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be quiet! Dark Power Pro 12 1500W Power Supply Review

be quiet! clearly is after Corsair's AX1600i, with its new, digitally controlled, Dark Power Pro 12 power supply with 1500W max capacity.

be quiet! Dark Power Pro 12 1500W
Editor's Choice
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Our Verdict

The new be quiet! Dark Power Pro 12 with 1500W max power achieves high performance, but it cannot beat its main opponent, the mighty Corsair AX1600i.

For

  • Full power at 46 degrees Celsius
  • Good build quality
  • High overall performance
  • Good transient response
  • Efficient
  • Long enough hold-up time
  • Low inrush current
  • Silent operation
  • Low vampire power
  • Lots of connectors
  • Fully modular
  • Ten-year warranty

Against

  • Expensive
  • Not as efficient as competitors
  • EMI suppression could be better

be quiet! has a strong offering in the super high-end PSU category, the Dark Power Pro 12 with 1500W max power. It achieves high overall performance, and it remains quiet, even under severe operating conditions. It isn't as efficient, though, as the Corsair AX1600i, something expected since it doesn't use at totem-pole PFC converter. Moreover, its overall performance is notably lower than Corsair's top offering. The Dark Power 12 1500 might take the performance lead from the EVGA SuperNOVA 1600 T2, which has proven its bullet-proof design, though, though the mining era, but it doesn't pose a severe threat to the Corsair AX1600i, so it cannot be included in our best power supplies list in the high-Wattage category. 

The new flagship line from be quiet! is named Dark Power Pro 12 and lists two members, with 1200W and 1500W max power. Both are made by CWT and use a new platform that features digital control for most of its circuits. According to be quiet! these units can achieve up to 94.9% efficiency, which sounds impressive. They don't state the input voltage, though, but we can safely assume that it is 230V, because such high-efficiency levels with 115V are super hard to achieve. 

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Product Photos

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Both Dark Power Pro 12 units are 80 PLUS Titanium certified, with the 1500W model also featuring a Cybenetics ETA-A+ efficiency rating, which is even tougher to achieve. Moreover, Cybenetics rated the Dark Power Pro 12 1500W as LAMBDA-A-, which means that it is very quiet for such a powerful power supply. Nonetheless, its stronger competitor, the Corsair AX1600i, achieves an even better noise rating (LAMBDA-A).

There are several innovations in this product. For starters, its fan utilizes a frameless design for increased airflow and lower noise output. Moreover, according to be quiet! the fan speed profile is digitally controlled. Finally, there are six +12V virtual rails in total, combined into one if you use an overclocking key (jumper). Lastly, the individually sleeved cables are an added luxury, which will be highly welcomed by most users. 

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Product Photos

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Specifications

Manufacturer (OEM)

CWT

Max. DC Output

1500W

Efficiency

80 PLUS Titanium, ETA-A+ (91-94%)

Noise

LAMBDA-A- (25-30 dB[A])

Modular

(Fully)

Intel C6/C7 Power State Support

Operating Temperature (Continuous Full Load)

0 - 50°C

Over Voltage Protection

Under Voltage Protection

Over Power Protection

Over Current (+12V) Protection

Over Temperature Protection

Short Circuit Protection

Surge Protection

Inrush Current Protection

Fan Failure Protection

No Load Operation

Cooling

135mm Fluid Dynamic Bearing Fan (BQ SIW3-13525-HF)

Semi-Passive Operation

(selectable)

Dimensions (W x H x D)

150 x 85 x 200mm

Weight

2.37 kg (5.22 lb)

Form Factor

ATX12V v2.4, EPS 2.92

Warranty

10 Years

Power Specifications

Rail 3.3V5V12V112V212V312V412V512V65VSB-12V
Max. PowerAmps25254040404045453.50.5
 Watts150150017.56
Total Max. Power (W) 1500         

