Introduction

This review is one of a series of PSU reviews, if you have not read any of the others you can read all about the test set up and methodology below.
  1. Testing Overview
  2. Wattage
  3. Parameters
  4. Methodology

And now... ON TO THE POWER SUPPLY TESTING!

A.C. Ryan Ryanpower2 CableFREE 550W ACR-PS2100

Taking a look at Mr. Ryan's product

Today I'm taking a look at another modular power supply: the CableFREE 550W from A.C. Ryan.  The A.C. Ryan website makes a lot of us feel like kids in candy stores. A.C. Ryan fills a lot of gizmo gaps that case modders may have. They sell everything from cable mods to plexiglas panels to hard drive coolers.  But there's a big jump going from pretty cables and shiny metal and plastic widgets and a functional power supply that will essentially be the heart of your computer.  Does the CableFree 550W pull off being a quality power supply from the masters of mod or does it turn out to be all show?  Let's take a look.....


There's that "titanium" finish again. It's as if titanium is this years chrome!

Kicking the tires

First impressions of the Ryanpower2 power supply are good.  The unit feels stout.  Fairly heavy considering there are no cables attached.  We see the same sort of "fingerprint-prone" titanium finish that we've seen a lot of lately.  Fortunately, A.C. Ryan has included a felt chamois to polish the power supply with.

The modular cables for the Ryanpower2 are quite different than the Ultra X-Connect we just reviewed.  Both good and bad.

First the good:  The CableFREE cables "snap" into the power supply. They're not popping out any time soon!  I was actually able to pick the power supply up by the cables after I snapped them in.  The bad is... well.. they're not very pretty.  The Molex (or AMP or whatever you want to call them) connectors are standard connectors, in black, and the sleeves are just webbing, similar to what a lot of non-modular power supplies already have, and the heat shrink tubing that holds that webbing in place is about half of an inch shy of the connectors so we can see all of the wires being used. On one of my cables, the heat shrink came loose and the webbing moved around on the cable.  On another cable, the webbing snagged like pantyhose and began to tear.  On the upside, you can buy different color cables from A.C. Ryan.


Here's a mess of cables plugged into the Ryanpower2.  They're nice... but not AS NICE as (in my opinion) they could be, especially coming from a case mod supply company.

Buzz Buzz.  Buzz Buzz in the eardrum!

When I fired up the power supply, I noticed very little fan noise.  This is due in part to using an 80MM fan on the back and a slightly larger 92MM fan on the bottom.But after a few seconds into using the power supply I started hearing a buzz.  As I loaded up the 12V rail, the buzz became louder.  I have to take the power supply apart anyway, so I decided to do so prior to doing load tests so I could figure out where the buzzing was coming from.

What I saw was some pretty sloppy workmanship.  The interface card looks as if it was hand-soldered.  Not that there's anything wrong with that, but this was a problem with very early versions of the Ultra X-Connect and they fixed it.  It looks like A.C. Ryan is going to need to "fix" this as well.  I couldn't see where the 12V was shorting to, but I was fairly certain that this was the cause of my buzzing noise.  I also noticed that when the cover is installed onto the power supply, the fan actually pushes up against the interface card.  That can't help matters any. 


A whole lot of solder going on.  This was one of the neater parts of the interface board.  Notice the one 12V wire jumping up and over two others to get soldered underneath them.  Huh?


Not even fan headers were soldered to the board straight. Not that they were lose or anything, but I'm not sure why they were like this.


I haven't figured out who actually makes the Ryanpower2 power supply.  It's UL listed, but no number is provided.  It's board layout is quite different from most others.  Notice the use of a single 400V 470uF capacitor on the AC input instead of a pair of 200V 800~1200uF capacitors.  I'm not sure what difference this makes (feel free to email me!), but certainly one capacitor is cheaper than two?

I decided to put the cover back on the power supply and proceed with the testing, regardless of the buzzing noises...

Technical overview and predictions:

First, let's see what's on A.C. Ryan's label......

A.C. Ryan ACR-PS2100 +3.3V +5V +12V -12V -5V +5VSB
Max Output Current 32A 35A 30A 0.5A N/A 2A
Max Combined Peak Wattage 550W

Looks good on the 5V and on the 12V.  This power supply may be suitable for just about any build you have.  There was no rating for -5V, which isn't surprising since the Intel ATX12V2.0 specifications doesn't have provision for -5V.

Let's take a look at what connectors we get with this power supply.  Keep in mind this unit is modular, so these numbers can change by simply swapping out a cable.

A.C. Ryan ACR-PS2100 QUANTITY OF CONNECTORS
ATX connector 24-pin
2 x 2 12V connectors 1
2 x 3 PCIe 1
6-pin Xeon/AUX connector 0
5.25" Drive connectors 9
3.5" Drive connectors 1
SATA Drive power connectors 3
Fan only connectors (thermostatically controlled 12V only) 4


The A.C. Ryan comes with some specialty cables.  From left to right, we have fan only connectors (not thermostatically controlled,) SATA cables (without the 3.3V wire, as the case with any current modular power supply) and a PCI Express power connector.

Test results:

Well... This is getting ridiculous.  I had a run of successful power supply tests and then all hell breaks loose and I can't get back to where I came from.  The buzzing noise never went away.  In fact, it got worse.  Although I may have just received a bad unit, I can't help to think that the problem is because of the quality control of the workmanship inside.  As I kicked the power supply up to test three, the buzzing noise was down right scary.  And the buzz would pulsate in synch with the 12V rail dropping as low as 9.8V!  I didn't even bother with the full load test. I was already severely out of spec on the 12V rail and if the buzzing got any louder, like the whimpers of a dying dog, I was going to have to put the PSU out of it's misery with a shotgun.

Ryanpower2 CableFREE 550W Zero Load Test One (367W) Test Two (302W) Test Three (430W) Full Load
12V 12.20 12.04 12.08 9.80 FAIL
5V 5.15 5.03 5.00 5.00 FAIL
3.3V 3.40 3.31 3.31 3.28 FAIL
Efficiency 22% 69% 68% 70% FAIL
Power Factor .96 .99 .99 .99 FAIL

Temperature under load = 36C. Temperature after power off =60C.

Conclusion:

As you can see, the power factor is excellent, as it should be with active PFC.  The efficiency is horrible and the 12V just went whack-o during test three.  At least none of the modular cables fell out!

Given the nice finish, the modular cables and the "around $100" price tag, I'd say this power supply gets a good rating in the features column.  The cables aren't as nice as the X-Connect, but the fans are quieter and it has active PFC, so the score averages out to a nice little 8.

Again, due to the failure, I have to grade performance on a curve.  I'm sure that not all Ryanpower2 power supplies make buzzing noises like houseflies caught in screen-doors, but I was so taken-back by the solder job on the interface card and those of the fan header that I can't help but think that failure rates might be a little higher than other brands.  I can tell you that the efficiency was poor, but the rails were potentially (if the 12V didn't wig out over 302W) stable.  So I'm giving this power supply a 6 for performance. 

That makes this power supply's overall score an 7.



Hardware
Reviews, Articles, News, All Reviews...
Gaming
Reviews, Articles, News...
IT Jobs
Career Center, News Users, Login...
Regular Sections
A Guru's World, CPU/Memory Watch, SLDeals...
SLBoards
Forums, Register(Free), Todays Discussions...
Site Info
Search, About Us, Advertise...