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  • MrSpadge - Thursday, October 28, 2010 - link

    I 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.

    MrS
    Reply
  • EnzoFX - Thursday, October 28, 2010 - link

    I 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.
    Reply
  • adrien_n - Thursday, October 28, 2010 - link

    I'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.
    Reply
  • Stas - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    I 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. Reply
  • chrnochime - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    Well 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. Reply
  • strikeback03 - Monday, November 01, 2010 - link

    Well, that is the case with most PSUs though. Corsair does pick good ODM designs and specify good components for the builds. Reply
  • HollyDOL - Tuesday, November 02, 2010 - link

    I am very happy with Corsair PSUs as well and can only recommend... high efficiency, silent, very good current stability... Reply
  • gusc3669 - Thursday, October 28, 2010 - link

    On 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."
    Reply
  • Mr Perfect - Thursday, October 28, 2010 - link

    Every 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.
    Reply
  • Calin - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    Reading 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 Reply
  • Mathieu Bourgie - Thursday, October 28, 2010 - link

    I'm with everyone here, crap power supplies are a plague and with the marketing focusing on the Watts "output" (many PSU are overrated as Martin pointed out with the Techsolo Black Mamba 550W), it just gets worse for uneducated consumers.

    I wish that ATX specs were tighter and that if anything, PSUs should be regulated by an independent commission whose approval you need to sell a PSU (not going to happen, I know), or at the very least to display their label (like 80 PLUS).

    Requirements being based on being capable on delivering promised output (At 50C, not 30C or 40C...), ripples within a certain reasonable range, overcurrent/undercurrent/surge/etc. protection to prevent both fires and to protect the PC components, correct wire gauge and other important things that don't come to my mind right now.

    In short, a certification that would tell you that PSU has what you should look for and will work reliably as intended. Just like 80PLUS with efficiency, what a great certification. Not perfect, but it's a big step forward.
    Reply
  • Stuka87 - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    Typically the UE and CE certifications should be that governing body when it comes to PSU's. If it is typical for the PSU that burned to have those issues, it should never have gotten certified.

    Although there is the "Fake" CE mark that looks very similar to the european CE mark, but actually stands for "China Export". I have seen some cheap electronics (and cheap open frame PSU's) with this mark on it before. And of course those PSU's tested out to be crap when ever I hooked one up to my power analyzer.

    But an ATX specific spec would be awesome.
    Reply
  • brybir - Thursday, October 28, 2010 - link

    "This PSU is not available in the US, but it's still a nice representative of the crap-section."

    While this may be objectively true (as it appears to be), I suppose I expect Anandtech articles to read less like blogs and more like professional evaluations that give the facts up front and well reasoned, supported and defensible conclusions at the end. At least that is what I have come to expect on Anandtech....please dont turn into Tomshardware (i.e. poor writing with sensationalism everywhere).
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, October 28, 2010 - link

    I'll just chime in here by stating that Martin is located in Germany and as such is not a native-English speaker. I heavily edit most of his reviews, but it can get a bit tedious at times to rewrite every little phrase. Perhaps I should have been a bit more creative up front, but I let this description of the Black Mamba go through and apparently you guys didn't like it, so I've reworded it to be a bit more professional. Maybe I was just reminded of Michael Meyers: "If it's not Scottish, it's CRAP!" :-D Reply
  • lenghui - Thursday, October 28, 2010 - link

    Well, great job translating, Jarred, and great job writing, Martin. Great review.

    I happen to own an OCZ Fatal1ty 550W and a ModXStream Pro 500W, so this article intrigued me. I have owned both for over a year, running 24 x 7 x 365. No problem so far (touch wood).
    Reply
  • brybir - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    Thanks for changing that. I read that whole article and enjoyed the comparison as I am pretty uninformed about PSU and why one is better than the other, but that one little phrase just kept coming back into my mind when I thought about the article. Keep up the good work! Reply
  • softdrinkviking - Sunday, October 31, 2010 - link

    it's not "you guys" that don't like it, it's just one prick.
    you and Martin are both doing a great job, and i absolutely floored that
    you are catching shiite for that one sentence.
    i mean, how stiff can you possibly be to take offense at that?
    Reply
  • Calin - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    A 550W power supply that blows at 300W actual output is certainly "crap-section" - so, in this specific case, I understand the feeling. Reply
  • dertechie - Saturday, October 30, 2010 - link

    Yeah, I actually enjoy the black humor often found in PSU reviews. Reply
  • EddyKilowatt - Tuesday, November 02, 2010 - link

    Well the thing performed poorest on the tests, and failed at half rated load... those are supportable and defensible results by my standards.

