View Full Version : Need some UPS advice

14-06-2011, 01:47 PM
I've just started living back at my parents' place after three years at uni. Fun times.

Anyway, their house has been experiencing occasional powercuts and circuit trips for quite some time. I've been assured that there is nothing we can do about this - they've tried nearly everything to figure it out, but at the end of the day, it doesn't affect them too much. It does, however, affect me and my brother. We're both avid gamers, and as I'm sure you understand, having your PC suddenly switch off during gaming can get extremely frustrating. Even worse, we've both lost a motherboard following two seperate trips, and I suspect this also caused long-term damage to my graphics card (which I was recently forced to replace, along with the PSU).

As a result of all this, I've finally saved up the money to buy a couple of decent UPS packs. They dont have to last that long, only a few minutes so that I can save whatever game I'm playing and shut down, but I want quality. Unfortunately though, I know next to nothing about these things. What brand should I get? What VA is necessary? I have a 650W Corsair PSU, and my brother has a 550W Raidmax. Is his VA requirement less than mine? I was thinking of getting something along the lines of this (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Trust-Powertron-Battery-Back-Up-16483/dp/product-description/B003AVMIHO/ref=dp_proddesc_0?ie=UTF8&n=340831031&s=computers), but I wanted to make sure before purchasing two of them.

Any advice is more than welcome, cheers.

- Frenz

14-06-2011, 02:10 PM
APC is generally the default UPS kit when lobbing them at server rooms - that's not necessarily to say they're always the best choice, just that folks tend to start investigations from there and compare all alternatives to APC.

They have a useful tool which errs very much on the side of "far more juice than you'll need" - at http://www.apc.com/tools/ups_selector/index.cfm

Power supply rating is not really an indicator of how much your PC draws, it's not even really an indicator of how much your power supply can handle. Very very rough guess but I'd be suprised if most PCs pull more than 200 watts even whilst in game.

My *very* rough finger in the air guess is that 300VA will keep an average PC running for 10 minutes assuming LCD monitor, single physical hard disk, decent but not bleeding edge single graphics card.

14-06-2011, 02:57 PM
Power supply rating is not really an indicator of how much your PC draws, it's not even really an indicator of how much your power supply can handle. Very very rough guess but I'd be suprised if most PCs pull more than 200 watts even whilst in game.

That's somewhat on the low side for a gaming PC under load. My med-high end PC draws around 400W. I really don't think you'd get far with a 300VA UPS.

The VA number given for a UPS is the amount of power it could supply under perfect conditions, the power they can actually supply will be considerably lower. Most UPS should list an estimate for actual output in watts in the specs. I don't know much about brand quality but Trust produce a lot of low quality budget peripherals. From a quick look at Amazon, this (http://www.amazon.co.uk/APC-Back-Power-Saving-Outlet/dp/tech-data/B002RXED6A/ref=de_a_smtd) looks like a decent choice for a similar price.

14-06-2011, 03:41 PM
APC SmartUPSes are generally recommendable, but only the rackmount models. For no good reason, the deskside stuff dies reliably after a few months (no, not just worn batteries). If power quality is a problem (nuked motherboards are indicative of that), you may want to spring for a (more expensive) online UPS (RT models - yes, they cost nearly twice as much), which completely separates your precious kit from the evil influences of the electricity supplier. Although that's probably overkill. You may want to avoid the SC models, because if I remember correctly those produce square waveforms instead of sine, which modern PSUs can choke on.

As for sizing, keep in mind that you (most likely) won't be able to shut your computer down cleanly without your monitor being on, so you need to account for everything you need plugged in to at least shut your computer down (computer, monitor, the USB hub's power brick, the desktop lamp so you can see your keyboard, ...). So look up your monitors power consumption and add it to that. As someone already pointed out, these power ratings are a (very) rough indicator at best. If you want to do it properly, measure first (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Plug-In-Power-and-Energy-Monitor/dp/B000Q7PJGW) (under maximum load), then add 30% on top of that and round up to a standard UPS size (probably around 1500-2000VA for both computers and peripherals, unless you have a CRT monitor, in which case you have bigger problems anyways).

