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The APC Back-UPS 650

The product
  • Output power capacity 650 VA
  • Output power capacity 400 Watts
  • Nominal output voltage 120 V
  • Waveform type Stepped approximation to a sinewave
  • Typical recharge time 11 hour(s)
  • Interface port DB-9 RS-232
  • Surge energy rating (Joules) 320


(+,-) $200USD

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A study by IBM has shown that a typical computer is subject to more than 120 power problems per month. The effects of power problems range from the subtle keyboard lockups, hardware degradation to the dramatic complete data loss or burnt motherboards.

According to a survey by the Yankee Group, almost half of the corporations researched put their down time costs at upwards of $1.000(US) per hour, with nine percent estimating costs up to or more than $50.000(US) per hour. Clearly, businesses are becoming more and more reliant on utility power supplies that are pushed beyond their capacity. Of-course these realities donít only concern companies or big corporations. They are also touching a very big portion of home users: a slight power problem could result in anything from losing your precious work to serious hardware damage to your PC.

A Slight Overview

The front panel of the back-ups 650 features an I/O switch with a Green LED that indicates when the power is ON. Thereís a second switch on the right that features two functions: Test and Alarm disable. The Test tests the UPS system by emulating a power outage. The Alarm switch can disable the warning beep when a power outage occurs.

The back-ups 650 comes with a FAX/Modem surge protection that will guard your PC from "back-door" surges. You can only use one telephone line on it as it only features a line in and a line out to your computer.

The back-ups 650 comes with two surge protection outlets that are designed for equipment that needs surge protection and not power back-up during an outage. The 650 model also features two BlockSafe outlets; they are basically corded sockets that can at the same time accept block type plugs without covering other outlets.

400 Watts of output capacity power should be more than enough for most users. If you own a lower end system at home and are not using one of those 21" Monitors, you may simply pass on the 650 model and take a look at a lower end model in the back-ups series.


The very first step to do when you get your APC product will be reconnecting the black wire to the battery. All of APCíS units are shipped with a battery wire disconnected due the compliance with the Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations. To do so, place the unit on its side, open the battery protection door, and slide the battery out. After these steps have been done, connect the black wire to the battery, slip it back in the unit and close the battery protection door.

When these steps have been completed, you will need to connect the unit to a power source. The UPS battery charges whenever it is connected to utility power and typically requires around 5 hours to charge fully. After the charge, you can proceed connecting your equipment to the UPS.

The test

Having your PC connected to an UPS system is great, but did you ever asked your-self how long these systems could keep up with your PC? Well before going further let me just explain that every single UPS has itís own specifications. This means that the 650 model sold by APC performs somehow better compared to letís say the 500 model, the price difference is not only based on the exterior features, but it is also based on a reasonable improvement over the time it can hold your PC up.

We decided to perform a simple "UP" test on our Pentium III 550E system featuring the Asus P3V4X motherboard, 128MB of memory and a G400 video card from Matrox. This was tested on a mid-tower case running on a 300Watt Furtron power-supply. The display of choice was Sonyís value 17" ES monitor. We started the test at 9:25am, just by unplugging the electricity source the back-ups started out-putting an alarm sound: sending out an warning that the electricity has been completely cut off and the system fully operates from the UPS system. The beeping lasted until 9:53, which was then replaced by a continues alarm: sending out an warning that the UPS battery is discharging. This alarm lasted until 9:55 and 27 seconds. The UPS system gave up and the PC turned off. The back-ups 650 showed us a very impressive back-up result: 35 Minutes and 27 seconds are much more of what we expected of this $199 USD product.

APCís PowerChute software

You will need to fill out a form and send it back to ACP in order to receive the interface cable and PoweChute plus software. No extra charges will apply on that option. I still donít understand why ACP didnít include it in the bundle directly.

APCís PoweChute plus software supports Windows NT and Windows95/98. A good example of itís use is, when power fails, APCís WorkSafe feature will start saving all open files, and will close all opened applications. It will then automatically shut down the operating system. The connection between the APC back-ups and your PC is made using a standard serial cable.

Positives (+)
  • Reasonable Price
  • Good Back Up Time
  • Telephone Surge protection
Negatives (-)
  • No software and cable


There are two different types of computer users, those who lost data due power problems and those who are going to. The more you use your computer, the sooner youíll have to pay for that loss. Power problems wreak havoc on todayís networked and stand-alone PCís. If you donít want to be in one of these two categories and if you really look in to protecting your home or business PC, we highly recommend you to take a look the back-ups 650 from APC. You may want to take a little tour at APCís site to choose the right back-ups product for your PC.

Oleg Mitskaniouk

Web Target PC


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