It is hardly possible to imagine a modern PC without monitoring its main parameters, especially when overclocking the system. But monitoring did not appear immediately and at first was limited in its capabilities and was found only on advanced motherboards. Over time, the number of controlled parameters increased, sensors began to be introduced into most of the nodes and components of the system, from processors with video cards to storage drives with memory. Now you can easily track the speed of almost any fan in the system, the supply voltage of the same chipset, the temperature of an SSD or even a processor power converter. But what is missing is the ability to control the power supply.

The first attempts to somehow get information from the PSU consisted of removing the contacts of the built-in fan tachometer from the power supply case — the cable was simply connected to the connector on the motherboard and in the monitoring program it was possible to monitor the rotation speed of the built-in «turntable». The next step is to control the fan itself. Manufacturers installed a variable resistor on the case, and users could control the speed of the fan with a knob. Considering how annoying the 80s were, this was a very effective way to personally tune the system to an acceptable level of noise. This showed little to some vendors and they began to introduce the ability to control output voltages already, and someone even began to install power consumption indicators.

Of course, giving the user «twirls» is a very dangerous occupation, but monitoring the indicators is quite harmless, but climbing all the time behind the system unit to look at the indicator is not very convenient. There is only one way out of this situation, namely, equipping the power source with a microprocessor and transferring information directly to the OS environment. One of the first devices with such functionality was introduced by Gigabyte — power supplies of the Odin GT series, after connecting via a USB cable, made it possible in a proprietary utility to monitor power consumption readings, output voltages and current on all lines, fan speed and temperature of the PSU itself and several external thermal sensors! Similar solutions were released by some other manufacturers, calling them «digital power supplies».

Unfortunately, for 10 years, Digital PSUs have not become popular. Using a microprocessor adds a lot to the cost of the final device, and only a small number of enthusiasts are interested in controlling the operation of the power supply. Ultimately, manufacturers position such solutions as a separate class of devices with high efficiency, capable of functioning in combination with other branded components.

In this material, we will get acquainted with one of these power supplies — NZXT E500.

NZXT E500

NZXT E500 (NP-1PM-E500A)

NZXT is known to us for its fairly high-quality cases and ready-made liquid cooling systems of the Kraken series. She also has fans, various accessories, including those for organizing RGB lighting, and even motherboards. Almost all of them are able to work in conjunction with the proprietary CAM program, which is responsible for configuring and monitoring NZXT devices connected to the motherboard. It turns out a kind of ecosystem of solutions from one company, which lacked only power supplies, and even capable of interacting with CAM. The emergence of such devices remained a matter of time, and three E Series models with 500, 650 and 850 watts were recently introduced. Naturally, they are highly efficient and meet the 80 Plus Gold standard. All three models are modular.

The power supply comes in an oblong light-colored box with purple edges. The package design is concise, there is a minimum of information and it concerns the main characteristics of the device.

NZXT E500NZXT E500

In the box, the user will find instructions, a set of mounting screws, a USB cable, a set of detachable cables and a power cord. All cables are folded into a purple «cosmetic bag» — quite original and at the same time very practical compared to ordinary soft bags.

NZXT E500

All trains are detachable and present the following quantity:

  • one to power the motherboard (61 cm);
  • one with one 8-pin (4+4) CPU power connector (65 cm);
  • one with two 8-pin (6+2) PCI-E video card power connectors (68 cm);
  • two with four power connectors for SATA devices (50+10+10+10 cm);
  • one with three power connectors for IDE devices (50+10+10 cm);
  • one USB data cable (55 cm).
NZXT E500

This set is quite enough to assemble a powerful gaming system with one video adapter and several drives. The cables for powering the board, processor and video card are wrapped in a nylon braid, but the cambric that tightens at the ends is very thick and long, which ultimately spoils the whole appearance after assembling the PC. Because of it, the processor power cable is enough for a neat laying in the mATX case, otherwise you will have to bend it a lot and pull it behind the pallet. To be honest, it would be better if all cables were flat, as for peripherals. The USB cable, when connected to the board, occupies the entire block, although it uses only one port, so if you have a large number of NZXT devices, you will either have to combine several connectors together yourself or purchase a proprietary USB hub.

