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Corsair shows why budget PSUs aren't so great

Corsair shows why budget PSUs aren't so great

...BOOOOM HEADSHOT!

Ever wonder why some PSUs claiming huge wattages are so cheap? Why should you buy a branded one - or are you just paying for the name and some fancy cables?

Well, no, you're paying for the fact that it won't blow up - that's why we test PSUs to their limits and we never, ever recommend anything other than branded products. Some people don't listen though and Corsair recently took it upon itself to test some of shoddiest looking power supplies we've seen.

Corsair put six budget units to the test at just 75 percent load and came to some explosive results - check the video to see some MOSFET popping action.

Sure, it's a promotional video for Corsair PSUs and they do run them without the cover on so the airflow isn't directed over the heatsinks, but it still goes to show that cheap PSUs would rather explode than integrate essential features like overheat protection.

It certainly is a case of "you get what you pay for", however that statement is somewhere between untrue and ironic since Corsair aggressively undercut most of the PSU market (annoying a lot of other manufacturers) with their own products. Not that we've had a Corsair PSU pop on us mind, however running the HX1000 at 1,200W recently did produce some interesting noises! (The review will arrive soon).

Corsair are understandably not naming names in the video, but if you recognise who's PSUs do go pop - let us know in the forums!

70 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
M4RTIN 17th July 2008, 14:05 Quote
i thought this was about to say that corsair psu's are all going to explode lol.. my vx550 was ready to be switched off
Krikkit 17th July 2008, 14:10 Quote
If only this video could be imprinted onto the mind of everyone who thinks about buying a budget, no-name PSU.

It's just a good job that most systems don't come close to using what their PSU's are rated to, really.
wuyanxu 17th July 2008, 14:11 Quote
the heatsink is right behind one of the fan! surely that would mean it gets enough airflow.

Corsair Hx620w is teh FTW factory :)
pistol_pete 17th July 2008, 14:19 Quote
If only this video was out a couple of weeks ago! I could have showed it to my dad before he went out and bought a 500W PSU for £25, without consulting ME first, how rude!.
Hg 17th July 2008, 14:23 Quote
this is why you should alwasy buy a good quailty PSU!
its scary how many people don't do so after spending a load on new hardware while building a new pc, i dont feel sorry for them if there PSU's blow up as they were to narrow minding while buying a Q-tec etc
icyo 17th July 2008, 14:25 Quote
check the video to see some MOSFET* popping action.

:)
hitman012 17th July 2008, 14:43 Quote
The internals of those power supplies look identical to two generics that died on me over 3 years ago. I would guess that most of the no-name power supplies are OEMed by only one or two companies and just branded with an arbitrary rating - often the 500W rated models have identical insides to the 300W ones.

That said, not all "quality" PSUs are fantastic. Some older Antecs used cheap capacitors which went pop if they were loaded heavily over a year or two. Their newer units, though, OEMed by Seasonic/CWT (as are Corsair's, IIRC) and are much better quality.
Snafu-X- 17th July 2008, 14:44 Quote
Anyone notice the coolermaster box in the video?
MrMonroe 17th July 2008, 14:50 Quote
I'm loving the picture caption.
Xlog 17th July 2008, 14:57 Quote
well, they are drawing over 300W from atx power connector in test 3, so I don't think that test is very accurate
RTT 17th July 2008, 15:17 Quote
What's a "MOSPHET" ?
Cobalt 17th July 2008, 15:22 Quote
My friend came to me for advice about buying a PSU recently for a xfire setup. I impressed on him the importance of buying a branded power supply with some extra capacity beyond what he thought he would need but then he goes and buys a 700W PSU for £30 off ebuyer. Why should I even bother?
Mankz 17th July 2008, 15:26 Quote
That was an awesome video. I liked the music :p
Bindibadgi 17th July 2008, 15:30 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by RTT
What's a "MOSPHET" ?

Fixed, I'm too used to writing phosphor, sulphur, etc
naokaji 17th July 2008, 15:39 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by hitman012
The internals of those power supplies look identical to two generics that died on me over 3 years ago. I would guess that most of the no-name power supplies are OEMed by only one or two companies and just branded with an arbitrary rating - often the 500W rated models have identical insides to the 300W ones.

