Today's graphics cards seem to consume increasingly preposterous amounts of power. And, as the gaming public moves towards dual- and even quad-card systems, the need to relieve the load on your beleaguered PSU (power supply unit) is greater than ever before. After all, the more overloaded your PSU is, the less stable your PC will become. In extreme cases, the results could be catastrophic.
So what are the options? Well, you could replace the entire PSU. Alternatively, should you want an extra bit of power, you could buy a product such as the FSP Booster X3. Rather than replace the existing PSU, this product is designed to work in conjunction with it. It can be slotted into a spare 5.25in drive bay, and its two six-pin power cables mean it can happily power either a single card or two in an SLI (scaleable link interface) configuration. Should you want even more juice, you can get a second X3 and plug it in for increased output.
Installation of the X3 was simple, and shouldn't challenge anyone who's vaguely competent with a screwdriver. However, while the Booster itself may be compact, there are a number of cables required to connect it up, so you'll need a bit of spare room in your PC case. You'll also need a free PCI slot so the X3's external power socket can be fitted into place, and an extra wall socket to keep the X3 humming.
We put the X3 through its paces by plugging it into one of the most power-hungry cards currently available – the ATI X1900XTX – and plumbing it into a PC with a power supply a full 75W lower than the figure quoted by ATI themselves. And while the X3 didn't make any real difference to the actual speed at which the PC ran, it did allow us to get far more stable overclocking from the ATI.