Cougar CMX v.3 850W Power Supply Review Introduction

Nowadays, it seems that most manufacturers have a subsidiary company, which brings them direct access to the retail market. Today we will be having a look at the new v.3 revision of the CMX 850W power supply by Cougar, the sister company of HEC/Compucase, one of the oldest manufacturers of power supply units. This is our second encounter with their products, after our review of the basic PowerX 550W several months ago which, although it did not set any performance records, its value-to-performance ratio was very good.

The Cougar CMX v2 850W

The new revision of the CMX series however is not a series designed with value in mind. On the contrary, the power supplies of the series are of semi-modular design and boast very interesting performance figures, thus clearly aiming towards advanced users, gamers and enthusiasts. It also boasts a unique appearance, mainly attributed to its orange color. Does it have what it takes to compete in today’s power supply market? We will find out in this review.

Cougar CMX v.3 850W features

Cougar CMX v.3 850W specifications

Item Name

Input Characteristics

 

Output Characteristics

Voltage

Frequency

Input Current

+3.3V

+5V

+12V

-12V

+5Vsb

Total
output

1

2

3

4

5

6

CMX850
CGR B2-850CM

AC115- 240V

50-60Hz

10A

25A

25A

50A

50A

 

 

 

 

0.8A

4A

850W

160W

828W

 

 

Unboxing the power supply

The box
Cougar supplies the CMX 850W inside a fairly large, sturdy cardboard box. The artwork is based on the color theme of the company logo and the unit itself, with only the “Haswell Ready” sticker standing out. 
The box (rear)
The rear of the box is a small user's manual, with a full list of the unit's features, tables with the electrical specifications and number of cables, as well as charts on the efficiency and acoustics of the power supply, plus some minor stuff such as links and certification logos.
Bundled items
The bundle of the CMX 850W power supply is basic, consisting of only the necessary mounting screws and AC cable, a simple manual and a few cable ties.
Cables
As this is a semi-modular power supply, Cougar also supplies a set of cables. Instead of typical cables however, Cougar went with a strange ribbon-like rubber sleeving with the company logo printed on it.
Connector close-up
This type of sleeving is certainly unique but it could add a lot of unwanted bulk in tight places. Beneath the sleeving, typical color-coded wires can be seen near the connectors.

External Design

The Cougar CMX 850W PSU
The chassis of the Cougar CMX 850W unit is proprietary and, measuring 170mm deep, also is slightly longer than that of a typical ATX unit. The cover has an octagonal shape and the company logo have been placed in the center of the black honeycomb fan guard. Most of the cover is painted orange, imitating the color of bronze, with the rest of the power supply being matte black.
Left and Right Sides
On the sides of the chassis, Cougar simply etched the company and series logos on the orange cover, which was a quick and effective way to improve the appearance of the unit. Given the high contrast, the logo should be easily visible from a windowed side panel.
Top side
The sticker with the electrical specifications of the CMX have been placed at the top side of the chassis. The sticker will be visible through the windowed side panel of almost any case which has a PSU compartment near its bottom.
Front Side
The front side of the Cougar CMX v.3 850W power supply is perforated, with only a long on/off switch right next to the A/C cable plug.
Rear Side
This is a semi-modular power supply, meaning that some core cables are hardwired and some cables are modular. There are eight connectors for modular cables; however, only five cables were supplied with this unit, so we can only assume that a full set of cable is being supplied only with units of higher wattage. The hardwired cables have been sleeved with a common black sleeving, which ends abruptly near the chassis, near the uncovered large opening.

A look inside

The cooling fan
Cougar has installed a 140 mm fan in the CMX 850W power supply, which they have rebranded as their own. However, it can easily be identified as the DFB132512H by Young Lin Tech, a fan commonly found in such power supplies. With a starting voltage of 9V and a maximum speed of 2500 RPM, it is one of the fastest cooling fans used in power supplies today.
Inside the Cougar CMX v.2 850W unit
As Cougar is a subsidiary of HEC/Compucase, a company which has been designing and producing power supplies for many years now, it is entirely unsurprising that the CMX v.3 850W unit has been entirely designed and made by them alone. The build quality is very good, with an excellent soldering job and good mechanical cohesion between components.
The filtering and rectifying stages
The filtering stage begins on the back of the A/C receptacle, on a small vertical PCB. The entire filtering stage consists of four Y capacitors, two X capacitors, two filtering chokes and a MOV. For the class and power output of such a power supply, the filtering stage is more than acceptable.
Primary side
The large heatsink towards the edge of the PCB holds the APFC transistors and diode alone, as HEC placed the rectification bridge on a small dedicated heatsink right in front of it. The APFC is completed by two Panasonic 330 uF / 400 V capacitors and a large coil. Two transistors on the heatsink next to the main transformer form a half-bridge inversion circuit.
Secondary side
The heatsink on the secondary side of this power supply holds the DC line conversion transistors. This power supply generates only a 12 V line, with the 5 V and 3.3 V lines derived by DC to DC circuits; a strange fact, as this technique usually enhances the efficiency of a power supply severely, yet this model only has an 80Plus Bronze certification. The secondary side capacitors are a mix of Nippon Chemi-Con, Teapo and CapXon products.

