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Appeared on: Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Vantec PSU


1. Introduction

Vantec Thermal Technologies was established in 1994 and since then has manufactured a variety of products for both "mainstream and enthusiast users". Cooling solutions, peripherals, storage devices, power supplies, PC modifications, even Notebook accessories are some of the products from Vantec available on the market.

In this review, we will be taking a look at the 460 Watt Power Supply Unit from the Vantec ION2 series.

The ION2 series is known for its stability and low noise, and is offered as a solution to both regular and enthusiast users who are concerned about noise and stability, rather than fancy looks and power tweaking. The ION2 460W, utilizes a 12cm fan (120X120X15) that Vantec calls "Temperature Controlled Fan". By this, the manufacturer means that the fan will auto adjust itself (rotation speed) in order to keep the PSU cool and in optimal operation. When at normal temperature levels, the fan drops its rotation speed, offering a low noise environment. And this is not all. The Vantec ION2 460W, offers a wide range of features which we will list and discuss in detail below...

- Features

-EPS12V and ATX 12V compatible
-Electric-Shock-Free Protection
-Over Voltage Protection
-Over Current Protection
-Short Circuit Protection
-Temperature Controlled Fan
-Pre-Sleeved cables
-Serial ATA connectors
-Black EZ-Grip 4pin power connectors
-PCI Express Connector
-24pin to 20pin adaptor

The most important and innovative of these features are the following...

1. Temperature Controlled Fan

As already discussed in the introduction, the ION2 utilizes a 120mm fan that allows a low noise working environment when rotating at low speeds, while it increases speed to cool the PSU (offering stability and functionality) as the PSU's temperature rises. Due to the size of the PSU fan, even at high rotation speeds, the noise levels are acceptable.

2. Serial ATA Hard drive Power Connectors (x2)

For Serial ATA Hard drive users, Vantec includes 2 SATA hard drive power connectors which enable the user to supply their SATA drives without the need for extra adaptors.

3. Pre-Sleeved Cables

All the cables on the ION2 are pre-sleeved (black sleeve) for a clean look. Furthermore, this allows for better airflow inside the case, reducing any clutter so common when using traditional PSUs with standard cables.

4. Universal Connector

The ION2 offers two options for connecting the PSU to the motherboard. The ION supports both 20 and 24pin connectors. By default, the PSU offers the 24-pin connector and in order for the ION to be connected to a 20-pin enabled motherboard, the use of an extra adaptor between the 24-pin end and the motherboard is needed. The adaptor is included in the retail package.

5. EZ-Grip Molex Connectors

The traditional Molex connectors have been replaced by the EZ-Grip Molex, further improving the functionality of this PSU. The rounded grips make it easy to plug in and remove from the installed devices.

6. PCI Express Power Connector

One PCI Express 6-pin power connector is included on a separate line for the PCI-E card's supply needs.

- Specifications

Here are the specs as given by the manufacturer...

- Retail Box

The retail box for the Vantec ION 2 460N includes everything the end user will need to accomplish a successful installation and customization, including the 24-20 pin adaptor, power cable and manual.

Having listed the main features of the ION2 and its specifications, we move on to a closer look at the PSU.


2. Connectors

In this page, we will be taking a closer look at the PSU itself. The ION 2 has a lot of cables for connecting to the motherboard and any installed devices. Unlike other similar PSUs on the market, the ION 2 does not offer the option of removing any unused cables as all cables are fixed to the PSU. All cables are pre-sleeved though, making the inside of the case as clutter free as possible.

Above we have a side view of the PSU with the AC/DC input and output voltages, the model name VAN-460N, and various approval markings. Note here, that as the manufacturer warns, the cover of the PSU should not be removed, as there are no serviceable components inside. Vantec offers a 3 year warranty with the PSU.

The PSU as seen from the back. This is the part that is visible from the rear of the PC case once installed. There are the power input socket and an on-off switch, as well as 115/230V voltage selector switch on the far left of the case. The entire back plate is perforated and unlike traditional PSUs, there's no exhaust fan at the rear.

This is the PSU fan, top and side views. The ION 2 has a single 120mm fan, which is the primary reason why the ION 2 is so quiet. Its low rotation speed keeps the PSU silent and only when the temperatures exceed a certain threshold does the FAN rotate at max speed. Even then, the noise is still relatively low.

