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Who's Who In Power Supplies, 2013: Brands Vs. Manufacturers

Who's Who In Power Supplies, 2013: Brands Vs. Manufacturers
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Do you think that all power supplies are manufactured by the brand on the label? Think again. We show what makes a good PSU and reveal who builds them. You can actually find lots of quality (instead of just scrap metal) behind some of the budget labels.

Update: 1/23/13: Due to overwhelmingly positive feedback and a number of reader questions about the actual origin of certain power supply brands, we thoroughly revised our Who’s Who of PSUs, originally published in November of 2010 and last refreshed in May of 2011. Since the article is frequently quoted and linked to, we’re updating it rather than publishing the newest entries. As such, much of the content remains unchanged from the previous version.

Today’s revision adds many new manufacturers and brands, though. It also expands the number of models in several product families. Indeed, much has changed since our original article appeared more than two years ago, and we’re happy that readers in our forums and around the Web appear to be better informed and more discriminating when it comes to picking out a new power supply.

At the same time, manufacturers also appear to have re-evaluated some of their practices, and we’ve seen newer models use better components, resulting in higher quality overall.

We want to extend a special thanks to our community, as many of our readers and forum members have contributed much helpful information and valuable data to this analysis.

Several companies also joined in for the first time, volunteering information on their product lines. Sadly, for now it still appears that this is the exception rather than the rule. Many of our emails asking for information were met with silence. On that note, we acknowledge that we’re not infallible. Should you come across any omissions or errors, big or small, we invite you to send us your feedback so we can keep expanding and refining this list, ensuring it remains current and as inclusive as possible.

This article first appeared on November 12, 2010, and has since been added to and updated.

Who’s Who?

Let’s start by dividing the manufacturers into three large groups so we can better understand the database and how these companies are connected:

1. The OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers)

OEMs manage all of their production internally. They either exclusively design and manufacture their own PSUs (like Enermax) or design and manufacture their own brands, as well as manufacture PSUs designed by other companies (such as FSP, HEC, and SeaSonic). Some of them focus heavily on worldwide exports and provide a range of models, which are then sold under different labels. It's common to find otherwise-identical models marketed under many different names and labels. The industrial areas around Shenzhen, China, are the cradle of the lowest-priced PSUs sold all over the globe.

2. Designers: Without Their Own Production

The second group of companies also develops and designs their own products. However, they have to outsource either some or all of the manufacturing to other companies. One example of this is Be Quiet. Those familiar with the brand noted how Be Quiet P7 models were suddenly much better than the disappointing P6. The answer was simply a manufacturer change, from Topower to FSP. Other examples of designers include SilverStone, Corsair, PC Power & Cooling, and Tagan.

3. The Labels: With or Without Any Technical Involvement

Arguably, this group could be subdivided. Some importers of foreign PSUs that resell models under their own labels have a certain influence over the quality and choice of components, while others simply bring in some very cheap products, change the label, and resell them.

This third group is the most interesting one for price-oriented customers, though also the most uncertain for quality. You're as likely to score a bargain by getting a relabeled high-quality product at a lower price as you are to be disappointed by being too tight-fisted. Some good examples of products to watch are new models from Aerocool, which are essentially the Cougar units from Compucase/HEC with a discounted price and completely restyled exterior.

After many tests and inspections of budget models (by us, our readers, and friendly computer stores), we would advise you to steer your piggy banks clear of the labels Rasurbo, Inter-Tech (Sinan Power, Coba), Tech Solo, LC Power, RaptoxX, Tronje, Xilence, Ultron, World Link, Q-Tec, etc. We were able to identify some of these models without looking at the UL number simply by checking out the installed components. These were almost exclusively the simplest work of such manufacturers as Enhance, World Link, Andyson, Topower, Casing Macron, and Channel Well.

Lack of protection circuits, low efficiency, and bad build quality were major points of criticism. The lowest of the low was a European label called Hardwaremania24, targeted at OEM PCs. While still in standby mode, the PSU heated to about 176 degrees Fahrenheit, spent the next six hours billowing smoke, and finally made what might be described as a trumpeting sound before dying. The host computer was never even turned on. After analyzing the PSU, we found no protection at all save for a single slow fuse.