Externally, the block looks unusual. Rounded edges, a stamped grille and notches on the sides make the device stand out from the usual solutions. Surprisingly, no RGB lighting! It even gets a bit sad…

NZXT E500

On the inner wall of the E500 there are connectors for connecting detachable cables and a Mini-USB port. Interestingly, two connectors are provided for video cards at once, although there is only one wire in the kit.

NZXT E500

In terms of its capabilities, the unit meets modern standards and is able to give out almost its face value along the + 12V line. The combined power of the +3.3 and +5 volt channels is only 100 watts, but now this is quite enough.

NZXT E500

For the «duty room» a current of 3 A is provided, for the -12V line — 0.3 A, which again should be enough for a modern system.

NZXT E500 +3.3V +5V +12V1 –12V +5Vsb
Max. load current, A 20 20 41 0,3 3
Combined power, W 100 492 3,6 15
Total maximum power, W 500

NZXT E500 has an active PFC and is capable of operating from a wide range of mains voltages. No information about the supported protections was found either on the box or on the manufacturer’s website, but they are unlikely to differ from the generally accepted standard.

Inside the device was the Seasonic platform, and not the most expensive, used in the available «gold» Focus + power supplies. It is possible that this is due to the final cost of the product, otherwise the price of NZXT solutions would be even higher.

NZXT E500NZXT E500

The block is assembled perfectly, there is simply nothing to complain about. Even black glue is used to match the color of the textolite — everything is designed in the general style.

NZXT E500

The input filter is assembled without any savings, there is a relay that turns off the thermistor, which limits the charge current of the input capacitance.

NZXT E500NZXT E500

The E500 circuitry uses a resonant converter in the high-voltage part and a synchronous rectifier in the low-voltage part, which is the reason for the high efficiency. All elements in the high-voltage circuit are cooled by their own radiators, and two separate small coolers are provided for key transistors, while for the APFC module it is the largest.

NZXT E500NZXT E500

It is controlled by the CM6901T6X block controller, which is responsible for the resonant circuit and the +12 V rectifier. The CM6500UNX microcircuit is responsible for the active PFC, and the “duty room” is based on the EM8569C chip. Primary monitoring is assigned to WT7527V.

The +12 V voltage is generated by a pair of 2R640 transistors, designed for a maximum voltage of 40 V and a current of 100 A. They are cooled by the PCB itself and several metal plates soldered to the board.

NZXT E500

The DC-DC converter for low-voltage channels is located on a separate board.

NZXT E500

In front of it is another Texas Instrument based ARM7 microprocessor-based UCD3138064A chip that performs secondary monitoring and fan control. It is this chip that transmits all the necessary information to the CAM utility. It has 64 KB of built-in flash memory and supports firmware updates — i.e. it can store certain data and can be reprogrammed if necessary. Looking ahead, I’ll say that it really stores data about the operation of the power supply, but it would not hurt to update the firmware.

NZXT E500

The intermediary between the microprocessor and the motherboard is the PIC16F1454 USB controller located on the board with connectors for detachable cables.

NZXT E500

In the input circuit, a 390 uF and 400 V capacitor from Nichicon is installed, the rest of the electrolytic capacitors are from Nippon Chemi-Con. All with an operating temperature of 105 °C.

There are several polymer capacitors on the board with connectors for detachable cables. Some tracks are reinforced with thick copper bars.

NZXT E500NZXT E500

The reverse side of the board is also made very neatly, but there are remnants of unwashed flux on it.

NZXT E500

The device is cooled by a 120 mm Hong-Hua HA1225H12SF-Z fan with a maximum rotation speed of about 2200 rpm and based on a hydrodynamic bearing. Connection — four-pin.

NZXT E500

When the system starts, the fan rotates strongly, after that it already stops and remains motionless under light load, only occasionally blowing air through the power supply for several seconds. This is true for a load of up to 50 W, and if it turns out to be more, then the fan starts to rotate more often and there is a feeling that the system is breathing. Under normal gaming load, the rotation speed rises to 570 rpm with periodic bursts up to 750 rpm, the noise level remains at an acceptable level. Having loaded the block to the maximum, the speed will increase to 1675 rpm, which is unlikely to be noticeable during a hot battle. Overloading the unit by 20% of the rated power leads to an increase in the rotational speed to 2140 rpm and the noise is already becoming distinct, but this is rather an exception and the user will not encounter such a situation.

