7 -Way 550W-600W PSU Review - Introduction

It is natural for an enthusiast to be dazzled by monsters such as the Corsair AX1200i and the Cooler Master Silent Pro M2 1500W; however, even the majority of the enthusiasts would not actually purchase such a beast. It is (or should be) common knowledge that even a very good gaming system does not demand more than 300W-350W and thus, as power supplies are being designed to optimally perform at about 50% capacity, 550W-600W units are plenty for the vast majority of gamers and common users. It is only with multiple video cards, large raid arrays and other “specialized” designs that power requirements may increase substantially. As such, the bulk of a company’s sales does not come from top tier products but from their mainstream-focused designs.

power supply roundup review

Knowing that and realizing the need to offer our readers insight on products which truly are of interest to them, today we bring you a roundup review of seven quality 550W-600W power supplies. Do not be fooled however as the only common capacity of these seven power supplies virtually is their capacity, as each is designed for a different group of users. We will examine and test each unit thoroughly, all while assessing their performance in alignment with the monetary value and quality they offer. Our seven contenders are, alphabetically listed:

 

Manufacturer

Model

Wattage

80Plus Qualification

Price (at print time)

Be Quiet!

Dark Power Pro 10

550W

Gold

$165.98 Shipped

Corsair

CX600M

600W

Bronze

$76.99 Shipped

Corsair

GS600

600W

Bronze

$89.99 Shipped

Cougar

PowerX

550W

Bronze

$69.99 MSRP

InWin

Commander III

600W

Gold

$104.99+$6.77 shipping

Seasonic

G Series

550W

Gold

$79.99 Shipped

Thermaltake

TR2

600W

Bronze

$51.34 Shipped

 

All power supplies will be rigorously tested, specifically in order to ensure that their quality matches the high market standards. In this article we have also implemented a 110% load test in order to assess how such these power supplies will react if overloaded for short periods of time. However, note that this is not considered to be a steady state; the power supply will certainly shut down after a short period of time and or might not be able to handle running overloaded at all once aging becomes a significant factor. 

Be Quiet! Dark Power Pro 10 550W

Be Quiet! is a company originating from Germany with a strong reputation of creating top tier products. They only recently made some of their products available to the north American markets, including the Dark Power Pro 10 550W power supply we have here today.

Dark Power Pro 10 550W box 

We received the Dark Power Pro 10 550W PSU inside a very large, black cardboard box. Plenty of information regarding the features and performance of the power supply may be found at the rear side of the package. Inside the box everything is very well packed and protected behind thick layers of polystyrene foam.

Dark Power Pro 10 550W cables 

The Dark Power Pro 10 550W sports a partially modular design. The modular cables are provided in a square reusable cardboard box, each wrapped with a simple but very functional cable strap. These are typical cables with black sleeving and color-coded wires, except for those meant for powering cooling fans, which are using thin black and white wires.

 Dark Power Pro 10 bundle

Be Quiet! can proudly boast having perhaps the most complete power supply bundle in existence. The company supplies five black 3M screws and five black thumbscrews (4 required for mounting +1 extra), five high quality cable straps (+5 holding the modular cables), a few typical cable ties, a very complete manual, a typical A/C power cable, and OCK PCI slot panel and an OCK jumper.

 Dark Power Pro 10 550W top view

Appearance-wise, the Dark Power Pro 10 easily stands out of the crowd. The metallic parts of the power supply are sprayed with a metallic glossy black paint and large metallic decorative stickers can be seen at both sides of the chassis. A rubberized plastic frame surrounds the rear of the chassis and a rubber strip the front, absorbing all vibrations from and to the power supply.  However, the all-black chassis is longer than that of a typical ATX unit, which might be a problem in tight spaces.