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Top Comments
  • 20 Hide
    rolli59 , May 13, 2011 4:42 AM
    Great article!
  • 14 Hide
    gsacks , May 13, 2011 7:32 AM
    When I replaced a crappy 500W power supply bought online from Fry's with a Corsair 520W supply built by Seasonic (from the egg), a few years ago the system almost miraculously became 100% more stable. I will never skimp on a power supply again. EVER.
Other Comments
  • 20 Hide
    rolli59 , May 13, 2011 4:42 AM
    Great article!
  • 6 Hide
    Darkerson , May 13, 2011 5:05 AM
    I really wish I would have had something like this years ago, but either way this was a great treasure trove of useful info. Thanks!
  • 5 Hide
    _Pez_ , May 13, 2011 5:13 AM
    Now i'm afraid of every PSU out there... :X .. awesome work now I'll be more careful when selecting a PSU I will check everything in that moment like some sort of paranoia. ja ja LOL !
  • 1 Hide
    chefboyeb , May 13, 2011 5:49 AM
    I have a Rosewill 950-DB and it's been working excellently for over a year now... How safe am I?
  • 4 Hide
    Tamz_msc , May 13, 2011 5:54 AM
    Channel well is pretty good.You have great PSUs from them for both Antec and Corsair.
  • 1 Hide
    shades_aus , May 13, 2011 5:59 AM
    That explains why my ANTEC power supplies have died. Although some were made by Seasonic, they were NOT designed by Seasonic.
  • 1 Hide
    PreferLinux , May 13, 2011 6:00 AM
    As you were told with the last one, chokes do not mean passive PFC. They will be present in the filters (all of them, including input) of any PSU.
  • 2 Hide
    The Greater Good , May 13, 2011 6:08 AM
    Ummm, Seasonic does make their own PSUs.
  • 0 Hide
    avatar_raq , May 13, 2011 6:09 AM
    "For those companies that don't manufacture their own products, such as HEC and Seasonic"

    Huh? Since when Seasonic is not the maker of their products?
    Nice article and much needed. Thanks
  • 3 Hide
    PreferLinux , May 13, 2011 6:12 AM
    shades_ausThat explains why my ANTEC power supplies have died. Although some were made by Seasonic, they were NOT designed by Seasonic.

    The ones in question were probably older ones with cheap caps that failed. And probably made by one of the lesser companies there too.
  • 0 Hide
    The Greater Good , May 13, 2011 6:19 AM
    At least I thought they did... what ever. They're still damn good.
  • 0 Hide
    yyk71200 , May 13, 2011 6:21 AM
    Tamz_mscChannel well is pretty good.You have great PSUs from them for both Antec and Corsair.

    I am not sure that Channel Well is that great. I had Antec Smartpower 2.0 die on me. Currently I own EarthWatts 500D from delta. Read that this is a decent unit.
  • 1 Hide
    Tamz_msc , May 13, 2011 6:30 AM
    Quote:
    I am not sure that Channel Well is that great. I had Antec Smartpower 2.0 die on me. Currently I own EarthWatts 500D from delta. Read that this is a decent unit.

    That can happen and I'm sorry for you.But the fact is that there are quite a few PSUs form them for Antec and Corsair that have received great reviews form sites like jonnyguru.
  • 1 Hide
    dirtmountain , May 13, 2011 6:44 AM
    Excellent article, also worth a read is this one by hardware secrets.
    http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/How-to-Discover-Your-Power-Supplys-Real-Manufacturer/370
    When i want the best power supply for any system i'm building my first choice is Seasonic.
  • 0 Hide
    yyk71200 , May 13, 2011 6:46 AM
    Tamz_mscThat can happen and I'm sorry for you.But the fact is that there are quite a few PSUs form them for Antec and Corsair that have received great reviews form sites like jonnyguru.

    Perhaps you are right. It have been years ago when it died. I even used Thermaltake Purepower for a few years after that before I purchased EarthWatts. Thermaltake still kicking but I decided that it was time to change. Anyway, things change and I decided to give Antec a second shot. I would say, the best advice would be to read reviews and not just any reviews where they just use PSUs in a system, but reviews where they measure voltage regulation, DC quality, ripple, etc. and open units to see if there is turd inside, or something worthy.
  • 0 Hide
    eszaqsc , May 13, 2011 7:03 AM
    mine is thermaltake TR2-900w (TR2 900 AP) W0175RE to be exactly, i buy it at 65$USD, is it a good or not ???
  • 14 Hide
    gsacks , May 13, 2011 7:32 AM
    When I replaced a crappy 500W power supply bought online from Fry's with a Corsair 520W supply built by Seasonic (from the egg), a few years ago the system almost miraculously became 100% more stable. I will never skimp on a power supply again. EVER.
  • 3 Hide
    iam2thecrowe , May 13, 2011 9:25 AM
    One of the interesting things i see here, for example is the Thermaltake section. Depending on model you could buy a Litepower or TR2 series and be getting it from one of 3 different manufacturers! Just goes to show you cant jut look at a series and assume they are all made the same. A 600w unit might get a good review but if you get the 500w you may be getting a dud.... Awesome article toms!
  • 7 Hide
    Makere , May 13, 2011 9:33 AM
    Could you please post a sortable list also? I would like to sort by the OEM, to see more easily who sells certain OEM's products.
  • 4 Hide
    spyder271 , May 13, 2011 10:21 AM
    I'm not sure I know how to effectifly use this list. How do I know which manufactures build quality units? For example, OCZ uses both Channel Well (supposedly good) and topower (supposedly bad). Is there a way to know which manufactures are to be avoided without first buying the unit? I know the general guidelines, but how do I use this list to help?
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