Introduction

Fractal Design has recently released the ION+ 2 series PSUs. The key difference between the ION+ and ION+ 2 is the compliance to the Intel ATX 2.52 standard which would result in improving start-up time and transient load response. The other difference would vary from unit to unit. Fractal has released the following SKUs in the new lineup:

  • 560W
  • 660W
  • 760W
  • 860W

Fractal has retained all the key features including the UltraFlex DC cabling in the ION+ 2 series PSU and they have the same footprint as well. Fractal Design has sent us the ION+ 2 Platinum 860W PSU along with the Torrent PC case for testing and use in the test build. We are not equipped with the required equipment to fully test the PSU hence we will only be giving a general overview and use experience of using this PSU on the build comprising of Intel i9 9900k overclocked to 5.0GHz and MSI GeForce RTX 3090 Gaming Trio X overclocked and will see if the PSU is able to handle the steady power under load.

Item:                     ION+ 2 Platinum 860W

Manufacturer:  Fractal Design

Price:                    $149.99 [MSRP at the time of review]

 

Specifications

 

Packaging and Unboxing

The PSU is shipped inside a cardboard-based packing box in black and white color.

The unit has 80 PLUS PLATINUM certification. One general misconception is that having a higher 80 PLUS certification would imply the better build quality of the unit. While in theory, this could imply but the reality is far from it. So, always check for the other data including the built-in protection system, capacitors, single rail vs multiple rails, and relating current limitation per rail, etc.

Salient features of the unit are printed in 4 languages.

The ION+ 2 retains the Semi-passive Zero RPM mode from the ION+ series. The PSU will run in silent mode on the light loads. Fractal Design is offering a 10-year warranty on these PSUs which is remarkable. High Power is the OEM of the ION+ and ION+ 2 series PSUs.

When we opened the box, we found a container with a few Velcro strips, 4x screws, and the user guide.

The PSU is tucked inside two black colors Styrofoam pads. The cables are placed inside a separate bag. The power cable is placed separately on the top.

The PSU is placed inside a Fractal branded pouch which is a nice touch.

The cables are placed in a Fractal branded bag.

Closer Look

Let’s start with what Fractal Design is saying about these units, “The Ion+ 2 Platinum is a modular, high-performance power supply unit with emphasis on quiet operation, enhanced cable flexibility, and superior output quality. The newest generation features a multitude of electrical design improvements and pack-in accessories to ensure all models meet and exceed the requirements of the latest high-end motherboards and ATX 2.52 specifications. A user-selectable semi-passive “Zero RPM” mode maintains pure silence under light loads, and the custom-tailored 140mm fan with FDB bearings remains barely audible even during heavy use. All models include Fractal Design’s revolutionary new UltraFlex DC cabling, a super high strand-count wire with specially formulated insulation that allows for extreme flexibility without loss of efficiency or current capacity. UltraFlex cables bend and twist effortlessly to simplify installation in tight spaces, allow precision cable-routing, and eliminate the inherent hassles of traditional rigid power supply wiring. Ion+ 2 is available in 560, 660, 760, and 860-watt capacities, all with 80PLUS® Platinum Efficiency, 10-year warranty, and a full electrical protection suite.”

The salient features include:

  • Fractal Design UltraFlex DC wires have game-changing flexibility for effortless cable routing and connectors that twist and bend to fit your installation
  • Custom-tailored Dynamic Series 140 mm fan with exceptionally low minimum speed and true long-life FDB bearing
  • 80PLUS® Platinum Efficiency for optimized electrical performance and reduced heat generation
  • User-selectable Zero RPM mode allows for either silent, passive operation in low load situations or continuous low-speed fan operation for additional cooling
  • Outstanding output quality with tight voltage regulation and extremely low noise and ripple
  • Fully modular design for reduced clutter and maximum ease of installation
  • Premium Japanese 105° C capacitors provide enhanced reliability and durability
  • Compact 150 mm depth easily fits compact spaces, allowing extra headroom for cable management
  • Full electrical protection suite includes Over Power Protection, Over Voltage Protection, Short Circuit Protection,
  • Under Voltage Protection, Over Current Protection, and Over Temperature Protection
  • Extra-long 600 mm 24-pin ATX cable and 700 mm 4+4 pin cable
  • Extensive 10-year warranty
  • ATX 2.52 compliance with improved start-up time and transient load response
  • Premium cable and PSU storage bags
  • All models include two 8-pin ATX12V/EPS cables

The ION+ 2 PLATINUM 860W is a compact unit measuring 150x150x86mm. This will allow the user to use this unit in space-constrained cases easily. The unit has a gunmetal and black coloring on the housing. Both sides have a plain layout in two-tone with Fractal branding towards the connectors’ side. The switch over between the two tones is simple yet attractive. Two screws are used here to secure the housing.

