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Who's Who In Power Supplies: Brands, Labels, And OEMs

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Anonymous
a b ) Power supply
November 12, 2010 5:00:03 AM

Did you think all power supplies were manufactured by the brand selling them? We show you what makes a good PSU and reveal who actually builds PSUs. You can actually find lots of quality, instead of just scrap metal, behind some of the budget labels.

Who's Who In Power Supplies: Brands, Labels, And OEMs : Read more
November 12, 2010 5:08:30 AM

Very interesting article. Definitely saw some surprises in those charts.
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November 12, 2010 5:24:11 AM

My favorite brands for power supplies are PC P&C, Antec, and Corsair. The common denominator between them all? SeaSonic. That is a testament to Seasonic's manufacturing. I have never had a Seasonic PSU die on me. I cannot say the same for countless numbers of stock OEM PSU's and Apevia branded PSU's... and now I have an idea why.

The Apevia story. Purchased an Apevia case bundled with a 450 Watt PSU. Set aside the PSU in favor of an Antec EA650, left the Apevia on a shelf for a few months. I was building an extreme low budget computer for my cousin, and decided to take a gamble in the name of free PSU's using the Apevia to drive the low power Athlon X3 system (total peak consumption under 350 watts). 10 days later I was shelling out $45 for an Antec EA430 and spending a few hours of my time driving and installing the new PSU. Epic Fail.
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Related resources
November 12, 2010 5:39:40 AM

I've put together three computers in the last 8 years with Seasonic PSU's. Never a failure, always reliable.
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November 12, 2010 5:52:40 AM

Thanks, really informative. I never knew quite a bit of that. :D 
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November 12, 2010 5:53:19 AM

Great article with lots of data! Thanks for the comprehensive list.

I had a few comments to share that can help some. I am a power electronic engineer who designs switching supplies (PSUs) and inverter systems, so I see these technologies every day. One misconception is that PFC correction improves efficiency. It CAN improve efficiency if implemented right, but often it is not. PFC is needed to keep the current draw from the utility low in harmonics (only sinusoidal current) and in phase (phase angle power factor). This helps keep the utility system efficiency highest - but does not guarantee anything about the end power supply efficiency. That is depended upon the PSU design itself and how thorough it is done. Often, the simple passive diode-bridge and cap bank front end PSU is very efficient versus its PFC counterpart.

Another point - the IC pictured in one of the slides is the control IC, not a security device. There are tons of manufactures of these from Asia, Europe, and the US. The cheapest low efficiency supplies will use hard switching chips. The highest efficiency PSUs will use some form of resonant controller(s) which requires more cost and more parts - which is why higher efficiency costs more.

Last is a comment on what size PSU to use. Too many builders are using huge supplies "just to be safe" and are paying the price on a lower efficiency build when it is all done, not to mention too much cost. A larger PSU will have larger transformers, MOSFETS, diodes, and other parts. Larger parts require more overhead losses, just like having a V8 motor in a car will always have lower mileage than a 6 cylinder motor. The efficiency curve of most PSU designs falls off quickly as you go below 20% load because of losses in the larger parts and other extra overhead. That is why the Plus 80 curves don't go below 20%! It gets ugly below that. So size you PSU closely to the needed load. I have a 10TB server using an AMD 790GX motherboard and IGP graphics. There are a total of 12 WD Green series hardrives in this server. It has an Antec Earthwatts unit rated at 380W, and it only has to work hard during power up - the plus power peaks around 290W. Nominal power is around 115W, which is about 30% rated for this PSU - perfect.

One anecdote - I had a server several years ago that kept killing drives. We thought it was the SATA controller, but got the idea to scope the PSU. We found that the 12V rail was going over 20-21V during power up!! Ah, that's out of spec. Kinda.

- Charles
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November 12, 2010 5:54:10 AM

Great article with lots of data! Thanks for the comprehensive list.

I had a few comments to share that can help some. I am a power electronic engineer who designs switching supplies (PSUs) and inverter systems, so I see these technologies every day. One misconception is that PFC correction improves efficiency. It CAN improve efficiency if implemented right, but often it is not. PFC is needed to keep the current draw from the utility low in harmonics (only sinusoidal current) and in phase (phase angle power factor). This helps keep the utility system efficiency highest - but does not guarantee anything about the end power supply efficiency. That is depended upon the PSU design itself and how thorough it is done. Often, the simple passive diode-bridge and cap bank front end PSU is very efficient versus its PFC counterpart.

