Power supply units for personal computers have recently been evolving in two ways. First of all, they have been progressing in terms of efficiency and wattage. And second, technologically advanced solutions have become more affordable. When the FSP Epsilon series was released back in 2006, the 700-watt model cost almost $200 and that was considered quite a normal price for such an efficient and high-wattage PSU. Today, you can spend the same money and have a PSU with 50% more wattage and much higher efficiency whereas the current generation of Epsilon PSUs costs only half as much, the wattage being the same.
It is no wonder then that users are increasingly more interested in high-efficiency solutions. An efficient PSU not only contributes to saving our planet’s resources and cutting your electricity bill but has a better chance of being quiet. Higher efficiency means that less power is dissipated as useless heat. And less heat means that the PSU’s cooling fan can work at a lower speed and be quieter.
So, today we are going to discuss as many as five PSUs that are certified to comply with the 80 PLUS Gold standard. Four of them (the two Cougars and the products from Cooler Master and OCZ) come from the mentioned category of affordable but very efficient products (the 1-kilowatt models are available for about $200 whereas the lower-wattage ones are even cheaper).
We’ll also take Seasonic’s X-850 (SS-850KM) as a kind of a reference point. It is an 80 PLUS Gold product that comes from the famous X-Gold series whose junior models have already been tested in our labs before.
Let’s see if the inexpensive Gold-certified PSUs can match the recognized market leader.
The following article offers a detailed description of our testing methodology and equipment and a brief explanation of what the specified and tested parameters of power supplies mean: X-bit Labs Presents: Power Supply Units Testing Methodology. If you feel overwhelmed with the numbers and terms this review abounds in, refer to the Methodology.
You can also go to our Cases/PSU section to check out reviews of all other PSU models we have tested in our labs.
We will mark the actual power consumption of three system configurations (discussed in our article PC Power Consumption: How Many Watts Do We Need?) in the cross-load diagrams. This will help you see if the tested PSU can meet the requirements of a real-life PC.