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Who's Who In Power Supplies: Brands, Labels, And OEMs

Manufacturers, Designers, And Labels

Between gobs of reader feedback and our own data compiled over many years, we've managed to put together a fairly comprehensive list of power supply brands and manufacturers. Despite the fact that it consists of more than 150 manufacturers, though, this list still doesn't reflect the entire market, which always seems to be in a state of flux. It can, however, be used as a guide to finding the difference between a bad deal and a bargain.

Who is Who?

Let’s start by dividing the manufacturers into three large groups so we can better understand the database and how these companies are connected:

1. The OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers)

OEMs manage all of their production internally. They either exclusively design and manufacture their own PSUs (like Enermax) or design and manufacture their own brands, as well as manufacture PSUs designed by other companies (such as FSP, HEC, and SeaSonic). Some of them focus heavily on worldwide exports and provide a range of models, which are later sold under different labels. It's common to find otherwise-identical models marketed under many different names and labels. The industrial areas around Shenzhen, China, are the cradle of the lowest-priced PSUs sold all over the globe.

2. Designers: Without Their Own Production

The second group of companies also develops and designs their own products. However, they have to outsource either some or all of the manufacturing to other companies. One example of this is Be Quiet. Those familiar with the brand noted how Be Quiet P7 models were suddenly much better than the disappointing P6. The answer was simply a manufacturer change, from Topower to FSP. Other examples of designers include SilverStone, Corsair, PC Power & Cooling, and Tagan.

3. The Labels: With or Without Any Technical Involvement

Arguably, this group could be subdivided. Some importers of foreign PSUs that resell models under their own labels have a certain influence over the quality and choice of components, while others simply bring in some very cheap products, relabel, and resell them.

This third group is the most interesting one for price-oriented customers, though also the most uncertain for quality. You're as likely to score a bargain by getting a relabeled high-quality product at a lower price as you are to be disappointed by being too tight-fisted. Some good examples of products to watch are new models from Aerocool, which are essentially the Cougar units from Compucase/HEC with a discounted price and completely restyled exterior.

After many tests and inspections of budget models (by us, our readers, and friendly computer stores), we would advise you to steer your piggy banks clear of the labels Rasurbo, Inter-Tech (Sinan Power, Coba), Tech Solo, LC Power, RaptoxX, Tronje, Xilence, Ultron, World Link, Q-Tec, etc. We were able to identify some of these models without looking at the UL number simply by having a look at the installed components. These were almost exclusively the simplest work of such manufacturers as Enhance, World Link, Andyson, Topower, Casing Macron, and Channel Well.

Lack of protection circuits, low efficiency, and bad build quality were major points of criticism. The lowest of the low was a European label called Hardwaremania24, targeted at OEM PCs. While still in standby mode, the PSU heated to about 176 degrees Fahrenheit, spent the next six hours billowing smoke, and finally made what might be described as a trumpeting sound before dying. The host computer was never even turned on. After analyzing the PSU, we found no protection at all save for a single slow fuse.

  • bdcrlsn
    Very interesting article. Definitely saw some surprises in those charts.
    Reply
  • siliconchampion
    My favorite brands for power supplies are PC P&C, Antec, and Corsair. The common denominator between them all? SeaSonic. That is a testament to Seasonic's manufacturing. I have never had a Seasonic PSU die on me. I cannot say the same for countless numbers of stock OEM PSU's and Apevia branded PSU's... and now I have an idea why.

    The Apevia story. Purchased an Apevia case bundled with a 450 Watt PSU. Set aside the PSU in favor of an Antec EA650, left the Apevia on a shelf for a few months. I was building an extreme low budget computer for my cousin, and decided to take a gamble in the name of free PSU's using the Apevia to drive the low power Athlon X3 system (total peak consumption under 350 watts). 10 days later I was shelling out $45 for an Antec EA430 and spending a few hours of my time driving and installing the new PSU. Epic Fail.
    Reply
  • ira176
    I've put together three computers in the last 8 years with Seasonic PSU's. Never a failure, always reliable.
    Reply
  • sprunth
    Thanks, really informative. I never knew quite a bit of that. :D
    Reply
  • chaz_music
    Great article with lots of data! Thanks for the comprehensive list.

    I had a few comments to share that can help some. I am a power electronic engineer who designs switching supplies (PSUs) and inverter systems, so I see these technologies every day. One misconception is that PFC correction improves efficiency. It CAN improve efficiency if implemented right, but often it is not. PFC is needed to keep the current draw from the utility low in harmonics (only sinusoidal current) and in phase (phase angle power factor). This helps keep the utility system efficiency highest - but does not guarantee anything about the end power supply efficiency. That is depended upon the PSU design itself and how thorough it is done. Often, the simple passive diode-bridge and cap bank front end PSU is very efficient versus its PFC counterpart.