Another point - the IC pictured in one of the slides is the control IC, not a security device. There are tons of manufactures of these from Asia, Europe, and the US. The cheapest low efficiency supplies will use hard switching chips. The highest efficiency PSUs will use some form of resonant controller(s) which requires more cost and more parts - which is why higher efficiency costs more.

Last is a comment on what size PSU to use. Too many builders are using huge supplies "just to be safe" and are paying the price on a lower efficiency build when it is all done, not to mention too much cost. A larger PSU will have larger transformers, MOSFETS, diodes, and other parts. Larger parts require more overhead losses, just like having a V8 motor in a car will always have lower mileage than a 6 cylinder motor. The efficiency curve of most PSU designs falls off quickly as you go below 20% load because of losses in the larger parts and other extra overhead. That is why the Plus 80 curves don't go below 20%! It gets ugly below that. So size you PSU closely to the needed load. I have a 10TB server using an AMD 790GX motherboard and IGP graphics. There are a total of 12 WD Green series hardrives in this server. It has an Antec Earthwatts unit rated at 380W, and it only has to work hard during power up - the plus power peaks around 290W. Nominal power is around 115W, which is about 30% rated for this PSU - perfect.

One anecdote - I had a server several years ago that kept killing drives. We thought it was the SATA controller, but got the idea to scope the PSU. We found that the 12V rail was going over 20-21V during power up!! Ah, that's out of spec. Kinda.

- Charles
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a b ) Power supply
November 12, 2010 6:23:36 AM

Maybe add something recommending quality PSUs?
Also, you missed XFX and its seasonic PSUs.
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a b ) Power supply
November 12, 2010 6:38:24 AM

Replacing the psu resolves many more of the hardware issues brought to Tom's than any other part . . . probably more than half.

It isn't possible for the average user to determine whether or not a specific psu is worth using. When we recommend a psu to someone in the forums, it's based on overall corporate reputation (arguably two companies) or specific reviews done by qualified reviewers. That gives us a relatively limited range of safe recommendations.

The more psus are reviewed, the more information that's made available, the better.
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November 12, 2010 6:47:55 AM

Every single SeaSonic PSU I have owned is still running.
I have had Antec and countless others die. Obviously the Antec wasn't the SeaSonic model.

Now I only buy SeaSonic.

Article doesn't have any stats on PSU usage, market share, or failure rates.
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a b ) Power supply
November 12, 2010 6:50:40 AM

Very nice article, though most of the info was available on the net, but not in one place, and this article fixes that...Do update the tables often...
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November 12, 2010 7:13:27 AM

A very informative article TH, and some interesting comments as well. If we consider the CPU as the brain of your system, then one may think of the PSU as the Heart & Veins... so whenever I spec out a build I tend to focus on ensuring a higher quality PSU which is too often overlooked. Seasonic seems to be my preference as they're mainly used in the Corsairs I buy, and I award you +5 internets for actually listing the models that are NOT Seasonic based as that is quite helpful! As a general rule of thumb, the heavier the PSU is the better.. that is until low-key manufacturers catch on to this nifty rule and start adding rocks/lead inside the capacitor housings...
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November 12, 2010 7:17:21 AM

Ermmm where's XFX?
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November 12, 2010 8:23:28 AM

channel well and seasonic are two of the best designs on the market today
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November 12, 2010 8:35:43 AM

never had a psu die...
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November 12, 2010 8:42:11 AM

OMG, my PSU from Sirtec's High Power Plus is actually in the list... And I thought it was just some crappy, overpriced $40 product. That sure was relieving... Great article, Mr. Wallossek!!!
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November 12, 2010 8:42:35 AM

One model to add: Cooler Master Silent Pro Gold -> E320127

And I think "chaz_music" makes an excellent remark regarding efficiency and power rating. A lot of people buy to heavy power supplies which decreases efficiency. As the 80+ standard defines minimum efficiencies at 20%, 50% and 100% load you must make sure the normal operating power of your PC is above the 20% load for your psu. A lot of fast desktops with a fast GPU and CPU PC's will have loads around 100-200W in normal operation and only reach around 300 when gaming (CPU and GPU load) so they should get a powersupply that can handle 400-500W maximum otherwise the effciency is degraded. When looking at the Platiunum and Gold level 80+ you will find only 600W and higher models, this is partly because with lower power models they cannot hit the target for 20% load and also because it is hard to sell expensive high quality low power psu's. For most standard PC's an Antec EarthWatt 380W 80+ Bronze psu will have the same or higher efficiency then a Cooler Master Silent Pro Gold 600W 80+ Gold psu as the later model is not used in the region where it can actually deliver the higher efficiency
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a c 121 ) Power supply
November 12, 2010 9:01:28 AM

Thank you, chaz_music, for correcting the erroneous comments about PFC and efficiency.

