Spire Rocketeer 500 Watt Power Supply

Spire Rocketeer 500 Watt Power Supply



  1. bigal
    Introduction

    Are you looking for a new power supply (PSU)? This review is concerned with testing the new Spire Rocketeer SP-500W, a very sexy...er...beautiful modular PSU that will turn heads and spin fans. Is this an SLI-certified PSU? No, so if you need to power dual-videocards you had better look elsewhere. Actually, Spire does make an SLI version in the 600W size, so check their web site for details on that PSU if you have a dual-videocard system in mind. But if you are running a single-videocard system, even with one high-power videocard and lots of hard drives (SATA power connectors are provided too) and optical drives, then this could be the PSU for you. The retail price is about $100 USD.

    Spire (www.spirepower.com) has been in business since 1991, with a global presence and production facilities located in China. They have achieved ISO-9001 and ISO-9002 certification (I don't know the level however), which is a quality rating that's not to be taken lightly. Needless to say, this PSU has perked Big Al's interest!

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    The Spire Rocketeer SP-500W arrived safe and sound at Big Al's Test Labs

    Packaging and What Do You Get?

    You get a nicely wrapped and throughly protected product from Spire. I have no complaints at all, regarding their packaging.

    In the box we have:
    • Spire SP-500W modular PSU
    • Fancy cables
    • Manual
    • Screws
    • Power Cable
    • Tie Wraps
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    Lots of information can be found on the PSU package, and once you dig inside, just look at the fancy cables!

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    Bubble wrap surrounds the PSU body, protecting the titanium finish. No scratches were evident.

    Specifications
    • Peak Power / Rated Power: 550 / 500 Watts
    • 3.3V Output @ 26A
    • 5V Output @ 36A
    • 12V1 Output @ 20A, 12V2 Output @ 20A
    • Switches: ATX Logic on/off power rocker, 120mm Fan on/off
    • Color: Titanium
    • PFC: Active
    • Cooling System: 80mm Fan, 120mm Fan (thermally activated or switched on with 120mm fan switch)
    • Noise: moderate (80mm fan), loud (80mm + 120mm combined)
    • Efficiency: >75%
    • Unit Size: 150mm(W)X86mm(H)X160mm(D) {standard PS2 form factor}
    Modular Cables
    • ATX 20-pin X 1, EPS/BTX/ATX V2.2
    • ATX 4-pin X 1 (24-pin combined with 20-pin)
    • P4/12V 4-pin X 2 (8-pin combined)
    • HDD 4-pin X 2 (2 on each cable)
    • FDD 4-pin X 2 (1 on each cable + 1 HDD 4-pin on each cable)
    • SATA 15-pin X 1 (2 on 1 cable)
    • PCI-e 6-pin X 1 (for 1 videocard)
    Summary: 6 HDD connectors, 2 FDD connectors, 2 SATA connectors, 1 PCI-e connector


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    Here you see all the cables that attach to this modular PSU. Also, note the current rating of the two 12-V outputs.

    Baseline Test

    Ok, so if you want to know just exactly how well a PSU performs, you need to install it into a computer system. Ideally, you want to use a fully-configured high-power system that will use up every available Watt the PSU has to offer. Well, that ideal situation doesn't exist right now, so let's go with what we have. We have a computer that I call the Unreal machine. This baby has been around for a while, and it's sporting an Antec True 480W PSU that works fine. Perhaps we should measure the performance of this PSU and compare that to our new Spire Rocketeer SP-500W PSU. After all, there's only a 20W difference in their published ratings.

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    The Antec True 480W PSU looks nice with it's black finish in a black case. Check out the power rating sticker.

    The Antec True 480W PSU was measured for three voltages during the booting process, and then for the 12V line during a load test. My load test was by no means configured to stress the PSU to the max. Instead, I ran a defrag test and played a music CD to get the hard drive pumping and the optical drive spinning (through the arc of theta, no less). The boot voltage stability was very good (after the initial ramp up to operating voltage) from this PSU: 12V @ 11.99V, 5V @ 5.04V, and 3.3V @ 3.323V. During the load test, the 12V rail (single rail) only dropped down to 11.97-11.98V. Obviously, the Antec True 480W PSU is very accurate and stable. Check out the graphs for the 12V boot and load tests:

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    The graphs show that the 12V rail is very stable during both the boot and load tests, to the tune of 0.25% variation.