Monitoring

After connecting the power supply and installing the CAM program, which must be downloaded from the NZXT website, and after the authorization system has been overcome, the user will be able to monitor the power consumption indicators of both the entire system as a whole and its main components. It will also be possible to monitor temperature, voltage on the lines of 3.3, 5 and 12 volts, current strength for each of them. It is possible to limit the current strength for the processor and video card.

NZXT E500NZXT E500

Unfortunately, the utility does not maintain a statistics file and shows real-time indicators, there is only a consumption chart for a minute and a half. It is impossible to view the values ​​on the diagram simultaneously for all consumers, as it is implemented, for example, in the MSI Afterburner utility, only for one. The power consumption indicators more or less converge with an external device, but the voltages are shown with errors. For example, for 3.3 V, the values ​​\u200b\u200bof 3.2 V are shown here, and for 5 V, it walks within 4.88–4.91 V. With 12 V, it is similar and you can observe values ​​from 11.96 to 12.02 V In this case, the multimeter, of course, does not record any voltage drop.

NZXT E500NZXT E500

If necessary, you can adjust the fan speed by selecting one of the two available profiles: Performance and Silent. The first activates the fan at 32% (about 770 rpm) when the system is idle and increases speed after reaching 50 ° C inside the power supply, while the second turns on the fan only at 40 degrees at a frequency of about 570 rpm (23%) and when it reaches again, 50 ° C starts to increase them to 100%. You can’t lower the thresholds, you can only increase them, and this leads to the fact that in the assembled system the unit will always warm up to 44 ° C and with the Silent profile periodically turn on the fan for a couple of seconds.

NZXT E500NZXT E500

If this is not enough, the user himself can adjust the speed in manual mode, but from 1 to 20% the fan operates at a speed of about 500 rpm, and only starting from 21% is an increase noticeable. You can disable the fan completely by setting the value to 0%.

NZXT E500

For smartphone owners, the manufacturer has provided a mobile application CAM Mobile, which so far can only monitor the fan speed, and choosing a profile does not lead to anything.

The rest of the indicators in it are simply not available. Plus, at the time of testing, the application monitored only when it was first connected to a PC — after the system was rebooted, data transfer to the smartphone stopped, and it was required to re-enter CAM Mobile, which is clearly not convenient.

NZXT E500

Test Methodology

It is difficult to carry out full testing without an appropriate stand, so the power supplies were tested using a conventional system assembled from the following components:

  • processor: Intel Core i7-6700K (4.0@4.5 GHz);
  • motherboard: ASUS Maximus VIII Formula (Intel Z170);
  • Cooler: Prolimatech Megahalems;
  • RAM: HyperX HX430C15PB3K2/16 (2×8 GB, DDR4-3000, 15-16-16-35-1T);
  • video cards: GeForce GTX 1080;
  • drive: Kingston SSDNow UV400 240GB (240 GB, SATA 6Gb/s).

Testing was carried out in the Windows 10 x64 environment on an open stand. To create a gaming load on the system, the Valley benchmark was used with maximum graphics quality, and for additional load, LinX 0.6.7 was launched in parallel.

Also, for maximum load, the following system was assembled:

  • processor: Intel Core i7-975 (3.33@4.02 GHz, Bclk 175 MHz);
  • motherboard: ASUS P6T7 WS SuperComputer (Intel X58);
  • cooler: Noctua NH-D14;
  • RAM: Kingston KHX2000C8D3T1K3/6GX (3×2 GB, DDR3-2000@1750, 8-8-8-24);
  • video cards: ASUS ENGTX295/2DI/1792MD3/A (GeForce GTX 295);
  • hard disk: Samsung HD502HJ (500 GB, 7200 rpm, SATA-II).

Here testing was carried out in the Windows 7 x64 HP environment on an open bench. To create a load on the system, the Tropics benchmark was used with 4x anti-aliasing and 16x anisotropic filtering activated. Also, for an additional load, testing was carried out in the OCCT utility in full screen mode.

