Ultra X4 1050W Power Supply Review

paulktreg - 2009-09-10 12:18:29 in Power Supplies
Category: Power Supplies
Reviewed by: paulktreg   
Reviewed on: October 18, 2009
Price: TBD

Introduction:

Ultra Products manufacture a wide range of products including case fans and lights, enclosures, DVD products, hard drive coolers, memory, memory coolers and power supplies. Part of Systemax Inc., head office in New York, they are probably better known for their computer power supplies and were the first company to produce a fully modular power supply, the Ultra X-Connect 500W.

This time around OCC are taking a close look at a newly introduced power supply, the Ultra X4 1050W from Ultra Products. The Ultra X4 1050W is a fully modular unit with plenty of power and all the connectors needed to power any dual graphics card gaming machine. Let's take a closer look and see how well it performs.

Closer Look:

The packaging of the Ultra X4 1050W doesn't really follow any theme with its gloss finish and lavish use of colour photographs. The front panel carries an Ultra X4 logo which is repeated across all the other panels, a photograph of the power supply and illustrations showing all the connectors, types and quantities. Most of the text, in English and French, tells me this power supply could be mainly aimed at the USA and Canadian markets. The front panel also tells the prospective buyer that the power supply is 80 plus certified, uses active power factor correction, is quiet and fully modular.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

The side panels, both with the Ultra X4 logo, provide information on the box contents and a few brief paragraphs describing the thermal protection and use of a 135mm fan, hassle free fully modular design and warranty policy again in both English and French.

 

 

The top of the box repeats much of the information given on the front panel and a plain black base.

 

 

Lift the lid and the first thing you see is the user manual. On the left is the top foam protector for the power supply with a cut-out containing cable ties, screws and the anti-vibration mounting gasket and on the right a black cardboard box containing the modular cable set.

 

 

Top foam protector removed to reveal the Ultra X4 1050W power supply in a protective plastic bag.

 

The plastic bag enclosed Ultra X4 1050W and box contents including user manual, anti-vibration mounting gasket, modular cable bag, cable ties and mounting screws. The modular cable bag as two compartments, both Velcro sealed with an X4 Power Supply logo in white text. Two types of power supply mounting screws are supplied, standard or thumb screw type.

 

 

The packaging of the Ultra X4 1050W offers good protection for transit but general information on the more technical aspects of the power supply are lacking. There isn't a features list which I'm sure most prospective buyers, or at least the computer enthusiasts, look for when buying a power supply. Everything needed is included in the box with one or two extras not supplied by some other manufacturers, anti-vibration mounting gasket and power supply mounting thumb screws if required.

 

Closer Look (The Power Supply):

The Ultra X4 1050W with its satin black painted case and silver and black Ultra X4 logo at the cooling fan grill center. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The rear panel showing the hexagonal-holed exhaust grille, mains on/off switch and IEC mains input connector and the front panel with the modular cable connectors. Unlike most other power supply manufacturers that use 6 and 8 pin PCI-E type connectors for the modular cable connections, Ultra have used connectors that reflect their use. The connectors for the peripheral modular cables use 4 pin peripheral connectors and the SATA connectors, although not actual SATA connectors, they are five pin connectors carrying 12V, 0V, 5V, 0V and 3V3 in the same order as the SATA connector.

 

 

Both sides of the power supply sport the Ultra X4 logo pressed into the metal.

 

 

The 135mm cooling fan sporting a silver and black logo at its centre and the underside of the power supply showing the specification label, warranty seal and test labels. The text along the bottom of the specification label, written in red, is in English and German! I know this is a very minor point but if the packaging gives all its information in English and French why does it suddenly switch to English and German? There are three round black labels, one of which says "HI-POT PASSED", what does it mean? For anybody that's interested, the power supply insulation is tested using a HIgh POTential or voltage (can be 500V, 1KV or higher) between the earth conductor and the live and neutral conductors connected together and a measurement made of the resistance. This test forms one of the main components of an electrical safety test and looks for any dangerous leakage paths that may exist, resistances in the order of 2 megaohms or higher are expected.

 

 

The photograph on the left shows the hardwired cables, whoops there are none, more on this later. The full set of modular cables on the right.

 

 

The 135mm cooling fan is an Ultra DC12V model DFB132512H, but a little research reveals it is produced by Young Lin and runs at 3W, widely used in power supplies and a good quality DC brushless fan.