    Here's a link to a PDF file containing the graphs: http://www.bigal-computers.net/velocity-reviews/Meter-graphs-Antec-True-480.pdf

    Installation of the Spire Rocketeer SP-500W PSU

    With our baseline testing out of the way, we need to remove the Antec True 480W PSU and swap in our Spire Rocketeer SP-500W PSU.

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    With the Spire Rocketeer SP-500W in place, we can see how nice it looks. That titanium finish is very cool!

    Wait a minute though. Those motherboard cables are awfully hard to bend and tuck away in the lower parts of the open cavity. And check out how bulky it looks near the optical drives. In this case, I have added a top window - and you can see all these wires plain as day. In fact, you can see the specification sticker on the PSU case too. That's not so hot looking in this case configuration. Lets just add in the modular cables to power the drives and see if more cables either add or distract from the overall look.

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    Hey, I see that 120mm fan switch (green button), but look at the rat's nest of cables in the cavity.

    The Spire Rocketeer SP-500W lights up with a nice blue glow, and it certainly looks nice. But I'm not sure about these cables. It's very hard to make them go where you want them. It's like trying to coil a plumber's snake against it's natural curl.

    Oh well. It's installed now, so lets do some testing!

    Testing

    Like we did with the Antec True 480W PSU, I took measurements of the 3.3V, 5V, and 12V rails (two rails in this case, but I only measured one) during boot and then I did a 12V rail load test with the defrag and optical drive action. This time, our stability measurements were not quite as good, and overall, the Spire Rocketeer SP-500W PSU measured high on all voltages - basically a "hot" PSU. I measured the 3.3V @ 3.43V, the 5V @ 5.05-5.07V, and the 12V @ 12.41-12.45V during the boot process. Under load, the 12V rail dropped to 12.38-12.43V, giving a 0.6% variation. Not bad really, but not as good as the Antec True 480W PSU. Here are the 12V boot and load graphs:

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    You can see that the Spire Rocketeer SP-500W is running higher voltages, and there is a little more variance (ripple) in the voltage regulation.

    Here's a link to a PDF file containing the graphs: http://www.bigal-computers.net/velocity-reviews/Meter-graphs-Spire-SP500W.pdf
    Look Inside

    With the testing complete, I decided that it might be nice to take a peek inside the Spire Rocketeer SP-500W PSU. So I pulled it out of my Unreal case (yes, I put the Antec True 480W PSU back in) and popped the cover. This is a nicely built PSU, with good separation and insulation. Two fans ensure that it won't overheat. One thing though. There are no ventilation holes in the back of the case, so there is a potential "dead air zone" in one corner of the circuitry. I have no idea why Spire didn't cut a few holes in the back for proper ventilation, but maybe it's associated with the dual fan airflow.

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    Look how nicely laid out the circuitry is inside the Spire Rocketeer SP-500W PSU.
    Conclusion

    Spire did a good job designing and assembling the Spire Rocketeer SP-500W PSU. It is visually stunning, it handles a typical computer loading without a problem, and it's cost is reasonable (but not cheap) at approximately $100 USD. However, there are a few concerns. My biggest issue is with the cables, because while they may look very nice, they are a beast to install and you really can't tuck them out of the way. Face it, these are nicely dressed cables, and they are meant to be seen. Next up is the 120mm fan noise. If you switch the fan on manually (using the green button on the back of the PSU), it's quite loud. I understand that the 120mm fan will automatically turn on and increase in speed as needed, but it never did that during my test. At least, I never detected that it did. If you want a very quiet PSU, then look elsewhere. Overall, this is a decent PSU. I would like to thank Spire for sending us a review sample.

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    Overall, a very classy-looking PSU. When powered up, the Spire Rocketeer SP-500W PSU looks sweet with the blue LED fan.
    Pros (+):
    • The case and cables look excellent
    • Cables are modular - plug in the ones you need
    • Fairly stable outputs
    • Active Power Factor Correction (APFC)
    • 20+4 Pin
    • Auto Fan Speed / manual fan speed switch
    Cons (-):
    • Routing modular cables is a real pain
    • Better voltage regulation can be found for similar money
    • Efficiency is only 75%, prefer at or above 80%
    • Prefer fan speed rheostat for fine manual adjustments
    Overall
    Features: 9.6
    Performance: 8.4
    Value: 8.0
    Final Score: 8.7

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    Images

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