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Enthusiast Power Protection: Four-Way 900 W UPS Roundup

Power Protection Or Rage Prevention?

Few events are more upsetting than getting to the toughest part of a game and having your PC go down. Less traumatic (but still troublesome) are situations like losing a video only seconds before you’re done re-encoding it. Even losing a carefully-written email before it can be sent is enough to push some Tom's Hardware editors past the edge of sanity (Ed.: *raises hand*).

Enthusiasts often rely on little more than a surge protector to keep their hardware safe. But these devices can’t prevent brownouts from resetting a computer, nor can they prevent blackouts from stopping the computer in its tracks completely. The inevitable result is lost work, even when that “work” is an entertainment-oriented task.

While mainstream users have long been able to buy low-cost uninterruptable power supplies, the unique demands of enthusiast-class hardware have often put this type of protection out of reach.

A quick look at the specifications recommended by four top UPS manufacturers for our enthusiast build could help to explain the enormous price disparity. 

Enthusiast UPS Features
APC Smart-UPS SMT1500CyberPower CP1500PFCLCDOpti-UPS Durable DS1500BTripp Lite SmartPro SMART1500SLT
TopologyLine-InteractiveLine-InteractiveDouble-ConversionLine-Interactive
Wave FormPure SineAdaptive SinePure SinePure Sine
Wattage980 W900 W1050 W900 W
VA Rating1440 VA1500 VA1500 VA1500 VA
UPS OutletsEightFiveSixEight
Surge OnlyNoneFiveNoneNone
Power GroupsTwo (4+4 Jacks)OneTwo (4+2 Jacks)One
Dimensions17.3" x6.7" x8.6"14.4" x4.0" x10.5"17.0" x6.0" x9.4"13.3" x6.7" x10.2"
Weight52.5 Pounds24.8 Pounds38.4 Pounds44.5 Pounds
Web Price$442$191$548$338

Notice that all of the units in today’s review produce something that approximates a true sine wave, something that costs far more to produce than the stepped square waves of lower-cost parts. We’ll explain why this is so important on our next page, before going into the individual characteristics that make each model special.

  • sudeshc
    Have been using APC for last 2 years now without any issues what so ever.
    Would recommend it although they might be a bit costly but they perform really well.
    Reply
  • hmp_goose
    Soooo you have nothing to say about the TripLite atoll? Dead last? Distant second? Muddled mess? Nice part for not-our-application?
    Reply
  • dEAne
    I have several units of APC and a hundred after-sales issues which remains unanswered, I opted to installed the generator set and a AVR than a UPS.
    Reply
  • Emperus
    Most folks would just be happy to ignore on the need for a backup power source.. Hope this article enlightens them on getting one to protect their precious components and/or be ready if and when the situation arises.. Would be great if Tom's could put up a tier based classification on suitable UPS choices for various PC's (gaming, server, home theatre etc.)..
    Reply
  • super_tycoon
    What about AVR? (Automatic Voltage Regulation) I have a CP1500AVRLCD and I've seen (at least I'm pretty sure) I've seen the AVR feature kick in when one of the local power lines got knocked out and the voltage drooped to ~100. (killed some of my non-dimmable cfl's) I went to CP's website and it claimed the pfc units still have AVR functionality. So here comes the confusion, what's the point of the voltage tolerances? If it has an AVR, why would it matter what voltage it's fed as long as there steps on the transformer? I thought the unit was supposed to take 90-140 without having to engage the battery while still passing ~120v?

    You've also made me want to test my non-pfc ups with my 850hx, but my gaming rig and my workstation are an hour apart....
    Reply
  • aldaia
    This is a quite inefficient & expensive approach to the problem. We take AC and use a transformer to convert to DC and store in a battery, meanwhile another transformer is also taking AC and converting to DC to feed our components. When there is a blackout, we take DC from the battery, convert to AC and feed the computer PS where we convert back to DC to feed our components. Wouldn't be more cost effective and energy efficient to use the same unit to both feed our components with DC and the battery? Most of the time a PS has a surplus of power that can be used to charge the battery. When there is a blackout we could just take DC from battery and feed our components without the inefficient double DC->AC->DC conversion. I think an integrated UPS/PS would be cheaper (most components are replicated). That would be enough for most enthusiasts, that only need a relatively short battery life to be able to save work. A different matter is in professional environments where a UPS feeds dozens of computers that cannot be stopped. ¿Anyone knows if such a think exists?
    Reply
  • wrxchris
    I've been using a CyberPower 1350AVR for the past couple years and it has been great. Gives me approx. 17 mins of runtime at idle / basic tasks (approx. 250 watts between my rig and main LCD). It's good for 810W, and I believe I picked it up on sale for $120.
    Reply
  • while i personally use APC XL series, what about eaton powerware??
    Reply
  • g00ey
    I've always been wondering about the possibilities to replace the small batteries in those UPSes with standard car batteries or deep cycle (marine) batteries. Since the batteries in the UPSes are standard 12V lead cells it shouldn't be a problem and this would be a cheap way to keep the computer alive for days without external power.
    Reply
  • nebun
    g00eyI've always been wondering about the possibilities to replace the small batteries in those UPSes with standard car batteries or deep cycle (marine) batteries. Since the batteries in the UPSes are standard 12V lead cells it shouldn't be a problem and this would be a cheap way to keep the computer alive for days without external power.wrong
    Reply