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  • Southernsharky - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    Are we now trying to con the public into believing that they need a high end power supply to make their system work?

    I've been using the cheapest PWs I can find in my systems since oh... 1985 and I have had a few fail, but over the course of 25 years, I can only think of maybe 3 that failed. And there is no guarantee the same thing wouldn't have happened with the expensive models.

    As for energy efficiency...... its over rated. Unless the efficiency saves me more money than what I spent on being efficient then its not relevant. I'm guessing the difference between an efficient card and an inefficient card is right around .50 cents to a dollar a month. So I'd have to run 80-120 months to realize a difference.
    Reply
  • Dusk Star - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    In previous reviews, they seem to highlight the fluctuations in the power output- critical for a stable overclock. And this is largely a site for tech-savvy people; not the type to be as easily conned. I have also heard too many "horror stories" of people having their PSU fail and burn out a $300 graphics card on their way out. My point is, there may be more point to these reviews than to get people to buy more than they need. Reply
  • Martin Kaffei - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    One problem is that most cheap PSUs have no real power rating. Usually you don't get any problems but some users overestimate the possible output power and use $10 PSUs in a high-end PC. That's what Dusk Star mentioned in other words.

    Basically cheap PSUs have advantages (simple circuit designs) and some disadvantages (low efficiency). But peak power rating is unacceptable for me. In addition we should keep in mind that electricity costs will rise.
    Reply
  • mpschan - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    Dusk Star is right.

    I had a half-way decent power supply blow out a motherboard and a graphics card. $400 down the drain.

    It taught me a valuable lesson: spend more money on your power supply so it doesn't destroy hundreds of dollars in other equipment.

    I love seeing reviews like this. Keep up the good work!
    Reply
  • jabber - Friday, March 23, 2012 - link

    It always makes me laugh when I read in the Power Supply section of forums someone comes on and says -

    I need to run a i3/4GB/2xHDD PC with a $80 GPU. What level of PSU do I need?"

    Then all the experts start pulling figures out of their backsides and start saying "Oh you need a 800W minimum!"

    Fact is 85% of even the most committed enthusiasts PCs probably would run just fine with a good quality 500W.
    Reply
  • michaelheath - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    "Are we now trying to con the public into believing that they need a high end power supply to make their system work?"

    I would imagine the enthusiast community is capable of independent thinking, and they read more than one review before coming to a purchasing decision.

    "I've been using the cheapest [PSUs] I can find in my systems since oh... 1985 and ... over the course of 25 years, I can only think of maybe 3 that failed."

    That's 3 more than the number that have failed on me in nearly the same time period.

    "And there is no guarantee the same thing wouldn't have happened with the expensive models."

    There's no guarantee that a $100k Mercedes Benz won't break down after 100 miles of driving. What's your point?

    "As for energy efficiency...... its over rated. Unless the efficiency saves me more money than what I spent on being efficient then its not relevant."

    How I read your statements: Never mind the cumulative difference in power consumption if everyone ran a ≥85% efficient power supply, including being able to reduce the resources required to power millions of computers in North America alone. Forget the fact that a quality power supply would more than likely outlast a cheap PSU two-fold, thus reducing electronic waste. What matters is I don't feel like I'm saving money.

    I have over 200 systems deployed in my work environment, all with ≥85% efficient power supplies. I assure you, the people who approve my spending would much rather see a smaller electric bill and lower repair/replacement rates (which, coincidentally, occurred after I started using higher-efficiency-yet-lower-wattage PSUs) than the opposite if I saved a few bucks per machine and didn't care about what PSU I used. They're especially grateful during the Summer, when an inefficient PSU produces more heat and becomes even less efficient to maintain stable power output... which doesn't happen with a good, quality, efficient, yet slightly more expensive unit.
    Reply
  • anactoraaron - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    If you are using the cheapest 'PWs' you should measure the power draw under those PWs. My rig with an 'el cheapo' used to draw 470 watts under load and now with an 80 plus PW it draws 285 watts. That's about 200 watts difference. Efficiency isn't exactly over rated. FWIW, my rig used to draw about 30 watts when it was off with the 'el cheapo' and now only draws 6 watts when powered down. So unless you are constantly unplugging your rig or you are switching the PW off energy efficiency comes into play there as well. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    His suggestion that a "cheapest PW" would only use $0.50 more per month is also way off. $0.50 per month works out to a difference of 7W for 24/7 usage. Even if we take a lower end system that idles at 60W output from the PSU, that would use 86W with a 70% efficient PSU or 71W with an 85% efficient PSU -- a difference of 15W or around $1.00 per month. If it were a more reasonable system that used an average power of closer to 120W then that doubles to $2.00. (That's at my price of $0.10 per kWh, which is lower than the national average of $0.16 per kWh.)

