Check out our review of Antec’s TrueControl II 550. Read the review to see if this 550W PSU could handle a system with three hard drives and two 7800 GTX 512s.
Introduction & Specifications
As we have often said before here at Bjorn3D, the power supply is often one of the parts of a performance computer that gets skimped on. NVIDIA helped change all that by starting up the SLI market again. Running dual video cards requires a very stable power supply, and that is why NVIDIA came up with its SLI-approved power supply list. The list can be found here: http://www.slizone.com/object/slizone2_build.html.
Now here comes my story that lead to this review. I have a PC Power and Cooling 510 SLI approved power supply, and it worked well with my 6800 GTs and 7800 GTXs in SLI. Then the problem came. I got a pair of 7800 GTX 512MB cards. These cards draw more power than the normal 7800 GTXs and caused my machine to not even be able to run a 3D application. The machine would just shut down, as if I had just pulled the power cord. This became a problem fast since I was on deadline for a preview of the cards. So, I grabbed an Antec 550 EPS12V that I had on the shelf and was able to do the preview. The problem with this solution in the long run was this power supply was built before PCI Express and had very few SATA connectors. Needless to say, the inside of my PC looked like a pile of spaghetti.
This is when Antec was nice enough to supply me with the Antec TrueControl II 550 to use. So let’s look at the specification of the True Control power supply.
Features & Closer Look
Here are the features of the power supply:
- SLI Ready
- Single 120mm low noise fan
- User-adjustable, individual dedicated circuits for +3.3V, +5V and +12V outputs. Get all the power you need when you need it most, and adjust it to your system’s needs.
- Dual 12V outputs, for stability and safety
- True Spec noise level of 21.3 dBA measured at an independent lab using ISO 7779 standard
- ATX12V 2.01 compliant. 24-pin main power connector with detachable 4-pin section for universal motherboard compatibility
- 4 Serial ATA connectors
- PCI Express graphic card power connectors
- Dedicated output for more stability and less ripple noise
- Feedback circuits for tighter load regulation (±3%) to maintain accurate voltage to all components
- Industrial-grade protection circuitry prevents damage resulting from short circuits, power overloads, excessive current, excessive voltage , excessive temperatures
- Fan Only power connectors allow True Power to control case fan speeds, reducing total system noise
- MTBF: 80,000 hours
- Safety approval: CB, DEMKO, FCC Class B, FIMKO, EMKO, UL, VDE, TUV
- Active Power Factor Correction (PFC) (Europe only)
- Power Factor value greater than 90% (Europe only)
- Gold plated connectors for superior conductivity
- Important Note: The TruePower 2.0 Fan Only connectors are designed to power standard fans only. Attaching thermally-controlled fans to these connectors will likely result in unpredictable and undesired behavior. Thermally-controlled fans should only be connected to the standard 4-pin Peripheral Power Connectors. Please do not connect more than three fans to the Fan Only connectors.
We can see that the power supply has two +12V rails that give us 38 amps under ideal conditions.
For stress testing, I ran 3DMark05 in a loop for one hour with my room temperature at 77 degrees Fahrenheit. I also set all the control voltages to max for stress testing the system.
The test machine is listed below.
- Asus A8N32-SLI Deluxe
- AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+
- 2 x 1GB Corsair 3500XL PRO
- 3 x 250GB Maxtor Diamond 10 in RAID 5
- Lian-Li V1200
- DVD ROM
- DVD-RW Dual Layer
- Windows XP SP2
- Antec True Power TotalControl II 550W
- Creative X-Fi Platinum Sound Card
- 2 x Reference 7800 GTX 512
- ForceWare 81.85 and DirectX 9.0c
As we can see, the power supply maintained good, stable power. I proceeded to play Quake 4, Doom 3, Pacific Fighters and BattleField 2 with no problems at all.
Then I went to play F.E.A.R. and was fighting my way through a battle with two guys. I killed them but then moved into a room with four guys and one of the heavy armor guys. Bullets flying, frag grenades exploding, then suddenly the machine shuts off. After yelling a few not so pleasant words, I restarted the machine and went back to the game again, from my last save right after killing the two guys. I started the big fight, and then off the machine went again. I then rebooted and ran the performance test in F.E.A.R., and every time right when I got into the fire fight scene right when I passed the second guy at the end of the room, the machine shut down.
After talking to NVIDIA, they told me F.E.A.R. was the most demanding game they have seen to date. The graphics card will draw every once of power they can during that game in a heavy fire fight. Well, this did not bode well since I now had two SLI-rated power supplies that cannot handle the 7800GTX 512s in my machine. To do some testing, I loaded up just two hard drives with software and went back and played F.E.A.R. just fine. So the 3rd drive was pulling just enough power to have the machine at the edge of failing.
This led me to talking to Antec on why the old 550 EPS12V would run the machine fine and the True Control would not. Basically, the 550 EPS12V has a higher current rating since it is a industrial use rated power supply. They suggested I look at the NeoHE 550 (which has three 12V rails running 18 amps each) when using a machine the size of mine. We may look at that power supply in the future to see if it can handle a machine as power hungry as mine under full load.
The Antec TrueControl II 550 is a nice power supply, and being able to adjust the voltages and power supply fan speed is nice. SLI does bring us to another problem though. Users are really going to need to sit down and think about how they are going to use their machines and what future growth they are planning. We can see that my machine is a high-end machine, and many enthusiasts have machines of the same quality and probably want to overclock them some. I can recommend the Antec TrueControl II 550 to the mid-range gaming crowd, but for the hardcore guys who have an SLI machine similar to my test bed’s power, I suggest looking for a bigger supply.
Currently, the Antec TrueControl II 550 can be found for around $100, which is a fair price.
+ Plenty of drive connectors
+ Control Panel is a big step up from original TrueControl
– Have to really think about your PC’s future “growth” before buying, cannot handle real high-end machine power requirements
Final Score: 8.5 out of 10 and the Bjorn3D Seal of Approval
(ANTEC’s reply to the performance of the power supply is that the circuit protection of the power supply kicked in since it is a UL rated power supply. The said they NeoHE 550 would work because of the 3 12V rails. We will test the NeoHE 550 in an upcoming review to see if this is the case.)
I give the Antec TrueControl II 550 a score of 8.5 and the Bjorn3D Seal of Approval, but real high-end enthusiasts might just have to look for a more powerful power supply. The NeoHE 550 may be the ticket; it can be found in the $120 range.
What did I do to fix my power problem? You can read that review next month.