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be quiet! Dark Power PRO 850W and Thermaltake Toughpower 850W

Get be quiet! Dark Power PRO 850W if you’re looking for a power supply that will handle next generation components with bells and whistles on top of it. If you want to go cheaper without the need for all these nonessential features and enhancements, get Thermaltake Toughpower 850W with 140 mm fan which runs quieter than its contender and performs just as well.

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Introduction

Before I start I’d like to thank Listan and Thermaltake for providing these high-end Dark Power and Toughpower samples for us to test.

As time passes by, computer components require more power to properly operate. Of course, die shrinks and advanced integrated circuitry can slow this whole process down, but it’s a no brainer that companies fight through to provide most efficient and stable power supplies. I don’t think anybody will doubt the fact that PSUs are one of the most important parts of a computer — be it a workstation, gaming rig or a server.

In summer 2006 I’ve reviewed a high-end PSU from Thermaltake; nonmodular Toughpower 750W. Just about two months ago we’ve been given an opportunity to check out two power supplies from Listan; be quiet! Straight Power 450W and 600W. Today we make a comeback and bring you high-wattage juice makers from both Listan and Thermaltake. These two are definitely not your regular power supplies you’d use for your grandmothers’ computer. Although you can already buy 1.2kW (1200W) power supplies these 850W generators can take everything you throw at them — it just a matter how stable they are.

Dark Power 850W: Features & Specifications

Be quiet! Dark Power Pro 850W power supply has four 12v rails for increased stability. It can push a total of 58A on those 12v rails, 24A on 3.3v and 30A on 5v. Maximum combined power for 3.3v and 5v rails is 180 Watts and 648 Watts for 12v line. Let’s check out what this puppy is made from.

Advantages And Special Features

Listan rates this power supply with high efficiency of >80% at loads of 50% for reduction of your electricity expenses. Active PFC with PF up to 0,99 for stabilizing and enhancing output voltage values. The power supply unit is manufactured in line with RoHS Guidelines.

TOP EFFICIENCY

  • Extremely high efficiency rate of up to 84%
  • Active PFC with PF of up to 0,99:
    • stabilisation and improvement of the output currents.
  • The Dark Power Pro uses no power when it is switched off (0W)
  • Manufactured strictly according to RoHS guidelines

THERMO CONTROL

Fan follow-up control (ECASO) protects sensitive hardware such as graphic cards or hard drives effectively from overheating. The power supply fan and the fans connected to the power supply are supplied with power for 3 minutes after shutting down. The thermal electronics regulates the rotational speed of the power supply fan and of the 3 housing fans connected directly to the power supply. The speed indicator signal of the power supply fan can be read out over the mainboard.

SERVICE PLUS

  • 3 year guarantee, 1 year more than legally required.
  • 1 year of free on-location replacement service: at the front door of the end customer within 48 hours (in Germany).

HIGH CONNECTIVITY

  • Flexible cable management (up to 19 cable strands, 17 of them removable)
  • High quality processing, with nylon weave cable sheath
  • Greatest compatibility with available mainboard technologies
  • Four separate 12V circuits ensure an independent power supply of the CPU
  • The use of SLI, CrossFire systems and Quad SLI solutions is made possible by four 6-pin PCIe VGA connectors!
  • P8 connection for dual server mainboards
  • 12 x SATA connections
  • Forward looking for the next generation of graphic cards

Main features are common across the whole line of be quiet! Dark Power Pro power supplies. They include Active PFC where voltage is switched automatically depending on what you have in your wall socket, either 110 or 240V — no need for additional switches. All Dark Power PSUs come with 120 mm fans and regulated speed. Honeycomb design is a common solution used by most manufactures now, additionally Listan gives you 3 year warranty. Will talk about rest of those features on the next few pages so bear with me.

Score: 9.0

Toughpower 850W: Features & Specifications

Below image shows you how much power we can draw from Thermaltake’s Toughpower 850W monster. From the 3.3v rail we can manage almost 100Watts while 150Watts is available to us through 5v line. The combined 12v rails can take as much as 744Watts. Obviously this does not add up to 850. The maximum peak value that can occur during transmission is 950Watts and will last for 60 seconds. In a nutshell, this baby can do more than 850W.

