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Ultra X-Pro 600W EE Power Supply Review

by Michael "SKYMTL" Hoenig     |     June 23, 2007




Ultra X-Pro 600W EE Power Supply Review




Table of Contents:
Intro
1- The Packaging
2- Exterior Observations
3- Interior Impressions
4- Output Characteristics
5- Efficiency Testing
6- Voltage Regulation Testing
7- +12V AC Ripple Testing
8- Noise and Heat
9- Conclusion


Model Number: ULT40053
Price: Approx. $170
Packaging: Retail
Fan Size: 1x 135mm
Warranty: Lifetime
Availability: Now


Cord Lengths and Connectors:

- Molex: 8 Connectors
o 2x 30” (3 connectors each)
o 1x 24” (2 connectors)

- SATA: 4 Connectors
o 2x 24” length (2 connectors each)

- PCI-E 6-Pin: 2 Connectors
o 2x 17” length

- 4-Pin Floppy: 2 Connectors
o 1x 36” length (at end of 30” Molex cable)
o 1x 30” length (at end of 24” Molex cable)

- 20+4 ATX Connector: 17 1/2” Length

- 8-Pin CPU Connector: 22” Length


Once again we have an Ultra power supply up for review but this time it is not a budget-oriented unit. This time Ultra is shooting for a higher-end market with their X-Pro 600W EE power supply (the "EE" is for "Energy Efficient") which is priced at or around $170 CAD depending on where you look. This price puts Ultra’s X-Pro 600W into the same price category as heavy-hitters from the likes of Silverstone and Thermaltake. This alone will make many people stand up and take notice as Ultra has gradually built a name for itself as a fabricator of low-cost components which appeal to a broader market than the enthusiast (read: more expensive) products from other companies. Ultra seems to be very proud of this foray into the enthusiast-level performance (and price) category so this should prove to be a very interesting unit to review.

As usual, Ultra has given this power supply their Lifetime Warranty which right away puts this product head and shoulders above its competition. Not only does this help sell units on Ultra’s side but it gives the consumer the peace of mind necessary to seriously consider purchasing the X-Pro. Ultra has also given this unit a veritable laundry-list of features including APFC, EPS12V compatibility and a claimed 85% efficiency. This particular unit is built by Andyson International which is known for their server-grade power supplies.


1- The Packaging





One thing you can always count on with Ultra is their flashy packaging. In this case the box is a vivid green which is sure to get anyone’s attention even though it still reserves enough room to list the various features and technical specifications. The box itself is quite a bit taller than we are used to seeing and we will see why next.




Without a doubt, this is the best-packaged power supply we have come across here on Hardwarecanucks. Ultra has protected their X-Pro so well it would probably even survive the famous UPS “shake and bake” (budget) shipping method. All of the cables are folded underneath the power supply to give it extra protection and the entire unit is suspended between two sturdy blocks of foam. This is a far cry from the way the V-Series power supplies are packaged.

The accessories are the usual fare with the X-Pro; you get a manual, power cord and four chromed screws.


2- Exterior Impressions




The first thing we see when looking at the Ultra X-Pro 600W is the gargantuan 11-rotor, 135mm fan that would put any of Igor Sikorsky’s dreams to shame. These massive fans are quickly becoming more common-place in power supplies as demand for quiet computing increases. The reason for this is that a fan with a larger surface area is able to move the same amount of air as a small fan while turning at fewer rotations per minute.

All of the X-Pro’s cables are sleeved in what can only be described as the holy-grail of sleeving. Ultra has absolutely hit the nail on the head with the quality of the sleeving on this unit; so much so that every other manufacturer should use this as a benchmark. The number of connectors is more than acceptable but the cables themselves are a little too short when compared to other power supplies in this price category. We can also notice a distinct lack of a 8-pin PCI-E connector.

The finish on the metal housing of this power supply needs special mention as it is an absolutely brilliant dark chrome. While have seen finishes comparable to this with the Mushkin XP-650 and HP-550, they were both extremely scratch-prone while the X-Pro’s finish is a bit more resistant to scratches. Once again though, fingerprints seem to pop up everywhere on a finish like this.

