NorthQ Giant Reactor 1kw ATX PSU Page: 1
Introduction

Observing the power supply trend over the past year one thing is blatantly clear:- PSU manufacturers are packing more and more watts into smaller and smaller spaces. Up until recently, the highest wattage power supply you could get in a standard sized ATX PSU casing was 750w. This was quickly overtaken by 850w, and now it looks like several companies are pushing the envelope of what is technologically possible by manufacturing power supplies tipping the 1kw scale - while still managing to be no bigger than the 250w PSU's of yesteryear!

NorthQ is one of these companies, and today I'll be taking a look at their latest and greatest power supply: the NQ-4775-1000 Giant Reactor. With promises of silent operation, 80%+ efficiency, 1000w of power all inside a standard ATX casing, will this PSU be able to hold its own against some of the larger 1kw units we've tested in the past? Let's find out.


Packaging

Packaging is a big deal, especially when you consider that it's the first thing that potential customers will see when browsing around their local PC hardware store. Packaging also plays a crucial part in keeping the product safe during shipping, and here at Overclock3D we've seen countless occasions in the past where under-packaged products have turned up damaged in some way.

NorthQ Giant Reactor Box NorthQ Giant Reactor Box

NorthQ Giant Reactor Box

I haven't been acquainted with NorthQ in the past, and I must admit that my first impressions of their flagship PSU was a tad on the bland side. Despite the Giant Reactor's catchy naming, the outer packaging lacked inspiration and looked closer to a mid-range 500w PSU rather than an 1kw nuclear power house as the name would suggest.

On the flip side, credit has to be given to NorthQ for listing some of the "Giant Reactor's" most prominent features and specifications on the front and side of box. These features include 17-25dbA noise output, 8x SATA connectors, Quad-SLI support, 80% Efficiency and of course 1000w power output.

NorthQ Giant Reactor Box NorthQ Giant Reactor Contents

NorthQ Giant Reactor Contents

Open up the box and we are faced with yet another uninspiring effort by NorthQ. The PSU is protected from by a bubblewrap bag and held in place by a cardboard cut-out. I'm not sure if my review sample was missing some of the basics, but the PSU failed to even come with a power cable or manual!



NorthQ Giant Reactor 1kw ATX PSU Page: 2
Specifications

The following infomation has been taken directly from NorthQ's website:

Need Power? The latest PSU from NorthQ will provide it. The NorthQ Giant Reactor PSU delivers enough power for even the most demanding systems. Supplying an incredible 1000W while still remaining low noise, the Giant Reactor delivers extreme performance without compromise

This extreme performance enables you to use the best components available in the market today, with the 2 massive +12v rails with 35A each, the NorthQ Giant Reactor gives you the maximum performance when using SLi or Crossfire setups.

Specifications:
+3.3v : 25A
+5v : 30A
+12v1 : 35A
+12v2 : 35A
-5v : -
-12v : 0.3A
+5Vsb : 3A

+3.3V and +5V combined load shall not exceed 200W

- Over Power/Voltage/Current/Temperature Protection
- Short Circuit Protection

This specifications is due to EPS 12v regulation and can be used for any desktop or server configuration.

Noise Level:
12 - 17dB at load up to 400Watt
17 - 25dB at load between 400 - 800Watt
+25dB at 1000Watt load

Cable configuration:
1 x 24/20pin ATX cable
1 x 8pin detachable motherboard extension cable (4pin+4pin)
4 x 6pin PCi-express cable (Quad SLi capability)
8 x S-ATA plug on 2 cables (4 on each cable)
8 x Molex plug on 2 cables (4 on each cable)
1 x Floppy plug on 1 cable (1 on molex rail)

Total of 8 cables from Power Supply

Key info:
Extreme EPS12V 1000Watt PSU
Active PFC 24-pin
ATX extension (backward compatible with 20pin)
135mm fan installed Fan speed control function inside
Full cable sleeving and black connectors
8 * S-ATA lines
4 * 75Watt PCI-Express line for Quad SLi
Black coated case and blackFAN grill
Lifetime: 100,000 hours at 25°
Dimension:150*86*160mm(W*H*L)

Being a 1kw PSU, I was surprised to see that NorthQ didn't opt for more than two +12v rails. However, with each rail rated at an impressive 35a, this should work out pretty well for people using the latest power hungry graphics cards.



