Roundup: 12 Gaming Power Supplies Compared

Conclusion And Recommendation

Once again we take a look at the initial question: can gaming-oriented power supplies live up to the promises made by marketing departments? The answer is: not always, but there is more to the story than that.

Some of the tested PSUs fail at one or more tests, such as specific energy efficiency requirements or the newly introduced ripple and noise measurements--and that simply must not happen. Sometimes-significant differences in the energy efficiency curves are also striking. Some PSUs live up to their 80 PLUS certifications, but show sharp efficiency drops at low loads. Others shine under low loads, but show weaknesses at full load.

All of the tested PSUs are intended for use in high-performance gaming computers. However, the manufacturers sometimes interpret the gaming theme very differently. Many of them try to gain the consumer's confidence by showing off certifications, such as 80 PLUS Gold or Nvidia SLI-ready, while others focus on a reasonable price/performance ratio. This is primarily achieved by getting a lower 80 PLUS classification and cutting some corners when it comes to equipment. Pointing out winners and losers in this roundup is hard, due to the large number of products. Depending on your individual needs and preferences, quite a lot of them could be a viable choice.

The NZXT HALE90-750M and Cooler Master Silent Pro Gold 700 are two of the best PSUs tested in this roundup, while Antec's TP-750 and be quiet! Straight Power E8 have great price/performance ratios. However, there are a few power supplies that we can recommend regardless of their price, the intended application or personal preferences. The following products went through our testing suite without any glitches, which means that we can approve them from a technical standpoint:






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  • FLanighan
    Why not Corsair? I jizz at my tx850w :)
    -4
  • xxsk8er101xx
    Because it failed a few of the tests.

    FLanighanWhy not Corsair? I jizz at my tx850w
    2
  • p1n3apqlexpr3ss
    Corsair has a gamer series... whyd they test one of the units from the top line aimed more at enthusiasts?
    -3
  • V8VENOM
    Odd, why isn't Silverstone reviewed at all? Most of the power supplies they looked at are junk for anyone with more than one GPU and overclocking. I dumped my PC Power & Cooling 1000 Watt PSU because it couldn't handle two ATI 5870's and overclocked CPU to 4Ghz with 1600 FSB. I put in a Silverstone 1500Watt PSU and my system has been rock solid ever since.

    The article doesn't appear to measure noise from during switching and how much noise is introduced to the CPU and bus.

    Anyway, it will be a cold day in hell before anyone gets me to switch out my Silverstone 1500 Watt PSU.
    -4
  • scook9
    V8VENOMOdd, why isn't Silverstone reviewed at all? Most of the power supplies they looked at are junk for anyone with more than one GPU and overclocking. I dumped my PC Power & Cooling 1000 Watt PSU because it couldn't handle two ATI 5870's and overclocked CPU to 4Ghz with 1600 FSB. I put in a Silverstone 1500Watt PSU and my system has been rock solid ever since.The article doesn't appear to measure noise from during switching and how much noise is introduced to the CPU and bus.Anyway, it will be a cold day in hell before anyone gets me to switch out my Silverstone 1500 Watt PSU.

    You are either lying or very unlucky (got a bad PSU)......I have crossfire 5870s and an i7 965 and all stock cannot exceed 650W at the wall (about 550W actually used) no matter what I try.
    6
  • JamesSneed
    Nice tests but I came to a different conclusion. The seasonic X-750 is close to the most effiecent in the bunch and did you see that voltage ripple it looked like it was flat lining.
    5
  • boiler1990
    For the ~$20 price difference between the Corsair 850HX and the AX850, I think I'll get the AX. It never hurts to invest in a great PSU :)
    1
  • juuh
    V8VENOMOdd, why isn't Silverstone reviewed at all? Most of the power supplies they looked at are junk for anyone with more than one GPU and overclocking. I dumped my PC Power & Cooling 1000 Watt PSU because it couldn't handle two ATI 5870's and overclocked CPU to 4Ghz with 1600 FSB. I put in a Silverstone 1500Watt PSU and my system has been rock solid ever since.The article doesn't appear to measure noise from during switching and how much noise is introduced to the CPU and bus.Anyway, it will be a cold day in hell before anyone gets me to switch out my Silverstone 1500 Watt PSU.


