BFG EX-1200 (1200W) Modular PSU Page: 1
Introduction
 
Lake Forest, Illinois, USA - 2002, a small company going by the name of BFG Technologies emerges offering tweaked out versions of Nvidia's latest and greatest graphics cards. Speculation rises on whether the name BFG is a tribute to the "Big Fucking Gun" 9000 found in DOOM, a clever acronym of Best For Games or maybe even a blast from the past of someone's favourite '80's bedtime story, the Big Friendly Giant! Regardless, the combination of heavily overclocked graphics cards along with lifetime warranties and a 'twitching' mascot brandashing an extremely large plasma gun certainly goes down well with the gaming crowd and quickly makes BFG one of the most recommended manufacturers in the industry.
 
Fast forwarding to more recent times and natural progression has seen BFG branch out into new areas. While still remaining true to their gaming roots, the BFG repertoire now contains Motherboards, Power Supplies and even pre-built Gaming Systems. Of course, I'd like to tell you that today I'm going to be reviewing one of their Phobos Elite $8000 base units, but unfortunately I've never been quite that lucky. Instead on the table today we have one of BFG's latest PSU's to hit the market; the EX-1200. Here's what BFG have to say about their latest powerhouse...
 
Introducing The Modular, Frequency Conversion Power Supply: The EX Series

BFG Tech has taken a whole new approach to computer power supplies with the EX Series. Most power supplies are inefficient at lower loads, making it difficult to plan for future expansion while maintaining a green initiative. By using Frequency Conversion technology, the EX power supply can actually emulate virtually any size power supply and therefore be at least 80% efficient, even with loads as low as 10% of the unit's maximum capability. EX power supplies have the lowest minimum load requirements and the best +5VSB efficiency on the market. BFG Tech uses all Japanese capacitors for longer life and gold-plated pins for improved conductivity.

• Includes six PCI Express® Connectors for Multi Graphics Card Support
• Features new 8-Pin PCI Express® Connectors
• Quad 12V Rails
• Lifetime Warranty* and 24/7 Tech Support

Specifications

• ATX12V 2.2/EPS12V 2.91
• Quad +12V Rails
• Silent 135mm Intake Fan
• Efficiency: > 80% Typical
• MTBF: > 100,000 Hours at 25°C, > 20,000 Hours at 40°C
• 1200W Continuous Rated at 40°
• PCI Express Ready
• Safety Approval: UL, CB, TUV, CE and FCC
• Dimensions: 15cm x 8.6cm x 16.5cm (5.9" x 3.4" x 6.5")
 
Efficiency appears to be main buzzword in the EX-1200's specs with BFG quoting that the unit can maintain at least 80% efficiency regardless of load level. This is certainly good in comparison to most other PSU's which tend to only start delivering 80%+ efficiency once the load is increased past 150-200w. Of course, anybody using a 1200w PSU to power a 150w PC should probably be slapped, but with massive improvements in power consumption of components such as CPU's and Graphics card while running in an idle state, its good to see that BFG are taking initiative into what could be our future power requirements.
 
BFG have seen fit to provide their EX-1200 unit with a lifetime warranty (USA & Canada only) and impressive 24/7 support providing that you register your purchase within 30 days. Unfortunately the EU isn't eligible for the Lifetime Warranty due to legal restrictions, but to counter this BFG are offering a massive 10yr warranty instead. Should you miss the 30 day registration deadline the warranty period is reduced to only 1 year, so it's certainly worth taking the time to fill out the necessary forms after purchase!
  
BFG EX-1200 1.2KW Rail Layout
DC Output +3.3V +5V +12V1 +12V2 +12V3 +12V4 +12V5 +12V6 -12V +5VSB
30A 30A 40A 40A 40A 40A - - 0.5A 3A
Max Power 170W 1180W 6W 15W
1200W
 
Moving on to the rail layout we can see that the EX-1200 is heavily weighted towards the +12v rails which is certainly what we'd expect for a PSU designed to cope with multiple GPU's. Thankfully BFG has kept the number of +12v rails to four which has allowed them to set the max load of each rail to a fairly high 40A with a combined load across all rails of 98A (1180w). The +3.3v and +5v rails are also equally well equipped with a max load set at 30A on each and a combined output of 170w.
 
Now let's check out just how the PSU arrived at the OC3D labs...    


