Thermaltake Toughpower 1500 W Power Supply
By Gabriel Torres on July 30, 2008
Thermaltake Toughpower 1500 W is one of the most powerful PC power supplies in the world – so powerful that it can’t be sold in the USA, as it is over the maximum allowed power for household appliances set by the Underwriter Laboratories (UL) – which is 1,300 W, by the way. Because of that, this model can only be found in Europe. The architecture used is really interesting: this power supply is in fact two completely independent 750 W power supplies inside the same housing. Besides its monstrous power capability – which the manufacturer says can be delivered at 50° C with a peak power of 1,600 W –, Toughpower 1500 W has a modular cabling system with a total of eight power connectors for video cards and a 140 mm fan. In this article we will completely dissect this monster.
Unfortunately this time we won’t be able to put this unit on our load tester to see if it can really deliver its rated power. Besides the real risk of melting the wires from our lab, this power supply only works at 230 V, as it is targeted to the European market, and our voltage here is 115 V. Also, our load tester can only handle units up to 1,000 W. We will, however, show all the internals from this unit.
The first thing that comes into our mind is… who needs a 1,500 W power supply anyway? Thousand-watt units are overkill even for the most high-end user, so in the right mind would buy a 1.5 KW unit? There are a few answers to this question. Besides showing off to friends, this unit is clearly targeted to the user that wants to build the most extreme system with the power supply running around 50% of its maximum capacity. As we explained in detail in our Everything You Need to Know About Power Supplies tutorial, power supplies reach their maximum efficiency when they are operating between 40% and 60% of their maximum power. So by operating this product at around 50% of its capacity, you can enjoy its maximum efficiency (87% according to Thermaltake) and save on your electricity bill.
Another reason for someone buying this power supply would be the support for eight power cables for video cards, allowing you to install up to four very high-end video cards that use two auxiliary power connectors each. Almost all high-end power supplies provide only four auxiliary power cables for video cards, allowing you to connect only two very high-end video cards without the use of adapters.
As mentioned, this unit has a modular cabling system, as you can see in Figure 3. One nice touch is that the unit comes with a sticker telling you to which +12 V rail each plug is connected to (“V1” plugs are connected to +12V1, “V3” plugs are connected to +12V3 and “V4” plugs are connected to +12V4; we will talk more about power distribution later).
In Figure 4, you can see all the cables that come with the unit.
Toughpower 1500 W comes with 10 cables for its modular cabling system. From these 10 cables, six of them are for video cards (there are two more connectors directly attached to the power supply, making the eight plugs mentioned earlier), three using 6-pin connectors and three using 8-pin connectors. The unit comes with three adapters for converting video cards 8-pin power plugs into 6-pin plugs, so you can have four 6-pin and four 8-pin connectors if you don’t use these adapters or up to seven 6-pin and one 8-pin connectors if you use them.
The video card auxiliary power cables from the modular cabling system have stickers attached to them identifying to which +12 V rail each plug is connected to. This is a terrific idea.
There are also two SATA power cables with four SATA power plugs each and two peripheral power cables, with four standard peripheral power plugs and one floppy disk drive power plug each.
In Figure 5, you can see the cables that are permanently attached to the power supply: two EPS12V connectors (one of them can be transformed into two ATX12V connectors), one 6-pin video card auxiliary power connector, one 8-pin video card auxiliary power connector (both connected to the same cable) and the motherboard main connector (20/24-pin).
On this power supply all wires are 18 AWG. It would be interesting to see some 16 AWG wires, in our opinion.
This power supply is manufactured by CWT being, in fact, a relabeled CWT PUC1500V power supply.
Now let’s take an in-depth look inside this power supply.
We decided to disassemble this power supply to see what it looks like inside, how it is designed, and what components are used. Please read our Anatomy of Switching Power Supplies tutorial to understand how a power supply works and to compare this power supply to others.
This page will be an overview, and then in the following pages we will discuss in detail the quality and ratings of the components used.
What immediately got our eye was the fact that this power supply has two completely independent 750 W power supplies inside. Usually power supplies with two transformers the switching section is shared (i.e., there is only switching section that drives both transformers) or the secondary outputs are connected together. This isn’t the case with this unit. As you can see, there are even two separated active PFC circuits, one for each power supply. The only thing that is shared among them is the transient filtering stage and the rectification bridge.
The +5VSB (standby) power supply is built on a separated printed circuit board, the one on the left hand side in Figure 6.
As we have mentioned in other articles and reviews, the first place we look when opening a power supply for a hint about its quality, is its filtering stage. The recommended components for this stage are two ferrite coils (the two coils with a red rubber protection on the pictures below), two ceramic capacitors (Y capacitors, usually blue), one metalized polyester capacitor (X capacitor, yellow component on the pictures below) and one MOV (Metal-Oxide Varistor, yellow component with black rubber protection in Figure 12). Very low-end power supplies use fewer components, usually removing the MOV and the first coil.
