When it comes to power supplies, Enermax is one of those household names that everyone will have heard of. Manufacturing PSU's for over 16 years it's no wonder that people often turn to Enermax for their power needs without even so much as a glance at offerings from other manufacturers. In fact, looking back now - the first PC I ever built with my own hands was fitted with a 300w Enermax unit.
We all know that the power requirements of the modern computer is on the sharp increase (I've certainly said it enough times) and as a result people are looking for the highest wattage units available as an investment into their PC's future and its ability to handle whatever you may throw at it.
Here we are today with Enermax's Quad CPU, Quad Core, Quad SLI monster complete with five +12v rails and a modular cable layout. It certainly sounds like Enermax have done their homework, but as the saying goes: "the proof of the pudding is in the tasting" so lets get down to business.
The first thing you'll notice when you get your hands on the Galaxy is its weight. Its not the kind of power supply you'd want to carry under your arm on the long walk home from the shops (unless you're planning on being a Stretch Armstrong double).
The design of the packaging is very much what you'd expect from a product named 'Galaxy' - a dark background with outer-space graphics printed on each side. The top and front of the box show pictures of the unit from various angles along with a stream of graphics cards, hard disks and processors undoubtedly all being powered by the Galaxy.
The small print on the front of the box lists some of the Galaxy's most notable features, including: Support for 24 Drives, Quad Core, Quad CPU's, 5x12v Rails, 2007 EPS12v specification, 80-85% Efficiency and much more.
The sides and back of the packaging is where you'll find the most detailed information on the Galaxy. One of it's more interesting features (to me anyway) was what Enermax have dubbed 'PowerGuard'. This feature essentially relays the status of the power supply to the end-user via the LED on the back of the unit and an internal buzzer. The LED has the ability to switch between Green, Orange, Red and flashing, allowing for easier diagnosis of any problems.
Enermax have also listed the number of cables included for both the 850w and 1000w versions of the Galaxy on the back of the packaging along with the number of connectors that each cable has. Certainly handy for ascertaining what unit would best suit the needs of your 20+ disk RAID array!
Open up the outer packaging and you'll find two recycled cardboard boxes both embossed with the Enermax logo. The larger of the two contains the power supply with the smaller containing just about everything else. Credit has to be given to Enermax for packaging everything neatly and securely inside the boxes and also for bundling in a few extra goodies to keep you sweet.
The inventory of the box is as follows: • 1x Enermax Galaxy PSU. • 1x Power Cord. • 4x ATX Screws. • 1x Enermax Case Badge. • 1x Enermax Lanyard. • Manuals & Leaflets. • 1x Canvas wallet for unused modular cables. • Bundle of modular cables.
The following information has been taken directly from Enermax's website:
• 1000 Watts Continous power for the most extreme systems 900 Watts • 900 Watts 12V combined power for the most extreme CPU’s and graphics • 24/7 @ 50°C Non-stop full power @ 50°C by design and components • 2007 EPS12V Compliant World's first PSU compliant with upcoming 2007 EPS12V design guide revision • World’s First Five 12V Rails 2007 EPS12V specification for next-generation systems • World’s Strongest +5Vsb Output of 6A 2007 EPS12V specification for next-generation systems and multiple USB devices. • Triple Quad + 24 Quad CPU Quad Core Quad Graphics 24 Drives Simultaneous! • 80-85% Efficiency @ 20-100% load for the lowest electricity bills • Modular Connectors Maximum SATA or IDE/SCSI drives (21+3 of free choice) • Silent & Cool By 13.5 & 8cm dual fans • Power Guard 4 alert modes on PSU status with reset button • Triple Transformer Technology The utmost in stability & power • Dual Tier Minimum Load Design Outstanding compatibility with upcoming multi-core processors • Dual Tier Combined Power Total separation of CPU(s) from the rest of your system for maximum stability • RAM Power Cable World's first PSU with a dedicated RAM power cable to support next generation 32-64GB RAM systems • Active PFC & Universal AC IN Run your GALAXY from 90-264VAC with automatic adjustment and active power factor correction
Without a doubt the Galaxy has some features not found on any other power supplies at present. It would certainly seem that Enermax have taken a look at the requirements of the future PC and incorporated some of the features that are going to be needed to power the next generation computer systems.
