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GeIL, the well-known memory manufacturer, has decided to enter the power supply market, but differently from other memory manufacturers that followed the same path (OCZ, Corsair, etc), they have created an entire new brand, Thortech (named after Thor, the Norse god). Right now Thortech is offering only 80 Plus Gold units, under their Thunderbolt and Thunderbolt Plus series. The only difference between the two series is that Thunderbold Plus models come with a digital power meter for you to install in any 5.25” bay of your case. Let’s take a look if the Thunderbold Plus 800 W model lives up to the expectation.
By the way, the manufacturer guarantees that this unit is able to deliver is labeled power at 50° C and to deliver a maximum power of at least 960 W.
The Thortech Thunderbolt Plus 800 W is 7.5” (190 mm) deep, with a 135 mm dual ball bearing fan (Protechnic MGT13512XB-025, 1,800 rpm, 100 cfm).
The new Thortech Thunderbolt Plus 800 W has a modular cabling system with six connectors. The power supply comes with the following cables:
- Main motherboard cable with a 20/24-pin connector, 24.4” (62 cm) long, permanently attached to the power supply
- One cable with two ATX12V connectors that together form an EPS12V connector, 24.4” (62 cm) long, permanently attached to the power supply
- Two cables with one six/eight-pin connector for video cards each, 25.6” (65 cm) long, permanently attached to the power supply
- Two cables with one six/eight-pin connector for video cards each, 25.6” (65 cm) long, modular cabling system
- Two cables with four SATA power connectors each, 24.8” (63 cm) to the first connector, 5.9” (15 cm) between connectors
- Two cables with three standard peripheral power connectors and one floppy disk drive power connector each, 25.2” (64 cm) to the first connector, 5.9” (15 cm) between connectors
- One cable for the power meter panel, 25.6” (65 cm) long, permanently attached to the power supply
All wires are 18 AWG, which is the minimum recommended gauge.
The cable configuration is satisfactory for a 800 W product, with four cables for video cards and eight SATA power connectors, although we’ve seen units in the same power range with more SATA power connectors.
Before opening the power supply, let’s talk about the included power meter.
[nextpage title=”The Digital Power Meter”]
The highlight of the new Thortech Thunderbolt Plus 800 W is its digital power meter, called “iPower Meter.” This device should be installed in any available 5.25” of your case. It has an LCD display and four buttons: watts/efficiency, volt/amp, fan mode and Celsius/Fahrenheit.
Through this panel you will be able to monitor the individual voltage, current and power of the +12 V, +5 V and +3.3 V rails, plus the total power being pulled on these outputs. The panel, however, doesn’t monitor the -12 V and +5VSB rails, so it will give you wrong results for total wattage and efficiency if your computer is pulling anything from these two rails (as it did during our tests, since we always pull current from them).
The panel also displays the power supply internal temperature and the fan speed, and you can set the fan speed to operate under “quiet” or “turbo” modes.
Let’s now take an in-depth look inside this power supply.
[nextpage title=”A Look Inside The Thortech Thunderbolt Plus 800 W”]
We decided to disassemble this power supply to see what it looks like inside, how it is designed, and what components are used. Please read our Anatomy of Switching Power Supplies tutorial to understand how a power supply works and to compare this power supply to others.
On this page we will have an overall look, and then in the following pages we will discuss in detail the quality and ratings of the components used.
[nextpage title=”Transient Filtering Stage”]
As we have mentioned in other articles and reviews, the first place we look when opening a power supply for a hint about its quality, is its filtering stage. The recommended components for this stage are two ferrite coils, two ceramic capacitors (Y capacitors, usually blue), one metalized polyester capacitor (X capacitor), and one MOV (Metal-Oxide Varistor). Very low-end power supplies use fewer components, usually removing the MOV and the first coil.
The Thortech Thunderbolt Plus 800 W has all the required components, plus two additional Y capacitors and one additional X capacitor.