BFG EX-1200 (1200W) Modular PSU Page: 2
Packaging & Appearance
 
Presented in a black cardboard box with a minimalistic white and yellow colour scheme, the BFG EX-1200 is worlds apart from the heavily 'game themed' packaging of their graphics cards. However, it would seem that the professional look is common to all of BFG's recently released PSU's with the ES and LS series sporting exactly the same design albeit in blue and green colour schemes respectively.
 
BFG EX-1200 Box Front BFG EX-1200 Box Back
 
BFG EX-1200 Box Top BFG EX-1200 Box Side
 
Probably one of the most amusing things about the EX-1200 packaging is the installation diagram on the back of the box which gives buyers a 4 step guide to installing their new PSU. Hopefully this will prevent any mishaps from users who attempt to install their new PSU without removing the side panel of their case, or indeed using duct tape rather than screws to secure the PSU in position!
 
However, on a more serious note the back of the box also provides valuable information on the efficiency curves and fan speed through the various load levels. This could be handy for potential buyers who know roughly how much power their systems consume and are looking for a PSU that reaches its optimal performance at this level.  Printed on the side of the box is an output chart similar to that back on Page #1 along with a full specifications list and six images that show what connectors are provided with the unit.
 
BFG EX-1200 Box Inside BFG EX-1200 Contents
 
Some manufacturers are known for their minimalist approach in order to keep costs down, while others go as far as to provide their PSU's in leather briefcases or heavily padded boxes. The BFG EX-1200 however, strikes a balance of the two by using a fairly standard double walled cardboard box to save on the pennies while also using large styrofoam inserts on either side of the PSU to ensure that it is well protected against knocks and drops during shipping. Included in the box are the following items:
 
7x Modular Cables
4x ATX Screws
3x Velcro Ties
1x Mains Cable
1x PSU Manual
1x EX-1200 PSU
   
 
 BFG EX-1200 Bottom View BFG EX-1200 Side View
 
BFG EX-1200 Sticker BFG EX-1200 Logo
 
The finish on the unit is mirror black - most likely spray painted, and unfortunately doesn't take too kindly to being 'fingered' as you can probably see from some of the images above. The paint is also quite prone to chipping and scratching and therefore care should be taken when installing it inside a PC. Around the side of the unit BFG have added some personal touches by laser cutting several ventilation grilles and embossing their cross-hair logo into the casing; further improving the PSU's visual appeal.
 
BFG EX-1200 Top View BFG EX-1200 Top View
 
The underside of the unit features a 135mm fan complete with a black fan grill sporting the BFG logo, and flipping the unit over we can see that BFG have placed the specifications sticker in a position that it is not likely to be seen when installed in a PC case. Always good to see (or not)!
 
BFG EX-1200 Rear View BFG EX-1200 Rear View
 
The rear of the unit is dominated by the obligatory honeycomb mesh grill with a standard kettle lead style plug and rocker switch located to the right. It would have been nice to see a beefier power switch used as the smaller switches tend to suffer more from arcing and poor conections in comparison to the larger, more 'clunky' switches. 
 
So now we've covered everything but the modular end of the unit, let's move on to the next page where we take a look at the cables and connectors.  


BFG EX-1200 (1200W) Modular PSU Page: 3
Cables, Connectors & Internal Layout
 
Like most other modular PSU's the EX-1200 is hybrid in design. This means that although the unit does indeed have several modular connectors, the main cables required for powering the average modern day system (ATX, EPS-12v, 1x PCI-E....) are hard wired into the PSU. This not only ensures that critical system components get a good, clean supply of power direct from the PSU without the interference and resistance that modular connectors have been known to introduce, but also avoids situations where ill-fitted modular connectors can kill components.
 
BFG EX-1200 Front Modular View BFG EX-1200 Hard Wired
 
A total of six cables protrude from the unit with 3x Molex, 1x Floppy, 3x SATA, 2x EPS-12v, 1x ATX and 1x PCI-E connectors attached to the ends. This is substantially more than most other units and does slightly loose sight of the whole reasoning behind having a modular PSU in the first place (not having to plug in the cables you don't need). Each of the cables is sleeved in a black mesh and finished neatly at the ends with zip ties and cable shrink.
 
