Ultra X4 600W Power Supply Review

paulktreg - 2009-10-12 16:07:52 in Power Supplies
Category: Power Supplies
Reviewed by: paulktreg   
Reviewed on: January 27, 2010
Price: $115.00

Introduction:

Ultra Products, based in the USA, offer a very wide range of products for the computer enthusiast from anti-static bags to store your unused PC cards, enclosures, cooling solutions, HDD enclosures, power supplies, and power protection units. They were the first company to introduce the modular concept to the computer power supply and continue that theme with their latest X4 range of units. The X4 range of power supplies is fully modular and available with output power ratings ranging from 400 watts to 1600 watts.

Are you thinking of upgrading your graphics card or planning a new build that requires more than your current power supply can sustain? This time around, OCC is taking a look at the Ultra X4 600W power supply and putting it through its paces. A good quality power supply in the 500~600W range is, in my opinion, a good starting point for any single high end graphics card gaming PC, so will the Ultra X4 600W power supply meet the challenge? The power supply market is very competitive, especially in the 500~600W range, so how will the Ultra X4 600W power supply perform? Let's find out...

Closer Look:

First off, let me apologize for the untidy state of the packaging. I can't believe any company would supply a review sample in this state but Ultra Products did.  Without any external packaging and with address labels, barcodes, and delivery notes stuck all over the front face of the box it looks very untidy but there's not a lot I can do about it, sorry!

The Ultra X4 600W power supply is packaged in a color glossy cardboard box with color photographs and a wealth of content and technical information. The front of the box shows a photograph of the power supply along with modular cables and information about the main features which include its 80 Plus certification, use of active PFC technology, low noise, fully modular design, and use of a 135mm cooling fan. The rear face of the box carries the specification table with another photograph of the power supply which includes some of the enclosed accessories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The lid of the box repeats the information provided on the front face and the base is left blank.

 

 

The sides of the box list a few of the main features along with a full list of the box contents and drawings of the various modular connectors. All the information is given in English and French. Standard warranty on the Ultra X4 600W is three years, but you are invited to register the product on line to upgrade this to a lifetime warranty.

 

 

The first thing you see on opening the lid is the user manual and a cut out in the power supplies top foam protector which houses the anti-vibration gasket, a quantity of black cable ties, and power supply mounting screws. The power supply is shown on the right after removing the top foam protector. A black cardboard box sits under the user manual which contains the modular cables and power cord in a two compartment black canvas bag.

 

 

The power supply is wrapped in a plastic bag to help keep it clean and scratch free. The full set of accessories includes the user manual, anti-vibration gasket, modular cables and bag, power cord, ten black cable ties and mounting screws. There are standard power supply mounting screws and thumb screws provided with the power supply, although the thumb screws are more for looks unless you are in the habit of changing the power supply on a regular basis.

 

 

The Ultra X4 600W power supply is well packaged with a good set of accessories, let's move on and have a closer look.

Closer Look (The Power Supply):

A plain and simple satin black paint finish is all you get with the Ultra X4 600W power supply and, if you haven't already noticed, there are no captive cables.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The rear of the power supply showing the hexagonal holed exhaust grill, mains on/off switch, and IEC mains input connector. The modular cable connectors are all mounted on what looks like a black painted brushed metal panel attached to the power supply by five fixing screws. The modular cable connectors reflect their actual usage and there should be little doubt what goes were when it comes to installation. All the connectors are keyed differently to further simplify installation.

 

 

Both side panels on the Ultra X4 600W power supply carry the Ultra X4 logo pressed into the metal.

 

 

The top of the Ultra X4 600W power supply showing the specification label, warranty seal, and production test labels. The 135mm fan is covered with a matching black grill which carries the Ultra X4 logo, in silver and black, at its center.

 

 

You get quite a few modular cables with the Ultra X4 600W power supply, with a 4-pin peripheral to dual fan header adapter cable thrown in for good measure. The cable sleeving is held in place with heat shrink covered cable ties so sleeve slippage shouldn't be a problem. The PCI-E connectors are labeled to avoid confusion with the ATX12V and EPS12V cables and each connector of the 24-pin motherboard cable is labeled so its orientation is clear.

 

The 135mm cooling fan is an Ultra stickered 12V DC unit with a model number of DFS132512H almost certainly manufactured by Young Lin Co. Ltd. The power supply itself, going of its UL number of E239028 is manufactured by Taiwan based Andyson International. The printed circuit board is well laid out but a little untidy in places with some poorly soldered joints especially on the rear modular connector board.