The pre-sleeved Molex power cables used for standard devices. Notice the Ez-Grip technology which makes for easy installation and removal.

The ION 2 also has 2 SATA power connectors, covering the basic needs of users with SATA devices (hard drives, optical storage devices) installed.

This is the 24-pin to 20-pin adaptor used with the PSU. The Universal adaptor, ensures that the PSU can be installed in motherboards with a 20-pin connection (like the one used in our review). The PSU by default has the 24-pin power connector cable.

This is the 24-pin connector cable on the ION 2. As explained in the previous screenshot, the use of an adaptor (included in the retail package) is required for 20-pin motherboards.

The standard 4-pin connector, also pre-sleeved. Ready to be plugged into the motherboard.

Last but not least, the 6-pin connector which comes on a separate line that is used to supply PCI-E graphic cards that use an extra power supply cable.

Now, let's move on with the review and the installation of the ION 2 PSU.


3. Installation

The installation of the ION 2 Power supply unit was easy and the time needed from putting in the first screw to pressing the power button was only a few minutes.

First of all, we removed the old PSU from our test PC and put the ION 2 in its place...

No difficulties until now, as only some screwing and unscrewing was needed. Ensure that the PSU seated correctly and installed firmly in the case (this may vary depending on the case).

When installed in our PC case, the PSU fan is located on the bottom of the PSU, facing the motherboard. The fan draws air from the case, blows it across the PSU components and out the perforations at the rear.

We then installed the Universal adaptor, in order for the 24 pin cable to plug into our motherboard which has a 20-pin connector. This adds a few cm of extra cable inside the case though.

The connector firmly placed on the motherboard...

Next step was to plug the 4-pin power cable onto the motherboard.

And finally, we plug in the molex cables to each device. We installed the cables from top to bottom, starting with the DVD drive...

..moving on to the HDD drives, and finally the GPU card.

As one may notice here, the cables cause a bit of a clutter, due to the nature of the the layout of components in the case. The test machine was an AMD 3500+ CPU with an ASUS A8N deluxe (AGP 8x) motherboard, an ATI X800 graphics card, two hard drives and an optical drive.

The case used was a HEROICHI MIDI TOWER PRO. The pre-sleeved cables do make a difference though, and airflow is not restricted as much as it would be with standard cabling (no sleeves).


4. Benchmarks

Now lets move on to the performance tests with the ION 2 460W PSU and see how it fairs.

We used the Speedfan utility in order to check the voltages for our system with the Rocketeer installed. We took two measurements, one at idle and one while running the 3DMark2005 benchmark.

The PSU Specs...

The following table lists the industry wide specifications for DC Output Voltage Regulation.

First off, we started measuring with Asus Probe while in Idle mode, when the PC has finished booting and loaded all drivers.

In idle mode...

We then fired up 3DMark05 and took readings with Asus Probe once more...

under 3DMark05

Notice that there are no differences in the readings between the two tests. This indicates a stable performance that the ION 2 ensures. Now let's have a look at the voltage graphs for 3DMark 05.

12V

5V

3.3V

VScore

Overall the ION 2 PSU offers stability and safe performance. The 12V rail is a little low, but we did not encounter any crashes or errors during the tests and to date as this review is being completed, no abnormal behaviour has been noticed.


5. Conclusion

Throughout these pages, we have reviewed, tested and evaluated the latest ION 2 model PSU from Vantec, the 460N. The ION 2 has a lot to offer and will satisfy the needs of most end users.

The ION 2 performed without a hitch after several days of operation. Our test bed included one optical drive, two HDD devices, 2 120mm case fans, and an ATI X800 graphics card and its associated water cooling set. The PSU supported all these devices with considerably little noise, thanks to the temperature controlled fan, which truly keeps noise levels to a minimum. The ION 2 also offers protection to your system with its Electric-Shock-Free Protection, Over Voltage Protection, Over Current Protection, Short Circuit Protection features.

The pre-sleeved cables make a difference to the interior layout of any PC, keeping things relatively neat and tidy. The only drawback with the ION 2, is that the cables are fixed to the PSU, unlike some other PSUs where any unused cables can be disconnected from the PSU itself. Finally, the VANTEC ION 2 460W supports both EPS12 and ATX12 through a 20 to 24 pin converter, supplied with the package.

The Vantec ION 2 460W ranges in price from US$59.99 to US$64, including VAT.



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