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.

Arctic Cooling Fusion 550RF Power Supply

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.

Arctic Cooling Fusion 550RF PSU Label

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.

Arctic Cooling Fusion 550R 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.

Arctic Cooling Fusion 550R Power Supply

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

External Impressions

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.

Arctic Cooling Fusion 550RF Power Supply

This is the first side of the Arctic Cooling 550RF.  As you can see it provides a nice clean look.

Arctic Cooling Fusion 550RF Power Supply

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.

Arctic Cooling Fusion 550RF Power Supply

Taking a look at the top of the power supply, we can see the 80 plus emblem.

Arctic Cooling Fusion 550RF Power Supply

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.

Arctic Cooling Fusion 550RF Power Supply

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

Arctic Cooling Fusion 550RF Power Supply

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.

Arctic Cooling Fusion 550RF Power Supply

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. 

Internal Impressions and Installation

Now let's take a quick peek at the inside of the Arctic Cooling Fusion 550RF.

Arctic Cooling Fusion 550RF Power Supply


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.

Arctic Cooling Fusion 550RF Power Supply

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:

Intel LGA 1366 Test Platform

Component

Brand/Model

Live Pricing

Processor

Core i7 920

Motherboard

EVGA X58

Memory

6GB Corsair DDR3 1600MHz

Video Card

2x XFX 9800 GTX XXX

Hard Drive

2x Seagate 400GB

Cooling

Water Cooled

Power Supply

Arctic Cooling Fusion 550

Operating System

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:


Arctic Cooling Fusion 550RF Power Supply

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.

Arctic Cooling Fusion 550RF Power Supply

This will also bring the memory to a speed of 1436MHz.

Arctic Cooling Fusion 550RF Power Supply

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%.

Arctic Cooling Fusion 550RF Power Supply

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.

Testing 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.

Arctic Cooling Fusion 550R Power Consumption

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.

Arctic Cooling Fusion 550R Power Consumption

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.

Arctic Cooling Fusion 550R Power Consumption

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.

Arctic Cooling Fusion 550R Power Consumption

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.

Arctic Cooling Fusion 550R Power Consumption

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.

Arctic Cooling Fusion 550R PSU Cables

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.

Arctic Cooling Fusion 550R PSU Cables

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.