The Antec NeoPower 480 Modular PSU

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The Antec NeoPower 480 Modular PSU

Postby LVCapo » Thu Nov 11, 2004 12:19 pm

Two reviews in two days??!!! Not as hard as it seems, actually meant more work for Nate than for me. I have to say that this PSU really grew on me, the modular aspect simply rocks when you are trying to wire a small case
http://www.legitreviews.com/article.php?aid=120

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[quote]Today we’ll take a look at Antec’s newest entry into the PSU market, the NEOPOWER 480, a 480 W “modularâ€
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Postby Xerxes » Thu Nov 11, 2004 5:44 pm

yeah i know, ive been debating on if its worth it or not for my super lanboy
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Postby LVCapo » Thu Nov 11, 2004 7:57 pm

this is a seriously nice PSU, and a great alternative for those of us who can't afford a PC Power & Cooling. I actually have mine in an Antec Sonata. The rails are okay, but the cabling system makes it sooooo versatile
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Postby eric m. » Mon Nov 15, 2004 4:08 pm

wow. i really like the modular design. it really isn't that much less money than the PC power and cooling 510 PSU, but for a small case without a lot of drives, this might actually be better and cleaner looking.
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Postby infinitevalence » Mon Nov 15, 2004 5:25 pm

There are lots of times when i would like to have a modular PSU
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NeoPower 480

Postby ianthompson » Mon Nov 29, 2004 7:10 pm

Whilst the NeoPower 480 is no doubt generally good, in my application (fitted in a Sonata case) I've been disappointed on several counts.
1st, the PSU and any attached fans often idle along at only about 850 rpm. OK for sound, but the low airflow results in high ambient temperatures in the case - and therefore higher than necessary CPU and regulator temps (I'm using a Zalman Copper cpu fan).
2nd, the PSU DOES NOT MONITOR it's own fan rpm - if the drive were to fail, or the fan jam, the PSU will ultimately trip on overtemp, but the case temps will go very high first.
3rd, my mobo has 'smart' fan controls, but the PSU isn't configured to allow the board any control. When the board ramps up all other fans for cooling, the PSU if anything idles down - in my case I suspect there was BACKFLOW through the PSU, due to the fairly high airflow resistance through the Sonata's incoming air filter (I've front in, and back out case fans). This just dumps extra heat right over the top of the CPU - great!
4th, throwing warranty to the wind, I brought the PSU fan leads out of the box (being VERY CAREFUL regarding insulation from nasties), and now drive them from the board (using a separate sensor to monitor PSU outlet temps). The fan now speeds up, but gets VERY NOISY at only a modest increase in airflow - it seems the airflow path in the PSU is rather poor.
5, Antec were most unhelpful - I'm now looking for a better option - any ideas?
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Postby LVCapo » Mon Nov 29, 2004 8:31 pm

1. the Neopower has an included temp/load sensor that regualtes the fans based on the temp and load. Maybe you got a bad fan, but mine works perfectly, at low load and temps my case fans have even stopped, but as soon as the temp rises, the fans kick in.
2. The fan speed is not monitored by your system, but you also have realize that there is a built in over temp sensor, and your motherboard also has included sensors that will shut things down if there is a problem
3. This makes no sense whatsoever. I also use this in a Sonata case and have no clue what you are talking about. First, when it comes to your board, you can always disable the "smart fans", and allow the PSU to monitor the fans the way its meant to, or you can simply not use the special fan connector on the PSU and instead use the regular 4 pin molex.
4. Modifying a board is one thing, but I do not recommend modding PSUs ever! If the thing doesn't do what you want, and I'm not sure what you were expecting, i would simply return it and look for another alternative.
As to Antec's customer support, I actually called them and had every question i asked answered within 10 minutes.
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NeoPower 480

Postby ianthompson » Tue Nov 30, 2004 8:41 am

Oops, sorry - I wasn't challenging your review, just putting forward some personal observations for the possible benefit of others.
Perhaps more info will help?
1. Yes, & herein lies the problem of 'non-integration' for certain applications.
2. Again, I agree - but I'd prefer to know about a problem BEFORE all hell breaks loose (e.g. engine temp guage, vs idiot light!). I just happen to think the design approach taken is weak.
3. Perhaps the following will give you a better clue as to how it all seems to happen.

