Thortech Thunderbolt Plus 1200W PSU Review

Review Score:
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Additional technical assistance: Peter McFarland and Jeremy Price.

Correctly testing power supplies is a complex procedure and KitGuru have configured a test bench which can deliver up to a 2,000 watt DC load. Due to public requests we have changed our temperature settings recently – previously we rated with ambient temperatures at 25C, we have increased ambient temperatures by 10c (to 35c) in our environment to greater reflect warmer internal chassis conditions.

We use combinations of the following hardware:
• SunMoon SM-268
• CSI3710A Programmable DC load (+3.3V and +5V outputs)
• CSI3711A Programmable DC load (+12V1, +12V2, +12V3, and +12V4)
• Extech Power Analyzer
• Extech MultiMaster MM570 digital multimeter
• SkyTronic DSL 2 Digital Sound Level Meter (6-130dBa)
• Digital oscilloscope (20M S/s with 12 Bit ADC)
• Variable Autotransformer, 1.4 KVA

We combine all +12V output for results.

For those interested, the supplied iPower Meter readings were highly inaccurate throughout testing.

DC Output Load Regulation

Combined

DC Load

+3.3V
+5V
+12V
+5VSB
-12V
A
V
A
V
A
V
A
V
A V
330W
5.58
3.36
5.54
5.11
21.23
12.23
0.85
5.04
0.20 -12.00
620W
11.06
3.32
11.02
5.07
42.57
12.17
1.74
5.03
0.40 -12.03
918W
16.54
3.27
16.44
5.03
63.75
12.04
2.64
5.01
0.60 -12.08
1204W
22.03
3.23
22.04
5.00
85.12
11.92
3.6
5.00
0.80 -12.12
Thortech Thunderbolt Plus 1200W PSU Maximum Load
1315W

Load regulation is not the best we have seen this year, however it falls within safe parameters. We managed to get 1315W from the unit before it would switch off. The over circuit protection system worked well and it shut off safely.

Next we want to try Cross Loading. This basically means loads which are not balanced. If a PC for instance needs 500W on the +12V outputs but something like 30W via the combined 3.3V and +5V outputs then the voltage regulation can fluctuate badly.

Cross Load Testing +3.3V +5V +12V -12V +5VSB
A V A V A V A V A V
1190W 4.0 3.35 3.0 5.09 88.0 11.87 0.20 -12.02 0.50 5.04
195W 19.0 3.22 22.0 5.00 2.5 12.20 0.20 -11.99 0.50 5.02

Cross load results are fine, although there is quite a drop on the +12V output and +3.3V output.

We then used an oscilloscope to measure AC ripple and noise present on the DC outputs. We set the oscilloscope time base to check for AC ripple at both high and low ends of the spectrum.

ATX12V V2.2 specification for DC output ripple and noise is defined in the ATX 12V power supply design guide.

ATX12V Ver 2.2 Noise/Ripple Tolerance
Output
Ripple (mV p-p)
+3.3V
50
+5V
50
+12V1
120
+12V2
120
-12V
120
+5VSB
50

Obviously when measuring AC noise and ripple on the DC outputs the cleaner (less recorded) means we have a better end result. We measured this AC signal amplitude to see how closely the unit complied with the ATX standard.

AC Ripple (mV p-p)
DC Load +3.3V +5V +12V 5VSB
330W 20 15 25 10
620W 25 15 50 10
918W 30 20 60 15
1204W 30 25 75 20

The Thortech Thunderbolt Plus 1200W PSU passed our noise suppression test however the results are far from class leading. The +12V output peaks at 75mV, still within rated tolerance parameters but higher than many 1000W+ units we have reviewed lately.

Efficiency (%)
330W
88.21
620W
90.97
918W
89.75
1204W
88.02

Efficiency is reasonably good, peaking at just under 91 percent at 50 percent load.

We take the issue of noise very seriously at KitGuru and this is why we have built a special home brew system as a reference point when we test noise levels of various components. Why do this? Well this means we can eliminate secondary noise pollution in the test room and concentrate on components we are testing. It also brings us slightly closer to industry standards, such as DIN 45635.

Today to test the Power Supply we have taken it into our acoustics room environment and have set our SkyTronic DSL 2 Digital Sound Level Meter (6-130dBa) one meter away from the unit. We have no other fans running so we can effectively measure just the noise from the unit itself.

As this can be a little confusing for people, here are various dBa ratings in with real world situations to help describe the various levels.