    I don't have a problem with Martin's exasperation creeping in a bit early in the review. Everyone with knowledge needs to take a stand against the cheap crap that's always threatening to flood the market and drive the good stuff out. Martin's comment might've been out of line if the Techsolo had under-performed by 10%... but it *failed with smoke* at just half rated load! That's crap, and I'm glad he called it such.
    Reply
  • Spivonious - Thursday, October 28, 2010 - link

    I really did laugh out loud when I came across "quadratic ventilation". Just say they're square holes. Reply
  • Spazweasel - Thursday, October 28, 2010 - link

    It's interesting to see a conclusion that recommends reading a lot of reviews... the fact is, there have been very few power supply reviews compared to other PC components.

    Consider. With video cards, most manufacturers closely adhere to reference designs, differing only in cooler design (sometimes) and factory overclocks (sometimes). Yet upon the release of a new video chipset, we see reviews comparing offerings from several different manufacturers. Are we really expecting any real differences between, say, a 675Mhz 460 GTX from Palit compared to a 675Mhz 460 GTX from Asus, other than the noise and effectiveness of the fan? Yet we get that question examined and answered, in considerable detail. Video cards are sexy and fun to test.

    However, with power supplies, it's inverted. It's clear that there are *substantial* differences between power supplies from different manufacturers, and that pricing does not track quality particularly well. Power supplies would benefit *more* from reviews comparing similarly-specced products from a wide variety of manufacturers. Yet we see very few power supply reviews. Anandtech has the best power supply reviews I've seen, examining real performance with repeatable, deeply technical benchmarks and tests, as opposed to "my computer turned on with it, the LEDs are pretty, Gold Editor Award" we see elsewhere. Anyone can install FRAPS and Speedfan then run timedemos and Furmark and call it a video card review. It takes skill and understanding and specialized equipment to test a power supply well. Anandtech has that skill; many other review sites do not. Your duty is clear!

    I'd like to see more power supply reviews of this caliber, with the same intent to examine *all* major manufacturers that is given to video cards. As pointed out in the article, it can be just as important to spend wisely here as in other components, and I would therefore like to see proportionate coverage in power supplies.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, October 28, 2010 - link

    We had Christoph Katzer doing this sort of PSU review on a regular basis for a while, but then he had some other stuff come up that pulled him away. He ended up recommending Martin for his replacement and has helped (I think) Martin get set up for PSU testing. I expect we will have at least a few PSU reviews each month going forward, so we'll hopefully be able to cover more of the market as time goes by. Reply
  • dertechie - Thursday, October 28, 2010 - link

    Most sites honestly just do not have the equipment or the skills to test the things (and I prefer they don't review them rather than test them poorly). Anand and Tom's have recently gotten back into it, but I know HardwareSecrets and HardOCP do a lot of PSU reviews with the proper gear, and I hear that JohnnyGuru does as well, but I haven't looked there myself. Most PSUs pass, but I've read enough reviews that there's no way I will buy an unreviewed unit for a build. Too many PSUs from otherwise reputable companies that failed, exploded, melted, took out the reviewer's wattmeter, or all of the above simultaneously. Reply
  • Spazweasel - Thursday, October 28, 2010 - link

    Agreed. Some power supply vendors manufacture their own high-end power supplies but subcontract the mass-market stuff, often with no way to tell other than a trained eye which has seen that particular PCB layout before. Plus, any manufacturer can have a run of bad supplies, particularly if a component vendor lets them down (remember the capacitor issues a few years back which were traced back to a supplier that sold to many manufacturers ?).

    I have my own short list of power supplies that I use for my own and for friends' builds.