    Of course, even 70% efficiency is more than the "cheapest" power supplies would offer. Let's say you get a real dud and it's 50-60% efficient (which is likely if you buy a $25 PSU). Now you're looking at a 60W system load drawing 100-120W vs. 71W, or a moderate load of 120W that would pull 200-240W vs. 141W. That would be a difference $2 to $3.50 per month for a low power system, or $4 to $7 per month for a moderate system. Considering you would be paying about $25 more in power per year as a minimum, or as much as $84 per year for a moderate system, you'd more than pay for an upgrade to a better PSU in one year.
    Reply
  • adece - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    I'll take your word on "the cheapest PSUs" and link you to an article about it:

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/low-cost-psu-p...

    I'm pretty sure AnandTech did something similar but I can't find the article.
    Reply
  • adece - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    Found it:

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/3985/three-550w-psus...
    Reply
  • Martin Kaffei - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    @adece

    I tried to get some cheap PSUs but it's very difficult. Manufacturers won't give me samples. In addition I live in Germany so I can't buy local brands which are available in the USA.

    But I had some cheap PSUs as well and some of them died spectacular. Others had no problems but efficiency and voltage regulation was quite bad. In addition the small number of connectors is always unfavorable.
    Reply
  • 4745454b - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    I agree to a point.

    First, if you meant the uber cheap/junk are fine you are way wrong. Those on newegg that advertise "up to 75% efficient" are the ones I'm talking about. If you are buying a 600W PSU for $20, there is something wrong.

    Second, I to have mentioned that you don't need the 80Gold or platinum PSUs. Big difference in energy savings between "up to 75%" and 90%. Not so much when looking at 85% and 90%. The extra cost of moving to gold/plat isn't worth it yet. I personally feel that 80bronze is the sweet spot right now. Gold is quickly moving down in price however and some of them are looking good.

    If you mean you don't need these super high end ones I'd agree. But there is no way I'd run of those cheapo's that weighs less less then my shoes.
    Reply
  • Concillian - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    What I pay for power and what power my computer uses, the cost of power saved does exceed the extra cost of the unit over the life of the PSU if I buy a $70-80 gold vs. a $40 cheapie... so the article does have a purpose.

    Just because you are not the target audience doesn't make the article irrelevant.
    Reply
  • MooseMuffin - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    I've had 2 cheap power supplies die on me over the years, and the catch was that neither one of them would die alone. In both cases they took my videocard with it. Never again. Reply
  • just4U - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    There are alot of really good power supplies in the $50 range and I think for most people they do the trick nicely... and with a level of confidence that it's not going to be some major piece of junk. The PSUs many of you are refering to are the ones we wouldn't pay a buck for (yeah.. you've seen them!)

    Anyway.. after that it's pretty much up to you.. can go better, but certainly don't want to go worse. Besides alot of psu's in all price ranges come on sale so there isn't really a reason to cheap out in that area. Bad enough the OEMs do it all the time.
    Reply
  • crazyglue - Friday, March 23, 2012 - link

    Having built untold # of systems for family, friends, & for sale over the last 10 or so years, early on, about 1/4 have failed due to cheap PSU's. Since replacing with better units (at my cost!) I've settled on PC P&C (not OCZ) & all are still purring away.. Many 24/7 home servers-media units... You got lucky I guess, but that's not the norm..... Reply
  • lbeyak - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    I grew increasingly more annoyed every time I saw a new error, and eventually I decided to post about them.

