The Be Quiet! Dark Power Pro 13 1300W ATX 3.0 PSU Review: Flagship Quality, Flagship Priceby E. Fylladitakis on July 26, 2023 8:00 AM EST
Having reviewed and dissected almost a dozen ATX 3.0 power supplies in the last year, thus far we've seen an interesting mix in design pedigrees for PSUs targeting the newest power standard. For some manufacturers this has meant bringing up entirely new PSU designs by OEMs new and old, developing fresh platforms to accommodate the new 12VHPWR connector and its up to 600 Watt power limits. Meanwhile for other manufacturers, especially at the high end of the market, their existing PSU designs are so bulletproof that they've been able to add everything needed for ATX 3.0 compliance with only very modest changes.
For Be Quiet's flagship power supply lineup, the Dark Power Pro series, the company falls distinctly in to the second group. The pride and joy of Be Quiet!'s lineup has always been the pinnacle of the company’s engineering abilities, with the best possible specifications their engineers could muster (and equally prodigious price tags for the consumer). Besides making for long-lived PSUs themselves, that kind of engineering rigor has also allowed for a long-lived platform – even with the more extreme power delivery requirements brought about by ATX 3.0, Be Quiet has only needed to make a handful of changes to meet the new standard.
The result of those updates is the latest generation of the Dark Power Pro series, the Dark Power Pro 13, which we're looking at today. The 13th iteration of Be Quiet's lead PSU series builds upon their already impressive design for the Dark Power Pro 12, adding compliance with Intel’s ATX 3.0 design guide while retaining the 80Plus Titanium certification and impressive features of the previous version.
|Be Quiet! Dark Power Pro 13 1300W
Power Specifications ( Rated @ 50 °C )
|80 Plus Rating
|100 - 240 VAC, 50 - 60 Hz
Packaging and Bundle
We received the Dark Power Pro 13 in an aesthetically simple yet very luxurious cardboard box. The exterior surface of the box has been coated to mimic a velvet-like feel, with the designer keeping almost the entirety of the box plain. The box itself is very thick and has multiple layers, with additional high-density packaging foam protecting the PSU itself.
Be Quiet! supplies a rich bundle with the Dark Power Pro 13. Inside the box, we found an AC power cable (IEC C19), four typical mounting screws and four thumbscrews for the user to select whichever they prefer, ten cable straps, a few cable ties, numerous wire combs, and a PCI slot switch. The IEC C19 cable was necessary for a PSU with that kind of power output as it can surpass the current capacity of common C13 connectors when the input voltage is 115V or below.
The PCI slot switch can be used to turn the “overclocking” mode on and off. When off, the PSU has multiple virtual 12V rails, monitoring them for overcurrent individually. When on, it monitors the entire 12V line as a single rail, preventing the PSU from shutting down when a single connector draws a little bit too much power. The catch is that the latter mode cannot discern single-wire critical faults, and such a fault could lead to a massive current over a single wire, irreversibly damaging it. So there is a bit of a product safety trade-off for the improved overclocking flexibility.
The Dark Power Pro 13 is a fully modular design, allowing for the removal of every DC power cable, including the 24-pin ATX connector. Most of the cables are black, with black connectors and individually sleeved wires, with the sole exception being the two 12VHPWR cables which are typical black cables with one external nylon sleeve. It is also interesting to note that Be Quiet! entirely removed the practically obsolete floppy disk connectors, although the previous version of the Dark Power Pro series offered not one but two of them.
|Be Quiet! Dark Power Pro 13
|ATX 24 Pin
|EPS 4+4 Pin
|EPS 8 Pin
|PCI-E 8 Pin
The Be Quiet! Dark Power Pro 13 1300W PSU
Much like its predecessor, the Dark Power Pro 13 series is built around a unique aluminum chassis, with very smooth brushed surfaces and sharp edges. The body of the unit measures 200 mm deep, making it much longer than a standard ATX PSU. Although this should not be a problem with any large PC case, it could become a concern if the PSU is meant for a compact build.
