be quiet! Dark Power Pro 12 1500W PSU: Powering 128 Threads


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be quiet! Power supply

In the world of computer power supplies, only a handful of websites can produce a proper technical review. The unfortunate fact is that to accurately measure and understand the performance characteristics of a modern power supply unit (PSU), you need access to specialized equipment costing thousands of dollars.  The fact is, we simply don’t have the equipment and, therefore, cannot provide a technical PSU review. But, don’t despair…

When be quiet! approached me about doing a power supply review for their new high-tier 1500 W Dark Power Pro 12, I initially declined.  However, I was soon struck with a wild idea for an article, and it turns out that be quiet! just so happens to like wild ideas. Instead of doing a technical review, I would simply torture the PSU with the most power-hungry system I have access to, the monster 64-core AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X. Running benchmark tests on the TRX40 platform would indeed be a very stressful real-world power supply test. The CPU can consume over 1000 W with water cooling and heavy overclocking.

That would make for a decent test and a fun article, but this is overclockers.com, and I’m a top-ranked professional overclocker, so a ‘decent test’ won’t do. My idea was to get absolutely crazy and push the limits of the 3990X with liquid nitrogen cooling. I’ve heard reports that the CPU can consume up to 1600 W once it’s overclocked to the max with extreme cooling. How will the 1500 W Dark Power Pro 12 handle a real-world load of 1600 W? It’s going to be a wild ride! Follow along and see what happens when we take the training wheels off and intentionally abuse this PSU.

Specifications

be quiet! is making a name for themselves in the PSU market and within the enthusiast communities. They’ve released power supplies that offer excellent build quality, nearly silent operation, premium cabling, and ultra-high-quality circuit boards. Within their wide range of power supplies, the Dark Power 12 series is their elite offering consisting of 5 models. All of the PSUs in this series offer up to 95.9% efficiency for a rating of 80 PLUS® Titanium and fully digital control of PFC + LLC+SR/12 V. One of the main innovations for this series is the frameless fan design and digitally controlled fan performance curve. There’s a shroud built into the case, which acts as a fan frame, and as a result, the fan noise is substantially reduced. 

Today we’ll be looking at the flagship 1500 W Dark Power Pro 12. There are two models within the Dark Power Pro lineup consisting of 1200 W and 1500 W. They feature multiple +12 V rails but offer a method to transform the PSU for single-rail operation mode. The overclocking key handles the single-rail conversion and comes in a simple short connector or a case expansion slot switch with an LED indicator.

be quiet! is confident in the quality of their PSU and offers an incredible 10-year warranty. We did some digging and only found one other PSU with a longer warranty period (though a few have 10 years).

In the table below are the specifications of our test product:

be quiet! Dark Power Pro 12 
Model / Part Number 1500 W / BN312
Voltage (Vac) / Frequency (Hz) 100 – 240 / 50 – 60
Dimensions (L x W x H) 200 x 150 x 86
Fan Size (mm) 135
Noise level (dB(A)) at 20 / 50 / 100% load  12.1 / 12.4 / 31.5
Number of 12V Rails
Certification / Efficiency (%) at 230V 80 PLUS® Titanium / 94,9%
Energy Star Certification 7.0 Compatible 
Circuit Protection OCP, OVP, UVP, SCP, OPP, OTP
Lifetime of PSU at 25°C (hours) 300,000
Cables Number of cables: 17
Cable Management: Full Modular
Maximum cable length: 120 cm
Length of ATX cable: 60 cm


Number of Connectors

ATX motherboard (20+4-pin): 1
PCI express (6+2-pin): 10
P8/P4 Connector: 1x P4+4 / 1x P8
S-ATA: 16
P-ATA: 8
Pricing $449.99 Amazon
Warranty 10 Years
Downloads Datasheet
Manual

 

be quiet! Marketing Highlights

We want to show you their marketing media for the PSU. The text and pictures below were taken from the be quiet! website:

be quiet! Dark Power Pro 12 1500W
80 PLUS Titanium
80 PLUS Titanium

80 PLUS Titanium

Dark Power Pro 12 1500 W is certified with 80 PLUS Titanium and an energy efficiency rating of up to 94.9%. This provides lots of benefits for your high-end system, including less power consumption and an overall cooler and quieter operation. The standby drain is below 0.1 watts.
Fully Digital Control
Fully Digital Control

Fully Digital Control

The fully digital control (PFC, LLC, SR/12V) results in higher efficiency, better regulation and lower ripple noise. This guarantees an incomparably stable operation. Due to the digital concept, the Dark Power Pro 12 can reach a great efficiency over the complete power range, even at a low load.
Frameless Silent Wings Fan
Frameless Silent Wings Fan