The transient filtering stage from this power supply is outstanding, with two extra Y capacitors, one extra X capacitor and a ferrite bead attached to the main AC cable.
As explained in the previous page, this section is shared by the two 750 W power supplies inside Toughpower 1500 W.In the next page we will have a more detailed discussion about the components used in the Toughpower 1500 W.
On this page we will take an in-depth look at the primary stage of Toughpower 1500 W. For a better understanding, please read our Anatomy of Switching Power Supplies tutorial.
This power supply uses two GBU1506 rectifying bridges connected in parallel in its primary, each one capable of delivering up to 15 A at 55° C (if a heatsink is used, which is the case), so the total capacity is of 30 A at 55° C. This stage is clearly overspec'ed: at 115 V this unit would be able to pull up to 3,450 W from the power grid; assuming 80% efficiency, the bridge would allow this unit to deliver up to 2,760 W without burning this component. Of course we are only talking about this component and the real limit will depend on all other components from the power supply.
These bridges are shared among the two 750 W power supplies that exist inside Toughpower 1500 W. But all sections from now on are really separated. As we mentioned, usually power supplies using two transformers share at least the active PFC circuit. On Toughpower 1500 W everything is separated, including the active PFC circuit: separated switching transistors, separated PWM/PFC controlling circuit, separated transformers and separated outputs. So we are really talking about two independent power supplies here (well, not exactly, as they still share the rectifying bridges).
Each active PFC circuit uses two 20N60C3 power MOSFET transistors, the same used by several other power supplies we looked. Each one is capable of handling up to 300 A @ 25° C in pulse mode (which is the case) or up to 45 A @ 25° C or 20 A @ 110° C (note the difference temperature makes).
On each switching section this power supply uses two other 20N60C3 transistors, on the traditional two-transistor forward configuration. The specs for these transistors are published above.
Each primary is controlled by a CM6800 active PFC/PWM controller combo installed on a small printed circuit board.
Each secondary is completely independent, with one of them generating the +3.3 V, +12V1 and +12V4 rails and the other generating the +5 V, +12V2 and +12V3 rails.
This power supply is basically a +12 V power supply, with the +12 V output the +5 V and +3.3 V outputs being produced using DC-DC converters (i.e., a small switching power supplies) connected to the +12 V output. Each secondary uses two MBRH300EPT Schottky rectifiers, one STPS30H100CW Schottky rectifier and one STP140NF75 Power MOSFET transistor to produce the +12 V output.
One thing that caught our attention was the fact that all capacitors used on this power supply are Japanese from Chemi-Con, using aluminum solid capacitors on the filtering of the +5 V and +3.3 V voltages. This is the first time we saw solid capacitors being used on a power supply.
Each secondary is controlled by its own monitoring integrated circuit (PS229), which is installed on a small printed circuit board. Unfortunately the specs for this circuit aren’t available on the manufacturer’s website.
In Figure 19, you can see the power supply label containing all the power specs.
As you can see this power supply has four virtual +12 V rails. These rails are distributed like this:
Thermaltake Toughpower 1500 W power supply specs include:
For our European friends Thermaltake Toughpower 1500 W seems to be a great power supply, targeted for the extreme enthusiast that wants a power supply running around 50% of its maximum capacity for saving on the electricity bill due to the higher efficiency presented by the power supply when it is working at half of its maximum capacity – plus the ability to deliver way more power than any other product on the market if the system requires.
One of the highlights of this product it the support for eight power cables for video cards, allowing you to install up to four very high-end video cards that use two auxiliary power connectors each. Almost all high-end power supplies provide only four auxiliary power cables for video cards, allowing you to connect only two very high-end video cards without the use of adapters.
Internally this power supply has two separated 750 W units. Usually when a power supply has two transformers several components are shared (active PFC circuit, switching circuit, monitoring circuit, etc), but this isn’t the case with Toughpower 1500 W. The only thing shared by the two power supplies is the transient filtering stage and the rectifying bridges.
Another great feature is the use of only Japanese capacitors and even solid aluminum capacitors on the +5 V and +3.3 V filtering stages. This was the first time we saw a power supply using solid capacitors. Capacitors tend to lose their electrical characteristics over time, especially when exposed to high temperatures, and the use of better capacitors provide a far higher life-span for the product.
Just to remember Thermaltake guarantees that this unit can deliver 1,500 W at 50° C, with 1,600 W peak. Unfortunately as we have already explained on the beginning of this article, we couldn’t put this unit on our load tester.