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BFG ES-800 800W Power Supply Review

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SKYMTL

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BFG-4.jpg


BFG ES-800 800W Power Supply Review





Product Number: BFGR800WESPSU
Price: Approx $200CAD
Packaging: Retail
Fan Size: 1x 135mm
Warranty: Lifetime
Availability: April 2008




BFG is a company which is well known mainly for their graphics cards but they have much broader horizons than that. Even though graphics cards are their bread and butter, they also produce motherboards, peripherals and power supplies as well. In this review we will be looking at their latest power supply which will soon be released upon the global marketplace. Even though you can call this a review, it can also be counted as a sneak peak at what consumers can expect once these units become available. The name of this power supply is the BFG ES-800 and it has quite a story to go along with it.

A short time ago, we here at Hardware Canucks reviewed BFG’s “older” Topower-made 800W power supply and found that it left us wanting a quite a few areas. While the overall voltage regulation was quite good, the cables were not long enough, it exhibited a fair amount of ripple and it was loud as hell when pushed. Seeing that their first 800W power supply’s performance was not appealing to the enthusiast crowd they were targeting, BFG went back to the drawing board. Without a doubt, they were on a mission and that mission was to prove that they could release a power supply which appealed to enthusiasts while keeping a respectable price. Even though it was a tall order, we were all convinced that BFG had the muscle to back it up.

Months past and we heard from our contacts over at BFG that the fruits of their labor had finally been realized in the form of a brand new 800W power supply. Don’t mistake this new ES-800 unit with BFG’s 800W unit of yesteryear; this one has been completely redesigned from the ground up by a brand new OEM and it is raring to go. This is the first BFG unit designed under the tutelage of a knowledgeable core of power supply experts headed by Jon Gerow (also known as Jonnyguru) and with this team it seems like BFG has laid the foundations for the release of some exciting units. However, we can talk about what the future has in store all we like but this time future is now and the ES-800 is on its way to our shores.

While it has not been released yet, the preliminary pricing has the BFG ES-800 pegged at around $200to $220 which seems to represent a great value for your hard earned money. In addition to competitive pricing, this power supply also comes with a lifetime warranty which in our books is in and of itself worth the price of admission.

BFG has their sights firmly placed on the enthusiast power supply market once again and we are about to see if their second time at bat produces another line-drive or a full-fledged home run.


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SKYMTL

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Specifications

Specifications

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SKYMTL

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Packaging and Accessories

Packaging and Accessories

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The packaging of the BFG ES-800 is your standard fare with a black box containing a picture of the power supply as well as a quick rundown of some of its features and mention of the lifetime warranty. Meanwhile, the back of the packaging is a bit different from trends that we have seen in the past. It contains efficiency and noise numbers along with a blow-by-blow mini instruction manual showing how to install the power supply into your case.

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We know this is mostly a given with higher-end power supplies but the strength of the interior packaging plays a huge role in the condition your power supply arrives to you in. There are freight companies out there that seem to love screwing around with your package and it is these situations that proper padding around something as sensitive as a power supply is essential.

That being said, BFG has included enough padding that there shouldn’t be any issues with rough handling. The power supply is nestled between two blocks of polystyrene and then additionally covered in bubble wrap to prevent it from getting scratched. All of the accessories are pushed off to the side of the box in order to provide additional protection.

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The accessories you get with the BFG ES-800 are pretty much par for the course with the majority of power supplies out there. However, BFG has taken things a bit further by providing an instruction / user’s manual which is actually written in English and a couple of very handy Velcro tie-wraps. Other than that you get mounting screws and a rugged albeit thin power cord.
 
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SKYMTL

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Exterior Impressions

Exterior Impressions

*Please note that in some of these pictures you will see an odd “rainbow” effect on the ES-800’s mirror finish. After working closely with our contact at BFG, we have been able to determine that this slight discoloration is only present on pre-production units. Kudos to BFG for jumping on this issue feet-first and clearly communicating to us the steps which have been taken to insure this does not happen with the actual production units. It should also be noted that this discoloration is not apparent under the majority of lighting conditions.