As we can see on the sheet above, the Galaxy has a total of five +12v rails each rated at 17a. Initially I thought this was slightly worrying as future graphics cards are set to far in excess of 17a, however Enermax haver cleverly allowed the rails to 'combine forces' avoiding the issue.
Enermax certainly aren't shy when it comes to appearance. Looking back at some of their older creations, I can remember a PSU that resembled a solid gold bar and many other units sprayed in either red or blue metallic paint. Have Enermax continued this trend with the Galaxy? Lets find out.
Things aren't quite as snazzy this time round, with the unit being sprayed in a glossy (but non-metallic) black paint. I would have put money on Enermax going for metallic considering that this is the 'Galaxy' - but never mind!
The Galaxy features a 135mm clear plastic fan on the bottom of the unit responsible for pushing air over the components, with an 80mm around the back for extracting hot air. Both fans are protected with Enermax's trademark gold fan grills that contrast well with the colour of the casing.
Enermax have done away with the minuscule power switches found on many other units in favour of a heavy duty version and a similarly rugged reset button. This is certainly a necessary feature when you consider that this unit will be drawing substantial power from the mains when at full load.
When you've got a PSU like the Galaxy sitting inside your machine you want to show it off right? Well to help you out, Enermax have placed white 'Galaxy' logo's down both sides of the unit so as long as you've got a windowed case everybody will be able to see what power supply you are 'packing'. It also helps to 'Snazz' up the look of the unit too!
The top of the unit (the bit most people won't see unless you've got one of those up-side down cases) is partially covered with the Enermax specification sticker that details the output of the units rails along with the usual warnings about opening the PSU casing.
Anybody that knows me from the Overclock3D Forums will know that I've got a 'soft spot' for two things - powerful PSU's and modular PSU's. The Galaxy certainly seems to fit into both of these categories, but lets take a closer look at the Galaxy's design before getting all excited!
To say that the Galaxy is a 'modular' power supply is a bit of a white lie - personally I'd prefer to call it 'Hybrid Modular'. This is because the unit actually has enough cables to run the average PC system already hard wired to the unit. The big bundle of cables in the picture above-left contains not only your usual ATX/EPS connectors but also PCI-E, Molex and SATA connectors too! Personally I feel a little cheated by this as the whole idea of a modular unit is to keep everything neat and tidy, but I can certainly see Enermax's reasonings behind needing to do it this way.
We can also see that Enermax have made the wise decision of using PCI-E style modular connectors on the Galaxy. These connectors have proven to be extremely sturdy (much more so than molex-based modular PSU's) and are also very compact in comparison with other modular connector designs.
The Galaxy comes with masses of modular cables and a canvas pouch to keep any unused ones in afterwards. All cables are professionally sleeved in gold and black mesh up to the first connector making a nice change from the usual plain black mesh sleeving found on other PSU's.
The main ATX cable is native 24-pin with no way of reducing it down to the older 20-pin standard. Users of 20-pin ATX motherboard will need to purchase an adapter separately in order to use the Galaxy. However, Enermax have provided two cables for EPS12v (8-pin) and P4-12v (4-pin) so that the Galaxy will still be able to support some slightly older motherboards.
Also included is a 3-pin fan cable which can be connected to one of your motherboard's fan headers to obtain a readout of the power supply fan RPM.
As with all power supplies that pass through Overclock3D, I'll be taking a look inside the Galaxy. By doing this I should be able to get a good idea of the overall build quality of the unit and how it is likely to perform in our tests.
The inside of the Galaxy is extremely tidy and well spaced out in comparison to some of the high-end power supplies I've tested in the past. All of the cables entering the unit are bunched tightly together with cable ties to prevent any hindrance to airflow. Stretching the length of the PSU are two low profile black aluminium heatsinks. These do look quite inadequate, but with the airflow from the 135mm fan passing through them, they should be able to keep the mosfets attached beneath fairly cool.