 

Unlike some other review websites, I don't delve too far into the printed circuit board trying to find any manufacturer or model numbers. Don't get me wrong, I have a good look, but if it means removing components and/or wires to find any information, then I don't bother. I don't know who made the board in this unit but all I can say, going of what I can see, is that it is very well made, it uses top quality vaned heatsinks and 105°C rated electrolytic capacitors by Teapo - a reputable manufacturer. To have a printed circuit board made by one of the mainstream manufacturers is all very well but at the end of the day, a well made board that gives great performance is all that matters!

 

Well made with neat cabling gives a good first impression.

 

 

No problems that I can see, so let's see how it performs.

 

Specification:

Ratings Table:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ultra X4 1050W Specifications (Part No: U12-40502)
AC Input
115-230VAC     14-7A     50-60Hz
DC Output
+5V
+3V3
+12V
-12V
+5VSB
Maximum Load
30A
24A
76A
0.5A
3A
Maximum Combined Wattage
170W
912W
6W
15W
1029W
21W
1050W

 

System Protection:

"Ultra's innovative short circuit protection system helps to protect a user's computer by shutting down in the event of a major electrical event. When this occurs, the unit will automatically power down to prevent damage to the attached components. Simply restart the power supply to get your system back up and running."

 

Ultra X4 1050W Over Voltage Protection
Sense Level
Over Voltage
+3V3
4.2V±10%
+5V
6.3V±10%
+12V
15.0V±10%

 

Safety & Agency Approvals:

UL 1950, IEC 60950, FCC Class B, CE & CB

 

Power Supply Weight:

 

Power Supply Weight
Manufacturer/Model
Weight
Ultra X4 1050W
2.1kg
4.6lbs

 

Power Supply Connectors:

 

Ultra X4 1050W Connectors
20+4 Pin Motherboard
Modular
1
EPS12V 8 Pin
Modular
1
ATX12V 4 Pin
Modular
1
PCI-E 6 Pin
Modular
3
PCI-E 6+2 Pin
Modular
3
SATA Power
Modular
11
Peripheral 4 Pin
Modular
9
FDD
Modular
2
Case Fan
Adapter
2

 

Power Supply Cable Lengths:

 

Ultra X4 1050W Connector Cable Lengths
Modular
PSU > 23” > 20+4 Pin Motherboard
1
Modular
PSU > 23” > 8 Pin EPS12V
1
Modular
PSU > 23” > 4 Pin ATX12V
1
Modular
PSU > 23” > PCI-E 6 Pin
1
Modular
PSU > 25” > PCI-E 6 Pin
1
Modular
PSU > 27” > PCI-E 6 Pin
1
Modular
PSU > 23” > PCI-E 6+2 Pin
1
Modular
PSU > 25” > PCI-E 6+2 Pin
1
Modular
PSU > 27” > PCI-E 6+2 Pin
1
Modular
PSU > 17” > Peripheral > 6” > Peripheral > 6” > FDD
2
Modular
PSU > 17” > Peripheral > 6” > Peripheral
1
Modular
PSU > 17” > Peripheral > 6” > Peripheral > 6” > Peripheral
1
Modular
PSU > 17” > SATA > 6” > SATA
1
Modular
PSU > 17” > SATA > 6” > SATA > 6” > SATA
3
Adapter
Peripheral > 12” >  2 x Case Fan
1

 

Features:

Nothing that could be described as a feature list, so below are the main points taken from the packaging and the user manual.

Testing:

For more information on how we test our power supplies, please browse our testing methodology.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

Electrical Safety:

 

Electrical Safety Test Class 1
Manufacturer/Model
Pass/Fail
Ultra X4 1050W
Pass

 

Short Circuit Protection:

I short circuited the 3V3, 5V0 and 12V rails in turn. The power supply did shut down, and once the short was removed and the unit switched off for at least one second, resumed normal operation. Although listed here at the beginning of the testing section, I tend to leave this test until the very end, in case it doesn't quite go to plan.

