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Poll Results: And the best PSU is...

Poll expired: Mar 22, 2008  
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post #31 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by jonnyGURU View Post
Well.. you shouldn't have to worry about it at all... ever... non issue. That's because a competent engineer and/or product manager should have spread the connectors out so there is plenty of power on a rail for any and all connectors attached to that rail.

Take, for example, this BFG:

http://enthusiast.hardocp.com/image....pfM180X2wuanBn

You've got 22A, 22A, 36A, 36A.

For explaining this easily/quickly, I'll just focus on the +12V3 and +12V4. The rails are limited to 36A each. That's 432W. These two rails provide power to the four PCIe connectors; two each rail. One PCIe is 6-pin, delivering up to 75W per spec, and the other PCIe is 8-pin, delivering up to 150W per spec. That's a total of 225W. That means the rail can deliver almost twice what the connectors are actually designed to deliver. So... would the fact that this PSU has multiple +12V rails have any effect on anyone? Not at all.

So why bother with splitting up +12V rails?

Well.. have you ever plugged a connector in backwards or heard of anyone that has? The floppy power connector in particular is very easy to plug in backwards, whether it's plugged into a floppy drive, Audigy card... whatever, it happens and it happens often. Well, short circuit protection should shut down a PSU. If you touch a hot lead to a ground the PSU should shut down right away. But if you put some resistance in that circuit, like in the form of a sound card or floppy drive, the PSU doesn't see a short. It sees a big load. If this load is allowed to run without limit, the wire heats up, the insulation burns off and you end up with a heap of melted plastic at the bottom of the case. With a current limit, the load caused by the short exceeds the current limit and shuts down the PSU preventing the wire to ever get hot enough to start a fire. And that's ALL it does. So if someone tells you they're getting better OC's with a single +12V rail PSU, ask them for their eye color because they may be full of something. On the flip side, if someone tells you that voltages are more stable because they have multiple +12V rails, they're full of it too because typically the split rails come from the same source and the circuitry doing the splitting isn't doing any kind of regulation or anything that would actually make the voltages "more stable."

Hope this helps.
I guess my only question then is what if you have 2x 17A rails? Then you have to be concerned a little more about the ratings on the rails, as you can theoretically use that much power. Especially if you use molex splitters, lots of hard drives, etc. I don't know, it still seems like you'd need to worry for the lower amperage, lower quality PSU's, but you're right if you've got a decent quality PSU that you probably don't need to worry about whether it's one or two rails.
post #32 of 47
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SgtSpike View Post
I guess my only question then is what if you have 2x 17A rails? Then you have to be concerned a little more about the ratings on the rails, as you can theoretically use that much power. Especially if you use molex splitters, lots of hard drives, etc. I don't know, it still seems like you'd need to worry for the lower amperage, lower quality PSU's, but you're right if you've got a decent quality PSU that you probably don't need to worry about whether it's one or two rails.
Ahh, well you could have a PSU like mine that has the ever so sketchy feature of "Rail-Fusion" which merges the rails if one is being overloaded.
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post #33 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by SgtSpike View Post
I guess my only question then is what if you have 2x 17A rails? Then you have to be concerned a little more about the ratings on the rails, as you can theoretically use that much power. Especially if you use molex splitters, lots of hard drives, etc. I don't know, it still seems like you'd need to worry for the lower amperage, lower quality PSU's, but you're right if you've got a decent quality PSU that you probably don't need to worry about whether it's one or two rails.
Well, there you have an exception, not the rule. If the PSU has two 17A +12V rails, it's simply not meant for high end graphics cards, shouldn't be used for a high end machine, shouldn't be a consideration for someone that feels the need to post at a site called "overclock.net", etc.

But to be perfectly honest, if all you were worried about was 17A being enough power for hard drives, fan, lots of splitters, etc. and your graphics card was something mild like a 7300 GT... you STILL don't have anything to worry about. Hard drives, fans, etc. really don't take that much power. Think about it. "Back in the day" we would run 10 drive RAID file servers off 350W power supplies with only 12A on the +12V rail. 17A is overkill by comparison, never mind two +12V rails (of course, CPU's were regulated off the +5V back then, but still.) So if you're not point a high end graphics card, even that PSU would be more than adequate.

