SBM 3: High-End System

Power Supply: Ultra Products X3 1000W Modular PSU

With the four-core processor and dual graphics cards chosen, we really wanted a power supply with at least 800 W capacity and 60 A on the 12 V rail. We also wanted modular cable management, in spite of the fact that it decreases power supply efficiency slightly, because systems at this price should look as good as they perform.

Our former choice of PC Power & Cooling's Silencer 750W probably would have been enough, but the Ultra X3 certainly makes the system look better without decreasing performance. And even though the added connections of modular design reduce efficiency, the Ultra X3 still peaks at around 85%. We hope it stays above 75% across most loads, though Ultra Products never has been known for publishing complete specifications.

Ultra takes a page from the experts at PC Power & Cooling by endowing its highest-priced power supplies with one gigantic 12 V rail, thus eliminating any of the load balance issues often found on multi-rail units. The X3 1000W is rated at 70 A, or 840 W, on the 12 V rail alone.

One final feature, but the first to get our attention, is the 135 mm lid-mounted cooling fan. This design is better able to remove heat from the case than small, rear-mounted fans, thereby assisting total system cooling while spinning at a lower RPM for reduced noise. The cross-flow design found in several competing products might cool the power supply's internal components a little more efficiently, but heat-sensitive system circuits are more critical to stability than the ultra-rugged components of high-end power units. Ultra Products certainly isn't concerned about the "less efficient" internal cooling path, as the brand provides a limited lifetime warranty on this model.

Ultra Products doesn't have PC Power & Cooling's reputation of exceeding its rated power output, but we never expect our system to pull more than 80% of the X3 1000W's rated capacity even when overclocked to insane speeds. A bargain among 1000W power units at only $250, the X3 1000W's price is low enough to compete with the 800W units we might have otherwise chosen.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.