 

DC Output Voltage Load Regulation:

 

Mains Input Voltage 110VAC

 

 

Ultra X4 1050W
DC Output Voltage Load Regulation
AC Supply = 110V / DC Load = 0W
PSU DC Rail
Measured Voltage(V)
3V3
3.40
5V0
4.91
+12V
12.41
-12V
-11.95
5VSB
5.01

 

Ultra X4 1050W
DC Output Voltage Load Regulation
110VAC - Total Load at 202W which is 19% of Rated Maximum Output Power
PSU
DC Rail
Measured
Voltage(V)
Measured
Current (A)
Load Power
(W)
ATX12V V Limits
(V)
Pass/Fail
+3V3
3.40
3.15
10.71
3.135 – 3.465
Pass
+5V
5.14
9.33
47.96
4.75 – 5.25
Pass
+12V
12.39
10.42
129.10
11.4 – 12.6
Pass
-12V
11.97
0.34
4.07
10.8 – 13.2
Pass
+5VSB
4.93
1.98
9.76
4.75 – 5.25
Pass
Total Power Supply Loading
202W
 

 

Ultra X4 1050W
DC Output Voltage Load Regulation
110VAC - Total Load at 525W which is 50% of Rated Maximum Output Power
PSU
DC Rail
Measured
Voltage(V)
Measured
Current (A)
Load Power
(W)
ATX12V V Limits
(V)
Pass/Fail
+3V3
3.39
8.02
27.19
3.135 – 3.465
Pass
+5V
5.13
9.32
47.81
4.75 – 5.25
Pass
+12V
12.36
35.25
435.69
11.4 – 12.6
Pass
-12V
12.12
0.36
4.36
10.8 – 13.2
Pass
+5VSB
4.93
1.99
9.81
4.75 – 5.25
Pass
Total Power Supply Loading
525W
 

 

Ultra X4 1050W
DC Output Voltage Load Regulation
110VAC - Total Load at 1063W which is 101% of Rated Maximum Output Power
PSU
DC Rail
Measured
Voltage(V)
Measured
Current (A)
Load Power
(W)
ATX12V V Limits
(V)
Pass/Fail
+3V3
3.38
14.12
47.73
3.135 – 3.465
Pass
+5V
5.12
16.33
83.61
4.75 – 5.25
Pass
+12V
12.32
74.52
918.09
11.4 – 12.6
Pass
-12V
12.32
0.36
4.36
10.8 – 13.2
Pass
+5VSB
4.92
1.99
9.81
4.75 – 5.25
Pass
Total Power Supply Loading
1063W
 

 

Mains Input Voltage 230VAC

 

 

Ultra X4 1050W
DC Output Voltage Load Regulation
AC Supply = 230V / DC Load = 0W
PSU DC Rail
Measured Voltage(V)
3V3
3.40
5V0
4.91
+12V
12.41
-12V
-11.95
5VSB
5.10

 

Ultra X4 1050W
DC Output Voltage Load Regulation
230VAC - Total Load at 202W which is 19% of Rated Maximum Output Power
PSU
DC Rail
Measured
Voltage(V)
Measured
Current (A)
Load Power
(W)
ATX12V V Limits
(V)
Pass/Fail
+3V3
3.40
3.16
10.74
3.135 – 3.465
Pass
+5V
5.14
9.36
48.11
4.75 – 5.25
Pass
+12V
12.39
10.42
129.10
11.4 – 12.6
Pass
-12V
11.96
0.34
4.07
10.8 – 13.2
Pass
+5VSB
4.94
1.98
9.78
4.75 – 5.25
Pass
Total Power Supply Loading
202W
 

 

Ultra X4 1050W
DC Output Voltage Load Regulation
230VAC - Total Load at 526W which is 50% of Rated Maximum Output Power
PSU
DC Rail
Measured
Voltage(V)
Measured
Current (A)
Load Power
(W)
ATX12V V Limits
(V)
Pass/Fail
+3V3
3.40
8.10
27.54
3.135 – 3.465
Pass
+5V
5.13
9.33
47.86
4.75 – 5.25
Pass
+12V
12.36
35.33
436.68
11.4 – 12.6
Pass
-12V
12.12
0.36
4.36
10.8 – 13.2
Pass
+5VSB
4.93
1.99
9.81
4.75 – 5.25
Pass
Total Power Supply Loading
526W
 

 

Ultra X4 1050W
DC Output Voltage Load Regulation
230VAC - Total Load at 1064W which is 101% of Rated Maximum Output Power
PSU
DC Rail
Measured
Voltage(V)
Measured
Current (A)
Load Power
(W)
ATX12V V Limits
(V)
Pass/Fail
+3V3
3.38
14.02
47.39
3.135 – 3.465
Pass
+5V
5.12
15.79
80.84
4.75 – 5.25
Pass
+12V
12.32
74.83
921.90
11.4 – 12.6
Pass
-12V
12.37
0.36
4.45
10.8 – 13.2
Pass
+5VSB
4.92
1.99
9.79
4.75 – 5.25
Pass
Total Power Supply Loading
1064W
 

 

No problems here. All voltages fall well within the ATX12V V2.2 specification.

