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SKYMTL's Budget PSU Roundup!!

by Michael "SKYMTL" Hoenig     |     March 6, 2007

Attachment 155

Well here we are on my first PSU review here or anywhere else for that matter and this one is going to be a big one. This roundup will focus on four budget-minded power supplies which range in price from $45 to $75 with one power supply being included in the price of a $120 case. I will give all these units a thorough going-over and put them through a battery of tests. I suggest you read this whole review as in many places I will refer to performance differences between the units. You should also know that these are all on an even playing field as they were all purchased by me so I do not want ANY of them to fail.

Here is a link to explain some of the power supply terminology I will be using:
http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/oth.../atx-psu5.html

I’m sure your patience is already wearing thin with my intro so without further delay, on to the candidates….


SPI ATX-400PN (Also called FSP ATX-400PN)
NCIX Link: http://www.ncix.com/products/index.php?sku=17076&vpn=ATX-400-PN-B&manufacture=Sparkle%20Power%20Intl.
Price: $45
Packaging: OEM (no cord or mounting screws included)
Fan Size: 120mm

Cord Lengths and Connectors:
- Molex: 5 Connectors
o 1x 33” length (3 connectors)
o 1x 25” length (2 connectors)

- SATA: 2 Connectors
o 1x 28” length

- PCI-E: 1 Connector
o 1x 21” length

- 4-Pin Floppy: 1 Connector
o 1x 33” length (at end of Molex cord)

- 20+4 ATX Connector: 20” Length

- 4-Pin CPU Connector: 20” Length

Attachment 168

This has long been the perennial favorite among many for a simple, supposedly well performing budget solution for a power supply. Sparkle is owned and has their power supplies made by FSP (Fortron). This particular power supply has been recommended time and again for low to mid-end systems. It comes in OEM packaging which means you get the power supply and nothing else so if you don’t have a power cord or mounting screws lying around, you’ll have to buy them. The OEM packaging contributes to the $45 price of this unit.

Observations:

First and foremost, we see that none of the cables are sleeved. While this is not a surprise for a power supply in this price category, it is sometimes nice to see the extra effort put into the “little things”. The length of the connector cords is very decent and will fit in most ATX cases even with a good amount of cable routing, bravo to SPI for making the cables as long as they did. It has a 120mm fan which promises quiet operation and is particularly small compared to some of the other units we will see later on. The finish on it is the tried and true Battleship Grey. Let’s see what this puppy claims to output…

Attachment 170

It looks like all of the values on this label are peak amperages and not sustained values. One way or another, it is nice to see that the two +12V rails can output more than 85% of this unit’s maximum 400W peak output. Computer components are becoming more and more reliant on the +12V outputs so seeing a nice high value here is very refreshing. There is no Active PFC or other bangs and whistles on this PSU…it costs $45, what did you expect? Something else I like to see (not in the picture) is the RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) label which designates that this power supply is fabricated without using components which can harm the environment. More on that here: http://www.rohs.gov.uk/.

Now my worst enemy….

Attachment 176

On the bottom of this picture you see the plainly idiotic 4-pin break off connector SPI/FSP uses on this power supply. The 4-pin just sits on the 20-pin and when you go to plug the whole kitten-caboodle in, the 4-pin pops right off. If you try to plug in the 4-pin first (which you MUST do if you look closely at the notch) it will pop out of the mobo when you try to plug in the 20-pin. This is a total pain in the butt in more cramped cases. Above it in the picture is the much better designed plug used on the Nmedia 400W.

Let’s see what’s under the hood.

Attachment 177

As usual, Sparkle is very spartan with their components. We see a pair of 820uF Teapo primary caps rated at 85C and a whole army of Teapo secondary caps. All in all, the filtering stages don’t inspire much confidence but we will see how is power supply does in the tests.

Attachment 175

The fan used is a 120mm Yate Loon ball bearing model which operates at a constant 2300RPM at 41dB pushing 89 CFM of air. It is temperature controlled and will spin up when needed.


