Power supplies are one of the most overlooked part of a computer. Yet it is often the root for instability problems due to being to weak for all the power hugry stuff we put in our computers. Scott has reviewed the Antec True Blue 480 to see if it would fare better than the 350W power supply he had before.
Power supplies everyone uses them but not many really care about them. We keep upgrading memory, buy new graphics cards, buy new DVD driver, buy new hard drives but when was the last time you upgraded your power supply?
I would go so far to say that power supplies are one of the most overlooked parts of the PC. At the same time it is a very important part. With more and more items in the computer needing power using a no-name 350-450W power supply is pushing your luck. Even with a brand-name power supply you can get into troubles when putting more and more load in the system.
One good example is the way that this review was started. My main system has been a Falcon Northwest Mach V built around an Athlon 3000XP. The machine was shipped to me in the following configuration:
Athlon XP 3000
Asus A7N8X Deluxe Rev 2
2 x 512MB Corsair 2700DDR
BFG 5900 Ultra
2x 80GB 120GXP 7200RPM
Sony DRU-500AX DVD-RW/CD-RW Combo Drive
Toshiba 16X DVD
Promise TX 2000 RAID Controller
Enermax 350 Watt Power Supply
As you can tell it is a pretty darn nice system. However, since I am using this as my main/review system I had to tweak things in the systems. And this is where my problems with the power supply started.
I decided to first overclock the CPU by increasing the FSB to 200/400 from 166/333. This brought the CPU up to 3200. Since I knew this would stress the memory I replaced the 2 512 MB PC2700 sticks I used with 2 Corsair TwinX512-3200LLPT. I also bumped the memory voltage up to 2.7V from 2.6V as recommended by Corsair and Asus. To make sure my CPU had adequate cooling I replaced the included fan with TR2TTs TR2-M4 X Blower heatsink/Fan.
Satisfied with the CPU I then put in a Maxtor Plus 9 HD for testing and review. While the system was stable during the time of the Maxtor review it started to get unstable after about 2 weeks. I had random reboots as well as frequent BSODs. Going through all the items in the computer and reseating them didnt help. Since I had the Antec True Power 550 currently lying around I decided to see if using that helped. It did! So far the system has been stable for several weeks without a problem. It does look like I was pushing the poor Enermax 350W power supply to the limit with my overclocking and new HD.
This left me needing a new power supply for the machine. Since this is a Falcon Northwest with a killer NVIDIA paintjob I wondered if I could dress it up more for those dark evenings of gaming. While I didnt want to cut the case for some fancy lightning I wanted something just enough to enhance the case. That is why I started to look at the Antec True Blue 480 Watt. This power supply not only delivers 480 Watt (duh) but also uses a blue led on the fan to make it a bit cooler. Antec was kind enough to not only supply me with a review unit but also throw in a few Blue 80mm fans to make the case even nicer.
My cool Falcon Northwest NVIDIA painted machine
Features and specifications
Lets see what Antec sent me:
|True Blue 480
|ATX Logic on-off additional power rocker switch
|AUX PowerATX12V3-pin Fan Sensor Fan Only
|+5V,+12V outputs return to within 5% in less than 1ms for 20% load change.
|P. G. Signal
|Over Voltage Protection
recycle AC to reset
|+5V trip point +3.3V trip point +12V trip point
|Overload Protection Latching Protection
|+5V @ +3.3V @ +12V @
|5.9″(L) x 5.5″(W) x 3.4″(H)
15cm(L) x 14 cm(W) x 8.6 cm(H)
|Input Frequency Range
|47Hz to 63Hz
|Input Surge Current
|5.0A for 230VAC
|>17ms at Full Load
|FCC Class B CISPR22 Class
|* +5V, +3.3V & +12V maximum output 460 Watts max.
|10 to 50ºC
|Operating Alt. Sea Level
|Operating:10-300 Hz, 0.5G, 3 axes, 1 hr. ea. axis
Non-operating: 10-300 Hz, 2.0G, 3 axes, 1 hr. ea. axis
|80,000 hrs. @ 25ºC
|UL, TUV, CB, VDE, FCC CLASS B, DEMKO, NEMKO, SEMKO, FIMCO
And a little info on the fans:
3 Blue LEDs
Size 80 x 80 x 25.4 mm
Weight 71.5 gm
Fan Speed 2,600 rpm (avg.)
Volumetric Airflow 34 CFM
Acoustic Noise 30 dBA (at average rpm
|The cat (not included, sold separately)
For testing I used my beat up but trusty Radio Shack Voltmeter and MBM by Alex Van Kaam.
Setting up dual screens on my PC I was able to run benchmarks of AquaMark, UT 2003 and 3DMark 2003 and watch the load on the power supply with MBM on the other monitor and comparing to the voltmeter.
I was happy to report that we never even went out of +/- of 2% of specs on any of the voltages. To stress the system more I replaced the 5900 from BFG with a NVIDIA reference 5950 and over-clocked the core to 550MHz from 475MHz and the RAM to 1.02GHz from the 950MHz it was running stock. Once again the power supply held steady and we did not move any higher than a +/- 2% difference.
|On of the 80 mm fans
|Power supply fan to the left, 80 mm fan to the right
All I can say is that I am very impressed with the Antec True Blue 480. This power supply so far is even exceeding what Antec specs for the power supply. One reason that this could be is due to the fact that we currently do not have to run either the air condition or heating at my house (New Jersey). The power supply thus is not put on the stress of the HVAC unit coming on. However previously Antec power supplies that we have looked at have always kept within Antecs specs even with this added stress so we have no reason to believe this power supply is any different. The True Blue 480 can be had for around 80$. Look for the best price here.
SATA Power Leads
Nice Black Connectors
Stayed Well Within Specifications
Non as far as I am concerned
I award the Antec True Blue 480 the Golden Bear Award