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Part 1: Four Cheap 80 PLUS Bronze Power Supplies, Reviewed

Which One Of These Power Supplies Is Right For You?

Is it possible to find a high-quality power supply that doesn't break the bank? Yes, of course, so long as you do your research and avoid the lemons scattered across this difficult-to-benchmark segment. Really, you can’t go wrong with the Antec HCG-400. Exceptional workmanship and a myriad of connectors make this PSU a great buy in the value class. The electrical quality is excellent, as evidenced by the PSU’s efficiency numbers, and ripple and noise measurements. In short, Antec's HCG-400 offers the best value for the money.

Offering 550 W output power, Chieftec's Nitro 2 85+ is by far the most powerful power supply in this round-up, but its price also reflects that. However, if you are a gamer looking for a replacement PSU, the Nitro 2 85+ could be a good option, if you can find it. Unfortunately, it's not available in the U.S. yet. The Nitro 2 85+ doesn’t scrimp on features. Modular cable management, extra connectors, and an efficiency rating that nearly qualifies for 80 PLUS Silver grading are but a few reasons to like it. If we were judging on an absolute scale, this is the best PSU in our round-up. Then again, it only barely qualifies for the budget classification we assigned.

Cougar's A350 costs about half of the Chieftec Nitro 2, and that may sound like a bargain. But you get what you pay for. Let’s brush aside concerns about the sub-par build quality and the cheap-looking and shoddily-put-together interior. The cable lengths are OK, at least. The maximum output is adequate for office PCs. And the PSU does what it is supposed to do. However, it doesn’t deserve its 80 PLUS Bronze logo, which may lure unsuspecting customers into buying this power supply. Were the manufacturer to drop its Bronze rating and simply label it 80 PLUS-compliant, we'd have less to criticize.

Lastly, we have Enermax's Triathlor. The electrical quality of this 385 W product is excellent, and it passes all of our tests. With that said, it doesn’t stand out, either. You might counter that a budget-oriented power supply doesn't need to stand out. We'd point out, then, that Enermax's cable configuration is going to be problematic for a lot of people. Otherwise, this is a good PSU.

Because this is the first round-up where we took acoustic measurements, we'll summarize the results really quick. The differences between each power supply were marginal. You're going to notice the noise from each and every submission. However, they're really pretty quiet, and it's much more likely that your CPU or graphics card cooler is going to be more audible.

  • wolley74
    no love for the EVGA 500B?
    Reply
  • computer_nugget2
    ALWAYS judge a power supply by its weight. especially if its Chinese.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    11435905 said:
    always judge a power supply by its weight.
    Some Chinese OEMs put rocks, small concrete blocks, lumps of steel or other stuff like that disguised as a transformer with bits of wire that aren't connected to anything to trick people into believing their heavier PSUs are better.

    So weight alone is not a reliable indicator.

    Also, at high frequencies and high efficiencies, the size of inductors, capacitors, transformers and heatsinks along with the associated weight shrink. While light weight and high quality may rarely be seen together, they certainly are not mutually exclusive.
    Reply
  • dudewitbow
    11435841 said:
    no love for the EVGA 500B?

    a good chunk of Tom's physical hardware reviews generally are conducted in europe. This goes for a good handful of the gpu tests as well. EVGA rarely ever shows up on review sites because of it(and possibly due to lack of EVGA response to a hardware review pitch)

    Reply
  • computer_nugget2
    11435944 said:
    11435905 said:
    always judge a power supply by its weight.
    Some Chinese OEMs put rocks, small concrete blocks, lumps of steel or other stuff like that disguised as a transformer with bits of wire that aren't connected to anything to trick people into believing their heavier PSUs are better.

    So weight alone is not a reliable indicator.

    Also, at high frequencies and high efficiencies, the size of inductors, capacitors, transformers and heatsinks along with the associated weight shrink. While light weight and high quality may rarely be seen together, they certainly are not mutually exclusive.

    do you have pics to prove this?
    Reply
  • envy14tpe
    This is PART 1. Which means more PSUs to come, so let's hope for no dumb comments asking why not this PSU or this one...
    Reply
  • jimmysmitty
    11436142 said:
    This is PART 1. Which means more PSUs to come, so let's hope for no dumb comments asking why not this PSU or this one...

    They have already listed the PSUs for part 2 and I didn't see a part 3 listed. I wonder where the Corsair CX430 is. Its a 85+ Bronze PSU and is $39.99 on Egg right now. Its one of the best entry level PSUs I have actually used as well and compared to other PSUs at the same price point or higher (within 550W and may or may not be 80+ at all) I have seen less of them come back bad.
    Reply
  • razor512
    11435905 said:
    always judge a power supply by its weight.

    While weight is an important factor, overall weight is 100% useless

    for example check out the SIGMA SHARK SP-635

    http://www.ocia.net/reviews/sigma635/page2.shtml

    it is probably one of the heaviest power supplies you will find (with the exception of some of the 1200 watt ones)

    I purchased it a while back and was disappointed at the internals. they used an insanely thick case that made the power supply weigh a lot but the insides were were the result of the owner of the company asking while walking around china, what are the cheapest items we can find on the shenzhen market today.

    (at least the power supply can double as a flail or a boat anchor)
    Reply
  • pyro226
    Hoping to see the CX430 and other corsairs reviewed. I like the little thing since it powers my PC. :D It originally rang a bit when the computer was suspended or at random after a few hours of use, but that went away with age.
    Reply
  • sanilmahambre
    Nice basic testing method
    Reply