Frameless Silent Wings Fan

The be quiet! Silent Wings fan mounted on a tripod enables maximum airflow and a virtually inaudible operation at ordinary loads. This is thanks to its unique, airflow-optimized fan blade design along with an advanced fluid-dynamic bearing and 6-pole fan motor for less vibration, super-long life and minimal power consumption
Cooling Concept for a Longer Lifespan
Cooling Concept for a Longer Lifespan

Cooling Concept for a Longer Lifespan

The split fan inlet of the Dark Power Pro 12 is a specially-shaped funnel that increases airflow while reducing unwanted turbulence. The wire-free design inside allows the cool air to reach all components flawlessly which ultimately leads to a longer lifespan.
Ready for Overlocking
Ready for Overlocking

Ready for Overlocking

Dark Power Pro 12 is particularly suitable for overclocking, thanks to its strong and stable 12 V rails. The overclocking key empowers you with full control for overclocking by manually switching between the default six 12 V-rail modes and the alternative massive single-rail operation.
Modular Single-Sleeved Cables
Modular Single-Sleeved Cables

Modular Single-Sleeved Cables

The maximum utility afforded by extra-long sleeved cables of up to 120 cm and modular cable management simplifies component installation and reduces annoying clutter. This succeeds in increasing the airflow and improving the cooling in even the largest PC cases.
Digital Technology
Digital Technology

Digital Technology

Experience the most technologically advanced power supply be quiet! has ever built! Using an advanced digital full bridge, LLC and Synchronous Rectifier (SR) technology it provides unmatched signal stability and unbeatable power efficiency. It is also equipped with DC-to-DC conversion for tight voltage regulation, even under heavy cross-loading conditions. This ensures reliable operation for the next generation of processors and graphics cards.
Japanese 105° Capacitors
Japanese 105° Capacitors

Japanese 105° Capacitors

Only the best components are used in Dark Power Pro 12. That is why exclusively high-quality Japanese capacitors are built into the PSU chassis. They are rated to 105°C which ensures stability, reliability and a long operating life.
Magnificent Appearance
Magnificent Appearance

Magnificent Appearance

The all-new PSU front and the redesigned funnel-shaped opening uphold the high air circulation abilities. In combination with the individually sleeved cables, the high-quality aluminum case on the outside and the high-end components on the inside make the Dark Power Pro 12 shine from every possible angle.
 

Packaging and Product Overview

The first impression of the retail packaging is size. The Dark Power Pro 12 1500 W PSU ships in an absolutely massive box that measures 17.33 x 12.8 x 11.15 inches and comes in at just under 16 pounds. It’s a two-part presentation style velvety box that fits together tightly and is also held together with a thick paper sleeve. The sleeve includes printing specific to the model we are testing today and includes pertinent technical specifications such as the wattage and how the voltage rails are dispersed.  

Recalling all the PC component packages we’ve seen over the years, this is absolutely one of the best. If the outside of the box didn’t exude that premium feel, the inside absolutely will. They’ve paid close attention to detail, the safety of the products, and the unboxing experience. 

The PSU itself is safely tucked away and encased in over an inch of high-density foam on all sides. The cables and accessories are organized by type and are separated by printed cardboard layer separators. Unboxing this PSU is a special and unique experience. 

 

A Closer Look

We’ve seen many PSUs over the years, and the Dark Power Pro certainly stands out as something unique. There’s never been another PSU quite like this one. If be quiet! went out of their way to create such a uniquely premium package for the PSU, which they did; it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the premium look and feel would be carried through to the PSU itself. 

A closer look - PSU Body
A closer look – PSU Body

The overall design is sharp and angular with extremely tight seams. While all PSUs are essentially just a rectangular hunk of metal and electronics, this one sets itself apart from the pack. Instead of a stamped and bent single piece of steel, the Dark Power Pro 12 has been assembled from many flat pieces of brushed and anodized aluminum. The process is much more expensive than what you’d find on most other PSUs.

The overall result of the aluminum construction is certainly impressive to look at. However, we wonder if this is a detail that most users will overlook. In many modern cases, the main trend seems to be hiding the PSU and placing it out of sight. 

Once the cables are installed, we get a picture of what it would look like fully populated. The Dark Power series of PSUs have such a beautiful exterior that it’d be a shame to hide it underneath case panels. 

Cables and Accessories

In terms of cables, they’ve given you everything you could ask for and more. With a flagship power rating, we’d expect to be greeted with an abundance of connectors, and they didn’t disappoint. Below is an image we’ve taken from their website. It shows the cabling in great detail and outlines exactly what you get with the PSU. 

Cables and Accessories - Cable Specifications
Cables and Accessories – Cable Specifications

As you can see in the chart above, the cable length is very long. Each wire is individually sleeved in matte black. The sleeving is very tight and does not reveal any wire beneath. In terms of wire gauge, they didn’t take any shortcuts. It uses a beefy 16 AWG for the critical 12 V lines such as ATX 20+4 pin, EPS12 4+4 pin, EPS12 8 pin, and all PCIe 6+2 pin lines. The SATA and Molex lines have built the cables with 18 AWG wires, which is more than enough for the application.

