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Antec TruePower 550

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Introduction

When I found out a nForce2 motherboard was on its way, I asked our Antec rep if I could swap the 430 TruePower PSU that came with my Antec 1080 Plus case for a TruePower 550. Luckily she was happy to take care of that! I have now had a couple of months to play with the new power supply and nForce2 to give you my impressions and point out the specs and benefits of the TruePower 550 PSU.

The first thing you will notice about an Antec power supply is the dual fans. It has a fan inside the power supply that pulls air from inside the case and into the power supply. The rear fan on the power supply then sends the hot air out the back of the supply. The other thing you’ll notice right away is how heavy it was. The TruePower 550 weighs in at 5lbs, 2 pounds heavier than my 300 watt generic PSU! Weight may not be better for race cars and airplanes, but it denotes quality in a power supply.

Specifications

Review System

  • AMD Athlon XP 2700+ CPU
  • Asus A7N8X Deluxe Motherboard
  • 768MB Corsair XMS 3200 DDR SDRAM
  • Western Digital 120GB SE Hard Drive
  • 48x12x48 Visiontek Extasy CD-RW
  • 52x Acer Open CD
  • GeForce4 Ti4600 Reference Graphics Card

Power Supply

FEATURES

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 +3.3V trip point +12V trip point

Overload Protection

Latching Protection
+5V @ +3.3V @ +12V @

Leakage Current

 

DIMENSIONS

Unit Size

5.9″(L) x 5.5″(W) x 3.4″(H)
15cm(L) x 14 cm(W) x 8.6 cm(H)

Net Weight

5lbs.
2.3kg

INPUT

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

ENVIRONMENTAL

Operating Temp.

10 to 50ºC

Operating Alt.

Sea Level 10,000 ft.

Non-Operating Vibration

Operating: 10-300 Hz, 0.5G, 3 axes, 1 hr. ea. axis
Non-operating: 10-300 Hz, 2.0G, 3 axes, 1 hr. ea. axis

MTBF

80,000 hrs. @ 25ºC

Approvals

UL, CSA, TUV, CB, CE, SEMKO, NEMKO, DEMKO

Why Buy A Good Power Supply?

It’s very commonly stated that one shouldn’t pinch pennies when buying a power supply. Few people, however, ever tell you why you should spend the extra money on a quality PSU. Antec is eager to point out the differences in their TruePower line:

  1. Dedicated output circuits for 3.3V, 5V, and 12V.
  2. Voltage feedback detection, and tighter performance tolerances.
  3. Antec Low Noise Technology.
  4. Physical Design: Two double-ball-bearing fans for increased ventilation and reliability, gold-plated power connectors for improved conductivity, and nylon sleeving on the main power cables for improved ease-of-use and less potential impact on case airflow.

According to Antec, traditional power supply designs typically feature circuit sharing for the 3.3V and 5V lines off the output transformer. That means that as you increase the load on one output circuit, the available capacity for the other decreases – for example as you load up on devices that use 5 volts (like drives and PCI cards), you have less and less ability to power devices that need 3.3 volt output (like your CPU). In addition, by connecting the two systems at this point you increase the chance of having interactions between the output circuits – for example, a sudden 5V draw could potentially cause the voltage on the 3.3V line to drop, harming system stability.

Antec’s TruePower line has dedicated output circuitry for each voltage line, which means that there is no combined output limit other than that of the entire power supply. Each voltage line can perform up to the specification on the label, without regard to or interaction with the loads on the other lines, until the full capacity of the power supply itself is reached.

Antec designs in additional stability for the TruePowers so that the power circuitry tests 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 them to improve their voltage regulation from Intel’s specified ±5% allowable variance to a tighter ±3% allowable variance, and ensures that a more stable power signal is available for all devices.

This ensures that the power being supplied to the motherboard is as close to accurate voltage as possible – more accurate, in most cases, than the voltage detectors built into the motherboard. According to Antec, more accurate voltages translate directly into more stable system performance.

Antec’s Low Noise Technology is a new approach that seeks optimum balance between noise reduction and necessary cooling with an advanced temperature response system that outperforms previous solutions. The system constantly monitors the temperature inside the power supply, and then runs the power supply fans at the lowest speed appropriate to load and conditions. Thus it is able to perform much more quietly than standard ATX power supplies or even those with traditional thermally-controlled variable-speed fans.

At lower temperatures, TruePower’s fan speeds and noise levels are lower than both standard and traditional thermally-controlled ATX power supplies. Only when temperatures begin getting above optimum does the fan speed increase, and then quickly, since this is when the power supply really needs maximum cooling. Additionally, dedicated Fan Only power connectors allow TruePower power supplies to control the speed of case fans, too, turning normal case fans into variable speed fans. Overall system noise is thus reduced, since the case fans will only run at full speed when their maximum cooling is needed. The rest of the time the fans will spin more slowly and quietly.

Some manufacturers use manually-adjustable fans on some “low noise” power supply designs. Antec Low Noise Technology eliminates the risk presented by these solutions, namely that users will forget to reach behind their computer to turn the fan speed up when their system gets hotter as their usage increases. And that, of course, would be dangerous to the stability and longevity of not only the power supply but to the whole system.

End result: Antec asserts that the combination of these three major design improvements results in not only a more stable system with more available power, but a quieter one as well.

Putting The Power To The Test

I can say that the TruePower 550 power supply has worked perfectly. I have heated up my house to 88 degrees (all temperatures are in Fahrenheit) to test the power supply and it kept the inside case temperature at a steady 93 degrees. At these temps the power supply fan speeds increased from the normal 1620 RPM to 2810 RPM. The power supply also sped up one rear case fan and the side panel intake fan blowing across the video card. I was able to play games, encode MP3’s, and burn CD’s with no problems with the machine at these temperatures. This shows the power supply should be able to handle just about any computing and environmental hazards one can subject their computer to.

Conclusion

Most people will spend a lot of money on a CPU, graphics card, and so on but try to save a few dollars on the power supply. Then they wonder what is wrong with their computer when they get BSOD’s or other strange occurrences. With the TruePower 550 being sold at Newegg.com for $118.00, it’s a great deal for everything you get plus the peace of mind that you have one of the best and most reliable power supplies on the planet.

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