550W Roundup: Three PSUs at Different Pricesby Martin Kaffei on October 28, 2010 4:00 PM EST
The following review is another look at seeing if you really get what you pay for—or if you can get high quality without breaking the bank. For this roundup we have three power supplies rated at 550W, but with different prices. Will the most expensive unit deliver the best results? Can a cheaper product deliver the quality you need, and make up the difference by trimming the packaging and contents? Read on to find it out.
The first product comes from Techsolo Europa B.V., a brand from the Netherlands. Our US readers most likely haven't encountered the brand, but they sell cheap power supplies, PCI controller cards, and cases in Italy, Germany and Poland. We've got their Techsolo Black Mamba STP-550, representative of many budget power supplies. In Germany this PSU sells for around 30€ (39.18$; Oct. 22, 2010). Imagine our surprise to find that Techsolo advertises CE-certification as a "feature" (you need CE to sell power supplies in Europe). The PSU has passive PFC as well as a "silent" 140mm fan for cooling. More "interesting" features are high stability on all rails (+3.3V, +5V, +12V) and an On/Off Switch. It just keeps getting better! This PSU is not available in the US, but it's still a nice representative of the low-end and frequently outdated junk you can still find floating around—or perhaps included with an inexpensive case. You'll note that there's no 80 Plus certification on this one, which isn't too surprising considering the target market.
The second unit is a power supply from OCZ Technology Group. They're now famous for their SSDs and RAM, but they have many power supplies as well. Today we'll look at the OCZ Fatal1ty OCZ550FTY, priced at 64.99$ online—a $26 upgrade from our Techsolo sample. It looks like the Red Mist of power supplies with a red LED-fan and label. Otherwise, OCZ is using the same topology from their ModXStream Pro 500W with a few changes in the details. The 80 Plus certification is standard for any decent PSU today, but maybe that's enough to beat up on the Techsolo. Another advantage is the modular cables, which is a nice feature for the price.
The most expensive but potentially best power supply in this small comparison test is the new Antec TruePower New TP-550. You can get the product for 89.99$ online, another $24 premium over the OCZ and over twice the cost of the Techsolo. Antec uses Japanese capacitors, a DC-to-DC Converter for the smaller rails, a PWM-fan from ADDA for cooling, and a partially modular cable management. With 80 Plus Bronze certification, the TruePower New should be more efficient than the other two power supplies, but is it clearly better?
As usual we will look at the voltage regulation and quality, noise levels, and check out the internal design. Over the course of our roundup, we'll find out if these PSUs perform according to expectations, or if there are a few surprises in the mix.
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MrSpadge - Thursday, October 28, 2010 - linkI know your plan was not to privde full market coverage.. but still, if an PSU as expensive as the Antect is included, which still gets "only" 80+ Bronze, it would have been nice to see a 80+ Gold heavy hitter like the Enermax 87+ or Seasonic X series included. In my opinion they're as good as ~500W PSUs currently get.
EnzoFX - Thursday, October 28, 2010 - linkI really can't see a reason to turning to budget PSU's when there are often great ones on sale.
For example, the Corsair 400 W one, every now and then, goes for $20 AR. Antec has a similar offering, at similar price, the EarthWatts 430W I believe. In higher range, another great example: The Corsair 650 TX for around $65 AR. In regards to my personal preference, all of these are known to be very quiet.
Granted, you do have to wait for the good pricing, but I consider it to happen often enough to simply pick one up when they do and have a spare ready. I suppose if you really can't wait, then you'd have to consider the other brands.
adrien_n - Thursday, October 28, 2010 - linkI've bought a Corsair CX400 PSU and it's efficient, silent, stable and it around 40 EUR I think.
Bought it after reading about it on http://www.canardpc.com/dossier-36-450-Corsair_CX_... (french) (the whole article is a worthy read if you understand french). It's rated at 400W but if you sum up the powers, you get over 500W.
Stas - Friday, October 29, 2010 - linkI will always stand by Corsair PSUs. The PSU in my rig, CMPSU-520HX, has been reliable for 3 years. Outlived everything else in my machine (3 video cards, 2 CPUs, dozen of HDDs, 3 mobos, even 3 cases lol). Granted I buy quality parts or don't buy any at all, so none of those pieces actually died on me (except a 4 y.o. Hitachi HDD). I've also put in about 15 of Corsair PSUs in clients' rigs (from 400 to 850W versions, multi-12V-rails and single) in the past year and a half. Not a single one died or caused any instability. All are dead silent, too. Corsair's PSUs has become a standard in my eyes. Yes, there are more efficient offerings but they cost in the upper 100s and mid 200s. Between $50 and $150, I don't even think about what PSU to get, I just approximate the consumption and through the appropriate Corsair in the cart.
chrnochime - Friday, October 29, 2010 - linkWell they either use CWT or Seasonic, so they're reliable because of these companies. IIRC they don't have any PSU that's specifically made *by* their own factory, all of their PSU are rebranded ones.
strikeback03 - Monday, November 1, 2010 - linkWell, that is the case with most PSUs though. Corsair does pick good ODM designs and specify good components for the builds.
HollyDOL - Tuesday, November 2, 2010 - linkI am very happy with Corsair PSUs as well and can only recommend... high efficiency, silent, very good current stability...
gusc3669 - Thursday, October 28, 2010 - linkOn page 1 under the Techsolo Black Mamba STP-550 I know that this PSU didn't perform but...
"It just keeps getting better! This PSU is not available in the US, but it's still a nice representative of the crap-section."
Mr Perfect - Thursday, October 28, 2010 - linkEvery once in a while it's good to call out the low end products like that Mamba, especially when it comes to PSUs. There are so many people who buy horribly cheap PSUs, or get one bundled with a case, and then see their whole machine go up in smoke. Which might actually make this more important the testing good supplies...
It would also be helpful to explain some of the features and components of the supplies though. I imagine there are quite a few people who don't know what things like PFC are, or even that it existed.
Calin - Friday, October 29, 2010 - linkReading only reviews from decent and high quality power supplies will suggest to the reader that all power supplies are decent or high quality. Good to know (at least every once in a while) that a certain power supply did blew up at not more than half the supposed load