This article is a buyers guide to the (infamous) line of thermaltake power supplies, to inform users of what models are worth getting, and what to avoid. The quality of thermaltake branded power supplies varies a lot, with some models such as the toughpower series being some of the highest quality avaliable, while the cheap models are absolute trash. Xbitlabs provides the in depth analysis of their psu's, of which this article sources off.
The bundled PSU's that come with Thermaltake cases (XP480 400w, TR2 430w, PP 420w, 480w butterfly)
As many have expected for years, definative proof of what most of us have suspected for years. All of those cheap thermaltake psu's they bundle with cases are not even near 400/430w class psu's, the oem's rated them for 250/300w (thermaltake don't make the psu's, they take a generic psu board from oem's such as sirtec, HEC, channel well, and then add the wiring and cooling fans etc to suit). Xbitlabs provides the in depth testing of the XP480 400w
"However, Thermaltake thought it necessary to stick a label on this power supply that declares an output power of 400W and even promising a peak output power of as much as 500W! But as I made sure in my tests, even 300W is too high a load for this power supply. Depending on the particular conditions, either its overload protection reacts, or the attached system hangs up due to a sudden drop of the output voltages, or the unit just burns down. And the XP480 comes in system cases that can hardly be called cheap: the retail price of a Tsunami Dream is about $140. This case is unlikely to be bought for a low-power office machine I guess."
And the 430w model that comes with their cases such as the soprano:
"So, like its predecessor, the XP550 isn’t true to the declared wattage. This is in fact an ATX12V 1.3-compliant 300W unit from HEC reinforced with a second fan. This may make it a 330W unit, but not better. The PSU just burns down at a load of 380W due to overheat of the switching transistor. So, the W0070 can be viewed as a good low-end 300W power supply with accurate assembly, good parameters, and quiet operation… But on the other hand, Thermaltake put a label that reads “430W” on this product and this number has nothing to do with reality. This PSU cannot yield this output power for more than a couple of minutes. What’s the most disappointing thing, Thermaltake prices this PSU by the declared rather than real wattage and it costs now $45 or even more (unlike the XP480, the XP550 comes to retail shops apart from system cases). I think it’s unfair to put so high a price on a mediocre power supply built to comply with an obsolete standard."
So in short, for anything but light systems (eg athlon64 3500+ / single 7600gt system NOT P4 and/or high end videocards), avoid these psu's completely. For very old systems (old AthlonXP, P3), these psu's are ok to use, check the motherboard for a 4pin atx12V connector, if it DOESN'T have one, then these psu's are fairly well suited.
The new toughpower series
As a contrast the bundled psu's, the toughpower series are a high quality, accurately rated line of psu's designed to run modern systems. The 550w model is sourced off Channel Well Technologies (Antec source most of their psu's from CWT), with the innards identical to the truepower 2.0 550w source. This psu probably won't run a crossfire x1900xt system due to dual 12V rail limitations, but otherwise top quality. The 600 - 750w models are even better, quad 12V rails with excellent combined 12V ratings (as much as 60A!) so they'll run anything including crossfire x1900xt, quad SLI etc. The 600 - 750w models are also made by CWT.
The Purepower series
This lot is a mixed bag, so be careful. The ones to avoid are the 420w, 480w butterfly, 680w (rev 1), and 560w. The 420w review, 480w review, and 560w review, are all old atx1.3 designs, and have mediocre to poor voltage stability. With an 18/22A 12V rail, their only really good for 200-250w. The 680w model rev1 is just a poor design, and is the only known psu to ever have true independent 12V rails source. From Xbitlabs:
"So, the first-revision W0049 model is not just a poor product. It is practically unfit for work and is not worth even half its price. The attempt to modernize an old power supply by putting an additional regulator into it only created more problems, partially coming from the section of the PSU that was left unchanged (hence the low stability of the +12V1 line – its load capacity didn’t matter much at those times when computers were mostly powered from the +5V source) and partially from the imperfections of the new additional regulator (hence the very high voltage ripple on the +12V2 and +12V3 lines). If you want to buy a W0049, I strongly recommend that you buy its second revision (discussed in the next section of this review). If you’ve already bought the first revision and encountered all the problems mentioned above, you should follow my advice and power the graphics card through an adapter or, which is better, replace the PSU with a better one (even a lower-wattage but high-quality new PSU will prove a better choice).
The irony of this situation is that all manufacturers that produce ATX12V 2.0 power supplies appeal to the customer with the two +12V lines. This is usually featured in large print on the box and is then followed, in smaller letters, with an explanation that this “technology” ensures unprecedented power, stability, reliability, etc. Our readers already know that there is usually only one +12V power rail inside the PSU and it is only divided in two by means of current limiters which cannot affect the stability of the output voltages even theoretically. The W0049 is in fact the first power supply tested in our labs that really has two separate +12V power rails, but its power, stability and reliability are far beneath criticism as you have just seen."
On the other hand, the 680w rev2 is a completely different design, good quality. You can tell by looking at the 12V specs, revision 2 will have '12V1 = 15A, 12V2 = 23A, 12V3 = 15A', while the poor rev1 has '12V1 = 15A, 12V2 = 23A, 12V3 = 8A'. Have a look at the xbitlabs review to compare. The total watt viewer 500w and powerstation 520w are both reasonable psu's, better value around though TWV 500w review PST 520w review. The 460w models are also fairly good quality review.