Thermaltake Toughpower 1500w (W0171) ATX PSU Page: 1
Introduction
 
When it comes to the world of cases and cooling everyone (and their dog) has heard of Thermaltake. With their headoffices based in Taiwan and a total of seven other offices located around the world, Thermaltake have experienced an explosion of growth since their inception back in 1999.
 
Responsible for products such as the "Big Water 745" water cooling system and "Tsunami" ATX case, it's fair to say that Thermaltake have always catered for the enthusiast on a budget - whilst also trying to maintain the highest level of quality possible at that price point.
 
In 2005 Thermaltake introduced their "Toughpower" PSU range. Designed to pick up where their previous Purepower range left off, the Toughpower proved to be stable, quiet and well priced resulting in many awards worldwide. Today we're going to be looking at the latest model in the Toughpower range. Rated at 1500w, the Toughpower is actually one of the most powerful consumer PSU's to date, but before we get down to business let's find out a little more about Thermaltake from their website:

Thermaltake Technology Co., Ltd.
started its core business based on our extensive knowledge of PC thermal management during the era where the area of performance CPU cooling was only exclusive for "overclockers" orPC enthusiasts. With the company's initial launch of Orb coolers, it created waves of shocks and appraisals throughout the gaming and overclocking communities. Thermaltake quickly became the name gamers turn to when they need high-end and reliable thermal solutions.

With company's core business of CPU cooling still growing at a vast rate, Thermaltake made another grand entry to the PC chassis industry. To date, Thermaltake has always been considered as the pioneering company that revolutionized the PC chassis industry with Xaser series enclosures. The typical and traditional beige and plastic front panel design was outdone by Xaser series chassis's atypical gaming red and aluminum front panel. It was also the first enclosure available to public with Hardcano unti which provided users full control over computer's thermal management system.
 
 
Specifications
 
Despite the vast selection of PSU's Overclock3D has tested over the past few years, for some reason we've never got our hands on a Toughpower (until now that is!). So with the help of Thermaltake's website, let's see what this 1.5kw monster has in store for us today:

Features
• Intel ATX 12V 2.3 and EPS 2.91 compatible
• Stable 1500W continuous output, peak power at 1600W (at 50℃ operating environment)
• Four 8pin and four 6pin PCI-E connectors design supports multiple high-end graphic card setup
• Support Dual core CPU, Quad core CPU, NVIDIA SLI and all Multi-Core GPU Technology
• Four independent +12V rails provides superior performance (Total Combined load of +12V is 120A)
• Modularized Cable Management to eliminate clutter and improve airflow inside the case.
• Active Power Factor Correction (PF>0.99) and high efficiency (up to 87%).
• Industrial grade components (capacitor, transformer, etc)
• High reliability: MTBF>120,000 hours
• Quiet and reliable 14cm ball-bearing fan.
• Protections: Over Current, Over Voltage, Under Voltage, Over Temperature,
• Over Power, and Short-Circuit protection.
• Safety / EMI Approvals: CE, CB, TUV, FCC, UL, CUL, and BSMI certified.

Voltage
+12V1
+12V4
+3.3V
+12V2
+12V3
+5V
-12V
+5Vsb
Max load
20A
40A
30A
20A
40A
30A
0.8A
3.5A
Min load
1A
1A
0.5A
1A
1A
0.5A
0A
0A
Ripple & Noise
240mV
240mV
100mV
240mV
240mV
100mV
240mV
100mV
Regulation
+3,-3%
+3,-3%
+3,-3%
+3,-3% +3,-3% +3,-3%
+10,-10%
+3,-5%
Max output power
750W
750W
9.6W
17.5W
Total power
1500W
Peak Power
1600W
* Add 0.1uF and 47uF capacitors across output terminal during ripple & noise test
 
Aside from the usual safety features and certifications found on most recent PSU's, the Toughpower also sports "up to 87%" efficiency, a 14cm ball-bearing fan and an MTFB of over 120,000 hours. As expected, the unit also supports the latest 8-Pin PCI-E graphics cards, while still providing full support for mid-range cards based on 6-Pin connectors.
 