Cables and Connectors

Modular CablesCable CountConnector Count (Total)GaugeIn Cable Capacitors
ATX connector 20+4 pin (600mm)1116-18AWGNo
8 pin EPS12V (700mm)1116AWGNo
4+4 pin EPS12V (700mm)1116AWGNo
2x (6+2) pin PCIe (600mm)51016-18AWGNo
SATA (600mm+150mm+150mm+150mm)1418AWGNo
SATA (500mm+150mm+150mm+150mm)1418AWGNo
SATA (600mm+150mm+150mm)1318AWGNo
SATA (500mm+150mm+150mm)1318AWGNo
SATA (600mm+150mm) / 4-pin Molex (+150mm+150mm)12 / 218AWGNo
4-pin Molex (600mm+150mm+150mm)1318AWGNo
4-pin Molex (500mm+150mm+150mm)1318AWGNo
FDD Adapter (150mm)2222AWGNo
Overclocking jumper (620mm)1126AWGNo
AC Power Cord (1360mm) - C19 coupler1117AWG-

A large number of cables accompanies the PSU. This is expected, of course, given the huge capacity. All cables are super long and individually sleeved, with adequate distance between them. 

Besides two EPS connectors, you also get ten PCIe ones, so you can easily build the gaming system of your dreams or a powerful workstation.

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Cable Photos

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If you decide not to use the overclocking key jumper, which combined all 12V rails in one, you should pay attention to the scheme shown above. It explains the power distribution of the 12V rail among the PSU's sockets. 

If you need up to two PCIe connectors, use connector A. If you need more, use the connectors marked as B and leave A last. If you follow the above instructions, you will have balanced power distribution.

Component Analysis

We strongly encourage you to have a look at our PSUs 101 article, which provides valuable information about PSUs and their operation, allowing you to better understand the components we're about to discuss.

General Data-
Manufacturer (OEM)CWT
PCB TypeDouble Sided
Primary Side-
Transient Filter6x Y caps, 2x X caps, 2x CM chokes, 1x MOV, 1x Champion CM02X (Discharge IC)
Inrush ProtectionNTC Thermistor SCK-037 (3 Ohm) & Relay
Bridge Rectifier(s)
2x WeEn WNR2560M
APFC MOSFETs
2x On Semiconductor FCH040N65S3 (650V, 41A @ 100°C, Rds(on): 40mOhm) & 2x On Semiconductor FCPF067N65S3 (650V, 28A @ 100°C, Rds(on): 67mOhm)
APFC IC Drivers
2x On Semiconductor NCP81071
APFC Boost Diode
2x Infineon IDH10G65C6 (650V, 10A @ 140°C)
Bulk Cap(s)
2x Nippon Chemi-Con (400V, 680uF each or 1360uF combined, 2,000h @ 105°C, KMW) & 1x Nippon Chemi-Con (400V, 470uF, 2,000h @ 105°C, KMW)
Main Switchers
4x Alpha & Omega AOTF29S50 (500V, 18A @ 100°C, Rds(on): 0.4Ohm)

IC Drivers

2x Silicon Labs Si8233BD

Digital Controllers
2x Texas Instruments UCD3138A
Topology
Primary side: Semi-Digital, Interleaved PFC, Full-Bridge & LLC converter
Secondary side: Synchronous Rectification & DC-DC converters
Secondary Side-
+12V MOSFETs12x On Semiconductor NTMFS5C612N (60V, 160A @ 100°C, Rds(on): 1.6mOhm)
5V & 3.3VDC-DC Converters: 6x
PWM Controllers: 1x
Filtering Capacitors

Electrolytic: 4x Nichicon (2-5,000h @ 105°C, HD), 2x Rubycon (6-10,000h @ 105°C, ZLH), 2x Nippon Chemi-Con (4-10,000h @ 105°C, KY), 1x Nippon Chemi-Con (1-5,000h @ 105°C, KZE)
Polymer: 22x FPCAP, 18x United Chemi-Con