Also, if you're online gaming you'll need to hook the network router/modem and any network switches between it and your computer up to the UPS as well. Depending on where that stuff is located in your house, this may or may not be extra hassle.

14-06-2011, 03:48 PM
Most UPS should list an estimate for actual output in watts in the specs.

Worth noting that regular PSUs are only about 75-80% efficient, which means if your computer components draw 300W, the PSU slurps up 375W in order to supply those 300W (and converts the remainder into waste heat - that's why it's got a fan).

14-06-2011, 06:17 PM
So do you think something along the lines of what Kelron linked (http://www.amazon.co.uk/APC-Back-Power-Saving-Outlet/dp/B002RXED6A/ref=sr_1_2?s=computers&ie=UTF8&qid=1308070622&sr=1-2), a 700VA/405W APC model, would be adequate for a PC with a 650W PSU? Part of the reason I've never bought a UPS (and im sure the reason why the internet seems to be so devoid of info on them) is because of the price. The aforementioned model seems to be a good price for what you get considering it's APC, despite apparently lasting only 3.5 minutes, but if I'm buying something more along the lines of this (http://www.amazon.co.uk/APC-Smart-UPS-1000VA-Serial-230V/dp/B00006BBKC/ref=sr_1_7?s=computers&ie=UTF8&qid=1308071091&sr=1-7) then I'd certainly have to know that it was necessary, and even then I'd think twice. After all, I'm buying two units here.

USB hub is not an issue, since I generally have no need for one, and neither is a desktop lamp since when the trip goes the lights still tend to work fine. The network router and switch are downstairs, but I'd not be able to use them during a trip anyway since I currently use a Homeplug system to connect to them. Generally speaking, all I need is a UPS for my system that will provide me enough time to either save my game and power down during a power cut, or to run outside and reset the electrical switch in the garage during a trip.

I did try using that UPS selector in the APC website, but even with 0% extra power for expansion and a 3 minute minimum run time, it was still suggesting some fairly expensive units within the 650-750AV range. Does that sound about right for a gaming PC? Maybe It'd help if I posted my full hardware specs:

Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 @ 2.40GHz
4.0GB Dual-Channel DDR2 @ 400MHz
Gigabyte Technology Co., Ltd. EP41-UD3L (Socket 775)
NVIDIA GeForce GTS 450
Optiarc DVD RW AD-7200A ATA Device
Corsair TW650W PSU
(Monitor) LL-172A-B @ 1280x1024

Is that any help?

14-06-2011, 06:51 PM
That's a huge help - and you'll be glad to know power consumption considerably lower than your PSU would suggest.


Their test rig (which by very brief look is beefier than yours (http://www.anandtech.com/show/3909/nvidias-geforce-gts-450-pushing-fermi-in-to-the-mainstream/4)) was, with a GTS450 in the graphics slot, pulling real world 157 watts in idle, 246 watts in Crysis and 270 watts under benchmarking.

That, I'm guessing, doesn't include the monitor but I'm going to pull a figure from the air and guess about 30 watts for a smallish LCD. It'll probably be 10 watts either side of that.

Given that I'm assuming the moment power goes you'll quick sharp exit out your game and be looking at idle power consumption very quickly, I'd say it still looks like you need no more than 200watts for 10 minutes. As such, I'd still say that a 300-350VA UPS will give you about 10 minutes.

http://www.apc.com/products/family/index.cfm?id=29 - that page gives a better indication of runtimes and suitable (APC) products once you know the actual power draw of your equipment in watts. Other thing to look at would be if it's cheaper to get one bigger UPS to cover both your and your brother's computer than two individual ones.

15-06-2011, 02:11 AM
I've got a APC 1300 Back-UPS, 780 watts, 1300va. It's lasted five-six years with zero failures - now it needs a new battery ;).

It's more than enough for even my newer computer, I admit. I also have my PS3, VHS, and HDTV plugged into it - and it still gives me about 5-6 minutes of shutdown time. More if if I'm not running the PS3 and TV.

That's my experience, yours may vary. I live in "T-Storm Central", here (Kansas). You can't get this model anymore, but I'm well pleased with it's performance.

15-06-2011, 06:51 AM
CityLink tend to be pretty good. I suppose it depends whether you want an international courier or not.