NorthQ Giant Reactor 1kw ATX PSU Page: 3
Appearance

One of the most impressive features of the NorthQ Giant Reactor has to be its ability to pack 1000w in a standard sized ATX casing. This is great news for those of us with limited space inside our cases, but still want to upgrade to the latest graphics cards.

NorthQ have decided to keep things plain and simple in the looks department, opting for a matt black painted finish. It would have been nice to see some originality from NorthQ, especially as this is marketed as a 'Gamer PSU' and the "Giant Reactor" name conjurs up images of glowing green radioactive sludge, but I can see NorthQ's reasoning behind "playing it safe".

NorthQ Giant Reactor Bottom NorthQ Giant Reactor Back

NorthQ have made full use of the underside of the PSU by fitting it with 135mm fan complete with a radioactive logo sticker. Many manufacturers are opting for 135mm fans recently as these offer a slightly better noise-airflow ratio and have the added advantage of providing edge-to-edge cooling of the PSU internals.

The back of the unit is vented with a honeycomb mesh grill complete with an LED status indicator that changes from red to green when the PSU is powered on. You may also notice that there is no 110/240v switch present. This is because the Giant Reactor, like many other modern PSU's is able to auto-detect the input voltage.

NorthQ Giant Reactor side NorthQ Giant Reactor Front

The front of the Giant Reactor is fairly uninteresting with a small grill stretching the length of the unit. At the side of the unit NorthQ have placed a specification sticker, showing the PSU's output across all of its rails along with the usual warnings about not opening the PSU cover.



NorthQ Giant Reactor 1kw ATX PSU Page: 4
Cables & Connectors

When you've got a PSU with 1000w on tap, you certainly don't want to be short changed when it comes to the number of available connectors. After all, what's the point in having all that power if you're not able plug in enough devices to take advantage of it. We already know that the Giant Reactor has 4xPCI-E connectors for SLI and Quad-SLI, but what else does it have to offer...

NorthQ Giant Reactor Cables NorthQ Giant Reactor Cables

With a total of 8 SATA, 8 Molex and 4 PCI-E connectors stemming off of 4 cables, the Giant Reactor does seem to be lacking slightly when compared with most other 1kw power supplies on the market. Granted this number of connectors should be more than enough for the average user, but with power supplies like the Enermax Galaxy providing up to 24 Molex/SATA connectors I couldn't help but feel slightly underwhelmed.

All cables on the Giant Reactor are sleeved in black mesh up to the first connector with the ends finished off with black shrink wrap. Quite a few manufacturers are adopting the 'easy-grip' style molex plugs on their power supplies for easy removal from devices, however this feature was unfortunately not present on the Giant Reactor.

NorthQ Giant Reactor PCI-E NorthQ Giant Reactor ATX Cables

Rather than going for four individual PCI-E cables, NorthQ have decided to keep slightly more tidy by 'piggy-backing' the four connectors off of two main cables. This method has been adopted by several other PSU manufacturers recently and has little effect on performance.

The ATX connector on the Giant Reactor is native 24-pin. However, as you can see above, a small block of 4 connectors can be broken off to switch the connector to the older 20-pin standard. This is also true for the 8-Pin EPS12v connector which can be split in half, providing the user with a 4-Pin P4-12v connector.



NorthQ Giant Reactor 1kw ATX PSU Page: 5
Looking Inside

Being surprised by the rather standard size of the Giant Reactor in comparison with some other 1kw+ units on the market, I was anxious to see what was inside. Normally the quality of a power supply can be determined by the size and weight of the components inside the PSU, however, recent power supplies from manufacturers like FSP and Seasonic have proven this thoery to be wrong.

NorthQ Giant Reactor Inside

After reviewing just under 30 power supplies for Overclock3D, I'd like to think that I can recognise most units by looking at their insides. This was certainly true when I opened the Giant Reactor only to find that the entire layout of the PSU was very similar to a unit i'd tested in the not so distant past....

