Antec TrueControl 550 PSU

Power
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Dec 8, 2002 -- by Mike Chin

Product Antec TrueControl 550
Manufacturer Antec Inc.
MSP ~US$160; TBA

Antec hardly needs any introduction. Over the past few years, the Silicon Valley based company has grown into the biggest PC case and power supply seller in the U.S. That growth is fueled by canny marketing and distribution, aggressive expansion into a variety of product lines, and, of course, good solid products that combine performance and cosmetic appeal for enthusiasts and system builders. The multicolored LED fan, for example, is one of those clever products that was first launched by Antec -- a top seller move that attracted droves of imitators. Yet, despite its gimmicky appeal, their 80mm multicolor LED fan is not a bad fan and has actually been mentioned as a pretty quiet fan in SPCR's demanding forums.

Power supplies remain at the core of their business, however, and the Antec TruePower PSU series has achieved great success since its introduction earlier this year. The dual-fan TruePower series is differentiated from Antec's others as their most advanced PSUs. The key features cited:

  • Dedicated output circuits for 3.3V, 5V, and 12V lines. This means each voltage line can perform up to the specified maximum, without interaction with the loads on the other lines, until the full capacity of the power supply itself is reached.
  • Voltage feedback detection, and tighter performance tolerances. The power circuitry monitors its own output voltages at the ATX connector and adjust its output to compensate for any drop off, including for the resistance found in the wires This feature allows Antec to tighten up their voltage regulation from Intel’s specified ±5% allowable variance to a tighter ±3%.
  • Antec Low Noise Technology, similar to that employed by Seasonic, Zalman, and Nexus, which increases fan speed in an exponential curve so that low noise operation is maintained to middle power levels yet the full cooling power of the fans is brought on line when need at maximum power dissipation.
  • Fan-only output provides other fans in the PC with the same thermally controlled voltage received by the PSU, keeping fan noise to a minimum until cooling is really needed. This is a very useful feature for quiet computing, especially as the nominal voltage supplied stays at a low 5V all the way up to ~100W!
  • Double-ball-bearing fans
  • Gold-plated power connectors
  • Protective nylon sleeving on main power cables

The model under review is a variant of the TruePower line, called the TrueControl 550. Yes, it's a whopper, all right! How is it different from the TruePower? Well, to the above list of features, add:

  • Front panel manual fine control over the +12, +5 and+3.3 voltage lines
  • Front panel manual fan speed control
  • "Convenience" 4-pin Molex power output connector on external back panel for peripheral or convenience use

It is the ultimate control-freak enthusiast modder-hacker power supply. The retail release date for the TrueControl series is set for the New Year, 2003.

These photos are fairly self explanatory. The one above shows the control panel which only occupies one corner of the 5.25" bay bracket. So you don't lose the use of the drive bay completely, the metal chassis is set up to accept a 3.5" hard drive.

In the left photo above, the little knob with the white dot on the right corner of the panel is the fan speed controller. Turn it fully counterclockwise, and the fan speeds are controlled entirely by the thermistor inside the PSU. Turn it clockwise, and the fan speed rises above the default of the thermistor-fed voltage to the maximum of 11V at fully clockwise. The three holes above the knobs are variable trim pots for fine tuning the +12, +5 and +3.3V lines. They are recessed so they can't be casually or accidentally changed.

A screw tool is supplied. That's the other black thing which looks like another knob. It isn't. It is a miniature screwdriver for the voltage line trim pots, as shown in the left photo below. The picture on the right above shows the removable connector on a foot long cable that comes from the PSU and c[plugs into the back of the control panel. Finally the right photo below shows the handy 4-pin Molex +12/5V feed in case you need to power up something on the outside of the case.

These various features mark the TrueControl 550 as one of the most feature-laden PC power supplies ever made. Who would have thought a power supply would push and shove its way to the PC's front panel!

Connectors

There are seven 4-pin Molex connectors and two floppy drive power connectors on three sets of cables, the longest of which is 33" long. That is probably long enough to reach to the farthest hard drive in the tallest case. The main ATX cable, which has a nice patterned mesh cover to keep it tidy, and P4 12V cable are on ~18" cables. There is also the ~2' control panel cable mentioned earlier, two fan-only connectors on ~ 16" cable, and a fan RPM sensing cable for connection to a motherboard chassis fan header in case you want to monitor the PSU fans.

Under the Hood

The heatsinks are decent size, but don't appear to have as much surface area as those used in several other PSUs we've reviewed -- the Zalman, Nexus and Q-Technology. But this unit does have two fans, and the push-pull configuration does provide higher airflow through a high impedance like the innards of this PSU, which is fairly densely packed. Note that the intake grill opposite the 80mm fan is small. I believe this is deliberate, as most of the inflow will come from the 92mm fan. The small size of the intake vents (which are also only as tall as the heatsinks) is to ensure that the air blown in by the 92mm fan does not blow out that way, but rather, is sucked out of the PSU and case.

The 80mm back exhaust fan and the 92mm intake fan are Top Motor brand, which is made by Dynaeon Industrial of Taiwan. Data about these fans from Dynaeon's web site:

Fan
CFM
dBA@1M
RPM
Current
DF1208BA 80x25 mm
39.0
34
2900
0.20A
DF1209BA 92x25 mm
57.1
35.8
3000
0.25A

The CFM numbers are a bit difficult to believe, given the current and noise ratings. Neither fan is particularly quiet at 12V.

Published Specifications

Maximum Power

550 Watts

Switches

ATX Logic on-off additional power rocker switch (115/230 Volt selector switch)

Special Connectors

AUX Power
ATX12V
3-pin Fan Sensor
Fan Only

Transient Response

+5V,+12V outputs return to within 5% in less than 1ms for 20% load change.

P. G. Signal

100-500ms

Over Voltage Protection
recycle AC to reset

+5V trip point < +6.5V
+3.3V trip point < +4.1V
+12V trip point < +14.4V

Overload Protection

Latching Protection
+5V @ < 47A
+3.3V @ < 48A
+12V @ < 18A

Leakage Current

<3.5mA @ 240VAC

Input Voltage

115 VAC / 230VAC

Input Frequency Range

47Hz to 63Hz

Input Surge Current

60A @ 115VAC

Input Current

10.0A for 115VAC
6.0A for 230VAC

Hold-up Time

> 17ms at Full Load

Efficiency

>68%

EMI/RFI

FCC Class B CISPR22 Class

OUTPUT

+5V

-5V

+12V

-12V

+3.3V

+5VSB

Max. Load

40A*

0.5A

24A

1.0A

32A*

2A

Min. Load

0A

0A

0.8A

0A

0A

0A

Load Reg.

±3%

±5%

±3%

±5%

±3%

±5%

Ripple V(p-p)

50mV

50mV

120mV

120mV

50mV

50mV

* +5V, +3.3V & +12V maximum output 530 Watts max.



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