Interestingly, the output chart above has the +12v, +3.3v and +5v rails split into two arrangements of 750w. This may be a sign that Thermaltake have used two transformers inside the unit or even possibly that they've litterally crammed two 750w PSU's into one case and configured the rails to the layout we see above. Regardless, the specifications of the Toughpower are certainly extremely encouraging, and we'll find out exactly how it performs in our tests over the next few pages.


Thermaltake Toughpower 1500w (W0171) ATX PSU Page: 2
Packaging
 
As you'd expect from a 1kw+ PSU, the packaging on the Toughpower 1500w is extremely large. This certainly gives us a good indication that the unit contained within isn't going to be your average ATX sized affair. The weight of the box also reinforces this theory, with the Toughpower feeling almost as heavy as the PCP&C Turbocool 1kw we reviewed a short while ago.
 
Thermaltake Toughpower 1500w Box Front Thermaltake Toughpower 1500w Box Back
 
Thermaltake Toughpower 1500w Box Side Thermaltake Toughpower 1500w Box Side
 
The styling of the box follows a fairly simple theme of red, white and orange on a black background. This is pretty much in keeping with many of Thermaltake's other products, but doesn't exactly shout "buy me" when placed on a retailers shelf.
 
Thermaltake Toughpower 1500w Features Thermaltake Toughpower 1500w Output
 
Both sides of the box give a detailed list of features and specifications along with a chart detailing the output of all rails on the unit. This really mirrors the specifications we covered back on page 1, but once again we can see that Thermaltake have divided the rails into two 750w sections giving the impression that this unit at least contains two transformers.
 
Thermaltake Toughpower 1500w Packaging Thermaltake Toughpower 1500w Contents
 
Thermaltake have gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure that the Toughpower arrives in tip-top condition by not only placing the unit inside a bubble wrap bag, but also encasing the entire unit in a moulded styrofoam slab. The accessories and modular cables are also individually wrapped in their own bags to prevent anything from being lost or damaged in transit. 
 
In the box you will find the following items:
• Toughpower manual and warranty sheet.
• Modular cable set.
• Canvas pouch for modular cables.
• ATX case screws.
• Silicone PSU mount for noise isolation. 
 
 
Appearance 
 
Thermaltake are well known for their outlandish designs and flashing lights on a lot of their products, however as we can see from the images below, the Toughpower features quite an understated black/grey painted finish with no signs of any "bling".  In my opinion the Toughpower 1500w would look perfectly at home inside any machine from a home PC to an enterprise server.
 
Thermaltake Toughpower 1500w Bottom Thermaltake Toughpower 1500w Back
 
The bottom of the unit features a punched fan grill rather than the usual wire mesh grills found on most PSU's. Personally this isn't to my taste as it looks slightly dated, but it does have the added advantage of being totally flush with the rest of the casing, thus avoiding any potential installation issues. Those of us with a keen eye will also notice that the fan is considerably larger than the ones found on most units. This is because Thermaltake have actually managed to squeeze a 140mm model inside, but we'll take a closer look at that later on.
 
The back of the unit is fairly standard with a honeycomb mesh grill that is designed to allow heated air to freely exit the unit without any obstruction. However, credit has to be given to Thermaltake for the use of a high quality power switch. When you consider that over 1.5kw could be passing through this switch, it makes sense to use something of high quality that is also capable of handling that kind of load.
 
Thermaltake Toughpower 1500w Top Thermaltake Toughpower 1500w Front
 
Thermaltake have placed the specifications sticker at the top of the unit rather than at the side like most manufacturers. This has the advantage of not covering over the side of the power supply you are most likely to see once it is installed inside a windowed case.
 
At the front of the unit we can see a collection of 10 modular plugs, all of which are in either 6-Pin or 8-Pin PCI-E format. Interestingly, all of the red connectors are set aside for powering PCI-E graphics cards, while the remaining four black connectors are for peripherals such as CD/DVD Drives and Hard Disks.


