The Arctic Cooling Fusion 550RF Power Supply
Today I am going to take a look at a power supply that is one of the first made and designed by Arctic Cooling, the Fusion 550RF. Arctic Cooling has been around since 2001 when it was started in Switzerland. The goal of the company was to provide thermal solutions optimized to reduce noise. If the Arctic Cooling Fusion 550RF performs as well as it looks, I think we will have a winner. Are the looks deceiving? Let's find out.
The Fusion 550RF is manufactured by Seasonic for Arctic Cooling and it is internally identical to Corsair VX450W and Antec Earthwatts 500W power supplies. The strange thing about these internally identical power supplies is that the Wattage power ratings are all different. Between the three companies a 100W rating difference is observed, which is pretty crazy no matter where you live or with whom your brand loyalty lies.
After a little bit of research it appears that Arctic Cooling rated their power supply at 550W due to that being the peak power rating. This is not something we ever like to see as most other name brand companies don't rate their power supplies like this. The power supply label on the Fusion 550RF says that it can handle 550W loads for a maximum of one full second, so when shopping for power supplies this one is more in the range of a competitor's 450W-500W power supply.
The Outside packaging stands out to me. Instead of another box with a picture on it, you get a nice clear packaging that allows you to see exactly what you are getting. The Arctic Cooling Fusion 550RF follows the default ATX-Form-Factor and thus will fit into every ATX PC-Case. It fulfills the ATX 2.2 specifications and can offer a continuous power of 550 Watts, which is enough for mainstream computers. The power supply also comes with two 6-pin- and 8-pin PCIe connectors for a multi-GPU setup. This means that you will be able to run ATI Crossfire or an NVIDIA SLI setup should the need to expand arises.
After you pick it up and flip it over you get to take a look at the features it offers you. The Fusion 550 RF comes with a three year warranty as you can see above, which is actually fairly decent when it comes to power supplies. With an efficiency of at least 82 to 86%, the Fusion 550 RF is also 80 PLUS certified! This will save you money in the long run. Based on a 4-year time frame, 4 hours a day of full load usage for 200 days a year can give you a savings of approximately $130.00.Key Features
- Output Power 550 Watt (peak) 500 Watt (continuous)
- Dimensions 160L x 150W x 86H mm (including fan) (6.3in x 5.9in x 3.39in)
- Efficiency 82 - 86% PFC Active 99%
- Fan 80mm ARCTIC F8 Pro
- Fan Speed 700 - 2,000 RPM by Intelligent Controller
- Noise Level 0.08 - 0.3 sone /10-20 db
- Power Good Signal 100 - 500 mS
- Hold Up Time >17 mS
- MTBF 100,000 hours at 25°C ambient temperature
- Safety CUL (Level 6) / CE / CB
- Protection OVP / OPP / SCP / OCP
Moving to the outside of the power supply we see a very clean unit. It is covered in a matte black finish, and the name is on either side.
This is the first side of the Arctic Cooling 550RF. As you can see it provides a nice clean look.
This is a shot from the other side. It is very similar to the first side with the exception that it gives you the unit's serial number.
Taking a look at the top of the power supply, we can see the 80 plus emblem.
When I flip the power supply over we can see the label with the good stuff. It gives us another chance to see all of the key features offered by this unit.
Here we can see the externally mounted Arctic Cooling F8 Pro fan. This 80mm fan provides the Arctic Cooling Fusion 550RF with the cooling it needs for those long nights of gaming. This fan has a variable speed of 700 - 2000 RPM which is controlled by the intelligent fan control. This fan also remained extremely quiet during the test. If it weren't for the other turbines in my test rig I wouldn't have known it was running
The back of the unit, though not overly flashy, is designed for function. It is left wide open so that there can be plenty of airflow to stay cool. There is also a power switch on the back, which is something far too many entry level power supplies don't come with.
The Arctic Cooling Fusion 550RF has plenty of connectors for most systems today. If offers the following connectors. All lengths are taken from the face of the power supply.
- 20+4 motherboard connector x 1 17 inches long
- 4 pin 12 volt connector x 1 18.125 inches long
- Sata connectors x 6 14", 17.5", 21.25", 24.75",31", and 38" along 1 cable
- 4 pin Molex connectors x 3 12", 18.5", 24.5" along 1 cable
- Floppy disk connector x 1 31" from the power supply (7" from the last Molex)
- 6 pin pcie connectors x 2 20", 23" long
- 6+2 pcie connectors x 2 20.5", 23.5" long
- Fan connectors x 2 4", 6.5"
Internal Impressions and Installation
Now let's take a quick peek at the inside of the Arctic Cooling Fusion 550RF.
As you can see, the Arctic Cooling Fusion 550RF is cleanly put together on the inside as well. They left lots of room for airflow over the aluminum heat sink and other components.
I must say this, the matte black finish looked sharp while it was installed into the test system. As you can see it looks sharp when it is installed. (The case was painted with a reflective paint. Doesn't photograph real well, all the reflective particles look like dust). Appearance has never been my motivation for purchasing a power supply, but it doesn't hurt.
Let's move on to the testing, shall we?
The Test System
We are going to put the Arctic Cooling Fusion 550RF power supply through the paces to see if it can handle today's latest hardware. The test bench is as follows. The stock profile will be the default setting with the exceptions of:
- Turbo mode function will be disabled.
- Intel speed step will be disabled.
- Virtualization Technology will also be disabled.
- All settings will be left on auto for the stock tests.
- 3 Yate Loon High Speed fans were on at all times.
