Ultra really surprised the hardware community by releasing a great looking and solid power supply called the X-Connect, which offers a feature that modding supply stores made popular — a modular design. This allows you to use only the cables you need to reduce clutter in your case. This PSU has cool written all over it!
Ever since I first saw modular power supplies at several modding supply stores on the WWW, I was hooked and had to have one. After several failed attempts to get one for review, I just decided it was a luxury I didn’t need. Then, several months ago I noticed that several companies, namely Ultra and Antec, were going to release a mass produced modular PSU. This obviously wouldn’t be the first time that a company “borrowed” an idea started by modders, but it’s one that I strongly welcome. I love the clean looks and flexibility offered by modular PSUs. As a matter of fact, I hope that most PSUs go this route in the near future. It just makes too much sense not to.
Today, I’m going to take a closer look at the Titanium Black X-Connect 500 Watt Modular Power Supply from Ultra. A couple weeks ago, I reviewed the Antec NeoPower 480 and really only disliked the fact that the cables weren’t sleeved in any way and that the connectors on the PSU protruded. I guess it’s Ultra’s fault that I even cared about the lack of wrapping or sleeving on the NeoPower cables, since Ultra’s X-Connect offers great UV-reactive wrapping. Additionally, Ultra takes a different approach to the connectors, and they don’t protrude. But, Antec obviously has the advantage when it comes to brand recognition. Antec will always get mentioned when someone asks for PSU recommendations while Ultra probably wouldn’t. I think that might change though with the X-Connect, which is already proving to be one of the hottest PSUs available right now.
With its mirror-like titanium finish available in silver, blue or black and its UV-reactive cables, it’s quite obvious that Ultra is appealing to the case modders and those who in general love great looking products to show off in their windowed cases. Plus, we all know from the round IDE cable revolution that round can be better for air flow and decreased cable clutter. It doesn’t stop there though. This unit also packs 500W of power. After reviewing the NeoPower, I was really looking forward to evaluating the X-Connect to see how they compare. Keep reading to see what there is to like and dislike about Ultra’s 500W X-Connect.
Features, Specifications and Package Contents
- High-Gloss Mirror Finish
- Modular Cable Connection System
- UV Reactive Shielded Cables
- Dual 80mm Fans
- Low Acoustic Noise
- Short Circuit Protection
- In-rush Current Protection
- Thermal Overload Protection
- Supports Intel Pentium 4 and AMD CPUs
- Meets ATX Version 2.03 and ATX 12V Version 1.2
- MTBF>100,000 Hours at Full Load, 110VAC & 25ºC Ambient Condition
- 1x 20-Pin Main Power
- 1x 6-Pin AUX (Xeon) Power
- 1x 4-Pin 12V (P4)
- 6x 4-Pin Peripheral
- 2x SATA
- 1x Floppy
Ultra doesn’t take any shortcuts with the X-Connect packaging. The marketing team really wanted to catch your eyes with this one. If the cool pic of the PSU itself doesn’t attract your attention, then the white and purple box just might. Then, if you take the time to look at the box, you might just be reading it for ten minutes or more. There is a ton of info on all sides of the box.
If you actually purchase an X-Connect and get the chance the break the gold seal sticker to open up the box, you’ll see another small box on top. This box contains all the cables and other parts. Beneath that box, the X-Connect resides snuggled safely between some foam inserts.
Here is what you’ll find in the box:
- X-Connect PSU
- One AC Input Power Cord
- Socket Covers
- 4 Mounting Screws
- User’s Manual
Closer Look at the X-Connect
When I first saw the X-Connect, I knew I had to have one. When I finally got my hands on one, I wanted two. You know, one of those types of things. You don’t need one of every color, but it would be damn cool to have one of each style and color. That’s how I feel about the X-Connects. They are just that damn cool even though they are just power supplies. Ultra did a lot of awesome things with the X-Connect — custom fan grill, easy to use modular system, connector covers, UV-reactive cables and ample power.
I was pleasantly surprised by the sheer beauty of this power supply when I pulled it out of the box. There’s just something really damn cool about titanium finishes. Unfortunately, it fingerprints easily, but it’s not too hard to clean off. Sorry for all the goosh, but this product excited me more than most I’ve reviewed lately, at least when it comes to first impressions. You can see the mirror-like finish in the pics above. Additionally, you can see the connector covers that Ultra so thoughtfully includes. They were all already installed when I pulled it out of the box. Simply pop off the ones you need to get to and then attach the cables that you want to use.