In the next page we will have a more detailed discussion about the components used in the Thortech Thunderbolt Plus 800 W.
[nextpage title=”Primary Analysis”]
On this page we will take an in-depth look at the primary stage of the Thortech Thunderbolt Plus 800 W. For a better understanding, please read our Anatomy of Switching Power Supplies tutorial.
This power supply uses one GSIB2580 rectifying bridge, which is attached to an individual heatsink. This bridge supports up to 25 A at 98° C so, in theory, you would be able to pull up to 2,875 W from a 115 V power grid. Assuming 80% efficiency, the bridge would allow this unit to deliver up to 2,300 W without burning itself out. Of course, we are only talking about this component, and the real limit will depend on all the other components in this power supply.
The design of the active PFC circuit is somewhat different. The Thortech Thunderbolt Plus 800 W has two active PFC circuits, each one connected to one of the rectified outputs of the rectifying bridge. That is why there are two transformers in the primary of this power supply, they are the active PFC coils. Each active PFC circuit uses one IXFH44N50P MOSFET, which is capable of delivering up to 44 A at 25° C or up to 28 A at 100° C (note the difference temperature makes) in continuous mode, or up to 110 A in pulse mode at 25° C. This transistor presents a 140 mΩ resistance when turned on, a characteristic called RDS(on). The lower this number the better, meaning that the transistors will waste less power and the power supply will achieve a higher efficiency.
This power supply has two electrolytic capacitors, each one connected to the output of each active PFC circuit. Both are Japanese, from Chemi-Con, and labeled at 105° C.
The active PFC circuit is controlled by a UCC28061 chip (see Figure 14).
In the switching section, another two IXFH44N50P MOSFET transistors are used.
The switching transistors are connected using a design called resonant half-bridge topology, controlled by an L6599 integrated circuit, which allows the PFC circuit to be turned off when the unit is operating with a light load.
Now let’s take a look at the secondary of this power supply.
[nextpage title=”Secondary Analysis”]
This power supply uses a synchronous design in its secondary, meaning that the Schottky rectifiers were replaced by MOSFET transistors in order to increase efficiency. On top of that, this unit uses a DC-DC design, meaning that this unit is basically a +12 V power supply, with the +5 V and +3.3 V outputs being generated by two small power supplies attached to the +12 V output.
The +12 V output is generated by four IXTH260N055T2 MOSFETs, each one capable of handling up to 260 A at 100° C in continuous mode or up to 780 A at 25° C in pulse mode, with an RDS(on) of only 3.3 mΩ. The leads of these transistors, however, are limited to 160 A. The +5 V and +3.3 V are produced from the +12 V output, but just as an exercise if all power from this unit was pulled exclusively from the +12 V rail, this unit would have a maximum theoretical current of 457 A or 5,486 W. That is what we call overspecification!
Usually power supplies that use DC-DC converters in the secondary to generate the +5 V and +3.3 V outputs have two separate printed circuit boards installed in the secondary, one for each output. In the Thortech Thunderbolt Plus 800 W, however, the manufacturer copied the idea used by Seasonic in their X-Series power supplies, installing these converters on the modular cabling printed circuit board.
Each output is managed by an APW7073 PWM controller, using two APM3109NU MOSFETs (50 A at 25° C or 35 A at 100° C in continuous mode, 120 A at 25° C or 80 A at 100° C in pulse mode, 7.5 mΩ resistance) and two APM3116NU MOSFETs (no datasheet is available).
The secondary is monitored by a PS232S integrated circuit. This chip supports over current protection (OCP), over voltage protection (OVP), under voltage protection (UVP) and over temperature protection (OTP). It is interesting to note that this chip supports six OCP channe
ls (four +12 V, one +5 V and one +3.3 V), but the manufacturer decided to configure this power supply with a single +12 V rail.
On the solder side of the monitoring circuit printed circuit board we have an ATmega 88 microcontroller, in charge of the digital power meter.