Nmedia MP-400 (400W)
NCIX Link: http://www.ncix.com/products/index.php?sku=18927&vpn=MP-400&manufacture=NMedia%20System
Price: $45
Packaging: Full Retail
Fan Size: 140mm

Cord Lengths and Connectors:
- Molex: 7 Connectors
o 1x 33” length (3 connectors)
o 1x 25” length (2 connectors)

- SATA: 2 Connectors
o 1x 22” length

- PCI-E: 1 Connector
o 1x 16” length

- 4-Pin Floppy: 1 Connector
o 1x 36” length (at end of Molex cord)

- 20+4 ATX Connector: 15” Length

- 4-Pin CPU Connector: 15” Length

Here we have the relative newcomer on the scene with Nmedia making its debut into the budget power supply category. This one comes in the full retail flavor and for a mere $45 to boot. Nmedia has all their power supplies built by Shenzhen Chi Yuan which is most definitely not one of the best power supply OEMs, but once again at $45 some corners are bound to be cut.

Attachment 165

The packaging itself is sure to stand out in any retail store it is sold in with Nmedia pushing the silent aspect of this unit with phrases such as Mute Power, Super Silent, Under 25 dBA (remember this) and SHHH!. With a massive 140mm fan, it better be silent. Something else that jumps out right away is the claim of efficiency of over 85% and support for SLI (nowhere on the Nvidia website could I find reference to Nmedia being SLI certified). Both of these seem a little blown out of proportion as this unit only has one PCI-E connector and is not 80+ certified. But, the tests will tell if the 85% efficiency can be believed. Let’s see what all came with this….

Attachment 158

It looks like your typical power supply package with a power cord, mounting screws and an instruction manual. It is nice to see that this unit can come in at the $45 mark and still keep the full retail packaging.

Attachment 161

Observations:

Personally, I love the look of this power supply. The powder coated black with gold flake finish is absolutely top-notch and the gold color fan grille accents the color scheme very nicely. It is also VERY nice to see a sleeved main ATX connector on a budget power supply so I tip my hat to Nmedia for that. A little problem presents itself in the fact that the sleeving used is very rigid and can’t be manipulated very well. The Molex cables are long enough (you get a massive 7 connectors on those cables) for most applications but this is where I begin asking some serious questions about this power supply. In my opinion this unit can’t make up its mind what it wants to be; on the front of the package it mentions that it is designed for HTPC use …but why did they make it so big?

Attachment 166

Above is the comparison with the Sparkle 400W. When working in a smaller PC case such as an HTPC case, space is at a premium and increasing the physical size of a power supply just to fit in a 140mm fan isn’t the best thing to do. The cables aren’t anywhere near as long as those on the SPI but are still a good length. So, the shorter cables are great in an mATX PC but the size of the unit itself is a huge hindrance. Yet, if you use this in a larger case, you may have trouble with cable length.
Attachment 169

Looking at the label we see two separate +12V rails rated at 14A and 15A respectively. Unlike the SPI, this unit does not give a maximum output of the combined +12V but it does mention that the combined output for the +5V and +3.3V rails is 130W. Much like the Sparkle, what you get with this power supply is the basic minimum; no Active PFC no 80+ certification and so on. Something that I really don’t like about this unit is that there seems to be no RoHS certification. While this may seem minor to many readers, I like to see companies going the extra step of using green components. Nmedia states on their website that this power supply is part of their “Green Power” lineup, but that does not jive with the lack of RoHS certification. Let’s see what the inside holds for us.

Attachment 174

Upon first glance the interior looks a bit more robust than the SPI but the heatsinks look downright tiny. Heck with a 140mm fan blowing for all it’s worth, who needs heatsinks? Close inspection reveals that on the left edge of the PCB is a specification rating this PCB for use in 200W to 300W power supplies. Very interesting, maybe this power supply is based on a 300W unit? That would explain why such a large fan is needed. Poking around even further, we see two Nippon Chemi-Con 680uF primary caps and a whole forest of Teapos on the secondary. Nippon caps are VERY high quality and at the same time very expensive. It is AMAZING to see these on a low-budget PSU.

Attachment 172

After consultation with nMedia representatives, I have determined that these are INDEED Nippon caps. Bravo nMedia!!!!

Attachment 160

The fan used in the Nmedia is of a stature that would make even Sikorsky jealous; a full 140mm. This is a ball-bearing type fan made by Yate Loon and can push out 62 CFM at 1400RPM. Remember the rating of less than 25dB from the front of the box? Well according to Yate Loon this fan is rated at 29dB.