An example of a PSU with two 17A +12V rails is just arguing for arguing sake at this point. Would you really compare the quality of a 450W PSU with two 17A rails against something like a Corsair VX450W? Never mind the "number of +12V rails" the two power supplies wouldn't even be in the same league. Is this Overclockers.net or Ben's Bargains?

If someone needs a particular PSU within a particular "range" I tend to stick with this rule of thumb:

400W to 450W: Two +12V rails @ 18A each minimum, or a single +12V rail.

500W to 600W: Two +12V rails @ 20A each minimum, or a single +12V rail.

650W to 700W: Four +12V rails @ 18A each minimum, two at 22A or more, or a single +12V rail.

750W To 950W: Four +12V rails @ 20A each minimum.

1000W and up: Four +12V rails @ 22A each minimum or Five or Six @ 18A each minimum.

You'll note I taper away from single +12V rail over 700W despite the fact that I helped move Ultra over to single +12V rail on high power units like the X-Pro 750W and X3 800W, 1000W and 1600W during my short tenure there. That's because I've seen "the error of my ways". I should've known going into it that high power single +12V rails are a bad idea from my tech support and RMA background but the uber-marketing from certain other manufacturers had be roped in.

Once you get a few folks that plug the power into their Audigy cards in backwards or their USB Card Reader and then try to RMA the PSU because the fact that they just singed 18" of cable off of their PSU is "obviously the power supply's fault" you start to second guess the whole "one big +12V rail" idea. And sometimes it's not just a user error thing. If something were to short inside the components being powered, you can light things up that way too, only you may not be around to stomp the impending fire out.

The challenge is in reversing the damage from the brainwashed masses that thing it's perfectly safe to have 780W capability going down a single wire lead.
post #34 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by jonnyGURU View Post
Well, there you have an exception, not the rule. If the PSU has two 17A +12V rails, it's simply not meant for high end graphics cards, shouldn't be used for a high end machine, shouldn't be a consideration for someone that feels the need to post at a site called "overclock.net", etc.

But to be perfectly honest, if all you were worried about was 17A being enough power for hard drives, fan, lots of splitters, etc. and your graphics card was something mild like a 7300 GT... you STILL don't have anything to worry about. Hard drives, fans, etc. really don't take that much power. Think about it. "Back in the day" we would run 10 drive RAID file servers off 350W power supplies with only 12A on the +12V rail. 17A is overkill by comparison, never mind two +12V rails (of course, CPU's were regulated off the +5V back then, but still.) So if you're not point a high end graphics card, even that PSU would be more than adequate.

An example of a PSU with two 17A +12V rails is just arguing for arguing sake at this point. Would you really compare the quality of a 450W PSU with two 17A rails against something like a Corsair VX450W? Never mind the "number of +12V rails" the two power supplies wouldn't even be in the same league. Is this Overclockers.net or Ben's Bargains?

If someone needs a particular PSU within a particular "range" I tend to stick with this rule of thumb:

400W to 450W: Two +12V rails @ 18A each minimum, or a single +12V rail.

500W to 600W: Two +12V rails @ 20A each minimum, or a single +12V rail.

650W to 700W: Four +12V rails @ 18A each minimum, two at 22A or more, or a single +12V rail.

750W To 950W: Four +12V rails @ 20A each minimum.

1000W and up: Four +12V rails @ 22A each minimum or Five or Six @ 18A each minimum.

You'll note I taper away from single +12V rail over 700W despite the fact that I helped move Ultra over to single +12V rail on high power units like the X-Pro 750W and X3 800W, 1000W and 1600W during my short tenure there. That's because I've seen "the error of my ways". I should've known going into it that high power single +12V rails are a bad idea from my tech support and RMA background but the uber-marketing from certain other manufacturers had be roped in.