All electrolytic capacitors used in this power supply are Japanese, from Chemi-Con, with some solid models also being used.
[nextpage title=”Power Distribution”]
In Figure 20, you can see the power supply label containing all the power specs.
This power supply has a single +12 V rail, so there is not much to talk about here.
Let’s now see if this power supply can really deliver 800 W.
[nextpage title=”Load Tests”]
We conducted several tests with this power supply, as described in the article Hardware Secrets Power Supply Test Methodology.
First we tested this power supply with five different load patterns, trying to pull around 20%, 40%, 60%, 80%, and 100% of its labeled maximum capacity (actual percentage used listed under “% Max Load”), watching the behavior of the reviewed unit under each load. In the table below, we list the load patterns we used and the results for each load.
If you add all the powers listed for each test, you may find a different value than what is posted under “Total” below. Since each output can have a slight variation (e.g., the +5 V output working at +5.10 V), the actual total amount of power being delivered is slightly different than the calculated value. In the “Total” row, we are using the real amount of power being delivered, as measured by our load tester.
The +12VA and +12VB inputs listed below are the two +12 V independent inputs from our load tester. During our tests, both were connected to the power supply’s single +12 V rail.
|Input||Test 1||Test 2||Test 3||Test 4||Test 5|
|+12VA||5.5 A (66 W)||12 A (144 W)||17.5 A (210 W)||23 A (276 W)||29 A (348 W)|
|+12VB||5.5 A (66 W)||11 A (132 W)||17 A (204 W)||23 A (276 W)||29 A (348 W)|
|+5V||2 A (10 W)||4 A (20 W)||6 A (30 W)||8 A (40 W)||12 A (60 W)|
|+3.3 V||2 A (6.6 W)||4 A (13.2 W)||6 A (19.8 W)||8 A (26.4 W)||12 A (39.6 W)|
|+5VSB||1 A (5 W)||1.5 A (7.5 W)||2 A (10 W)||2.5 A (12.5 W)||3 A (15 W)|
|-12 V||0.5 A (6 W)||0.5 A (6 W)||0.5 A (6 W)||0.5 A (6 W)||0.5 A (6 W)|
|Total||159.6 W||318.8 W||473.2 W||625.8 W||798.5 W|
|% Max Load||20.0%||39.9%||59.2%||78.2%||99.8%|
|Room Temp.||44.8° C||44.4° C||45.3° C||46.9° C||48.5° C|
|PSU Temp.||48.6° C||50.0° C||50.8° C||52.8° C||56.3° C|
|Ripple and Noise||Pass||Pass||Pass||Pass||Pass|
|AC Power||179.4 W||355.4 W||533.1 W||719.0 W||949.0 W|
|AC Voltage||114.1 V||111.7 V||110.3 V||107.5 V||105.9 V|
The Thortech Thunderbolt Plus 800 W can really deliver its labeled wattage at high temperatures.
Efficiency was extremely high when we pulled up to 80% of the unit’s labeled wattage (i.e., up to 640 W), between 87% and 89.7%. At full load, however, efficiency dropped to 84.1%. Being an 80 Plus Gold unit, it should present at least 87% efficiency at full load. However, this is very common to happen in our reviews, since during the 80 Plus certification power supplies are tested at only 23° C, while we tested this particular unit at 48.5° C, and efficiency drops with temperature.
Voltage regulation was very good, with all voltages within 3% of their nominal values, except -12 V during tests one, two, and three, and +3.3 V during test five (at +3.20 V, it was still inside specs). The ATX12V specification allows voltages to be up to 5% from their nominal values (10% for the -12 V output). Therefore this power supply presents voltages closer to their nominal values than necessary most of the time.