Enhance 400W (ENP-5140GH)
Also Silverstone ST40EF
Price: $75
Packaging: OEM
Fan Size: 120mm

Cord Lengths and Connectors:
- Molex: 4 Connectors
o 2x 25” length (2 connectors)

- SATA: 4 Connectors
o 2x 26” length (2 connectors)

- PCI-E: 1 Connector
o 1x 20” length

- 4-Pin Floppy: 1 Connector
o 1x 30” length (at end of Molex cord)

- 20+4 ATX Connector: 20” Length

- EPS12V CPU Connector: 20” Length

Attachment 178

Now we move on to the heavy-hitter of the bunch: the Enhance 400W power supply. This power supply is based around industrial-grade components (read: server-grade). Enhance makes their own power supplies and has long been known for making high-quality server grade power supplies. This unit is also used for the Silverstone ST40EF 400W power supply which has a few additions like dual PCI-E connectors and more Molex connectors. For more information about the Silverstone unit, you can go here: http://www.silverstonetek.com/products-40ef.htm . At $75 it is the most expensive power supply in this round up even though it comes in OEM packaging.

Observations

Very important: This power supply refused to boot with my DFI motherboard. This is not a fault of the power supply but rather the DFI “cold boot” syndrome where the motherboard requires more than 3A from the +5VSB rail in order to boot. This is above ATX specs and this power supply sticks to the 2.5A +5VSB spec. This unit succeeded in booting when using MSI, Gigabyte and Asus motherboards.

Once again we have a power supply without any sleeves on the cables but the majority of the cables are wrapped so well with tie-wraps that sleeving really isn’t needed. The overall length of the connectors is good but on average, they are still not as long as the SPI’s. Another problem may present itself with the number of Molex connectors on this power supply; in my opinion, four connectors are not enough. Luckily, the Silverstone version of this unit improves on this by adding two more Molex connectors. The Enhance is finished in a classy black finish and is the exact same overall size as the Sparkle 400W. The fan is a 120mm model.

Attachment 157

Looking at the label we see that this power supply can output an incredible amount of power for a 400W unit. A combined 34A on the +12V rails would be absolutely phenomenal but once again, there is no indication of the actual combined wattage for the +12V rails. Looking at the rest of the label is like looking at a laundry list of great features: Active PFC, 80+ certification (for info about the 80+ program go here: http://www.80plus.org/ ) and RoHS compliancy. You get what you pay for and it is for those features (and others) that you pay the $30 premium over the other units in this roundup.

Unfortunately, in the midst of taking interior shots my trusty digital camera met with an untimely end (camera, meet pavement) so from here on out, I’m going to have to make due with stock interior shots or none at all. I’ll work on getting them once I get a new camera.

Attachment 163
Image taken from Silverstone

Right away we can see that this product is built like a tank. Not only are the transformer coils positively massive compared to the other power supplies in the round up but the primary cap is a thing of beauty. Instead of going with two lower-rated primary caps, Enhance went with a single 330uF Teapo cap rated at 120C (industrial grade) and Teapos on the secondary as well. Very nice indeed.


Antec Smartpower 450W (SP-450)
NCIX Link: http://www.ncix.com/products/index.php?sku=15422&vpn=SONATA%20II&manufacture=ANTEC
Price: n/a
Packaging: Packaged with Antec Sonata II case
Fan Size: 2x 80mm
Cord Lengths and Connectors:

- Molex: 5 Connectors
o 1x 25” length (3 connectors)
o 1x 20” length (2 connectors)

- SATA: 4 Connectors
o 2x 20” length (2 connectors)

- PCI-E: 1 Connector
o 1x 14” length

- 4-Pin Floppy: 1 Connector
o 1x 25” length (at end of Molex cord)

- 20+4 ATX Connector: 13” Length

- 4-Pin CPU Connector: 13” Length

Attachment 156

I know this is an odd power supply to include in this roundup but I thought it would be fitting to include a unit which is built into the price of a $117 case. This particular Channel Well Technology (CWT) built power supply has had a serious history of problems associated with the caps on the +5V rail going kaput. Luckily, Antec resolved this problem so any unit bearing the serial number x0607******x and above should be good to go. Note that the unit I am reviewing here has a serial number of x0608******x.

Observations:

Without a doubt, this power supply is built for the Antec Sonata II case. The cables are extremely short when compared to the other units in this roundup so they may cause you grief if you want to bring this unit with you if you change cases. Once again the cables are not sleeved but I do like the inclusion of black connectors which is a nice change from the other manufacturers here. Something else interesting is the fan speed monitor cable (Blue and Black cable) which can be plugged into your motherboard, allowing you to monitor the fan speed of your power supply. With two 80mm fans (one intake and one exhaust) this unit may prove to be the loudest in the roundup. Once again, only the tests will tell. The color is the same dull grey with nothing setting it apart form the dozens of other power supplies out there. But if it performs well, who cares what it looks like?