    Antec EA380D for HTPC/entry level gaming rigs (it really is as quiet as the review says!)
    OCZ 500MXSP for mainstream gaming rigs
    Corsair 620HX for premium gaming rigs (my main gaming rig has this one, and has given flawless service... 8800GT SLI, E8500, everything OC by about 20%, rock-steady)

    Anyone going higher-end than that doesn't need my advice.
    Reply
  • Phaedrus2129 - Thursday, October 28, 2010 - link

    I personally haven't seen a company manufacture its own high end, and outsource mass market things. Use different manufacturers, yes, but not manufacture some in-house and others OEMd. Antec did try that briefly, but found that running a factory was hard work and shut it down within a couple years.

    Maybe you're thinking of one of these brands?

    PC Power & Cooling - Did not make own PSUs, despite best efforts to convince public otherwise. Used SeaSonic, Win-Tact, and FSP.
    Thermaltake - High end is CWT, low-end is crappy HEC and FSP stuff
    Antec - Have used CWT, Delta, SeaSonic, Enhance, FSP, and briefly their own factory, but never did what you described
    Corsair - SeaSonic and CWT, and Flextronics for the AX1200
    OCZ - Mainly FSP and Sirfa/Sirtec, though some older units were from Impervio and 3Y
    Enermax - All PSUs made in-house, though they did outsource once or twice... Never made it a habit though.
    SeaSonic - All made in-house

    Those are the common ones I could see someone having misconceptions about... What brands were you thinking of that made their own high-end and outsourced the rest?

    Also, FYI, the Corsair HX620 is discontinued.
    Reply
  • Spazweasel - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    The 620HX may be discontinued but it's still readily available.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...
    Reply
  • tomoyo - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    Actually the HX620 still exists, you can buy it on newegg right now. Which is kinda dumb because it's basically been replaced by the HX650 (updated version of HX620). Reply
  • Spazweasel - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    See, this is the kind of thing I'd like to know. Is the HX650 based upon a new design? Does it have anything to do with the 620, did Corsair just up-rate it, or is my experience with the HX620 irrelevant to the HX650? We've seen that we can't just make the blanket assumption that good experience with one P/S model from a given manufacturer is a good indicator of other models.

    My own knowledge of the HX620:

    1. It has all the juice I need for my system. Under load, the wattmeter on my UPS says my system pulls about 240-250 watts, so it's lightly stressed, but that still would have blown up under the tender ministrations of the Techsolo.
    2. I've never had any problems with this power supply. It's given perfect service.
    3. Corsair has treated me right. I managed to misplace the modular cables which I didn't use as part of the original build. When I needed those cables due to additional hard drives and adding the second 8800GT, I called them up and asked how I could order more cables. They sent me a full set of modular cables without charge (not even postage), and the cables arrived in 2 days.

    I'm inclined to believe that the HX650 would be as good, but.... review! I wanna review! :)
    Reply
  • Phaedrus2129 - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    Both are made by SeaSonic. The HX620 is a SeaSonic S12, which was SeaSonic's main high-end platform until it became mid-range.

    The HX650 is S12E, which is basically just an updated version with higher efficiency. Same performance otherwise. Still a decent unit. Usually a bit pricey for its performance though.
    Reply
  • jimhsu - Thursday, October 28, 2010 - link

    Silentpcreview also does high quality PSU reviews, though aimed at a slightly different market (hence the name). They do review performance PSUs though. Reply
  • Mathieu Bourgie - Thursday, October 28, 2010 - link

    There's also the EggXpert (NewEgg forums) Tiered Power Supply List that's a good reference (http://www.eggxpert.com/forums/thread/323050.aspx)... as well as *cough* shameless plug *cough* my own article on the subject "Warning: 6 Surefire Ways of Blowing Up Your Computer Due to an Inadequate Power Supply" located here: http://www.hardware-revolution.com/warning-6-suref...
    Due for an update for the recommendations at the end, rest is still pretty much valid.
    Reply
  • Phaedrus2129 - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    The EggXpert list a terrible reference, out of date and full of mistakes. Reply
  • tomoyo - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    There's an amazing amount of mediocre/crap psus that are in the Tier 2 section, and yet there's also some very good psus that are somehow Tier 4. I'd say a mostly useless list. Reply
  • hybrid2d4x4 - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    +1 for SilentPCReview's PSU reviews, though I'd say it's not necessarily a niche for audiophiles/noise-reducing obsessive-compulsives as the name may suggest: they only have one page (of 5-7) for acoustics. The rest is a knowledgeable analysis with some of the most detailed electrical testing and thermal torture testing. Reply
  • erple2 - Wednesday, November 03, 2010 - link