Years ago, I wouldn't have touched an Antec with a 10' pole; now it is one of my favored brands (the other is Seasonic). The data in this article is very interesting, particularly when combined with the quality technical reviews done by sites like HardwareSecrets and Jonnyguru. Very nice.
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November 12, 2010 9:37:12 AM

This UL method has some limitations, if we look at for example Antec we see this E176105 number listed with multiple manufacturers, they only thing it therefore says is that its Antec, which is evident from the label.
Now Antec is a good brand, but at my company we sold lots of Antec Sonata cases which included an Antec Smartpower with E176105 and they all failed as it had a horrible quality, so in the end I ripped the SmartPower PSU out before selling them and replaced them with Antec NeoHE and CoolerMaster Real Power ProM and that was a major relief as none came back. Now this Neo HE has the same E176105 UL number. So before purchasing a new PSU, check the individual reviews at sites that have graphs with efficiency, ripple and load diagrams and who open up the PSU as Brands and UL numbers don't say enough.
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November 12, 2010 9:51:26 AM

I bought Corsair HX520 based on the recommendations. It died after a year with no apparent cause(no lightning and no indication of a power surge). Fortunately it was fixed under a warranty and no other components were damaged. Before that I always had cheap power supplies, and they always lasted longer.
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a b ) Power supply
November 12, 2010 10:40:38 AM

good article, but id like to see something more pointed towards specific brands to stay away from and valid reasoning behind that. Far too many people get shafted with cheap nasty PSU's with false claims and i think they should be exposed. Also the good ones deserve a good write up. Cheap psu's are not always bad, but they hardly ever live up to their rated power. Load testing on a large round up of psu's would be good to see.
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November 12, 2010 11:13:40 AM

I've only bought one PSU so far, but the Corsair VX550 has been working great for year and half. Hopefully it will continue working well for another 3 years!
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November 12, 2010 11:19:49 AM

Good article with lots of information. In the conclusion could you add a top recommended models? A breakdown of top picks from a set wattage range would be great conclusion.

Quote:
hande 105 degrees instead of 85 degrees should almost double their lifetime

Please change degrees in both places to Celsius. We in America automatically think Fahrenheit when we see degrees. The first word quoted is misspelled and should be handle.
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November 12, 2010 11:31:08 AM

Love the article. I've been tinkering with hardware for about 10 years now, but I only built my first computer from the ground up back in 2006. I was on a tight budget and got a PSU that was on sale for 27 dollars, rated at 500W, for my system which should have only been pulling about 400. Lasted almost three months. Went with a 40 dollar PSU rated at 550 for the replacement, it lasted about a year. Finally went with a good PSU at 650W for $69.99, and it's been plugging away like a champ ever since.

It's about time to put the old guy out to pasture now, is it odd that I feel sentimental about it?
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November 12, 2010 12:07:28 PM

Perhaps should should consider running PSUs for the money articles like they do for CPUs and GPUs. Looking inside the PSU is nice but carries the problem that stores are not likely to let you do so and most of us order from New Egg anyway. Some sort of general quality indicator would be nice.
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November 12, 2010 12:14:52 PM

wow never knew corsair uses seasonic tech, got my first corsiar off enwegg it was a 420 watt psu witha 12 v rail rated at 33 amps was great and powered every thing awsomly , when the psu in my mothers alienware died form old age , i replaced it with that 420 model and grabed myself a 650 watt corsair model. one note though i do get occasioanl oddities on pc power up becasue i got teh psu running to a power strip, higher quality components tend to do this when put on a power strip , i also had an old seasonic on amuch older comp that would get these same anomilies, but it's no probelm i jsut got a better powerstrip and they went away. that said Corsair so far is definitelya company that you can trust , , msot thier models come witha single high power high quality 12 votl rail, which is better for your graphics card(s) that having split up smaller 12 v rails because when they are split the power of all rails counted does not total up to what you'd think it does (ie three 12 v rails at 20 amps each wil not net you total of 60 amps). that said i wont ever buy any thing other than a corsaiur , a pc power and cooling , or a seasonic psu.
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a c 144 ) Power supply
November 12, 2010 12:21:15 PM

photon123I bought Corsair HX520 based on the recommendations. It died after a year with no apparent cause(no lightning and no indication of a power surge). Fortunately it was fixed under a warranty and no other components were damaged. Before that I always had cheap power supplies, and they always lasted longer.