Attachment 173

Judging from the label, this power supply seems to have less output power on the +12V rails than the other 400W units in this roundup. Personally, I just think that the rating is less artificially inflated than its competitors. The combined output for the +12V rails is not written (again) but the +5V and +3.3V are rated at a healthy 150W. Once again little add-ons such as Active PCF are not included but this power supply is RoHS certified.


PERFORMANCE TESTS:

Instruments Used:
Belkin 1100VA UPS
Rexus PSU tester
Fluke 187 Digital Multimeter
UPM Power Meter
Tektronics TDS3032B Oscilloscope

Test Platform:
Asus A8N32-SLI
AMD X2 3800+ (at 2.7Ghz)
2GB Corsair PC4000 Ram (at 540Mhz)
EVGA 7900GTO (Stock, OC 750/1700, SLI)
1x Samsung Spinpoint 250GB SATA Hard drive
Antec Sonata Case
Pioneer DVD Writer


Efficiency Testing:

To test efficiency, plugged in my UPM power meter into the Belkin UPS and determined what the highest sustained power draw from the outlet was over a 30 minute test period. After testing numerous applications (Orthos, Sandra Burn utilities, Rome: Total War, Supreme Commander, Prey, Fear and 3DMark06) I determined that the game Company of Heroes was the one program that used the highest sustained power draw by a factor of almost 20%. All tests were run twice.

The first efficiency test’s “Load” value was done with an overclocked processor and the graphics card at stock speeds while running Company of Heroes. The values are the highest sustained power draw.

The second efficiency test’s “Load” value was done with an overclocked processor and a heavily overclocked (both 2D and 3D overclocked to the same value) graphics card. Company of Heroes was played while Orthos was running on the processor in the background. This is a serious stress test for a 400W power supply.

The third and final efficiency test was run with 2 7900GTO cards in SLI running at stock speeds with the processor overclocked to 2.7Ghz. Company of Heroes was then run to determine load values.


Efficiency Test #1

Attachment 167

As we can see from the results, the Enhance 400W with its 80+ certification leads the way with the least power draw from the outlet with the Antec Smartpower drawing the most power across the whole spectrum. It amazed me how much the Smartpower drew even when the computer was completely turned off, it was more than quadruple the amount of the Enhance and nearly twice the amount of the other two. Yikes.

A pleasant surprise here was the Nmedia 400W which drew less power on average than the SPI. Sadly, when it came to the higher load values, it was trailing slightly behind the Sparkle.


Efficiency Test #2

Attachment 159

Once again, the Smartpower is sucking in more power than any of its competitors in this test but we also see the Nmedia creeping up steadily when under the heavy load of an overclocked 7900GTO. The Enhance 400W is nicely flexing its 80+ muscle here again by winning by a wide margin. The SPI does very well when under load and it is becoming more and more apparent that the SPI design is more efficient at higher loads than some of its competitors.

Efficiency Test #3

Attachment 162

Burn baby burn!! Both the Nmedia and the SPI units failed to even boot with SLI enabled which right away points out their +12V output numbers are a complete lie. Well, not a lie, but a stretching of the truth. At least SPI admits on their label that the +12V rails combine for a MAX output of 348W but the sustained output is probably alot below that. The fact that both the Enhance and Antec units passed this grueling test was stunning. The Antec is slowly upping the efficiency as output is increased but the Enhance takes the day again. Remember that just because both of these PSUs functioned in this extreme situation, it does not mean that they are both able to power an SLI system safely.


Voltage Regulation Testing:

To test voltage regulation I used the same tests as I used for determining the efficiency. They were all done over two tests of 30 minutes where the voltage drops were logged with the Fluke 187 multimeter installed on a typical Molex connector. The tests were as follows:

The “Idle” value was done with an overclocked processor and the graphics card at stock speeds while running the Windows Desktop.

The “Load” value was done with an overclocked processor and the graphics card at stock speeds while running Company of Heroes.

The “Load (OC)” value was done with an overclocked processor and a heavily overclocked (both 2D and 3D overclocked to the same value) graphics card. Company of Heroes was played while Orthos was running on the processor in the background.

The “Load (SLI)” value was run with 2 7900GTO cards in SLI running at stock speeds with the processor overclocked to 2.7Ghz. Company of Heroes was then run to determine load values.