BFG EX-1200 Cable Bundles BFG EX-1200 Modular Interface
 
A possible reason for so many hard-wired connectors is the slight deficiency in the modular connector department. With only six plugs for inserting modular cables, this is significantly less than most other 1KW+ PSU's on the market and would have hindered users from utilizing the EX-1200's full power. A full list of the cables found on the EX-1200 can be seen below:
 
BFG EX-1200 Connectors
 ATX Connector Native 1x 20+4 Pin
 EPS-12v / P4-12v Connector(s) Native 1x 8 Pin / 1x 4+4 Pin / 1x 4 Pin
 Molex Connectors Modular / Native 6x / 3x
 Floppy Disk Connectors Native 1x
 SATA Connectors Modular / Native 6x / 3x
 PCI-E Connectors Modular / Native 3x 6+2 Pin / 3x 6 Pin
 
BFG EX-1200 PCI-E Cables BFG EX-1200 Main Cables
 
Six PCI-E plugs are provided via three cables (2 modular, 1 hard-wired) on the EX-1200, with each of the cables using piggy-back style wiring. This is great news for people who will be using the EX-1200 to power graphics cards that require two PCI-E connectors as it only means one cable is required per GPU (rather than two). Additionally, one of the two connectors on each cable can be upgraded from  6-Pin to 8-Pin by means of a 2-Pin connector. The only downside to this thoughtful configuration is that if your graphics card only needs a single PCI-E connector, then you're left with a rather messy bundle of unused wires.
 
BFG EX-1200 Insides BFG EX-1200 Inside Close
 
Lifting off the lid and moving on to the guts of the EX-1200 everything looks like quite a condensed mess! While the hard-wired cables entering the unit and the ones leading to the modular backplane are quite tightly bunched with cable ties, the rest of the cables roaming around the unit completely destroy the look. Several of the cables are also spliced from one cable in to two, and the area around the AC inlet looks like several shrink wrapped components have just been shoe horned into any available space.
 
BFG EX-1200 Caps BFG EX-1200 Caps
 
BFG EX-1200 Transformer BFG EX-1200 5vSB
 
The primary capacitors are Japanese manufactured by Nichicon and carry the specifications 470uF, 450v, 85°c. Although maybe not as good quality as some other Jap made 105°c capacitors, these should certainly stand the test of time just fine. At the center of the unit is a single 12v transformer responsible for powering the four 'virtually' split +12v rails in the unit. Also coming off the 12v transformer is a stepdown to the +3.3v and +5v rails.
 
Running entirely independently on its own PCB attached to the side of the main mosfet heatsink is the +5VSB rail/mini-PSU. This is partially responsible for the mess of cables inside the unit as it would have been much easier to splice wires directly to this device rather than running traces on the main PCB and designing a custom connection method for it.
 
BFG EX-1200 Andyson Power BFG EX-1200 Young Lin Fan
 
No cookies for those who guess the OEM of the EX-1200 is...That's right, Andyson Power. A quick browse of their website reveals that we're more than likely looking at a slightly customised version of their Extreme M Series model with some minor layout changes to the internals and a different coloured fan and power switch. For those interested, the fan used inside the EX-1200 is manufactured by Young Lin Tech with a model number of DFB132512H and specifications: 1700RPM / 91.16CFM / 31.28dBA at 12v.
 
Now on to the testing...


BFG EX-1200 (1200W) Modular PSU Page: 4
Simulated Load Testing

To provide our readers with the most accurate results, Overclock3D uses a professional grade SunMoon SM-268+ ATE load tester capable of placing a sustained load of 1690w across a total of six rails (including +5vsb and -12v) on the PSU. Unlike our previous resistor-based load tester, the SM-268+ gives us the ability to adjust amperage loads in increments as small as 0.01A while also measuring voltages and wattage readings on-screen.

During today's tests, we will be placing the BFG EX Series 1200w under 25%, 50%, 75% and 100% load levels at both room temperature and inside a hot box regulated to a temperature of around 50°C. Additional cross load tests will also be performed under these conditions to simulate how the PSU would perform with a heavily uneven distribution of load. It should also be noted that the all +12v rails on the BFG EX will be combined during the testing, allowing us to make best use of the load testers configuration.
 