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The BFG ES-800 is overall slightly longer than a standard power supply and most of that extra real estate is taken up by its large 135mm fan. Personally, I think this power supply oozes class and sophistication with its black fan and sleeved cables contrasting beautifully with the mirror finish of the main housing. The BFG logo which is printed on the center fan hub also adds a nice touch.

We also see that the cables are completely sleeved all the way into the housing. There have been many instances where we have seen a great cable sleeving job go awry when the manufacturer refuses to provide ample protection around the sharp metal of the housing. Yet, with this power supply BFG did things right and protected the opening in the housing with a plastic grommet.

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There is a punched BFG log on each side of the ES-800 and it is done in such a way that no matter which direction you mount your power supply in, the logo will always be upright. People with bottom-mounted power supplies can breathe a sigh of relief since they have not been left out of BFG’s thought process when it comes to the orientation of this logo. At least they aren’t getting a raw deal….this time.

Unlike many power supplies, instead of the standard I/O printed on the power switch (which for some reason STILL seems to confuse people) BFG was gone with a much more user friendly “on / off”. Brilliant.

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As with all power supplies, the underside of the BFG ES-800 does not hold much other than the output and specification logo but you can see that once we change the orientation of the power supply, there is still a BFG logo facing upright.

The dark mirror finish is nearly identical to that which was found on the older BFG 800W unit which means it scratches extremely easily and shows more fingerprints that you think is possible. Even though the picture above shows the “rainbow” effect very well (please see our note about this being a pre-production issue only) the finish itself is nothing short of stunning. As long as you keep it clean, this power supply should be a showpiece in anyone’s enclosure.
 
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SKYMTL

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Cables & Connectors

Cables and Connectors

- Molex: 6 Connectors
o 2x 31” length (3 Connector each)

- SATA: 6 Connectors
o 2x 31” length (3 connectors each)

- PCI-E 6+2 Pin: 2 Connectors
o 2x 19” length

- PCI-E 6-Pin: 4 Connectors
o 2x 24” length (on same cable as 8-pin PCI-E connectors)

- 20+4 pin ATX Connector: 17 ½” length

- 8-Pin CPU: 19” length

- 4-Pin CPU: 24” length (on same cable as 8-pin CPU)

- Floppy: 2 Connectors
o 2x 36” length (@ end of Molex cables)


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Overall, the length of the cables and number of connectors on the BFG ES-800 is extremely good (which is a huge change from what we saw with the older BFG 800W) but there are some areas that need a bit of improvement in the length department. The main area we would like to see changed is the lengths of the ATX and 8-pin connectors. We have found that for proper cable routing in larger cases, 18” is the bare minimum for an ATX 24-pin connector while 20” is optimal. The same goes for the 8-pin CPU connector; while it can be argued that the 4-pin CPU connector is exceedingly long, it is the 8-pin which many enthusiasts use. Unfortunately, in our tests with this power supply installed in an Antec P182, the 8–pin connector was not able to reach the CPU power connector on our P35 motherboard. Luckily, since this is a pre-production sample, we would expect that some of these lengths will be changed for the later retail units.

That being said, special attention really has to be given to the sleeving used on all of the cables. This isn’t the cheap mesh we see with some power supplies but is actually a tightly-bound and form fitting fabric which offers the perfect blend of looks and flexibility.

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With this power supply, BFG has seen fit to have separate connectors for both the 4-pin and 8-pin CPU outputs while keeping them on the same cable. While we have never been a fan of this practice we can see the extra length given to the 4-pin connector being a benefit but 8-pin users get cut short (literally). It is HIGHLY recommended that if you are using the 8-pin connector that you zip-tie the hanging 4-pin to the main cable. If not, your CPU heatsink fan will tend to suck it it...which is exactly what happened to us…

The PCI-E cables are laid out in the same fashion as the CPU cables which means that there are two connectors per cable. Even though we had an issue with this on the CPU cable, the advent of graphics cards with two power connectors per card has made this layout perfect for PCI-E cables.