    Page 2 - Paragraph 1
    "According to the manufacturer's specifications, the hole series is SLI-ready and uses a single +12V output."
    hole -> whole

    Page 2 - Paragraph 2
    "The 550W model can deliver 648W on +12V and up to 110W on +3.3V and +5V."
    I think you meant 650W here, not 550W.

    Page 3 - Paragraph 1
    "Here we show how the 450W model looks like."
    Here we show how the 450W model looks. OR Here we show what the 450W model looks like. would make more sense here.

    Page 4 - Paragraph 1
    "This time SuperFlower ist the manufacturer. In the prictures above we show the 650W version only since the 450W model consists of the same design."
    ist -> is
    prictures -> pictures

    Page 6 - Paragraph 2
    "The Capstone series combines the resontant circuit with an asynchronous half bridge and DC-to-DC converter on the secondary side."
    resontant -> resonant

    Page 6 - Paragraph 5
    "The FSP Aurum CM 650W is also very cheap, but it's louder and more expensice than the Capstone 650W."
    expensice -> expensive

    While I appreciate speed of article delivery, I get quite annoyed at errors that could have been prevented easily. Most of these errors could have easily been caught with a simple spell check program. I was just surprised that there were quite a few errors for such a short review (compared to some others on the site).

    Thanks for the good review though Martin.
    Reply
  • Martin Kaffei - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    Fixed. Thanks a lot.
    In my next life I would like to become an US citizen.
    Reply
  • lbeyak - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    I'm not sure what you mean by that, but I will note that I am a proud Canadian.

    :)
    Reply
  • Martin Kaffei - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    That's nice as well. Reply
  • just4U - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    I am also Canadian and English is my first language. That being said, I am a really really bad speller. Don't worry about getting a spell checker Martin there are plenty on here who will do it for you! (grin..)

    Good review btw.
    Reply
  • ggathagan - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    And Martin is a proud German whose first language is not English.
    Given the structural differences between German and English grammar, I find it amazing that Martin or anyone else who doesn't have English as their primary language writes as well as he does.
    I wish *I *could read/write/speak multiple languages.
    Reply
  • Hrel - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    Except for a few niche markets, I really don't see why anyone would ever buy anything besides a Seasonic. They're on sale on newegg so often you can't tell me price is a barrier, 750W of power supply that's totally silent up to 50% load for 100 bucks? Yeah, no one else even comes close to that. I don't think I'm ever going to use anything else ever again... why? Because FUCK NOISE!!!

    ...he says as he puts a 200 dollar GPU in his system. Eh, whatever, that's only audible under load, and it's only under load when the speakers are making too much noise to matter.
    Reply
  • just4U - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    Seasonic needs the competition.. or they'd go down hill. They make some nice power supplies though for various companies. Superflower isn't bad either.. and hmm.. CWT can be on the ball now and again to. Reply
  • Southernsharky - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    "That's 3 more than the number that have failed on me in nearly the same time period."

    That's impossible to believe if anyone is a power user, unless you just took it in to the shop and said "fix this" please and never found out what was wrong with it. In my experience, at least living in Florida where electrical surges are common, power supplies fail pretty regularly.

    As for Gold/Silver/ Bronze............... anyone who has used computers for 20 years knows that these are pretty new terms. Back in the 90s we did not have those terms. So people who say they have always bought Gold power supplies are younger than they are letting on.

    As for price, I've always bought around a 60-75 dollar unit and see absolutely no reason to ever go over that amount.

    As for cost savings for 200 units......... the cost savings are no greater than 1 unit. If I have 200 units running, they will cost 200 times as much as running 1 unit. But I will still have to make up the price difference between a 75 dollar PS and a 180 dollar PS, which is roughly 100 bucks per unit. If I have 200 units, I have to make that up 200 times. And I seriously doubt that the amount will be made up over the life of the unit or units.

    As for the PS killing the video card, I've never had it happen. I've had lightening do it, but a 200 dollar unit wouldn't stop lightening (and neither will anything else in many situations including surge protectors, as lightening striking right out side the window tends to fry everything regardless).
    Reply
  • ZekkPacus - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    Every time a PSU review is posted, someone comes up with the same rebuttal that these 'expensive' power supplies are 'nothing but a myth'.