While the cables aren’t extremely flexible, I found them to be flexible enough for my needs. Ultra apparently has made improvements on the cables for the newest shipping models, and they are supposedly more flexible now. All the cables with the unit are nicely wrapped and UV-reactive. They will glow blue under UV light. By now, you have no doubt figured out that this PSU is definitely geared towards case modders and case window fans. The X-Connect is undoubtedly making the name Ultra a much more common household name (much like the LANParty series did for DFI) and deservedly so.
In two of the above pics, you can see the custom Ultra fan grill on the top side of the X-Connect. This is just one more cool touch that adds to the high class of the X-Connect line.
For those of you wanting a more colorful UV experience, Ultra recently released newer versions of the X-Connect with UV-reactive windows and different color cables. Check them out below.
In the specs listed a few pages back, you can see that Ultra claims that the +5, +12 and +3.3 voltage rails will remain within +/-5% of their rated values, which is a typical claim for companies (although Antec claims a better +/-3% for its modular PSU, the NeoPower 480). This means that the +5V rail will maintain a voltage between +4.85V and +5.15V, the +12V rail will maintain a voltage between +11.64V and +12.36V, and the +3.3V rail will maintain a voltage between +3.2V and +3.4V.
To test this 500W X-Connect, I simply gave my test system a nice little workout, including running games, benchmarks and multiple benchmarks simultaneously, and left Motherboard Monitor open the entire time to see how much the rails fluctuated under stressful conditions. Before getting to the results, let’s take a look at my test system.
Test System Configuration
Here are the results I saw with the X-Connect.
As you can see, the X-Connect stayed well within its rated tolerance for all three rails. I had absolutely no stability problems with my overclocked system that also includes four 80mm fans and two UV cold cathode lights, and I found the X-Connect to be relatively quiet. It’s not silent but quiet enough for my tastes, similar to my Enermax and Antec power supplies.
In many cases, power supplies don’t get very exciting except for how much power they provide. When 500W units first started getting popular, the thought of that much power probably excited at least the inner-geek in most of us. Ultra’s X-Connect is not only exciting in that way but also in many other ways: great looks and style, excellent design, flexibility and an abundance of cool. Ultra offers the X-Connect in three different color finishes (silver, black and blue), two power ratings (400W and 500W) and two different styles (with or without UV windows and color-coordinated cables).
On top of its great looks and convenient modular cable system, the X-Connect offers solid performance, which is most important. If the X-Connect were a flaky power supply, I couldn’t recommend it. That’s not the case though, and when you add all X-Connect’s good points up, it’s not too hard to figure out why Ultra has quickly become a much more common brand name in recent months and garnered a lot of praise for this line of power supplies.
If you do a little research, you can find the X-Connect for a little less than $100 online. The newer windowed and more colorful X-Connect units are around $10 more. Although this may be slightly more expensive than some other quality 500W power supplies, I think they are still worth every penny. If you happened to buy an X-Connect that doesn’t include a SATA cable, then you should go check out Ultra’s free SATA cable offer. Ultra is also making additional cables available for purchase, and you can check them out here.
To wrap things up, I’d like to reiterate what I like better about the X-Connect in comparison to the NeoPower and vice versa. I like the X-Connect’s cables better because they are wrapped, and I like the fact that the X-Connect’s power cable connectors do not protrude like the NeoPower. I also prefer the X-Connect’s awesome mirror finish. Both units offer ample and stable power, but the NeoPower does offer dual +12V rails while the X-Connect does not. Additionally, the NeoPower features active PFC while the X-Connect does not (but Ultra is working on that for future X-Connects). Antec also provides the more recent connector types, such as PCI-Express video card power connector and a 24-pin motherboard power connector, in the box. If I were building a new Intel LGA775 system, I might lean towards the NeoPower, but otherwise, I’d probably spend my money on an X-Connect for several reasons: I love UV and cases with windows, I prefer its modular design, its looks are unmatched, and I’m too lazy to make the NeoPower look cooler. Ultra better not rest on its laurels though, as I’m sure Antec is working to make the NeoPower a little more appealing to case modders and the like.
+ Awesome looks
+ UV-reactive and available in several great styles/colors
+ Solid, stable power
+ Use only the cables you need — less case clutter
- Not active PFC
- No PCI-Express or 24-pin power connector included
- Finger prints easily
Final Score: 9 out of 10 and the Bjorn3D Seal of Approval