Ultra X-Finity ULT-XF500 power supply

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Popping the top off, it's just as flashy inside as out. Instead of the usual yellow-and-black on a green PCB, colors abound. The two main capacitors are bright taxi yellow, the main transformer (usually pale yellow) is royal blue, and multicolored wires are everywhere. The heatsinks are somewhere between copper and bronze and shimmer like jewels growing from the PCB. I can't imagine too many people will care too much about what the power supply looks like inside, but hey, I've been wrong before.

Look at the pretty colors!

On a more serious note, more attention than usual has been paid to the internal cooling. All of the internal components are clustered against the inner wall of the power supply, leaving about an inch of free space next to the exhaust grill. In an ordinary power supply, this could lead to a short circuit in the airflow, as the easiest path for the air to flow would be directly from the fan to the exhaust, without ever touching the internal components. This is obviously not an ideal situation, and Ultra has done something about it

The PCB does not fill the entire case; there is about an inch of free space next to the exhaust grill.

What have they done? They've blocked off the portion of the fan closest to the back exhaust vent with a sheet of acetate. The airflow from the fan is more focussed directly on the hot components. In theory, this should improve cooling forcing more of the air to flow through the hot components rather than straight out the back. However, this plan has two drawbacks:

  1. Blocking half of the fan will reduce the total amount of airflow generated by the fan. This may or may not affect cooling.
  2. With half of the fan blowing uselessly into a sheet of plastic, turbulence noise is likely to increase.

It is hard to judge the effectiveness of the acetate sheet just by looking at it. The true test of its effectiveness will be the thermal performance of the unit when we put it on the test bench.

A little less than half of the fan is blocked off to prevent the airflow from short-circuiting.


There are a total of nine cable sets.

  • 18" cable for main 20+4-pin ATX connector
  • 19" cable for 8-pin EPS AUX connector
  • 19" auxiliary 4-pin 12V AUX connector
  • 2 x 24" cable with two SATA drive connectors
  • 2 x 47" cable with four 4-pin IDE drive connectors and one floppy connector
  • 2 x 19" 6-pin auxiliary power connector for PCI Express

Note the two extremely long drive cables.

The two IDE power cables are more than a meter long and have five connectors each: Four Molex connectors and a floppy connector. This is twice as long as the next longest cables, the two SATA cables. If you need long cables, this is certainly an option, but most people will probably find this length excessive. All of the other cable sets are of ordinary length.

As mentioned, the individual wires are all silver and are not color coded. They are also bundled together ribbon style, much like larger, thicker IDE cables. Ultra claims that this "allows air to travel 30% more effective than standard cables", but it was more likely done for aesthetic reasons. Unlike the efficiency graph, the 30% statistic is pure marketing fluff. With very careful cable management, it is possible that the ribbon cables are easier to route out of airflow, but most users will probably not see any improvement. There's a reason why IDE ribbon cables are being phased out: Without careful planning, they are much more prone to interfering with airflow than ordinary round cables.

Ultimately, the "FlexForce" cables serve mainly to set the Ultra apart from its competition, but it is difficult to say for good or for bad.

The "FlexForce" cables, courtesy of the X-Finity retail box.

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