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.