    I call BS. I could run your setup with my PC power & cooling 750w unit.
    http://www.techspot.com/review/289-geforce-gtx-480-sli-versus-radeon-5870-crossfire/page9.html
    6
  • vanhalen
    No recommendation for the Seasonic? Am I missing something?
    6
  • random1283
    agreed no reccomendation for an x series seasonic, you guys must be mssing something, every other review of the x series said that they are simply amazing much better then any nxzt or anything.
    4
  • dEAne
    Very useful article, thank you so much tomshardware.
    0
  • buzznut
    Yeah thanks Toms, this is a timely article considering the new CPU's and motherboards coming in the next 6 months or so. Lots of us are contemplating upgrades or complete overhauls soon!
    3
  • buzznut
    BTW, it would be helpful to know exact cable lengths. There is some speculation about which models have decent cable lengths but nothing specific.

    My next build will be in an NZXT full tower, and I am particularly interested in the Antec 850W, which I believe is the same line as the 750 tested. The report mentioned something about the cables being a bit short for full towers, I'd like to know exact cable lengths, and does anyone know if the 850W model cables may be a little longer?
    1
  • KT_WASP
    Huh?

    You're kidding right? You mention the NZXT power supply as "being one of the best", but no mention or recommendation for the Seasonic (even tough according to your own tests the Seasonic handily beats the NZXT)?

    Seasonic is one of the, if not thee, best power supply houses in the land. Most of the times if you see a real good power supply from another brand, it turns out it was a Seasonic unit. I'm not saying there are no other good manufacturers out there... But, to not even to get a nod or anything in the conclusion??

    Review fail.
    6
  • Olle P
    I fail to see how a low airflow temperature is good. To me it shows that either the fan is running too fast, producing unnecessary noise, or the really hot spots don't get sufficient cooling (with most of the air passing through the PSU without touching any heated surface).
    4
  • hardcore_gamer
    Did you test the ripple when the PSU is loaded ? Ripple factor is a function of load
    2
  • Onus
    "In the remaining tests, Cooler Master's GX 750...does mess up a bit with the ripple and noise though, giving us a reading on the 3.3 V rail that is 50% above the ATX specification limit."

    So, essentially it will pick away at your RAM. No thanks.

    "...its single +12 V rail (preferable to all of the units with dinkier +12 V output spread over multiple rails)..."

    I call BS. I'd much rather have multiple +12V rails. With OCP set appropriately, there's no issue of power being "trapped" anywhere, yet it will be safer in the event of near short-circuit conditions.

    I'll be building either a SB or BD rig for myself in late Spring or early Summer, and I already picked up the 560W model of the Seasonic "X" line for it ($71 for the one HardwareSecrets reviewed).

    Remember too, that 80+ tests at the absurdly low ambient temperature of 23C. While I think their tests are still generally valid, and will certainly clear out the liar-labeled units, for a certified unit to fail by a couple percent under real world conditions is not too unusual.
    3
  • Gulli
    I'd rather see a comparison between PSUs at the lower end of the spectrum. I can't imagine any of these 750-850W monsters breaking a sweat even with dual high end GPUs. It's uch more interesting to know what's the smallest PSU that can do the job for most desktops. For example: I've been running an HD 5870 with an overclocked Core i7 920 for over a year now on a Corsair 520W PSU, with no problems whatsoever. But if I were to ask on the forums what PSU I would need for my setup most people would recommend 650W, at minimum. So please do a comparison that shows how few watts is enough for single GPU setups and which PSUs are reliable enough.
    2
  • santiagoanders
    There are power supply fanbois now? Your beloved Seasonic wasn't recommended so you rant?
    -9
  • jimishtar
    To me, having bigger temp difference between input/output air is a good thing. It means the psu has good layout and the heatsinks & fan do their job. Low heat output means bad-cooling-efficiency. Every psu generates heat - not every psu deals with it.
    2