RSS Feed

HCW Tech Blog

For the latest info on computer hardware, tech, news, video games, software tips, and Linux, check out our new improved front page: HCW Tech Blog

Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [08.09.04]
Manufactured by: Ultra Products


For Lack of a Scope

Unfortunately, we are not in posession of an oscilliscope. Therefore, we are unable to determine exactly how clean the power is that is going through the X-Connect. For that, we apologize.

However what we can do is tell you if the X-Connect can come up with enough juice to power your high-end system!

To do that, I put together a system that should make a power supply work as hard as it ever should. Interested in the specs?

CPU: Intel Pentium 4 Prescott 3.4 GHz
Motherboard: Intel D875PBZ
Video Card: GigaByte GeForce 6800 Ultra AGP
HDD's: 2x Seagate 120GB SATA, 1x Maxtor 80GB ATA133, 1x Maxtor 60GB ATA133, 1x Maxtor 13GB ATA100
Sound Card: Creative Labs Audigy 2 ZS, plus onboard Sound
Network Card: Onboard Ethernet, plus Gigabyte WiFi card

WOW. If there is an everyday system that will bring a power supply to its knees, it's this one! The Prescott itself draws plenty of wattage and makes a ridiculous amount of heat. But how about the 6800 Ultra? It has been known to take power supplies with over 400W of peak power and send them crying home to their mommies. Throw in no less than FIVE 7200 RPM hard drives, sound cards, and every onboard peripheral you could imagine, and you have a system that BEGS for a 500W PSU!

To test voltages, we used Intel's own system monitor software.

In order to stress the components out, we ran a Prim95 torture test and a UT2K3 looping demo at the same time. Meanwhile, an ISO file was being transferred from a USB2.0 hard drive enclosure to one of the local drives. Oh yeah, you know we were blasting Metallica MP3's during all this :)

So what happened? Did the X-Connect blow up?


Looking at the animated GIF above, you can see the variance of voltages across the lines. The only line that seemed to be affected at all was the +12V line. However, it only saw a drop of 0.125 volts; WELL within specs. It might be worth noting that our beta unit could not handle this load; it would crash on boot. So they obviously made some important improvements to the final product!

Now does this mean you NEED a $130 power supply to run such a system? No way! A quality 420W that is in perfect working order should do - for a time anyway... Just for kicks, I set up the same system with a standard OEM 420W unit we received with a case (I can't even remember which one it was now). I ran the same test as above, and this is what it came up with:

That 12V line is looking sketchy already... Of course, this wouldn't mean much if we only ran this test and called it a day. That's not what we're about though, so I left it running the UT2K3 loop and Prime95 torture test. I would have let it run for weeks (while waiting for a final unit to arrive, since the beta unit would not run this test), but the power supply failed some time during the first night. OOPS.

Just a FYI: the retail version of the X-Connect we received in June has been running this test for 5 weeks straight now. I think it's safe to say that it is a high quality unit that should handle just about anything you could throw at it.

So Ultra Products took the idea of modular power supplies, and expanded on it to create a product well worthy of your attention. No folks, this is not a hack job done by someone in their garage; it's the real deal.

Although I did come across some issues with the cabling, they are all being addressed wonderfully by Ultra. And even at that, we're talking about minor issues (lack of SATA connectors being one, but Ultra will send you a set if you need some). The lack of flexibility in the cables still concerns me, but since you can drastically reduce the AMOUNT of cables in a system, even this issue becomes somewhat minute.

And when it came to our load test, the X-Connect passed with flying colours. It took our Prescott/6800 Ultra system, and ate it for lunch. Then it had our 420W OEM power supply for desert. If you are concerned that this is a cheapo power supply with a fancy modular panel, be assured that it is not. It should stand up to the big boys like Enermax and PC Power and Cooling.

And just LOOK at it

It is stunning. And it comes in two other finishes (reflective blue, and reflective black).

I can say it now; this really is the best power supply I have ever used. It very easily been the opposite (the beta unit gave me concerns, but like I said, the final unit performed flawlessly).

The Ultra X-Connect is the first power supply to receive our "I AM HARDCORE" award! I am looking forward to what Ultra comes up with next.

  • Modular power supply! Use only the cables you need
  • Modular panel instead of a mess of cables hanging out the back
  • 500W and can handle any system you can throw at it
  • Looks absolutely stunning

  • No other features to speak of (this might be a good thing though)
  • Cables are thick and not very flexible
  • SATA cables not included in the package (but Ultra will send you some for free)

Final Score: 93%