BFG EX Series 1200w Results @ Room Temp
   +3.3v  +5.0v  +12v  +5vSB  -12v  AC Watts /
 DC Watts
 Efficiency  Intake /
 Exhaust
Δ Temp
Test 1
(Low)
5.50A 5.00A 18.50A  0.75A  0.12A  326w /
271w
 83.12%  24.9°C /
  30.3°C
 5.4°C
 3.29v 4.94v 12.08v 4.93v  -11.46
Test 2
(Med)
 11.00A  10.00A  37.00A 1.5A  0.25A  630w /
538w
 85.39%  26.0°C /
44.5°C
 18.5°C
3.24v 4.89v 12.00v 4.89v  -11.64v
Test 3
(High)
16.50A 15.00A 55.50A  2.25A  0.37A  941w /
808w
 85.86%  27.1C /
56.5°C
 29.4°C
3.21v 4.85v 11.94v 4.84v -11.91v
Test 4
(Full)
 22.00A  20.00A  74.00A  3.00A  0.50A  1279w /
1065w
 83.26%  27.2°C /
66.7°C
 39.5°C
3.17v 4.82v 11.86v 4.79v -11.90v
Test 5
(x-load)
22.00A 20.00A 1.00A 0.00A 0.00A  264w /
193w
73.10% 21.1°C /
45.5°C
 17.4°C
3.24v 4.87v 12.06v 4.93v -12.04
Test 6
(x-load)
 1.00A  1.00A  74.00A  0.00A  0.00A  1012w /
890w
87.94%  28.0°C /
52.4°C
 24.4°C
 3.24v 4.91v 11.92v 4.90v -12.09v

Starting first with the efficiency results, the EX-1200 certain surpasses the 80% efficiency quoted on the packaging with 83% straight off the bat in test 1 increasing to 85% in tests 2 and 3. Things go quite a bit down hill as the +3.3v/+5v crossload is applied in test 5 with the unit dipping down to a rather nasty 73% efficiency. However, as soon as the crossload is weighted towards the +12v rails in test 6 the EX-1200 more than redeems its self with close to 88% efficiency!
 
Voltage stability throughout the testing was reasonable, with each of the rails starting quite close to their 'ideals' in test 1 and maintaining good stability all the way up to test 3. Only once the unit is placed under a 1065W load in test 4 does it start to show signs of strain with the +3.3v rail dropping down to a lowly 3.17v but both the +5v and +12v rails remain well within spec producing voltages of 4.85v and 11.86v respectively. Additionally, the grueling crossloads of tests 5 and 6 didn't phase the EX-1200 in the slightest, with decent voltages throughout.
 
BFG EX Series 1200w Results @ 50c
   +3.3v  +5.0v  +12v  +5vSB  -12v  AC Watts /
 DC Watts
 Efficiency  Intake /
 Exhaust
Δ Temp
Test 1
(Low)
5.50A 5.00A 18.50A  0.75A  0.12A  329w /
271w
 82.37%  50.7°C /
  53.7°C
 3.0°C
 3.27v 4.93v 12.06v 4.93v  -11.51
Test 2
(Med)
 11.00A  10.00A  37.00A 1.5A  0.25A  634w /
538w
 84.85%  50.6°C /
64.3°C
 13.7°C
3.23v 4.89v 12.00v 4.88v  -11.73v
Test 3
(High)
16.50A 15.00A 55.50A  2.25A  0.37A  952w /
799w
 83.92% 50.6C /
71°C
 20.4°C
3.20v 4.85v 11.92v 4.84v -11.93v
Test 4
(Full)
 22.00A  20.00A  74.00A  3.00A  0.50A  1283w /
1065w
 83.00%  50.9°C /
78°C
 27.1°C
3.16v 4.80v 11.84v 4.79v -11.98v
Test 5
(x-load)
22.00A 20.00A 1.00A 0.00A 0.00A  263w /
192w
73.00% 50.4°C /
67.6°C
 17.2°C
3.23v 4.87v 12.04v 4.93v -12.07
Test 6
(x-load)
 1.00A  1.00A  74.00A  0.00A  0.00A  1014w /
889w
87.67%  50.4°C /
72°C
 21.6°C
 3.23v 4.91v 11.88v 4.90v -12.12v

With the temperature cranked up to 50°C and a re-run of all the previous tests, the EX-1200 showed no additional signs of strain, producing voltage and efficiency results almost exactly the same as those at room temperature. However, as highlighted by the red text in the temperature results, the EX-1200 got EXTREMELY hot in in tests 3,4 and 6 with the exhaust temperature coming close to 80°C at one point. Granted the ambient temperature was around 50°C, but this is still far higher than any other PSU we've ever tested in the past and is borderline capable of melting nearby objects!
 
