Topower is a power supply unit manufacturing company with some of the most industrial strength products that the computer hardware industry of today has ever felt a demand of needing. Its reputation is built around one solid standard – to provide top quality products for national distributors, ODM clients, and the classic hardcore PC enthusiast daring enough to stress hardware components to their unthinkable yet skillfully achievable limits.
The company originally began as Topower Computer Industrial Co., Ltd. in Taiwan in 1986 under the vision of Mr. Kent Chou. However, the company soon realized the rapid need to expand to the Western hemisphere and European markets to better suit the need for fast-paced globalization of the computer hardware industry. Topower headed its operations to the booming industrial sector of west coast United States, where it has a branch located in the City of Industry in the Los Angeles county of Southern California.
Recently, our friends Rick Lee, Product Manager and Mario Gastelum, Sales Director of Topower sent us a review sample of the company’s latest high-end and enthusiast-oriented power supply unit, the Tiger Series 1200W (EP-1200W-P10-T2).
This is Topower’s flagship model, and it comes with a reasonable price tag of just under $200. Upon reading the specifications, it looks to be a serious piece of equipment for the most demanding applications. It features an 80 Plus certification to promote electrical efficiency, meaning that it’s been tested to run at 80 percent efficiency across all rated input loads. It features a maximum load of up to 1200W across the entire unit, and up to 1008W alone at 84A across its six +12v rails.
As with any enthusiast power supply designed to meet robust high-end requirements, it comes with Quad-SLI certification right out of the box for multi-GPU configurations. According to the company, “It was designed to handle Nvidia GeForce GTX 295s in a Quad-SLI configuration and AMD’s most powerful graphics cards.” Not surprisingly, we have to agree. When asked, Product Manager Rick Lee told us that the unit has a control card with dials to combine and split +12V rails soldered to the PCB. This design allows the possibility for the PSU to support either the Intel ATX 12v spec or a greater +12v power demand from power-hungry GPUs.
Upon first inspection of the packaging, the box weighed in at an average proportion of what we would expect from an enthusiast power supply. In perspective, were just happy that an originally Taiwan-based company didn’t follow in the footsteps of ASUS and Gigabyte with the colorful unneeded flare that puts American infomercials to shame.
The packaging included the power supply unit itself in bubble wrap and an accessory box with all of the included modular cables and the manual. After unpacking, not a dent, scratch, or smudge was to be seen – just a very shiny PSU and some rather tough looking modular cables equipped with black EMF shielding cylinders. The company put a large emphasis on the protection that the device provides from electromagnetic interference. We take this vital precaution seriously due to the indefinite nature and effects of EMF on the lifetime of system components.
“The beauty of this power supply is that it performs way beyond that specified standard and has a rating that out powers most power supplies in its class,” said Mario Gastelum, Product Marketing. “We designed and utilized REMI technology to effectively maximize the electrical output to effectively harness the complete power of 1200 Watts. In addition, we developed PNT (Plug-N-Twist) Technology to deliver an easy to manage cable system that won't clutter your PC's interior.”
Installation and test system specifications
Installation could not have been any simpler. The physical flexibility of the modular cabling is very similar to what you get with a professional high-end Monster Cable. It is very easy to connect and route around components because the cabling itself does not mold to any shape but maintains its strength while being flexed.
The unit comes with two PCI-Express 6-pin cables, two PCI-Express 6+2 pin cables, eight SATA power connectors, one ATX 24-pin, one ATX 8-pin, one ATX 4+4 pin, six 4-pin Molex connectors, and five multi-colored, reusable twisty-ties.
The ends of the cables came in two different shapes – one shape is associated with the four PCI-Express connections at the top of the PSU, and the other are associated with the rest of the connectors. Everything plugged in just fine, but the biggest letdown was the fact that a third PCI-Express 6+2 pin could not be ran from the unit because it does not have an extra connector for it. We were trying to install three GTX 295s to test the PSU in a full Folding@home environment but it simply could not be done.
On another note, the core hardware of our test configuration consisted of an EVGA X58 SLI Classified E759 (nForce 200) motherboard, an Intel Core i7 Extreme 965 at 3.74GHz and 1.34v, 6GB of Mushkin XP Series DDR3 1600MHz 7-8-7-20 in triple-channel mode, and two EVGA Geforce GTX 295 Plus Edition dual-PCB cards in Quad-SLI overclocked to 680/1483/1055MHz.
Our peripheral hardware consisted of a Thermalright TRUE Copper with dual Noctua NF-12P fans in push-pull configuration, two Samsung Spinpoint F1 750GB RAID Edition drives running Windows 7 Ultimate x64 RTM, and a Sony BDU-X10S Blu-ray ROM drive. All in all, our system was definitely ready to face the Topower Tiger Series 1200W.