The majority of the super cheap and blowing up psu's are made by allied (known under many different brandnames and very popular among the big system integrators for record low prices).
Usually they dont blow up just because people think they need a 700W psu for a E4500 2GB ram single hdd and integrated graphics so most people who buy prebuilt pc's never even notice the psu they have is overrated by 400W because there computer wont even use 200W, but if you take a device that can actually draw as much power from a psu as is written on the label then a firework is almost guaranteed.

on top of that, psu's changed in design over the last few years, the majority of the power used to be on the 3,3V and 5V rails, there are still such psu's out there sadly even though those rails are almost worthless these days and the "action" is on the 12V rail(s).
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snafu-X-
Anyone notice the coolermaster box in the video?

not sure, but it looks too big to me for a psu box, more like the box of a case size, but then I'm going by memory of what I've seen in the video yesterday and cant watch it now thx to work pc blocking it.
Risky 17th July 2008, 15:51 Quote
Well I've only had two PSUs blow. One was a mATX unit and the other was a rather pricy Enermax, though it was many years ago.
Liquid K9 17th July 2008, 16:01 Quote
wow

great music with that vid

I would have prefered a more scientific test, with various manufacturers, loads and price points. but it was pretty nonetheless in a destructive kind of way, the best kind ;)
-equilerex- 17th July 2008, 16:09 Quote
ive had 2 noname psu's on my old pc... first one ran for 4-5 years. as the fan had started to make noise out of old age, i replaced it with some "fancy" led one that broke down in a few days, burning out the psu (no bang though). the second one is still running... although their only like 350w

upgraded to a laptop myself but the parents still use that rig...
Timmy_the_tortoise 17th July 2008, 16:15 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bindibadgi
Quote:
Originally Posted by RTT
What's a "MOSPHET" ?

Fixed, I'm too used to writing phosphor, sulphur, etc

But.... It's an acronym... and neither phosphor, nor sulphur are in the full title...

Eh?
Delphium 17th July 2008, 16:18 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snafu-X-
Anyone notice the coolermaster box in the video?

Spotted ;)
Though I think its a bit too big for use as a PSU box, so not sure its a cooler master PSU.
Bindibadgi 17th July 2008, 16:19 Quote
It's just an auto-ism. I'm used to reading American Chemistry texts where they replace the correct (British) use of PH with an F, so I've always automatically replaced them back again.
sandys 17th July 2008, 16:30 Quote
I've only ever had one PSU go on me but it was my own fault, I didn't realize my SLI setup pulled almost 700w full load ( it was 60-something% efficient PSU which pulled 1kW from the mains) it was a OCZ Powerstream 520W PSU from the old setup, i was stress testing my water loop and overclocks on new kit, to be fair it ran for hours.

Fortunately it blew when I was there as after a few hours I actually went out and left it running not realizing what could happen if something blew.

My house could have caught fire any number of times I've done 24hr stress tests but until then it never crossed my mind, I always buy good quality kit but a simple slip up can be dangerous, something to consider.
Cupboard 17th July 2008, 16:39 Quote
If you would like to do a similar test on a 450W Winpower PSU I have here, let me know!
I would love to see the fireworks :D

edit: That video was brilliant and the music was so fitting
_DTM2000_ 17th July 2008, 16:54 Quote
The company I work for used to buy elcheapo no name PC's with crappy PSU's (before I started there). One day a PSU exploded shooting flames out the back which didn't stop until someone extinguished it. The PC was under a desk next to the users legs. Luckily they weren't burnt, just very shocked. The scariest part was he used to leave the PC running all night. If it had done the same thing in the middle of the night, the building could have burnt down.

It's really not worth risking your home/business by buying shoddy electrical equipment, especially PSU's. They're one of the most likely things to die out of all electrical equipment based on my experience. CRT monitors are also prone to exploding.
AlexB 17th July 2008, 17:07 Quote
Good vid. Can't say corsair are perfect though - my 750W was so loud I had to sell it. supposed to be silent!
E.E.L. Ambiense 17th July 2008, 17:22 Quote
:) The music is classic.
Timmy_the_tortoise 17th July 2008, 17:40 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bindibadgi
It's just an auto-ism. I'm used to reading American Chemistry texts where they replace the correct (British) use of PH with an F, so I've always automatically replaced them back again.

