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Battery Backup: PC Power and Cooling Pro-Source 1500

Tom's Hardware's 2009 Gift Guide: Part 2, System Add-Ons
By

www.pcpower.com
$299
By: William Van Winkle

PC Power & Cooling (now owned by OCZ) is likely the most respected name in PC power supplies. I’ve interviewed the company's founder Doug Dodson twice and walked away both times stunned by his deep knowledge and devotion to product quality. I know that sounds like I’m pumping the product, but it’s true. He’s an old hand in the field and the real deal, plus PC Power & Cooling is the only American power supply manufacturer.

Pro-Source is PCP&C’s line of uninterruptible power supplies (UPSes). The most notable feature in this series is its use of sine wave rather than step wave output. Most consumer UPSes use a step pattern, which looks on an oscilloscope just how the name implies—like a series of rising and falling stacked blocks instead of a smooth curve. Fortunately, your PC only has to run for a few seconds to minutes on battery power, but even in this brief time, running on step wave power can be very rough on your system’s electronics.

Have you ever gone to UPS power and heard a buzzing from your power supply? This is usually because it’s being forced to run on step power. It’s not lethal, but it’s not good. More importantly, some power supplies that use active PFC are averse to step sine. As one example, Antec publicly stated last summer that all of its active PFC power supplies except the BP-350 require pure sine wave input. Step wave input will not work and will result in the PC shutting down. Whoops.

The bad news is that true sine UPSes cost more. The good news is that not only will true sine UPSes actually work with your system in the event of power loss, but the output power is gentler on your electronics and will help reduce wear on your system if you’re in a bad power area and experience occasional to frequent outages.

This particular model is a 1,500VA unit (1,440VA with a standard plug) capable of delivering 900 watts, which should be more than enough for an enthusiast system not running under an insane load. At 900W, expect three minutes of runtime; at half-load expect 12 minutes. The three 12V, 7Ah rechargeable batteries are fairly simple to replace, and the UPS runs at 97% efficiency while on AC power. I also like that PCP&C bundles remote management software so you can use the Pro-Source’s USB port to check on battery levels or respond to emailed outage alerts.

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