The XPG Core Reactor II VE 850W PSU Review: Our First ATX 3.1 Power Supply

Just over 18 months ago, Intel launched their significantly revised ATX v3.0 power supply standard, and with it, the 600 Watt-capable 12VHPWR cable to power video cards and other high-drain add-in cards. The release of the standard came with a lot of fanfare and excitement – the industry was preparing for a future where even flagship video cards could go back to being powered by a single cable – but shortly after, things became exciting again for all the wrong reasons.

The new 12VHPWR connector proved to be less forgiving of poor connections between cables and devices than envisioned. With hundreds of watts flowing through the relatively small pins – and critically, insufficient means to detect a poor connection – a bad connection could result in a thermal runaway scenario, i.e. a melted connector. And while the issue was an edge case overall, affecting a fraction of a fraction of systems, even a fraction is too much when you’re starting from millions of PCs, never mind the unhappy customers with broken video cards.

So the PC industry is taking a mulligan on the matter, quickly revising the ATX specification and the 12VHPWR connector to fix their design flaws. In its place we have the new ATX v.3.1 power supply specification, as well as the associated 12V-2×6 connector, the combination of which are intended to serve the same goals, but with far less of a chance of errant electricity causing damage.

Ultimately, the combination of the two new standards has required backwards-compatible changes on both the device (video card) side, as well as the power supply side. And as a result, power supply manufacturers are now in the process of releasing ATX v3.1-compliant PSUs that implement these revisions. For PSU vendors, the changes are relatively trivial overall, but they are none the less important changes that for multiple reasons, they are making sure to promote.

Getting down to business, the first ATX v3.1 power supply to enter our testing labs comes from ADATA sub-brand XPG, a prolific player in the PSU market. XPG recently expanded its product lineup with the introduction of the Core Reactor II VE series, the company’s first foray into ATX 3.1-compliant PSUs. As a direct successor of the Core Reactor II series, the Core Reactor II VE is a relatively simple 80Plus Gold unit that distinguishes itself with its straightforward design, aimed at providing steady performance without the high expense.

In today’s review, we are taking a look at the 850W version of the Core Reactor II VE series, which is, for the time being, the most powerful ATX 3.1 unit XPG offers.