Anything, no matter how good, is subject to random component failures.
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November 12, 2010 12:25:00 PM

a recommended list for PSU would really set this site apart from the rest
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Anonymous
a b ) Power supply
November 12, 2010 12:34:17 PM

I like the comparison to the V8 engine. Many people like the thought of all that power when in reality they would be better served by a V6 due to lower fuel costs. I have a Corsair 520 watt which is in its 2nd machine build. It is currently running a q6600 @3.0ghz O.C. with 4 sticks of ram, tv and audio cards,3 HDDs, an ATI 5830 GPU and countless USB items. Its around 5 years old and counting. As a side note I blow the PSU out with compressed air around every 6 months, you would'nt believe how much dust comes out!
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November 12, 2010 12:59:57 PM

haha...not only the PSU are OEM , even some of the American brand UPS was OEM by Taiwanese manufacture , and u know your iphone was OEM too :p 
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November 12, 2010 1:07:19 PM

I guess I'm just unlucky then, I've seen a Corsair TX750 and a HX750 kick the bucket. The HX750 actually had a capacitor blow...

I just seem to see an abnormal amount of component failures around me.
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Anonymous
a b ) Power supply
November 12, 2010 1:16:43 PM

Please list PSUs manufactured by and branded as fsp. Their PSUs are good and the saga II series is great vfm.
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November 12, 2010 1:19:03 PM

I've had a apevia short out and toast my cpu one time.
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November 12, 2010 1:24:14 PM

great article.
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November 12, 2010 1:30:28 PM

I have a lanparty room in my basement with 6 gaming machines. I have bought 4 or 5 thermaltake 430 watt psu's for moderate gaming machines over the years without a single issue. If the power draw at the outlet is idling under 100 watts and load draw around 150, then its a waste of electricity to buy a bigger psu unless you need 2 pcie connectors for your rig. You want the wattage draw to be in the sweet spot. Get yourself a kill-a-watt meter from newegg and test your own rig if you dont believe it. Its a misconception that more is better.
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November 12, 2010 1:37:03 PM

Excellent article.
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November 12, 2010 1:40:34 PM

Very good article and useful to uninformed buyers. They should post this on the wall at microcenter where I worked....

Your corsair stuff is sorely lacking....they have mnay different OEMs across many more products than you have listed right now. For example, Flextronics makes the AX1200 - a true beauty of a PSU
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November 12, 2010 1:56:46 PM

This is a great article, but it should be just the beginning. Just the first part of a larger series on PSUs. I understand why specific brand /manufacturer recommendations are not included, but I think a series of follow up articles are needed. Surely enough information exists to develop hard and fast rules on which PSUs are the worst offenders. I'd like to see this information available for the benefit of all. After all, just a fraction of the available power supplies ever get a thorough review.
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a b ) Power supply
November 12, 2010 2:31:28 PM

Well this is a good start but I'd like to see more.
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a b ) Power supply
November 12, 2010 2:34:57 PM

some rules for choosing a psu:
1. look at the price. it there are three 500w psus for $70 and one 750w for $30, isnt that suspicious
2. weight. usually a hevier psu is better. of course, some companies of crap power supplies caught on and stuck small weights inside the casing. not kidding
3. included power cord. if a 750w watt psu comes with a super skinny cheapo cord as thin as a lamp cord, and you actually try to load that cord up at 750w, it could melt or catch fire!
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a b ) Power supply
November 12, 2010 2:44:41 PM

Interesting article, I will check my "crap" Thermaltake PSU tonight and see the results. Why have this psu? Only find good PSU below 450W in my country.
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November 12, 2010 2:46:20 PM

Very nice article, quite informative. But yes, I'd also like to see summaries on manufacturer quality, once you have testing data available. It seemed from the intro implied as much.