Supervisor ICWeltrend WT7502R (OVP, UVP, SCP, PG) & Weltrend WT7518 (4x channels OCP)
Fan Modelbe quite! BQ SIW3-13525HF (135mm, 12V, 0.56A, Fluid Dynamic Bearing Fan)
5VSB Circuit-
Rectifier
1x IPS ISD04N65A (650V, 4A, Rds(on): 2.2Ohm) FET & 1x PS1045L (45V, 10A) SBR
Standby PWM ControllerOn-Bright OB5282
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Overall Photos

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Although CWT used digital controllers to control the APFC converter along with the primary switching FETs and the +12V regulation circuit, still the minor rails and the 5VSB circuit use analog controllers. Moreover, this platform isn't as advanced as in the Corsair AX1600i and the Wentai Aidan-T1616 units. There is no Bridgeless totem-pole PFC and GaN MODFETs, a state-of-the-art combination that allows for up to 99% efficiency in the APFC converter. 

If you want to learn more about the totem-pole PFC converter, take a look at the review of the AX1600i

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Transient filter

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The transient/EMI filter has more than enough parts to do a good job. Still, we noticed several high EMI spurs during the EMC pre-compliance test that we conducted. 

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Bridge rectifiers

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There are two powerful bridge rectifiers. Combined, they can handle up to 50 Amperes of current. 

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APFC converter

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The power supply uses an interleaved PFC converter, meaning that two APFC converters operate in parallel with a phase difference between them. This minimizes input/output current ripple and lowers conduction losses, increasing efficiency, and doubling the effective switching frequency. 

Since there was no space on the APFC heat sink, two FETs had to be left out. This is why CWT used two beefy and two standard FETs in this converter. It is a great shame, though, that they didn't choose a bridgeless totem-pole PFC converter, which would offer up to 3% higher efficiency. The digital control that this PSU has is ideal for this kind of PFC converter. 

The bulk caps have a high capacity, 1830uF in total. So we expect a pretty long hold-up time, although this also has to do with the programming of the main PWM controller.

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A pair of driver ICs handle all four FETs of the PFC converter. 

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Main FETs and primary transformer

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The four primary switching FETs are arranged into a full-bridge topology. Typically, an LLC resonant converter is also used, to boost efficiency through the lossless switching of the primary FETs. Lastly, the IC drivers that handle the primary FETs are two Si8233BD, provided by Silicon Labs. 

Since there was no room for one large, main transformer, CWT had to use two smaller ones. 

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Digital Controllers

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Texas Instruments provides the pair of digital controllers. Their model number is UCD3138A, and this is not the first time we see this type of MCU. One of them handles the APFC converter, and the other one the primary switching FETs and the 12V regulation circuit. One of these MCUs also takes care of the system's protection features, cooperating with the two analog supervisor ICs.

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12V FETs and VRMs

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Twelve On Semiconductor NTMFS5C612N FETs regulate the 12V rail. They are installed on vertical boards, which are right beside the main transformers, to minimize voltage drops and energy losses. 

The DC-DC converters that generate the minor rails are installed on the same daughter-board. In total, six FETs are used, and a single PWM controller. There is no digital control for these rails, unfortunately. 

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Filtering caps

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Not many electrolytic caps are used,  but most of the caps that CWT used are of high quality. Ripple filtering relies mostly on polymer caps, and there is a massive number of those, 40 to be more specific. 

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Modular board front

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Many polymer caps are installed on the modular board, along bus-bars that handle power transfers. 

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Supervisor ICs

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One of the supervisor ICs is installed on the center of the modular PCB, while the other one is on the solder side of the main PCB. Weltrend provides both supervisor ICs. 

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5VSB circuit

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The 5VSB rail is regulated by the circuit shown in the photos above. It uses analog controllers, as the minor rails. CWT has higher efficiency 5VSB circuits in its portfolio, so we wonder why it didn't use one of these in such a high-end PSU. 

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Soldering quality

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Soldering quality is good, as expected in such an expensive product. 

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Cooling fan

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The cooling fan uses a frameless design, which helps in producing more airflow. According to be quiet! this design also allows for lower noise output. 

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