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Conclusion And Recommendations

Sub-$75 Mainstream Power Supply Roundup
By , Patrick Afschar

The more expensive PSUs in our last roundup were impressive in terms of performance, quality, and features. In comparison, these $75 PSUs seem pretty ordinary. Nevertheless, our tests here make it clear that you can indeed buy efficient PSUs at affordable prices, especially if you can live with some compromises in the cable quality and length departments. Compromising on electrical quality is obviously out of the question.

The units from Corsair, Xigmatek, and Huntkey emerge almost even in these tests, while the FSP Saga II 400 trails slightly (but gets outright disqualified in the US for its lack of 115 V support). Huntkey and Xigmatek share the win, with Huntkey scoring better in the efficiency tests and Xigmatek faring extremely well in the overload tests. Additionally, Xigmatek has more connectors and higher quality cables, but both units are recommended. The Corsair PSU doesn't stick out in any way, but there's nothing wrong with it. Unfortunately, Huntkey's offering isn't available in the US, so once again, we have to disqualify it from a recommendation.

The low number of connectors and rather short power cables make all of the PSUs in this roundup more suitable for compact, rather than full-sized computers. These models will neither accommodate air flow optimization nor overclocking of powerful components. For multimedia and office computers, though, they're a great option, especially the Xigmatek NRP-PC402.

All PSUs deliver between 380 and 450 W of power. Nevertheless, there are other important differences. The Chieftec BPS-450S makes the best impression when summing up all its different properties. Despite losing slightly to the Antec EA-380D Green in our efficiency tests, Chieftec's superior build quality, lower noise level, and richer features would make it an overall winner, were the device more available here in the States. As with the FSP and Huntkey units, it's simply nowhere to be found.

Antec and Enermax have some minor flaws that prevent victory, but they're both quite solid. The Antec PSU can be criticized for its small fan that blows through the PSU and into your PC instead of sucking air out, and some users will miss having a bundled power cord. Enermax's equipment and build quality impressed us, but our positive impression is clouded by the PSU's failure to meet its advertised 80 PLUS Bronze specifications at 115 V.

In the end we also have to look at availability: Chieftec's BPS-450S isn't available in North America, which is a pity because of its balanced results. Enermax’s PRO82+ II effectively comes at almost twice the cost as the Antec EA-380D Green, making a purchase questionable. If you don’t mind the lower 380 W output, the missing power cord, and the smaller fan, you’ll get marginally better efficiency starting at $45 from Antec. In the US market, this seems to be the clear winner at the sub-$75 price point.

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Top Comments
  • 13 Hide
    RazberyBandit , October 6, 2010 11:17 AM
    cloudwanPatrick u sure the antec blows the hot air into the case?
    Looking at the picture and the fan alignment it seems otherwise.
    Agreed. The pics at Newegg show that the bends in the fan blades are aligned to evacuate air from the PSU, not blow into it.

    While your tests show that these PSU's perform up to or even above their power output specs, that's not the whole story. You say you have an oscilloscope, but where are it's readings across all those load tests? What about voltage fluctuation measurements across them as well?

    I just think you're capable of providing more thorough tests and results.

    Quote:
    Further, the low weight of some PSUs at least suggests the use of cheaper components.
    I'm curious why you choose not to open them up and examine the parts used to build them. Doing so would allow you to actually see if they're constructed from quality parts, rather than make a guess based on the unit's weight. Wouldn't it be beneficial to know what's actually inside the unit? To see where each unit went the extra mile or cut corners? Is it really a matter of voiding the warranty that prevents you from doing so?
Other Comments
  • 7 Hide
    jupiter optimus maximus , October 6, 2010 6:35 AM
    That was scary seeing the AXP PSU blow up...
  • 5 Hide
    eddieroolz , October 6, 2010 6:39 AM
    I still remember buying my Corsair VX550W for $91CAD just a year and half ago. Amazing how prices have come down for cheap, capable and yet quality PSUs over time.

