Last month, we reviewed 20 power supplies ranging from 300W to 450W. These are great for entry-level or even midrange systems, with optimal efficiency typically falling in the 100W to 200W range. Today, we have 12 more power supplies on our test bench, this time targeting a slightly higher range of 500W to 550W. This particular sector is where we really start to see higher quality designs and better technologies, in part because these tend to be more expensive PSUs.

Honestly, this roundup is more of a two-way shootout, with a few extras thrown in for spice. We have four units manufactured by Enhance, four more from Seasonic, two by Sirtec, one Enermax, and one Topower. Last year we saw a lot of power supplies manufactured by Channel Well Technologies (CWT), but they don't tend to compete in the lower wattage market segments. These days, one manufacturer brings out a new top-notch design, and brands from all over the world jump on the bandwagon. Unfortunately, that makes it hard to find real innovations from the various PSU brands. Before, everyone at least tried to be different, but now the primary differences are in the fans, case color, and/or cable lengths. They try to make a "unique" design, but the goal is to do this with as little effort as possible.

All of the similarities do have some positives. Comparing units from different manufacturers can be a lot easier, as a basic component quality will be similar. If two units have similar voltage regulation and efficiency but one unit is quieter, cheaper, or has better thermals then you can safely choose that option. More likely is that you have to balance all five areas, but we will see which models rise to the top in this roundup.

Arctic Cooling Fusion 550R - Overview
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  • Mastakilla - Sunday, February 22, 2009 - link

    thanks a lot for the tip, but after adding shipping costs, this is waaaaaaaaaay above my budget (68 euro)
  • knowom - Friday, February 20, 2009 - link

    The XClio STABLEPOWER 500W really should have been included it's a great PSU and very silent it's also relatively inexpensive for the quality especially if you can find one on sale.
  • orionmgomg - Friday, February 20, 2009 - link

    How many PSU reviews are you going to do?

    I know a good PSU is important, but the margins are so close - and for the most part the choice is very simple; OCZ, Cooler Master, Corsair, Ultra, Antec, etc, etc, etc...

    Just give people a little list of what to look for, what’s new on the market and what your top 3 recommendations are.

    Use the extra energy to dive further into the different i7 platforms, or give us some updates on TOP tier i7 systems with Uber Graphics solutions, we like to see and read about the over the top most powerful computer systems and gaming systems, not yet another review about mediocre low power PSUs...

    As always, thanks for the info on the site, and for being one of my favorite tech update daily visits.

    We want graphics reviews from YOU. (not the other guys...)

    What i want to see is a i7 system OCed to hell running 3 GTX 285s, vs. quad sli (2xGTX295) vs. quad ATI (x24870x2)

    Or other insight into the i7, or Geforce 9300/9400 or how much apple and the iphooled suck…
  • Snarks - Saturday, February 21, 2009 - link

    i care, because most of us here can't afford a 3,000+ system, let alone be stupid enough to buy one.

    i am actually rather sick of these "uber" high platforms and never any midrange stuff like most of us use, what i would actually like to see is a e8400 with a 4870 or gtx260 compared to see what real world performance i will actually get, not some 1,000+ cpu with a 400+ graphics card.
  • orionmgomg - Saturday, February 21, 2009 - link

    I see - your point is taken. There are other sites that have lots of reviews like this one, another site is fudzilla, guru3d, and toms hardware - but they dont have the same level of inteligence (for the most part) as Anandtech.

    I imagine if your looking for a mid range PSU, and your on a budget, some of these PSUs recommended here cost almost the same amount as 1000W PSUs... So - I am not sure what to say other than, if I am on a budget, I look for the CHEEPEST PSU that qualifies to my standards... - knowing the standards is more important than micro analizing 500/550 and 600 watt PSUs for their oh so slight differences, and when your on a budget, who really cares, as long as its a quility built and reputable company, bottom line is bottom line... and as I said, some of the "best" mid range PSUs go for the same or little less than quality 1000w PSUs... So - so.

    On the other hand, insight as promissed into the i7 platform, more coverage of the multitude of systems as prommised would be nice, though I know its all very time consumming, and repetitive, because just when your done with one major review, an entire new platform is already on its way out! So, it kinda sucks, but thats why we come back and keep reading...
  • mindless1 - Friday, February 20, 2009 - link

    With so many full ATX PSU to choose from and most systems not built for gaming using under 300W, it seems there is still a gap in what many of us need.

    Which mATX PSU can deliver, since their upper limits tend to be a lot closer to the peak load a system might place on it, and their construction often economized to their price-points not just the available space inside?
  • tynopik - Friday, February 20, 2009 - link

    ok, so english might not be katzer's native language, but that's what editors are for

    Comparison: PCI-E Cable Lengths - Arctic Cooling is only company to provide >>for<< PCI-E connectors.

    > BFG LS-550 manages just 1.5% regulation - poor phrasing, sounds like that's a bad thing

    > spend the fans faster -> spin

    > which up to keep temperatures in check.

    > which were some people is far and away

    > pleased to present >>taken<< with our Bronze Editors' Choice award
  • Christoph Katzer - Friday, February 20, 2009 - link

    Speech recognition software sometimes gets it wrong and since Jarred was up all night he just wanted to finish up at some point. We'll make sure to correct it all.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, February 20, 2009 - link

    Thanks - I think I got all of the typos (speechos) fixed now. It's pretty rough doing final edits at 3-4AM some times!
  • AMDfreak - Friday, February 20, 2009 - link

    Nicely done review. However I find it disappointing that an exhaustive PSU review leaves out such a major player as PC Power & Cooling. Yes, OCZ was represented and I know they now own, PCP&C, but the ModStream line is not from PCP&C. If the Silencer 500W had been included in your review, I think your awards would be very different.

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