Once you get a few folks that plug the power into their Audigy cards in backwards or their USB Card Reader and then try to RMA the PSU because the fact that they just singed 18" of cable off of their PSU is "obviously the power supply's fault" you start to second guess the whole "one big +12V rail" idea. And sometimes it's not just a user error thing. If something were to short inside the components being powered, you can light things up that way too, only you may not be around to stomp the impending fire out.

The challenge is in reversing the damage from the brainwashed masses that thing it's perfectly safe to have 780W capability going down a single wire lead.
Wow great post. Keep up the good work !
post #35 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by jonnyGURU View Post
Well, there you have an exception, not the rule. If the PSU has two 17A +12V rails, it's simply not meant for high end graphics cards, shouldn't be used for a high end machine, shouldn't be a consideration for someone that feels the need to post at a site called "overclock.net", etc.

But to be perfectly honest, if all you were worried about was 17A being enough power for hard drives, fan, lots of splitters, etc. and your graphics card was something mild like a 7300 GT... you STILL don't have anything to worry about. Hard drives, fans, etc. really don't take that much power. Think about it. "Back in the day" we would run 10 drive RAID file servers off 350W power supplies with only 12A on the +12V rail. 17A is overkill by comparison, never mind two +12V rails (of course, CPU's were regulated off the +5V back then, but still.) So if you're not point a high end graphics card, even that PSU would be more than adequate.

An example of a PSU with two 17A +12V rails is just arguing for arguing sake at this point. Would you really compare the quality of a 450W PSU with two 17A rails against something like a Corsair VX450W? Never mind the "number of +12V rails" the two power supplies wouldn't even be in the same league. Is this Overclockers.net or Ben's Bargains?

If someone needs a particular PSU within a particular "range" I tend to stick with this rule of thumb:

400W to 450W: Two +12V rails @ 18A each minimum, or a single +12V rail.

500W to 600W: Two +12V rails @ 20A each minimum, or a single +12V rail.

650W to 700W: Four +12V rails @ 18A each minimum, two at 22A or more, or a single +12V rail.

750W To 950W: Four +12V rails @ 20A each minimum.

1000W and up: Four +12V rails @ 22A each minimum or Five or Six @ 18A each minimum.

You'll note I taper away from single +12V rail over 700W despite the fact that I helped move Ultra over to single +12V rail on high power units like the X-Pro 750W and X3 800W, 1000W and 1600W during my short tenure there. That's because I've seen "the error of my ways". I should've known going into it that high power single +12V rails are a bad idea from my tech support and RMA background but the uber-marketing from certain other manufacturers had be roped in.

Once you get a few folks that plug the power into their Audigy cards in backwards or their USB Card Reader and then try to RMA the PSU because the fact that they just singed 18" of cable off of their PSU is "obviously the power supply's fault" you start to second guess the whole "one big +12V rail" idea. And sometimes it's not just a user error thing. If something were to short inside the components being powered, you can light things up that way too, only you may not be around to stomp the impending fire out.

The challenge is in reversing the damage from the brainwashed masses that thing it's perfectly safe to have 780W capability going down a single wire lead.
Ok, but:
Quote:
Originally Posted by jonnyGURU
The "per rail" rating IS NOT a rating of power capability. It is a designation of at what current the power supply will shut down. Multiple +12V rails, in most instances, are NOT multiple +12V rails. They are a single +12V rail split up into multiple +12V rails each with a current limiter, called an OCP (for Over Current Protection) that will shut down the PSU if exceeded. So, as I said before, the number you see below +12V1, +12V2, +12V3, etc. on the label is just telling you what the OCP is set for on each circuit branch. This is why they can not be added up. This is not misleading. It's just a fact. The number below this, or the "combined maximum output" number, is the actual +12V output capability of the PSU.

We're talking two things with these: OCP rating and PSU capability. They're two different things and mathamatically can not be equated to each other.
So you recommend having at least a certain amount of amperage on each rail of a multi-rail PSU, but how do you know that those PSU's can actually supply that much amperage, if they're just using OCPs? Or do you only recommend PSUs that you know do not use OCPs, and actually use separate rails?

