For those who subscribe to the idea that the perfect power supply units (PSU) are faceless entities that just do their work reliably and with minimal fuss, think again. AcBel has a new product that raises the low profile of the PSU from tireless workhorse to a star in its own right. Yes, the humble PSU now garners some of the glam with its own specialized LCD display and it comes in a cool blue too. Here's what we thought of the 550W version of AcBel's new LCD Power Supply.
AcBel is no stranger to the PSU scene, having had more than twenty years of experience in the supply of quality products to large companies like IBM. The company has chalked up numerous awards on the way, notably Best in Class awards in international competitions like the EPA's Efficiency Challenge 2004. Following the move towards environmentally friendly power supplies, AcBel's recent products have all featured green products with high efficiency ratings that allow heat and noise levels to be kept low. The AcBel LCD Power Supply continues this trend by having an efficiency rating of at least 75%, comparable with many other top PSUs in the market now.
The presence of three separate and independent 12V rails also ensures consistent output to onboard components, especially if you have a multi-GPU setup as there's one rail dedicated to them. The 550W version comes with two 6-pin Molex connectors oft used by these high-end graphics cards, along with four SATA power connectors and your other usual connectors. The cables are all sleeved neatly, though the inclusion of a modular cable system - where you can remove under-utilized cables from the unit - would have been the icing on the cake. Meanwhile, the 120mm dual ball bearing fan varies its speed intelligently according to the temperature of the PSU but you could always choose to adjust the fan speed through the LCD module. While the normal mode (around 900RPM) was silent, setting the fan to maximum (around 2800RPM) was quite audible and we don't recommend you doing that.
With the addition of the LCD display, users can now see useful information at a glance, like the internal temperature of the PSU, load levels and fan speed. The display module needs to be connected to both the PSU and the motherboard, via USB and two special power and signal lines in order to transmit the relevant information. Through the module, you can adjust the fan speed manually and set warning levels for the temperatures such that an alarm will start beeping if the set thresholds exceed.
Here's where the accompanying user manual for the monitoring display is most needed as there are only two buttons on the module - Set Menu and Select. With just two buttons to play with, setting up the alarm and fan speeds is not that straightforward so the user manual comes in handy. Alternatively, AcBel has provided a software monitoring tool, which serves the same purpose as the LCD display, but obviously you have to boot into Microsoft's Windows (all versions are supported) to install and run the application. The AcBel logo on the module also has a changing light display that we found personally, quite distracting and irritating. Unfortunately there's no option to disable it.
Enthusiasts will find the AcBel LCD Power Supply the perfect Big Brother tool, giving them both useful information and control. Of course, if something really bad happens, the built-in alarm may still be too late, which is perhaps why this PSU has protective measures for over-voltage and over-current. The high efficiency rating should also ensure that you get most out of your PSU. Merging a normal if pretty high-end PSU with the LCD display can be construed as gimmicky but AcBel's implementation provides enough value to convince us otherwise.