+5V Voltage Regulation:

I am going to keep this short and sweet; because I do not have (and the typical user does not have either) enough components that draw power from the +5V rail to put much stress on it, it is very hard to test voltage regulation. Thus, I did conduct the tests with the system I had and all the power supplies passed the tests (except SLI for the SPI and Nmedia) within +/- 5% of +5V. I did not add a chart as it would look VERY boring.


+12V Voltage Regulation

Attachment 164

And here we have the results. Once again the Enhance leads the pack with great regulation even when pushed with an SLI setup. The Antec has great regulation until the SLI test where it all falls apart; 11.41V on the +12V is way lower than you want to see your +12V rail getting. The Smartpower completely bowed under the pressure of this test. The Nmedia and SPI were neck and neck until the stress of the overclocked test where the Nmedia shows some pretty significant dips in the voltage. The Sparkle on the other hand keeps on truckin’ by showing only minor dips.


+12V AC Ripple Testing

This is a very significant test in the fact that AC Ripple can be the cause of many common computer problems. Short term effects of excess ripple can be anything from an unstable overclock to memory errors while long term effects can include premature component failure and decreased component performance. The ATX v2.2 ripple tolerance is anything below 120mV on the +12V rail.

To test for ripple the following tests were run twice while the ripple was being measured by the Tektronics o-scope. The values were the highest peak ripple measurement.

Attachment 171

Results:

Antec Smartpower: The Antec unit displayed relatively small amounts of ripple until it was pushed in the overclock test. From there into the SLI test we see in ever increasing tendency where ripple became a problem.

Enhance 400W: I feel that the results really speak for themselves. This is a great example of what having industrial-grade components can do for a power supply’s performance.

Nmedia 400W: I was actually surprised by the performance of this power supply right up until I loaded the overclock test. The Nmedia completely buckled under the stress with ripple maxing out at 135mV which is above ATX specifications. This is the typical sign of a lower-rated power supply trying to pass off as a higher-rated one (remember the 200W to 300W on the PCB?). With that said, I find that the Nmedia performed admirably in this test as long as it wasn’t whipped like a lazy donkey.

SPI 400W: This little fellow presented a bit of a shock for me. At idle it behaved beautifully but the second I put the load output on it, ripple suppression we out the window. Yes, the ripple was below ATX specs but above where I was expecting it to be. Luckily, the Sparkle unit held it together and received a borderline 120mV on the overclock test.


Noise and Heat

I was going to go through a whole section with charts depicting what my dBA meter read but I found that subjective hearing was a lot better in determining the noise output from these power supplies. I find that the dBA meter tends to pick up a little too much background noise that your brain just filters out on a daily basis. The power supplies were fully installed in my Sonata case and I disabled all of the case fans except the rear 120mm which I left at the “low” setting. The only test that was conducted was the “Load” test of 30 minutes of gaming with Company of Heroes. Another test was done with the Enhance and Antec products with SLI enabled. The case door was closed and the case was put in my desk approximately 36” away from my ear.


Antec Smartpower 450W: The Antec was totally and completely quiet (amazing for a power supply with two 80mm fans) throughout the test, even when the heat coming out of it was alarmingly hot. At first the exhaust fan was not working but after 21 minutes in the normal test and 10 minutes in the SLI test, it kicked in with a vengeance. Even with it expelling amazing volumes of air, the power supply stayed inaudible over the sound of the GPU and CPU fans. Heat is the bane of electronics components and I’m sure Antec would have benefited greatly from having both the intake and exhaust fans working together on this unit.


Enhance 400W: Enhance’s power supply was another silent runner for the majority of the tests with the large 120mm fan only turning on when it was needed. In the regular load test the fan only spooled up at the 26 minute mark and even then it was barely audible over the other fans. The SLI test really put this unit through its paces; after the 18 minute mark the fan has running flat out and expelling waves of heat from the back of the power supply. By the end of the test I could have sworn the ambient temperature of the room was up a few degrees. Even though it was running at near-light speeds, the fan stayed whisper quiet. This brings me to another point I have to make; while this power supply is more than able to run SLI’d 7900GTO cards, it pushes interior components further than I am willing to push them on a daily basis. I would be comfortable running a pair of 7900GS or 7900GT cards off of this but not anything above that.


