To use the tester, all you do is connect the necessary cables to the unit (4-pin Molex, ATX power connector, 4-pin Floppy style connector, 6-pin PCI-E connector and a 4-pin or 8-pin connector), then plug the power supply into an electrical outlet, flip the power switch (if applicable) and the tester will come to life (granted the power supply isn't dead).
Everything looks good according to the power supply tester. Now, it's time for the "real" test. I will be testing the Straight Power using my dedicated testing computer, which consists of the following hardware:
Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 @ 3.5 GHz
Ultra Products ChillTec Thermo Electric CPU Cooler
EVGA 680i SLI Motherboard
Two 8800 GTX cards in SLI configuration
2 Gb OCZ SLI-Ready PC2-6400 Memory
74 Gb Western Digital Raptor 10k RPM HDD
Lite-On Optical Drive
HighSpeedPC Tech Station
I used a digital multimeter to obtain voltage readings. Since most power supplies correct any fluctuation in the current to the rails before our multimeters would even notice, we're unable to monitor every output in real-time simultaneously. To record idle voltages, I let the system sit idle in Windows for 20 minutes. For load voltages, I ran Prime 95 (one instance per core), Winamp, AIM, multiple FireFox windows and defragmented the hard drive, all while playing Need for Speed: Carbon on max graphics settings. This combination of programs put a nice load on the system. Below are some photos and the results from my testing.
The results seen here today only goes to prove that you do not need a "high end" power supply to run an overclocked high-end gaming system. The Straight Power 700w held up very well under testing. The 12v rails only experienced mild voltage fluctuations which is nothing to be concerned with . The 5v and 3.3v rails held very strong from idle to full load.
Overall this is a very capable power supply with a supporting cast of features to boot. All of the cables (except the fan cables) are sleeved in black mesh which will cut down on clutter inside your system and aid in airflow. There are a decent amount of connectors to go around - eight SATA and six 4-Pin Molex. The only thing lacking with the cables are the PCI-E cables and perhaps a second floppy-style cable. Only two PCI-E connectors are provided, which may be enough for most users, but those running high end SLI systems will be required to use a pair of 4-pin Molex to 6-pin PCI-E adapters and thus, cutting back your available 4-pin Molex connections to just two. Some splitters would almost definitely be in order in such a scenario.
As for cable length, there is nothing to worry about, even for users with full tower cases. A modular power supply would have been an added incentive, but of course is not necessary. The unit itself is finished with a high gloss gunmetal paint job that looks great. The 120mm cooling fan is indeed very quiet; I was never able to hear it over the rest of the cooling fans used in the test system. You can even make use of the three fan connectors on the power supply to thermally control the fans in your system should you want to make things even quieter.
The included baggie with zip ties and cables straps is a nice addition, as is the inclusion of both thumb screws and regular screws. The included instruction manual is 85 pages in length and covers four languages - very nice. My only complaint with this unit is the fact that it came with a European style power cable and not a US cable. This was not a problem for me as I have several extra cables in my closet but for users who don't have a spare, this is certainly a problem.
As of writing, the be quiet! Straight Power 700w power supply sells for around $150.00 USD at a popular online reseller. Thanks to be quiet! for providing us with this review sample.