Fair enough... Awkward Americans..
Phil Rhodes 17th July 2008, 18:03 Quote
You have to be careful here.

These supplies are designed with a certain amount of diversity in mind - as has already been alluded to, much of the load is now moving from the 12V to 5V rails. In each test there, transistors in the same area failed. If they put all 300 plus watts of load on one rail, they deserved to have it fail. Per rail maximums will be printed on the side of the box.

I presume they didn't make this mistake, but they should say so.
-EVRE- 17th July 2008, 18:06 Quote
I've had a Zalman 400w fail, and 2 Enermax PSU's make computers unstable.. My Antec's are still going strong... thats all I have been buying now and I have been very happy.

I've been lucky none have sploded tho :D
cpemma 17th July 2008, 18:12 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Rhodes
If they put all 300 plus watts of load on one rail, they deserved to have it fail... I presume they didn't make this mistake, but they should say so.
Come on, Mr Naive, it's an advert. What are the chances of grabbing a handful of random supplies, even no-name, that will all fail when tested well below the rating?
ComputerKing 17th July 2008, 18:21 Quote
lol, they blow like a bomb :D kickass.

But I think because they load it with 1000Watts hardware ( 3X GTX280 etc.. ) hehhehehe that budget work with crap computers better than fine

thanks for the link BT. Keep it flowing with new information
TreeDude 17th July 2008, 18:40 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by ComputerKing
lol, they blow like a bomb :D kickass.

But I think because they load it with 1000Watts hardware ( 3X GTX280 etc.. ) hehhehehe that budget work with crap computers better than fine

thanks for the link BT. Keep it flowing with new information

The video said the load they put on them. they did not put a 1000W load on them. They were all 75% of their rating.

I have a 430W Enermax that has served me well for almost 3 years. It currently has a C2D E6800 @2.3ghz, 4GB of DDR2 800, a Radeon 3870, 2 HDs, and 2 DVD drives. Never had an issue.
B1ackbeard 17th July 2008, 18:43 Quote
Evenin' all. I'm a Corsair bod so I thought I'd chip in with a couple of comments. Firstly...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Delphium
Spotted ;)
Though I think its a bit too big for use as a PSU box, so not sure its a cooler master PSU.

Yes, that's a chassis box, not a PSU box (we use some CM cases for show PCs and so forth). We're certainly not trying to suggest that the PSU is made by CM! The PSU in that vid is a cheap (but not unbranded) PSU that cost about $25 from Newegg.
Quote:
Originally Posted by cpemma
Come on, Mr Naive, it's an advert. What are the chances of grabbing a handful of random supplies, even no-name, that will all fail when tested well below the rating?


All six PSUs were the same model, and all six popped in a similar way. We actually tested another three prior to this (all with the case lids on too) and they also all popped in less than 2 mins at 75% load, so that's nine in total. That's why we thought about doing the video

Sure, this is marketing, and a bit of fun, but with a serious message too.
johnnyboy700 17th July 2008, 19:00 Quote
RE "What's a MOSFET?"

It stands for Metal Oxide Semiconductor Field Effect Transistor, it tells you what the guts of it are made from and how it works. Its basically the big transistors attached to the heatsinks and they do get hot if you thrash them (hence the heatsinks) and the video show what happens if you thrash them too much.

I still think large electrolytic capacitors are more spectacular when they explode - don't try this one at home kids as some of them have some pretty nasty ingredients and you definitely don't want to inhale the fumes given off when they vapourise their contents. Just take my word for it - although I suppose some smart a£$€ will have a video on Youtube as they seem to have just about everything on there.
Phil Rhodes 17th July 2008, 19:59 Quote
Quote:
Evenin' all. I'm a Corsair bod

Excellent.