 

 

The main 390uF 420V electrolytic smoothing capacitor is by Teapo and rated at 85°C with the remainder, the manufacturer of which I didn't recognize, rated at a more welcome 105°C operating temperature.

 

 

The Ultra X4 600W power supply is packaged very well and comes with a great set of accessories. The build quality externally is  good but once inside the printed circuit board layout is tidy but some of the soldering, although appearing sound, is poorly done. The features and specifications are next and then let's see how it performs.

Specification:

 

Review Sample: Ultra Products X4 600W Power Supply, Part Number U12-40505.


Ratings Table:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ultra X4 600W Power Supply Specification Table
AC Input
115-230VAC     9-6A     50-60Hz
DC Output
+3V3
+5V
+12V
-12V
+5VSB
Minimum Load
0.8A
0.5A
1A
0
0.1A
Maximum Load
24A
24A
37A
0.5A
2.5A
Maximum
Combined
Wattage
150W
444W
6W
12.5W
582W
18.5W
600W

 

 

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 600W Power Supply Over Voltage Protection
Sense Level
Over Voltage
+3V3
4.2V±10%
+5V
6.3V±10%
+12V
15.0V±10%

Short circuit and over voltage are the only protection measures mentioned in the enclosed literature or detailed on the packaging.

 

Safety & Agency Approvals:

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

 

Power Supply Weight:

 

Manufacturer/Model
Weight
Ultra X4 600W Power Supply
1.9kg
4.2lbs

 

 

Power Supply Connectors:

 

Ultra X4 600W Power Supply Connectors
24 Pin Motherboard
Modular
1
ATX12V 4 Pin
Modular
1
EPS12V 8 Pin
Modular
1
Peripheral 4 Pin
Modular
9
FDD
Modular
2
SATA Power
Modular
9
PCI-E 6 Pin¹
Modular
2
PCI-E 8 Pin¹
Modular
1
Case Fan
Adapter²
2

 

¹ Only two PCI-E connectors can be connected to the power supply at any one time, so either 2 x PCI-E 6 Pin or 1 x PCI-E 6 Pin plus 1 x 8 Pin PCI-E.
² Requires one peripheral 4 pin connector.

 

Power Supply Cable Lengths:

 

Ultra X4 600W Power Supply Connector Cable Quantities & Lengths
Modular
PSU > 24" > 20+4 Pin Motherboard
1
Modular
PSU > 24" > 8 Pin EPS12V
1
Modular
PSU > 24" > 4 Pin ATX12V
1
Modular
PSU > 24" > PCI-E 6 Pin
1
Modular
PSU > 24" > PCI-E 6+2 Pin
1
Modular
PSU > 18" > Peripheral > 6” > Peripheral
1
Modular
PSU > 18" > Peripheral > 6” > Peripheral > 6” > FDD
2
Modular
PSU > 18" > Peripheral > 6” > Peripheral > 6” > Peripheral
1
Modular
PSU > 18" > SATA > 6” > SATA > 6” > SATA
3
Adapter
Peripheral > 12" > 2 x Case Fan
1

 

 

Features:

The Ultra X4 600W doesn't come with a feature list which is very unusual. The list below is drawn from the user manual and any relevant information pulled from the packaging.

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 600W Power Supply
Pass

 

Short Circuit Protection:

I short circuited the 3V3, 5V0, and the 12V rail 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 600W Power Supply DC Output Voltage Load Regulation
Supply = 110VAC/50Hz
PSU DC Rail
Measured Voltage(V)
3V3
3.30
5V0
5.12
+12V
12.30
-12V
9.84
5VSB
4.95
Total PSU Loading = Approx. 25W (1 x WD800 IDE HDD)

 

 

Ultra X4 600W Power Supply DC Output Voltage Load Regulation
Supply = 110VAC/50Hz
PSU
DC Rail
Rail Loading Amps (A)
Rail Loading Watts (W)
Measured Voltage (V)
ATX12V V2.2 Limits (V)
Pass/Fail
+3V3
3.13
10.27
3.28
3.135 – 3.465
Pass
+5V
4.83
24.58
5.09
4.75 – 5.25
Pass
+12V
5.16
63.26
12.26
11.4 – 12.6
Pass
-12V
0.34
3.97
11.68
10.8 – 13.2
Pass
+5VSB
2.04
10.04
4.92
4.75 – 5.25
Pass
Total PSU Loading = 112W (19% of Rated Maximum Output Power)

 