    It continues to amaze me that the same users that think nothing of dropping $200, $300, $400 on a videocard, same figure on a processor, will then use a potentially dangerous piece of equipment to power them. Although your figure of $60-75 is absolutely fine for most single-GPU machines, a number of good units around the 500W mark reside at that price. There are better units at a small premium, and the energy savings are noticeable over time.

    There seems to be an attitude amongst certain levels of enthusiasts (a lot of hardcore gamers, though they're by no means the only ones - a lot of guys who are just attracted to tech for the sake of tech do this too) that if it doesn't affect FPS or tangible performance, it's not worth spending a premium on. It's the same attitude that keeps me seeing incredibly powerful machines, built in poor cases on poor motherboards and powered by unsafe, inefficient power supplies. Anecdotal evidence is fine, and I've seen machines run for years on bad power supplies with no problems - but then I've seen machines blow up 3 weeks after assembly on bad power supplies.

    An important point to note - the best and worst power supplies each have a failure chance. The chance probably isn't that much different - maybe 5% for the low end kit, 2% for the high end. The difference in my experience has always been that the low end kit will take the rest of your machine with it, the high end kit won't.
    Reply
  • mdk777 - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    at least living in Florida where electrical surges are common, power supplies fail pretty regularly.

    Well, you do know Florida has some of the highest incidence of lightning strike density in the World right?
    Couple that with significant humidity, temperature and insects and I would say you have a rather aggressive environment for PSU.

    The irony is you initially said EL CHEPO, and then went back to 60-70$.

    60-70 $ is certainly in the middle range. There are plenty of quality Bronze rated units in this range for many years.

    Today you can get these Gold rated units for that price.

    PSU have gotten better and prices on gold and PLAT (around $100) have come down.

    Depending on your usage, and esp. under air conditioning loads, getting that 20-30$ delta in price back over the life of the unit is very easy.

    My 1975 Chevy was a deal. I only paid $1000 for it used. Sure it only got 12 miles to the gallon, but heck at $1.2 per gallon, you could buy a shed load of gas compared to a new $12,000 car.

    However, here you really need to look at the cost of new verses new.

    A decent. 550 Watt is going to cost 40$ no matter the efficiency.
    Today you can get that same wattage for $64.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...
    Foolish to pass up that quality and energy savings for $24
    Reply
  • quanstro - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    if you have common surges, i'd really recommend that you get a good ups.
    unlike power supplies, they're designed to deal with bad power.

    i have a lot of power issues at the house and was having trouble with premature
    failure of motherboards, psus, memory, etc. getting a good apc ups solved that.
    Reply
  • just4U - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    I'd like to see these companies come out with better cables.. Shouldn't really be seeing any colored wires at all. Some nice sleeving, or ribboned.. goes a long way in my purchasing decisions..

    Always make sure to include pics of those (as you did in this article!)
    Reply
  • Martin Kaffei - Thursday, March 22, 2012 - link

    A Corsair TX550M would be the perfect PSU for you. Reply
  • MeanBruce - Saturday, March 24, 2012 - link

    Wow, I started reading some comments, and gee all this discussion however constructive, seems so many better things to do, especially on a Saturday! Make it simple on yourself, purchase a Corsair AX850 or one of the upcoming Corsair platinums and never read another PSU review for the entire 7year warranty, life is way too short if you ask me!;) Reply
  • zootjeff - Thursday, June 21, 2012 - link

    Any ideas how well these work without minimum load? Many of us tinkers and hackers like to use ATX power supplies for other things. Like a 12V power supply with 5VSB. In my application I'm looking for a 80 Plus Gold where I just draw 100mA to 20 amps of 12v and Zero 3.3 and 5v.. How well regulated is the 12v with no load on the 3.3 and 5?

    Thanks,
    -
    Jeff
    Reply
  • RosewillEye - Friday, May 10, 2013 - link

    Thank you for posting the article. The details are very precise, and get all questions answered. Feedback from owners of the Capstone series is much appreciated, and we're glad to see them being discussed. Rosewill aims to continue to combine great quality with great value. Reply

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