The base of the unit has a solid surface with no branding or any other info on it.

The top side of the unit has a solid grill covering the custom-designed, high-performance Dynamic GP-14 fan. The fan has a rated speed of up to 2000 RPM producing a maximum of 36.6 dB(A) generating a maximum airflow of 119.03 CFM at a static pressure of 2.82 mmH₂O.

This is a 140mm fan. The fan is using FD bearings for a long life span standing at 100,000 hours. The top cover is secured using 4x screws. Salient features of the fan are:

  • Size: 140 x 140 x 25 mm
  • FDB (Fluid Dynamic Bearing) offers low acoustical noise, long life, and high reliability
  • A counter-balanced magnet reduces the axial tension on the bearing
  • Optimized fan geometry balances airflow and static pressure
  • Aerodynamic stator with embedded wiring reduces turbulence
  • Notched blade edges eliminate fan hum
  • Trip Wire technology increases blade efficiency and decreases noise

The unit has a vented design on the power input side. We have an On/Off switch below the 3-pin header. The power label is printed here. The ION+ 2 PLATINUM 860W PSU is using a single 12V rail with 71.6A giving a total output of 859.2W. The power table is as under:

Voltage Readout Current Power
3.3V 22A
5V 22A
3.3V and 5V Combined 120W
12V 71.6A 860W
-12V 0.3A 3.6W
5Vsb 3A 15W
Total Power   860W

AC Input is 100-240V AC, 10-5A, 50-60Hz.

Let’s take a look at the side of the connector of the unit. We have a total of 11 connectors here. The connectors are properly labeled to help the user in the identification. The top two on the left are for the ATX 24-pin cables. We have a total of 5x 8-pin ATX12V/PCIe connectors. 4x connectors are for the SATA/Peripherals.

ION+ 2 PLATINUM 860W zero rpm power button

There is a switch labeled as ZERO RPM MODE. It is On by default. Which would mean the fan would not spin at all under the light load. Switching this feature Off would let the fan run continuously on low-speed operation for additional cooling.

Cables

This PSU is fully modular. The modular approach has made it convenient for the users and saved them the hassle of dealing with all the cables clutter. Now, users can connect only the required cables and keep the not-needed cables away. This would help in better cable management and improve airflow (later is a subjective term).

Fractal Design has provided the following cables:

Cable Quantity
24-Pin ATX24 1
8/4+4 ATX12 2x
PCIe 6+2 3x
SATA 3x
Peripheral 1x

The cables are flat and are in black color. The really good feature is their flexibility particularly the ATX24 cable. Fractal is using what they call UltraFlex in which the cables are extremely flexible for better cable management. The 24-pin ATX cable if not flat, is quite challenging to handle but with UltraFlex design, this is of no consideration at all. Key features of the cables include:

  • Combining an increased strand count and reduced diameter of just 0.08mm allows thinner, more flexible cables
  • Specially formulated insulation increases flexibility without impacting efficiency or current capacity
  • Cables flex and flow with ease for near-effortless routing and superior cable management opportunities
  • Connectors bend and twist to make for easy connections in tight spaces with less resistance and strain

Connectors

The connectors information is as under:

Connector Quantity
ATX24 1
EPS/ATX12V 2x
PCIe 6x
SATA 10x
Peripheral 4x

 

Cable Configuration

Following is the length of the cables in mm between the connectors:

Cable Length
ATX 24-pin 600mm
ATX 12V 4+4 pin 700mm
EPS12V 8-pin 600mm
PCIe 6+2-pin 550+120mm
SATA 400+150+150+150mm

650+150mm

Peripheral 400+150+150+150mm

 

The above picture shows the length of the cables pictorially.

Fractal has provided a standard 2-pin plug for the power input.

The above picture shows the unit with all the cables connected to it. A nice squid!

ION+ 2 PLATINUM 860W cables plugged in

The above is a close-up on the connectors side with all cables connected.

