Part 3: Cases, Power Supplies, Storage, Mice, Graphics & Consumer Products
The first part of our 2006 Holiday Buyer's Guide article series dealt with processors, coolers, motherboards and RAM. Now it's time to follow up with some more components, such as cases, power supplies, input/output devices and storage products. And this isn't the end of our buyer's guides: we will have more articles to come, covering geeky items, reasonably-priced gifts, "crème de la crème" products and mobility devices.
More Power: 600 To 1000 W PSUs
Choosing the right power supply has become more important than ever. While the power requirements of processors have stabilized, the average power required by graphics cards and motherboard solutions has increased. Remember that having at least a 350 W power supply is important even for an average system. Not only does this provide some headroom over the minimum requirements, it also lets you run the PSU at lower load, which helps to keep thermals low.
The 1,000 W Power Plant: Enermax Galaxy 1000 W
The Galaxy 1000 W is Enermax's latest, high-end EPS12V power supply for the most demanding applications. As you take a look at our images you will notice that this PSU exceeds the usual dimensions for ATX power supplies, which is due to its sophisticated design.
Enermax uses a triple transformer design for highest stability, and it splits the CPU power plane from the rest of the system; it is spread out over five different 12V rails to share the power load ideally. The manufacturer uses a cable design with non-removable cables for the motherboard and auxiliary power, and adds a modular cable design for graphics power, Molex and SATA power cables. According to Enermax, you may attach up to 24 distinct hard drives. (Of course, we're not quite sure where we would install all of those drives!)
As with most high-end power supplies, the Galaxy 1000 W comes with two fans - one 135 mm diameter fan and another 80 mm unit - which provided adequate cooling of the PSU components in our test lab. Enermax states an 80-85% efficiency level at between 20% and 100% load, which represents the maximum achievable today.
Clearly, this product is the one of the mightiest, most flexible and most advanced power plants for your enthusiast PC - it can easily drive quad-graphics, dual-core machines with lots of add-in components. But it comes at an equally impressive cost: you will have to fork out at least $350 to brag about your 1,000 watts.