Test setup

The load
In order to be able to effectively and efficiently test any computer power supply unit, we developed and constructed our own proprietary testing station. Our testing station consists of a number of power resistors and small capacitors, which in turn are connected to a RS485 electronic relay array which allow our load to be controlled through computer software alone.
USB interface and connection panel
When accuracy and speed are of critical importance, a simple multimeter or voltage meter is not sufficient for the task. To ensure the quality of our testing, an USB laboratory interface is being used to continuously monitor and record the readings of all voltage lines simultaneously. For ripple measurements, an oscilloscope is necessary and we chose the USB Instruments Stingray, the most widely used oscilloscope amongst low voltage PSU engineers and testers.
Measurement instruments
For accurate testing and repeatable results, a stable power input is also required. Thus, we are providing power to our test samples through a 3kVA VARIAC which allows us to control the input voltage of our test samples and also perform efficiency tests under both 110V AC and 230V AC input. A Lutron DW-6091 is also being used, monitoring the input voltage, real and apparent power, power factor and amperage.
The software
A power supply testing procedure would not be complete without thermal and acoustics tests. For our acoustics tests we are using a SL-5868P digital sound level meter, placed 1 meter away from the unit (DIN standard). Two PT100 sensors and their respective displays are being used to monitor the ambient temperature and the exhaust temperature of the unit.
Complete test setup during trial run

Testing results (Regulation & Ripple)

CCMX850table

CCMX850V3

 

CCMX850V5

 

CCMX850V12

Although there definitely is room for improvements, the electrical performance of the Cougar CMX v.3 850 W power supply is good. The voltage regulation is very good, at about 2.5% for all voltage lines, half of the 5% design limit. Ripple suppression is excellent under low and medium loads but performance declines abruptly when the unit is heavily loaded, with our instruments recording 64 mV on the 12 V line under maximum load. This is just a hint higher than half the design limit (120 mV), yet a bit too much for hardcore enthusiasts.

Testing results (Efficiency, Noise & Thermal)

CCMX850eff
For a power supply with an 80Plus Bronze certification, the efficiency of the CMX v.3 850 W power supply is very high. Actually, while it was being fed from a 230 VAC source, the power supply reached efficiency figures which could win it an 80Plus Silver certification with ease. The efficiency however drops by a little more than 1% if the input voltage is reduced down to 110 VAC and the figures drop slightly lower than the 80Plus Silver specification limit.
CCMX850temp
The operating temperatures of the CMX v.3 are good, consistent with the product’s efficiency and power output. The difference between the ambient and exhaust air temperature is just 2.4°C at minimum load but goes up to 9.7°C at maximum load, which are reasonable figures for such a power supply but not by any means special.
CCMX850noise
Young Lin Tech’s strong fan is to blame for the mediocre acoustics performance of the CMX v.3 850W power supply. Only at sub-30% capacity the power supply is quiet, when the fan has barely started. After that point, noise levels rise continuously. At 50% load the fan already is clearly audible. If the power supply is heavily loaded, the noise becomes considerable and noticeable even in a loud environment.

Cougar CMX v.3 850W Power Supply Review Conclusion

The Cougar CMX v.3 850W power supply has left us with mixed feelings. Even though it is a very good product, there are certain points which can certainly be improved. It does however achieve a very good balance between quality, performance and aesthetics, which many users will certainly find appealing.

HEC/Compucase has been a reputable OEM of power supplies for decades and the Cougar CMX 850W PSU reflects that. It is a very well made product and the company chose some of the best quality components currently available, such as the Panasonic APFC capacitors and the CapXon solid-state capacitors at the secondary. The body of the power supply is also very well made, with a very good paint job, making the CMX 850W visually unique and appealing - granted that you like dark orange as a color. The only hiccup is the huge, unguarded cables hole, which, along with the cable sleeving ending abruptly right at the opening, looks as an unfinished job.

Fan view
The performance of the CMX 850W is not stellar but it certainly is satisfactory for the class of the power supply. The new revision of the CMX 850W unit displayed very good electrical performance, with excellent regulation and good ripple suppression. Perhaps the most notable point however is the efficiency, which is high for an 80Plus Bronze certified power supply.

The new revision of the CMX 850W power supply has clearly been designed in order to entice enthusiasts who do want a high power output, a unique appearance and good overall performance, yet do not really care about getting the highest 80Plus efficiency rating possible. However, almost every manufacturer has a similar product and users have plentiful alternatives, therefore Cougar might have a hard time facing the competition if the retail price of the PSU will not be appealing at the time of its launch in the US. Cougar informed us that the CMX v.3 850W power supply will be available to US customers in early November.

CMX v3 700W newegg MSRP is $109.99
CMX v3 850W newegg MSRP is $129.99
CMX v3 1000W newegg MSRP is $159.99

Legit bottom line: The Cougar CMX v.3 850W certainly is a very interesting product, with its own unique advantages and disadvantages. Depending on the retail price after it hits the stores, it could prove to be a formidable adversary for many other equivalent products.

Secondary side