Pros, Cons And Final Verdict
Corsair cooperated with Great Wall and the outcome is nothing less than amazing. The new SF models are top performers and will easily dominate the sparsely populated SFX market. On its first try, Corsair manages to snag the top spot in our performance metrics, leaving behind competitors with lots of experience and a huge presence in this segment.
Besides very high performance, the new SF units also offer quiet operation. That's particularly difficult in such a compact form factor. The use of a larger 92mm fan surely plays a key role in this. The other SFX-based units we've tested employ 80mm fans that spin faster to keep their platforms cool, creating more noise in the process. The only other compact PSU that uses a larger fan is SilverStone's SX500-LG. However, it's also bigger than a typical SFX power supply. Corsair's fan also benefits from optimized blades designed to reduce noise and improve airflow. A semi-passive mode and conservative ramp combine to enable an amazing 24 dB(A) output through the SF450's operational range under normal ambient temperatures. This is definitely a great PSU for enthusiasts who value peace and quiet.
The SF450's performance is high in every discipline: load regulation, ripple suppression, efficiency and response to transient loads. On top of that, the hold-up time is pretty long, while the inrush current is kept at normal levels thanks to a proper design. Another significant advantage of this PSU is its highly efficient 5VSB rail. Only in recent FSP PSU reviews have we measured such efficient 5VSB rails, and it's great to see other manufacturers paying more attention to this rail's performance.
Other assets include fully modular cabling, high-quality Japanese capacitors that filter the DC outputs and good build quality. Great Wall did a fine job under Corsair's guidance and supervision. The only major downside is a high price, though in this case you get what you pay for. There are almost no compromises (and we say almost because some of you probably want an even higher quality FDB fan rather than a rifle-bearing one) on this unit's quality, which undoubtedly has an impact on production cost.
As a side note, we would like to see an SFX-to-ATX adapter bracket bundled in the package, as that comes standard in SilverStone's SFX units. Some folks might want to use this PSU in a normal chassis, where the bracket would be needed. Then again, given the short cables, installation inside of an ATX chassis would be pretty tough. Moreover, you could argue that anyone shopping for SFX power supplies won't be putting it into a larger chassis, so why jack up the price even more? FDD adapters don't cost much though, so Corsair should provide one of those.