Ultra are a relative newcomer to the PC component market, having only been established a few years ago. They have, however, become well known by enthusiasts particularly in the US market as their first major success was the X-Connect PSU. This PSU sparked a lot of interested from case modders and such, and was the first PSU to feature modular cables which have now become a huge success with a lot of companies copying the idea and using it on their own models.
Aside from manufacturing PSUs, the company manufacturers cases, memory, cables, modding products, mp3 players, cooling products and a whole lot more.
This particular PSU, the 2nd generation 500w X-Finity w/ Active PFC, is available only in black and differs from the original in that it has APFC, dual 12v rails, a single 135mm fan, a native 24pin ATX mainboard connector and the "FlexForce" cables.
Since this PSU has Active PFC, we better explain what this feature is and why it warrants a whole new model. To put it in simple terms, Active PFC PSUs are more expensive and from a power consumption point of view more efficient. Power Factor Correction (PFC) allows power distribution to operate at its highest efficiency. There are two types of PFC, Active PFC and Passive PFC. This PSU has active PFC. Active PFC uses a circuit to correct power factor and is able to generate a theoretical power factor of over 95%. It also markedly diminishes total harmonics, automatically corrects for AC input voltage, and is capable of a full range of input voltage. Since Active PFC is the more complex method of Power Factor Correction, it is definitely more expensive to produce.
Whilst we're here, how about a little on dual 12v rails too. Dual 12v rails were first recommended in V2.0 of Intel's Power Supply Design Guide. They were recommended for any PSU that can deliver more than 18A at 12 volt because of safety requirements. Intel's guide limits the number of amps to under 20A on each 12v rail (12v x 20A = 240VA) as 240VA is the maximum figure recommended for any electronic device that a consumer may have access to. In other words, it's supposed help prevent people injuring themselves.
The 12v2 rail will supply power to the 4-pin 12v connector on your motherboard which feeds the CPU. The 12v1 rail is supposed to power everything else that requires 12v such as hard drives, optical drives and video cards. Not all manufacturers will stick to this arrangement, but that's how it's supposed to be.
What I've noticed recently on our forums is that people know now to look at the amps on the 12 volts rail rather than overall wattage, as most components now source their power from 12v thus making it particularly important, but when they see a PSU with dual rails or quad rails they get confused as the amps may appear to be low. What needs to be realised here is that each 12v rail has different components to power. The rails could look like the example given in the previous paragraph for a dual rail setup, or could look something like this for a quad rail setup:
Then imagine each of the above rails are 15A each. You can see that since there are four of them, and the load is shared out, running 2x7900GTX's or 2x1900XT's isn't going to be a problem since the cards can feed from seperate 12v rails and those rails are 15A each where as the cards only need about 10A each max.
To add to the technical stuff, we contacted Ultra about this PSU and we thought their reply might be interesting to include:
Thermal dynamics plays a HUGE part on the output wattage of a power supply. That's why what some of these guys put on their power supplies is such a joke. You'd have to run the power supply in a meat locker to get the thing to put out what it's supposed to put out.
Some people have complained that our power supplies are a little louder than others with the same wattage rating. Not too loud I hope! But we'd like to think that if you need 500W inside a PC, the power supply would be able to provide it because it's not overheating due to a lack of proficient cooling.
The active PFC 500W model has an interesting history. We had the model on backorder for A YEAR. Due to the extra heat given off by the active PFC circuitry, the engineers simply could not get a stable 500W out of the unit in the steel housing with just a single 120MM fan. One of them had the idea of using the X2's 550W frame, adding the active PFC circuitry and putting it in an aluminum housing (which helps dissipate some of the heat.) So essentially, what you have there is an "underclocked" 550W power supply. If you were to run it outside of a case, like on a load tester, in a cold room, say 20C for example, you'd easily get 550W out of it. But the inside of a PC isn't 20C.
Sounds promising, doesn't it ?
The X-Finity has the standard cabling, it does not have modular cables. This means you'll still need to hide the cables you don't intend to use around your case as you cannot simply detach them from the unit itself like you can with a modular PSU such as the X-Connect. The cables are the FlexForce design, which means they are flat and this should apparently help airflow, help cable management and also look better. They also set Ultra apart from the competition which is something you definitely want in this competitive market.
The unit itself isn't anywhere near as flash as the X-Connect. It has a more mature look to it. There are no windows or UV, not even LEDs, and the finish is simply a matt black. Once again, whether you like this is purely a matter of taste. I personally think this look is a more fitting look for a power supply. I'm not sure why, but Ultra decided to give the APFC model a completely different look to the other X-Finity 2nd gens, which all have highly polished and "bling" style finishes. This unit features an industrial theme.
Ultra have built up a good reputation from their past products, and so they already have a foothold on the market. The fact that they offer a lifetime warranty on a lot of their products surely has something to do with this (this model comes with a three year). But with a whole abundance of new PSUs being released at this moment in time, to combat the increasingly popular use of high-end and power-hungry components, how will the X-Finity 2nd gen fair? Is it of a design that will appeal to a lot of people? And most important of all, does it perform well?
Under this paragraph you'll find the specs and features of this product. On the next page you'll find photos as this product's packaging/manual/stickers were still being printed when it was sent to us, so we'll skip that part today. The X-Finity itself is a final production model though, so performance wise it's what you'll get when you buy one of these in stores.
Ultra X-Finity 2nd Gen 500w PSU w/ Active PFC The unit itself isn't anywhere near as flash as the X-Connect. It has a more mature look to it. There are no windows or UV, not even LEDs, and the finish is simply a matt black. Once again, whether you like this is purely a matter of taste. I personally think this look is a more fitting look for a power supply. I'm not sure why, but Ultra decided to give the APFC model a completely different look to the other X-Finity 2nd gens, which all have highly polished and "bling" style finishes. This unit features an industrial theme.