Lian Li Maxima 750W Power SupplyDec 8th, 2008 | By Anthony
Lian Li Maxima 750W Power Supply
: 12/8/08 – 03:06:36 AM
: Power Supplies
Page 1 : Introduction
Over the years, Lian Li has built up quite a reputation – understated elegance, quality, and always, very pricey. Founded over 20 years ago, Lian Li has amassed quite a bit of expertise in the area of chassis. For Lian Li however, that is not enough conquered ground.
Ready to venture onto new ground, Lian Li has brought the new Maxima Force power supply to our labs. Claiming an 86% rated operational efficiency, Japanese capacitors, a double forward DC-DC centered design and quiet operation, Lian Li has put forth quite an ambitious effort to shake up the power supply market.
The bar is set quite high, not only by the numerous excellent power supplies available (many that we have looked at), but weighing in Lian Li's track record with cases, and what they are claiming, anything less than stellar would be a disappointment.
Page 2 : Features and Specifications
Here is what Lian Li has to say about the new Maxima series:
For the most part, fairly typical except for the use of a DC-DC converting of the 3.3V and 5V rails. We will have another look at this when we tear this unit apart!
Besides that however, it is worth noting that this unit has a fairly beefy 3.3V and 5V rail, while this does limit the 12V rail, it isn't necessarily a bad thing. Depending on the system setup, this could be quite beneficial.
Page 3 : Package and Content
The Maxima Force 750W comes in a fairly typical cardboard box, not too fancy, but with all the material one would expect.
The sleeve around the box gives a quick summary of the unit's features and specifications.
Clamshell packed between two dense foam pieces, you better believe this unit can be dropped off a back of a truck, and perhaps run over and still be fine.
Inside, along with the power supply we have a bag of Velcro ties, screws, power cord, manual, and external power cord.
Quite different from most power supplies, the finish isn't in chrome, or the many variations in shade of chrome, but rather a crinkle matte finish.
Matched up with black sleeving, black connectors and even a black fan guard, this unit not only looks fairly Lian Li-esque elegant, but rugged as well.
The large 120mm fan situated on the bottom of the unit serves two purposes, first cooling the power supply itself, and second, acting as a system exhaust. Air is drawn from within into the power supply and then pushed through the perforated rear panel.
Towards the rear of the unit, we have the AC plug, switch, and a small toggle switch to turn on and off the LED fan. On behalf of all of us who hate case lighting, thank you Lian Li, and well for those who like accent lighting, I suppose they would say thanks as well.
For the motherboard, we have a 20+4 pin ATX connector, 8 pin EPS12V connector.
This unit only comes equipped with two PCI Express connectors, both of them being 6+2 pin connectors. While in terms of practicality, two would be perfectly fine, more wouldn't hurt for future expandability.
While short on PCI Express connectors, the Maxima Force makes up for that with six SATA connectors. You can never have too many hard drives!
Finally, we have seven 4 pin peripheral connectors and a single lonely floppy drive connector.
Inside, we are immediately greeted with a 'MIJ' sticker, or made in Japan sticker for the Nippon Chemicon capacitor in the primary side.
Good choice on Lian Li's part, but on the secondary side, we still have ordinary Ost and Ltec capacitors.
Those paying attention may have noticed the presence of only one transformer. This is the double forward design, or DC to DC. The transformer is responsible for the 12V rail, and from there, the power supply further steps down the output to produce the 3.3V and 5V rails.
Page 4 : Testing Setup
Quite unlike any other PC component, properly evaluating a power supply involves much, much more than running a battery of tests or sitting down in front of a shooter for a few hours armed with a pen and a pad of paper. Although, we have the utmost appreciation for a few headshots coupled with explosions, power supply reviews call for much more. The general mantra for testing power supplies tends to fall somewhere in the ranges of loading the power supply up to the top, and letting it suffer. We here at Overclockers Online are inclined to agree. Accordingly, our testing methods have evolved to allow for more sophisticated and accurate testing.