You're right that I'm just arguing for arguments' sake with the 17a x 12v example, but I am also trying to figure out how I can decide whether a "crappy" PSU may actually be suitable for some situations. I want to know how to find out how much power a "crappy" psu can actually put out.

Also, don't most hard drives under load consume around 25w of 12v power? That's 2 amps, so 10 hard drives at 2 amps each would need at least 20 amps on the 12v rail... that's dangerously close to the limit (I would think) of the 12v rail on a 350w PSU, and it's not even considering the motherboard, processor(s), and optical drives. Did they really run servers with that many hard drives on just 350w?

Sorry for all the arguments, but really I'm just playing devil's advocate to try and understand PSU's better, and you seem like the perfect guy to discuss it with.

Oh, and to the OP, sorry for the thread hijack!
post #36 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by SgtSpike View Post
So you recommend having at least a certain amount of amperage on each rail of a multi-rail PSU, but how do you know that those PSU's can actually supply that much amperage, if they're just using OCPs? Or do you only recommend PSUs that you know do not use OCPs, and actually use separate rails?
What? I must be not understanding you corrently because your questions seem very elementary in context to the discussion.

How do you know those PSU's can actually supply that much amperage? It says so on the label? (Assuming the label's specs are correct, but then again I tend to sway people away from PSU's from "shift" manufacturers.

Is that what you're asking?

The OCP is listed in amps right below the voltage (+12V1, +12V2, etc.) The capability is listed below that in wattage (although in some cases it's listed elsewhere, like Antec's power supplies. They're doing this because they're counting on your ignorance and that you'd just "add up" the split rails.)

Why would I recommend a PSU with actual multiple +12V rails over one that uses OCP's? PSU's that actually have true multiple +12V outputs are rare. They only exist in 1000W and up and even then only make up about 5% of the product out there. If the unit shuts down when there's a short, I'm happy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SgtSpike View Post
You're right that I'm just arguing for arguments' sake with the 17a x 12v example, but I am also trying to figure out how I can decide whether a "crappy" PSU may actually be suitable for some situations. I want to know how to find out how much power a "crappy" psu can actually put out.
Mind you, I'm saying "crappy" as in "not enough power for an enthusiast rig", but like I said; if you're not using a graphics card that requires auxillary power, just about anything will do the job. You still have to go back to what I said before about shopping for a power supply: asking if one should get a power supply based on the number of rails is doing things backwards. The question of whether or not the power supply is something that can do what it's advertised to do regardless of how many +12V rails it has is the first thing that should come into question.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SgtSpike View Post
Also, don't most hard drives under load consume around 25w of 12v power? That's 2 amps, so 10 hard drives at 2 amps each would need at least 20 amps on the 12v rail... that's dangerously close to the limit (I would think) of the 12v rail on a 350w PSU, and it's not even considering the motherboard, processor(s), and optical drives. Did they really run servers with that many hard drives on just 350w?
2A on spin up. Actually as much as 2.5A and I've seen almost 3A. But when they're just reading, writing, etc., they're only using about 1A of power. If you have any kind of RAID, you should have staggered spin up regardless. If your RAID card doesn't have staggered spin up, it's crap. Period. Yes, we ran servers with 10 drives and 350W power supplies... and these servers had staggered spin up that would start one drive at a time as to not kill the power supply.
post #37 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by jonnyGURU View Post
2A on spin up. Actually as much as 2.5A and I've seen almost 3A. But when they're just reading, writing, etc., they're only using about 1A of power. If you have any kind of RAID, you should have staggered spin up regardless. If your RAID card doesn't have staggered spin up, it's crap. Period. Yes, we ran servers with 10 drives and 350W power supplies... and these servers had staggered spin up that would start one drive at a time as to not kill the power supply.
That much? The specs on recent 7200RPM drive (that I have seen) are all less than 2A and .5-1A in use.

