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8/30/2006
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Review: Antec TruePower Trio 650 Power Supply

If your system is bristling with hard drives and other devices, then you'll need enough power to support them. Antec's latest power supply may be useful.

Antec's TruePower Trio 650 power supply unit (PSU) is, at 3.4 x 5.5 x 5.9 inches, the same size physically as any other power supply you're likely to purchase. It's the 650 watts of output power that makes it tower figuratively over its competition.



Antec TruePower Trio 650
Let me start with a confession: I'm old enough to have owned computers with 43-watt power supplies and then to have marveled as the next generation appeared sporting an even more monstrous 65-watt version. At the time, it would have been difficult to image what new components could possibly have been installed that would require such a drastic increase in power.

Today, you can hardly find a motherboard of any usefulness that isn't sprouting eight SATA connectors -- that's eight potential mechanical hard drives. SLI graphics cards have their own power connectors -- and because there are two cards in an SLI arrangement, that's two times the power of a single graphics solution. Then there are 110-watt CPUs married to as much as 4GB (and sometimes more) of memory -- and let's not even talk about all the LEDs and flashing lights.

I had already dealt with 500-watt power supplies. But after I added four Seagate Cheetah SAS hard drives to the four SATA drives already installed, I had good reason to install this 4.6-pound, 650-watt monster supply in my system.

Impressive Specs
The basic specifications (as laid out by Antec) are impressive:

  • Universal input, automatically adjusts for 100V to 240V power grids
  • Active Power Factor Correction (PFC) for environmentally friendlier power
  • Three 12V output circuits
  • Rated at 50° C for 24 hours a day
  • Up to 85-percent efficiency
  • 120mm low-noise cooling fan
  • Feedback loop circuits for tighter load regulation (± 3 %) to maintain accurate voltage to all components
  • Four SATA connectors for Serial ATA drives
  • Two PCI-E connectors for PCI-Express video cards on 550W and 650W models, one connector on 430W model
  • MTBF: 80,000 hours at 50° C
Have I mentioned yet that it's tagged with a five-year warranty?

Some notes on the specs: Keep in mind that this PSU is rated to run 24/7 at full output unless the temperature rises above 122°F (50°C). That makes it ideal for an always-on media server, printer server, or Internet server. Its 85-percent efficiency rating is the ratio of power going in to power going out, usually compared in watts. The closer that number is to 100 percent, the more efficient the PSU is -- with most hovering around 75 to 80 percent. (In case you're wondering, that difference ends up as dissipated heat, so a higher efficiency also means a cooler PSU.)

On The Rails
Why is it called the Trio? There's no real mystery there either: It has three 12v rails. A rail is just the insider word for a power circuit, which means that the Trio 650 has three 12v output circuits -- not just one with a plethora of connectors tied to it. That's important for stability. The higher the load you place on a circuit, the more danger you run of creating power or voltage "sags" -- drops in wattage or voltage caused by excessive draw. When you divide the output across separate circuits you're spreading the load. Add in the Trio's feedback loop circuitry and you're looking at a 12v rail that will never vary by more than ±0.36 volts. That's credible stability.

Don't worry about the Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) rating. It's an internal quality control number and just an impressive-looking marketing gee-gaw for the consumer crowd. Otherwise, it's quite meaningless. It doesn't mean that the power supply won't fail for 80,000 hours after you plug it in -- just that the time between two successive failures is 80,000 hours. The time to the first failure of the unit could be two seconds after you hit the power switch. It's the five-year warranty that's the important information here.

Best of all, although the Trio is leagues ahead of your average off-the-shelf PSU, it fits in the same space and installs with the same four screws on the back panel as any other. Think Superman dressed in a Clark Kent suit.

The Trio line-up (430W, 550W, and 650W) is relatively new; the 650W unit is, for some reason, not available on the Antec site, but can be found at retailers for approximately $130-$150. That sounds pretty expensive compared to the $39 and $49 prices you'll see for some 400+ watt competitors. Power supplies, however, are one of the few remaining bastions of "you get what you pay for." You won't get the same performance and durability at one-half to one-third the price, no matter what anyone might promise.

You could take my word for that or you could ignore it and just wait to see your computer develop intermittent failures and blue screens of death from power fluctuations -- your choice.


Antec TruePower Trio 650
Antec, Inc.
www.antec.com
Price: $130-$150
Summary: If your system is loaded with hard drives and other peripherals, this powerful PSU will make sure it keeps running.

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