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      APC Back-UPS CS 350 Review

     
     
     Date: October 6th, 2001
     Type: Review
     Supplier: APC
     Author: mayhem
     RRP: $221 AUS ($315 AUS for Back-UPS CS 500 model)

    Testing
    When you are happy that the system is setup the way you want it (for a server you would run the cable modem or equivalent and the machine itself, whereas a client machine you would run the machine and the monitor) then you might want to test how long the UPS lasts on the standard system load (i.e. typical amount of CPU usage by the programs you usually run).

    The best way of testing the unit is to simple disconnect the power source it is plugged into, you can do this in either of two ways, the first by simply turning it off at the power point, the other is pulling the plug out of the wall.

    The following is our test information:

    • 1. System (tower only) with WinAmp (MP3's) playing, UPS lasted: 00:43:01:33 (43 min and 1 sec).
    • 2. System idle (no additional software) with Monitor and Cable Modem attached, UPS lasted: 00:14:13:81 (14 min and 13 sec).
    • 3. System at full load (above normal usage) with Monitor and Cable Modem, UPS lasted: 00:09:57:48 (9 min and 57 sec).
    • 4. System at average/normal load (with Cable Modem attached), UPS lasted: 00:38:31:73 (38 min and 73 sec).

    Overall the unit lasted for an average of 26 minutes and 25 seconds (00:26:25:59) , this is quite decent for a UPS of this size, seeing as it only runs on one sealed lead acid battery which has a rating of 7Ah at 12V it is rather impressive. We tried to simulate the most common setups, Client, Server, Normal Machine etc. to give the best overall readings of how long the unit lasted, it took 6 hours approximately between tests to recharge the battery.

    All of the above testing was done with the Power Schemes turned to "Never", Low Battery warning set to 25% and Hibernation set to 5%, this way we would use 95% of the battery life to get the above readings. The system used was a Pentium 2 450MHz with 192MB Memory, 30G Seagate 7200RPM Hard Disk and multiple expansion cards etc, the monitor was a 17" Mitsubishi Diamond View.

    The recommended setup would be to connect the system (server or client tower) and your cable modem to the battery backup ports on the UPS, as for the monitor it is best to only connect this to the surge protection as the monitor drains power quickly from the UPS, you may also like to play with the settings so that the system hibernates later than the default time, this would be so that the system stays on until the battery has life 10% (or so), this all depends on the average amount of time the power is out in your area.

    Status Indicators and Alarms
    There are four status indicators (lights) on the front panel of the Back-UPS (On Line, On Battery, Overload, and Replace Battery).

    On Line (green) - is lit whenever utility power is powering the Battery Backup outlets.
    On Battery (yellow) - is lit whenever the battery of the Back-UPS is powering the equipment connected to the Battery Backup Outlets.
    Four Beeps Every 30 Seconds - this alarm is sounded whenever the Back-UPS is running On Battery. Consider saving work in progress.
    Continuous Beeping - this alarm is sounded whenever a low battery condition is reached. Battery run-time is very low. Promptly save any work in progress and exit all open applications. Shutdown the operating system, computer and the Back-UPS.
    Overload (red) - is lit whenever power demand has exceeded the capacity of the Back-UPS.
    Continuous Tone - this alarm is sounded whenever the Battery Backup outlets are overloaded.
    Circuit Breaker - the circuit breaker button located on the read panel of the Back-UPS will stick out if any overload condition forces the Backup-UPS to disconnect itself from utility power. If the button sticks out, disconnect non-essential equipment. Reset the circuit breaker by pushing the button inward.
    Replace Battery (red) - is lit whenever the battery is nearing the end of its useful life, or if the battery is not connected (see above). A battery that is near the end of its useful life has insufficient run-time and should be replaced.
    Chirps for 1 Minute Every 5 Hours - this alarm is sounded whenever the battery has failed the automatic diagnostic test.

    You will probably notice that if your power fluctuates then the UPS will switch to battery and then back to mains every now and then, this will also produce a beep or two, the main reason for this is that the CS line is aimed for the budget end of the market and it doesn't have the capability to "boost" power when its fluctuating, other more expensive models have this feature.

    Replacing The Battery
    After what you hope will be many years the battery in the UPS might start to deteriorate in quality, you will notice that the length of time the UPS can keep your machine on will drop and the UPS itself will tell you when the battery needs to be replaced. To do so you will need to place the unit on its side and slide the battery compartment cover upward and off the UPS.

    Next you will need to pull the battery out, exposing the battery terminals and wires, disconnect the wires from the terminals.

    Now you will need to slide the new battery into the battery compartment. Connect the battery wires to the terminals as follows: BLACK wire to Ground (-) terminal and RED wire to Positive (+) terminal. You will find the part number of the replacement battery in the table of specifications of the unit (see the beginning of this review).

    Conclusion
    After testing the unit and running a machine on it for just over a week you can really see the added benefit it would have for critical computers or those who need a machine to be running when the power is out. Mainly designed for business's and offices this might not be practical for home based solutions, but it would sure come in handy.

    Some of the main features and style of this unit make it very appealing, the quality construction and USB interface make it very simple and the size of the unit allows it to be easily placed where every necessary (this could be on top of a machine to hidden away - see above picture for size against a Midi Tower ATX case). Seeing as this unit only lasts for approx. 26.5 minutes, this is good for small solutions, but for large (long) black out areas this might not be useful, luckily APC also have a wide range of other UPS solutions so you can always pick the exact one that meets your needs, although for a Home situation of a Linuxbox and Cable Modem this is an ideal product at $221.

    The only main downside that I can see from this particular model is the fact that it can't make up for a fluctuating power source, but this doesn't really make too much of a concern. It is a little annoying to have to mail away for the additional Serial cable, but its well worth it as you can then use it on just about any machine with almost any Operating System.

    I would like to say a big thank you to Jason Rylands from APC Australia and Edwina Priest from Text 100 Public Relations for providing this new model UPS for review so quickly after its release.

    Score: 8.5 / 10

    FORUM: Talk about this and other products

     

      Supplier Information

     

    APC (American Power Conversion) Australia provide a large range of products from small UPS and surge protection equipment for home/office use to large scale UPS and other equipment for computer equipment protection. If you would like more information about products from APC then please visit there site: http://www.apcc.com/au/.

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