At a quick glance we can see that Enermax has two transformers in comparison a single transformer found in most other power supplies. Studying the Galaxy's specifications we can assume that +12V1 , +12V2 and +5V rails share the first transformer, with the +3.3V, +12V3, +12V4 and +12V5 rails sharing the second. By doing this, Enermax have roughly split the 1000w across both of the transformers allowing for better voltage stability across the board.
In order to keep the Galaxy cool Enermax have adopted to use two fans. The larger of the two (pictured left) is responsible for pushing air over the internal components and heatsinks, with the smaller fan (pictured right) extracting the hot air out the back of the unit. Both fan's specifications can be seen below:
With the fans rated between 37-40dbA when running at full speed, it certainly gives the impression that the Galaxy could turn out to be a rather noisy unit. Lets hope that Enermax have implemented a decent fan controller so we don't suffer any burst eardrums during the tests over the next page.
In order for the results from all current and future PSU reviews to remain fair and comparable, Overclock3D uses a custom built Power Supply load stress tester. The tester will be placing the following loads on each of the Galaxy's rails:
As some power supplies produce obscure voltage outputs when running with 0% load, the Idle testing simulation will be produced by placing each rail under a small load similar to what would be expected from a mid-range PC. Load testing results are obtained by placing the unit under the maximum load selectable on the OC3D equipment without tripping the OLP (Over Load Protection) on the power supply.
The Galaxy proved to have very stable voltage regulation on its +3.3 and +5v rails when placed under load. Little fluctuation was exhibited, with both rails remaining well within ATX specifications and a maximum droop of 0.04v.
Continuing the trend, the Galaxy shows good voltage regulation on all of the +12v rails, this time managing to keep fluctuation at or below 0.15v.
Efficiency tests are performed by measuring the wattage consumed by the power supply at the mains against the power (in watts) consumed by the OC3D power supply stress tester. These results may not be 100% accurate, but have proven to be extremely close to results obtained from professional equipment.
At idle the Galaxy was placed under a total load of 383 watts with a recording of 465 watts consumption being obtained from the mains. Therefore the efficiency of the Galaxy 1kw at idle worked out to be 82.3%.
Increasing the load on the unit produced even more favourable results, with the Galaxy managing 84.8% efficiency when being placed under a total load of 1066 watts.
Possibly the hardest part of any PSU review is summarising the level of noise given out by the unit. The threshold for what is considered 'noisy' varies from person to person and therefore what I may consider a quiet unit, another person may consider extremely loud. A common way to resolve this issue is to use a dBA meter to measure the units noise level, however this doesn't take into account the pitch (type) of noise emitted and whether it is likely to irritate end users.
For this reason OC3D records all power supplies at idle and load in wav format for you to make your own informed decisions. All recordings are taken at 30cm away from the PSU and outside of a PC case. You will need to remember that noise levels will be reduced by varying amounts once the PSU has been installed inside your PC enclosure.
Without a doubt the Enermax Galaxy is one awesome power supply. It's clear to see that a lot of R&D has gone into ensuring that the unit not only performs great with the current generation of computers, but is also fully equipped for the power hungry onslaught of computer hardware due any time in the near future.
Priced at £221 over at Specialtech, the Galaxy is also a great buy for a 1kw power supply - And judging by the weight and oversized components used inside the unit, no corners have been cut in the quality department to bring the price down either.
Managing an overall score of 97%, the Galaxy is certainly a contender for our "Best In Class" award for the 900w-1100w classification. Only once we've reviewed the rest of the 900w-1100w units on the market will this award be issued, so check back soon to see if the Galaxy bags the gold!
Pro's • More cables and connectors than you can shake a stick at. • Stable rails even at full load. • Excellent efficiency. • Fairly silent operation for a 1kw unit. • High quality components. • Well packaged. • Unique black & gold cable sleeving.
Con's • Longer than your average PSU - May not fit all cases. • Unit is only really 50% modular.