 

Testing (Continued):

Efficiency and Power Factor:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

Ultra X4 1050W
Output & Efficiency @ 110VAC
DC Load (W)
AC Load (W)
PF
Efficiency (%)
Pass/Fail
0
8
0.52
N/A
N/A
202
252
0.96
80
Pass
525
620
0.99
85
Pass
1063
1343
1.00
79
Pass

 

Ultra X4 1050W
Output & Efficiency @ 230VAC
DC Load (W)
AC Load (W)
PF
Efficiency (%)
Pass/Fail
0
10
0.25
N/A
N/A
202
247
0.87
82
Pass
526
607
0.92
87
Pass
1064
1270
0.96
84
Pass

 

The efficiency of the Ultra X4 1050W is well above that required by the ATX12V V2.2 specification but that is usually the case for most high-end power supplies. The ATX12V V2.2 specification is really aimed at mainstream manufacturers but it is still the benchmark for my testing methodology although the computer enthuiast today expects a little more. Those of you who pay a little more attention will note high power factor levels with reduced efficiency at 110VAC and lower power factor levels and greater efficiency at 230VAC but this is usually the case. No real problems here apart from a small glitch in the claimed 80 Plus certification on which I will have more to say in the conclusion.

 

AC Ripple On DC Outputs:

 

I have consistently found the AC ripple levels on the DC rails to be more or less equal with a 110VAC or 230VAC mains supply. The results given below are for 230VAC only but I will continue to check the levels at 110VAC during testing and publish them below if they differ in any way.

 

AC Ripple On 3V3 Rail at 230VAC

Oscilloscope settings: Amplitude = 5mv/div, Timebase = 10uS/div

 

AC Ripple On 5V0 Rail at 230VAC

Oscilloscope settings: Amplitude = 5mv/div, Timebase = 10uS/div

 

AC Ripple On 12V1 Rail at 230VAC

Oscilloscope settings: Amplitude = 20mv/div, Timebase = 10uS/div

 

Ultra X4 1050W
AC Ripple/Noise
DC Rail
+3V3
+5V0
+12V
-12V0
+5VSB
Ripple (mV p-p)
25
35
100
100
50
Pass/Fail
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass

 

All levels of noise/ripple fall within the limits set down by the ATX12V V2.2 specification so an overall pass in this section. They are however a little higher than I would like to see on a power supply aimed more at the enthusiast rather than mainstream computer user, especially on the 12V rail.

 

Testing(Continued):

Temperature, Noise Levels and Fan Speeds:

 

I am not going to give a pass or fail in this section, as the ATX12V V2.2 does not really have any references on which to base a decision.

Temperatures are purely for information only, as there are too many variables involved when installed in a case, which, by the way, it wasn't. Ambient temperature, processor cooling efficiency and case cooling fans all play their part on the temperature of the air entering the power supply, and consequently the temperature of the air leaving it. No valid conclusions can be made from this test.

 

Ultra X4 1050W
Temperature & Fan Speeds @ 110/230VAC
DC Loading(W)
Temp In (°C)
Temp Out (°C)
Δ Temp (°C)
Fan Speed (RPM)
0
N/A
N/A
N/A
712/711
202/202
20.4/20.7
31.8/33.0
11.4/12.3
711/712
525/526
20.6/20.7
36.8/38.7
16.2/18.0
900/898
1063/1064
21.0/21.1
46.9/48.4
25.9/27.3
1548/1641

 

This section is still really only for reference and no real conclusion can be drawn from the results. It is only really included to give you the reader and indication of temperature rises across the power supply during the load testing phase. Perhaps some day I can make this test a little more relevant and warm the air entering the power supply up a little to take the power supply up to a more realistic running temperature - I'll work on that one! All I can say is that even with a fan speed of 1641 RPM it did seem very quiet, but it's all relative and one person's quiet is another person's noisy, but I will still say, as the included literature states, I think it's quiet.

 

Conclusion:

Environmental Factors:

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.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: