Enermax’s Triathlor series is one of their budget series of power supplies. The Triathlor series is below the Platimax, MaxRevo and Revolution87+ power supplies but above the NAXN82+ and NAXN Basic power supplies. The Triathlor series still boasts the same Enermax quality and reliability but is instead aimed at providing a more attractive price point. We’ve already taken at Enermax’s 450W Triathlor power supply which we found to be a great power supply even if it was a tad on the expensive side, though you’d expect that as even though the Triathlor series from Enermax is “budget” it is still better than the budget offerings from most other companies. Of course the Enermax Triathlor should be seen more as a mid-range product, though with 80 Plus Bronze certification it is hard to market it as that.
The Enermax ETA700AWT-M Triathlor FC 700W semi-modular power supply we have here today is Enermax’s top Triathlor series PSU. With a semi-modular cabling design, enough power for SLI/CFX and a custom T.B Silence 120mm fan this power supply would do justice to anything high end gaming system. Unlike some of the cheaper competitors out there Enermax’s 700W Triathlor uses a high quality DC to DC converter design, has active PFC and uses Japanese capacitors so should have top notch performance. Without any further ado let’s find out how good the performance actually is.
Packaging and Contents
This packaging shows a picture of the product and provides Enermax’s Triathlor slogan “Reliability. Silence. Safety”. It also points out the 80 Plus Bronze certification and the T.B Silence fan.
The back gives you details about the key features and efficiency.
Included is a user manual, four screws, two cable ties and an EU power cable. The plug types varies by region sold.
A Closer Look – Exterior
The top of the Triathlor 700W is dominated by the fan grille and 120mm T.B Silence fan.
The cable end features all the modular connectors for the other cables. Everything is clearly labelled whether it is the first or second twelve volt rails including the two hard wired cables.
The has the Triathlor FC branding and the Enermax logo engraved into the metal.
The other side has the power sticker with all the power details.
The bottom features the sticker with all the power details.
The rear uses hexagonal mesh, a standard kettle input with on/off switch and has the Enermax logo.
With this being a semi-modular unit only some cables are attached. These are the 24 pin and the 4+4 pin.
In terms of modular cables you get four 6+2 pin PCIe connectors, 9 SATAs, 5 Molex and 1 FDD.
A Closer Look – Interior
Enermax’s Triathlor FC 700W is a custom built PSU built by themselves. The design is very clean and high quality.
The fan used is the Enermax ED122512H-DD and it is rated for 450 to 1800RPM. It is based on the T.B Silence Enermax fan design.
The input transient filtering is done on a separate PCB/ daughterboard.
Small black heatsinks are arranged throughout the entire unit to keep things running cool and quiet. There is a separate coil for the active PFC.
The primary hold up capacitor is made by Matsushita/Panasonic and is rated for 400 V, 470 μF, 85°C.
The majority of capacitors used are Nippon Chemi-Con and are rated for 105 degrees.
The PCB at the front routes all the modular connections to the main board of the power supply.
At eTeknix we take the power supply testing procedure very seriously. For all power supply reviews we used a variety of Chroma machines and other digital power machinery provided by Enermax in their European test labs. We would like to say a huge thank you to Enermax for making this power supply testing possible.
The test machinery included the following:
- A Chroma 6314A power supply load tester with two add on 6314 modules to support up to six 12 volt rails.
- A Chroma Digital Power Meter Model 66202
- A Custom-made Enermax PCB circuit board to connect all the appropriate power supply cables
- A Tektronix TDS 3014C Digital Phosphor Oscilloscope
- A Voltcraft DT-10L Laser Tachometer
The eTeknix test procedure involves:
- Testing each power supply at 20/40/60/80/100% load (with balanced load across all rails) and measuring PFC (power factor correction), efficiency (actual power divided by power “pulled at the wall”) and voltage regulation (deviance from expected voltages of 3.3/5/12).
- Measuring ripple and noise with an oscilloscope at 20/40/60/80/100% load.
- Measuring voltage regulation and ripple/noise at Maximum 12v loads and maximum 3.3/5v loads while keeping the -12v and 5vsb consistently at 0.1A and 1A on the rail(s) not being tested. For example under 12v crossload we would load the 12v rail to its maximum and place 0.1A on the -12v and 5vsb as well as 1A on the 3.3v and 5v rails.
- Measuring fan speed after a stabilisation period of five minutes at each load scenario using the Voltcraft DT-10L laser tachometer and a reflective strip on the fan.
Other things to consider are that
- We recognise that a single yellow 12 volt cable can provide only 6 Amps before overheating (which corrupts voltage regulation and efficiency) and so we used an adequate number of cables for each power supply.
- Our power supply tester was capable of only 50 Amps on the 12 volt 1 rail, 50 Amps on the 12 volt 2 rail and 25 Amps on rails 3-6. This meant that for single 12 volt power supplies with rail Amps above 50 we had to split them virtually over two rails to maximise their load. There are no power supplies that we tested that have more than 50 Amps over two rails so this was only an issue for single 12 volt rail power supplies.
- We use the same time scale and horizontal millivolt scale on our oscilloscope for all noise and ripple tests.
- Deviance is the terminology used to represent the way voltages diverge from their expected values.
To test voltage regulation we load the power supply to five different load scenarios that give an equal spread of load across every single rail. So that means 20% on all rails, 40% on all rails and so on. We then calculate the average deviance of each rail from its expected voltage.