In power supplies, capacitors possess a critical place in defining their behavior. They are susceptible to change their original behavior due to their constant engagement with high power. Especially, their ESR values and temperature tolerance are important in deciding their aging factor, endurance, and reliability. The peculiar role of the capacitor’s ESR value depends on the position of the capacitor in a power supply. For example, two important capacitors that use in power supplies are the capacitor which is soldered at the input filter after PFC, and secondly, the capacitor that use as an output filter after the main transformer secondary rectification. Fractal Design is using 105°C Japanese Polymer capacitors with low ESR, long life, and better stability. They have employed Metal Oxide Varistor for AC line surge and transient protection.

ION+ 2 PLATINUM 860W internals

Fractal has used a black color PCB with key characteristics of:

  • 99+ Power Factor Correction and low THD (Total Harmonic Distortion)
  • Low-loss, zero-voltage soft switching for improved efficiency
  • 12V Synchronous Rectification: Improved efficiency, Low RDS(on), low conduction loss
  • High efficiency Step-down DC-DC circuit provides stiff voltage regulation with low ripple and noise
  • NTC Thermistor and Bypass Relay protects against high inrush current
  • Supervisor IC provides Over Power Protection, Over Voltage Protection, Short Circuit Protection, Under Voltage Protection, Over Current Protection and Over Temperature Protection

General Improvements

These include:

  • Tighter start-up timings and transient load response in adherence to stricter ATX12V 2.52 requirements
  • Increased 5 VSB efficiency minimizes vampire power drain
  • More responsive over-current protection with 130% trigger point (vs. 145% nominal on Ion+)
  • Lower initial current draw on 230V systems
  • 560W and 660W now include additional EPS cables, ensuring all versions are capable of powering the latest high-performance mainboards which require a second 8-pin connector
  • Longer SATA/Peripheral cables with an additional 30mm spacing between connectors

Here is a quick note on the 80 PLUS. Unit is 80+ PLATINUM-certified with an efficiency level of 92.13% at 50% load. 80 PLUS is a voluntary certification that classifies the PSUs by their efficiency levels. Idea was to promote energy efficiency consumption by encouraging the manufacturers to produce units with the efficiency of 80% and above at 20%, 50%, 100% of the units rated load. It also takes into consideration the power factor which should be 0.9 or higher at 100% load. All this to ensure that less heat is generated in wasted energy; this would also put less stress on the utility bills. Here is the ION+ 2 PLATINUM 860W PSU’s 80 PLUS data:

Load Efficiency
20% 92.01%
50% 92.13
100% 89.20%

Above are the mean values.

Above is the test result as shared by the Fractal Design.

Protection and Safety Features

When buying a PSU, users must give due consideration to the rated safety and protection features of the particular unit as a slight negligence can put the expensive machine at higher risk of getting damaged. This is where these safety features come in handy. Ideally, as soon as any short circuit or surge is detected, PSU should shut itself down before the damage occurs on the components. After PSU, the most likely component to fail is the motherboard because of the circuitry design but that puts the CPU at higher risk as well.

High-quality PSUs include protection features such as Over Voltage Protection, Over Current Protection, Over Power Protection, Short Circuit Protection, Under Voltage Protection, Over Temperature Protection, etc. Usually, these features are mentioned as synonyms like OCP stands for Over Current Protection.

The Fractal Design ION+ 2 PLATINUM 860W PSU has the following protections:

  • OVP (Over Voltage Protection)
  • UVP (Under Voltage Protection)
  • OPP (Over Power Protection)
  • SCP (Short Circuit Protection)
  • OCP (Over Current Protection)
  • OTP (Over Temperature Protection)

Following is the certification and safety data:

   
Standby Efficiency ErP 2013 (<0.45W @ 230VAC, 45mA load on +5sb)
Sleep State Compliance C6/C7
Approval and Certifications CE, FCC, TUV, cTUVus, EAC, RCM, CCC, BSMI, CB, KC+KCC

 

Circuit General Guidelines

Foregoing all in view, the qualitative review of power supply comprised of some parameters to assess and grade it in terms of efficiency, robustness, reliability, and performance. To further stimulate the interest in readers, these parameters have been outlined as follows, on basis of their classification.

  1. Control dynamics of PSU features:
  • Transient response
  • Steady State response
  • Load Regulation
  • Cross Load Regulation
  1. Input and Output Power Quality is described by its:
  • Harmonic Suppression and filtration at Input Power Cord
  • Power Factor Improvement (Active and Passive)
  • Power Efficiency (Switching Losses, Magnetics etc)
  • AC Ripple Factor in secondary output voltages of the transformer
  1. Safety measures includes:
  • Dedicated Power supervisor chip at secondary side of transformer for OVP (Over Voltage Protection), UVP (Under Voltage Protection) and OCP (Over Current Protection) etc
  • Fuse, MOV (Metallic Oxide Varistor) and relayed thermistor at Input Power Cord
  • Proper Isolation of low and high power components on PCB, insulation and grounding
  • Electromagnetic Compatibility
  1. Durability includes:
  • Selection of components
  • Proper Soldering
  • Heat dissipation of components
  1. EMI (Electromagnetic Interference) Compliance

The most significant factor that determines the aforementioned parameters is the topology that is being employed in the power supply for a particular application. However, there are fundamentally 6 sub-stages involves in shaping up an intelligent power supply unit.

