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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  • marraco - Friday, February 20, 2009 - link

    Any good PSU review need to include reliability test when two PSu are joined by soldiering the green cable (and one black).

    It allows to use two cheap units as one more powerful one, saving lots of money for value overclockers. But is not ever safe. Not all power supplies are reliable when joined this way.
    If the two PSU is bad, there are a risk of getting a burned (and costly) video card, or BSOD by electric instability.
    But value overclockers take risks to save money, and spent scarce money in the right components.

    That is the reason for which that hard to find and very valuable info is so useful.

    Please, consider it next time you do a PSU review.
  • drank12quartsstrohsbeer - Friday, February 20, 2009 - link

    I'd like to see a few tests done that would show the variation between identical units. These powersupply builders rely on other manufacturers for the components, so the chances for a bad component to make it into a unit is a lot higher than for some other computer equipment.
  • 7Enigma - Friday, February 20, 2009 - link

    That is a very good point. And it wouldn't be too difficult in terms of additional testing since only the major tests (ripple, voltage flux, etc.) would need to be tested.

    Even an N=2 would be a good quality check.
  • marc1000 - Friday, February 20, 2009 - link

    congrats for including Arctic Cooling and Akasa units. will ready more carefully later. cheers.
  • 7Enigma - Friday, February 20, 2009 - link

    I'm really upset with the Tuniq's poor showing. I built a system last month using the Tuniq after recommendation by Mr. Katzer in the comments section and had thought it would have performed much better. I ended up only paying $40 (if the $40 rebate actually comes in) which is about as low as you can get for a 550psu, but I would not have chosen it if this review had been available.

    Really disappointed.
  • Exar3342 - Friday, February 20, 2009 - link

    It seems that PSU reviews dominate the reviews here at AT lately. Where did all the memory and CPU shootouts go? What about comparing panel sizes and reviewing them?

    I don't want to take anything anything away from this PSU review, it was excellent. Just give us more review variety!
  • Gary Key - Friday, February 20, 2009 - link

    DDR3 Roundup - 3/3 (nine sets, 1066~2000)
    DDR2 Roundup - 3/10 (eleven sets, 800~1150)
    Interspersed each week for the next month will be various motherboards in the under $150 price range, budget CPUs, storage (external, NAS, internal HDD/SSD), and even some GPU action showing what you get for under a $100 compared to integrated graphics. We just went through a major overhaul of our base test suites, start rolling out the new stuff next week.
  • crimson117 - Friday, February 20, 2009 - link

    What are you talking about? There's plenty of that kind of coverage...">Holiday Memory Guide - several choice DDR2 and DDR3 modules are listed with OC results.">Phenom review, with lots of benchmarks comparing almost every current AMD and Intel CPU.">24" LCD Roundup is a little outdated, but monitor models don't change over as often as CPUs do.
  • Ditiris - Friday, February 20, 2009 - link


    This is easily the best presentation of material I've ever seen on Anandtech. Furthermore, it's a survey of mainstream components which is probably what 95% of your readership is going to buy. Those two things easily make this the best article I've ever seen on Anandtech.

    As someone who does technical presentations all the time, I know how difficult it is to condense large amounts of data into easily understandable formats. You really did a fantastic job. Thank you, and I look forward to more articles.
  • homerdog - Friday, February 20, 2009 - link

    Agreed, excellent article. Now give XClio some love!

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