    Oh, and it was interesting to see a real PSU blow up :D 
  • 8 Hide
    Anonymous , October 6, 2010 7:44 AM
    Patrick u sure the antec blows the hot air into the case?
    Looking at the picture and the fan alignment it seems otherwise.
  • 0 Hide
    jestersage , October 6, 2010 8:42 AM
    I wish the Xigmatek was available here. All we have are expensive 750w and 850w versions.
  • 0 Hide
    jabbrun , October 6, 2010 8:43 AM
    How come there's no Silverstone strider 400W...
  • 0 Hide
    bmadd , October 6, 2010 8:49 AM
    Im glad to see that the Antec 380D won. I have bought 5 for family and friends have been solid units to date.
  • 0 Hide
    youssef 2010 , October 6, 2010 9:18 AM
    I don't think the Xigmatek PSU can keep the 650W load reliable or else Xigmatek would've rated it to be 650W
  • 1 Hide
    dragon5677 , October 6, 2010 9:24 AM
    Antec is awesome as always
  • 7 Hide
    feeddagoat , October 6, 2010 9:45 AM
    Is there no way to measure how stable the power on each rail is? Some PSU's Ive seen are very efficient but their rails drops below recommended power delivery meaning components are starved. Some even fluxuate which can damage components over time. The only other thing I feel is missing is capacitor aging. Is there any way to simulate 2-3 years use? Most PSU's I use in my main machine get handed down to another rig or sold. 2nd hand PSU's could be false economy!

    great video, Ive always wanted to see a PSU explode lol.
  • 0 Hide
    dEAne , October 6, 2010 10:41 AM
    All these keeps me updated.
  • 13 Hide
    RazberyBandit , October 6, 2010 11:17 AM
    cloudwanPatrick u sure the antec blows the hot air into the case?
    Looking at the picture and the fan alignment it seems otherwise.
    Agreed. The pics at Newegg show that the bends in the fan blades are aligned to evacuate air from the PSU, not blow into it.

    While your tests show that these PSU's perform up to or even above their power output specs, that's not the whole story. You say you have an oscilloscope, but where are it's readings across all those load tests? What about voltage fluctuation measurements across them as well?

    I just think you're capable of providing more thorough tests and results.

    Quote:
    Further, the low weight of some PSUs at least suggests the use of cheaper components.
    I'm curious why you choose not to open them up and examine the parts used to build them. Doing so would allow you to actually see if they're constructed from quality parts, rather than make a guess based on the unit's weight. Wouldn't it be beneficial to know what's actually inside the unit? To see where each unit went the extra mile or cut corners? Is it really a matter of voiding the warranty that prevents you from doing so?
  • 2 Hide
    Onus , October 6, 2010 11:36 AM
    I've bought a number of EA-380 PSUs, both the older one and the "D" model; I'm pretty sure that fan is an exhaust.
    The initial request makes me think these were cherry-picked, rather than selected from a Retail source. That bodes particularly poorly for AXP; looks like they should not be legal for sale.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , October 6, 2010 12:45 PM
    when it comes to temperature intake and outake, "less is better" is total BS. Temperature is a unit of density not a unit of energy. less is not necessarly better.
  • 1 Hide
    jomofro39 , October 6, 2010 1:00 PM
    Oh man, I must have gotten a helluva deal when I got my Corsair 650TX for 70 bucks then. Nice review.
  • 1 Hide
    altoidman85 , October 6, 2010 1:18 PM
    My company supplied our custom built computers to a local hospital for several years. We had a span while we used Antec cases where every one of their 350W power supplies that came bundled with the case failed just like the one in the video. Sparks, bright flashes and smoke. Ultimately it lost us the contract with the hospital for the computers. Personally I will never buy or recommend an Antec power supply or product to anyone. Even after dealing directly with the company and proving a design flaw with the power supply the refused to do anything to fix the issues for us. Because of that roughly 100 power supplies were replaced at my companies expense. Now I use thermaltake 430W power supplies and while they are not the most efficient I have never had a single failure with these. It would have been nice to see how they stack up against the power supplies used in this article tho.
  • 3 Hide
    Arguggi , October 6, 2010 1:25 PM
    Why no noise comparison? Some PSU I've tried sounded like a jet fighter under load, i guess it isn't these PSU case, but anyway an idea of the SPL they produce would have been nice.
  • 1 Hide
    cknobman , October 6, 2010 1:36 PM
    The antec earthwatts is an unbelievable power supply at an unreached price point. I picked mine up on the egg for only $29.99 after rebate!!!!
  • 0 Hide
    tipoo , October 6, 2010 1:37 PM
    Still too big, IMHO. A mainstream user generally would not use more than 250 watts, these are more for low-mid end gamers or high performance users.
  • 0 Hide
    tipoo , October 6, 2010 1:41 PM
    tipooStill too big, IMHO. A mainstream user generally would not use more than 250 watts, these are more for low-mid end gamers or high performance users.


    If you doubt this, try using a kill-a-watt meter or equivalent. Most mainstream PC's idle lower than 100, and max lower than 250.
  • 2 Hide
    tom thumb , October 6, 2010 1:45 PM
    If you're in the sub-500W range and you want something silent, just grab a passive PSU.
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