The Black Art of Dual PSUs in Your Enthusiast PC

Putting two powers supplies in your computer has been a recurring subject in our forums for years. While the physical process of making that happen is not exactly rocket science, it still can be daunting for some users. Today we show you a few products that make it easy for anyone to double up on the power should your wattage needs increase.


Athena Atlas 800 Overview

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When we purchase the Athena Atlas 800 and open the packaging all we find are the power supply, power cords, and mounting rails as this product is meant for OEMs. Also hailing to its OEM roots, we find that the Atlas 800 is only backed by a one year warranty. When it comes to the Athena Atlas 800 power supply itself, we find that it houses a pair of 800W power supply modules (again while that is 1600W’s of power it is not additive due to the configuration of one module as the backup in case of a failure in the other module). Each of these modules plugs into a PCB at the front of the power supply housing which handles the management of the two units during normal operation, and when a module fails, as well as housing the output connectors. While redundant power supplies are almost exclusively found in servers, a few workstations, and other applications, there are no insurmountable reasons why they cannot be co-opted by enthusiasts, or other users, who wish to take advantage of its features.

Previously, given how closely these products have been aligned with the target application, its practicality for enthusiast usage has been limited but with these units becoming more efficient, larger in capacity, and featuring more useful connector arrangements, such as we see with the Atlas 800, the appeal for enthusiasts may actually be increasing. As such, in the coming couple of weeks be sure to come back as we will be featuring a full blown review of the Athena Atlas 800, to tip the hat a bit it is a very impressive product.

Athena Atlas 800 Overview

Unlike our previous products, the Atlas 800 does not require a specific set of configurations to function beyond connecting your components to it once it is installed in your system, plugging in the AC input cables (or if you love hearing the failed module sound form the unit’s speaker just one AC cable) and then flipping on the power switches (or, again, if you love hearing the failed module sound form the unit’s speaker just one power switch). I will go ahead and say at this point, if you have never worked with redundant units before you may think I am being a bit dramatic about the failed module sound. I assure that, there is no way for you to miss a failed module alarm on this unit as in order to do some of the testing for this unit it was necessary to disable one module and after many hours of listening to the alarm I think I still hear it. This is not a dig at Athena as this is the entire point of an alarm. All in all, the concept of a redundant power supply is time tested and when quality units do exactly as advertised. The quality of this unit and its performance, however, are beyond the scope of this particular article but will be covered in the units full review.

Now that we have looked at a few different options for running dual, or more, power supplies in an enthusiast system let’s wrap this all up and see how these stack up.