The company and series logos, without its version, are printed on one side of the unit in chrome lettering. A sticker with the unit’s electrical specifications and certifications covers most of the other side, with smaller series and company logos right above it. Which side will be visible through a windowed side case panel depends on the mounting orientation of the unit.
The top side of the chassis is a perfectly clean surface of black brushed aluminum. A large on/off switch can be seen at the rear side of the unit, right below the IEC C19 connector.
Expectedly, the front side of the Dark Power Pro 13 is entirely covered with the connectors for the modular cables. Be Quiet! is using a straight 5-pin connector for the SATA/Molex cables, dual row 10-pin cables for the CPU cables, and dual row 12-pin connectors for the PCI Express cables. The ATX cable connects to two connectors at the PSU's side, a large 20-pin connector and a second 8-pin connector. Only the two 12VHPWR connectors are the same as with all ATX 3.0 compliant units we have seen to this date.
The printed legend indicates which virtual 12 V rail corresponds to every connector. For example, each 12VHPWR connector has a “dedicated” 12V rail with a maximum continuous current rating of 55A (660W). This design serves very well as far as safety and reliability are concerned, as the overcurrent protection would kick in much faster in the case of a fault and is far more likely to protect against catastrophic damage. Typical single-rail designs would require the current to climb several times above the connector’s maximum rating and, in case of a critical fault, the equipment will likely be damaged by the high current before the protection kicks in.
It is not without its downsides though, as it can limit the overclocking potential of powerful components due to the limited maximum power per connector. Furthermore, users should be careful not to connect the cables randomly but as recommended in the manual, because the default mode of the Dark Power Pro is with multiple 12V OCP rails, meaning that the PSU will shut down if the load is improperly balanced.
Be Quiet! is typically using their own fans for the cooling of their PSUs. For the Dark Power Pro 13, they are using a modified frameless version of their SilentWings 135mm fan. These fans have a fluid-dynamic bearing (FDB) for very low-noise operation and long-term reliability. The maximum speed of the 135 mm fan is 2600 RPM, an extremely high speed for a fan of this size. The company’s engineers optimized the fan and the body of the PSU itself so as to minimize vibrations and optimize airflow. The only discernable downside of this implementation is that, should the fan ever fail, only a replacement part from the manufacturer would be a direct fit.
The multiple 12V configuration hints the OEM behind the creation of the Dark Power Pro 13, which is no other than Channel-Well Technologies, commonly known as CWT. Although they are nowadays very few examples, CWT’s platforms commonly implemented multiple 12V rails in the past. A quick glance at the inside of the Dark Power Pro 13 also reveals that it is not that much different than its predecessor, with the company merely tweaking the platform to achieve ATX 3.0 compliance and adding two 12VHPWR connectors.
Unlike most units, the main’s switch and AC plug receptacle are attached to a vertical PCB that also hosts a few of the filtering stage components, with the rest on the main PCB. The filtering stage is slightly better than typical, totaling six Y capacitors, two X capacitors, and two filtering inductors. It leads to a dual input rectifying bridge configuration, with the bridges attached onto the large heatsink that also holds the active components of the APFC circuit. The passive APFC components are three massive capacitors, two 400V/470μF by Nippon Chemi-Con and one 400V/680μF by Nichicon, as well as two large encased filtering inductors.
On the primary side of the main transformers, we find four transistors forming a full-bridge & LLC inversion topology. There are two transformers and two vertical daughterboards hosting the secondary side conversion circuitry but one 12V output is ultimately generated. The multiple 12V lines are, in layman’s terms, virtual, with the protection circuitry monitoring multiple output lanes instead of just the transformer’s output. The 3.3V and 5V lines are being fed via the DC-to-DC conversion circuits found on the vertical PCB near the front of the unit. Be Quiet’s engineers also added several copper shields.
There is a mix of both solid-state and electrolytic capacitors in the Dark Power Pro 13. Nichicon and Nippon Chemi-Con supply the electrolytic capacitors, while FPCAP and United Chemi-Con supply all of the polymer capacitors. Although it is rare to see that many electrolytic capacitors in a product of such tier, all of the suppliers used are amongst the most renowned capacitor manufacturers currently in existence.