    The folks at pcper.com are also particularly good at doing proper PSU reviews. They're one of the only ones I know of that do an analysis of cross-loading - ie heavily load one rail and see how it affects the voltage at the other leads (3.3, 5, 12). They're also a group that I've come to rely on for solid PSU reviews. Now if only they'd do more testing ... Reply
  • Phaedrus2129 - Thursday, October 28, 2010 - link

    There should have been some comment on the immediately obvious signs that the TechSolo was going to be mediocre. First thing pointed out should have been the "P4PFC" on the label. This indicates that A.) This PSU is actually an ATX12V 1.x era unit, since it's advertising "P4" or "Pentium 4 compatibility", and second having "PFC" after the P4 indicates that this is a platform that doesn't come with PFC as stock, indicating that it's a lower-end unit.

    Did the TechSolo fail on the primary or secondary side (before or after the transformer)? If it failed on the primary (perhaps the rectifying bridge went nuclear?) then it would be unlikely, though still possible, for it to kill components. If it was a secondary side component that failed then this PSU is a potential time bomb waiting to wipe out your PC.
    Reply
  • mmatis - Thursday, October 28, 2010 - link

    on September 12th from Newegg ($64.99 with free shipping and $20 MIR), the OCZ Fatal1ty OCZ550FTY doesn't seem like a bad buy to me. But then it's just running an AMD X4, a couple of hard drives, optical drive, and low end video card. Reply
  • slickr - Thursday, October 28, 2010 - link

    Good job in this review, though I would like to see more PSU reviews and possibly include A-Power supplies. Reply
  • Beenthere - Thursday, October 28, 2010 - link

    There are a lot of posers in the PSU market including some non PSU based companies adding questionable PSUs to the product mix. I'll continue to just buy PC Power and Cooling PSUs which are the gold standard of the PC industry. No guessing required with a PCPC PSU. They perform as advertised and are guaranteed for 5-7 yrs. depending on model. Reply
  • Phaedrus2129 - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    Except guess what, PC Power & Cooling was bought by OCZ in 2007, and in 2010 they discontinued the Silencer and Turbocool lines permanently, and replaced them with the "Silencer Mk. II" line. It's the same thing as OCZ's "Z-Series Gold", only cost-down with some last minute jerry-rigged fixes that belie the half-arsed engineering involved, sold for half again as much as the superior OCZ counterparts.

    Proof that relying on a brand remaining consistently good for all time is a bad idea.
    Reply
  • tomoyo - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    Not sure where you've been, but pc power has been THE posers for a long time now. They got bought out as phaedrus just mentioned by OCZ years back and haven't made a great psu in many years. Reply
  • Beenthere - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    You need to know which PC Power and Cooling PSUs to purchase and they aren't the pseudo OCZ models. Reply
  • tomoyo - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    Uh what, an old ass turbocool 860 or 1200 that's massively overpriced, very loud, and overhyped...and also old as hell?
    I would never recommend PC Power to any modern computer user right now. Any high end Seasonic would blow it out of the water 15 different ways.
    Reply
  • Beenthere - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    Knowledge is power...

    http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/PC-Power-an...
    Reply
  • tomoyo - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    Uh that is exactly a pseudo ocz model. Reply
  • tomoyo - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    Also see the following review conclusion for why the silencer Mk II disappoints - http://www.hardocp.com/article/2010/08/10/pc_power... Reply
  • mattll - Wednesday, November 03, 2010 - link

    This review highlights what I think is the weakness of these PSU reviews.