 Dark Power Pro 10 550W rear view

The company placed the sticker with the electrical certifications and specifications of the power supply at the top side of the chassis, where it will be visible from a windowed side panel should the case has the PSU compartment located at its bottom. The aluminum plate at the rear side of the chassis houses the connectors for the modular cables. There are fifteen connectors; four for the fan power cables, four for the PCIe cables, one for the CPU 12V cable, five for the SATA and Molex cables and finally one for the OCK bracket connector. The OCK bracket is a simple switch which allows the user to choose between a four 12V rail OCP mode and a single 45A rail mode. For those who do not which to install the PCI bracket, the power supply defaults to its standard four rail mode without anything connected and Be Quiet! includes a jumper which forces the unit to permanently operate under single 12V mode. Finally, the hole from which the cable are coming out from is square and covered with a flexible rubber gasket, creating a stunning visual effect.

 Silentwings fan

Instead of your typical 120-140mm fan, Be Quiet! installed one of their advanced Silent Wings fans in this power supply. This particular model has a maximum speed of 1500RPM and a FDB (self-lubricating bearing). The company boasts that the fan will generate only 12.9 dB(A) at full speed, which we find hard to believe as the aerodynamic noise of a 135mm fan rotating at 1500RPM should generate considerably higher noise levels.

 Dark Power Pro 10 550W internal

Fortron-Source is the OEM behind the core design of the Dark Power Pro 10 550W power supply. The assembly quality of the 550W version is good, with only a few soldering joints obviously made by hand but still are well done. The heatsinks are pretty basic but ought to be more than sufficient for a high efficiency product with this kind of output. The A/C filtering stage is almost textbook, with four Y capacitors, two X capacitors, two coils and a MOV.

 Dark Power Pro 10 550W FSP

After the single rectification bridge which can be seen on its own solo heatsink, two Matsushita 220uF/450V high temperature (105°C) capacitors and a large coil covered in a black plastic shroud form the passive components of the APFC stage, with the three transistors and the diode on the heatsinks being the active components. The two primary side inversion transistors are on the third and larger part of the heatsink, facing towards the main transformer and forming a half-bridge configuration. The plain heatsink after the transformer holds the four conversion transistors of the secondary stage, which output only a single 12V line. The 3.3V and 5V lines are being generated via DC to DC converters and the main 12V line is being routed via four OCP channels, which may be merged. The electrolytic capacitors are Rubycon and Nippon Chemi-Con products, while the solid state capacitors come from CapXon.

Corsair CX600M

Having been a big player in the power supply market for several years, Corsair is not a company which requires recommendations. Their CX power supply series consists of units designed with high value in mind but which still pack a few advanced features and are not stripped down to the core.

 Corsair CX600M box

The CX600M arrived in a relatively small bright black and white box with green theme accents. Inside the box the power supply is protected only by a bubble bag. Data about the unit and its features can be found printed onto the sides and rear of the box.

CX600M bundle

The bundle of the CX600M is typical for a value-oriented product. In the box there is only a typical A/C power cable, normal mounting screws, a few cable ties and the modular cables. There is no bag or box for the modular cables, which however we should mention that they are not normal sleeved cables with color-coded wires but black flat cables.

 CX600M external

As expected, the CX600M sports a rudimentary design with very few aesthetic enhancements. The chassis has been sprayed with a satin black paint and decorative stickers can be seen on the sides of the unit, sporting the company and product logos. A typical circular fan guard has been installed but with a crest of the company’s logo on it. The chassis is only 150mm deep, which is well within the ATX design guidelines.

CX600M rear view

There is also a third sticker, found at the top of the chassis, with the electrical specifications and certifications of the unit. The M at the end of the product code denotes that the CX600M sports a modular design. As such, there are four connectors for the four modular cables at the rear side of the unit. The legend might be a little confusing, denoting the left connectors to be for Molex/SATA cables and the right connectors for PCI-E/EPS cables; in reality, the top right connector also is for a third Molex/SATA power cable. Two cables are hardwired, that of the common 24-pin ATX cable and the 4+4 pin EPS cable. The EPS cable is a black flat cable but the thick 24-pin ATX cable is a typical sleeved cable with color-coded wires.