Main Features

  • Stable 850W continuous output (at 50℃ operating environment)
  • Four independent & dedicated +12V rails(12V1,12V2,12V3,12V4) provides superior
  • Performance for PC system (combined loading of 62A)
  • Four 6pin PCI-E connector for Multi-GPU Graphic Cards
  • Supports Dual Core CPU / Quad Core CPU / Nvidia SLI & Quad SLI and all Multi-Core GPU technologies
  • Modularized Cable Management to eliminate clutter and improve airflow inside the case
  • Independent Voltage Circuit: offers unflappable current delivery under heavy load
  • Strict voltage regulation (±3%): provides steady voltage for system
  • Active Power Factor Correction (PF>0.99) and high efficiency (up to 87%)
  • Industrial grade components (capacitor, transformer, etc)
  • High reliability: MTBF>120,000 hours
  • Quiet and reliable 14cm ball-bearing fan
  • Protections: Over Current, Over Voltage, and Short-Circuit protection.
  • Safety / EMI Approvals: CE, CB, TUV, FCC, UL, CUL, and BSMI certified.

The unit I’m reviewing features Active PFC. What does it all mean? Voltage is switched automatically depending on what you have in your wall socket, either 110 or 240V — no need for additional switches, neat right? The PSU features a 140mm fan rocking at ~1300 RPM (+/-), automatically controlled by temperature. In case of a short cirtuit, Thermaltake’s PSU will kick in with Over Voltage Protection, temporarily shutting down power to all of the components. It’s designed to protect all your computer peripherals currently connected to the power house. Very nice feature if you live where power outtage commonly occurs.

Score: 9.0

Dark Power 850W: Externals & Internals

All Dark Power PSUs look alike. The housing is the same as well as the included fan used for this series. The sockets are well labeled with easy access. In total there are 13 where as on Toughpower I have found 7 though Thermaltake took care of primary PCI-Express connectors by permanently connecting them inside the PSU. Dark Power PRO comes hardwired with main 24-pin, P4 and RPM control connectors.

Click a picture to see a larger view




As you can see, Dark Power series does not come with perfectly mirror finished housing. It has some grainy look to it and it’s not finger proof either. On the back you get to see a power switch and that’s about it — the PSU is controlled by Active PFC so need for additional rocker switch. Just as Straight Power units this one sports 120 mm silent fan with regulated rotation speed. The back features honeycomb design to make sure the produced heat dissipates faster.

Click a picture to see a larger view




The inside reveals high-end components though I’m a bit dissatisfied with the overall look. As far as capacitors and transistors are concerned I have nothing to brag about. They come from Jenpo Electronic Corporation based in Taiwan. PCB solder joints look poorly done and wiring inside isn’t grade A. Just compare it to Thermaltake’s Toughpower PSU to see what I’m talking about. The included fan comes from SANYODENKI.

Here is Listan’s official answer when asked about components used inside their power supplies:

All components within our be quiet! Power Supplies are selected from qualified/certified Manufacturers in Japan and China. All components are manufactured according to DIN/ISO 9000 Regulations. They will be approved continuously by a special AQL (Acceptable Quality Level) procedure within the IQC (Incoming Quality Control)

Score: 7.0

Toughpower 850W: Externals & Internals

Thermaltake seemed to have updated the external look of Toughpower series, at least the 850W models and up. They are now coated with nickel black paint and no mirror like finish. I myself didn’t like the shiny housings anyway. They scratched fast and left horrible fingerprints. This new looks feels more professional, to say the least.

Click a picture to see a larger view




Most PSUs nowadays feature a honeycomb design to increase heat dissipation and improve ventilation. This is the case here and on top of that a 140 mm fan which leaves this power supply running really cool and noise-free (16 dB at 1300 RPM). The embedded sockets are well thought out with clear labeling and easy access when inside the case. Note that the two red sockets are for additional PCI-Express video cards, totaling at 4 (the first 2 are available permanently on the power supply) The sticker on the top gives you most important information about the PSU, including total power on +3.3v and +5v rails. The interesting bit is the peak power of 950W which wasn’t mentioned on the Dark Power box (luckily it is available says Listan). Thermaltake rates the peak value at 60 seconds which basically means you can overload the PSU to 950 Watts for 60 seconds.

Click a picture to see a larger view




Because Thermaltake uses high quality components, their power supplies last long. The neatness inside the housing is incredible. The solder joints are far more professional than on Dark Power circuit board. The heatsinks come in standard silver color, the cables inside are nicely tightened up and clutter-free. The fan which is 140 millimeters is the biggest one available for ATX compliant power supplies.

Score: 9.5

Dark Power 850W: Bundle, Cabling & Installation

The box you see below is huge. It’s almost twice as big as Toughpower’s. The reason behind it is simply more cables and overall richer bundle. The design of the box is gorgeous, the scheme is well combined with the name of the power supply. The whole package is simply more appealing to potential customer than the one from Thermaltake.

