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Review: be quiet! Dark Power 12 (850W)

by Tarinder Sandhu on 9 March 2021, 12:01

Tags: be-quiet

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qaeqbb

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You are probably sick to the back teeth about stock shortages and high prices for many tech products. Very few have been unscathed from the pandemic's effects. PSUs, for instance, face the double threat of internal component scarcity and vastly inflated shipping costs out of China.

Unperturbed, cooling specialist be quiet! is today releasing a premium line of 80 PLUS Titanium-rated supplies known as Dark Power 12. Available in 750W, 850W and 1,000W capacities, the trio fits in below the Dark Power Pro 12.

On paper, the non-Pro makes a lot of sense as the head honcho models are available in 1,200W and 1,500W models, overkill for most, costing at least £370 and £420, respectively.

Even so, DPP12, as we'll refer to it from now in, is certainly not cheap. Costing £205, £240 and £270 for the three capacities, we have the 850W in for review. From the outset, it is only worth considering for a truly premium build - £2,500 up - in our estimation, as a reasonable 80 PLUS Gold modular supply can be purchased for less than half as much. But let's be fair, Titanium rated supplies are the creme de la creme, touting at least 94 per cent efficiency across a 20-100pc load spectrum.

Build quality is decent on this 2,050g supply. be quiet! goes back to steel construction rather than the more impressive aluminium casing of the Pro. Measuring 175mm deep, installation may cause a few issues in smaller mid-tower chassis, so please check case accommodations before purchasing.

We continue to like the frameless design first seen on the Pro models. Inside, the same PSU-specific Silent Wings 3 fan takes care of cooling, though being a Titanium-rated PSU, there ought to be minimal heat produced by the components.

Keeping with be quiet! tradition, the fan runs at all times, spinning at around 350rpm at low loads yet keeping below 1,000rpm at full gas. Specifications reveal the fan can actually spin up to 1,800rpm, so it's barely at half speed in this implementation.

Testing confirms the spinner very gradually increases the rpm rate - we couldn't discern an aural difference between idle load and, say, 500W.

One would expect superb cabling potential. be quiet! doesn't disappoint as there's provision for a trio of P4 CPU connectors and six PCIe (6+2) - though there is physical provision for eight, a la the 1,000W model.

12 SATA, split over four cables, feels unnecessary for today's consumer PCs, but the beauty of being fully-modular is that you only connect what you want to. No complaints over the spacing between ports or the quality of the fully-sleeved cabling. It's no surprise the general layout is reminiscent of the dearer Pro supplies.

Though not flat, the cabling is pliable enough to be bent in the required fashion for pushing through chassis cutouts, and there's enough Velcro and zip-ties to affect a clean build on both sides of the tray.

be quiet! is almost unique insofar as it offers the choice between single- and multirail 12V operation via a dedicated hardware overclocking key. It plugs into the three-pin header just below the motherboard connector and then takes up a PCI backplane slot for the switch; we reckon it would be better to have a hardwired switch on the chassis instead, saving space in systems where all slots are populated.

As standard, the DPP12 is specified with four 12V rails that combine to offer almost all of the capacity at an ambient 50°C.

Getting to Titanium-level efficiency is an engineering headache. be quiet! achieves it by employing a few key technologies. Chief amongst them is the use of what is known as an active bridge rectifier, whose job it is to convert incoming AC to computer-friendly DC. Going active increases efficiency at the expense of cost. This is still an analogue supply, mind, while the Pro goes full digital.

Soldering is clean and tidy on what appears to be a premium CWT platform. The question we're left wondering is whether enthusiasts can stomach the price premium compared to a decent supply of the same capacity. We can answer that in the benchmarking section.