Ultra X4 1050W Power Supply Reviewpaulktreg - October 18, 2009
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For its packaging, use of foam inserts and no mention whatsoever of the use of recycled materials, the Ultra X4 1050W scores zero points. For its high efficiency and power factor levels it pulls a some back, so let's call it a draw.
Price Per the Watt:
Power Supply Ultra X4 1050W at $TBA = $TBA/Watt (10-2009)
Before I discuss the merits of the Ultra X4 1050W power supply I would just like to talk about the fully modular power supply in general. I cannot see any reason to manufacture a fully modular power supply. The 20/24 pin motherboard connector along with either a 4 pin ATX12V or 8 pin EPS12V connector are needed on the vast majority of computer motherboards and there is no justification for making these modular. Granted it isn't going to affect the operation of the power supply but the introduction of extra plugs, sockets and crimp connectors must increase the production costs and reduce reliability. Should all the PCI-E connectors be modular on a 1000W+ power supply? The main reason for installing a 1000W power supply would be to power a dual graphics card set up which would require four 6/8 pin PCI-E connectors so why make these modular? All systems will need a single chain of SATA power connectors so why make these modular? Okay, fully modular isn't the end of the world and I've no doubt some would say my points are trivial, but I just cannot see the logic behind making every cable modular. Many die hard overclockers will only use power supplies with captive hard wired cables/connectors and a powerful single 12V rail, I can appreciate the reasoning behind it and it's a point worthy of further discussion. I am tempted to include the fully modular feature in the cons section but perhaps that's a little harsh (but it certainly won't be included in the pros).
On the whole the Ultra X4 1050W performed very well. The DC voltage load regulation was very good with little fluctuation from zero to full load. The noise/ripple levels although within the limits set down by the ATX12V V2.2 specification were a little higher than I would like especially on the 12V rail. The Ultra X4 1050W marginally failed to maintain the minimum level of efficiency of 80% as required by its 80 Plus certification giving 79% at 20% loading on 110VAC. The power factor dipped below 0.9 which is very unusual even on some mid range power supplies.
The Ultra X4 1050W has a few great features which include the different length PCI-E cables, anti-vibration mounting gasket and thumbscrews for fixing the power supply. The user manual contains a great step by step guide on how to install the power supply and connect the cables with black and white photographs to illustrate each step, a welcome addition for the novice builder. The user manual and packaging lack one important detail, a feature list. I don't know about you but it's one of the first things I look for to get an overall first impression of the contents and I think it's important. Don't get me wrong - most of the information is there but you just have to spend a little time finding it which some people just won't do and move on to the next offering on the shelf. Power factor levels, hold up times and basic protection information are all lacking, but is the average PC enthusiast interested in this information, or is it just me?
I can't help but the feel the Ultra X4 1050W isn't quite aimed at the high-end enthusiast market with its step by step installation guide, lack of a feature list and vague technical data in some areas. If Ultra is aiming at the enthusiast power supply market then they should provide more comprehensive information and technical data. I don't like fully modular power supplies, it's a sales gimmick with no credible reasoning behind it in my personal opinion, as it must increase production costs and reduce reliability; a modular 20/24 pin motherboard connector - why?
Don't let me put you off this power supply too much. The Ultra X4 1050W is very well put together with a great set of accessories and performance to match. It will easily and reliably power any high end gaming machine with dual graphic cards in SLI or Crossfire and if a fully modular supply is what you are after then look no further - it will be hard to beat. Register the power supply with Ultra and the automatic 3 year warranty becomes a limited lifetime warranty, not given by too many manufacturers and it shows a certain level of confidence in the long term performance of the unit.
- Excellent DC voltage load regulation
- Limited lifetime warranty (registration required)
- High efficiency
- User manual installation guide
- Marginally failed 80 Plus (following the OCC Testing Methodology)
- Lack of technical information/feature list
- MTBF quoted at 25°C