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Enermax Liberty EL620AWT 620W PSU Enermax Liberty EL620AWT 620W PSU: Modular PSUs are all the rage, but is the power supplied clean? We look at Enermax's latest and see if this modular PSU is up to the task.
Date: November 9, 2005
Supplied By:
Written By: Huy Duong
Price: (500W)

Most of you are probably familiar with Enermax. Long time makers of some high quality power supplies, they've also been offering cases and front panels for quite some time. Power supply units (PSUs) are their bread and butter though, and today we'll be looking at their latest product, the Liberty PSU.

Unlike previous Enermax offerings, the Enermax Liberty EL620AWT 620W PSU is a modular power supply, meaning you only hook up the cables that you need. Along with creating a cleaner interior setup, modular power supplies typically mean cooler setups as with fewer cables, less airflow is impeded.

While it isn't the case with all modular units we've reviewed, in our experience nothing beats a solid "standard" PSU. Modular PSUs add an additional connection point between the power supply and your peripherals, which mean one more failure point, and if the connection contacts aren't secure, the power is not as clean as it could be. Will this be the case for the Liberty? Read on and find out.

Enermax Liberty EL620AWT 620W PSU

The Liberty EL620AWT arrived neatly packed within Enermax's standard rectangular packaging. Inside, the PSU was wrapped tightly in protective bubble wrap, and the power cables were stuffed into their own compartments in a rather fancy (fancy for a PSU package anyhow) nylon duffle bag. As everyone knows, duffle bags score big with the chicks, so feel free to toss out that pocket protector you normally put your pens in and impress the office receptionist with this. Add the lanyard, and you can wear the bag around your neck like a stud!

Along with the PSU, there is a user manual, power cord, case badge, and four installation screws included in the package.

Despite the 620W power rating, the Liberty EL620AWT is a standard sized ATX PSU. Unless you're using one of those low profile cases, you shouldn't have any problems with the power supply. As with many of their PSUs, compared with some other brand PSUs I've handled this past year, the Enermax is one of the heavier ones. While it's by no means a law, heavier PSUs tend to equal higher quality as larger heatsinks aid in the cooling. The PSU fully supports ATX 12V V 2.2, and is approved under Intel's power specifications. Furthermore, the Liberty is convertible, meaning you can adapt it for BTX based systems.

To improve reliability to your PC operation, the Liberty EL620AWT is an Active PFC and features two independent 12V rails; one for your motherboard and processor, and the other for fans and drives. Each DC Output maxes out as 22A, which is higher than the Enermax EG701AX we've looked at previously. In addition, other safety features include Over Voltage, Load, Current and Temperature protection.

Cooling is handled by a single 120mm fan. The larger fan negates the need for two or more smaller fans and will run much quieter as a result. Depending on the fan setup, cooling may not be as good, but this is somewhat addressed by the honeycomb grill on the rear of the PSU. We're pretty big fans (no pun intended) of this setup as the Liberty EL620AWT ran quietly during our testing and the heat seemed to be under control.

The Liberty EL620AWT features braided cables for protecting and shielding the power cables. The cables pre-attached to the PSU are the main 24-pin (20+4) ATX connection, fan monitoring plug and +12V cable. There are eight more connections for the modular cables, broken up into two parts. The six black connections are designed for your main peripherals, such as hard drives, fans and optical components. The remaining two connections are for the PCI Express graphics power, compatible with both SLI and CrossFire.

Enermax supplies all the cables you need for the PSU, which include; 2 x PCI-E cables, 2 x SATA/Floppy cables (supporting up to 8 SATA drives and two floppy drives total), 2 x SATA/IDE cables (basically 4 SATA connections and 4 standard 4-pin Molex), and one Molex cable (4 connections total). The dual SATA and dual Molex cables are Enermax's "Eternity System", which maximizes flexibility in system design. All the Molex connections also feature Enermax's patented Easy Plug which makes cables easier to detach.

Testing

MSI P4N Diamond: Intel Pentium 4 560, 2GB Corsair DDR2 8000UL, 2 x Seagate 400GB, Seagate 120GB, 2 x MSI 7800GTX, MSI 16X DL, AOpen CDRW 52X, Koolance PC3-720SL.

To load up the system, we run Prime95 run for 60 minutes, with Folding @ Home running in the background, as well as ripping Jet Li's Hero DVD to the Seagate RAID setup. We also ran a continuous loop of VirusScan and a looping demo of 3DMark05. Voltages were monitored with ABRA DM-9700 multimeter. The comparison PSUs are the Enermax EG701AX, Ultra X-Connect 500W PSU and Cooler Master's RealPower 450W. The P4 560 will be clocked at 18x215 for all testing. All the power supplies were plugged into a Belkin UPS (separately for each test) for the first set of tests.

Temperatures

Most PSUs have an ideal operating temperature of about 40°C, so we turned up the thermostat to 30°C (max in our house), disabled the case fans and set the Koolance liquid cooler to a low enough fan setting to keep the system stable at 3.87GHz. According to MBM, the internal case temperature got to about ~51°C, and a thermal probe attached a heatsink inside the PSUs read 56°C for the Enermax EG701AX, 53°C on the Cooler Master, 59°C on the X-Connect and 54°C for the Liberty EL620AWT. Right off the bat, the Liberty EL620AWT is slightly cooler than the Enermax EG701AX, though the Cooler Master still beats it by 1°C.

Idle

+3.3v
+5v
+12v
+12v
Liberty EL620AWT
3.30
5.11
12.06
12.09
Enermax EG701AX
3.30
5.08
12.07
12.06
Ultra X-Connect
3.20
4.95
11.85
N/A
CM RealPower
3.26
5.01
12.01
12.03

Load

+3.3v
+5v
+12v
+12v
Liberty EL620AWT
3.29
5.05
12.02
12.01
Enermax EG701AX
3.27
5.02
11.98
11.95
Ultra X-Connect
3.16
4.92
11.72
N/A
CM RealPower
3.26
5.00
11.96
11.97

While the Belkin regulated the power drawn from the wall outlet, you'll still need a decent PSU to provide clean and reliable power to your PC. Both Enermax PSUs and the Cooler Master provided enough juice to the system, while the X-Connect struggled a little more with the 12v rail, but not enough where the system was unreliable.

Wall Socket Test

Living in a new home, most of our wires are in pretty good shape. I did want to see how the PSUs would react plugged into a wall socket though (no power bar or UPS) and the other socket with a second PC equipped with a 21" CRT drawing power from a power bar. I managed to pack two additional 17" monitors to the power bar, as well as a 4.1 Logitech speaker set. I turned on a second 19" monitor plugged into another socket which shares the wiring circuit and ended with these results.

Load

+3.3v
+5v
+12v
+12v
Liberty EL620AWT
3.25
5.02
12.00
11.99
Enermax EG701AX
3.24
5.01
11.94
11.93
Ultra X-Connect
3.10
4.90
11.42
N/A
CM RealPower
3.21
4.98
11.90
11.90

All the PSUs lost a bit of power, but not enough to cause any problems at all, with the exception of the X-Connect while shut down twice during our tests. We were not able to duplicate the exact instance where it failed as it seemed to be completely random.

Final Words

Enermax has entered the modular PSU market in a big way as the Liberty EL620AWT did very well in our tests and finished on top in the tests that count. While were were not able to stress the PSU to the max, we feel our setup falls in line in what would be considered "high-end" and certainly there are a few of you with somewhat similar systems so we're pretty confident the Liberty would be suitable for those setups.

Build quality is excellent, and the braided cables are a nice touch. The 6-pin approach is a good idea as it makes for a more secure connection, and the Easy Plug design makes removing them from peripherals a snap. The only complaint we have about the cables is that they are quite stiff and can be difficult to route or hide in cramped cases.

Cooling ability is decent, as the case temperatures didn't seem to miss the second fan found in dual fan PSUs. Since the Liberty EL620AWT uses only one 120mm fan, noise levels were low.

The power is the real story here though, and the Liberty EL620AWT delivers. Dual rails are a requirement from us for PSUs these days, especially with the popularity of water cooling units, and the Liberty handled our setup with aplomb.

Pros: Dual +12v rails, reliable power, Active PFC, plenty of voltage related protection measures, SLI ready.

Cons: Braided cables difficult to route in smaller cases.

Bottom Line: With more connections many people will need, we think the Liberty EL620AWT should be on your short list if you're in need of a newer, or "bigger" power supply. If your SLI equipped FX-57 or Pentium 4 Extreme Edition crashes hard because of the 300W jobber you're still using, don't come crying to us.

Hit us up in the Forums if you have any questions.

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