Fractal ION 550 & 850 watt Power Supply Review

Manufacturer: Fractal Design Fractal ION 550 & 850 watt Power Supply Review

Fractal Design is powering up their product line with several new 80 Plus Gold rated ATX sized power supplies ranging in capacity from 550w to 850w. Fractal states that these new units support the latest ATX 2.52 standard on improving their startup time, and fast transient load response.

It all looks like they’re bringing the same attention to detail, design style and high quality assembly that I am familiar with in their cases to the world of power supplies. Good, because in addition to all that, I really like their documentation – no seriously – their guides and docs are usually quite good.

On with the powering!

Product Specifications

ION Gold ATX Power Supplies, 550w and 850w – 650w and 750w available

  • Certifcation: 80PLUS Gold for all
  • Number of 12V rails: 1
  • Full Modular Cables for all
  • Life Expectancy: 100,00 hours
  • PSU specification compliance: ATX12V 2.52; EPS12V 2.92
  • Protection features
    • Over voltage protection
    • Under voltage protection
    • Over power protection
    • Short circuit protection
    • Over current protection
    • Over temperature protection
  • Input voltage: 100-240V AC
  • Input frequency: 50-60 Hz
  • Input current: 10A/5A
  • Sleep State Compliance: C6/C7 compatible
  • Dimensions: 150 x 150 x 86 mm
  • Overall Weight: 550W – 2.06kg / 650W – 2.13kg / 750W – 2.31kg / 850W – 2.41kg
  • Warranty: 7 years
  • Rotational fan speed (max) / noise dBa / air flow CFM
    • Ion Gold 550W: 1400rpm / 27.8 dB(A) / 92.2 CFM
    • Ion Gold 650W: 1400rpm / 27.8 dB(A) / 92.2 CFM
    • Ion 750W: 1700rpm / 33.7 dB(A) / 105.8 CFM
    • Ion 850W: 2000rpm / 36.6 dB(A) / 119.0 CFM
Pricing

$79.99 MSRPIon Gold 550w
$89.99 MSRPIon Gold 650w
$99.99 MSRPIon Gold 750w
$109.99 MSRPIon Gold 850w

Manufacturer Description

“Built for those seeking a solid-performing power supply at a competitive price, the Ion Gold is an impressively capable unit boasting a baseline 80PLUS® Gold Efficiency rating, great electrical performance and quiet operation in an attractive design. All models are fully modular and measure only 150 mm deep, allowing for easy installation with reduced clutter. Specially customized Dynamic Series 140 mm fans with reduced minimum speed ensure optimal cooling with minimal noise.”

What’s In the box

That fine manual of course, Fractal branded cable ties and mounting screws, which is nice because you don’t always get those with the PSU. See the images for examples of information included in the manual, they certainly are under no obligation to include pin outs and wiring plot, but they do. It’s just one of those manuals you don’t mind reading.

Fractal ION 550 & 850 watt Power Supply Review - Cases and Cooling 20
Fractal ION 550 & 850 watt Power Supply Review - Cases and Cooling 21
Fractal ION 550 & 850 watt Power Supply Review - Cases and Cooling 22
Fractal ION 550 & 850 watt Power Supply Review - Cases and Cooling 23

A full kit of wiring connections, cannot forget them naturally. Not the best looking some of them – especially the 24 pin which was a bit unbound near the ends. Otherwise, the gauge appears sufficient as even 14ga can carry up to 20amps. The number of different cables included was very nice. The 850 watt unit came with 2x 8 pin CPU cables (one split into a pair of 4×4), and 3 PCIe cable which themselves split down into pairs of 6+2 sets. The 550 watt unit came with one of each for comparison, which seems more realistic. The 850 is definitely set up to run many power hungry components.

And the reason why you opened the box of course, the fully modular power supply itself. 80PLUS Gold rated, 150mm deep and seemingly all metal. Even the round grate is made of metal bars. They come in 550, 650, 750 and 850 watt capacities and a 7 year warranty!

Fractal also mentions full electrical protection as part of their feature set, which is good considering the wiring mess I made on the test bench.

Fractal ION 550 & 850 watt Power Supply Review - Cases and Cooling 27

Internally

A quick look inside, here. It’s clear that Fractal has had a hand in designing the board layout and specifications, as their name is all over it.