Firstly, I'm using a Prescott P4 that apparently dissipates 103 W at full chat, and a Zalman cooler that's rated at 0.22 deg C per W. So when running a heavy application (NASA's World Wind, for example), the case fan is kicked up to full power pretty quickly. There are a number of technical issues (die/heatsink conductivity, heatsink thermal inertia, etc.) I could go into here, but will leave for another time. Simply, a thermal wind up commences.

My case fan can 'suck' at perhaps 0.25" W.G. at full chat, but at this time the PSU is still happily chugging along at only 850 rpm, since it's internal temps haven't changed much. It's not hard to see how the PSU fan blades could be easily 'stalled' (aerodynamically) with such a back suction over them at such low speed. Also, I have temporarily fitted precision temperature sensors at the PSU outlet, and inlet. The "in" temp is 8 deg C higher than the "out" temp, ergo - backflow! And so the PSU is cooled (backwards) and has no reason to ramp up it's fan.

I tried the suggestion of simply using the PSU fan drive outputs, but this didn't work for me as the board ambient limits were exceeded (Intel want a max. of 38 deg C ambient, probably for the voltage regulator capacitors). My solution works MUCH, MUCH better.

4. Yes, well, I design these sorts of things for my job. Perhaps you should understand the internal fan's tacho and negative line ARE ALREADY connected to the outside world (the monitor socket), so all I had to do was lift the fan positive line and bring this out as well alongside the others.

And yes, perhaps I was being a little harsh on Antec - they did respond quickly to my initial enquiry - probably missing the point - but could not then provide details of the fan drive (proprietary). I was hoping to tweak the fan drive gain/offset to get the fan to ramp up earlier.

My overall objective - to minimise noise. Both the PSU fan and case fan start to become intrusive at around 1300 rpm (other reviewers have commented on this), but at this speed the case fan is shifting HEAPS MORE AIR through the Sonata. And with ALL fans at full wack the internal ambient is STILL MARGINAL when doing heavy processing - this at an office ambient of 24 deg C. What am I going to do this summer, when 30 deg is not uncommon - fit an aircon?
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Postby LVCapo » Tue Nov 30, 2004 10:18 am

I have passed along your concerns to the engineering dept at Antec. I don't necessarily agree with some of what you say (I installed this PSU in a Cooler Master case with a P4 E, stock Intel Cooling, and saw no difference in case or CPU temperatures). I also understand that you "Do this for a living" but I highly recommend against anyone modding or disassembling any PSU. As to alot of your post, like my review, it is a personal opinion. If this PSU didn't work for you, you probably should have returned it and found something that better fit your needs. I'll post Antec's reply as soon as I recieve it
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Postby infinitevalence » Tue Nov 30, 2004 1:51 pm

Ehh moding/opening a PSU is fine but i don't recommend anyone do it, i only recommend people do it who can afford to loose there equipment and know what there doing. Also make sure that if you do mod anything check all your voltages and resistance befor and after to make sure that your still with in spec. And btw the large round things in pretty colors ARE NOT POPSICLES DO NOT LICK THEM!
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NeoPower 480

Postby ianthompson » Tue Nov 30, 2004 7:35 pm

Yes, I also don't generally recommend fiddling inside the PSU - certainly leave the HV stuff alone - you must be VERY CLEAR about what you're doing as the potential for very serious outcomes is just too great. As it happens, the 480 has an altogether separate fan drive board fitted to the main board - for two wire fans - but the PSU didn't even know when I unplugged its fan! However, I could plug the PSU monitor into my mobo to sense fan rpm & failure.

I actually like the PSU's modular wiring, etc., it's just that it becomes very noisy with increasing load (very quiet at idle), doesn't shift enough air, and doesn't work well with my other fan noise reducing control strategies.

