Thortech Thunderbolt Plus 1200W PSU Review

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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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Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)
Thortech Thunderbolt Plus 1200W PSU Review, 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating
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