 CX600M fan

A typical Yate Loon 120mm fan takes care of the cooling needs of the CX600M. It is a basic model with a sleeve bearing motor, a maximum speed of 1650RPM and a noise rating of 33 dB(A).

 CX600M internals

Channel Well Technology (CWT) is the OEM responsible for the CX600M. The build quality of the CX600M is not flawless, with a few mediocre soldering joints here and there, but it certainly is well above acceptable for a value-oriented product. The heatsinks are crude and remind us of very low budget designs but are sufficiently large. The A/C filtering stage is excellent, with four Y capacitors, two X capacitors, two chokes and a MOV.

 CX600M CWT

The heatsink at the far edge of the unit holds two transistors and a diode, the active components of the APFC circuit. The passive components are a single Matsushita 270uF/450V capacitor and a large coil. The heatsink next to the main transistor holds two inversion transistors, forming a half-bridge configuration. Several active components are present on the heatsink on the secondary side of the transformer, handling the generation of all three voltage lines, as this power supply has no DC to DC conversion circuits. The electrolytic capacitors are CapXon and Teapo products.

Corsair GS600

Our second contender from Corsair is the GS600. The GS (Gaming Series) consists of products hoping to merge value and performance with a stylish appearance. Too many eggs in one basket? We will soon find out.

 GS600 Box

We received the GS600 in a black and bulky cardboard box with an artwork theme based on a picture of the power supply itself. The box also clearly denotes that this is a 2013 version model, which supposedly addresses the issues earlier versions had with their cooling fans. Inside the package we found the power supply well protected between polystyrene foam pieces.

 GX600 bundle

The bundle of the GS600 is quite uninteresting, perhaps even poor for a gaming-grade product. Supplied inside the box there is only the A/C power cable, four standard black 3M screws, a few cable ties and a basic manual and warranty guide. 

 GS600 top view

Appearance wise, the GS600 certainly stands out of the crowd. The beveled edges of the chassis form an octagonal design and decorative stickers cover both sides of the power supply. A blue frame surround the cooling fan, which can be replaced with other colors as well (sold separately). The fan guard is proprietary and forms a parallel vent design, as are the openings at the front side of the GS600. We also spotted a button at the front side of the GS600, responsible for turning off the illumination of the fan. The GS600 sports only blue LEDs, while the more powerful models offer white and red colors as well.

 GS600 rear view

Once again, the sticker with the electrical specifications and certifications of the power supply has been placed at the top side of the chassis. The rear of the chassis is ribbed for aesthetic purposes but completely clean, as this is not a modular power supply and every cable is hardwired to the unit. The cables are typical, with color-coded wires and black sleeving.

 GS600 fan

The semi-transparent cooling fan is being provided by Hong Hua, a Chinese manufacturer. It is a rather powerful 140mm fan with a ball bearing engine, which has a nonsensical maximum speed of 2400RPM and a noise rating of 43.3 dB(A).

Much like the CX600M, the OEM behind the GS600 is CWT. However, the core design is different. The quality of the assembly is notably better, as we could not spot a single mediocre soldering joint; however, the heatsinks are nothing more than rectangular aluminum slabs, which explains the use of such a powerful cooling fan. The A/C filtering stage starts at the back of the A/C cable receptacle and continues onto the main PCB, totaling four Y capacitors, two X capacitors, two chokes and a MOV.

 GS600

A small coil and a Hitachi 330uF/400V capacitor are the passive components of the APFC stage, with the active components being two transistors, placed on the heatsink near the edge of the PCB. The smaller heatsink next to the main transformer holds the primary inversion components, two transistors which form a typical half-bridge converter. There is no apparent heatsink on the secondary side of the transformer at all, where five transistors convert the transformer’s output to a single 12V line. DC to DC conversion circuits then convert part of that output to generate the 3.3V and 5V lines. The electrolytic capacitors are provided by SamXon and Nippon Chemi-Con.