The dilemma here is: how to test a power supply without a computer system, but emulate a computer system? It is important to not forget that as much as we try to part from throwing a power supply into a computer system and watching how it performs, ultimately, what we are distancing ourselves from is precisely what we are trying to replicate. Simply, the ideal testing platform would be indistinguishable from a computer system, but graced with the accuracies of an adjustable load. However, since we do not have access to state of the art testing equipment, or the funds to purchase such equipment, we have built a custom load tester. While it does not offer adjustments in the thousandths of a decimal place, it does offer enough flexibility to test current day power supplies and beyond.
Using thick high quality 16AWG wires throughout and equally high quality connectors and switches, we have sought to minimize resistance in the lines while maintaining flexibility. All it takes is a flip of a switch to turn a desired resistor on or off.
A proper electronic load is a start, but we are going to be a bit more ambitious. A keystone piece of our testing mythology is the heat box. A system drawing 800W from a power supply produces quite a bit of heat, and to be testing such a power supply in an ambient environment is not only inconsistent with in-system applications but unrealistic and misleading. Our hotbox consists of nothing more than a case graciously donated to us from Silverstone. Recycling heat produced from the load tester using a series of controlled fans and a duct, we can control operational temperatures and push a power supply to its limits, or over.
Using the heat and load, we will run a battery of five tests: three cold and two hot tests. The three cold tests consist of 50% load, 80% load and finally full load. Naturally, we will escalate the strain on the unit by adding heat in the hot tests. The final two tests are 80% load and full load at approximately 50°C or more.
While the purpose and effects of 'burn in' are debated, doing so causes no harm. Prior to any testing, all units are run for a maximum period of one week without load. At best, this will stabilize the unit; at worst it takes a few hours off the unit's total life span.
In our tests, we will do our best to adhere to ATX specifications including cross loading and criteria for testing. The presentations of our results are designed for ease of interpretation and conciseness.
So, without any further delay, let us get started!
Page 5 : Testing
The aim of the cold test is to reflect ideal operational conditions where heat from the computer system is independent from the power supply. Still though, the term cold test would be misleading as things do get quite hot!
Tests 1 to 3 went by incredibly well. By test 3, the 12V rails began to either touch, or dip slightly below the 12.00V mark, however, still well within specification, and well within 1% of deviation.
With the heat turned up, all of the rails loss a bit more ground, however performance was still excellent. It is worth noting that even at 100% load and operating at an exhaust temperature of 50 degrees Celsius, the unit was dead silent. On a few occasions, I had to switch off the cooling fans on the load tester to make sure the Lian Li was still kicking.
Having a look at Test 3 and Test 5, 100% load at optimal temperatures and at 50 degrees Celsius, we can see how heat affects performance.
It may be that the dipping of the rails can be attributed to heat, but given that most, none of the rails dipped beyond 1% of specification, it isn't much of an issue, rather, we have here a truly silent unit.
Page 6 : Conclusion
As of late, we have had many 'firsts' here at Overclockers Online, Lian Li's power supplies being one of them. With such an impressive showing, we can't wait to see what else Lian Li can cook up in the power supply department.
The Maxima force is quite the bundle. This unit brushes off anything thrown in its direction, and maintains and incredibly quiet operational temperature, but more than performance this unit also looks good. With a black crinkle finish, the Maxima force has a subtle yet undeniable rugged appeal, yet at the same time elegance. Let's not forget, this is a Lian Li product. Fully sleeved cables and black connectors are a nice addition as well, and top off the deal.
But now, let's talk price. Conventional train of reasoning would tell us that because Lian Li cases are expensive, this power supply should be expensive as well. Unfortunately, it is. For a little more than $200 dollars, this unit could be yours. Expensive, but for what you get, the price is proportional.
- Good performance
- Fully sleeved
Overclockers Online would like to thank Lian Li for providing a review sample of the Maxima Force 750W for review and Silverstone Technologies for providing the chassis for use in our load tester.