Thermaltake Toughpower 1500w (W0171) ATX PSU Page: 3
Internal Components
 
In the past, many people have judged the quality of a PSU on its weight and size of internal components. However, with many manufacturers moving on to newer and more efficient ways of designing their PSU's, it has become increasingly obvious that this is no longer a reliable method for gauging a power supply's quality. By looking inside the Toughpower we should be able to identify some of the components used and get a good feel for the overall build quality of the unit.
 
Thermaltake Toughpower 1500w Inside Thermaltake Toughpower 1500w Inside
 
Thermaltake Toughpower 1500w Inside Thermaltake Toughpower 1500w Inside
 
Without doubt, the Toughpower has one of the most unique internal layouts of any PSU we've ever tested here at Overclock3D. As you can see from the images above, components such as the capacitors, ferrite coils and transformers are almost mirrored on both sides of the PCB. This leads me to believe that my initial thoughts on the Toughpower 1500w actually being two 750w units sandwiched together, may well be true.
 
Regardless of this, the general layout inside the unit is actually very tidy with minimal cable clutter around the components. We can also see that Thermaltake have gone to the trouble of using an AC filter on the mains power socket as a first line of defence against voltage spikes and line noise.
 
Thermaltake Toughpower 1500w Fan
 
As previously mentioned, the Toughpower makes use of a 140mm fan that covers the entire width of the PSU casing. Using a 140mm fan should offer a better noise-to-airflow ratio than traditional 120mm fans and also has the added advantage of cooling any components at the edge of the PSU. At a glance you'd be forgiven for thinking that the fan is manufactured by Thermaltake, but closer inspection reveals that it is actually the work of a highly respected Taiwanese manufacturer named Yate Loon. The specifications of this fan can be seen below:
 
• Model: Yate Loon D14BH-12
• Size (mm): 140x140x25
• Bearing: BALL
• Speed (RPM): 2800
• Airflow (CFM): 140.0
• Noise (dBA): 48.5
 
Bearing in mind that the average PSU needs nowhere near 140CFM of airflow to keep the components cool, I think we can safely assume that Thermaltake will be running the Yate Loon fan at roughly 1/2 this speed, thus dramatically reducing the noise levels.
 
 
Cables & Connectors
 
With the Toughpower being a modular unit, the last thing you want to do is lose any extra cables that you might need at a later date. For this reason Thermaltake have included a canvas pouch suitable for stowing away any modular cables not used in your PC build.
 
All cables on the Toughpower are sleeved in black mesh right up to the very last connector, and the job is completed professionally with the use of zip-ties and heatshrink to keep everything in place.
 
Thermaltake Toughpower 1500w Modular Cables Thermaltake Toughpower 1500w Cables
 
Thermaltake Toughpower 1500w Cables Thermaltake Toughpower 1500w Cables
 
In addition to this, all connectors on the Toughpower are finished in black, with the molex connectors adopting the 'easy grip' design. This should make removal of the connectors from devices easier.
 
Thermaltake Toughpower 1500w PCI-E Thermaltake Toughpower 1500w PCI-E
 
Thermaltake have gone a bit "OTT" with the number of PCI-E cables included with the unit. I counted a total of 8 cables and adapters - not including the additional cable (pictured right) that is hard-wired into the unit. I'm guessing this may be to provide full support for "Tripple SLI" when/if it becomes a little more mainstream.
 
Thermaltake Toughpower 1500w ATX Cable Thermaltake Toughpower 1500w EPS-12v
 
The ATX connector on the Toughpower 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 20-pin, thus make it compatible with older motherboards. The same can also be said for the 8-Pin "EPS-12v" connector which can be snapped in half to convert it to the older 4-Pin "P4-12v" standard.


Thermaltake Toughpower 1500w (W0171) ATX PSU Page: 4
Load & Efficiency Tests
 
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  0w  66w  99w
 +5.0v Rail  0w  100w  150w
 +12v Rail(s)  0w  600w  1080w
 Total  0w  766w  1329w
 
Toughpower 1500w Load
 
Due to a restriction with our load tester, we were only able to place a maximum load of 1329w across all rails on the Toughpower. However, this only comes 160w short of the rated 1500w output, and certainly gave us a good insight into the performance of the unit.
 
