Part of the last box of goodies I received from the fountain of gold that is the NAG head office was the Thermaltake Evo Blue 750W. I reviewed it in the NAG May issue and was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the unit and the fact that I had zero issues. Given that it is a 750W unit and costs just over R1,500, I guess that’s pretty much what you’d expect for your money when you’re splurging that much on a PSU anyway. In the magazine review I was also limited for words and pictures, so here I’m expanding things a little bit and going into some more details.
The original Evo Blue was an interesting unit, but it was launched at the beginning of an era where most power supplies started looking at efficiency and changing their designs to meet the basic requirements for the Bronze 80 Plus specificiation. It wasn’t able to get that specification even though it was a very capable unit and to some people that mattered a lot – if you look at how branding works and influences consumers, some are easily duped into believing a GT620 with 2GB of DDR3 VRAM is better than a GT640 with 1GB of GDDR5 VRAM. Its not their fault really, they’re just reading what’s on the box.
But the Evo Blue had a very real issue in that its total efficiency barely cracked 78%. That’s a good rating for, say, a 400W PSU that you find in the bargain bins today, but that means that out of the power you’re drawing from the wall, 78% of that is fed into the PC and 22% of that is exhausted as heat. If you were running the original Evo Blue 750W with a dual-GPU setup pushing 600W, you’re venting an extra 132W (that’s the TDP of a Core i7-3820!) of that from the PSU as heat. It’s not a good thing and in the past where PCs had the PSU on top using the fan to suck air through the PSU’s chassis and out the back, it resulted in premature deaths of less capable units. The unit was discontinued in 2010 and Thermaltake didn’t release anything newer until recently.
The Evo Blue 2.0 is the new, revamped version that shares the same name and a few features, but is a completely different product. I got the 750W version and it has enough beef for most thing that you’ll ask of it – SLI GTX680/HD7970 is certainly within its capabilities and it has all of the bells and whistles. There’s modular cabling, there’s still pretty lights and there’s still a hefty price tag slapped on it – on average, you’re looking at about R1700. However, there’s a fairly good reason for that and that’s the 80 Plus Gold specification.
Another reason why that price tag is so high is that Thermaltake has rated the Evo Blue 2.0 unit I have here is that they’ve rated it instead for continuous power instead of peak power. If this was rated for peak, it would be a 850W unit and that would probably only run for a few hours before exploding or going into fail-safe mode. Instead, Thermaltake rates it at a continuous power output of 750W and gives you the option of running up to the peak power – there’s a switch on the back that changes the operating mode and gives you an extra 100W of power to play with.
Thermaltake actually says in the manual, “Please do not have the power supply work in the Turbo Charge mode condition for more than 8 consecutive hours.” Additionally they note that if the wattage of the power supply goes 110-150% above the continuous rating that it will shut off. So presumably anything over 800W will shut off the power supply anyway.
The difference between the profiles affects the fan’s behaviour quite a bit. With the normal profile, the fan runs with the LEDs turned off and a very quiet profile that only spins up the fan when load approaches 40% so that’s pretty cool. I can actually clock my PC down to idle speeds and I saw the fan spin down as it happened, which was neat. Using the switch on the rear, you can then switch to the “Blue” operating mode, which spins the fan up at lower loads and turns on the blue LEDs. Pressing that switch again goes into Turbo Charge mode where the fan speeds up to maximum rotation speed and the extra 100W of headroom is available. And its rather loud. I’m deaf and this mode annoys me because I can now actually hear fan noise.
The rear of the Evo Blue 2.0 is well vented with a honeycomb grille and features just the kettle plug end, the power switch and the Turbo switch to change the fan modes and the profile. A decent amount of air comes through in the charge mode, but in normal operation this is more gently and slightly, but not too warm. The LED lights shine out the rear as well and it looks pretty cool. At least its not the kaleidoscope of colours the original Evo Blue.
Modularity is well-catered for. The 24 12v and 8-pin EPS connectors are still wired and instead of being naked or shrink-wrapped cables are covered in strong, thick black plastic. This is good for those of you who bend cables this way and that to get them to fit into your behemoth chassis, but they were a pain to work with in mine. The connectors feature two red 8-pin PEG connectors feeding two 8-pin PEG connectors for graphics cards, with the black connectors feeding the Molex and SATA connectors with power. The diagram to the left of the connectors is a template for the connectors to help you visualise what you’re doing if you can’t see into the mess of cables inside your PC.
The cables come neatly packaged in a fabric bag secured by a velcro strap. Its pretty good quality and, if you don’t want to use it for cable storage, can take a couple of screwdrivers, pliers and whatever small tools you may need to take with you. The cables are all separated nicely out of the box and are colour-coded as well. As a bonus, there’s a floppy drive connector for those of you who actually get to use one. I love the Molex connectors because they have thumb grips on them, making them easy to pull out.
As far as the building process went, it could have been better. I have a Cooler Master Elite 310 and the lack of hiding space for cables does make things a bit difficult. The fact that the cables were covered in this strange, rather strong plastic made hiding them away equally annoying, because they just wouldn’t go into spaces I’d created for them. If you’re able to, get a good chassis with cable management options and a black inner coating, if possible. I don’t like the contrast silver and black makes, especially when I’ve got so many other colours clashing in here as well.
However, aside from the difficulty with building, it went well enough. Nothing exploded, which is always a good thing.
Subjective testing yielded no anomalies
Well, I can’t really test the power supply that much. I saw a system temperature drop of 5º C with the regular fan profile and 10º C with the Turbo charge mode, so there’s definitely some benefit to it there. Given the Gold rating and the tighter voltage controls, I found I could also overclock my rig higher than I normally would on my Huntkey 550W Greenpower PSU. I could clock up my AMD Athlon X3 to 3.5GHz and I pushed my Radeon HD6870 to 1.0GHz stable.
The quietness was also appreciated. On the regular fan profile with the LEDs switched off, I could see the fan spin down the second I told Windows to enable Power Saving mode, so that works as well. As I mentioned in my magazine review, there’s nothing really to complain about. The price is good, the unit works well and I can’t really complain when I get extra speed for free. I do wish the cables where more flexible but in a larger chassis this will be less of a problem.
And I have no problem with the unit’s capabilities. One could power up an AMD FX-8350 and two HD7970 graphics cards with this thing. Or two Geforce GTX Titans. Or whatever you like within reason, really. For R1700 its a great piece of kit and very competitive compared to the other contenders – the Corsair TX850M, the AX650M, the HX750M and the AX750M are all in the same price range and while they may offer better modularity, they cost and perform about the same.
Thermaltake has sneaked in a win here with the Evo Blue 2.0 750W and its an excellent choice for the system builder with enthusiast parts. It does everything it needs to with no frills and the fact that the 750W label is the continuous power rating is great. Too often in the past manufacturers mislabled their units to show peak power output and I’m glad this practice has been done away with.