Only higher end RAID cards support staggered spin up. Any RAID controller under $200 or onboard won't do staggered spin up. Yeah... you can say most RAID controllers are crap.
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post #38 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by DuckieHo View Post
That much? The specs on recent 7200RPM drive (that I have seen) are all less than 2A and .5-1A in use.
Well, like GPU's and CPU's they're getting more efficient. A couple years ago we had a problem with Seagate 7200 drives because on a cold start they would suck almost 3A. Most drive enclosures' power bricks only support 2A.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DuckieHo View Post
Only higher end RAID cards support staggered spin up. Any RAID controller under $200 or onboard won't do staggered spin up. Yeah... you can say most RAID controllers are crap.
But you're also talking about a RAID card that supports up to four drives. Not to sound arrogant, but having worked on truly "high end" servers, I suppose my perception of high end is higher than others.
post #39 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by jonnyGURU View Post
What? I must be not understanding you corrently because your questions seem very elementary in context to the discussion.

How do you know those PSU's can actually supply that much amperage? It says so on the label? (Assuming the label's specs are correct, but then again I tend to sway people away from PSU's from "shift" manufacturers.

Is that what you're asking?

The OCP is listed in amps right below the voltage (+12V1, +12V2, etc.) The capability is listed below that in wattage (although in some cases it's listed elsewhere, like Antec's power supplies. They're doing this because they're counting on your ignorance and that you'd just "add up" the split rails.)

Why would I recommend a PSU with actual multiple +12V rails over one that uses OCP's? PSU's that actually have true multiple +12V outputs are rare. They only exist in 1000W and up and even then only make up about 5% of the product out there. If the unit shuts down when there's a short, I'm happy.
I see what you're saying now. I didn't realize that MOST PSUs didn't actually have separate rails, but just OCPs. That's why I was wanting to know how one would know the difference between a PSU with a single rail split into two and a PSU with multiple rails split only by the OCP.

To make your statement more clear in my mind, I found a picture, this label here:

In the middle of it, it lists two +12v rails with a max draw of 12A and 14A each, but below that, the maximum wattage is only 180w. If the power supply could truely handle 12A and 14A on both rails at the same time, it would be outputting (12+14)*12 = 312w. Thus, this PSU must be a single-rail split into two.

So really, you're saying that the true capabilities of a PSU should be measured by the wattage listed below the 12v rails, not the maximum amperage available on each 12v line?
Quote:
Originally Posted by jonnyGURU View Post
Mind you, I'm saying "crappy" as in "not enough power for an enthusiast rig", but like I said; if you're not using a graphics card that requires auxillary power, just about anything will do the job. You still have to go back to what I said before about shopping for a power supply: asking if one should get a power supply based on the number of rails is doing things backwards. The question of whether or not the power supply is something that can do what it's advertised to do regardless of how many +12V rails it has is the first thing that should come into question.


2A on spin up. Actually as much as 2.5A and I've seen almost 3A. But when they're just reading, writing, etc., they're only using about 1A of power. If you have any kind of RAID, you should have staggered spin up regardless. If your RAID card doesn't have staggered spin up, it's crap. Period. Yes, we ran servers with 10 drives and 350W power supplies... and these servers had staggered spin up that would start one drive at a time as to not kill the power supply.
Thanks for these explanations, very helpful!

One question about the staggered spin up... how does the raid controller card control when the hard drive spins up? If I just connect a hard drive to a power source, it'll spin right up, regardless of whether it is connected with a cable or not. How can the raid controller card be initialized fast enough to keep the hard drives from spinning up before the hard drives just spin up from receiving power?

Also, would a motherboard, graphics card, or processor use a bunch of power upon startup, compared to say, running Crysis?
post #40 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by SgtSpike View Post
One question about the staggered spin up... how does the raid controller card control when the hard drive spins up? If I just connect a hard drive to a power source, it'll spin right up, regardless of whether it is connected with a cable or not. How can the raid controller card be initialized fast enough to keep the hard drives from spinning up before the hard drives just spin up from receiving power?
I doubt IDE supports staggered startup but SATA 3.0Gb/s, SAS, and SCSI do.

Power Pin 11 controls this feature on SATA drives. High-end cards can also send an interrupt signal to drive to delay spin up.
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