On one side of the package you’ll find information about cable lengths, number of connectors and specifications of the power house itself. The other side presents us with main features in four different languages. Being this is a PSU, it’s packed with accessories. Inside you’ll find screws, velcro straps, zip ties, power cable, installation manual in four different languages, connector caps, 24-pin to 20-pin adapter and a be quiet! sticker, w00t!

Click a picture to see a larger view





Let’s take a look at Dark Power’s cable management. As seen from above images you get a whole pack of all kinds of cables. It’s all nicely packaged inside a cardboard box. When you open it, it will blow you up….ekhem sorry it will blow you away. Not the cables, just the sight of seeing so many. Thinking you can use all of the connectors? It’s quite possible if you’ve got devices to power. The main cables powering the motherboard and CPU are hardwired to the PSU as well as fan cable which regulates RPM. The rest you get inside that black box. Here is a list of what you get and a picture below to demonstrate the modularity.
  • 1 x 24-pin motherboard connector (hardwired)
  • 1 x P4 4-pin (hardwired)
  • 1 x 3-pin fan regulator connector (hardwired)
  • 1 x P8 8-pin +12v power connector (1 cable)
  • 4 x PCI-Express connectors for Quad SLI (4 cables)
  • 12 x SATA connectors (3 cables)
  • 13 x 4-pin connectors (5 cables)
  • 1 x FDD connector (on one of the 4-pin molex cables)
  • 1 x 8-pin connector, P8 (1 cable)
  • 1 x 4-pin motherboard / VGA connector (1 cable)
  • 6 x 3-pin fan connectors (3 cables)

be quiet! Dark Power PRO 850W cable management system

Be quiet! Dark Power PRO sports wonderful cable management system, just look at the above schematics. All cables are sleeved and well labeled. Additionally PCI-Express, VGA, HDD and mainboard cables come equipped with special filters for reduction of ripple noise and radiation. Fan connectors serve as RPM regulators for additional cooling.

Components - DFI NF4 Ultra-D
– Athlon64 3000+ Venice
G.Skill F1-4000BIU2-2GBHV DDR500
- be quiet! Dark Power PRO 850W
- Thermaltake ToughPower 750W

- XFX GeForce 7900 GTO
Software - Windows XP SP2
– DirectX 9.0c
– nForce4 6.53 drivers
– Forceware 93.71
Tools used
- 3DMark 2005 v1.2.0 (GT 1 looped 3 times)
– SP2004
– Digital Multimeter for voltage measurement
Notes CPU clocked at 1.8GHz (idle/load) and 2.7GHz (idle OC/load OC)

Installation was a blast, just popped the PSU inside and started connecting cables. When using single PCI-Express device, make sure you use the RED+BLUE cable. The blue-only connectors are used for Quad SLI. Other than that I haven’t noted any problems.

Score: 9.5

Toughpower 850W: Bundle, Cabling & Installation

A lot had changed since Toughpower 750W model in terms cable design and final finish. However, the box is a standard Toughpower package with main features slapped on the front and sides. Thermaltake Toughower 850W marches in with the set of screws, installation manual, power cable, silicone noise reduction gasket as well as a sticker. The manual isn’t as rich as the one found in Dark Power PRO 850W package and comes only in english. It’s clear to read though a bit small, but highlights main PSU features and specifications.

Click a picture to see a larger view





The whole wiring system was placed inside a foil. Taking it all out reveals what we have. It’s certainly less than what Listan offers with their Dark Power, but it’s enough to power a server anyway. The braid on the cables looks the same as on previous models, but the cables themselves seem a bit stiffer than on the be quiet! PSU. Connectors are well labeled, the PCI-Express and motherboard cables have tags near the ends so you don’t end up plugging the wrong ones. Overall I’m pleased with the package as a whole, but have to take off points for quality and the fact that you get far less cables than with the other PSU. Below you can find the list of available cables inside the box.
  • 1 x 24-pin motherboard connector (hardwired)
  • 1 x 4-pin / 8-pin +12v power connector (1 cable)
  • 4 x 6-pin PCI-Express connectors (4 cables, 2 of them are hardwired)
  • 8 x 4-pin peripheral connector (2 cables)
  • 2 x 4-pin floppy connector (on one of the 4-pin molex cables)
  • 8 x 5-pin SATA connector (2 cables)
Components - DFI NF4 Ultra-D
– Athlon64 3000+ Venice
G.Skill F1-4000BIU2-2GBHV DDR500
- be quiet! Dark Power PRO 850W
- Thermaltake ToughPower 750W

- XFX GeForce 7900 GTO
Software - Windows XP SP2
– DirectX 9.0c
– nForce4 6.53 drivers
– Forceware 93.71
Tools used
- 3DMark 2005 v1.2.0 (GT 1 looped 3 times)
– SP2004
– Digital Multimeter for voltage measurement
Notes CPU clocked at 1.8GHz (idle/load) and 2.7GHz (idle OC/load OC)

Installation was a standard unscrew, take out old PSU, put in new one and screw it back in, attach cables. I haven’t experienced any problems during installation. The silicone pad does actually work and reduces some of the vibrations produced by the PSU. It’s not something you cannot live without however.

