Corsair CS450M Power Supply Review Introduction

Corsair has been a very active player in the PSU market the past year, announcing release after release, bringing several new power supply units into the market. A few weeks ago, the company has announced the release of the CS-M power supply series, a series designed for basic and midrange PCs, bringing the number of the power-related products that they offer even higher. Even though the series is designed with value in mind, Corsair claims features and performance that would significantly outperform their previous mainstream series, the TX. Today we are having a close look at the CS450M, which, as the name implies, is the 450 W version and the least powerful unit of the series.

From the table below, we can see that the 450 W version has an MSRP of $89.99 and can be found online for $89.99 shipped. Although we cannot compare that directly to the older TX series, as the least powerful TX series unit is a 650W version, the TX650M has an MSRP of $129.99 and the CS650M an MSRP of $109.99. This means that the new CS series not only is cheaper by $20 but it also is 80Plus Gold certified, a leap forward than the TX series which only meets 80Plus Bronze standards. What about the rest of its performance aspects though? We will find out in this review.

Corsair CS Series Models

Street Price

CS450M

$89.99

CS550M

$99.99

CS650M

$109.99

CS750M

$119.99

Corsair CS450M

Corsair CS450M Power Supply Features

Corsair CS450M PSU Specifications

Warranty

Three years

Dimension

150mm x 86mm x 140mm

Modular

Yes

Power

450 Watts

80 Plus

Gold

ATX Connector

1

EPS Connector

1

PCI-E Connector

1

4 Pin Peripheral Connector

3

SATA Connector

4

Floppy Connector

1

MTBF

150,000 hours

Packaging and bundle

The box

Corsair is using a bright white cardboard box with a black/bright green theme for the packaging of the new CS450M, a box very similar to that of the older CX series. The packaging is good and the PSU is well protected inside, which should be enough protection during transportation.

The box (rear)

Although it looks like that Corsair has printed the entire manual on the rear side of the packaging, only the most important features are being noted, in six different languages. The charts and tables however include ample information regarding the performance of the power supply.

Bundled items

As expected, Corsair supplies only the bare essentials with the CS450M. Inside the box we only found an AC power cable, basic mounting screws, a basic leaflet and the modular cables of the power supply. The cables are being formed by all-black wires that have been bonded together, forming “flat-type” cables, without any exterior sleeving. The 450W version offers one 8-pin PCI Express connector, three Molex connectors and four SATA connectors, as well as the standard 24-pin ATX and 8-pin EPS connectors. Corsair also supplies a Molex to floppy adapters.

External Design of the Corsair CS450M

Corsair CS450M

As far as aesthetics are concerned, the CS450M is remarkably ordinary. Corsair usually takes some steps to improve the appearance of their power supplies; this time however, it appears that they were content with an all-black theme and narrow side stickers. The chassis and fan guard are entirely ordinary, no different from those of a basic OEM unit. The logo of the company can be seen on the center of the fan's guard.

Side stickers

Two narrow decorative stickers can be seen on the sides of the CS450M. The stickers blend with the color of the chassis, leaving only the company and model logos clearly visible.

Top side sticker

The sticker with the electrical specifications of the CS450M has been placed on the top side of the chassis, where it will be visible through a windowed side panel only if the case has the PSU mounting area towards its bottom and the unit's fan is still facing downwards.

Rear Side

The rear side of the CS450M is quite plain as well, with only a hole for the hardwired cables and four modular cable connectors. The printed legend is a little misleading, as there are three connectors for the peripheral/SATA cables and one for the PCI Express cable.

Front Side

The front side of the CS450M is the standard perforated honeycomb mesh design, with only the standard on/off switch and power plug receptacle to be seen.

The Interior of the Corsair CS450M

The cooling fan

Hong Hua is the supplier of the 120mm fan responsible for the cooling of the CS450M. The part number is HA1225L12S-Z, from which it can be easily found that it is a basic sleeve-bearing engine model with a maximum speed of 1500RPM.

Inside the Corsair CS450M unit

The CS450M is based on the design of an OEM which we have never seen making a Corsair unit before, the Chinese company Great Wall. Great Wall was the OEM of several high performance units in the past, therefore our expectations are high even though this is a new, previously unencountered design that we are dealing with here. The build quality is above average, with a very good soldering job and good quality components.