Cougar PowerX 550W

Cougar is a subsidiary company of HEC, providing higher-than-OEM quality power supplies and cases for advanced users and enthusiasts. The power supply we have here today is the PowerX series 550W model. The PowerX series is aiming to merge aesthetics with high value, for gamers and modders on a tight budget.

 Cougar PowerX 550W box

The Cougar PowerX 550W unit arrived in a small but sturdy and functional cardboard box with the power supply well packed inside it. Plenty of information regarding the features of the power supply can be found at the rear side of the box. However, supplied with the power supply there is virtually no bundle to speak of as it consists only of the necessary A/C power cable and typical steel mounting screws.

 Cougar PowerX 550W top view

Cougar used a typical ATX chassis which replaced the basic cover of with a proprietary one, which has been sprayed with a dark orange paint and with the company logo embossed on its left side. The fan guard is also part of the cover, forming a parallel octagonal grid design. A sticker with the company logo can be seen over the center of the fan. The rest of the 150mm long chassis has been sprayed with a matte black paint.

 PowerX 550W rear view

This time the company decided to place the sticker with the specifications of the power supply on the right side of the power supply, where it will be visible if the side panel of a case has a window over the PSU compartment. Strangely, the side with the engraved company logo will be facing the right side of the case, keeping it out of sight. There is nothing noteworthy to mention about the rear or top sides of this power supply, both of which are perfectly clean. All of the cables are hardwired to the unit and are typical cables with color-coded wires and black sleeving.

 PowerX 550W cooling fan

The 120mm fan inside the PowerX 550W power supply has been rebranded but we could easily identify it as the DFS122512M, a popular model by Young Lin Tech. This is a typical sleeve bearing fan with a maximum speed of 1500RPM; nothing really important about it save from the fact that it comes from a well-known manufacturer.

 PowerX 550W internal

As we mentioned above, Cougar is a subsidiary of HEC and thus HEC, who has been designing and producing switching power supplies for decades, is the OEM behind the PowerX 550W model. The assembly quality is good, with few mediocre soldering joints which are obviously hand-made. The filtering stage is almost textbook and consists of three Y capacitors, one X capacitor, one filtering choke and a MOV; just a single Y capacitor over the bare minimum required by the ATX design guide. The heatsinks used are quite good for a product of this class.

 PowerX 550W HEC

A Matsushita (Panasonic) 330uF/400V capacitor rated for operation at 105°C and a large coil form the passive components of the APFC stage, with the active components mounted on the large heatsink to the primary side of the transformer, which also houses the primary inversion circuit components that form a half-bridge inverter. The heatsink on the secondary side of the transformer holds five transistors, responsible for the generation of all voltage lines as this design has no DC to DC conversion components. The electrolytic capacitors on the secondary side of this power supply are supplied by Teapo, the well-known Taiwanese manufacturer.

InWin Commander III 600W

In this roundup we are having our first encounter with an InWin product, the Commander III 600W power supply. Although not very well known in Europe or the north America, InWin is a nearly 30 year old Taiwanese company with a very large selection of cases and power supplies.

 InWin Commander III 600W box

We received the Commander III 600W power supply, which is also nicknamed “Desert Fox”, inside a quite large and very thick cardboard box with a rather peculiar theme, mixing a militaristic design with the visage of an actual fox. Inside the box we found the power supply very well protected by thick polystyrene foam pieces.

 InWin Commander III 600W bundle

InWin supplies a rather typical bundle with the Commander III 600W power supply. Inside the box we only found the necessary A/C power cable and mounting screws, a few cable straps and the modular cables, which there is no pouch or storage box for. The modular cables are of standard design, with color-coded wires and black sleeving.

