The test equipment included a trusty volt meter used to measure power rails, wall socket power meter to monitor efficiency, oscilloscope to keep an eye on the quality of power and a power source load tester to max out the PSU and see where it tops out. The first round of testing included connecting the TPG-1200M to my most power hungry gaming system as outfitted below.
- Processor: Intel Core i7-980X @ 4.2GHz
- Motherboard: GIGABYTE G1 Killer Assassin
- Memory: Patriot Memory 12GB Division II 2000MHz DDR3
- Graphics: 3 x ZOTAC GTX 580 SLI
- Storage: 4 x 1TB Western Digital Caviar Black HDD
- Primary Storage: Kingston HyperX 120GB SSD
The second round included using a load tester and oscilloscope. The scope just helps look for a visual to back up sloppy noise or ripple. All I’m mainly concerned with is whether or not the PSU meets its basic advertised specifications. Performance better or beyond this is considered extra credit.
Output Test Results
Output wise, the TPG-1200 continued to hunker down during a benchmark with the system consuming a healthy 1120 watts (ouch!) maintaining an 89.8% efficiency. When connected to the load tester, the unit handled a full 1200 watts without issue maintaining an 89.4% efficiency. Finally, the TPG-1200 surpassed its 1300 W peak rating and topped out at 1340 watts. The shocker is that overall efficiency was still at least 88% after repeated beatings at max output.
Voltage rails were solid but do visibly collapse quickly as the burden on the PSU continues to increase which reveals the unit is working hard to meet specs. Voltages and power spikes weren’t high enough to cause any concern. Ripple wasn’t the tightest I’ve seen but aren’t breaking outside any specs that should cause concern.
The bottom line is that chipset and motherboard manufacturers offer a range of tolerances to handle sloppy power rails in power supplies. The Thermaltake Tough Power Grand 1200 Watt PSU tested straight from a retail box and far exceeds those standards. Sure, you can argue that PSUs offering higher results are the absolute model to buy, but your computer simply does not care as long as it’s well within the allowed tolerances.
Tough Power Grand Acoustics and Thermals
If you recall from the specs table, Thermaltake listed the power supply’s fan noise at 16 dBA but doesn’t disclose the actual noise limit. I measured fan audio from about a meter from the test computer.
Sure, it ranges 16 to 19 dBA on the lower end of the wattage load. From my high tech red line edit, you can actually see what the PSU did on the test bench. At full load, the PSU easily emits about 35 dBA which is the equivalent of someone having a conversation with you. However, you won’t experience this unless the PSU reaches about 1150 to 1200 watts.
Using a laser thermometer, I measured the inside components like the PCB, capacitors, switches and heat sinks. At idle, the highest temp was about 36C with room temp air coming out the back. At load, the warmest temp was about 60C and you could definitely feel the warmer air from the back. This is all par for the course on about 90% of the high wattage power supplies out there.
The TPG-1200M easily operates within advertised specs from 200 to 1200 watts. The PSU also maintained strong voltage and efficiency results right up to its 1200 watt rating. However, it also exceeds it by at least 140 watts for a total of 1340 watts which is well beyond specs. Some users will say that the PSU is loud at full load, but 35 to 40 dBA is extremely common for any high wattage power supply. If you’re running on two high performance video cards, you’re never going to hear that kind of fan noise. In fact, you’ll most likely end up hearing your video cards long before you get there given the common poor air flow for the top card.
While your own maximum results may slightly vary, I feel quite comfortable saying that the Thermaltake Tough Power Grand TPG-1200M will easily keep up with your 3-way NVIDIA SLI and AMD CrossfireX elite gaming systems quite comfortably. The trick is to configure a well ventilated computer case to increase airflow, which controls those high temps and decreases component noise. Cases that fit that need from Thermaltake’s own product line include Level 10 GT (reviewed here), the Chaser MK-1 or even the Overseer RX-I. All come with large side panel fans.
If you’re on the hunt for something that looks and feels different, I recommend the Thermaltake TPG-1200M NVIDIA SLI and AMD Crossfire 80Plus Gold certified power supply. You can find this elite unit on sale for about $279.99 which is just slightly more than its TPG-1050M sibling. The series is unique, stands firm against the hungriest computer components and will save you money on your power bill. Therefor, I’m giving the TPG-1200M my Editor’s Choice in the 1200 Watt 80Plus Gold level.
- 80Plus Gold Certified
- Strong 1200 Watt performance
- 1300 Watt Peak – reaches 1340 Watts
- Attractive contour chassis
- Good quality cables and wiring
- Includes extras in the bundle
- Requires an 1200 Watt premium
- Contour edge doesn’t sit against chassis
Overall Rating: 9.0 / 10.0
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