Not being a PSU engineer, I can only comment on the quality of the components to some degree in that I can observe great care taken in trace routing, Japanese 105°C capacitors very finely done soldering with no “arc” tails or sloppy overruns on the pads, heat sinks in all the right places, and no extraneous or “bodge” wiring.

If you look below at the two internal shots here, you can clearly see the 550 and 850 are closely related, as there are just a few main components missing from 550 – as well as the tolerances of the ones that are there. The MOSFETs all appear to have good heatsinks, and everything is spaced out nicely to prevent heat-bleed between components as much as possible.

Fractal ION 550 & 850 watt Power Supply Review - Cases and Cooling 28
Fractal ION 550 & 850 watt Power Supply Review - Cases and Cooling 29

Fractal touts their over and under current protection, same with voltage and temperature protection circuits, which we would expect from a premium component manufacturer.

550w Internal
850w Internal

Externally

Between the two test units we have, I immediately noted that both output sides appear identical given they have the same number of connections. However, the wiring kits included with each won’t allow you use them all out of the box on the 550 at least.

Fractal ION 550 & 850 watt Power Supply Review - Cases and Cooling 30

The units themselves are attractive for PSUs, all metal and include a 140mm Fractal Designs long life sleeve bearing fan, with their notched blades helping to eliminate fan hum. Seemed to work, as it was very difficult to hear over everything else making noise on the test bench.

In fact, the fan speed and attendant noise levels are helpfully plotted out right here!

550w Fan and Noise
850w Fan and Noise
Fractal ION 550 & 850 watt Power Supply Review - Cases and Cooling 31

Testing and Observations

I love the eighties, so I used them as part of the scenario for our testing purposes. I mean a 1080, a 2080 and a 3080 – what did you think I meant? Thank goodness the Fractal PSUs provide so much voltage and current protection. Our scenario is to try and make the entire system draw power at somewhere near its peak. We’re going to run Cinebench R23 in a loop, and Unigine Superposition at 1080p Ultra to try and push the system. Oh, and that’s some good wiring down there, I think. Yeah.

Fractal ION 550 & 850 watt Power Supply Review - Cases and Cooling 32

Our test mule today is a 10700k in a Gigabyte Z490 Aorus Master with 32GB of Corsair 3200Mhz ram, with Profile 1 XMP engaged. All tests were run with a mild overclock on the 10700k of 200Mhz, so that it ran 4.9Ghz all core. No additional CPU voltage or current tuning was done in the BIOS.

CPU cooling was handled by a be quiet! 280mm AIO, turned sideways on our Thermaltake Core P3 test bench using some nice XSPC brackets. The cooler has to be turned, otherwise long cards cannot be fitted to the motherboard.

In turn the GPUs were also OC’d – we’re trying to bump up the PSU needs to amateur enthusiast levels here, right?

Using MSI Afterburner, mild overclocking was applied:
Nvidia reference GTX 1080 was boosted by 160Mhz core, 200Mhz memory
EVGA RTX 2080 OC was boosted by 90Mhz core, 450Mhz memory
MSI RTX 3080 Suprim was boosted by 100Mhz core, 250Mhz memory

We used a pair of Passmark PSU testers, wired inline to capture voltages and current draw. Inline wiring is used to pass the usage through the device in order to sample current flow and compute wattages more accurately. Two of them were necessary so that massive current using cards like the MSI Suprim with three 8 pin power plugs could be sampled.

A Note On the Passmarks

We are using these devices to sample power, not for their abilities to “fail” a PSU due to variances in slew rates or voltage ripple, as we have discovered there is some disagreement as to how those should be accurately measured. So we are not going to report on certain conditions that might at first appear to be reportable as an error, and we’ll stick closely to what we try and ascertain as factual measurements. We certainly know that this isn’t $50k of lab equipment, and we’re enthusiasts like you, trying to pass on what we experience and observe while applying a layer of experience over it. Onward.

Testing with the GTX 1080

Nvidia 1080 Current
Nvidia 1080 Watts

Testing with the EVGA RTX 2080

EVGA 2080 Current
EVGA 2080 Watts

Testing with the MSI RTX 3080 Suprim

MSI 3080 Current
MSI 3080 Watts

Conclusion

I have to agree with Fractal, these are attractively priced power supplies that will get the job done. Under heavy load, I found the Ion 850 watt unit to be rather quiet, and I really did not get it warm to the touch. The fan kept it cool, but I was running open air, so I am sure that helped. Regardless, the cooling worked great. Something else I observed was power down after run, similar to when you take your turbo charged car out for a hot run and there’s a pump to continue to circulate the oil after you shut down – the Fractal Ion 850w kept running the fan after shutdown, even after I flipped the attached PSU switch to off. I nod in appreciation.