  1. Input Harmonic Filter at the Input Power Cord (Impedance Matching, Insertion Loss and)
  2. Rectification (Full Bridge)
  3. Power Factor Improvement PCB (Active and Passive)
  4. Magnetics (Power Conversion)
  5. Transformer Secondary Side rectification, filtration and supervisory IC
  6. Embedded Control Board (Modular PCB)

All building blocks are working together to form a complete unit.

Test Configuration

Following configuration is used to power by the PSU:

  • Intel i9 9900k (5.0GHZ @ 1.350V)
  • ASUS RPG STRIX Z390-E GAMING
  • Ballistix 16GB RAM
  • EK Water Blocks EK-AIO-360 D-RGB Elite
  • MSI GeForce RTX 3090 Gaming X Trio [Overclocked]
  • Lexar 256GB NVMe SSD
  • Fractal Design ION+ 2 PLATINUM 860W

As mentioned at the start of the content, we don’t have the necessary equipment to test the PSUs hence a simple PC base synthetic testing was done to put the configuration under heavy load. We have used the overclocked PC to run stress tests like AIDA64 Extreme with the synthetic load. The PSU was able to withstand that all and proven a solid design. We did not see any radical drop in the voltage or any reset/shut down during the operation. It was running quite as well. Overall, job well done, Fractal!

Concluding Remarks

The ION+ 2 PLATINUM series PSUs from Fractal Design have retained the same footprint as is on the ION+ series but brought a few key improvements, the salient of which is the compliance to the Intel ATX12V version 2.52 for better start-up timing and transient load response. These PSUs are available in 560W, 660W, 760W, and 860W SKUs. The following points sum up the improvements:

  • Tighter start-up timings and transient load response in adherence to stricter ATX12V 2.52 requirements
  • Increased 5 VSB efficiency minimizes vampire power drain
  • More responsive over-current protection with 130% trigger point (vs. 145% nominal on Ion+)
  • Lower initial current draw on 230V systems
  • 560W and 660W now include additional EPS cables, ensuring all versions are capable of powering the latest high-performance mainboards which require a second 8-pin connector
  • Longer SATA/Peripheral cables with an additional 30mm spacing between connectors

The ION+ 2 PLATINUM 860W is the high-end premium PSU in the ION+ 2 series with High Power being the OEM of the unit. This is a completely modular design with ZERO RPM Mode. The user has the option to switch on the mode in which the fan will not spin under the light loads or switch the mode off for the continuous fan operation for effective cooling.

The unit is using custom-designed Dynamic X GP-14, 140mm fan using Fluid Dynamic Bearings having MTTF of 100,000 hours. We have a black color PCB using 105°C rated Japanese Polymer Capacitors and features 0.99+ Power Factor Correction with low THD (Total Harmonic Distortion). The unit is using 12V Synchronous Rectification and high-efficiency Step-Down DC-DC circuit along with NTC Thermistor and Bypass Relays for protection. There is a Supervisor IC chip to ensure the safety features, speaking of which this unit has Over Voltage Protection, Under Voltage Protection, Over Power Protection, Short Circuit Protection, Over Current Protection, and Over Temperature Protection. The unit is rated at 50°C for maximum operating temperature under full load. The unit is 80 PLUS PLATINUM certified.

The unit comes with a braided ATX24 pin cable which is extremely flexible thanks to the UltraFlex technology employed by the Fractal Design. The unit has 2x ATX12V/EPS cables, 3x PCIe cables, 3x SATA cables, and a Peripheral cable. A total of 6 PCIe 6+2-pin format connectors are provided and an 8-pin plus 4+4-pin format EPS/ATX12V connectors are provided.

The Fractal Design ION+ 2 PLATINUM 860W PSU is rated at $149.99 MSRP and is able to handle heavy load within the specified wattage with silent operation and comes recommended by us.

Thanks to the Fractal Design for the provision of ION+ 2 PLATINUM PSU.