Ultra X4 600W Power Supply DC Output Voltage Load Regulation
Supply = 110VAC/50Hz
PSU
DC Rail
Rail Loading Amps (A)
Rail Loading Watts (W)
Measured Voltage (V)
ATX12V V2.2 Limits (V)
Pass/Fail
+3V3
8.41
27.50
3.27
3.135 – 3.465
Pass
+5V
9.78
49.19
5.03
4.75 – 5.25
Pass
+12V
18.66
227.82
12.21
11.4 – 12.6
Pass
-12V
0.36
4.29
11.93
10.8 – 13.2
Pass
+5VSB
2.08
10.15
4.88
4.75 – 5.25
Pass
Total PSU Loading = 319W (53% of Rated Maximum Output Power)

 

Ultra X4 600W Power Supply DC Output Voltage Load Regulation
Supply = 110VAC/50Hz
PSU
DC Rail
Rail Loading Amps (A)
Rail Loading Watts (W)
Measured Voltage (V)
ATX12V V2.2 Limits (V)
Pass/Fail
+3V3
13.56
43.93
3.24
3.135 – 3.465
Pass
+5V
15.25
75.64
4.96
4.75 – 5.25
Pass
+12V
36.51
444.33
12.17
11.4 – 12.6
Pass
-12V
0.36
4.41
12.26
10.8 – 13.2
Pass
+5VSB
2.05
9.92
4.84
4.75 – 5.25
Pass
Total PSU Loading = 578W (96% of Rated Maximum Output Power)

 

Mains Input Voltage 230VAC

 

 

Ultra X4 600W Power Supply DC Output Voltage Load Regulation
Supply = 230VAC/50Hz
PSU DC Rail
Measured Voltage(V)
3V3
3.30
5V0
5.12
+12V
12.30
-12V
9.83
5VSB
4.92
Total PSU Loading = Approx. 25W (1 x WD800 IDE HDD)

 

 

Ultra X4 600W Power Supply DC Output Voltage Load Regulation
Supply = 230VAC/50Hz
PSU
DC Rail
Rail Loading Amps (A)
Rail Loading Watts (W)
Measured Voltage (V)
ATX12V V2.2 Limits (V)
Pass/Fail
+3V3
3.15
10.33
3.28
3.135 – 3.465
Pass
+5V
4.83
24.58
5.09
4.75 – 5.25
Pass
+12V
5.16
63.26
12.26
11.4 – 12.6
Pass
-12V
0.34
3.97
11.68
10.8 – 13.2
Pass
+5VSB
2.04
10.06
4.93
4.75 – 5.25
Pass
Total PSU Loading = 112W (19% of Rated Maximum Output Power)

 

Ultra X4 600W Power Supply DC Output Voltage Load Regulation
Supply = 230VAC/50Hz
PSU
DC Rail
Rail Loading Amps (A)
Rail Loading Watts (W)
Measured Voltage (V)
ATX12V V2.2 Limits (V)
Pass/Fail
+3V3
8.27
27.04
3.27
3.135 – 3.465
Pass
+5V
9.76
49.09
5.03
4.75 – 5.25
Pass
+12V
18.69
228.39
12.22
11.4 – 12.6
Pass
-12V
0.36
4.29
11.92
10.8 – 13.2
Pass
+5VSB
2.08
10.15
4.88
4.75 – 5.25
Pass
Total PSU Loading = 319W (53% of Rated Maximum Output Power)

 

Ultra X4 600W Power Supply DC Output Voltage Load Regulation
Supply = 230VAC/50Hz
PSU
DC Rail
Rail Loading Amps (A)
Rail Loading Watts (W)
Measured Voltage (V)
ATX12V V2.2 Limits (V)
Pass/Fail
+3V3
13.50
43.74
3.24
3.135 – 3.465
Pass
+5V
14.88
73.80
4.96
4.75 – 5.25
Pass
+12V
36.66
446.15
12.17
11.4 – 12.6
Pass
-12V
0.36
4.41
12.26
10.8 – 13.2
Pass
+5VSB
2.05
9.92
4.84
4.75 – 5.25
Pass
Total PSU Loading = 578W (96% of Rated Maximum Output Power)

 

The Ultra X4 600W power supply refused to fire up with no load present, rare but not abnormal power supply behavior, and rather than skip, the no load test it was loaded to a low level with a single Western Digital IDE HDD pulling approximately 25W. This load was obviously not quite enough to wake the power supply up with a -12V rail voltage of only 9.84V.

The DC output voltage load regulation of the Ultra X4 600W power supply is very good and all readings fall well within the limits set down by the ATX12V V2.2 specification but it is however the first power supply I have tested that failed to reach 5.0V on the +5VSB rail.