Nmedia 400W: Have you ever heard the distant sound of an approaching helicopter? Well welcome to the ‘Nam sonny, because the Hueys are on their way in the form of an Nmedia power supply! The second the 140mm rotor blades (I refuse to call them anything else) on this power supply begin their titanic rotations, you know that they are cooling off the innards faster than the windstorm it kicks up behind your computer. If it was quiet, it would be a force to behold but it is anything but peaceful in the vicinity of this power supply. The noise this fan makes is particularly interesting; it is not the shriek of an 80mm fan, it is a deep rumble, a V8 of a fan. Like I said, it reminds me of a distant helicopter. The huge problem I see with this is that Nmedia advertises that the fan is temperature controlled yet it spins up to a feverish clip right from the initial startup screen. Too bad the air coming out the back is cool because I could have used it as a hair dryer if it was expelling hot air. This is supposed to be a silent power supply? Sure, if you are deaf in the first place.


SPI 400W: After the noise the Nmedia kicked up, this thing is as silent as a crypt. The 120mm fan makes next to no noise even after the full 30 minute stress test. The only problem I can see is the fact that at around the 20 minute mark the air coming out the back was quite hot, hotter than the Enhance at this point.


CONCLUSION

Considering the extreme stresses that I put these budget power supplies through, I find that they all performed better than I expected. Some were strong in different areas than their competition but in the end it all comes down to price and performance. Here is the breakdown which is not classified an order.


Antec Smartpower 450W: Considering this power supply comes pre-packaged in a beautiful ATX case for around the $120 mark, I would have to say that it should be on your short list when looking for a budget setup. It seems like the initial teething problems with the first crop of power supplies has been ironed out and what we have here is a good performing power supply. There are a few nagging issues that I had with this unit and they mostly stem from the completely unacceptable efficiency this power supply displayed. Other than that, the cables were very short and it wasn’t exactly a prom queen when it came to looks. All in all, it is a good choice if you buy it with the Sonata II case but if you are thinking about buying it by itself, look to a different power supply. Just remember, the Sonata III is on the horizon with a high-efficiency Antec Earthwatts 500W power supply.


Enhance 400W: How can someone not love this power supply? It has high efficiency, great ripple suppression and can power at least two 7900GS cards in SLI…all from a 400W power supply. Yes, you pay for this type of performance and with the $75+ price tag you may think you are better off finding a cheap 500W power supply. Let me tell you, there are very few 500W power supplies available that will out perform this unit and most of those are in the $100 range. Is this the perfect budget power supply? Yes and no. I say yes for all the reasons I have already stated but I say no because of the price and the fact that it has a serious lack of Molex connectors. The Silverstone ST40EF makes up for these shortcomings but I did not get my hands on one of those. Overall a great power supply and the best I tested in this roundup but it is pricy and hard to find in stock.


Nmedia 400W: For me this power supply is like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. On one hand I was happy with its performance but I was extremely annoyed with the racket it put out. I am also not a fan of the outright lies printed on the box and it lost a few points in my mind for that. Let me explain: Is it “super silent”? No. Does the efficiency exceed 85%? No way. I also didn’t like the fact that Nmedia increased the size of the unit beyond what it should be just to include a 140mm wind turbine. The shorter cables aren’t making a friend out of me either. I am a huge fan of the exterior finishing of the unit, the fact that it has a sleeved ATX connector and that it costs $45 for the full retail package. The performance was pretty good across the spectrum (you can’t expect miracles) but needs some shoring up in the higher-load ripple suppression and voltage regulation. If Nmedia would go with a 120mm fan, shrink the size of the unit and tell their OEM to go with an actual 400W chassis then we might have a serious contender. In my opinion, a great first foray into the power supply market and I can’t wait to see what the next generation Nmedia power supply holds.


Sparkle 400W: This is a good little power supply with one major flaw. That flaw being the very worrying ripple suppression when it jumped to 95mV on my initial load test. A regular consumer will never see the effects of ripple until it is too late and usually take the malfunctions caused by it as the fault of the component itself. That being said, 95mV of ripple is still below ATX 2.2 specs and most consumers will (hopefully) never load a 400W power supply as much as I did. I love the length of the cables that SPI provided and the fan is whisper quiet. It is not the best in ANY test but it is performs consistently well. That is all we can ask of a 400W power supply.

FINALLY, THE WINNER BETWEEN THE NMEDIA 400W AND THE SPARKLE 400W:

The Sparkle 400W gets my nod here but Sparkle better be looking over their shoulders really closely because with a few very minor tweaks the Nmedia 400W could take the crown from Sparkle. Hopefully Nmedia will make thee changes sooner rather than later because at this point I see no point in recommending the Nmedia over the Sparkle.


Review By SKYMTL

Attachment 226
 
 
 

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