MyGamer Hardware Score: 9.7
So there you are, neck-deep in your PC case, trying to get the interior looking as snazzy as humanly possible… We know- it's a sickness, and we share it with you. After all, there's few tech products sexier than a cold-cathode illuminated PC, complete with LED fans, ice-blue illuminated analog temp gauges and whatnot. After all, you paid through the nose for all this hardware. You maybe even went so far as to cut a window in the side of the case, so the world could ogle in, drooling and jealous, at what you've built, so why not really show it off?
Or, maybe you're one of those neat freaks, one for who the idea of dangling, unsightly wires is close to an insult. And, let's not even talk about the possibility of having one of those same fugly wires block the crucial air flow that you need to keep all of this hardware cool and happy…
If, while reading the above, you found yourself nodding along, a "yep, that's me" framed on your lips, then we have the perfect finishing touch for your next system- the 550W X2 Titanium modular power supply from Ultra.
Power supplies: all PC's need ‘em. But, historically, this crucial component is all to often the last thing a would-be modder would consider spending a few extra bucks on. Usually, output is the only consideration, not the actual cables that deliver the juice, or the look of the device itself. With the X2, however, Ultra takes the "vanilla silver box" idea and turns it on its ear, creating a product as once highly functional from an engineering standpoint as well as highly appealing to the eyes.
Opening the box, we were impressed to see that all of the unit's "Flex force" modular cables were set aside in an interior box, and that the power supply itself was sealed in a plastic bag then cushioned with spongy foam. This was, quite literally, the best packing job I've ever seen for such a device, and good thing- the X2 case is mirror bright, with a surface that can and will show every last fingerprint and scratch, should disaster strike.
The X2 is crammed with features, the best of which is, of course, its modular "Flex force" cabling….
The X2's "Flex force" cabling system is designed so that a user only need connect those power leads that they need for their installed hardware, dramatically cutting down on cable clutter. Unlike other modular systems we've seen, even the 20/24 pin motherboard connection is modular and uses the same rounded UV-reactive cables as the rest of the system, a very nice touch. In our test system, a beefy AMD system sporting two optical drives, two SATA hard drives, an nVidia graphics card and several other case-specific power requirements (front-mounted gauge displays and fan bus controls) in addition to the motherboard leads, we still only managed to use less than half of the supplied cables.
Hiding the Flex force leads is simplicity, as their rounded cross-section and slightly "tacky" rubberized surface grips well, making them perfect for wedging in the tight spaces behind your mobo tray or along the bottom edges of the case. And, best of all, the X2 comes standard with a set of two 6-pin PCI Express cables right in the basic kit- you won't have to use ungainly molex adapters to use the power supply with your SLI video cards when you finally upgrade. Brilliant!
Start to finish, we had the X2 installed in our test rig in under 30 minutes. The cool blue interior LEDs shine through side-mounted windows in the power supply's case and down through the hole for the unit's single, massive 120mm cooling fan. The lights are also UV reactive, which means that the Flex force cabling and anything else you have installed that glows in UV will react to the light (although, in our test system, which features a bright cold cathode blue tube, the effect was so subtle as to almost be invisible).
To test the unit's stability, we ran our gaming system flat out 24/7 for a solid week, running CPU-intensive applications such as 3D rendering or DVD encoding/decoding/burning while we were away from the actual keyboard. At no time did the system display anything but solid performance, no matter how hard or long we ran the system. And, best of all, we saw a 2- to 3-degree (Fahrenheit) difference in our interior case temp while it was running. Whether this was a benefit of the tidier cabling or the huge 120mm cooling fan we can't say, but whatever it was, cooler is always better when it comes to PC hardware.
71% efficiency maxed out isn't the best rating we've ever seen, but it's well within acceptable limits, even for power users like gamers. Combine the X2's performance with its top-notch styling and features, and you've got one awesome power supply…
Pros: One of the best looking ATX power supplies we've ever seen- sure to make any custom PC mod job look awesome. The "Flex force" cabling system is very well implemented and works great, leading to a cleaner look and lower case temps. Plenty of cables for everything from SATA hard drives to PCI Express SLI video cards to optical drives and everything in-between. Limited Lifetime Warranty (with registration) means this will be a device you can and will transfer from PC to PC as you upgrade.
Cons: We really have to think about this one… not much comes to mind. Really, the only thing we wished were different was the power output- 550W is in the "adequate" category for most high-end gaming rigs, and we wished it had a bit more "oomph". Lucky for us (and you), Ultra tells us that they're hard at work on an 800W version, which will hopefully be released soon. We'll be on the lookout…