Testing (Continued):

Efficiency and Power Factor:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ultra X4 600W Power Supply Power Factors & Efficiency
Supply = 110VAC/50Hz
DC Load (W)
AC Load (W)
PF
Efficiency (%)
Pass/Fail
25
32
0.95
N/A
N/A
112
139
0.98
80.5
Pass
319
389
0.96
82
Pass
578
740
0.97
78
Pass

 

 

Ultra X4 600W Power Supply Power Factors & Efficiency
Supply = 230VAC/50Hz
DC Load (W)
AC Load (W)
PF
Efficiency (%)
Pass/Fail
25
32
0.63
N/A
N/A
112
136
0.78
82
Pass
319
377
0.89
85
Pass
578
716
0.93
81
Pass

 

The Ultra X4 600W easily meets the requirements of the ATX12V V2.2 specification but, following the OCC testing methodology, it does not meet the requirements of its claimed 80 Plus certification. I quick look on the 80 Plus Org website to verify its certification and it is listed at bronze level but with a standard 80 Plus certificate which must be a mistake on their part. The power factor levels for 80 Plus are at the required levels, greater than 0.9, but the efficiency at 78% falls below the required 80% level at approaching full load. The 80 Plus certification applies to 115VAC input only but it is worth pointing out the lower than usual power factor levels at 230VAC but with what are, as is usually the case, a decent set of efficiency figures. A mixed bag of results that aren't quite up to the same standard as other high end power supplies.

 

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 there are any significant differences.

 

AC Ripple On +3V3 Rail at 230VAC

Oscilloscope settings: Amplitude = 20mv/div, Timebase = 5uS/div

 

AC Ripple On +5V0 Rail at 230VAC

Oscilloscope settings: Amplitude = 20mv/div, Timebase = 5uS/div

 

AC Ripple On +12V Rail at 230VAC

Oscilloscope settings: Amplitude = 20mv/div, Timebase = 5uS/div

 

AC Ripple On -12V Rail at 230VAC

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

 

AC Ripple On +5VSB Rail at 230VAC

Oscilloscope settings: Amplitude = 20mv/div, Timebase = 5uS/div

 

Ultra X4 600W Power Supply AC Ripple/Noise
Supply = 230VAC/50Hz
DC Rail
+3V3
+5V0
+12V
-12V0
+5VSB
ATX12 Max (mV p-p)
50
50
120
120
50
Ripple (mV p-p)
160
120
180
90
120
Pass/Fail
Fail
Fail
Fail
Pass
Fail

 

The Ultra X4 600W produced a poor set of results in this section. Noise levels are in excess of the ATX12V V2.2 permitted levels on all but 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 600W Power Supply
Temperature & Fan Speeds @ 110/230VAC
DC Loading(W)
Temp In (°C)
Temp Out (°C)
Δ Temp (°C)
Fan Speed (RPM)
25/25
N/A
N/A
N/A
825/818
112/112
22.8/23.1
27.3/27.6
4.5/4.5
823/829
319/319
23.0/22.7
28.9/30.3
5.9/7.6
835/826
578/578
23.7/23.7
38.9/38.2
15.2/14.5
1563/1601

 

The Ultra X4 600W power supply cooling fan remained very quiet at low and medium loads with an increase in noise levels at full load which is to be expected. Temperatures remained low and compare favorably with other power supplies in this class.

Conclusion:

 

Price Per the Watt:

Power Supply Ultra X4 600W at $115.00 = $0.19/Watt (01-2010)

 

The Ultra X4 600W power supply performed well in some areas, but performed poorly in others. The DC voltage load regulation is on a par with many high end power supplies but the noise/ripple levels are in excess of the limits laid down by the ATX12V V2.2 specification which makes this power supply hard to recommend to the overclocking community. The failure to meet its claimed 80 Plus certification following the OCC testing methodology, excessive noise/ripple on the main DC rails, and lack of technical information make this power supply more suitable for the mainstream market.

The lack of a feature list is very unusual because it's probably the first thing any informed computer enthusiast needs to quickly ascertain its suitability for the next build or upgrade. If Ultra Products are aiming for the high end enthusiast market then improvements are needed if it is going to compete with the likes of Corsair, PC Power & Cooling and Thermaltake.

I have no doubt that the overall performance of the Ultra X4 600W is better than most low/mid range power supplies on the market today, making it perfectly capable of supplying reliable and stable power to any high end, single graphic card, gaming machine. The noise/ripple levels are higher than the ATX12V V2.2 specification allows but in combination with good quality components it shouldn't prove to be a problem. Combine this with a limited life warranty and it's still worthy of consideration but there are far better power supplies, with superior performance, available in this price/power bracket.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: