When you look back over the last couple of years, you won't really find that much changing to the power supplies you see in retail stores, more often than not, simply an increase of power capabilities. Some added more fans, but the general basic technology never really changed all that much until just recently.
350w power supplies are probably considered the bottom end these days and you can easily find wattages all the way up to 600w or more. Power supply manufacturers have increased the wattage to handle the ever increasing demands of the modern enthusiast PC, however increasing power usage in the form of Watts isn't strictly the issue. The real issue is that with high powered systems having a lot of power hungry devices requiring power all at once there was often a severe drop in the power available to the system at any given time, especially on the 12v rail, so while the overall draw of even an SLI gaming rig might only be around the 400w mark, a 500w or more PSU is needed to ensure enough juice gets to the system and the peripherals at all times. Enter ATX12V which has 2x12V rails instead of just a singular 12v rail, which splits the power into two separate 12v rails, one for the main system and one for your add-in devices such as graphics cards, hard drives and optical drives.
One of the first manufacturers to apply this technology to their units were Tagan, and today we have one of their power supplies on the test bench, which doesn't stop at just ATX12V, but supports multiple form factors (including BTX) and also has quite a few other nice touches and nifty features to boot; introducing the Tagan TG480-U22 “2Force” 480w PSU.
Specifications and Features
• New 12V rail Split (ATX 2.x) and Combined (ATX 1.3) Technology can easily be switched manually
• Two independent EMI shielded PCI-Express VGA connectors
• Four integrated Serial ATA power connectors for SATA hard disks
• Universal connectors 20 or 24 and 4 or 8pin for all kind of motherboards
• Extra quiet-cooling design (22dB-27dB) with an additional metal-net on top, reduces temperature inside by 10C-15C
• Active PFC for more perfomance and less degrading radiation
• Gold plated contacts long life and less transition resistance
• Twisted cables for better EMI and easier handling
• Additional ground connector for better safety and trouble-free audio transmission
• OVP, OCP, SCP and OT (over-load/-voltage/-temperature and shortcut-protection) to protect your power supply and components
• Universal wide range input for all countries (100-250 Vac)
• PS/2 Dimensions (WxHxD): 150mmx86mmx160mm
• True 480w (580w peak for 60 seconds)
• 36 Months Warranty
The box for the Tagan TG480-U22 comes in a black matt embossed format, with a picture of a stealth fighter on the front to indicate the quiet nature of the product. The rear lists all the special features of the PSU. Opening the box we find everything neatly compartmentalized and/or tied up.
The extras included are quite extensive for a non-modular power supply and come in their own separate box. We have a packet with five Velcro cable ties in different colours as well as two plastic black cable ties. Also in this box are five (4+1 extra) screws and the shielded and braided power cord, aimed at reducing EMI/noise. We also have one the best manuals I've ever seen come with a power supply. It goes into a lot of detail, but not overly so, allowing you to read and get on with it without feeling like you need Steven Hawkins to come and translate it for you.
The unit itself comes in matt black aluminium, and we'll start our tour at the rear. As expected we find an exhaust fan, no flashy lights or anything, just a simple fan complete with a stainless steel grill (the preferred option to that of a pressed out grill) and Tagan badge. The actual power switch is a big chunky item which is great since 9 times out of ten you will be looking for it with your fingers. Below is the power inlet and between them both is a selector switch. While some power supplies carry a similar switch to adjust fan speeds, the purpose of this switch is to set the PSU into either ‘split' or ‘combined' power modes. More on this a little later but the purpose of the switch should be obvious and makes Tagan's power supplies the first to support both split and singular rails.
On top of the PSU we find a mesh grill which aims at reducing the internal temperature passively. The front of the unit also features a badged and grilled fan for intake and of course the exit point for the cables.
Times have changed from the days of using just plain Molex and floppy connectors, we now have quite a few connectors in use at anyone time, to which Tagan have responded very well indeed. The first leads we will go into however is the Molex leads. 8 Molex connectors on 4 leads are included, with two of the leads also having 2 floppy connectors. All 4 leads are twisted, and while not the same as being sleeved, do help to reduce the overall messy look and in theory should help improve airflow in the case. The downside is that the twisting has drawn the cables tighter together and reduced the overall length, and I did find that plugging in an IDE HD on the bottom tray of my Antec P160 case was about an inch short.
The Tagan TG480-U22 is a SLI ready power supply, and has two separate 6 pin PCIe connectors ready to power your graphics cards. Both cables, unlike the Molex cables, are braided and shielded against RFI/EMI. This makes them both attractive and easy to route. Tagan have also seen fit to include a ground cable, again to reduce noise. Tagan also have 4 SATA power connectors onboard, and like the Molex connectors they come on two leads of 2 connectors, twisted cabling. While 8 Molex connectors may at first seem a little low, when you consider that 4 SATA hard drives and 2 PCIe graphics cards are already catered for.
To truly support multiple motherboards in this day and age, a PSU needs to support both 20 pin and 24 pin ATX connectors, as well as 4 pin P4 and 8 pin +P4, and it's here that Tagan have a wonderful solution. No adaptors in sight, the connectors are modular. Looking at the ATX connector first, we can see that it is a 20 pin black connector with a sliding, side connecting 4 pin plug to transform it into a 24 pin EATX connector. This cable is sleeved and also has a little instruction tag to describe the sliding connector. The P4/+P4 (P8) connector functions in a similar manner, with the cable able to split into two 4 pin connectors; the P4/+P4 connector cable is also sleeved.