KitGuru noise guide
10dBA - Normal Breathing/Rustling Leaves
20-25dBA – Whisper
30dBA - High Quality Computer fan
40dBA - A Bubbling Brook, or a Refrigerator
50dBA - Normal Conversation
60dBA - Laughter
70dBA - Vacuum Cleaner or Hairdryer
80dBA - City Traffic or a Garbage Disposal
90dBA - Motorcycle or Lawnmower
100dBA - MP3 Player at maximum output
110dBA - Orchestra
120dBA - Front row rock concert/Jet Engine
130dBA - Threshold of Pain
140dBA - Military Jet takeoff/Gunshot (close range)
160dBA - Instant Perforation of eardrum

Noise (dBA)
330W
29.7
620W
32.8
918W
35.4
1204W
38.2

The power supply is quiet below 600W, but the fan quickly spins up to compensate. At full load it is clearly audible and likely to be heard, even above several quality case fans.

Temperature (c)
Intake
Exhaust
330W
35
39
620W
38
45
918W
42
50
1204W
46
57

The fan spins fast at higher loads which maintains a good thermal curve across all the output range. At full load it only rises to an 11c above ambient threshold.

Maximum load
Efficiency
1315W
86.3

Pushing the PSU above its rated limits generates an efficiency level of around 86.3%. This is not a viable ‘real world’ situation, but its interesting nonetheless.

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Thortech Thunderbolt Plus 1200W PSU Review, 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating
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  • Xtreme

    Not bad, but yeah its outclassed by others, so the price needs to drop to reflect that.

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  • Davis

    If anyone is buying this, I recommend AMAZON as they have a great returns policy,. I dont know how the warranty would work in the UK

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  • Manacuna

    for those who dont know, this is under the ‘GEIL’ umbrella……

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  • James

    This is one of the worst power supplies ever made it literately has so much ripple it will ruin all your components. You have lost any credibility with me saying this is worth considering. Look at what TTL customs / overclock3d said on this for actual honest indepth review.

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  • Manacuna

    James – seems to get quite a lot of good reviews on some sites too. Techpowerup reviewed it and it did well.
    http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/Thortech/TTBPK20G/

    Looks like a decent PSU to me.

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  • Eran

    James you are using overclock3d as a guideline for PSU reviews? wise up dude. Techpowerup reviewer is much better than them. havent read an OC3D PSU review in some time as Tom talks shit.

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  • James

    Look if you overclock alot ripple is the one of thoses things you must totally avoid otherwise components get wrecked. Iv seen it first hand its totally observable its based in standard electronic engineering. If you wanna buy it go ahead but if you need 1.2kw psu you shouldnt cheap out because you going to have alot of tech on it. I have a 1.2kw enermax platimax for very good reason.

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  • Jana

    My friend has this and its fantastic, had it since March this year. two 580s in SLI and rock solid!

    People dont understand the results in many PSU reviews, thats the problem. then we get a guy making a video who maybe had a bad one and everyone thinks they all blow up.

    I trust techpowerup and Kitguru over that.

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  • harris

    I agree this PSU has problems, techpowerup recorded fairly high ripple, like this review but its well within the rated specs listed by the industry. thats not an opinion, its a hard cold fact by the industry who set out ripple ratings.

    It is possible to get a bad power supply, ive had 2 corsair AX units fail on me, but they get great reviews and I haven’t stopped buying them.

    ive been reading techpowerup for years and CRMARIS is very good. his results are different to Kitguru, but close, especially with ripple. its all within spec.

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  • Brian

    ENERMAX? I wouldn’t trust them to power my toaster. THEY ARE A NIGHTMARE TO GET REPLACEMENTS TOO!. don’t believe me, check out some threads http://www.google.co.uk/search?client=opera&q=enermax+failures&sourceid=opera&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&channel=suggest

    They are a disaster.

    Seasonic for me all the way, Enermax suck.

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  • Warren

    @ James “Look if you overclock alot ripple is the one of thoses things you must totally avoid otherwise components get wrecked” – are you for real or having a laugh?

    Where did you read this? if it came from your preferred websites then you need to get a new reading source, because its total bollocks. EVERY power supply will emit some level of ripple. they have yet to make a power supply to produce 0 readings at full load on all +3.3V, +5 and +12V output rails.

    The rated parameters for safe ripple readings are

    +3.3V – no more than 50 mV
    +5V – no more than 50 mV
    +12V – no more than 120mV – applies to all, if there are more than one.

    So even if a power supply produces 90mV on +12v, its safe long term. its not ideal, sure, but things won’t suddenly ‘blow up’, unless you get a crap unit and it pops to 180mV. Most top class PSU’s are generally under 20 mV for +3.3V and +5 V at full load and +12V under 50 mV, but just because its a little more, doesnt mean they are dangerous. only if they break the tolerance guidelines set out by the industry listed above.

    In regards to this review, several sites have quoted very similar mV/ripple ratings which while far from ‘awesome’ are fine in everyday use.

    Before you start spouting crap best to get your facts right, otherwise you just sound like a total munchbucket.

    So much misfed nonsense in the power supply industry, such as people thinking a huge single +12V rail is the only design to buy etc.

    the only problem I have with power supply reviews is that these units are tested across a few days. ideally we would like to see 5 month long term tests in everyday use, b ut thats not logistical

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