Articles: Cases/PSU

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Corsair Link and Software

Using a digital signal processor, the Corsair AX1200i delivers high efficiency and stable voltages but also provides monitoring opportunities. Corsair has done some work to endow the AX1200i with advanced PC-based control and monitoring features. There’s only one desktop PSU model more that can offer similar functionality – EVGA SuperNOVA NEX1500 Classified. The implementation is based on the Corsair Link infrastructure which has been promoted by Corsair for a while already.

Up till now the Corsair Link consisted of a 3.5-inch unit and special monitoring software. It allowed to combine system fans and Corsair’s liquid cooling solutions (Hydro Series H80 and H100) into a single whole to be monitored and regulated from Windows by means of Corsair’s Link Dashboard.

The AX1200i PSU is yet another compatible device that can expand the Corsair Link infrastructure. The functionality is not limited to monitoring the PSU’s temperature and regulating its fan. Particularly, the PSU can report its efficiency and power consumption, and offers software-based protection against overload on particular power rails.

The PSU connects to the Corsair Link system via a 4-pin connector called Comm Port and an included cable.

However, you don’t really need to buy anything else to monitor your Corsair AX1200i. Being a premium-class product, it comes with everything necessary already. A full-featured Corsair Link system is not included, but there is a cut-down version of it that helps build a Corsair Link from one PSU only. The included adapter connects to the PSU and to a USB 2.0 header of your mainboard (its plug is going to block both ports of a dual-port header, though).

Considering the advanced control and monitoring opportunities provided by the AX1200i, its manufacturer offers a special tool you can download from the Corsair website. Besides PSU-related features, the utility tries to take on all of system monitoring by keeping track of CPU temperature and load, GPU temperature, HDD temperature and some other parameters, but the PSU-related functionality is its main focus.

The Corsair Link utility reports efficiency, input and output power, voltages and currents (including secondary power rails), internal temperatures and the speed of the cooling fan.

Besides showing you the current parameters, the utility offers advanced reporting tools. That’s why we’ve come to use the Corsair AX1200i for power consumption tests in our CPU reviews. The Corsair Link system is very handy for that.

There are two kinds of control features. First, you can control the temperature and regulate the PSU’s fan. The fan can be turned on at a certain speed or turned off. You can also specify how its speed should change.

Upon reaching certain temperature thresholds, the PSU can send email notifications or shut down the computer.

You can also set up over-current protection for each of the eight 12V connectors. Any power line can be disabled on reaching a certain load within a range of 20 to 40 amperes.

Measuring efficiency and power with the Corsair Link looks like a handy feature for enthusiasts, but how accurate are the numbers it reports? There have been some problems about that, actually. For example, the electric current on the +12V lines is only reported if higher than 4 amperes, which is quite a lot, and the actual numbers varied depending on the version of Corsair’s software. However, starting from version 2.1.1, the Corsair Link utility seems to work more or less well and deliver true-to-life data.

To check out the PSU’s power consumption sensors we compared data reported by the Corsair Link utility with what was reported by our portable wattmeter which plugs into a wall socket. This test was carried out with the following PC configuration:

  • Processor: AMD FX-8150 (Zambezi, 8 cores, 3.6-4.2 GHz, 4 x 2 MB L2, 8 MB L3);
  • CPU Cooler: NZXT Havik 140;
  • Mainboard: ASUS Crosshair V Formula (Socket AM3+, AMD 990FX + SB950);
  • System memory: 2x4 GB, DDR3-1866 SDRAM, 9-11-9-27 (Kingston KHX1866C9D3K2/8GX);
  • Graphics card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 (2 GB/256-bit GDDR5, 1006/6008 MHz);
  • Disk subsystem: Intel SSD 520 240 GB (SSDSC2CW240A3K5);
  • Power supply: Corsair AX1200i (80 PLUS Platinum, 1200 W).

The computer ran LinX 0.6.4 and FurMark 1.9.1. We enabled Turbo and power-saving technologies (C1E, C6, Cool’n’Quiet). Here are the results:

Then we carried out another test after overclocking the CPU to 4.7 GHz. Having such a high-wattage PSU as the Corsair AX1200i, one wants to load it as much as possible. Overclocking is the simplest means to increase power consumption.

So, the Corsair Link utility seems to report accurate data. You can rely on its estimate of your power consumption. Its data were very close to the watt-meter’s in the range of 150 to 250 watts. Otherwise the difference is larger, yet always within 5%. We don’t even know which device is to blame for that because portable watt-meters aren’t very accurate, either. It seems to us that the PSU has the input power wrong, trying to look more efficient than it really is, especially at low loads. But its output power data seem to be accurate.

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