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OCZ PowerStream 470W Power Supply

OCZ Technology is a name that many enthusiasts equate with quality and performance in the memory market. As a company not willing to rest on its laurels, OCZ is looking to add to its portfolio of awards with the release of the PowerStream power supply line. Read this review of the 470W PowerStream PSU to see if OCZ’s reputation of quality and performance will be branching out into another market.

[review_ad]Introduction


Since entering the memory market four years ago, OCZ Technology has gained a lot of respect (and probably a large following) in the PC enthusiast crowd. Since breaking into the memory market was a successful endeavor for OCZ, the company decided to branch out and start offering other products that enthusiasts look for, like silver-based thermal compound, CPU coolers, and RAM heatsinks. One of OCZ’s latest ventures is in the power supply market (press release). The PowerStream line of power supplies is OCZ’s attempt at gaining a new following of high-quality power enthusiasts.

OCZ’s PowerStream power supplies boast a list of features that will certainly help them turn some heads, especially if their performance backs it up. Of course, we’ll get to that a little later. The PowerStream line features individually adjustable power rails with LEDs that indicate when they are within tolerance levels and plenty of connectors for today’s leading-edge technologies, like SATA, EPS12V and BTX. The 3.3V, +5V, and +12V rails are all adjustable, and the LEDs glow different colors to indicate the rails’ current states. When a rail is within 5 percent of its optimal voltage, the LED below its adjustment dial is green. The LED is yellow when the voltage is too low, and it glows red when overvoltage occurs. These power supplies also feature two specially enhanced power leads that OCZ touts as being able to reduce the amount of electrical noise sent to connected devices. OCZ is also aware that people like to show off nice-looking components, so the PowerStream power supply also looks great in its nickel-plated chrome chassis. The mirrored black finish on the OCZ-470ADJ that I received immediately impressed me when I opened the box. Each group of wires is either wrapped in the fairly typical mesh wrap or cable tied to keep things tidy in a case.


Specifications & Features

Specifications:

A sticker from the side of the OCZ-470ADJ provides a good summary of the technical specifications of the whole PowerStream family:

Of course, for this review, the 470W OCZ-470ADJ is what we are focused on.

Features:

  • OCZ PowerWhisper™ Technology – noise levels are suppressed below 23 dBA at 60% load
  • OCZ PowerFlex™ individually adjustable power rails with LED indicators
  • OCZ ConnectAll™ universal connector. (ATX, BTX, SATA, P4 and EPS12V)
  • OCZ PowerShield™ power leads
  • Overvoltage/Short-Circuit protection
  • 5 year warranty backed by OCZ’s exclusive PowerSwap™ replacement program. No more endless return-for-repair loops! (This actually consists of 3 years of PowerSwap warranty where any returned PSU is immediately replaced with a new unit and 2 years of coverage under a limited warranty.)

Package Contents:

  • User’s Manual
  • EPS12V (24-pin) power connector to standard ATX 20-in connector converter
  • Screws and cable ties
  • Power cord

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Installation


As I mentioned above, I was immediately impressed with the OCZ-470ADJ’s black mirrored finish, but I also noticed its impressive weight right away, too. It just seemed heavy for a power supply. I don’t have any measurements or comparisons to back that up. This was not a real concern for me, though, since I was most anxious to see how well it performs. To that end, I installed it in my main test system. Here’s a list of that system’s specs:

Test System Configuration:

  • Chieftech X-Sonic mid-tower case (review)
  • AMD Athlon 64 3200+
  • Gigabyte GA-K8VNXP (BIOS version F4) (review)
  • Corsair TWINX1024-3200LLPRO (review)
  • Gigabyte Radeon 9800XT (review)
  • Hitachi Deskstar 7K250 80GB Serial ATA 7200RPM Hard Drive w/8MB Buffer
  • IBM DTTA-371010 10.1GB Hard Drive
  • Plextor PX-712A DVD/CD burner (review)
  • Enermax UC-9FATR2 Multifunction Panel (5.25″ bay device) (review coming soon)
  • Sony floppy drive
  • Windows XP (32-bit) with Service Pack 1
  • Chipset Driver – 4.48

Of course, removing my old PSU was the first step in this process, and that is when I realized that the OCZ PowerStream PSU is not only heavy but also larger than most of the power supplies I have laying around. This meant that removing the old PSU was where the easiness ended. I tried my best to install the PSU without uninstalling much from my system, but that did not work out. I ended up having to remove the Zalman CPU cooler on the 3200+, and even then, getting the power supply secured in the X-Sonic was more work than I had expected it to be. I blame this mostly on the case, though. It has some odd mounting brackets and rails that make PSU installation more difficult than it is with other cases I have.