But not ALL these problems arise from the PSU. I've accurately measured 10-12 deg C temp rise from Sonata case air intake to case internal ambient, another 2-5 deg to the mobo's ambient & monitor sensors, and a further 11-13 deg (at idle!) to the cpu die sensor using Intel's IDCC. I've also drilled a hole into the cpu cooler, and fitted an accurate digital temp sensor. These temps were much higher before I removed the Sonata's filter cover, and the fans would roar like hell (aerodynamic surge) at even moderate rpms. The side duct areas were just FAR TOO SMALL for adequate airflow, but I was able to cut them away very substantially whilst keeping things neat, and re-fit the cover.
The front case fan is mounted BEHIND the HD rack, and so acts more as a circulator than as a positive means of bringing cool air into the case. More air transfer would have provided lower case temp rise, but circulation improves heat transfer coefficients.

With these mods I'm now able to run NASA's World Wind for quite a while with the case ambient just 0-1 deg below Intel's limit of 38 deg C, and the CPU not exceeding 65 deg C - albeit with heaps of noise - at least until my office heats up! And blissfully quiet at other times (the PSU fan being the most noisy).

I hope you understand my observations have been based on solid scientific data, not mere conjecture.
Btw, I had to order my PSU from a place 3000+ km away - not easy to return - I'm stuck with it!
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Postby LVCapo » Tue Nov 30, 2004 7:51 pm

Please don't take offense to my posts. i enjoy very much hearing others opinions not just to my articles, but also the products. There are several variables in there that would only seem to be an issue for a person like you, a professional, . that and the fact that you pulled it apart were the only issues I really wanted to address. i really don't want to see anyone pull apart a PSU and damage their system, or themselves.
I am waiting for Dave Forrester from Antec to get back to me on your issues. He is one of the head guys at their Engineering Dept. hopefully i can get your situation solved, or at least addressed in a satisfactory manner.
Last edited by LVCapo on Wed Dec 01, 2004 2:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby eric m. » Tue Nov 30, 2004 9:31 pm

i'm sure any PSU has it's pros and cons. if you are really that picky, maybe you should look into a better PSU, like a pc power and cooling unit. that's what i did (per capper's suggestion a while back) and i don't ever have to worry about my PSU because it just works.
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Postby ianthompson » Tue Nov 30, 2004 9:34 pm

No probs, and thanks!

Being early semi-retired, still working as a consultant, I'm lucky for having the time to build my own PC from the ground up (incl. flashing updated bios, firmware, etc.). Now looking for SATA 300 & NCQ upgrades!

FYI, I've had some (limited) military experience.

Hope Antec can help.
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Postby infinitevalence » Tue Nov 30, 2004 9:44 pm

From that post alone im thinking that you will fit in here well, lots of semi-retired people with military experience, and passion for computers. Im not one of them, except for the computers part, but hey were not all perfect.
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Cooling

Postby ianthompson » Thu Dec 02, 2004 7:37 am

Thanks infinitevalence - Please re-direct me elsewhere if this is off-topic!

Water cooling seems the best way of keeping heat out of the case - I agree with eric m. And I see no good reason why this shouldn't be incredibly quiet, if designed right.

But like capper I suspect, the idea of feeding water through the PSU box sounds a little scary! I wonder if the PSU manufacturers couldn't mount all their heat dissipating devices on a solid block of Aluminium (that's the way I spell it, you haven't heard my accent!) or Copper at the back of the (possibly shortened, without fan) PSU box, so that a watercooled heat extraction block could then be attached to the outside?

Shouldn't be too hard - I might look into this!!!!! Only problem I can forsee - if cooled too much, condensation could form in bad places (corrosion, shorts) - would need to control to stay above the dewpoint temp - hmm, this adds complication!