 InWin Commander III 600W top view

Even though InWin is using a standard ATX chassis, they chose to spray it with a Cornsilk yellow paint, which certainly stands out of the crowd. We can only assume that they were aiming for a sand-like appearance. A typical circular steel fan guard is being used, with the company logo over the engine of the fan. The left side of the power supply is entirely clean.

 InWin Commander III 600W rear view

The model artwork and wattage have been carefully sprayed with a dark grey paint onto the right side of the chassis, while a black sticker with the electrical specifications of the power supply can be seen at the top side. Five connectors for the modular cables can be found at the rear side of the chassis, without a legend denoting which connector is for which cable but it is obvious that the 5 pin connectors are for Molex/SATA cables and the 8 pin connector for the PCI Express cable. The hardwired cables are also typical, using color-coded wires and black sleeving.

 InWin Commander III 600W fan

ADDA supplies the cooling fan for this power supply. The ADN512LB-A90 is a high quality 140mm fan with a ball bearing engine, a maximum speed of 1800RPM and a noise rating of 33.6 dB(A).

 InWin Commander III 600W internals

InWin is one of the few companies which can design and produce power supplies on their own, meaning that there is no OEM hidden behind the creation of the Commander III 600W unit. We have not seen that particular design before but the assembly quality is astonishing and equivalent to that of the most expensive products that we have ever reviewed. It also has very good heatsinks installed, despite the 80 Plus Gold efficiency certification. The filtering stage is quite good, with four Y capacitors, two X capacitor, two filtering chokes and a MOV.

 InWin Commander III 600W internals

The large heatsink on the primary side of the power supply holds the A/C rectifying bridge, the APFC active components and the primary inversion transistors. There are two transistors and a diode for the APFC circuit, which is completed with the addition of two Rubycon 180uF/450V capacitors and a single large choke, and two transistors for the inversion circuit, which form a half-bridge topology. It is astonishing how InWin managed to reach 80Plus Gold levels with a simple half-bridge configuration. The small heatsink on the secondary side of the transformer holds the conversion transistors which generate the single 12V line, which is then routed to the DC to DC converters for the generation of the 5V/3.3V lines and through four individual OCP circuits forming the four 12V lines. The capacitors on the secondary side, electrolytic and solid-state alike, are all supplied by Teapo.

Seasonic G-series 550W

Seasonic is a company very well known amongst advanced PC users and they are renowned as one of the best power supply manufacturers worldwide. The company serves many other companies as an OEM but also has their own lines of products. The 550W version of the G-series lineup will be contending today.

 Seasonic G-Series 550W box

Seasonic supplies the G-series 550W unit inside an averagely sized, bright cardboard box with a serious artwork theme. Inside the box the power supply lays well protected between polystyrene foam pieces. The rear of the box is a small manual, with every bit of information regarding the power supply.

 Seasonic G-Series 550W bundle

The G-series 550W unit is complemented by a bundle appropriate of its class. Inside the box we found the necessary A/C cable and mounting screws, black ties, three high quality cable straps, a case sticker and a manual.

 Seasonic G-Series 550W cables

As this is a modular power supply, Seasonic supplies the modular cables inside a fairly large reusable cloth pouch. The modular cables are all-black and sleeveless.

 Seasonic G-Series 550W top view

Visually, the G-Series 550W unit looks rather subtle and simplistic. The entire chassis is sprayed with a matte black paint and only the stickers on the sides of the power supply dissolve the darkness of it. Seasonic also replaced the typical fan cover with one that has a honeycomb grill implemented. The chassis is 160mm long, which will allow the G-Series to fit inside tight spaces.

Seasonic G-Series 550W rear view

Seasonic placed the sticker with the electrical specifications and certifications of this power supply on the right side of the chassis, where it will be visible from a windowed case panel. The series logo has also been sprayed on the rear side of the chassis. There are six modular cable connectors, two for PCI Express cables and four for Molex/SATA cables. The hardwired cables are normal sleeved cables with color-coded wires.