All rails on the Toughpower stayed well within ATX specs of ±5% and considering that a load of 90 amps was applied to the 12v rails, the fluctuation of under 0.20v was exceptional. The same can also be said for the +3.3v and +5v rails, which despite being placed under their maximum loads of 30a, didn't fluctuate more than 0.10v.
 
Toughpower 1500w Efficiency
 
Thermaltake state that the Toughpower has an efficiency level of "up to 87%", and to be honest I was extremely sceptical of this. However the results don't lie, and as we can see from above, the Toughpower lived up to its promises, coming within a whisker of 87% at both 50% and 100% load levels.
 
This is actually the most efficient PSU we've ever tested here at Overclock3D - a good 2% higher than it's nearest competitor. Good job Thermaltake!
 
 
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 temperature of each PSU as it undergoes testing. Temperature recordings will be taken from the underside of the PSU's outer casing at 0%, 50% and 100% load levels using a laser infra-red thermometer in an attempt to gauge how much heat is likely to radiate into the end-users case.
 
Toughpower 1500w Temperature
 
One of the biggest problems when it comes to 1kw+ PSU's is the sheer amount of heat that they produce when under full load. However, considering that the efficiency of a PSU goes almost hand-in-hand with the heat it produces, it's no surprise that the Toughpower performed exceptionally well. Rising only 10°C from 0% load to 100% load, it's fair to say that the 140mm fan used inside the unit combined with it's 87% efficiency make this one very cool PSU.
 
 
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. For this reason, all reviews from this point forward will be using a dBA meter to measure the level of noise output by the PSU.
 
All noise measurements are taken in a quiet room with the dB(A) meter located 30cm away from the exhaust fan on the unit at 0%, 50% and 100% load levels. During the measurements, the fans located inside the PSU load tester are briefly switched off.
 
Toughpower 1500w Noise Level
 
The Toughpower impresses once again by showing that not only is it cool, but also quiet too. With a recorded output of 32dBA at 100% load (1329w), Thermaltake have clearly made the right choice by using a Yate Loon 140mm fan.


Thermaltake Toughpower 1500w (W0171) ATX PSU Page: 5
Conclusion
 
Thermaltake have never been a manufacturer that I've associated with high-end PSU's, however after putting the Toughpower 1500w through its paces today, that's definitely going to change. Not only did the Toughpower manage tight voltage regulation across all of its rails at a whopping 1329w load, but it also managed to stay extremely quiet, cool and maintain ~87% efficiency throughout the testing. The use of high quality components such as Japanese made Nippon Chemicon capacitors and an ultra silent 140mm Yate Loon fan show Thermaltake's dedication to quality on the Toughpower, and the inclusion of a 5 year warranty certainly backs this up.
 
With 1.5kw on tap, Thermaltake have also made sure that that the Toughpower is kitted out with enough cables and connectors to take full advantage of the very latest technologies such as Triple-SLI, and the uncomplicated aesthetics of the unit ensure that it wont stick out even in the most corporate of environments.
 
Combine all of these qualities with an extremely competitive £180 price tag (at time of review) and Toughpower is well on its way to becoming one of the best PSU's we've tested at Overclock3D to date.
 
 
The Good
• Extremely high efficiency recorded at just under 87%
• Tight voltage regulation on all rails
• Quiet and cool thanks to 140mm Yate Loon fan.
• Priced the same as most 1kw units, but packs an extra 500w!
• Support for Triple-SLI
• Quality components.
• Fully sleeved cables + easy grip connectors.
 
The Medicore
• 3.3v rail could have been better under 100% load - but still more than acceptable.
 
The Bad
• Not a sausage
 
 
Editors Choice Award
 
 
Thanks to Thermaltake for making this review possible. Discuss this review in our forums.