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APC Back-UPS ES 500

It's interesting how a low price point can transform a long time niche product to a more palatable mainstream offering. This is what seems to be happening in the UPS (Uninterpretable Power Supply) market. For example, a high-end surge protector currently sells for somewhere in the range of 30 to 40 dollars, while an entry level UPS goes for somewhere in the 40 to 50 dollar range. The APC Back-UPS ES 500 (reviewed here today courtesy of Geeks) is a 500VA / 300W unit two steps up from APC's entry level UPS and it sells for 60 dollars.

If you aren't overly familiar with UPS devices you might be wondering what benefits there are to owning one, especially if you already own a surge protector. Off the top of my head I can think of three: brownouts, power outages, and voltage regulation. The APC Back-UPS ES 500 supports two of these three (brownouts, and power outages). Of these three probably the most well known is power outages. In fact, one of the main selling features of a UPS is the one of battery backup. This means that the UPS will power your system from its internal battery to allow you to use your computer through a short power outage, or to save your work and perform an orderly shutdown during a long one.

APC Box

Speaking of powering your system with a UPS, the specs you most need to be aware of here are the VA and the Watts rating. Many UPS only list the VA rating of the unit. If you need to know the Wattage rating this number is normally set at 60 % of the VA. For all but the most hardcore of you reading this, that means that the 500 VA / 300 Watts rating of the ES 500 should be adequate for you, since it powers my overclocked AMD A64 rig quite nicely. If you are running something a bit more exotic, though, say with SLI, dual displays, RAID, or a pelt, I would look for a UPS with at least a 700 VA / 420 Watts rating. If you are interested in learning more on this VA / Watts subject, have a few extra minutes and don't mind being bored to tears, check out this .PDF over at APC.

The APC Back-UPS ES 500 arrived from Geeks in a plain, well-packed cardboard box, inside of which was an attractive semi-gloss retail box. At 15 lbs the retail box was quite heavy for its size. Upon opening the box I was pleasantly surprised to find detailed documentation actually included in the box. You would think this would be a no-brainer, but in this age of penny-pinching, that is often not the case.

APC Still Packed

Specs:

-Capacity: 500 VA / 300 Watts
-6 Power outlets
-3 Battery & surge protection
-3 Surge protection only
-Voltage regulation : 115V +- 8% (On battery)
-Data port: RJ to USB
-3.3 x 10.9 x 6.9 in
-Weight: 13.2 lbs net
-2-year comprehensive warranty
-6 foot long power cord

Before you get started using the APC Back-UPS ES 500 there are a couple things you need to do. First, remove the rear case cover, take out the battery, and connect the negative battery lead to the internal battery. This is easily accomplished and, fortunately for the newbies, well-covered in text and diagrams in the documentation. The reason the UPS ships with the negative battery lead disconnected in this manner is because of DOT (Department of Transportation) shipping guidelines. Second, check the red building wiring fault indicator (located at the end near the power cord) to verify the red light isn't lit (if it is call an electrician). Now you are ready to start plugging things in.

APC Sticker     APC Battery Compartment

The APC Back-UPS ES 500 offers a modem / DSL connection as well as six power outlets--three on the top and three on the bottom. The top three outlets provide battery back-up plus surge protection; the bottom three outlets provide surge only protection. In addition, one of the upper and one of the lower outlets is designed to accommodate a transformer block. What all this geek speak means is simply plug the stuff you want to have battery back-up in the top outlets and all your other stuff in the bottom outlets. Six outlets should be enough for most users.

Some of you will be satisfied to stop right here knowing that you are now protected. For those of you looking for a little more control over how the UPS reacts during a power outage, grab your RJ to USB cable and plug the RJ end into the UPS and the USB end into your PC. Running Windows XP SP2 the APC Back-UPS ES 500 was found and installed automatically. For once, Plug & Pray actually seemed to work as Micro$oft intended. As a repair technician by trade, however, I distrust things that seem too easy, but pulling up Power Options in the OS showed everything was indeed working correctly and I didn't even need the driver installation disc.

APC Software 1     APC Software 2     APC Software 3

“18 Minutes Runtime” the front of the box proclaims in big bold letters. After looking at the chart the letters reference I noticed, though, that this was for a desktop with a 15” monitor. A tower with a 19” monitor which most closely matches the specs of my rig had a projected runtime of only 7 minutes. So what number did I actually get from my APC Back-UPS ES 500? 10 minutes 31 seconds. This number was actually better than the chart projected and was certainly enough to eliminate all interruptions due to brownouts, or short power outages. If I was to guess why I got better results than the chart predicted I would say it was because my 19” display is a LCD rather than a CRT.

Conclusion:

The APC Back-UPS ES 500 exceeded my expectations for a product in this price range. The only thing missing here is voltage regulation and that feature would likely drive up the costs substantially. With a UPS, urges, brownouts, or short black-outs are no longer anything that you need to fear. This makes for a much more pleasant computing experience.

Pros:

  • Not much more expensive than a quality surge protector
  • Protects against brown outs and power outages
  • Auto shutdown features
  • Compact size

Cons:

  • No AVR (Automatic Voltage Regulation)

I would like to thank Computer Geeks for providing us with the APC Back-UPS ES 500 for review. Unfortunately by the time we finished the review this item is now out of stock. Geeks sells other UPS as well and those can be found here.

Geeks

Added: November 5th 2005
Reviewer: JimAdkins
Score: 9  
Related Link: APC
Hits: 11127
Language: english

  

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