ES800-30.jpg

BFG provides you with a pair of ground wires which can be attached to either PCI-E connector on a given cable. This means that if you need the 8-pin connector to be longer, you can do so by stretching the two ground wires to the longer of the two PCI-E connectors on the cable.
 
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SKYMTL

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Interior Impressions

Interior Impressions

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The interior of the BFG ES-800 is like nothing we have ever seen before. It looks like everything has been turned upside-down and to tell you the truth, this layout is actually quite brilliant. Borrowing from the design points of a cross-flow (read: single 80mm exhaust fan) power supply, portions of this design expose certain capacitors to more direct airflow by turning them on their side. Even though this means a lot more intricate PCB design, it cools off certain components much more effectively. For those of you wondering, this power supply is built by Andyson who is counted as one of the better OEMs in the industry for higher-end units.

There are actually three different 105°C-rated primary capacitors in this power supply: two of them are Hitachis while the other one is a Nippon Chemi-Con. These can be considered extremely good choices since they represent some of the best capacitor manufacturers on the market.

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The secondary filtering stage has a forest of Nippon Chemi-Con caps along with what looks like the odd CapXon here and there. Once again, these are very good component choices and a definite step in the right direction from what we saw with the Topower-designed 800W. Meanwhile, there is also an extremely well-appointed input filtering section closer to the rear of this power supply.

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There is an inverted PCB closer to the back of the ES-800 where we can see the quality of the soldering used on this power supply and it is overall quite good. So far we have seen all of one +12V transformer and there is another, smaller transformer hiding below this PCB and it is paired up with yet more Nippon Chemi-Con capacitors.
 
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SKYMTL

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Output Specifications

Output Specifications

ES800-15.jpg

Even though this power supply is literally a single +12V rail design with multiple OCP circuits, the layout BFG chose for these rails is quite interesting. However, before we go any further into it, here is the breakdown of which +12V rail is associated with which connector:

+12V1:
- 24-pin ATX
- SATA
- Molex
- Floppy

+12V2:
- CPU

+12V3:
-PCI-E 6-pin & PCI-E 6+2 pin cable #1

+12V4:
-PCI-E 6-pin & PCI-E 6+2 pin cable #2

By looking a bit closer at the rail outputs we can see that almost 98% of the ES-800’s output is available on the +12V rails. We have said it again and again and will say it here once more: having the majority of a power supply’s output on the +12V rails is essential in today’s market. That being said, what we really like about this particular power supply’s outputs is the fact that the PCI-E cables each have 36A (432W) accessible to them while the Molex and SATA connectors are lumped in with the ATX connector. This means that the BFG ES-800 will have no problem supplying what even the most power-hungry graphics card demands since the PCI-E cables each have their own rail. On many other power supplies we see the SATA and / or Molex connectors leaching power away from the PCI-E connectors but not with this one.

All in all, the BFG ES-800 contains exactly what any enthusiast wants: plenty of amperage for the graphics cards as well as for the CPU. If this power supply can hold it together in the performance department, many consumers out there will be looking at BFG’s power supplies with newfound respect.
 
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SKYMTL

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Efficiency / Voltage Regulation Testing

Performance Tests

Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 @ 3.5Ghz (B3)
Memory: 4GB Corsair Dominator DDR3 @ 1600Mhz (Thanks to Corsair)
Motherboard: Asus Blitz Extreme
Graphics Cards: 2X Gigabyte HD2900XT 512MB
Disk Drive: Pioneer DVD Writer
Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda 320GB SATAII
Fans: 5X Yate Loon 120mm @ 1200RPM
Monitor: LG Flatron L2000CN-BF (1600X1200)

For our complete power supply testing methodology, please go here: Hardware Canucks Power Supply Testing Methodology


Efficiency Testing

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The BFG ES-800 starts the testing section off with a bang (no, not literally) by displaying some pretty impressive efficiency numbers across all of the tests. What impressed us the most was the fact that this power supply only drew 13W from the wall when the system was turned off but the power supply was still on. Even though we do not measure efficiency in percentages, it looks like BFG’s claim of 80% and higher efficiency is holding true.