I've personally learned not to understate the performance of power supplies, as I've had several issues in the past, with the latest melting the power connector to a motherboard, essentially killing the major part of the system. I thought I had a better power supply at that time but really didn't know the details and certainly ended up wrong. A good power supply shouldn't be skimped on, as they last through several generations of computers and directly impact your electricity bill and safety/reliability of all the other components in your computer...
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November 12, 2010 2:48:19 PM

Also I'd like to add that you may want to note that carelessly opening up and looking at power supplies can be dangerous. I'm pretty sure all power supplies would have a warning on them anyway, but I didn't see such a disclaimer in this article (unless I just missed it).
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a b ) Power supply
November 12, 2010 3:26:23 PM

Awesome job Tom's, it was usally hard to find if not nearly impossible to find a up-to-date or such a detailed and complete list as you have here. Thanks for putting this all together, even if I did just pick up a Corsair HX850 a few weeks ago :) 

But I have one problem, you sort of suggest directly or indirectly, for readers in the begining to open up thier PSU, but this will undoubtably void any warranty and could be dangerous for the less tech savy people out their. It would best best to advise them to search the web for the information they seek, as many good sites exist that will dissect the components and test PSU's for you, and such articles as what you have provided here.

And one question are all Corsairs really slightly older designs of Seasonic? Even ones that are produced by CWT?
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November 12, 2010 3:28:26 PM

I only buy PSUs manufactured by Seasonic now. Been doing that for a few years, and I'm very happy them. I have an Antec, and Corsair, and a Seasonic PSU, all made by Seasonic. Only buy PSUs reviews by at least one of the reputable tech sites. My go to site for power supplies is SilectPCReview.com

Nothing against Tom's or the other sites, but I likes me a quiet computer.
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November 12, 2010 3:37:08 PM

Well interesting to say the least, the UL listing E307858 indicates seasonic under Corsair, the 1200AX has the same UL listing???? it may share some similarities with a seasonic design but the components quality and craftsmanship from Flextronics are far exceeding the industry standard, I would not select a psu solely on a UL label or even trust that that is even a justifiable starting point. What happened to the way you used to review PSU's, like the way Johnny Guru does it?
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November 12, 2010 3:45:36 PM

I would love to see a more advanced PSU roundup like the cases with a bunch of 800W(or whatever) and see which is best and price/performance leader.

Another area which would be great to see would be one based on a gaming rig with SLI(with MultiMonitors even). When gaming, you need a huge PSU(Fermi/5850)SLI, but what about for 90% of the time when just surfing the web?
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November 12, 2010 3:48:42 PM

Never had one die but the fan in one went to crap. Still, I have to replace one once in a while to keep up with certain power requirements.
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November 12, 2010 3:52:00 PM

Greatly informative article, and nice comment by chaz_music.

I'd really like THG to write down the simplest but accurate way to determine our system workload in both idle and peak involving as few tool as possible. That way we can choose the most suitable PSU. It's also a good idea to have tips to approximate newly build system.

I was quite surprised chaz_music's 12 HDDs server only used 290 W peak and 115 W nominal. If it was me to decide, I would definitely choose at least 500 W PSU (for "just to be safe" reason).

How about chaz_music collaborate with THG writing review? ^^

My testimony on PSU brand. From the list I only used 2 brands before:
1. Codegen; I had about 50 of its 300 W PSU (built-in its casing) years ago. As I remember very few failed in the first year and after that most problems were output-voltage dropping. I say the built quality is quite good considering they were built-in.
2. ACBell; I bought some to be used in pretty unfriendly environment (blackout and voltage-spiking weren't rare) and I was satisfied with them. Very few have failed yet good warranty.

The table explained these 2 brand-quality.
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November 12, 2010 4:06:30 PM

Very informative, but to say you simply can't get a 750 watt power supply for $50 or that a 400 watt for $20 is a fire hazard ignores the amazing market Americans can access.

I bought my PC Power & Cooling 750 watter for $75 after a $40 rebate about a year ago. I imagine it was on sale because it was a discontinued model from a pre-OCZ acquisition line that was colored an annoying fire engine red, with an unpopular 80mm fan. This single rail beast hasn't failed me yet and was very well reviewed by several sites.

That was a lucky grab from the egg.

That replaced a 6 month old 500 water OCZ that cost $25 after a $20 rebate. The egg is constantly selling this OCZ model and it's 600 watt brother for $25 - $40 after rebate and they are solid power supplies.

Obviously most cheap power supplies are just that, it is very common to see very good power supplies selling for below the "minimum" if you shop carefully. As a power supply is the least frequently replaced computer part, I would encourage people to keep an eye out for these bargains and a chance to buy a top shelf power supply at below market prices.
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