- Swiftech MCP 655 pump was set on high flow for maximum power draw.
|Intel LGA 1366 Test Platform|
|Core i7 920
6GB Corsair DDR3 1600MHz
2x XFX 9800 GTX XXX
2x Seagate 400GB
Arctic Cooling Fusion 550
Windows Vista Ultimate 64-Bit
The overclocked profile will have the same items disabled as above. In addition, the following settings will be used to overclock this system:
- CPU Host Frequency is 180MHz
- CPU Clock Ration is 20x
- CPU VCore is 1.31875 Volts
- QPI PLL is 1.125
- DIMM voltage is 1.65
These Settings will provide us with a 24/7 stable overclock of 3592MHz which is a 922MHz overclock. This is an average enthusiast's overclock and is ideal for testing this power supply.
This will also bring the memory to a speed of 1436MHz.
Here is a shot of the settings for the pair of 9800GTX's in sli. To test the power consumption I will be using a Kill a Watt from P3 international. To check the voltage on the rails I will be using a Fluke 87 series III true rms multimeter. Accuracy on this particular Fluke model is +/- .05%.
I am going to run 8 threads of Prime 95 and the hardware OC Crysis benchmark. Prime 95 will be set to Large fft's which has the highest power consumption. The Hardware OC Crysis Benchmark will be set to a resolution of 1920 x 1080 and very high settings. This will cause the pair of 9800 GTX's to work to their full potential.
Let's move on to the next page and check out the results.
Just to recap how the testing will be done, I will be running 8 threads of Prime 95 on large fft's to draw as much power through the processor and ram as possible. To bring the graphics cards to maximum draw I will use Hardware OC's Crysis benchmark. The Crysis benchmark will be set to a resolution of 1920 x 1080 and very high settings.
Idle power consumption was taken 30 minutes after boot. As you can see above, the overclocked power consumption was only 4% more than at stock speeds. The peak output while overclocked was 112% of the rated output and 15% more than that of the power consumption at stock speeds. One thing that should be noted is these are the peak numbers during load testing. Below you can see what the approximate averages were during testing.
There is nothing scientific about the approximate averages. These are the Wattages that the system was floating around during testing. As you can see, the stock wattage was right at the rated continuous output of 500 watts. While the overclocked, output was 16% over the rated continuous and 5.5% over the peak output.
The 12 volt rail varied by only .165 volts during the tests. As the overall system power consumption rose, so did the Voltage on the 12 volt rail. Arctic Cooling has a +/- 5% rating on the 12 volt rails. That would allow the 12 volt rail to be anywhere between 11.4 volts and 12.6 volts. Over all fluctuation was only +.66% and -.71%. With only a total variance of 1.37% I would have to say that the 12 volt rail held up its end of the deal.
Unlike the 12 volt rails, the power on the 5 volt rail was lower while overclocked versus the stock settings. Though not by much, the average voltage was only different by .2%. The lowest the 5 volt rail reached was 4.998 volts. We have a total variance of 1.32% on the 5 volt rail. 1.32% is well within the +/- 5% allowed in the specifications.
The 3.3 volt rail stayed consistently just below 3.4 when it was checked.
Take a look at the next page for my final thoughts and conclusion.
Final Thoughts and Conclusions
The Arctic Cooling Fusion 550RF only has a few minor issues that I ran into. The issue that was of the most concern to me was the 4-pin +12 Volt motherboard connector. It was a bit short. I am using a full tower case that the power supply mounted on the bottom. No matter what I did, the 4-pin connector wouldn't reach the plug it needed. You can see below that even after removing the graphic cards it was still too short.
If I had been using a case that the power supply was mounted on top it would not have been noticed. It would have been nice to have the shorter cable for cable management if the power supply were mounted on top.
One of the other issues that I had was about the SATA connections. Though it provides six connectors, they are all on one wire.
Due to my case Layout I would have been limited to 4 sata devices. I could use 4-pin to SATA adapters if I needed more in a pinch since it does offer 3, 4 pin Molex connectors. This is again not a major issue, but an issue regardless.
The issue about the cable length is addressed by Arctic Cooling in the installation guide available from their website. It states:
"In Order to limit the resistance caused by power transfer from the PSU to the components, we limit the cable length to a minimum and do not use detachable cables since they would increase the number of plugs and thus increase resistance. A lower resistance leads to more accurate voltage."
There are only a couple of changes I would like to see. The first is an 8-pin +12 Volt motherboard cable. I have read that it is not needed unless you have a processor that requires more than 150 Watts, but it is a change that would make me more comfortable. The second would be longer cables. As you can see above I would be unable to use this power supply without an extension. The final thing I would like to see is the 6 sata connectors split up to multiple cables. If my optical drive had been in the top bay I would have needed to move it down to where it is currently. All said and done, though, our testing shows it is still more than able to handle an overclocked Core i7 system running SLI graphics with no problems at all.
All in all, Arctic Cooling has released a great product with the Fusion 550RF Power Supply. Aside from the cable issues I have with it, it performed well above and beyond my expectations. When it comes to pricing, the Arctic Cooling Fusion 550RF 550W ATX power supply runs $69.56, which is a special sale price that runs through 6/23/2009. At this price the Fusion 550RF is one of the most budget friendly 80 PLUS certified Active PFC power supplies between the 500-600W range. Other popular models in this range include the $99.99 Corsair VX 550W Power Supply and the $89.99 OCZ Technology ModXStream Pro 600W Power Supply. As you can see the Fusion 550RF is slightly lower than some of the big name power supplies, but remember it is internally identical to the Corsair CMPSU-450VX, which runs just $69.99 plus shipping. Flip a coin between the two as they have the same guts and only differ by the cooling fan and the enclosure. Rating the Fusion 550RF as a 550W power supply will likely confuse a number of consumers, but that is why we are here!
Legit Bottom Line: The Arctic Cooling Fusion 550RF Power Supply is 80 Plus certified and easy on the wallet, but should really be rated in the 450W-500W range.