Once I was able to get the OCZ-470ADJ into the X-Sonic case, the rest of the installation went smoothly. This power supply definitely has plenty of power connectors for my configuration, and there are a few left over for future upgrades. I plugged the two PowerShield™ power leads, which are both separate leads, into the 9800XT and the Plextor drive, since I used one of the two SATA power leads for the Hitachi SATA drive. I also fed power to the the IBM HDD, one case fan, the floppy drive, the Enermax bay device, This left me with at least three free standard power connectors for hard drives, optical drives, or anything else, and one floppy drive power lead and one SATA drive power connector. One other important thing worth noting is that I had to use the power connector adapter (as most people probably will) for the main power connector. The EPS12V power connector is not often, if ever, used on mainstream motherboards. It is usually reserved for server environments where power requirements are more stict and stability is more crucial.


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Performance


After powering up the system after installation, I discovered that this OCZ-470ADJ came out of the box with the rails all set within the 5 percent threshold. I could immediately tell this because all three indicator LEDs on the back of the unit were glowing green. To verify that the LEDs changed as they should, I went ahead and played with the adjustment dials a bit and saw that they do indeed change when their respective rail is out of its recommended voltage range.

Of course, to make sure that the LEDs were not lying to me, I had to break out the multimeter and take some readings straight from the connectors. I also wanted to see how much the voltage fluctuates when the load on the PSU is heavier than normal. In the table below, there are voltage measurements for when the PC is basically sitting idle and for when I tried my best to hit it with a heavy load by burning a DVD with source data on the IBM hard drive and playing the Far Cry demo, which is installed on the Hitachi drive. This meant that all drives and the 9800XT were being utilized at the same time.

I was able to measure the +5V and +12V rails on both a spare HDD style power lead and an FDD style power lead, and I measured the +3.3V rail straight off of the main power connector.

Voltage Measurements

Power Rail +3.3V +5V +12V
System “Idle” 3.17 V 5.17 V 12.32 V
System Under Load 3.16 V 5.16 V 12.31 V

If this doesn’t make you feel confident about the stability of a system using this PowerStream PSU, I don’t know what would! I know that I wouldn’t be looking at this PSU if I had stability issues with this test system in the future. Those power rails are solid and stay within the 5% tolerance level. The +3.3V rail is close to the lower end of the satisfactory voltage range, but with it barely moving under heavy load, I don’t think that’s a concern. I would feel confident running any number of power-hungry components in this system.

After seeing those voltage measurements, it probably isn’t surprising that I have had absolutely no stability issues with this system since installing the OCZ-470ADJ. The hours of gaming, occassional DVD burning, and general day-to-day word processing and web surfing that I have put in on this system over the past two weeks has passed without incident.

Conclusion


To say that the OCZ 470W PowerStream power supply impressed me would be an understatement. I would recommend this power supply to anyone who is looking for a high-quality power solution for their PC. However, for someone whose budget is a little more sensitive, the OCZ PowerStream line may not be the way to go, since it does cost a premium over some other high-quality power supplies. I was able to find this power supply in the $120-130 price range from a few of OCZ’s resellers. At the time of writing this, Monarch Computer Systems and FrozenCPU.com were offering it for about $130 and Directron.com was offering for $122 (on sale, regularly $129).

You do get what you pay for with this 470W PowerStream PSU, though. The unit features adjustable +3.3V, +5V, and +12V power rails with LEDs that indicate their status, which is a feature that really separates this power supply from the pack. It also features plenty of power connectors, a very nice finish, and topnotch power stability. Anyone who tries to keep a PC as quiet as possible will also appreciate the PowerWhisper technology that tries to keep the noise level below 23 dBA when the power supply is under a 60 percent load. Basing the fans’ speeds on load makes a lot of sense to me, so I have to give OCZ props for that. In order to accomplish these great feats in PSU design, OCZ did end up with a product that is a bit heavier and bigger than other power supplies that I have dealt with. For someone who is willing to pay over $100 for a high-quality PSU, this is probably expected and not a big deal, though.

Overall, the OCZ-470ADJ is a power supply that will provide reliable and stable power for any PC.

Pros:

+ Rock solid power rails
+ Adjustable power rails with LEDs indicating their status
+ Nicely wrapped or otherwise bundled wires
+ Beautiful black mirror finish
+ Plenty of power leads
+ Two “enhanced” power leads for reducing ripple noise and RF interference
+ Standard 24-pin power connector makes it ready for many recently released and upcoming motherboard designs

Cons:

- You have to pay a premium for all this goodness
- May be a problem in smaller mid-tower cases

Final Score: 9.0 and the Bjorn3D Golden Bear Award

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