    First, there's the issue of silly ripple testing. There is a spec for ripple. If you are inside the spec, that is good enough. There is nothing superior about having less ripple, it is a design choice. Sure, you can measure it on your o-scope, but show me ANY affect on system performance as long as the PSU is inside the spec. There is none. All the rest is an assumption, unsupported by any data, that designing to a smaller ripple somehow indicates better performance. Prove it, in the system outside the PSU. In the absence of such proof, I think such tests are simply means by which reviewers can assign bogus performance metrics to parts which are simply good enough, to satisfy perfectionists who want proof that their choice is superior.

    Second, there's the disassembly of the unit and the smug remarks on build quality, with copious amounts of electrical engineering jargon. That jargon exists only to convince the reader the reviewer is knowledgeable.

    That's good to know, but it doesn't make the reviewer or the review correct. All the snarky comments about how some unit doesn't meet the reviewers exalted standards for solder quality or cap ESR is puerile, useless crap. Look: can you _measure_ something wrong? If so, comment on that instead. Is the reviewer assuming his exalted standards will play out in the reliability or performance of the product? Prove it!

    The measures of output noise, efficiency, ability to carry full load, withstand hot conditions: those are valuable pieces of information. Cost is of course important. Even ripple measurements are fine, as long as you understand that inside the standard there's no difference. Build quality, though, is a subjective measurement very poorly linked to any data on reliability. If reviewers can't be bothered to find anything more substantive on reliability, they should at least have the humility to recognize the limitations of build quality observations and not be too dogmatic about it.

    With regard to this PCPC review, the reviewer seemed to fixate on a production mod capacitor jumpered rather than designed into the circuit board. Boohoo, cry me a river. Did it make any performance difference? If the reviewer hadn't opened the case, was there any actual functional difference? Is there any data, any data at all to indicate such a jumpered capacitor would be any less reliable? Chances are, many customers would actually get the next rev circuit board with the cap in place. At any rate, the generous warranty meant the manufacturer was putting its money behind it. Likely each jumpered unit was subjected to more rigorous testing because of the custom work.

    In short, the whole review obsessed on silly, subjective details while acknowledging the performance was fine. If they thought the unit was overpriced relative to performance, that would be fine, but that wasn't their complaint. The reviewer was probably biased because of his previous experiences with PCPC, but that's the danger of subjective metrics.

    Disclaimer: I don't work in the PSU industry, although I have a degree in that area. I don't own or have any vested interest in any of those products.
    Reply
  • Calin - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    Bought an 350W, 12 cm fan Seasonic power supply for some $100, in the times when the Athlon 4600+ (dual cores) were the mainstream from AMD - maybe three years ago, maybe more.
    Very happy I've been with it
    Reply
  • sprockkets - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    No mention of the weight of the power supplies? That's usually a dead giveaway. Reply
  • Phaedrus2129 - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    Except many of the highest-quality units are only of moderate weight due to requiring fewer components; and some of the crappiest units are now being sold with iron weights inside to make them heavier.

    Weight is a very poor test, actually opening the power supply up and looking with a critical eye is a thousand times better. I would disregard entirely any reviewer who uses weight as a factor in evaluating PSU quality.
    Reply
  • sprockkets - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    If it is such a poor test, why not then compare the weight and find out?
    It isn't as poor as you want it to be for arguments sake.
    Reply
  • Phaedrus2129 - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    Then all the PSUs with passive power factor correction would be hailed the best because of the weight added by the massive PFC coil. Vs. APFC units with lighter, but more effective components (couple switching transistors, a small coil, shares the primary capacitor, and a controller IC, still weighs less than a PPFC coil). Reply
  • sprockkets - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    Bud, it's just a simple metric. Like you know, how a standard InWin PowerMan 350w PS weighs 2 lbs 10 oz and a standard FSP 300w power supply weights 3 lbs 5 oz.

    Besides, I wouldn't compare a passive vs. active PFC power supply anyhow and make that mistake.
    Reply
  • Phaedrus2129 - Saturday, October 30, 2010 - link

    I can see just recording the weight for posterity's sake, but one should *not* use weight as a metric of quality or performance. All more weight indicates is more components, heavier heatsinks, thicker wiring, heavier housing. For making a split-second field judgment, sure, but it is made completely redundant by opening the power supply up to appraise components and quality.

    I can tell far more about a PSU's quality from a quick glance at the secondary-side rectifiers than from measuring its weight.
    Reply
  • Stuka87 - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    I really liked seeing the comparison of the three. I would have liked to of seen a 4th super high end PSu thrown in, but it may have been a bit redundant.