 Seasonic G-Series 550W fan

ADDA is the supplier of the AD1212MB-A70GL fan which is responsible for the cooling needs of the G-Series 550W power supply. It is a high speed 120mm fan with a ball bearing engine and capable of reaching a top speed of 2050RPM.

  Seasonic G-Series 550W internals

Seasonic is a company which manufactures the products of many other suppliers, therefore it is only natural that the G-series 550W unit is fully made in-house. The assembly quality is very good and the heatsinks are small but of high quality, providing ample dissipation surface. Seasonic made the filtering stage twice as strong as the ATX design guide requires, installing six Y capacitors, two X capacitors, three chokes and a MOV.

  Seasonic G-Series 550W internals

A Nippon Chemi-Con 390uF/420V capacitor and a coil of medium size are the passive components of the APFC circuit, with the active components, two transistors and a diode, attached to the heatsink near the edge of the PCB. The smaller heatsink near the main transformer holds the two primary inversion transistors, which form a half-bridge topology. On the secondary side of the transformer, the active components have been placed on the bottom side of the main PCB. DC to DC circuits create the 5V and 3.3V lines. The solid state capacitors are supplied by Enesol and the electrolytic capacitors come from Nippon Chemi-Con. The G-Series 550W unit also sports an LLC converter design, which improves efficiency.

Thermaltake TR2 600W

Thermaltake is one of the most well-known manufacturers of advanced PC components and peripherals globally. From their vast lineup of products, we will be having a look at the TR2 600W, a power supply designed with value in mind.

 Thermaltake TR2 600W box

We received the TR2 600W power supply inside a simplistic square cardboard box. Inside the box the power supply lays protected only by a bubble bag but the thick walls of the box ought to provide enough protection. As the TR2 is aiming for maximum value, Thermaltake reduced the bundle to the bare minimum required; just an A/C power cable and a set of mounting screws.

 Thermaltake TR2 600W top view

The Thermaltake TR2 600W unit is built inside a typical 150mm wide ATX chassis. The chassis has been sprayed with a matte black paint and the company logo is featured embossed on the left side of the chassis. A standard circular fan guard covers the 120mm fan with a badge covering the center.

 Thermaltake TR2 600W rear view

A large black sticker with all of the unit’s certifications and specifications can be seen on the right side of the chassis, along with the rare sight of ventilation openings. A few quality control and serial number stickers have been placed on the otherwise plain rear side of the power supply. This is not a modular design and thus all cables are hardwired to the chassis, all being typical sleeved cables with color-coded wires and black connectors.

Thermaltake TR2 600W fan

Thermaltake rebadged the cooling fan of this power supply but it was not difficult for us to recognize that the OEM behind it is Yate Loon, a company which supplies many manufacturers with cooling fans. It is a simple 120mm fan with a sleeve bearing engine, a maximum speed of 2200RPM and a noise rating of 40 dB(A).

 Thermaltake TR2 600W inside

FSP (Fortron-Source) is the OEM behind the creation of the Thermaltake TR2 600W power supply. The assembly quality is satisfactory, with a few hand-made soldering joints and a lot of glue included. The heatsinks are sizable, especially on the secondary side of the transformer, which is peculiar for such a design. The filtering stage is acceptable, with four Y capacitors, two X capacitors and two filtering chokes. As usual, FSP did not install a MOV.

 Thermaltake TR2 600W interior

The rectifying bridges are sharing the same heatsink as the two primary inversion transistors, which form a half bridge configuration. A Matsushita 470uF/420V capacitor and a covered coil are the passive components of the APFC stage, with the active components, two transistors and a diode, found on the heatsink at the edge of the PCB. The heatsink at the secondary side of the transformer holds four transistors, two for the generation of the 12V line, one for the 5V line and one for the 3.3V line. The capacitors on the secondary side, all of which are electrolytic, are 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

 

 

Voltage Regulation & Ripple Suppression

 

 

 

 