BFG EX Series 1200w Scope Results @ 50c
   +3.3v  +5.0v  +12v
Test 1
(Low)
T1_3.3V T1_5V T1_12V
Test 2
(Med)
t2_3.3v t2_5v t2_12v
Test 3
(High)
t3_3.3v t3_5v t3_12v
Test 4
(Full) *
t4_3v t4_5v t4_12v
Test 5
(x-load)
t5_3.3v t5_5v t5_12v
Test 6
(x-load)
t6_3.3v t6_5v t6_12v
* During Test4 the scope configuration was changed from 20mV to 50mV to accomodate the EX-1200's large waveforms.

Finishing up with the scope readings taken during the 50°C tests, both the +3.3v and +5v rails remained well within acceptable limits, only hitting 28mV and 30mV respectably during test 4. The +12v rails on the other hand were a completely different matter! Bearing in mind that these results are a combination of all four rails attached via both modular and hard-wired connectors, the result of 92mV during test 4 is quite worrying to say the least. Granted ATX spec requires the +12v rails to stay below 120mV in order to stay within specification, but this is still by far the worst result of any PSU tested on OC3D thus far.
 
Now let's move on to the conclusion where I attempt to sum up the previous few pages.


BFG EX-1200 (1200W) Modular PSU Page: 5
Conclusion
 
BFG EX-1200At a glance, the BFG EX-1200 could easily be seen to be a perfect PSU. Not only does it look the part with its glossy black painted finish, embossed BFG logo's and modular connectors, but with reasonably tight regulation on all of the rails the EX-1200 certainly seems to play the part too.
 
Efficiency was also much higher than stated by BFG too with a minimum of 83% efficiency at low load, increasing to 85% at medium/high load. Furthermore, this great performance was also replicated in our heat chamber tests where the PSU was completely unfazed by the sweltering 50c ambient temperature.
 
However (and yes its very rare that a product is reviewed on Overclock3D without a 'however') there are certain issues that BFG seriously need to address before the EX-1200 can walk away with any trophies worthy of their cabinet.
 
Firstly the exhaust temperature on the unit when running at full load was hotter than the blazes of hell. Granted that these readings were taken from the hottest area of the exhaust with the PSU running at full load and a 50°C ambient temperature, but seriously 78°C is worryingly hot to the point where it'd melt a wax models face off! One might argue that the chances of an average users PC meeting these kind of conditions are very slim. But when you consider that it is possible to cram two GTX295's into a midi-tower case, the potential realism of the situation hits home.
 
Secondly, the glossy paint job on the unit may look good..but unfortunately you'll be lucky if it lasts 5 minutes. While most PSU manufacturers seem to have turned to textured powder coat finishes to ensure their PSU's remain looking good even after multiple installs, the EX-1200 appears to use a standard spray paint (or possibly poor powder coat). This picks up scratches and chips so easily that even after installing the unit in our hotbox, it looked like it had been dragged down the road by a couple 'just married'.
 
And lastly, although something that the casual user certainly wouldn't notice, the ripple picked up by our oscilloscope on the +12v rails was easily the highest I've ever seen at 92mV. This is of course still within the ATX guidelines of 120mV, but for a PSU that is aimed at the high-end market, this is something I'd like to see addressed.
 
The EX-1200 is not currently available in the UK but can be found over at Newegg.com for a very competitive price of $259.99 (10/06/09).
 
 
The Good
- Good voltage stability, especially on the +12v rails.
- Efficiency higher than expected.
- Silent operation even at heavy loads.
 
The Mediocre
- Too many hard-wired connectors. Would have been better with a couple more modular connectors.
- Paint used on PSU chips/scratches far too easily.
- Lifetime warranty only valid in the USA.
 
 
The Bad
- Ripple results left a lot to be desired for a high-end PSU.
- Certain areas of the PSU exhaust got close to 80°C during hotbox testing.
 
 
Thanks to BFG for providing the EX-1200 for review. Discuss this review in our forums.