    As for the low end, there are certainly better supplies out there for that price. You can even get lower end Antec's (like the 430 Basiq) for the same price as the one that blew up and while its not as good as the better Antec's, its better than the chinese no-name stuff.
    Reply
  • benedict - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    The review is clearly biased towards the higher-end PSUs. I don't dare say the reviewer deliberately picked a very poor part just to prove his point. There are some very decent PSUs for 30-40 euro that don't blow up at 50% load. For example, the FSP Saga II achieves 80%+ efficiency, costs about 40 euro and is very silent. Please, show some real part in the value price section and not some handpicked garbage. Reply
  • Phaedrus2129 - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    This unit is actually above average for "garbage" power supplies. If he were intentionally picking a terrible PSU he'd choose something from Leadman, or Sunpro, that will blow up at 250W and have ripple in the 300mV+ range on all rails. Reply
  • marvdmartian - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    In almost 10 years now of building my own systems, I have only ever been 'stung' by 2 power supplies. Both of them were Antecs, which died long before they should have, and both of them took out a motherboard while they were at it.

    Needless to say, I'm somewhat reluctant to ever trust an Antec psu to power my systems. Fool me twice, shame on me......fool me 3 times? I don't think so!!

    OCZ would get my vote in this competition, hands down.
    Reply
  • mmatis - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    Especially since NewEgg is offering it with a $15 MIR through 31 October. It has 433 reviews on their site and gets 5 eggs. Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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. Reply
  • 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. Reply
  • iamezza - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    Loved the review. I liked the humorous writing style and didn't think it was too unprofessional. Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • JohnMD1022 - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    Why bother with a PSU that is not available everywhere?

    Restrict reviews to components that are available worldwide.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • wintermute000 - Sunday, October 31, 2010 - link

    after a few psu-go-boom incidents I went seasonic or thermaltake, no exceptions

    not one problem since.

    those stats look shocking compared to your mid-range seasonic/thermaltake product, but like the article says you get what you pay for. Never cheap out on your PSU if you run 24/7 or gaming cards
    Reply
  • jazzisjazz - Sunday, October 31, 2010 - link

    Techsolo Black Mamba STP-550, representative of many budget power supplies
    1 Why am I reading about a psu that I have to be in Italy, Germany, or Poland to buy?
    2 Does sells mean retails for or commonly able to purchase at online or in a local store?
    3 Nothing said about types of certification that would have some useful value to the shopper.
    4 Time spent looking for things to poke fun at would be better spent informing the reader.
    5 Why not tell us what makes it low end and outdated ?
    6 No information on value of 80 plus certification.
    7 Red mist of power supplies ??? meaning?
    8 few changes in the details - are they unimportant?
    9 modular cables, which is a nice feature for the price - would the money spent bringing us
    this feature be better spent on higher quality components
    10 The most expensive but potentially best - let the results bear it out.
    11 another $24 premium over the OCZ and over twice the cost of the Techsolo - fluff
    12 No mention as to why Japanese capacitors,DC to DC converters, and PWM fans might be better.
    13 The best-case hope for the Techsolo Black Mamba is that we'll get an "ultra silent" snake that can deliver the full rated power. I wouldn't bet on it, but more than one user has been tempted into going the cheap route on a PSU. At worst, the Black Mamba is a noisy blindworm that dies at 50% load, but most likely it will land somewhere in between those extremes. - more fluff.
    14 (already mentioned and super-duper - more useless poking fun
    15 the PSU actually looks decent - you do realize you are talking about a budget peice where hopefully the manufacturer has concentrated the most effort on quality design and components right?
    16 even cheap cable sleeving is a bump up over unsleeved cables, after all - does it come at the expense of better quality components?
    17 Shenzhen Xin Wang Electronics Co., LTD. makes the fan, one of those nameless (despite the length of their name) Chinese companies.- you put it across like you know it is poor quality, do you know that?
    18 Will it be silent, and can it keep the PSU cool? We'll find out in a minute - fluff
    19 protective ground wire is connected to a mounting screw of the main PCB—bad idea - how should it be different?
    20 missing a MOV - for what?
    21 Can you see the wire cross-section of phase and neutral conductor? It doesn't look like 550W - because?
    22 so stay away from this product.- any attempt to find out if the unit tested was faulty in manufacturing?
    I give up. I keep hoping that some reviewer somewhere is going to take the budget consumer seriously - - but yet again no
    Reply
  • Phaedrus2129 - Sunday, October 31, 2010 - link

