After taking a break from the power supply market, NZXT had quite a bit of time to plan its next move. The company clearly put a lot of effort into choosing a capable partner with a well-respected platform. Now, its E series is based on the popular Seasonic Focus Plus Gold. Slight modifications include the addition of a digital controller, though for some reason the original design's analog controllers remain intact too. We don't have any deeper insight on the PSU's architecture, and are left wondering what the E850's digital controller does, exactly.
In terms of performance, the E850 doesn't surpass its analog sibling, the SSR-850FX. On top of that, it's noisier, even with the Silent fan profile selected. Fortunately, there is a Custom fan mode that allows you to dial in a curve better suited to quiet operation. At least the software than NZXT bundles with the E850 looks good and provides lots of useful information.
Given this platform's modifications, we expected it to offer higher overall performance. That's not the case though, and given its price premium over Seasonic's SSR-850FX, the E850 is going to have a hard time finding interested customers. On paper, this PSU is interesting.
But as with all things, it's the small details that matter. NZXT paid too little attention to many of them. For starters, the Silent fan profile should have been optimized for less noise. It also seems strange that the CAM software does not report efficiency statistics since the corresponding circuit, allowing power draw measurements, is missing. Worse, the utility's voltage and wattage readings aren't accurate. Obviously, inaccurate measurements aren't useful to anyone.
The big price difference between NZXT's E850 and the similar-capacity SSR-850FX is not only attributable to the digital controllers and bundled software. NZXT also uses higher-quality electrolytic capacitors. Instead of entry-level Chemi-Con KZE caps, the E850 features Nichicon HE caps with a notably longer lifetime. This is a major advantage of the E850 over its analog opponent.
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Disclaimer: ;Aris Mpitziopoulos is Tom's Hardware's PSU reviewer. He is also the Chief Testing Engineer of Cybenetics, and developed the Cybenetics certification methodologies apart from his role on Tom's Hardware. Neither Tom's Hardware nor its parent company, Future PLC, are financially involved with Cybenetics. Aris does not perform the actual certifications for Cybenetics.