Antec TrueControl 550 PSU

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TEST RESULTS

Measurements were made at 4 power levels: 90W, 150W, 300W and full power. The unit was allowed to run for at least 10 minutes at each power level before measurements were taken. The room temperature was 20C.

LOAD
90W
VR
150W
VR
300W
VR
550W
VR
+5V
20
1%
40
1%
80
1%
180
1%
+12V
36
1%
60
1%
144
1%
240
1%
-12V
3.6
1%
4.8
1%
4.8
1%
10
1%
+3.3V
26.4
1%
39
1%
65
1%
99
1%
-5V
2
1%
2
1%
2
1%
6
1%
+5VSR
2
1%
4
1%
4
1%
8
1%
AC Power
140W
216W
400W
770W
Efficiency
64.3%
69.4%
75.0%
71.4%
V Fan
5V
5.65V
7V
10V
Noise (~1 cm)
46 dBA
48 dBA
50 dBA
67 dBA
Case Temp
30C
31C
31C
33C

VR = With the feedback self-adjusting mechanism built into this PSU, I expected voltage regulation to be dead-on at all times. I adjusted the manual front panel controls once for perfect voltage at the 150W power level, then left them alone. The range of adjustment is about 0.5V, certainly more than adequate for this type of fine tuning feature.

At almost all loads, on all lines, the voltage regulation was just about perfect. At full power, I measured drops of 0.07-0.08V on all the lines; it was probably the effect of contact resistance within the DBS-2100 load tester itself, as it was consistent on all the lines, and I was using the contact points on the load tester, which come in the circuit after the PSU cables and connectors. Now, this is something of a static test in that none of the loads were actually bouncing up and down as they would be in a real life PC application (although what could possibly draw this much power...), but it is nevertheless, a very impressive performance.

Efficiency is best in the middle and higher power levels. The 64% efficiency rate at 90W is a bit low, but the PSU may be optimized for operation at higher power output, which only seems logical. The 75% calculated at the 300W output level is the best of all PSU units tested thus far by a couple of percentage points. Even at full power, it stayed above 70%.

V Fan: The voltage to the fan started at 5V and climbed in a more or less exponential curve to 10V at maximum power. The maximum fan voltage available is 11V, as I found by turning the manual fan speed to full. The fact that it hi only 10V suggests the PSU needed to get a bit hotter before the full cooling power of the fans is needed.

Noise was measured ~1 cm from the edge of the PSU fan exhaust, not in the airflow path. At all power levels ~100W or lower, fan voltage remained at the minimum of 5V. Measured to be 46 dBA, it is fairly quiet, considerably quieter than all other 2-fan PSU examined. The others, Enermax and Super Power models, all speeded up within 5 minutes of turn on even with hardly any load. It has no high pitched element; it is all middle and lower frequency noise, and air turbulence. No coil noise could be detected even with the fans forced off (by jamming them with elastic cord) at the 90W and 150W output level.

The noise level at 150W is only marginally higher than at 90W. At the 7V (300W level) the noise is significantly higher, and at full power, it is a veritable hurricane. The fan voltage and noise at the >150W level will be higher in a real PC than in our simulation. If you do manage to draw full power from this PSU, chances are you will not be too concerned about how noisy it is; effective cooling will be the primary concern.

Case Temp only rose by 3C between 90W and 550W, which suggests the PSU fan control does a pretty good job of keeping itself cool. Again, the temperature rise would be higher if the light bulb wattage was changed to match the output power at all times.

CONCLUSIONS

The Antec TrueControl 550 is a perfect PSU for a overclocker obsessed with control and a need for very high power. It has every control and monitoring tool you can think of. Its fundamentals, stable power delivery with tight regulation, are excellent. I have not done enough PSU testing with the new test rig to know whether this level of voltage regulation is common, but I would have to guess that it is not. Finally, it has the ability to deliver huge amounts of power.

But is it a good choice for a quiet computing enthusiast?

Probably only if you have this kind of power need. The TrueControl 550 is louder than any recommended single-fan PSU, or any tested thus far. While it is only moderately noisy at nominal power levels, the noise does ramp up at higher power. The truth is, there is no way you can have a quiet computer if your system usually requires much more than ~150W, regardless of PSU. They all require faster RPM fans at this kind of output to keep themselves cool enough, and that faster fan speed translates to higher noise.

For a quiet system with high power headroom requirements, but low average power consumption, it might be worthwhile to remove one of the existing fans and replace the other with a super quiet alternative. The two additional fan-only outputs go a long way to easing the construction of a noise-reduced high power PC: this feature is really clever. But at the MSP of US$160, the TrueControl 550 is not an inexpensive proposition. Surely Antec will also release lower power versions of the TrueControl.

While not a very quiet computing solution, but rather, a reduced-noise one, the TrueControl 550 offers unique control features and rock solid high power delivery. If you need such power, there seems little need to look further. Recommended.

Much thanks to Antec for the review samples and their kind support.

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