Without a doubt, Corsair’s PSUs are certainly popular – the modular HX range is particularly so in our community and they’re regularly at the top of the recommended list. Corsair seems to understand the right balance between quality and value that continually makes its units appealing.
Its value VX range has been given less attention though – in 450W and 550W flavours it will certainly suffice for a single graphics card, a few hard drives and even a quad-core CPU to boot. The VX550W we're looking at today is made by the same manufacturer that built the TX750W (which walked away with an excellence award), and with the same Corsair engineering eye overseeing things are we in for the same excellent result? Or by cutting its higher-end units down to under £50, has Corsair cut a few too many corners to get there? We find out.
The VX box is very small and neat – it’s not much bigger than the PSU itself. However, like always there's this instant feeling of quality as soon as you open it because the PSU comes in its own branded bag – this is not likely to protect the unit and while inside it still comes bubble wrapped inside, it's not exactly held between two inches of thick foam for protection like other PSUs we've seen. That said, it's still a nice touch that works for us nevertheless.
As the unit is non-modular there's no cable pouch, and all you get in the box is the manual and power cable (not shown). But do you need anything else? Not really, we've only ever had a couple of nick-nacks in boxes, although some reusable cable ties would be nice. For the price though, it's not a complaint because they cost all of a few quid on their own.
Addendum 6th May 2008: The second VX550W we received from Corsair had cable ties, some black case screws and a case badge in the box as well. The box was factory sealed, taken from channel stock and also sent before the review went live so this is exactly what should feature in retail samples.
The VX550W PSU
The PSU itself unsurprisingly mirrors the TX range with its rugged, matt black look. The VX550W comes with an orange logo, while the VX450W comes in green to help tell them apart and, despite having a large presence on the side of the casing, the logos still fit in very well with the overall aesthetics.
In the top is the only fan in the unit: a large, black 12cm Adda branded fan that is temperature controlled – this depends on the power use in the system. It remains at a very low speed until about 400W, where it starts to rise quite rapidly.
You can see the cable braiding doesn't go all the way into the PSU itself, which looks a little messy, although the hole they all protrude from isn't exactly large either – in fact, putting everything back after we took it apart was a task and a half! The cables are either glued and zip tied to hold the braiding in place – both work just as well as each other and are used well on the VX550W. Some argue that zip tying cables compresses them (and is therefore bad), or glue comes away over time: there's no perfect answer because it you don't use anything the braid simply frays out.