Testing the power supply – idle desktop and full-power gaming
On the Windows 7 desktop, our review unit did quite well at handling idle system performance. As expected, all six +12v rails maintained solid input load balance within +0.4v of operation, while the +3.3v rail measured in at a stable +3.31v and the +5v at +4.96v. Everything was running in great shape, and to be honest there was a noticeable difference in the heat output of our GTX 295s compared to the previous power configuration we had been using. It had been a PC Power & Cooling Silencer 750w coupled with an FSP Group X5 450W booster (for the PCI-E 6+2 pin inputs). Our graphics cards were emitting 3C less heat than they had previously been, and we were very pleased with this so we decided to investigate a little further.
We decided to go ahead and measure the electromagnetic interference levels coming from all four PCI-E power cables, as the company does specify that the cables are coated with REMI shielding for maximum component protection. We grabbed our F.W. Bell 4100 Series Gauss Meter and found the results to be fairly average, however not exceptional. Where any number below 2mG of radiation constitutes an “acceptable” level for a human living environment, the PCI-E cables themselves averaged between 4.2mG and 13.3mG depending on GPU load. In comparison, our testing room atmosphere away from our system measured in between 0.3mG and 0.5mG depending on our location in the room. We then decided to measure the top of the PSU unit itself just for fun, directly above the fan, and it measured in between 116mG and 121mG during idle system load. These were the numbers that were actually impressive compared to other power supply units we have seen.
When it came down to our real-world application testing, Far Cry 2, Mirror’s Edge, and Crysis Warhead were our games of choice for measuring system load on the Topower Tiger 1200W. We did some pre-analysis and determined that Mirror’s Edge would make good use of GPU PhysX, but wouldn’t entirely max out our input load. Far Cry 2 would be a middle comparison solution, and Crysis Warhead would be the great system stressor due to its ridiculous dependency on raw GPU acceleration as well as its heavy strain on the SLI link running through the integrated memory controller on our Nehalem-based motherboard.
The Mirror’s Edge in-game stress test ran as expected, with an average draw of around 571W on maximum settings with PhysX enabled at 1920x1080 resolution, 16x AF, High Quality texture filtering and Ambient Occlusion enabled.
The Far Cry 2 in-game stress test added both more CPU and GPU load to the total system draw, with an average of 684w on maximum settings in DirectX 10 mode at 2048x1152 resolution, 4x AA, 16x AF, High Quality texture filtering and Ambient Occlusion enabled.
Finally, our ultra in-game stress test with Crysis Warhead taxed the PSU unit the hardest, with an average power draw of 814w on completely maxed out settings in DX9 mode (for optimal performance and quality) at 2048x1152 resolution, 16x AF, High Quality texture filtering and Ambient Occlusion enabled. With each live in-game test running for about twenty five minutes each, the Topower Tiger 1200w took our system stress load quite well, and we are pleased with the stability of the unit.
Thermals and audible noise impressions
The EP-1200W-P10-T2 is equipped with a powerful yet energy-efficient 120mm fan with automatically adjustable speed according to the unit temperature, which we were very pleased with listening to during normal operation. Upon system startup, the power supply unit was almost completely inaudible, minus a very subtle “zap” noise that can be heard as power is drawn from the unit within the first few milliseconds of operation. During our loading to the desktop of Windows 7, we isolated the rest of our active system noise with some egg crates as best we could. The result was very promising, as the 120mm fan on the EP-1200W-P10-T2 gave roughly 16dBa to 19dBa of audible output depending on the listening distance. For normal operation in a case, however, we suspect that this unit will be virtually silent.
As typical with almost any power supply unit, the effect of running Crysis and initiating full system load did result in an audible noise level increase. However, the Advanced Auto Thermal Fan Design specification of this unit really proved itself worthy of the title. With a power draw between 815 and 935 watts, the unit was able to stay well under a (subjective) 35dBa on our test bed with very minimal vibration.
Heat dissipation was also exceptional during idle and full load usage. The unit was completely touchable by hand during stress testing and the exhaust emitted from the back was roughly 10F/12°C above room temperature. The heatsinks proved to be optimal for our environment of 75F (thanks to our space heating GTX 295 cards) and should not be an issue with even the most demanding of hardware configurations.
Final thoughts and conclusion
Topower has shown itself to be an intelligent manufacturer when it comes to the equipment design and planning needed to make industrial-strength power supply units. The Tiger Series 1200W (EP-1200W-P10-T2) features six incredibly stable +12v rails for highly intensive multi-GPU environments where overclocking, overvolting and stability are the three central focus points of the hardcore enthusiast user. The electromagnetic interference shielding on the cables proved to be a worthy contender of the “REMI shielded” marketing strategy, and although they are not the best we have seen, they effectively eliminate a reasonable amount of radiation from critical system components. Finally, the proprietary Advanced Auto Thermal Fan design effectively eliminates any and all audible noise from within a closed case environment. Even though we tested this unit in an open space, our subjective analysis of the low decibel levels provided an added bonus to the overall value of the product, and we are impressed with the results. While this isn’t the first PSU release we’ve been excited about, it definitely features some solid design wins that demonstrate it worthy enough for our enthusiast recommended list.