Voltage Regulation Testing


+3.3V Regulation

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+5V Regulation

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+12V Regulation

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Voltage regulation is another strong category for the ES-800 since it shows incredible poise through every one of our tests. You may notice that the +12V voltages shown in the Idle and CPU Load tests were quite a bit lower than those shown in the higher-load GPU and System Stress tests. This is due to the fact that the Idle and CPU tests have the +12V voltages taken from the CPU connector while the other tests have results taken from the PCI-E connector. That being said, this BFG power supply showed that it is an extremely stable unit.
 
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SKYMTL

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+12V Ripple Testing / Acoustical Footprint

+12V Ripple Testing

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Even though we did not push the BFG ES-800 to its limit, its ripple suppression is some of the best we have seen in recent months. As load increased, the traces on the o-scope barely registered an increase and when everything was said and done the maximum ripple we saw was a mere 28mV-pp.


Acoustical Performance

Since we are testing this power supply with a pair of HD2900XT graphics cards which can only be described as having the acoustical profile of a Shop-Vac on roofies and Red Bull, we tried to isolate the ES-800 as much as we could while we ramped up the power consumption.

That being said, without a doubt the 135mm fan works its magic and throughout all of our tests the power supply stayed extremely quiet. Fan speed did noticeably increase but it did so in a very linear fashion where any increase in rotational speed was not accompanied by higher noise output. Even at the end of our one hour System Stress test the fan was still spinning silently along since it was still more than capable of moving enough air that the interior of the ES-800 didn’t get too hot. More and more power supplies are being produced with 135mm and 140mm fans and the increase in airflow while spinning at low rpms they are able to produce is second to none.
 
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SKYMTL

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12,841
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Conclusion

Conclusion

BFG has done it. They have completely turned around every aspect of their older 800W power supply and produced a unit which deserves the “enthusiast power supply” moniker. If we could once again hearken back to our review of the original BFG 800W Power Supply massive strides BFG has made towards improving their power supplies really become apparent. It is not that the older 800W power supply was that bad (as a matter of fact it was a good performer) it is just that the new ES-800 unit is so much BETTER that the older unit pales in comparison. Pay close attention folks, this should act as a case study of how a company can improve upon an already good product. This power supply not only shows that BFG is striving to continually offer what the enthusiast wants but it proves that they also listen to what the community says about their products.

Throughout each and every single one of our tests, the ES-800 proved that it is a rock-solid power supply from a company with a legacy for pushing the envelope. Its efficiency numbers are among the best we have seen while its ripple suppression shows what happens when you choose the right components from the parts bin. Even the finish on the housing is nothing short of spectacular as long as you have a microfiber cloth handy to clean its installed in your case. Things get even better when we look at the price. While this is just an assumption based on the MSRP and the continually strong Canadian dollar, we expect to see the BFG ES-800 retailing for around $200 which makes it quite a good value. However, we can’t really count on that price since literally anything can change before retailers get their hands on this unit sometime in April.

Is there anything not to like about the ES-800? If we were picky (which we are) we would have to point towards the length of the ATX and 8-pin CPU connectors as the one very minor chink in this power supply’s armor. While they will be long enough for 99% of the consumers on the market, we are always looking for something more and would have liked to have seen a few more inches added to their lengths. We know some people will whine about the lack of a modular interface but there are plenty of us who do just fine without detachable cables and connectors. BFG even added some convenient Velcro tie-wraps for those of you wanting to get the cables out of the way.

The BFG ES-800 has everything we could want in a power supply and if it comes in at around the price BFG has pegged it at, it should warrant your attention if you are in the market for a high performance 800W power supply. With the added benefit of a lifetime warranty and BFG’s always helpful tech support, we wholeheartedly give this power supply our Dam Good Award.


Pros:

- Excellent performance
- Quiet operation
- Great exterior finish
- Lifetime warranty
- Cable sleeving to die for


Cons:

- A few cables could be a tad longer
- Finish scratches easily


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Thanks to BFG for providing us with this power supply

 
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