 

As we mentioned above, the Dark Power Pro 12 1500 W was built with a multi-rail design. To arrive at the power rating, they needed to use six individual 12 V rails. This is fine for normal users with big power requirements that are well distributed, such as multiple graphics cards. However, if you have specific needs, such as overclocking an Intel 10980XE, that multi-rail design might be an issue. The problem is that the CPU might only see 1 or 2 of those rails under normal conditions, and it wouldn’t be enough to adequately power the CPU for overclocking purposes. 

To solve this issue, be quiet! devised a method to logically combine all of the rails into a single one. This allows users to harness all of the power on a single device, such as a CPU. The aptly named ‘overclocking key’ facilitates the PSU transformation from 6-rails down to just 1. They’ve given you two separate overclocking keys. Serious overclockers will appreciate the simplistic jumper because it’s less clutter on the desk. However, if you use a conventional PC case, you might opt for the case-mounted overclocking key. Both function the same way, and it comes down to personal preference. 

As for the extras, it’s the standard fare. Inside the box, you will find a solid manual and an assortment of cable management accessories. 

Testing

As stated in the intro, we simply don’t have the capabilities to test the PSU’s technical specifications – so we won’t be. Instead, we’re going to put the PSU through the worst-case overclocking load we can imagine. To a competitive overclocker, high-wattage ratings often don’t necessarily mean that the PSU can handle high-current overclocking loads. Overclockers shun several flagship power supplies because they shut down under heavy loads and trigger OCP (Over Current Protection). So we’re going to test the Dark Power Pro 12 1500 W as an overclocker would and give it a pass or fail result for high-current overclocking loads. 
 
There aren’t very many discrete components in the desktop world that can actually consume more than 1000 W alone. However, Intel and AMD both have a CPU offering to get the job done, and we will put both to the test. In terms of graphics cards, the EVGA RTX 3090 Kingpin Edition can only sustain about 750 W with peaks around 850 W under load when overclocked to the max with liquid nitrogen. While it’s certainly a large power demand, we feel it’s not adequate for our purposes to be a standalone test.

Intel Platform

First up is the Intel® Core™ i9-10980XE Extreme Edition Processor. When Intel first introduced the 18-core CPU to the desktop market (i9-7980XE), only a handful of power supplies could handle the CPU under LN2. Many serious overclockers complained about power supply issues for this CPU, so we feel it’s a very valid test. 

Platform Picture

 
Intel® Core™ i9-10980XE Extreme Edition LN2
Intel® Core™ i9-10980XE Extreme Edition LN2

AMD Platform

The main event for our testing is the AMD Ryzen™ Threadripper™ 3990X Processor. This processor is without a doubt the most power-hungry single component available within the desktop market today. Due to the rarity of this CPU, it didn’t receive the same media attention about power supply issues that Intel’s offering did. Still, as you will see today, it’s certainly a worthy test for our purposes. 

Practice Run

Final Run

Platform Picture

AMD Ryzen™ Threadripper™ 3990X Processor LN2
AMD Ryzen™ Threadripper™ 3990X Processor LN2

Final Thoughts

Normally,  we’d summarize everything we learned and give you a cost/benefit analysis of the product. Unfortunately, because this isn’t a product review, we won’t be doing any of that. However, we’d like to call to your attention that the be quiet! Dark Power Pro 12 1500 W retails for $449.99 on Amazon. Looking at the direct competition of high-efficiency 1500+ W PSUs from brands such as EVGA, Corsair, and Thermaltake, we find that be quiet!’s offering is among the cheapest.

Through the course of this overclocking adventure, we came away with the impression that be quiet!’s flagship offering is a very elite product. Everything exudes a super-premium look and feel based on the unboxing experience, overall build quality, and even down to the cables. The aluminum chassis is unlike any other PSU we’ve seen to date, and it makes a big impression.

We know for a fact that not all PSUs rated for 1500+ W are capable of delivering that for extreme overclocking purposes. We’re pleased to report that the be quiet! Dark Power Pro 12 1500 W did exactly what it was supposed to do and more. First and foremost, it was capable of delivering its rated power. Not only did it deliver a whopping 1500 W, but it managed to do that through the 24-pin and two 8-pin EPS connectors only. Without a doubt, there is no other worst-case scenario the PSU can experience under normal operating conditions. Not only did it meet the expectation of 1500 W, but as you have seen in the video above, it delivered a total of 1597 W and never complained. Based on our test, we confirmed the single-rail mode works exactly how it’s intended to. If you’re an overclocker with big power demands, we feel confident in saying be quiet!’s flagship offering is up to the challenge. 

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