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ioCombo Acrylic PC ATX 450W PSU ioCombo Acrylic PC ATX 450W PSU: A quality PSU is a must have, especially if your PC is fully loaded and overclocked. We look at one that also has some aesthetic appeal.  

Date: April 28, 2004
Provided By:
Written By:
Price:
It's not uncommon for enthusiasts to have more than one hard drive, and multiple optical drives in addition to their overclocked CPUs and video cards. 350W PSUs are the bare minimum I would even consider these days, with 400W+ being more the recommended. There isn't such a thing as too much power though, and power users pushing their PCs even harder, I suspect 500-550W PSUs are going to be the norm as we move through 2004.

That being said, power, and more of it, doesn't always tell the whole story though. Quality is something that a lot of people surprisingly don't pay attention to. Yes, sometimes a generic 400W PSU will get the job done, but this is something that doesn't happen all of the time. When you're running an overclocked system, with plenty of hardware, you're going to want a PSU that you can count on under load.

The ioCombo Acrylic PC ATX 450W PSU is actually a combination of an Aerocool acrylic window mod, and an unknown brand of PSU. The latter part may be a cause of some concern, so we'll be investigating its quality later on in the review.

Specifications

. 450 Watts maximum output
. Exclusive DC connector for Pentium-4 CPU
. Ball Bearing fan for extra silent cooling!
. Noise killing technology!
. Built-in voltage overload protection
. Voltage switch for 115/230V AC input
. AC inlet, & On/Off switch
. Support Intel "Pentium-4" and AMD "Athlon XP"
. Complies with ATX 2.03 and ATX 12V 1.1
. Certified by UL, CB, CE, TUV, & FCC
. Protection circuits for over current and over temperature

You can read the .

I was quite surprised to see the rather minimalistic packaging used for the ioCombo Acrylic PC ATX 450W PSU. What you see is exactly what I got... a hard plastic shell covering the PSU. There was no box, other than what it was shipped in. Normally, I would be a lot more nervous about damage, but ioCombo does use a fair amount of foam peanuts to protect the PSU. One thing to point out is this PSU is very light. Though there's the old arguement that heavier PSUs means better parts, we'll withhold judgement until we complete testing.

Inside the package, you have the PSU. Yes, that was the end of that sentence. Sure, you have the cardboard slip that gives some product info, but that is it. There was no power cable included, and I'm at a loss to explain why. Granted, the packaging does limit what can be packed in here, but seriously, leaving out the power cable wasn't a good move as it'll force a user to get one on their own. Sure, you can argue that if you're replacing an existing PSU, you have that cable to use, but if this is a for a new PC, you'll have to attain another power cable. These cables aren't expensive, but it is an inconvenience that we can do without.

There are two fans built into the PSU. The first fan is located on the bottom of the unit, and is of the LED variety. A rather interesting fan grill is installed, more for aesthetics than protection as your fingers or a stray cable can easily slip in there. The second fan is in the familiar place at the rear of the PSU. The only other connection to note in the rear is the power cable connection. There is a tab to choose the proper voltage depending on your region and a switch to power on/off the PSU.

The acrylic window is a nice touch for those of you who like the look of a see-thru power supply. There isn't anything terribly remarkable about the mod itself, though I did find a fair number of finger prints (not my own) scattered throughout the power supply. There was also a small piece of packing foam stuck on the inside of the window that required disassembly to remove.

The window mod is not UV reactive or anything fancy, but the LED fan does cast a nice glow.

The blue light is not as powerful as I've seen in other power supplies, but that is actually my preference that the glow is more subtle rather than harsh.

The power connections number seven in total (including the motherboard connections), which is broken down into 4 HDD molex connections, 1 FDD connections, 1 ATX and 1 12V AUX. I find the number of connections to be a bit on the low side, and either some SATA or additional molex connections would improve your power options.

Performance

ABIT KV8-MAX3: Athlon 64 3200+, 2 x 512MB Corsair PC4000 TWINX, Antec P160, Koolance EXOS-Al, ATI AIW 9600 XT, 120GB Western Digital SE 8MB Cache, MSI Starspeed DVD16x.

To test the PSU's performance, we'll be running our A64 at stock speeds, and at overclocked settings, which will be our 3200+ @ 12x215. System cooling was provided by 2x120mm fans, and the Koolance was configured to run its fans at full speed. To load up the system, we run Prime95 run for 20 minutes, with Folding @ Home running in the background, as well as Matrix: Revolutions in the DVD drive. Voltages were monitored with an ABRA DM-9700 multimeter.

12v
3.3v
5v
12x200
12.02
3.15
5.02
12x215
11.94
3.11
4.95

At stock speeds, the ioCombo Acrylic PC ATX 450W PSU did fairly well, only falling a little short on the 3.3v rail. At 12v and 5v, it stayed within spec, though it doesn't have quite the headroom we've seen with some past power supplies we've reviewed here.

Once we started overclocking, the power supply struggled to stay within specifications. Under all three rails, the PSU was unable to meet specs. At stock speeds, our system was very stable, but once we began overclocking, I did lock up while Folding. At first, we thought this was a software glitch, or a bad OC, but replacing the power supply resolved this issue. Wondering if this may have been a fluke, I reinstalled the IoCombo PSU and about 5 minutes into Folding, we suffered another lockup.

Final Words

The idea behind this PSU is an interesting one. Pre-mod a power supply for the consumer, rather than having them do it themselves. For those of you concerned about system noise, this PSU runs very quiet, and is not disruptive at all. The price isn't too high, but the build quality is suspect, as the finger prints, smudges and packing foam inside the PSU is a cause for concern.

However, the truth is I am having a hard time recommending this PSU for the simple fact that its performance is really not much better than what you'll find in a vanilla case with an included PSU. The rail performance is not very strong, and the PSU seemed to struggle when we began overclocking.

What concerns me most, is our test setup isn't what I would call "over-the-edge". A high-end setup will likely have a RAID setup, a high-end video card that requires a molex connection, several case fans, and a pair of optical drives. With only four connections, worrying about the rails is the least of your concerns, as you will not have enough connections for all your hardware.

As we've pointed out earlier, the reasoning behind the PSU is an interesting one. Perhaps a more robust power supply, with more connections is something I would recommend. Also, whoever assembles these power supplies should consider gloves and a clean desk.

Pros: Lightweight, attractive, low priced.

Cons: Weak rail performance, short on power connections, poor build quality.

Bottom Line: We cannot ignore the fact that the PSU is relatively cheap, but I certainly recommend you consider a brand name PSU. If the acrylic window is a must have, pick one up separately and mod an Antec.

If you have any comments, be sure to hit us up in our forums.

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