This is the first time I’ve written a review of a power supply, but I’ve read plenty and I have a vague notion of what these magic boxes do, so here goes.
I bought this Super Flower power supply after my best efforts at modding my old Enermax 350 ended in tragedy. No-one lost any limbs, but the psu didn’t pull through. The decision to get a Super Flower model was an educated guess while browsing my favourite cheap as chips e-tailer, eBuyer. £15 for a 60000W power supply doesn’t fill me with confidence, but nor am I willing to spend £80 on a “brand name” 400W model. Super Flower, whilst having quite a silly name, gives me a little more confidence than “eBuyer value” and this 350W supply had a price tag of around £30 – high enough to make me think it might not be made of paper and low enough that I am actually willing to pay for it. Also, it looked quite nice..
So off went my order, and a stupidly long time later (I chose the cheap postage because I’m a tight-wad) a nice big box arrived at my door. I like getting parcels; mainly since it wakes up and greatly irritates my housemates, but also because I’m a big kid and I love getting new toys. Upon ripping open the package like a kid on Christmas morning, I was rewarded with this lovely retail box.
First impressions are always important, even with things like this. I was half expecting a plain white or brown box, but this is pretty decent. It’s clearly a generic box for the entire range, as it has all these options on the sides. I quite fancy an aluminium model with 4 fans now! Oh well.
Opening the box gave me something I didn’t expect – a nice thick glossy manual. The thickness is quickly explained; it seems to have every language in the known universe covered. Still, what can you really need in a psu manual. I’m still impressed by its inclusion. It covers airflow inside the case (nice diagrams, pretty obvious stuff however), the specifications of the various rails, some warnings not to kill yourself, and some nice specs of the various power connectors (which might be useful to more adventurous modders). Removing the manual from the box, we get to the psu itself.
A nice enough looking unit, very reminiscent of my Enermax (complete with gold fan grills and cable braiding). The first thing that struck me (after the visual similarities with my Enermax unit) was the abundance of cables. This was a very pleasant surprise (but also something I was praying for) after using endless supplies with nowhere near enough connectors. Most [cheap] manufacturers seem to think 4 molexes is enough. It’s not, if any of you people are reading! The Super Flower matches up to the more expensive manufacturers by including plenty of connections.
Firstly there is the ATX motherboard connector. Nice of them to include this, without it nothing would work. What is nice is that the cables have been sheathed in this nice black braiding. This not only makes the cable look nicer, but keeps it bunched up nicely and makes it easier to deal with inside a case. Gold star for this, Super Flower.
Next we have the now ubiquitous, but still largely useless to us AMD lovers, extra P4 connectors. The less used AUX connector is included alongside the more common 4pin connector. I’ve never seen a motherboard that uses the strange AT-relic AUX connector, but for P4 users both the connectors are present so compatibility is ensured.
Lastly the all important “molex” connectors (although all of them are made by molex), for use with drives and other internal peripherals. And just look how many of them there are! In total there are 8 standard connectors and 2 floppy-style connectors. This should be more than enough for most people, only those with huge arrays of disks might have a problem but these are the type of people who will most likely have additional or speciality psus anyway. The cables are nice and long – this can be seen as both a good thing and a pain in the arse. Some power supplies have pathetic short cables that don’t even reach the bottom – utterly ridiculous since most cases seem to have followed Lian Li with base mounted HDD cages or at least positioning them somewhere around the lower front of the case. The cables on this supply are plenty long, but for small cases (and even my mid-tower) this can make cable management a little difficult. There’s always a gap somewhere to stuff them though. Better too long than too short.
The ATX cable braiding is a nice touch, but it’s a shame the other cables aren’t done as well. Very few manufacturers seem to do this straight out of the factory (Thermaltake are the only exception I can think of), it generally seems to be available as an afterthought by modding outlets or as a [very very slow tiring process] DIY job. Cmon Super Flower, take the initiative. I definitely think people would be willing to pay a few extra quid for that.
A nice funky feature, something you might not expect on a £30 power supply, is the fan control. There are 3 options to choose from – Auto, Slow and Turbo (which is what I imagine A, S, T stand for). Slow runs the fan very very quietly, a good one for bed time, but could introduce a risk of overheating in poorly ventilated cases. Turbo rather unsurprisingly runs the fan at full speed, at which level it puts out a lot of air but makes a noise to match. The Auto setting is what I leave it on. It’s not because it has a blue status LED (although…), but because I feel confident that the psu won’t explode and it’s generally not a lot louder than the slow setting. I’m very impressed that a power supply of this price includes such a great feature. A graph on the side shows the speed levels at various internal temperatures using the Auto setting. I’m not usually a fan of animated GIFs, but Chris made me do it.
To complete the discussion about the units cooling, this model has a single 80mm fan on the back and a 92mm fan on the bottom (relative to normal mounting in a tower case). Both fans are clear and I was somewhat surprised, given the current fad, that there were no LEDs mounted in either. The rear is a standard size 80mm job, but the bottom fan is a very low profile affair. The heatsinks reach quite a way, so this fan must have been the biggest they could cram in. Still, it seems to work effectively.
So onto the units performance. Well, again, I’m very happy. My Enermax had a very weak +5V line – late into its life it could only muster around 4.67V. This supply gives me between 4.8 and 4.9, which is definitely better and I have had no instability on my system. This screenshot of the MBM dashboard shows the rails at some point in time. The manual states 5% around the stated levels. That’d be 3.135-3.465, 4.835-5.165 and 11.835-12.165. The 12V here is pretty high.