The filtering stage

The filtering stage of the CS450M is starting on a small PCB at the back of the AC receptacle. There are four Y capacitors, two X capacitors and two filtering chokes, which form a fair filtering stage. However, there is no MOV, leaving the rectifier bridges exposed to surges.

Primary side

There is one main heatsink which holds the two primary bridge rectifiers, the active components of the APFC circuit and the primary inversion stage transistors of the power supply. The passive APFC components are a single Rubicon 400 V / 390 uF capacitor and a shielded coil, enclosed in plastic, with the active components being two transistors and a diode.

Secondary side

DC to DC conversion is being implemented here, with the secondary heatsink holding only four transistors that generate a single 12V line. The 3.3V and 5V lines are being generated by DC to DC conversion circuits and the 5VSB line by a small dedicated transformer. The secondary side capacitors are a mix of electrolytic and solid-state products, with most of them supplied by Teapo.

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)

 CS450Mtables

 

CS450MV3 CS450MV5 CS450MV12

The electrical performance of the CS450M is very good, especially considering that this is a power supply designed for system builders and mainstream users. Voltage regulation is at about 2% for all of the voltage lines between 20% and 100% load. Ripple suppression is very good, with the maximum ripple being 46 mV on the 12 V line while the power supply was operating at maximum capacity, which is a figure that even top-performance designs sometimes fail to achieve.

Testing results (Efficiency, Noise & Thermal)

CS450Meff 

The CS450M has been 80Plus Gold certified, which is outstanding for a product designed for mainstream users. It does not fail to deliver, reaching a maximum efficiency of 92.4% at 50% capacity and with a 230 VAC input. The efficiency drops down to 89.3% at 20% load and 89.5% at 100% load. If the input voltage drops to 110 VAC, the efficiency takes a hit of about 1% across the entire load range.

 CS450Mnoise

Despite the basic heatsinks and small size, the very high efficiency of the CS450M allows it to operate very quietly up to 50% load. If the load increases beyond 50%, the noise levels will begin to climb, reaching 30.4 dB(A) at 70% load, an audible but comfortable level, and up to 34.1 dB(A) at 100% load, which is highly likely to make the noise coming from the PSU noticeable over all other noise generated by the system.

 CS450Mtemp

The high efficiency of the CS450M allows it to maintain very low running temperatures across the entire load range. As the difference between the ambient and the exhaust temperature hardly is more than a few degrees, it is only possible to tell the difference only at heavy loads by sense alone. The temperature delta is just 4.2 °C at maximum load.

Corsair CS450M PSU Review Conclusion

Corsair's latest CS-M series comes with many surprises. It certainly does not set any new performance records or stands out visually but the CS450M offers a fantastic performance-per-dollar ratio, which can easily harm the sales of even other series that Corsair offers. We found the CS450M currently retailing for $89.99 shipped, a very good deal by nowadays standards.

Top side sticker

This is the first Corsair power supply based on a Great Wall design that we have ever tested, as most of Corsair's units usually were CWT or Seasonic designs. Apparently, even though we have seen them building only high performance units before, Great Wall can make very interesting mainstream products as well. A modular power supply with an 80Plus Gold certification and a 3-year warranty retailing for less than $90 shipped is no small feat to begin with. The efficiency alone would be enough to entice a high number of users. However, the electrical performance of the CS450M is excellent as well, to the point that many high-performance designs would be envious of the capabilities of this small power supply. The high efficiency results to very good thermal performance as well, yet the acoustics performance is mediocre for a unit of this capacity, as it will easily reach audible levels. Clearly, noiseless operation was not a priority here, leaving that up to the RM series.

Primary side

Visually, the CS450M is nothing really special but not an ugly design either. Corsair went with an all-black appearance and black wires, which can be easily hidden inside a modern case. It will not be winning any beauty contests but it will not unnecessarily be standing out either. For those that do not have special demands about the appearance of their system, the CS450M and its cables will be doing a great job hiding away.

LR Recommended Award

Legit Bottom Line: The new CS-M series offers a great price to performance ratio, with very high efficiency, very good electrical performance and high quality for a very reasonable retail price. If you do not really want something visually fancy and acoustics are not your primary concern, the CS450M should definitely be making it to the top few spots of your shortlist.