.

The Neo HE 430 is rated for 430W continuous output at 50°C, which bodes well for stability. Some companies artificially inflate the "capacity" of their power supplies by quoting the peak capacity, which cannot be sustained indefinitely. Another, more subtle, method for increasing the apparent capacity is to specify the output at an artificially low ambient temperature, often around 25°C. Because power supplies become less efficient as temperature rises, a power supply that is rated at 25°C will not be able to deliver maximum power output in normal operating temperature. In our test simulation box, a continuous 430W load typically produces an internal case (intake) temperature of 35~40°C depending on the ambient room temperature.



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