Be Quiet’s Dark Power Pro 10 550W unit dominates the electrical performance charts, closely followed by Seasonic’s G-Series 550W power supply. Corsair however surprised us; the CX600M and the GS600 displayed better filtering than the InWin Commander III and also the value-oriented CX600M delivered performance similar to that of the more expensive GS600 as well. The Thermaltake TR2 and Cougar PowerX both delivered acceptable electrical performance, nothing unforeseen from products designed with maximum value in mind. It is noteworthy to mention that once overloaded, the more expensive contenders have their performance only slightly reduced, while the two budget-level power supplies have their voltage ripple figures flying well over the ATX power design limits.

Efficiency

The results of our electrical efficiency testing are similar to that of their electrical performance, with the exception that the InWin Commander III 600W unit annihilates both Corsair power supplies, with its mean efficiency being about 3.6% higher. Despite that, the Corsair CX600M and GS600 did quite well for 80Plus Bronze certified power supplies, with the GS600 displaying marginally better efficiency as well. The Be Quiet! Dark Power Pro 10 once again dominates the chart, closely followed by Seasonic’s G-Series 550W unit. All three 80Plus Gold certified units have their efficiency mostly unaffected if overloaded, while the efficiency of the 80Plus Bronze certified units plummets.  

Acoustics

 

Once again, the Be Quiet! Dark Power Pro 10 550W unit lands at the top of our charts; however, this time it is InWin and the Commander III breathing down their neck, with the Corsair GS600 following closely behind. Seasonic and the G-Series 550W unit comes fourth, with the ADDA ball bearing fan being a bit more whiny than what the company would have liked. Once overloaded, the noise levels of all power supplies will nearly double, or worse. 

Thermal

 

This time Seasonic overtakes the competition, with the G-Series 550W maintaining the lowest running temperatures of all units competing today. InWin follows closely and Be Quiet!, who appears to have sacrificed some of the thermal performance of their Dark Power Pro 10 unit for lower noise levels, ends up third. The four 80Plus Bronze certified power supplies all share about the same thermal performance, with any temperature differences between them being negligible. 

Economics & Value

To rate the value of the power supplies reviewed today, we are ranking them according to their cost per watt using the market prices at the time of this review, plus their estimated annual consumption.

 

Using today’s market prices (product + shipping), we can see that the Dark Power Pro 10 550W unit stands quite a bit out of the crowd. As a matter of fact, it is over twice more expensive per Watt than any of the competitive units! The largest surprise however is the Seasonic G-Series 550W unit, with which the company apparently is taking a very aggressive marketing scheme, as the power supply retails for the same price as the budget-level and mainstream grade 80Plus Bronze power supplies.

 

The estimated annual consumption is a scenario which considers that the power supply will operate for 3000 hours per annum, 40% of the time at 25% load, 50% at 50% load and 10% at 80% load. Due to the fact that the cost of energy varies greatly per region, we present our results directly in kWh per rated W, which can then easily be converted to money by multiplying the number with the cost per kWh denoted on your current energy bill and the power supply’s maximum output. For example, today’s kWh cost in the Los Angeles area is 0.216 USD/kWh, so if a 600W power supply ends up using 1.4 kWh/Wr/annum, then the annual running cost is 0.216 * 1.4 * 600 = 181.44 USD.

 

It is obvious that the more efficient units will perform much better in this test. The 80Plus Gold certified units achieve figures as low as 1.43 kWh/Wr/Annum, while the 80Plus Bronze units can reach up to 1.53 kWh/Wr/Annum. Corsair’s units land in between, with an estimated consumption of 1.493 kWh/Wr/Annum.

The monetary difference is small but significant and can easily turn the tables of value around. For example, considering that the energy cost is 0.128 USD/kWh (US current average), the Seasonic G-Series 550W unit will consume 101 USD per annum, while the Cougar PowerX 550W unit will consume 108 USD per annum, negating the price difference between the two units within one year. Of course, even as the difference increases along with the cost of energy, that alone will not be enough to justify a large difference on the retail price of any power supply.