NorthQ
NorthQ Giant Reactor 1000w

As you can see from above, the NorthQ Giant Reactor is based on exactly the same internal components as the Silverstone Strider 850w ST85F (minus the Striders modular connector backplane). This was further confirmed when I retrieved the Strider 850w from storage and compared both units side-by-side, finding no differences in the components used.

This then begs the question: If both of these units use the same internal components, how is it possible for one to be rated at 850w and the other 1000w?

NorthQ Giant Reactor Fan

The Giant Reactor also makes use of the same 135mm brushless fan as used in Silverstone's ST85F. Unfortunately I was unable to find any specifications for this fan, however NorthQ state that it runs at over 25dBA when the unit is at 1000w load.



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Load Testing

To provide our readers with the most accurate results, Overclock3D uses a custom built PSU load tester on all reviews. This not only gives much more reliable results than the testing methods employed by other sites, but also allows for all current and future review results to be compared side-by-side.

Efficiency tests are performed by measuring the wattage consumed by the power supply at the mains (Mains Draw) against the power consumed by the OC3D power supply stress tester (PSU Load). These results may not be 100% accurate, but have proven to be extremely close to results obtained from professional equipment.

  0% 50%100%
+3.3v Rail
0w33w 66w
+5.0v Rail
0w50w 100w
+12v Rails
0w360w
720w

NorthQ Giant Reactor Load Tests NorthQ Giant Reactor Efficiency Tests

When testing the Giant Reactor we wanted to place it under under a load as close to 1000w as possible. Unfortunately, due to the layout of the rails on the unit and the matter of not being able to 'dial in' exact load levels on our stress testing equipment, the highest load we was able to place on the Giant Reactor without overloading the unit was 886w.

As you can see from above, even with only an 886w load placed on the unit, the voltages on the +5v rail dropped to 4.87v and more worrying the +12v rails dropped to around 11.70v. I can only speculate that if a full 1000w load was placed on the unit, we'd see some even lower results from each of these rails.

Despite the relatively poor results from the rails under full load, the efficiency of the unit was calculated at a respectable 82.73% with a total of 1071w being drawn from the mains.


Temperature Testing

In our continuing efforts to make power supply reviews more thorough, rather than simply checking voltage stability, Overclock3D will now be recording the temerature of each PSU as it undergoes testing. Temperature recordings will be taken from the PSU's outer casing at 0%, 50% and 100% load levels in an attempt to gauge how much heat is likely to radiate into the end-users case, and how effective the cooling methods are.

NorthQ Giant Reactor Temperature

With an ambient temperature of 21°c, we can see from above that even at 0% load the internal 135mm fan does a good job of keeping things cool and manages to drop the PSU temperature 1°c below room temperature. At 100% load, the heat dump from the back of the unit was recorded at 34°c (13°c above ambient). A pretty respectable result considering the unit was under a load of 886w.


Noise Testing

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.

0% Load Recording - Download
50% Load Recording - Download
100% Load Recording - Download



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Conclusion

It's very hard to find anything positive to say about the NorthQ Giant Reactor. With internal components used in 850w PSU's from other manufacturers it makes me wonder why NorthQ decided to label the unit as 1kw. Due to a limitation with our load tester we was only able to test the Giant Reactor up to a maximum load of 886w, however, even at 114w less than the PSU's rated output it was clear to see the unit was struggling to keep up.

When reviewing a product, we have to look to other similar products on the market for comparison. However, when comparing the Giant Reactor against 1kw power supplies from companies like Silverstone, Enermax, Tagan and PCP&C it falls short in many areas. If the Giant Reactor had been marketed as an 850w unit then the outcome of this review would have certaily been more positive.

Granted the Giant Reactor is a good deal cheaper than most other 1kw units (£145 over at Komplett), but personally I'd rather invest the money in a good quality 700-800w unit or save up for a true 1kw unit.


Pro's
• Silent operation, even at full load.
• Standard size ATX casing.
• Good efficiency.

Con's
• 850w PSU internals.
• Poor voltages on +12v rail even at 886w load.
• £145 will get you a much better PSU in the 800w range.
• Lack of cables and connectors when compared to other 1kw units.
• Poor packaging.
• Bland appearance for a 'Gamers PSU'.

Reviewed Award

I'd like to extend our thanks to Komplett for making this review possible.

Discuss this review in our forums.