Now, let’s void that Lifetime Warranty…..


3- Interior Impressions




Initial impressions of the interior layout and components are generally positive with good airflow being directed over the ribbed heatsinks. The primary and secondary filtering stages both seem robust enough to warrant the 600W rating (unlike the Cooler Master “600W” unit we reviewed in the 500W PSU roundup). It is also good to see the sleeving continuing all the way into the housing.




The caps used on both the primary and secondary are Teapos of which we have been seeing a lot of lately. On the other hand, the single primary cap is an industrial-rated 420V 390uF unit which is rated at 105C. This 390uF primary cap is quite a step above other Teapos we have seen in past reviews.

By interior design and components selection alone, we would hope that this Ultra power supply will perform very well for its price.


4- Output Characteristics




With a single +12V rail rated at 432W, the X-Pro 600W is pretty much ready to take on almost anything you can throw at it…within reason. It seems that with growing demands on the +12V rail, many manufacturers have decided to move back to true single-rail designs so the power draw form certain components won’t bump into an OCP circuit. Since nearly all of the most power hungry components draw power from the +12V rail, it is always good to see companies releasing power supplies with some serious stones in this area. Other than that, all the other rails have a cursory rating to make way for the +12V power output.



PERFORMANCE TESTS:

Instruments Used:
Belkin 1100VA UPS
Rexus PSU tester
Fluke 187 Digital Multimeter
UPM Power Meter
USB Instruments Stingray USB O-Scope
USB Instruments Differential oscilloscope probe

Test Platform:
DFI Lanparty SLI-DR Expert
AMD X2 3800+ (at 2.6Ghz)
2GB Corsair PC4000 Ram (at 520Mhz)
EVGA 8800GTS (Stock, OC 650/1900, SLI, SLI OC 650/1800)
1x Samsung Spinpoint 250GB SATA Hard drive
Gigabyte 3D Aurora 570 Case
Pioneer DVD Writer
4X 120mm Noctua NF-S12-1200 fans

Important note:

Because of processor limitation, 8800GTS cards in SLI are seriously bottlenecked in Company of Heroes. Thus, while they still drew quite a high amount of power, when coupled with a higher end system or playing at higher resolutions they would probably draw much more.

One way or another, I would NOT recommend anything under a good 700W power supply for a pair of 8800GTS cards. These tests are done as benchmarks ONLY.



5- Efficiency Testing:

To test efficiency, plugged in the UPM power meter to the Belkin UPS and the highest sustained AC power consumption was recorded over the 1 hour test period. All tests were run twice and if there were anomalies, the test was run a third time. All “Startup” results are the peak power output required while powering on the computer between the POST screen and a usable WindowsXP desktop.

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 peak power draw over the 1 hour test period.

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.

The third efficiency test was run with 2 8800GTS 320MB cards in SLI running at stock speeds with the processor overclocked to 2.6Ghz. Company of Heroes was then run for 1 hour to determine load values.

The final test was run with 2 8800GTS 320MB cards running in SLI and overclocked to 650/1800. Company of Heroes was played for 30 minutes while the overclocked processor (at 2.6Ghz) ran Orthos in the background. In addition, HDtach was looped in the background and a full DVD was burned as well.

Efficiency Test #1




Efficiency Test #2





Efficiency Test #3





Efficiency Test #4




By looking at the charts we can see that the Ultra X-Pro 600W performs stunningly well when it comes to efficiency. The 80 Plus program is a certification program that gives customers piece of mind without having to rely on the shady marketing tools that some PSU manufacturers resort to when it comes to efficiency. Ultra has spent the few bucks more and has received this certification…and it shows. Luckily, even though we do not have actual efficiency percentages here we can comfortably say that the X-Pro lives up to its billing as an efficient power supply.


6- Voltage Regulation Testing:

To test voltage regulation I used the same tests as the efficiency. All tests were done over two tests of 1 hour where the voltage drops were logged with the Fluke 187 multimeter. The multimeter was installed directly on a plugged PCI-E connector for the +12V tests and a SATA connector for the +5V and +3.3V tests. 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 8800GTS 320MB cards in SLI running at stock speeds with the processor overclocked to 2.6Ghz. Company of Heroes was then run for 1 hour to determine load values.