Score: 8.5

Testing & Final Thoughts

Now that we took care of the physical and paper features it’s time to check the performance of the two power supplies I have for you today. I’ll be checking voltage regulation and fluctuation for that matter. Usually, companies specify what they call a “tolerance level” Basically, it’s a difference (in percentages) between maximum and nominal limits. In our case the nominal values are: 3.3, 5 and 12. We will compare them with the averaged values we gathered from the multimeter.

Listan rates their main power rails at +/-5%. For layman, it means that it’s okay if the measured voltage doesn’t exceed or fall behind 5% from the nominal value. Thermaltake on the other hand rates their Toughpower PSUs at +/-3% which theoretically speaking allows for better overloading and more stable rails. Rails are stable when fluctuation is at the minimum level, that’s why I’m going to use the averaged values to make sure the results aren’t skewed.

Obviously I can’t load the PSUs to their limits as I don’t have proper equipment, but the above should give you food for thought. Both power supplies did a good job in the last phase and passed the test with great numbers. Voltage fluctuation was seen on both power supplies though it seems be quiet! Dark Power PRO 850W resembled more of it. I’m not worried about any of these values, though 12.30v for Dark Power is a bit high. It’s perfectly safe though and just like with Straight Power model, you don’t have to worry about it at all. The same can be said about Toughpower where its 5.5v rail reaches 2,91% tolerance almost hitting an unsafe 3%. The 12v rails on the other hand seem very healthy and run at around 1,11% tolerance.

Both be quiet! Dark Power PRO 850W and Thermaltake Toughpower 850W are great power supplies with plenty of juice left for the future generation devices and Quad GPU operation. It may be this year actually when these power houses find their way into more homes. Although Quad GPUs aren’t as popular you will definitely want to consider a high-end power supply for games like S.T.A.L.K.E.R or Crysis where a lot of you will equip your boxes with current generation G80 SLI or incoming R600 Crossfire. Add an overclocked dual / quad core CPU on top of that and you will require a stable current with a lot of amperage to run it.

Listan sells their be quiet! Dark Power PRO 850W for around 230€ which isn’t cheap to say the least. It’s packed with features, beautiful bundle and accessories, but that’s the price you have to pay to get it. For Thermaltake’s Toughpower 850W you have to shell out roughly $235 US dollars. It’s not in the cheap bag either and the finish on the cables and bundle is inferior to Listan’s PSU. Both PSUs perform great, are quiet and provide stable current to your PC components, but you have to weigh things out and choose the one that fits your needs the most. One tiny problem is that you will not find Listan offering in the United States. Maybe someday. Thermaltake can be had almost anywhere in the world so that’s a plus.

To recap, get be quiet! Dark Power PRO 850W if you’re looking for a power supply that will handle next generation components with bells and whistles on top of it. If you want to go cheaper without the need for all these nonessential features and enhancements, get Thermaltake Toughpower 850W with 140 mm fan which runs quieter than its contender and performs just as well.

be quiet! Dark Power PRO 850W Thermaltake Toughpower 850W

Pros:

Pros:
+ Stable rails
+ Quad SLI / GPU ready
+ Quad CPU ready
+ Good bundle
+ A lot of cables
+ Wonderful cable finish
+ Modular design
+ 3 year warranty
+ Stable rails
+ Quad SLI / GPU ready
+ Quad CPU ready
+ Great external / internal design
+ 140 mm fan
+ Up to 62A for 12v rails
+ Modular design
+ 3 year warranty

Cons:

Cons:
- Cluttered internal design
- Poor solder joints on the PCB
- Tad high +5V values
– Stiff cables

Final score: 8.5

Final score: 9

Final score based on: features, external / internal design, bundle / cabling and performance

be quiet! Dark Power PRO 850W earns 8.5 out of 10 (Very Good) while Thermaltake Toughpower 850W gets a tad higher score of 9 out of 10 (Extremely Good). Both receive Bjorn3D Seal of Approval awards.

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