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Switching Power Supplies A - Z, Second Edition, by Sanjaya Maniktala (Newnes), starting at $60.44



Home » Power
Zalman ZM360B-APS Power Supply Review
Author: Gabriel Torres
Type: Reviews Last Updated: March 25, 2008
Page: 1 of 10
Introduction
Hardware Secrets Silver Award

Zalman has a complete line of power supplies from 360 W to 1,000 W. We decided to take a look at the simplest model, ZM360B-APS, which costs only around USD 60. Even though it is an entry-level power supply, it features active PFC, a 120 mm fan and two video card power connectors, so things looked pretty spec-wise. But can it really deliver its rated 360 W? Is this a really good product for Average Joe? Let’s see.

Zalman XM360B-APS Power Supply
click to enlarge
Figure 1: Zalman ZM360B-APS Power Supply.

Zalman XM360B-APS Power Supply
click to enlarge
Figure 2: Zalman ZM360B-APS Power Supply.

As you can see, this power supply uses a big 120 mm ball bearing fan on its bottom (the power supply is upside down on Figures 1 and 2) and a big mesh on the rear side where traditionally we have an 80 mm fan. We like this design as it provides not only a better airflow but the power supply produces less noise, as the fan can rotate at a lower speed in order to produce the same airflow as an 80 mm fan.

This power supply has active PFC, a feature not usually found on entry-level power supplies. PFC provides a better usage of the power grid and allows Zalman to sell this product in Europe (read more about PFC on our Power Supply Tutorial). As for efficiency, Zalman says that this product has a minimum 80% efficiency. Of course we will measure this to see if what the manufacturer claim is true. Keep in mind that more expensive power supplies have an efficiency of at least 80%. The higher the efficiency the better – an 80% efficiency means that 80% of the power pulled from the power grid will be converted in power on the power supply outputs and only 20% will be wasted. This translates into less consumption from the power grid (as less power needs to be pulled in order to generate the same amount of power on its outputs), meaning lower electricity bills.

The main motherboard cable uses a 20/24-pin connector and this power supply has one EPS12V connector that can be split into two ATX12V connectors.

This power supply comes with five peripheral power cables: one auxiliary power cable for video cards with two 6-pin connectors attached, two cables containing two standard peripheral power connectors and one floppy disk drive connector each and two cables with two SATA power connectors each. It also comes with a fan power adapter, allowing you to connect any fan using a small three-pin connector to any standard peripheral power plug.

Here Zalman ZM360B-APS is somewhat different from other entry-level power supplies we’ve seen recently (Seventeam ST-420BKV, Kingwin ABT-450MM, Thermaltake PurePower 430 NP and Huntkey Green Star 450 W): this power supply provides two 6-pin video card power connectors, while other units provide just one or none. Also, this product from Zalman has four SATA power connectors, which is perfect for today’s usage, while other entry-level products provide only two SATA power connectors.

We only didn’t like the way the two video card power connectors are installed. Instead of using two separated cables, they are connected together on the same cable. But this isn’t a serious issue for a power supply from this power range.

Zalman XM360B-APS Power Supply
click to enlarge
Figure 3: How the two 6-pin video card power connectors are connected to the unit.

On this power supply all wires are 18 AWG except the wires used on the video card power cable, which are 20 AWG (i.e.  thinner). We’d like to see all wires 18 AWG.

On the aesthetic side Zalman used nylon sleeving on all cables, coming from inside the power supply housing.

This power supply is manufactured by SPI Electronics and on their website there is no model that is identical to ZM360B-APS, so it seems that this model is manufactured exclusively for Zalman.

Now let’s take an in-depth look inside this power supply.

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