I tend to shy away from doing full-blown power supply reviews. Without using specialized (and expensive) equipment with which to precisely control load and environmental / operating temperatures and monitor output stability and noise, it is difficult to draw any solid conclusions regarding one PSU’s capabilities and performance over another. And unfortunately, I do not have said equipment in the lab. I know--Boo!
With that said, however, I do believe there is some value in testing power supplies in real-world situations to see how they hold up (or not) under the stresses of a high-end system. There is also some value in evaluating the build quality, pricing and features of a given unit.
It is with that in mind that I took a look at a few recently released power supplies, three of which I’ll discuss here—the Corsair TX 550M and TX 750M, and the NZXT HALE 82 850W.
The Corsair TX 550M, Partially Modular PSU
The names and model numbers of these power supplies tell part of their stories. The Corsair TX 550M and TX 750M are partially modular units targeted at enthusiasts, with output ratings of 550 watts and 750 watts, respectively. The NZXT HALE 82 850W unit has—you guessed it—an 850 watt output rating with 82% efficiency.
Although they don’t all look similar, these three units have a number of features in common. They all have partially modular cable configurations, which is to say the ATX and EPS power cables (and some of their PCIe power cables) are hard-wired, but the peripheral and accessory cables are modular. All of the units are also 80 Plus Bronze certified, they all feature single 12v rail designs (with varying output ratings), over-voltage, under-voltage, over-current, and short circuit protection and they all have five year warranties. NZXT does, however, takes the warranty protection a step further and offers what they are calling “less than three” warranty service. With NZXT’s “less than three” service, the company promises to replace a failed unit within three business days and pay for any shipping charges. They’ll even cross-ship if a credit card is given, without having first received the failed unit. Hopefully, owners won’t have to use this service, but if the need arises, it’s good to know NZXT will rectify the situation quickly.
A breakdown of the various output ratings and cables / connectors available on the three units is posted in the chart above. As you can see, the more powerful units have more peripheral, PCIe, and SATA connectors available and higher maximum output ratings on their 12v rails. The Corsair TX 750M also sports more powerful 3.3v and 5v rails than the others.
In terms of their physical dimensions, the Corsair units are identical, but the NZXT HALE 82 is just a bit longer. Although a tad smaller, the Corsair units are actually outfitted with larger, 140mm cooling fans, however; the NZXT unit has a 120mm fan. I should note that all three of these power supplies are also very quiet. The fans on the units don’t spin up until loads approach the 50%-60% mark, but even under heavy loads when the fans approach their maximum speeds, noise output from the units is tolerable and hovers around 40dB.
NZXT Will Replace Your HALE 82 PSU Within 3-Days Should It Fail
To test the performance and stability of the three units, I connected them to a high-end system consisting of an overclocked, Sandy Bridge-E based Core i7-3960X processor running at 4.5GHz (liquid cooled), 16GB of RAM, an Asus P9X79 Deluxe motherboard, four drives (one SSD, two HDDs, and an optical drive), and either one or two GeForce GTX 580 graphics cards. While idling, this system pulled about 162 watts from the wall socket, which was obviously no problem for any of the units. While under load, however, the system was able to pull over 490W from the wall when a single GPU was installed and about 700W when a second GPU was installed. (I tested the Corsair TX 550M with a single GPU and the TX 750W and NZXT units with dual-GPUs).
With the test system hammering away on the units with maximum load for over an hour, none of the units faltered and the system remained perfectly stable. The voltages on the 3.3v, 5v, and 12v rails also remained stable, with minimal fluctuation under various workloads. Based on how they handled my test machine, I’d say all three of these units are well built and reliable.
Save For A Couple Of Decals, The TX 750M and TX 550M Look Identical
As of this writing, the NZXT HALE 82 850W unit is available for $139, the Corsair TX 550M for $89 ($79 after MIR), and the TX 750M for $129 ($114 after MIR). At those prices, all of these units are priced competitively with other quality units from well-known brands in their respective classes. The Corsair TX 550M in particular would be a good fit for a mainstream build that will feature only a single graphics card. The Corsair TX 750M and NZXT HALE 82 850W would both serve high-end systems well and offer plenty of power for all but the most extreme, overclocked, multi-GPU systems.