Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Bang For Your Buck: Four 500 W Power Supplies Reviewed

Bang For Your Buck: Four 500 W Power Supplies Reviewed
By , Patrick Afschar

Enthusiasts often say that you can never have too much performance. However, a 500W power supply is perfectly ample for a majority of mid-range PCs. This is one of those cases where a solid ratio of performance to price is preferable to gross excess.

Editor's Note: If you want more background on how power supply testing plays out here at Tom's Hardware, I recommend that you check out Soon At Tom's Hardware: Full-Scale Power Supply Testing before reading this piece.

Special attention gets paid to the power supply unit (PSU) these days, primarily in the high-performance and gaming community. No wonder, as the requirements of top-shelf PCs with multiple processors and modern 3D graphics cards are constantly increasing. Such computers will suck 800 W or more from the power supply under load, and for short periods that number can be substantially higher.

On the other hand, power supplies are often forgotten in offices and for everyday multimedia applications. Truth be told, compact and mid-range PCs don't require a high-performance power supply. However, investing in a high-quality power supply can pay off in several ways.

First, a good PSU guarantees a reliable and consistent supply of power to all components. This can help extend component longevity. Second, a highly energy efficient PSU helps reduce the energy consumption of a home or office. Additionally, other aspects, such as ergonomics, cable modularity, and cable length can simplify or complicate PC assembly. PSUs with good build quality also prevent nicked fingers or a less-than-optimal fit during installation. Trust us. We've seen it all.

We gathered a few mid-range models for this roundup. A top street price of $150 was our only prerequisite, and we settled on four 500 W models from Cooler Master, Enermax, FSP, and SilverStone. The coveted 80 PLUS logo is emblazoned on each box, except for SilverStone's.

Display 43 Comments.
This thread is closed for comments
Top Comments
  • 16 Hide
    haplo602 , July 8, 2010 6:17 AM
    the yes/no graphs are funny .... how about a table ?

    anyway I did not notice voltage stability measurements and a "hot box" test.
  • 15 Hide
    SpadeM , July 8, 2010 6:38 AM
    It might be just me but the ripple/noise test wasn't performed on these PSUs. Also, at what temperature did you guys test for the efficiency? I'm hoping u tested it over 30 degrees Celsius.
    Other then that, it's a pretty quick analysis. Wish you'd open them up to actually see what components they used in their primary and secondary circuits.
Other Comments
  • 16 Hide
    haplo602 , July 8, 2010 6:17 AM
    the yes/no graphs are funny .... how about a table ?

    anyway I did not notice voltage stability measurements and a "hot box" test.
  • 15 Hide
    SpadeM , July 8, 2010 6:38 AM
    It might be just me but the ripple/noise test wasn't performed on these PSUs. Also, at what temperature did you guys test for the efficiency? I'm hoping u tested it over 30 degrees Celsius.
    Other then that, it's a pretty quick analysis. Wish you'd open them up to actually see what components they used in their primary and secondary circuits.
  • 0 Hide
    The Lady Slayer , July 8, 2010 6:41 AM
    @SpadeM: there are other sites that dismantle power supplies, just google them

    I'm happy that yet another site thinks highly of the CM Silent Pro series; I'm using the M600W currently.
  • 0 Hide
    agnickolov , July 8, 2010 6:55 AM
    For the last several years I've considered $50 the ceiling for a 500W PSU... To put it into perspective - this is the value choice. I did spend $80 on a 530W PSU 7 years ago, but that was then.
  • 5 Hide
    raclimja , July 8, 2010 7:03 AM
    why no seasonic?

    according to most people that i know, seasonic is the very best brand that make quality psu for the money

    newegg has a Seasonic S12ii Bronze 520w for just $69.99
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817151094&cm_re=seasonic_s12ii_bronze-_-17-151-094-_-Product

    and according to reviews it is the very best power supply in its price range(it even beat the Corsair HX 620w)
    http://www.pcstats.com/articleview.cfm?articleid=2162&page=4
  • -2 Hide
    p1n3apqlexpr3ss , July 8, 2010 7:22 AM
    Ummm... just me or 4 rails @ 18A for the FSP and 3 rails @ 25A for the enermax seem really really really heaps for a 500W psu...?
  • 1 Hide
    p1n3apqlexpr3ss , July 8, 2010 7:27 AM
    Oh and how can you have a 115V 110% peak load test on the silverstone?? :p 
    But yea very nice read, was expecting some more cheaper PSUs tbh though, the vantec ions seem to offer good price/performance, at least here in new zealand, dunno if you get them in america
  • 2 Hide
    raclimja , July 8, 2010 7:27 AM
    P1n3apqlExpr3ssUmmm... just me or 4 rails @ 18A for the FSP and 3 rails @ 25A for the enermax seem really really really heaps for a 500W psu...?