To measure the total power consumption of the system, the Seasonic Power Angel was used, which can also measure the power factor, voltage and frequency in the network, the consumed current and the amount of energy spent per unit of time. Net power consumption calculated based on 80 Plus certification — i.e. possible efficiency of the device. Errors in such calculations can be 5%. The voltages were checked with a UNI-T UT70D digital multimeter.

In addition, we decided to slightly expand testing by taking temperature readings inside the power supply, fan speed.

The temperature was measured using the Scythe Kaze Master Pro panel, the sensors of which were located on the radiators inside the block and at a distance of 1 cm in front of the fan (#1) and behind the outer wall (#2).

NZXT E500

For fan speed results, a UNI-T UT372 non-contact tachometer was used. The maximum speed was fixed for each of the power supply testing modes.

It should be borne in mind that such a technique at this stage is far from ideal and will be supplemented and changed as it is used.

Test results

The obtained data are entered in the table. In brackets for voltage are percent deviations from the norm, for power consumption — the approximate net load on the power supply.

GTX 1080 (LGA1151) GTX 1080 (LGA1151) GTX 295 (LGA1366) GTX 295 (LGA1366) GTX 295 (LGA1366)
Mode Idle Burn, Game+LinX Idle Burn, Game Burn, OCCT
Power consumption, W 42 (~35) 345 (~305) 187 (~165) 585 (~510) 682 (~590)
Line +3.3V, V 3,32 (+0,6) 3,34 (+1,2) 3,38 (+2,4) 3,39 (+2,7) 3,44 (+4,2)
Line +5V, V 4,99 (–0,2) 5,02 (+0,4) 5,02 (+0,4) 5,03 (+0,6) 5,07 (+1,4)
Line +12 (MB), B 12,10 (+0,8) 12,13 (+1,1) 12,14 (+1,16) 12,19 (+1,6) 12,21 (+1,75)
Line +12 (CPU), V 12,10 (+0,8) 12,12 (+1) 12,17 (+1,4) 12,19 (+1,6) 12,21 (+1,75)
Line +12 (VGA1), B 12,11 (+0,9) 12,10 (+0,8) 12,17 (+1,4) 12,15 (+1,25) 12,14 (+1,16)
Line +12 (VGA2), B (12,11 (+0,9)) (12,16 (+1,3)) (12,18 (+1,5)) (12,26 (+2,16)) (12,27 (+2,25))
Fan rotation speed, rpm 572–757 573 1675 2142
Thermosensor No. 1 24,2 25,5 24,5 25,4 24,6
Thermosensor #2 27,2 32,4 31,7 33,1 33,8
Thermosensor No. 3 36,9 34 32,5 30,4 30,9
Thermosensor No. 4 39,1 39,3 38,2 39,9 40,5
Thermosensor No. 5 41 42 40,2 44,8 45,5

So, a good power supply, as usual for Seasonic platforms, overvoltage, but everything is within the normal range and does not go beyond the 3% threshold. Even at 120% load on the block, the allowable limits are not violated at all and the E500 is quite suitable for short-term overload. An interesting situation is with cooling — the temperature on individual radiators practically did not exceed 45 degrees! And this is at maximum load. It is difficult to say why the manufacturer decided on such an aggressive Silent mode, given the element base used, perhaps this is the essence of the 10-year warranty — the colder it is, the longer it will last.

conclusions

NZXT is not the first year on the market of cases, and it has some of the best filled CBOs, but as a manufacturer of digital power supplies, it is still a beginner. But she made the right decision, preferring the platform of the Taiwanese developer, given the loyalty of users to the Seasonic brand. Now the main components of the system can be combined in a complex under the control of a single CAM utility. Of course, the recommended price for E Series power supplies is between $125 and $150, depending on the model, which is slightly higher than the original Focus+. But on the other hand, the user gets the opportunity to control the parameters of the power supply in real time, which many competitors in the market do not have. True, such functionality is in demand only by a small number of enthusiasts. And the information component is still extremely scarce, and the accuracy of the readings leaves much to be desired. It remains to be hoped that in the near future the possibilities of CAM will nevertheless be expanded. Ultimately, the reviewed E500 power supply will be appreciated by fans of the NZXT brand, who have already acquired a proprietary case and CBO, or demanding users who want to control everything and everything.

Editor's Choice: Original Design

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