    Another point - the IC pictured in one of the slides is the control IC, not a security device. There are tons of manufactures of these from Asia, Europe, and the US. The cheapest low efficiency supplies will use hard switching chips. The highest efficiency PSUs will use some form of resonant controller(s) which requires more cost and more parts - which is why higher efficiency costs more.

    Last is a comment on what size PSU to use. Too many builders are using huge supplies "just to be safe" and are paying the price on a lower efficiency build when it is all done, not to mention too much cost. A larger PSU will have larger transformers, MOSFETS, diodes, and other parts. Larger parts require more overhead losses, just like having a V8 motor in a car will always have lower mileage than a 6 cylinder motor. The efficiency curve of most PSU designs falls off quickly as you go below 20% load because of losses in the larger parts and other extra overhead. That is why the Plus 80 curves don't go below 20%! It gets ugly below that. So size you PSU closely to the needed load. I have a 10TB server using an AMD 790GX motherboard and IGP graphics. There are a total of 12 WD Green series hardrives in this server. It has an Antec Earthwatts unit rated at 380W, and it only has to work hard during power up - the plus power peaks around 290W. Nominal power is around 115W, which is about 30% rated for this PSU - perfect.

    One anecdote - I had a server several years ago that kept killing drives. We thought it was the SATA controller, but got the idea to scope the PSU. We found that the 12V rail was going over 20-21V during power up!! Ah, that's out of spec. Kinda.

    - Charles
    Reply
  • chaz_music
    Great article with lots of data! Thanks for the comprehensive list.

    I had a few comments to share that can help some. I am a power electronic engineer who designs switching supplies (PSUs) and inverter systems, so I see these technologies every day. One misconception is that PFC correction improves efficiency. It CAN improve efficiency if implemented right, but often it is not. PFC is needed to keep the current draw from the utility low in harmonics (only sinusoidal current) and in phase (phase angle power factor). This helps keep the utility system efficiency highest - but does not guarantee anything about the end power supply efficiency. That is depended upon the PSU design itself and how thorough it is done. Often, the simple passive diode-bridge and cap bank front end PSU is very efficient versus its PFC counterpart.

    Another point - the IC pictured in one of the slides is the control IC, not a security device. There are tons of manufactures of these from Asia, Europe, and the US. The cheapest low efficiency supplies will use hard switching chips. The highest efficiency PSUs will use some form of resonant controller(s) which requires more cost and more parts - which is why higher efficiency costs more.

    Last is a comment on what size PSU to use. Too many builders are using huge supplies "just to be safe" and are paying the price on a lower efficiency build when it is all done, not to mention too much cost. A larger PSU will have larger transformers, MOSFETS, diodes, and other parts. Larger parts require more overhead losses, just like having a V8 motor in a car will always have lower mileage than a 6 cylinder motor. The efficiency curve of most PSU designs falls off quickly as you go below 20% load because of losses in the larger parts and other extra overhead. That is why the Plus 80 curves don't go below 20%! It gets ugly below that. So size you PSU closely to the needed load. I have a 10TB server using an AMD 790GX motherboard and IGP graphics. There are a total of 12 WD Green series hardrives in this server. It has an Antec Earthwatts unit rated at 380W, and it only has to work hard during power up - the plus power peaks around 290W. Nominal power is around 115W, which is about 30% rated for this PSU - perfect.

    One anecdote - I had a server several years ago that kept killing drives. We thought it was the SATA controller, but got the idea to scope the PSU. We found that the 12V rail was going over 20-21V during power up!! Ah, that's out of spec. Kinda.

    - Charles
    Reply
  • duk3
    Maybe add something recommending quality PSUs?
    Also, you missed XFX and its seasonic PSUs.
    Reply
  • Twoboxer
    Replacing the psu resolves many more of the hardware issues brought to Tom's than any other part . . . probably more than half.

    It isn't possible for the average user to determine whether or not a specific psu is worth using. When we recommend a psu to someone in the forums, it's based on overall corporate reputation (arguably two companies) or specific reviews done by qualified reviewers. That gives us a relatively limited range of safe recommendations.

    The more psus are reviewed, the more information that's made available, the better.
    Reply
  • shades_aus
    Every single SeaSonic PSU I have owned is still running.
    I have had Antec and countless others die. Obviously the Antec wasn't the SeaSonic model.

    Now I only buy SeaSonic.

    Article doesn't have any stats on PSU usage, market share, or failure rates.
    Reply
  • gkay09
    Very nice article, though most of the info was available on the net, but not in one place, and this article fixes that...Do update the tables often...
    Reply