The Candidates

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 This PSU is not available in the US, but it's still a nice representative of the low-end and frequently outdated junk you can still find floating around—or perhaps included with an inexpensive case.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.

Techsolo Black Mamba STP-550
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  • dinkumthinkum - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    I also was stung by an Antec about 5 years ago. I read later that they switched suppliers at some point and quality suffered. I switched to FSP and later Corsair/Seasonic, so far so good.

    I had a small form factor FSP die on me mysteriously but I suspect that was due to the level of chalk dust in the room. I replaced it with a Seasonic, which has been amazingly quiet and reliable.
  • Phaedrus2129 - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    That was the 2005/2006 Fuhjyyu capacitor incident. It affected the TruePower, TruePower II, and Smartpower units. Those PSUs were shipped with Fuhjyyu capacitors on the secondary, which are extremely unreliable. Antec claims their manufacturer (CWT) put them on without permission to save cost; CWT claims Antec specc'd them that way. Either way, Antec and CWT parted company, and now all Antec PSUs use Japanese or mid-range Taiwanese capacitors.

    In other words, they had some bad units in 2005/6, that doesn't make them bad for all time. Their current lineup is excellent, baring the Basiq line.
  • Pessimism - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    Saying a power supply exploded at 50% load is not enough. For maximum impact, post photographs of its remains after attempted use.
  • sviola - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    Nice Review. I look forward for more reviews like this and, who knows, a PSU round-up in the same way of the gpus and memory round-ups.
  • iamezza - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    Loved the review. I liked the humorous writing style and didn't think it was too unprofessional.
  • xi0s - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    PC Power & Cooling

    Nice review, though seeing how simple it is to test PSU's and how many more players there are on the market these days, I would've much preferred a roundup of atleast 5 PSU's instead of a measly 3. Not that you didn't make a point here, but surely you could've done more with it.
  • ClagMaster - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    Why get an Antec TP-550 when you can purchase a Seasonic SS-560KM Modular Power supply for a few dollars more and get top-notch performance and reliability ?

    Corsair power supplies (manufactured by Seasonic) are also excellent too. But the Seasonics are the best.
  • softdrinkviking - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    is actually a pretty big fan company in the asian PC market.
    they sell there fans in the big consumer electronics stores that have a DIY PC
    section, and in hobby stores. (here in japan)
    i will say that they are cheaper than most fans, but not the absolute cheapest.
  • JohnMD1022 - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    Why bother with a PSU that is not available everywhere?

    Restrict reviews to components that are available worldwide.
  • Beenthere - Saturday, October 30, 2010 - link

    Fanboism doesn't make a good PSU.

    Thankfully a few sites conduct proper load testing of PSUs so intelligent PC enthusiasts can make an informed decision. Without actual test results of specific PSU models a consumer has no means to tell good PSUs from ad hype. An educated consumer doesn't buy hype they buy quality, performance and value.

    One accurate PSU test is of far more value than a baseless fanbois opinion.

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