Power Supply: Corsair Professional Series AX1200
By: Andy Patrizio
Even as hardware vendors strive to reduce power consumption in their components, hobbyists find just as many ways to draw more juice from their systems. The latest generation of video cards, even on their own, demand serious power, especially from the +12 V rail (Nvidia rates the GeForce GTX 480 at an astounding 250 W per card; just imagine SLI with two or three cards). Add in the needs of flagship CPUs, multi-drive storage arrays, and multiple gigs of memory. It all adds up.
Not only do you need reliable power delivery, but you need efficiency, converting as much AC power into DC as possible, minimizing heat in the process. The PSU vendors have been as green-minded as the rest of the industry, and are making an increased effort to improve the efficiency of their products. Organizations like 80 PLUS give them a marketing tool to brag about products that fare particularly well in testing.
Corsair's Professional Series Gold AX1200 earns an 80 PLUS Gold designator for its efficiency. The company claims that much of the technology in this 1200 W PSU comes the server world, where steady performance and reliability are a must for 24/7 uptime. The AX1200 promises 90 percent power efficiency at 50 percent load, and at least 87 percent efficiency from 20 to 100 percent load. Technically, that could help save money on your power bill, but when you consider this unit's peak output, the idea of saving money on power is somewhat comical.
Perhaps the best reason for an enthusiast to drool over Corsair's AX1200 is the fact that the PSU delivers 100 amps through its single +12 V rail. That's more than enough for a Core i7-980X and four GeForce GTX 580s in SLI. The power supply also features over-voltage and over-current protection, under-voltage protection, and short circuit protection, just as we'd expect.
Power users attempting to avoid a rat's nest of cables inside their meticulously-managed chassis (and aren't we all trying to keep things neat?) will enjoy that the AX1200's cables are all detachable. So, you can remove all of them to get the PSU installed in your case, and then add them as needed for your devices.
One of the most telling specifications for any product is its warranty--the period of time a vendor is willing to support your purchase, even after they already have your money. The Corsair Professional Series Gold AX1200 has seven years of coverage and customer support via telephone, e-mail, forum, and the company's tech support express helpdesk. Do you think Corsair is confident that this will be a trouble-free power supply? We'd think so. You may pay more upfront for the max load, large +12 V rail, and super-efficient design. But in a build full of high-end hardware, you get what you pay for. The AX1200 comes as close to sexy as a power supply can get.