80 Plus Gold has already arrived with OCZ's Z-series and Corsair's HX-750/850 (which is classed as Silver, but are often tested to conform to Gold spec), and late last month we received Seasonic's latest X-Series PSU that's rated to be just as efficient.
For those unknowing of what 80Plus Gold actually means, it's currently the highest rating for the 80Plus program that measures real world efficiency of PSUs. The Gold standard requires over 87 per cent efficiency at 20 and 100 per cent loads, and 90 per cent at 50 per cent load. While all the time maintaining a 90 per cent power factor correction too.
We first saw the Seasonic X-Series in the summer as a pre-production unit and not much has changed: the predominantly black design with gold, features on a small 16x15x8.5cm steel box: one of the more modest-sized performance PSUs we've seen.
The restrained styling is typical of Seasonic, although the fan-grill has changed to a stamped hexagon design instead of the usual grill. We're not huge fans of the big stickers on either-side, though: they don't exactly shout brand quality.
Inside the box, the PSU comes in a swanky mock-velvet bag, with an extremely floppy paper manual (I kid not), and a Velcro bag to store all the modular cables.
One extremely floppy manual made of crepe paper Somewhere to keep your cables safely stored
The biggest change is the fully modular design: that means that even the ATX cable isn't attached by default. Why? Because Seasonic claims this is part of an overall 'Green' strategy of producing less waste. Seasonic sees its highly efficient PSUs as lasting someone for several years, but it expects the connectors used in a PC will change within the next five years. This is in line with other PSU manufacturers we've spoken to, as the focus is increasingly on 12V only when it comes to PCs.
Perhaps in a couple of year's time, the 24-pin main ATC power connector will be ditched for a larger or smaller connector. With that in mind, Seasonic says it's more environmentally friendly to just issue new connectors for new standards - whatever that may be - rather than require its customers to buy a whole new PSU. We think talking about the money saved for that customer might be a more persuasive marketing message, but each to their own.
The fully modular internal-panel
Having been around for over 30 years, we expect Seasonic will still be here to issue those connectors if/when the change happens. However, that still doesn't address the niggling concerns over
How Seasonic intends to address the customer requests
What, if any, new standard is incompatible with the pin-out of the PSU?
What if a new standard requires a new technology inside the PSU, which means we have/want to buy a new one anyway?
Most of us like shiny new toys, rather than amending old hardware for compatibility.
These concerns aside, the modular cable quality is very good, with well sized braid and glued in, heatshrunk sealed ends. The connectors are labelled by size, not colour though. We complained to Seasonic that while it looks inoffensive, having everything black makes it extremely difficult to find the right socket in an already dark case.
Click to enlarge
Even if you're not interested in the long term upgrading prospects, Seasonic still has a few other Aces up its sleeves.