    in my opinion, if i am buying a 500w psu

    my main concern will be efficiency

    since i wont mind doing some crazy overclocking or tri-sli or quad fire over a 500w psu

    also look at this very interesting result that i have found
    a Core i7 920 + GTX 260 @stock under PRIME 95+ Furmark has only a maximum power consumption of 371w
    http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cases/display/system-wattage_7.html#sect0

    and in real life usage i bet you wont even get close to that power consumption even when overclocked :) 
  • 7 Hide
    jhanschu , July 8, 2010 9:19 AM
    I always enjoy reading about PSU's as I feel they are really the core to your system. Poor power means flaky system, and allow your electrical components to last longer.

    With that aside, in my opinion finding a value PSU is about weighing price and quality. Although the Pro87+ was a monster when it came to efficiency, it was still said to be available for around $140. First, that's a bit much for a budget/midrange PSU and secondly, I couldn't find that particular PSU anywhere online. I found the 600W variant on newegg for around the same price...but it's not the same PSU.

    Pretty much the same goes for the other PSU's. I couldn't find them at any reputable online dealers (newegg, tigerdirect, zipzoomfly, etc.). And I do realize that it takes much time to do a review like this, but it seems like some of the more popular brands have been left out. Even if they don't have an 80plus "Gold" PSU at or around the 500W level. At least then you'd have a baseline for a so called normal efficiency power supply.

    I did a lot of research when I purchased mine a couple of years ago when I last built a ground up system. I settled on a corsair VX550 and have been thoroughly impressed with how it's handled my moderate gaming system. Now this is a personal preference, but I've been so pleased with it, I doubt if I will go to another PSU label. But anyway, that's my $0.02.
  • 0 Hide
    jhanschu , July 8, 2010 9:21 AM
    jhanschuPoor power means flaky system, and allow your electrical components to last longer.


    you probably figured out what I was trying to say...but meant a good PSU allows components to last longer. Sorry bout that.
  • 9 Hide
    doron , July 8, 2010 9:23 AM
    I'm with SpadeM - What about a noise test?

    Very interesting article, thanks
  • 0 Hide
    falchard , July 8, 2010 9:33 AM
    I think the thing everyone looks for in PSUs above everything else is build quality. If the PSU fails, it could take everything else with it.
  • 0 Hide
    JonnyDough , July 8, 2010 9:39 AM
    raclimjawhy no seasonic?according to most people that i know, seasonic is the very best brand that make quality psu for the moneynewegg has a Seasonic S12ii Bronze 520w for just $69.99http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] -_-Productand according to reviews it is the very best power supply in its price range(it even beat the Corsair HX 620w)http://www.pcstats.com/articleview [...] 162&page=4


    The review you posted is from 2007...that power supply unit is old tech. Get with the times.
  • 7 Hide
    marraco , July 8, 2010 11:51 AM
    Thanks for testing in 230V
  • 2 Hide
    jimishtar , July 8, 2010 11:54 AM
    no corsair, no pcpower&cooling.... hmmmm
  • 3 Hide
    zelog , July 8, 2010 12:08 PM
    Silverstone Strider All cables... are modular...

    That's not what the picture says :) 
  • 0 Hide
    digiex , July 8, 2010 12:22 PM
    be pa
    haplo602the yes/no graphs are funny .... how about a table ?anyway I did not notice voltage stability measurements and a "hot box" test.


    Be patient guys, this is the first time, right?
  • 0 Hide
    dannyboy3210 , July 8, 2010 12:36 PM
    Typo in your Hold Up Time graph, you have:
    SilverStone Strider SST-ST50F-230 (115v) N/A
    followed by
    SilverStone Strider SST-ST50F-230 (115v) 18.0
    Other than that, this looks very useful.
  • 0 Hide
    baracubra , July 8, 2010 1:20 PM
    Its great that Tom's is finally reviewing PSU, and I hope that you guys do an enthusiast 800W-1000W review soon becuase thats what us enthusiasts really need. Btw Patrick, how would you comment that a rig running an i7 & GTX 280 draws about 380W under full load? Do we really need such big PSUs?
Display more comments