Power efficiency is measured by calculating actual supplied wattage divided by the wattage drawn at the wall/plug, multiplied by 100 to give a percentage. We then compare that to the particular 80 Plus certification the company claims to see if it meets that. You can see the 80 Plus certifications below, we always test 230v power supplies.
Power Factor Correction
Power Factor Correction is the ratio of the real power flowing to the load, to the apparent power in the circuit. The aim of PFC is to make the load circuitry that is power factor corrected appear purely resistive (apparent power equal to real power). In this case, the voltage and current are in phase and the reactive power consumption is zero. The closer the number to one the better as this allows the most efficient delivery of electrical power (Source – Wikipedia).
Noise and Ripple
Noise and Ripple can easily be measured by an oscilloscope. These show how much voltage fluctuation there is on a particular rail. We tested the rail stability of the 3.3 volt, 5 volt and 12 volt rails using an identical time and millivolt scale for all graphs.
The latest ATX 12 volt version 2.3 specifications state that ripple from peak to peak must be no higher than 50 millivolts for the 3.3 volt and 5 volt rails, while the 12 volt rail is allowed up to 120 millivolts peak to peak to stay within specifications.
|Load (%)||3.3V Ripple||5V Ripple||12V Ripple|
Our cross loading procedure is designed to rigorously test the stability of the main two rail combinations. We push the maximum rated current and wattage through the 12 volt rail(s), and then through the 3.3 and 5 volt rails combined, and see if the power supply is capable of delivering its specification for those. However, meeting the specification is not enough, the power supply must also maintain strong voltage regulation and noise/ripple to have “passed the cross load test.
The cross load test is a “worst case scenario” for the two main power delivery rail mechanisms (12v and 3.3+5v) and so the power supply will always deliver slightly lower than realistic/expected results. However, this is not necessarily a realistic test and it is just a case of pushing a power supply’s rails right to their rated limits to see how well they can hold up.
12 Volt Cross Loading
5 and 3.3 Volt Cross Loading
When testing in a power supply laboratory it is difficult to take fan noise readings as the noise from the Chroma corrupts everything. The next best thing in our circumstances was reading off the fan speed with a tachometer to get an idea for the noise. In the Enermax Europe PSU lab we had to do exactly that and we recorded the fan speed at each load scenario. The ambient temperature during testing held constant at 26 degrees, with 1 degree of variation. Each power supply had a consistent time period of 5 minutes to stabilise between each load scenario.
In my experience the following general relationships apply between noise levels and fan speeds, though it can vary greatly between the type of fan used.
- Below 800 RPM – Inaudible/Silent
- 800 to 1000 RPM – Barely audible
- 1000 – 1200 RPM – Audible but still quiet
- 1200 – 1400 RPM – Moderately noisy
- 1400 – 1800 RPM – Noisy
- 1800 RPM or higher – Intolerable
Enermax’s Triathlor FC 700W power supply is available at one of our preferred retailers for £88.44. This is by no means the cheapest unit of its type (80 Plus Bronze | Hybrid Modular | 700W~) and is more expensive than most of the competition which starts at about £75/80 and goes as high as about £100. The Enermax Triathlor FC 700W PSU is quite widely available but Enermax could work on boosting availability of the product that little bit more at other retailers like Overclockers UK (who actually stock all the other Triathlor FC models except this one.
I really have very little bad to say about the Enermax Triathlor FC 700W power supply. We saw voltage regulation and ripple/noise suppression that wouldn’t be out of place on a £200+ 80 Plus Platinum power supply – meaning it is fantastic. I really wasn’t expecting to see such high performance for what is still a “relatively” entry/mid-range high wattage power supply. We saw great PFC and the efficiency was actually high enough to pass 80 Plus Silver certification despite only being Bronze rated. Of course the reason Enermax opted for Bronze is that efficiency varies by temperature and load type and this power supply is borderline Bronze/Silver. Additionally Enermax have really sharpened up with the aesthetics of their modular cables and I love that they’ve opted for flat black modular cables. The hard-wired cables still suck a bit, but there are only two of them so you could easily grab a few extensions if aesthetics really mean that much to you.
My only concerns are that the fan does ramp up to quite high RPMs at medium-high loads. Of course if you’ve configured your system well then this would only happen under heavy loads meaning other components of your system are likely to be louder, but that said 1600RPM at 60% load isn’t ideal. Although it’s worth noting the T.B Silence fan is still pretty quiet at 1600RPM, just not inaudible. It is definitely quieter than the bulk OEM ADDA fans equipped with a lot of power supplies out there. Pricing is also a little bit high too but after testing the unit it is easy to see why. The higher price comes from the higher quality components used which give the impressive performance
- We Saw 80 Plus Silver Efficiency
- Good Modular cables
- High PFC
- Amazing Voltage Regulation
- Very Strong Ripple and Noise Suppression
- Sharp looking design
- 3 Year Warranty
- Fan became quite loud from 60% load
- Only certified for Bronze
- Fixed cables aren’t very attractive
“If having 80 Plus Bronze efficiency is enough efficiency for you then the Triathlor FC 700W PSU is just a phenomenal power supply and performs similarly, if not better, than its more expensive Gold and Platinum rated competitors. It’s got some of the best performance on the market thanks to its high quality components like Japanese capacitors and the DC to DC converter design. If you want clean, stable and safe power in an attractive design with the flexibility of modular cabling then the Triathlor FC 700W is a great choice for any high-end system. The only blemish on an otherwise great product is the slightly over-zealous fan profile at higher loads.”
Thank you to Enermax for providing this review sample.