Noise and ripple levels were always extremely low, except for the -12 V output during test five, with 95.4 mV noise level (the limit is 120 mV, so still acceptable), and the noise level at the +12VB input of our load tester (95.4 mV, high but still inside the allowed range), which was connected to the power supply EPS12V connector. Below you can see the results for the power supply outputs during test number five. The maximum allowed is 120 mV for the +12 V and -12 V outputs, and 50 mV for the +5 V, +3.3 V, and +5VSB outputs. All values are peak-to-peak figures.
Let’s see if we can pull even more from the Thortech Thunderbolt Plus 800 W.
[nextpage title=”Overload Tests”]
Below you can see the maximum we could pull from this power supply. Unfortunately we couldn’t pull the amount promised by the manufacturer (960 W). Efficiency dropped a lot and noise level at the +12VB input of our load tester was touching the limit at 118.6 mV. We couldn’t pull more than that because the power supply shut down above 890 W, showing that its protections are working just fine.
|+12VA||30 A (360 W)|
30 A (360 W)
20 A (100 W)
20 A (66 W)
3 A (15 W)
0.5 A (6 W)
|% Max Load||111.7%|
|Room Temp.||45.5° C|
|PSU Temp.||56.7° C|
|AC Power||1,103 W|
|AC Voltage||104.2 V|
[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]
The specs of the Thortech Thunderbolt Plus 800 W include:
- Standards: ATX12V 2.3 and EPS12V 2.91
- Nominal labeled power: 800 W at 50° C continuous, 940 W minimum peak
- Measured maximum power: 893.6 W at 45.5° C ambient
- Labeled efficiency: 87% minimum, 80 Plus Gold certification
- Measured efficiency: Between 84.1% and 89.7% at 115 V (nominal, see complete results for actual voltage)
- Active PFC: Yes
- Modular Cabling System: Yes
- Motherboard Power Connectors: One 20/24-pin connector and two ATX12V connectors that together form an EPS12V connector (permanently attached to the power supply)
- Video Card Power Connectors: Four six/eight-pin connectors on separate cables, two permanently attached to the power supply and two on the modular cabling system
- SATA Power Connectors: Eight on two cables (modular cabling system)
- Peripheral Power Connectors: Six on two cables (modular cabling system)
- Floppy Disk Drive Power Connectors: Two on two cables (modular cabling system)
- Protections (as listed by the manufacturer): Over voltage (OVP), under voltage (UVP), over power (OPP), over current (OCP), over temperature (OTP), and short-circuit (SCP) protections
- Are the above protections really available? Yes
- Extra features: Digital power meter
- Warranty: Five years
- More Information: https://www.thortechpower.com
- MSRP in the US: NA
The new Thortech Thunderbolt Plus 800 W is good power supply, and its interesting digital power meter will make a lot of enthusiasts dreaming on having this unit.
However, there are two points that we don’t know about this unit yet: price and availability. We hope it reaches the market below the USD 200 mark.
It is not, however, a flawless unit. At full load under real-world temperatures, the unit failed to present efficiency above 87% and noise levels, although always inside the proper range, was too high at +12 V and -12 V. Voltage regulation was always inside a tighter 3% tolerance (i.e., voltages closer to their nominal values than required), except when we pulled 800 W from it, when the +3.3 V got outside this tighter range (it was still inside the allowed range, though).
There is also one detail about its digital power meter that you have to keep in mind. It doesn’t monitor the -12 V and +5VSB outputs, and it may present wrong numbers for total DC power and efficiency if your computer is pulling current from these outputs.
If you don’t care about the digital power meter, than you will be making a better deal buying the Corsair HX850W power supply, which costs only USD 160, also has modular cabling system, comes with six connectors for video cards (instead of only four) and 12 SATA power connectors (instead of only eight).
You see, Ecos Consulting, the company behind 80 Plus, gave Corsair HX850W their Gold certification, but Corsair decided to downgrade this unit to Silver because it couldn’t deliver 87% efficiency at full load at real-world temperatures (a nice example to be followed). The savvy user that follows our reviews knows that the 80 Plus certification is many times only a marketing badge and does not represent the real-world performance of a power supply.