HEC AcePower 480 W Power Supply
By Gabriel Torres on January 10, 2007
HEC (a.k.a. Compucase) is a traditional OEM manufacturer, meaning that their core business is to manufacture power supplies (and cases) to other companies. They decided to enter the retail business but in order to not compete with their customers they decided to launch products with lower specs. According to HEC, their goal is to deliver high-quality power supplies costing less than high-end competitors. We’ve got an AcePower 480 W to see if this is really true. Let’s take an in-depth look at this power supply.
We would classify AcePower 480 W (ACE 480UB or HEC-480TD-TF) as a mid-range product: it doesn’t have all the fancy features found on high-end power supplies, but at the same time it is far from being a low-end product, as we will see throughout this article.
In order to achieve HEC’s goal, this power supply doesn’t have active PFC and also doesn’t have a modular cabling system, like fancy high-end power supplies.
A couple of months ago we disassembled another 480 W model from HEC, WinPower, and at the time we were impressed with its cost/benefit ratio. Disassembling this AcePower model we discovered that internally it is identical to WinPower, the only difference between the two being the fans: while WinPower uses a big 120 mm fan on its bottom, AcePower uses two 80 mm fans, one at its front and the other on its back, glowing blue when the unit is turned on.
In Figure 1, you can see that this power supply has a 110/220 V switch, indicating that it doesn’t have PFC circuit (power supplies with active PFC don’t have a 110/220 V switch).
Like WinPower 480 W, this power supply has six peripheral power cables: two Serial ATA power cables containing two SATA power connectors each; two peripheral power cables containing two standard peripheral power connectors and one floppy disk drive power connector each; one peripheral power cable containing two standard peripheral power connectors; and one PCI Express auxiliary power cable containing two auxiliary PCI Express power connectors for SLI or CrossFire configurations.
The only thing missing compared to WinPower 480 W is an EPS12V adapter, which is present on WinPower 480 W. On the other hand, AcePower comes with a fan monitoring cable to be connected to the motherboard. Thru this cable you can monitor the power supply fans through any system monitoring program, including the ability to shut down the computer if the fans stop working.
High-end power supplies would use two separated auxiliary PCI Express power cables instead of using two connectors sharing the same cable (see Figure 4). Anyway, this power supply at least has these two connectors, as low-end power supplies usually don’t provide any auxiliary PCI Express power connector or, when they do, they only offer one connector.
This power supply uses two main cables, the main motherboard cable with a 20/24-pin connector and an ATX12V cable.
The gauge of all wires used by this power supply is 18 AWG, except the wires used by the auxiliary PCI Express power cable, which are thinner (20 AWG).
Only one aesthetic detail HEC could have worked on is regarding the plastic sleeving used by the cables. The sleeving doesn’t come from inside the power supply housing, so the wires are exposed when they come out of the power supply housing.
This power supply is really manufactured by HEC, as we could check by reading its UL number.
We decided to fully disassemble this power supply to take a look inside.
We decided to disassemble this power supply to see what it looks like inside, how it is designed, and what components are used. We found out that internally this power is identical to HEC WinPower 480 W. So, instead of repeating all that we have already said on our article on WinPower 480 W, please read it to explore all internal components present on AcePower 480 W.
In Figure 8, you can see AcePower 480 W label stating all its power specs.
As AcePower 480 W and WinPower 480 W are internally the same product, their labels should be identical. However, the +12V2 output on AcePower 480 W is labeled as 15 A while the same output on WinPower 480 W is labeled as 16 A.
From the component analysis we’ve done on our WinPower 480 W article we came with some maximum theoretical numbers for the +12V output (343 W), +5 V output (214 W) and +3.3 V output (141 W).
As we mention all the time on our articles, the maximum current/power each line can really deliver will depend on other components, especially the transformer, the coil, the wire gauge and even the width of the printed circuit board traces used.
For the +12 V output HEC stated 17 A for +12V1 and 15 A for +12V2. This would give 204 W and 180 W, respectively, or 384 W.
For the + 5 V output HEC stated a 35 A maximum current, which translates to 175 W, while for the +3.3 V output the manufacturer stated a 30 A maximum current, or 99 W. On the label, however, HEC says that the combined power of +3.3 V and +5 V outputs is of 220 W (since they are connected to the same transformer output).
What we liked about this power supply is that on its manual the manufacturer was really honest: “Please note that the power output on all models will decrease 1%/° C starting at an ambient temperature of 40° C.” With this statement it seems that HEC labeled AcePower at 40° C (and not 25° C) and also provided us an idea of how much power this unit can deliver when operating at 50° C (432 W).
Anyway, all positive outputs are labeled with a current well below the maximum current each rectifier can deliver.
Unfortunately we don’t have the necessary equipment to make a true power supply review; we would need to create a real 480 W load to check if this power supply could deliver its labeled power or not.
HEC AcePower 480 W power supply specs include:
* Researched at Froogle.com on the day we published this First Look article.
This power supply is far from being a low-end unit. Its internal design and the components used make it more like a mid-range power supply targeted to users that want a good power supply but are not willing to buy a very expensive model.
The components used internally are really good – the transient filtering stage, for instance, has more components than the necessary. The only thing we missed to say that everything is perfect in this power supply is the fact that its electrolytic capacitors aren’t Japanese. But that would be too much for its price range.
If you don’t mind missing four features found only on high-end models – active PFC, 85% efficiency (this power supply is labeled as having 75% efficiency), Japanese capacitors and modular cabling system – this power supply is one of the best options around..
Since WinPower and AcePower are internally the same product, you can buy whichever is cheaper – unless you really want the two 80 mm fans instead of one big 120 mm on your power supply. You need to carefully research this product price, as you can find big price differences. For example, WinPower 480 W can be found by USD 46 at Shopping.com but by USD 59 at Froogle. On Froogle Ace Power 480 W is quoted at USD 57, so we guess that you can find it cheaper if you look for it carefully at the market. Unfortunately no vendor is announcing this unit on Shopping.com.
Another thing that we liked a lot was the manufacturer’s honest statement on the product manual explaining that this power supply is labeled at 40º C and that above this temperature the power supply maximum output power should drop 1% / º C. It would be also great that the manufacturer posted this on the power supply label, but this is already a big step towards shipping better and honest products to the market.
This is the perfect choice for users assembling a PC and willing to buy a good power supply but don’t want to spend a lot of money. With the money you will save you can add more features to your PC (more RAM memory, for instance).