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Part 2: Which One Of These PSUs Is Right For You?

Part 2: Four Cheap 80 PLUS Bronze Power Supplies, Reviewed
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In yesterday's half of this round-up, we suggested that it is possible to find a well-built, efficient power supply at a value-oriented price. But don't be duped by cheap PSUs. An 80 PLUS Bronze logo is not a promise of quality. In fact, Cougar's A350 is advertised with the Bronze rating and can't even achieve the necessary efficiency levels to justify that badge. Fortunately, all of the power supplies in part two at least satisfied the efficiency specifications they advertise. Nevertheless, our testing still uncovers a handful of weaknesses spread through the field.

We'll start with a power supply that appears free of any serious issues: Cooler Master's Silent Pro M2 520. Modular cable management helps it stand apart from the crowd, and its workmanship is darned near perfect. For all of that, however, you'll need to pay a price at the upper end of our budget range. The Silent Pro M2's hold-up time and sound level results are both commendable. If you want above-average power and are thinking of building a more graphics-heavy system, you should consider this PSU, though remember it's not available in the U.S. yet, so you may find yourself shopping for the 550 or 650 W versions instead.

Corsair's CX500 is rated for 20 W less, but at a retail price of $60, it is also less expensive. Apart from its lower maximum output, the CX500 loses modular cable management compared to Cooler Master's offering. And ready availability in the U.S. means we'd be more inclined to favor Corsair's offering. After all, you still get a pair of auxiliary PCI Express power connectors, along with quality that leaves almost nothing to be desired. Workmanship, interior construction, sound level, and efficiency are all good. The CX500 would be close to perfect, actually, if there wasn't an issue with its short hold-up time. All in all, this is decent budget-oriented PSU.

Too-few connectors and relatively low power output are the two biggest detractors from Gigabyte's Greenmax 450 Plus. It also doesn't help that we're not finding it for sale in the U.S., making it impossible to judge its value proposition. Should it show up soon, know that its electrical quality is impressive, aside from high inrush current. On the plus side, its hold-up time is very long. We do take issue with the power supply's acoustic output. Gigabyte's submission is the loudest of the PSUs we tested, and that applies to both load profiles. A sound level above 35 dB(A) cannot qualify as quiet. Sorry.

Maxing out at just 360 W, Seasonic's SSR-360GP seems pretty puny compared to the other power supplies in our round-up. However, it's also the only PSU bearing an 80 PLUS Gold rating for a scant $60. It delivers on that promise, too. Its outstanding efficiency runs rings around the other test candidates. Unfortunately, it doesn't give you many connectors. Great efficiency translates to less waste heat. As a result, the SSR-360GP's fan doesn't have to spin very fast. We measured just a tad over 30 dB(A), which is very quiet indeed.

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