    The answer is: Yes. We know it's crap. We know it's crap from the minute we pick it up, and we know even more the second it's opened up. Was this the best review ever? Hell no. But your questions belie an ignorance of low-end power supplies, what makes them shit, and assumes stupidity on the part of the author. Reply
  • jazzisjazz - Tuesday, November 02, 2010 - link

    Isn't it the purpose of this site to provide useful information to the reader (ignorant or not). If I were ignorant about low end power supplies and..... but smart enough to come to AT for good info I would hope to come away well informed. No assumption about the author or offense intended just frustrated that my little bit of money to spend doesn't seem as important as I hope it would. Not everybody can spend $600 and up, even if we get it done for <$250 after rebates, refurbs, and finding ways to engineer better for $free we still want as much useful info as we can get here at AT. Reply
  • mattll - Wednesday, November 03, 2010 - link

    No, i'll agree with the reader jazzisjazz...the author assumes an electrical engineering background on the part of the reader. I think his point is that he does lack knowledge, and the author's approach is not helpful for improvement.

    And the answer, for a review, is no, you don't know it's crap from the outset. It's a court case, you have to prove the point, not just wink at the reader and share inside jokes. That it could not handle full load is useful information; snide comments on the cable wrappings, or fan grill design, or name of the fan manufacturer, is irrelevant unless and until you can prove that it makes a difference.

    How do you know it's crap from the minute you pick it up? You have to detail out that knowledge, because that's the information you are trying to impart to the reader.

    I thought the reviewer justified objection #1 pretty well. It happened to be a cheapy found in his area; for obvious reasons, ultra-cheap parts are not likely to be internationally available, widely known and long-lasting brandnames.

    The reviewer might have connected #3 to #6, but didn't.

    I agree with #12--the reviewer assumes reader familiarity with these, and even given familiarity, there's a glib assumption of obvious benefit which may not be the case. I think you mentioned Antec's run-in with production problems, and how you've given them credit for getting past them. Why would anyone assume all the manufacturers from a given country are permanently suspect based on one (admittedly widespread) incident?

    #10 speaks to the bias of the article: let the results speak for themselves, or at least try to maintain the appearance that you didn't just say "I like this Antec because I like Antec. And this other crap is crap because we just KNOW it's crap."

    #19 I had to roll my eyes at that. Is there really a shock hazard here? Did it pass UL/CE listing? Sure, it may be good advice to a power supply designer not to do it that way, but is it actually a problem to the consumer? Do you have any proof of that?
    #20 LOL. This is an example of where the author was really speaking to other electrical engineers. You can look up Metal-Oxide Varistors on wikipedia, but that won't help a non-expert much either. More importantly, it's an implementation detail, and as such, it doesn't matter. The (lazy) assumption is that it necessarily affects performance: focus on the performance. Will it be less likely to withstand a transient? Then say or measure that. Will it adversely affect the noise profile? Then say or measure that.
    #21 Again, a glib assumption of insider knowledge. Question: is it really necessary for a computer builder, or even someone choosing a power supply, to be able to identify the phase and neutral conductors on a picture of the power supply, much less be able to approximate their gauge and estimate their current handling capability? No.
    Look. A rule of thumb like this, to say those conductors look pretty slim given the power they are supposed to be able to handle, is mildly useful (about like weighing the power supply). But that's no substitute for actual performance, actual measurement. Prove that it actually results in an inferior product, rather than just insinuating.
    Reply
  • Beenthere - Sunday, October 31, 2010 - link

    Proper testing of PSUs eliminates the fanboism and shows which PSUs perform well. If you don't understand the test results, design differences or details, then have someone with proper technical expertise explain them to you so you can make an intelligent decision instead of declaring one PSU a clone of another when in fact they are not.