On another matter, I reckon the Sonata case's disk mounting racks, isolation pads, very solid construction, and easy access side door are just GREAT. I don't like the holes punched into the side panels though (unfiltered air gets IN, noise gets OUT), and I think Antec need to consider higher airflow throughput capability than the Sonata's for higher performing systems. After all, higher temperatures mean shorter life for electronic equipment - especially for electrolytic capacitors, and especially for those in the board's voltage regulator section (low-ESR, 105 deg types used).
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Postby LVCapo » Thu Dec 02, 2004 3:16 pm

we're not that anal around here, almost every conversation ends up off topic att some point!
I think sometimes companies and individuals take cooling a little too far. Making water blocks for RAM and HDD are a little over the top in my opinion if you have case fans moving any air.
I think it is a combination of companies trying to capitalize on the cooling craze and individuals trying to push their ssystems to the limits and beyond.
iI like antec cases, but while they are built nicely, the suffer from the same problem as Cooler Master...crap fans. I usually replace all the fans in these type cases with ones that move air better. There has to be some sort of trade off, performance or quietness, you can't have both. I find it funny that people talk of water cooling being quieter and cooler, but the setup i have uses 2 120mm fans to cool the radiator, it is much cooler, but is no way quieter.
anyway, i guess the whole point of my rambling is before the whole cooling craze, temps were much higher than they are now, and i'm sure you want your system as cool as possible, but i'm also sure that it is running well within specs as it is.. I do have to say though that the Pressies, while great running CPUs, run incredibly hot, and that aint good on the board. I've been running my test proc at 3.6 in this DFI board for 2 weeks, thing idles in the 50s, and at full load touches 70 now and again with stock cooling, but runs great.
BTW, I've heard back from Antec twice already, basically just repeated what i said so i keep throwing it back at them asking for someone higher in the food chain, I'll keep you updated on that.
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Postby ianthompson » Thu Dec 02, 2004 7:45 pm

Thanks, capper.

I'm running 'Intel Active Monitor' to keep track of fan rpms, temps, and system voltages, and kept getting over temp alarms until I did my mods.

With Zalman's cpu cooler, the cpu generally stayed ok, but it was always the ambient that went offscale (exceeded Intel's spec.). When I stuck my hand in the box (until I fitted sensors), nothing, but nothing felt more than a little warm to the touch. The memory was cool, the graphics card (low spec) was warm, the cpu cooler heatsink was barely warm, the southbridge cool, ... My P4E now idles at ~42 deg on moderate days.

I wasn't overclocking, and was running memory at default (2-2-5-12, 2.65 v). So was a little mystified!

There's a water cooling thing called a Reserator (or something) that I've seen good reviews of. It's VERY BIG, VERY EXPENSIVE (here in Aussie), but uses convection cooling (no fan) so I thought it should be very quiet as long as the water pump isn't too noisy.

I'm with you on the "marketing hyperbole", and my twin SATA Seagate Barracuda's run very cool with a little airflow, and you'd only know they're running by the slight rumble when accessing data (the FDB bearings are quiet).

I'd bought some Spire 120mm fans from a local (well, 3000 km away) company called "lownoisepcs". Can you suggest better fans, please?
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Postby LVCapo » Fri Dec 03, 2004 1:27 am

I very much recommend against the Reserator, from my experience and from talking to friends who have used it, it is a huge piece of crap.
If you are looking for an external cooling solution i would recommend a Koolance or a Corsair setup, both are the best you woll find. If you'd like to go internal, hard with the sonata case, i'd highly recommend Polar-FLO or Danger Den, or being in Australia maybe you could sweet talk Little River into producing some blocks!!! If you coulf afford a different case...I'd go with the Cooler Master CM Stacker, a Danger Den 12V pump, and either Danger Den or PolarFlo blocks
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Postby ianthompson » Sat Dec 04, 2004 3:58 am

Looked up the Koolance & Corsair - look good.

But, also saw a review/test/comparison of the Corsair setup vs several others (Tom's Hardware?), which suggests the Zalman Cu fan system I'm using is not at all too shabby regarding cooling, and certainly one of the quietest!

The only thing is - the notes that come with the Zalman said it must be run at nearly full tilt if used with P4E 3gig or faster, at all times. I can't help think this is crazy, and have certainly found it not necessary for my rig in terms of keeping the CPU cool at idle (and even the regulator capacitors then feel more than plenty cool enough). Sometimes I wonder...

Marketing bulldust rules!
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