The “Load SLI OC” test was run with 2 overclocked 8800GTS cards (650/1800) in SLI while playing Company of Heroes for 30 minutes. At the same time, Orthos was running in the background to put stress on the processor (OC’d to 2.6Ghz) while a DVD was burned and HDtach was running a hard drive scan.


+5V / +3.3V Voltage Regulation:

Once again, 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 and +3.3V rails in order to stress them. Thus, I did conduct the tests with the system I had and the X-Pro passed the tests within +/- 3% of 5V / 3.3V. I did not add a chart as it would have looked VERY boring.


+12V Voltage Regulation Testing





Voltage regulation proves to be another of the Ultra’s strong points as evidenced by this test. No matter what was thrown at the X-Pro, it proved to be up to the task and then some by keeping all the result charts flatter than year-old Coke. Indeed, here on Hardwarecanucks we have never before seen such strong voltage regulation in a power supply that we have tested. Whether it is because of this unit’s server-grade pedigree or something else altogether there is one thing that is abundantly apparent: these results are stunning. Bravo Ultra.


7- +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 for 30 minutes while the ripple was being measured by the Stingray o-scope. The values were the highest peak ripple measurement.

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 8800GTS cards in SLI running at stock speeds with the processor overclocked to 2.6Ghz. Company of Heroes was then run to determine load values.

The “Load SLI OC” test was run with 2 overclocked 8800GTS cards (650/1800) in SLI while playing Company of Heroes for 30 minutes. At the same time, Orthos was running in the background to put stress on the processor (OC’d to 2.6Ghz) while a DVD was burned and HDtach was running a hard drive scan.



While these results may be slightly higher than the Silverstone power supplies, they should still be considered top-notch. When it comes to ripple, some of the seeming “good” power supplies fall flat on their faces but in this case the Ultra proves that it is far better than just a good power supply. Remember, anything below 120mV is within ATX specifications and anything below 50mV is an outstanding result.


Noise and Heat

Luckily, the Ultra holds it together in this category beyond all expectations. The 135mm fan is supposed to be silent-running and it is just that throughout all of the tests. Hardly a whisper was issued from its massive rotors even during the stressful SLI OC test and this goes to prove that in this case, the large fan pays for itself in spades. While the fan was spinning lazily along, the exhaust temperature of the X-Pro stayed quite cool throughout the testing procedure which is a welcome difference when compared to some other power supplies we have tested in the past.


Conclusion

Without a doubt, the Ultra X-Pro holds its own against the competition and then some. This is one heck of an impressive power supply with great efficiency, awe-inspiring voltage regulation, amazing ripple protection and near-silent operation under all loads. Another highlight is Ultra’s Lifetime Warranty and great customer support which will give consumers piece of mind if they choose to make this purchase. Add to that a sleeving job that will make other manufacturers blush with envy and what we have here is a near-perfect power supply. Ultra has produced a power supply that they can be proud of and can use as a benchmark for upcoming units.

Of course with all this praise inevitably come a few points that need to be improved with the X-Pro. First and foremost among these is the Canadian pricing which is pegged at a staggering $170 which puts it into the same pricing territory as some very good 700W and higher units. On the other hand, like all computer components, you will find this for less when it is on sale. Another minor issue consumers may have is that the length of critical cables such as the ATX, EPS and PCI-E is quite short when compared to the competition. In addition, it is almost a crying shame that Ultra has not seen fit to equip their X-Pro with an 8-pin PCI-E connector since it is more than capable of handling a HD2900XT.

Those few minor issues aside, with the X-Pro Ultra has proved their naysayers wrong by literally beating them into submission with a vastly superior product when compared to many others out there. Bravo again Ultra, you get the coveted Hardwarecanucks Dam Good Award!!!

Pros:

- Great voltage regulation
- Superior Efficiency
- Cable sleeving the way it should be done
- 135mm fan is very quiet
- Lifetime warranty

Cons:

- Price
- Some cables a bit too short




Please feel free to discuss this review in the http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/power...ee-review.html

SKYMTL