    The technical ignornace that passes for knowledge on the Internet is appalling.
    Reply
  • HangFire - Monday, November 01, 2010 - link

    Yes, I enjoy proper testing of P/S such as found on jonnyguru, hardocp and lately Hardware Secrets.

    I own a P3, an oscilloscope, and a 500A battery tester. I don't do proper testing, but I do RMA any and all cheap power supplies that don't make PFC, efficiency, cannot deliver rated 12V power, or do not invoke OCP or OPP as spec'ed. I haven't found a Ripple failure that didn't also blow out before their reaching non-existent OCP levels. That is pretty much the level of AT testing as well.

    AT might get there some day. They should read a few dozen jonnyguru reviews to see how its really done. I do like the overcapacity tests AT does, jonnyguru refuses to do that but should, if for nothing else to verify OPP/OCP. Usually they test good power supplies that don't like about having OPP/OCP, but I find the cheap ones often lie about the presence of OPP/OCP, such as the CoolMax that took out a motherboard... the beginning of my journey into power supply testing.
    Reply
  • MeanBruce - Sunday, October 31, 2010 - link

    Selling horror should be illegal, instead it simply hurts the ignorant and uninformed. This is a slime market that I hope to never see again on Anandtech!

    Reply
  • HangFire - Monday, November 01, 2010 - link

    I disagree. I think the major tech sites should blow up an under-spec P/S once a week until they have all been reviewed, sales drop, and they are all taken off the market. There is already plenty of competition in the good-enough-or-better space to take up the slack. Reply
  • Beenthere - Tuesday, November 02, 2010 - link

    There is a lot of crap products in the marketplace. The only means to determine if a PSU can deliver proper electrical power and is of a quality design and construction is with a proper physical inspection and objective, scientific load test conducted by a very knowledgeable tech. Anything less is a waste of time including fanbois opinions. Opinions are worth what you pay for them. Reply
  • Gonemad - Wednesday, November 03, 2010 - link

    I had a Thermaltake ThoughPower (can't remember exact model) that performed fairly for 5 years. It operated non-stop for 1 year in-between that time. I bought it separately from a Thermaltake Case, that had several fans. Worth every dime, both of them.

    But...

    I had to replace an original case fan, so I decided "what t'e hell' and slapped a cheap-o-dozen fan in its place. VERY. BAD. IDEA.

    The whole thing worked fine for 6 months, then the ASUS metering software showed steady voltage dropping, curiously on the 3.3V rail as I later found out. Then it alarmed in an intermittent fashion, for no apparent reason, as it got to 10% Low Voltage on that rail.

    Guess what? The fan LOCKED, and effectively pushed the PSU to 110% or above (who knows?), FOR FREAKING 6 MONTHS.
    THE PSU DIDN´T QUIT ON ME.

    As I opened it for regular maintenance (hey, 6 months, remember?) I found the locked fan, and a funny smell that could be felt only very near the PSU vent. You know the smell, don't you? That's the smell of a dying PSU. The fan almost burned my hand when I touched it, proving that the PSU was not at fault; in fact, it performed above and beyond any expectation, and possibly avoided a fire hazard. It was still operational when I removed it, but the smell was ever greater each time it was turned on, even for a few minutes, proving the whole thing had collapsed after all that operating time. The fan didn't short out, which would have triggered any safety (fuse, probably?) on the PSU, it just didn't rotate anymore on its bearings, and became a power drainer on the circuit, eating away the average life-time of the component.

    The good PSU purchase decision not only proved a wise decision, it avoided me lots of hassle and grief. The cheap fan, on the other hand, destroyed a perfectly good piece of equipment.

    "Caveat Emptor" indeed.
    Reply
  • gurboura - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link

    It seems right from the start that you have something against TechSolo, you also talk about how it was loud at almost 30dbA, but yet, the Antec is at 32 and the OCZ tops at 26, still close to that 30dbA level.

    "If you want to have a silent computer, please buy another power supply and protect your ears." Couldn't this have been said the same for the Antec since it was actually louder than the TechSolo?

    When doing doing these type of articles your supposed to have an unbiased opinion and its pretty obvious from the start that that wasn't true.
    Reply

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