Fractal ION 550 & 850 watt Power Supply Review - Cases and Cooling 37

I did observe peaks higher then this, but it is important to note that many PSUs would be running a bit outside their efficiency zone at around 800w of their 850w capacity – that’s across all rails as a reminder. But if you take a look a the fan / efficiency curve earlier in this review, you can see that at about 90% load, the Fractal Ion 850w is still at about 88% or more efficiency. It was making that heavily loaded electronics sizzling noise – like very tiny bacon when you put your ear close – but no problem with running the computer flat out or cooling the PSU. That customized 140mm Fractal fan did spin up a bit though, but it was very hard to hear over the MSI coils. Heh.

The pricing on these power supply units are very competitive, I would encourage you to check them out based on my short experience so far. Longevity concerns should be eased by Fractals generous 7-year warranty on these Ion PSUs.

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PCPer Editors Choice

Review Disclosures

This is what we consider the responsible disclosure of our review policies and procedures.

How Product Was Obtained

The product is on loan from Fractal for the purpose of this review.

What Happens To Product After Review

The product remains the property of Fractal but is on extended loan for future testing and product comparisons.

Company Involvement

Fractal had no control over the content of the review and was not consulted prior to publication.

PC Perspective Compensation

Neither PC Perspective nor any of its staff were paid or compensated in any way by Fractal for this review.

Advertising Disclosure

Fractal has not purchased advertising at PC Perspective during the past twelve months.

Affiliate Links

This article contains affiliate links to online retailers. PC Perspective may receive compensation for purchases through those links.

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About The Author

Brett VanSprewenburg

Years of geek-ism in programming, digital image processing, capture, compression and other online application work has landed Brett here - amongst his many endeavors - webmaster and contributor @ PC Perspective. Whether its wrenching on race cars, dune buggies or web sites, only the size and shape of the tools are different. The solution always starts in your head.

11 Comments

  1. Bill

    Pricing?

    Reply
    • Brett

      In the pricing block my man. 🙂 Right near the top. 550w: $79, 650w: $89, 750w: $99, 850w: $109 with an added .99 cents on each.

      Reply
      • Pat

        In their defense, I had a lot of trouble finding it too. It’s hidden unless you click “Pricing” but my eye was looking for a $ symbol.

        Reply
  2. Mark.OS

    Solid review, Brett. It’s clear you’re working hard on doing more than just a cursory overview and trying to dig deep into these PSUs. Really appreciate the effort. Well done.

    One lingering question — do you know the OEM for this? Super Flower, FSP, Seasonic, etc? It would be interesting to know. And I’m curious if Fractal has done any customization or worked with the OEM to tweak specs, which can happen sometimes.

    Great stuff. Thanks again, sir!

    Reply
    • Bill

      Didn’t see it at first. I was looking for a table and didn’t realize it was hidden under a drop down on the mobile site. Thanks for review. I’d also like to know who Fractal’s OEM is.

      Reply
    • Brett VanSprewenburg

      Thanks, appreciate the feedback. I’m trying to improve in ways to evaluate these. Definitely going to be including more data as appropriate, and for now will probably stick with what I consider the “practical” approach. Meaning that’s it’s one thing to know that a PSU can output X power – but how well will it actually power a particular set of components? So I think it’s useful to actually set up a system and push it to see what actually happens. Knowing a PSU output and the accumulated power draw from a mix of components are usually two isolated values.

      Reply
    • Cody L Wellman

      OEM is HEC (High Power)

      Reply
  3. BigTed

    The 7 year warranty is nice. I’ve just RMA’d a Corsair AX760 exactly 3 months before the 7 year warranty expired, which was nice as usually my stuff fails 3 months after.

    Reply
  4. FrankDrebin

    > A quick look inside, here. It’s clear that Fractal has had a hand in designing the board layout and specifications, as their name is all over it.

    You mean, are you saying it would be practically impossible for Fractal to just order a custom silkscreen job without getting involved in the PSU circuit design and/or PCB layout? ;-P

    Reply
    • Brett VanSprewenburg

      So having their name screened on all the boards, their own cooling within, means they probably had no “hand” in specifying the design or operating parameters then according to what you’re implying? Sure.

      Reply

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