7-Way 550W-600W PSU Review - Conclusion

It would be hard to recommend a single power supply over all others, as the selection of any product is almost always a decision based on multiple criteria which greatly vary between users. We can however make an educated analysis of our results and base our recommendation on those, for users which seek a summarized guidance about a specific model.

Manufacturer

Model

Wattage

80Plus Qualification

Price (at print time)

Be Quiet!

Dark Power Pro 10

550W

Gold

$165.98 Shipped

Corsair

CX600M

600W

Bronze

$76.99 Shipped

Corsair

GS600

600W

Bronze

$89.99 Shipped

Cougar

PowerX

550W

Bronze

$69.99 MSRP

InWin

Commander III

600W

Gold

$104.99+$6.77 shipping

Seasonic

G Series

550W

Gold

$79.99 Shipped

Thermaltake

TR2

600W

Bronze

$51.34 Shipped

 

Be Quiet’s Dark Power Pro 10 550W unit was undoubtedly the higher performance power supply that was included in this roundup review, almost always finding its way at the top of our charts. This model also excels on quality, with a long manufacturer warranty and a majestic external appearance. However, its ludicrous retail price places this product at a huge disadvantage against the competition, essentially limiting its probable target group down to only users who want the best possible 550W-600W power supply regardless of the monetary cost. You get what you pay for with this power supply. Price aside, it gets our Editor's Choice award for being the best of the group.

Editors Choice Award

Corsair’s CX600M and GS600 are a more complicated matter. The performance of both units is similar and the only advantage of the GS600 is the lighting and external appearance of the unit. On the other hand however, the CX600M is a modular power supply, while the GS600 is not. The price difference between the two units is small but significant, giving the CX600M a distinctive edge, yet the final choice is up to the user. The overall performance and quality of both units is very good and the CX600M would probably be our first recommendation for a choice balancing performance, quality and value, if not for Seasonic’s extremely aggressive retail pricing at this point of time.

The Cougar PowerX 550W is a power supply trying to merge value with aesthetics. At just 0.127 USD/Watt, the power supply does offer very good value and quality. However, the electrical performance of the PowerX 550W falls short when compared to the competition, with mediocre voltage filtering results. That would not keep us from recommending it for its good price to those that are drawn to it aesthetically, yet it would not be our first recommendation to any user that considers performance a primary driving factor.

InWin took a completely different approach with their unit. The militaristic name of the Commander III suits it because it truly is built like a tank. It appears that the company did not settle with anything less than the highest quality (and most expensive) components possible, while the assembly quality is immaculate. Quality wise, we would rate it as the best unit that was included in this roundup. The retail price is reasonable for that level of quality and performance ratings. However, the Commander III suffers from unexceptional ripple filtering, which drops its electrical performance lower than that of other 80Plus Gold certified units. We also are unsure regarding the Cornsilk yellow color of the unit and how many users will actually enjoy its militaristic appearance.

Seasonic’s G-Series 550W unit was the surprise of our roundup review. Seasonic managed to create an 80Plus Gold certified power supply with exceptional electrical performance which today retails for less than far technologically inferior products. Albeit its aesthetic appearance is simplistic and the G-Series 550W may leave certain groups of users aesthetically unsatisfied, it is extremely capable and the retail price which this power supply retails for is, simply put, a steal.  

Our last contender, the Thermaltake TR2, left us with mixed feelings. Albeit the electrical performance of this power supply is nothing more than compliant with the design guide specifications, the quality is good and the power supply sells at a really low retail price. Also, the company backs it up with a 5 year long warranty, which is exceptional for a 50 USD product. It is a product meant to be utilitarian, not to set new performance records. Therefore, even if the competition can smash it in terms of performance and or even aesthetics, the TR2 is not a bad choice at all for system builders and users on a tight budget seeking the lower retail price possible.