(I am running an AthlonXP2400+ on an AOpen AK77-400MAX. I have a GeForce4 Ti4200 card and a SBLive! 5.1, with 4 ATA hard disks, 2 optical drives and 2 system fans).
Many cheap power supplies claim a huge wattage, but actually break down to a much lower number. The specs from the manual state:
These numbers aren’t at all shabby, but they can be a bit confusing. At first I figured I’d use that old P=IV trick we all learned in school to work out each power and add them up. But this gives a number way higher than 350W (481.5W in fact). Confusing, I thought, until the blessed internet helped out with this pearl of wisdom..
It’s generally a decent rule of thumb that if you work out the wattages for all of the rails, add them together and end up with a result substantially higher than the overall power rating, then you’re probably looking at a decent PSU. If the rail powers added together don’t equal the overall power rating, then you’re definitely looking at a lousy one.
Dansdata, I/O letters column 6
So let’s look at the power ratings on the side sticker of the supply since they should show the combined power levels.
Pretty good. 175W across the +3.3V and +5V, and 330W combined across those and the +12V line is pretty good for a 350W rated supply. In comparison, a QTec 400W supply I have claims 180W for the +3.3 and +5, and the same 192W for the +12. Everything on the QTec label is rated as “peak” rather than “max”. I’m not sure if that’s clever wording on their part, or just a different choice of word. As possibly the ultimate comparison (or at least the best I can manage given what I have), my Enermax 350W label reads as follows:
An extra 10W claimed for the combined +3.3V and +5V rails. I don’t think I can call that much of a beating for the Super Flower. I am slightly surprised there is any difference… I was beginning to think the Super Flower might be made quite nearby to the Enermax, so I checked the good ol’ intermanet. Low and behold, master Dan (of DansData – him again!) says in an article of his that Super Flower, Top Power and – you guessed it – Enermax are all manufactured by the same large OEM supplier. Interesting stuff, no?
Anyway, after ensuring the power supply worked and I wouldn’t have to send it back, it was time to break that ol’ warranty. I was hoping to sneakily remove the warranty sticker with a razor blade… it was all going smoothly till I jolted at the end and cut it in half, d’oh! I also then found that the sticker was made of the world’s most pathetic substance, which rips upon contact with anything. Those sneaky beggars. No warranty for me.
Speaking of the warranty, and a note for Lian Li owners (and possibly others), the bottom fan grill on this unit sticks out a little too far to slide in the back (again, strangely like my Enermax unit). Since I didn’t want to open it, I simply removed the grill from the outside. Remember not to take all 4 screws out at once or it’ll be a bugger to get the fan back in place! Once I’d opened the box, I thought I’d do a slightly nicer job and put the fan grill on the inside. This pushes the fan inwards a little, and makes the previously tight gap even tighter. It fits, though.
What I think is the temperature monitoring circuitry is hidden under a strange looking plastic shroud atop the nice chunky heatsinks. This seems slightly odd – it must block a lot of the air coming from the 92mm fan since it covers almost half of the fans area. As I said, the heatsinks are of a decent size. And since everything is working fine, this obviously does not pose a problem. It’s still weird though.
We can see the inside is all quite nicely done, and looks to be of a decent quality (I’ve seen plenty of super cheap psus). A nice thing to see is that all the connections that might be useful to remove (for modifying or repair – experts only!) are plugs and sockets rather than just being soldered connections – the main power connector and all the fan connections are made with headers on the pcb. Again, something you might not expect in a cheap unit like this. As usual, there’s hot glue mess inside. I don’t really get why this is always the case… I suppose a bit of hotglue slapdash can help ensure no unwanted connections get made.
Looking at the fan headers, it’s clear that the pcbs are shared between all the power supplies in the range since all the additional fan headers are present. The more daring among us might decide we’d like to add a few fans using these headers, which are presumably linked into the clever temperature control circuits. Others won’t give a toss. The 92mm fan is a Globe manufactured one, how odd that the fan in my Enermax was also made by Globe.
It’s also nice to note that the braiding from the ATX connector comes into the unit, unlike some shoddier looking (cough Thermaltake) efforts, and the cables are tied together inside to keep everything neat. All in all, things inside the unit are pretty good.
Earlier I mentioned that an article elsewhere had stated that Super Flower PSUs essentially come from the same production line as more expensive (and more respected) Top Power and Enermax supplies. Whether this is actually true or not I cannot be sure, but I will say that I found a lot of similarities between this Super Flower PSU and an Enermax that I also own. I also (strangely) had a feeling straight away that it was in some way similar… even aesthetically, straight out of the box, it gives off that impression. Whether or not this is in fact a cheap rebadged Enermax doesn’t really matter. This PSU represents excellent value for money. It is quality made, it has great specifications and supplies decent voltages. The 350W rating is not hideously over exaggerated as it is with many other cheap power supplies. In fact, I feel like I shouldn’t call this a “cheap power supply”. It isn’t, it just has a very low price tag. If you are looking for a new power supply, then definitely consider a Super Flower. There’s no need to pay through the nose for Antec or Enermax models when you can get everything you need from one of these units. I have to recommend one of these PSUs, impressive stuff by Super Flower.
Excellent value price
Plenty of connectors
Low noise due to fan speed controller
Decent voltage rails and power output
350W is more than enough for most people
Only ATX cables are braided
No SATA power connectors
Those with very demanding setups may need more power
Super Flower homepage