How was the load distributed between the various outputs?
zimbloggy 17th July 2008, 20:14 Quote
hey that song was on a naltz video.

the psu that came with my cheapo hp computer is only 300 watts, and i kind of want to upgrade my graphics card. i looked on tigerdirect to upgrade my psu, and the budget ones are the only ones i could afford. i steered clear, though, because all the reviews said that they overheated. this just confirms my suspicions of budget/off brand psu's.
FaSMaN 17th July 2008, 20:57 Quote
Ive been using semi no name powersuply manufacturer called Pro-Case for about 3 years hasn't failed me yet and in my newest rig Im using one of there 500Watts and at peak I run it at about 350+ watts(tested) lasted me for 2 years so far,not all of them are bad,allso its far more complex inside :)
The_Beast 17th July 2008, 21:07 Quote
I've only had one PSU blow out on me and it was the one that came with the fam's HP computer
HourBeforeDawn 17th July 2008, 21:08 Quote
wow is it me or did that video really suck, you think a company like Corsair could afford a decent tri pod to film their crappy short video ~_~
Liquid K9 17th July 2008, 21:31 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by HourBeforeDawn
wow is it me or did that video really suck, you think a company like Corsair could afford a decent tri pod to film their crappy short video ~_~

it isnt shindlers list mate, who cares?
pendragon 17th July 2008, 22:07 Quote
heh.. i bought an Ultra <I forget the model> PSU that was FreeAfterRebate.. .the thing popped shortly after putting it in my new system.. learned my lesson there.. thank God I didn't fry anything else when it happened.
Timmy_the_tortoise 17th July 2008, 22:15 Quote
I'm a little ignorant and worried when it comes to PSUs... What's a rail? And what does it mean if the PSU is Modular?
kenco_uk 17th July 2008, 22:37 Quote
I've had 400w £10 jobs, powering a fair amount of stuff without wobbling.
dire_wolf 17th July 2008, 23:27 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Timmy_the_tortoise
I'm a little ignorant and worried when it comes to PSUs... What's a rail? And what does it mean if the PSU is Modular?

A rail is a seperate voltage outlet, ie. you have a 12v rail where all the 12v (yellow wires) come from, a 5v rail, etc.

Modular just means the you can swap out certain cables to keep the mess down in a case and to improve airflow, they normally have connectors that click into the psu, instead of having a big bunch of wires zip tied to the top of your case.
extrasalty 17th July 2008, 23:53 Quote
First post everybody! Long time lurker, had to register finally to expose the main star in that cute movie:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817152032
Price is actually only $20.49+$11 S/H. Matter of fact I have a Raidmax PSU that came with the Ninja case- rated at 450 that had rail distribution good enough for Pentium 3 (3v and 5v heavy), and my Barton was heating it up tremendously. I know the system sucks probably less than 250W at load, and it was obvious it was really inefficient, but it had 24 pin connector...funny that it got replaced by 450VX. I also have 620HX and really love that beast. Corsair has won me as a lifetime customer.
Timmy_the_tortoise 18th July 2008, 00:35 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by dire_wolf
Quote:
Originally Posted by Timmy_the_tortoise
I'm a little ignorant and worried when it comes to PSUs... What's a rail? And what does it mean if the PSU is Modular?

A rail is a seperate voltage outlet, ie. you have a 12v rail where all the 12v (yellow wires) come from, a 5v rail, etc.

Modular just means the you can swap out certain cables to keep the mess down in a case and to improve airflow, they normally have connectors that click into the psu, instead of having a big bunch of wires zip tied to the top of your case.

Right.. Okay, thanks.

But, why would I want twin rails? Like two 12v rails?
LordPyrinc 18th July 2008, 01:04 Quote
I never really thought about PSUs exploding/catching fire, but I learned many years ago with car audio amplifiers that you get what you pay for. The cheap models almost never delivered their promised wattage and typically lasted just long enough for the shody warranty to be expired.

This article did make me a little paranoid, so I did a little online research about the particular PSU that I replaced my stock PSU with. While I did not buy a cheap model, I wanted to make sure that it delivered the promised specs. According to http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/556 it performed as advertised and was tested beyond its advertised limit to 770W. The article does consider it overpriced, but that is usually the case when buying hardware from big retail stores.

All that said, next time I decide to upgrade a PSU, I will do a better job at researching the models available. In this case, I overpaid, but at least I got what was promised on the box.
Loot3r 18th July 2008, 01:27 Quote
All i have to say it that a good PSU is a great start to becoming a great pc....
Bluephoenix 18th July 2008, 07:19 Quote
of all the ironies....


the only PSU I've had that has failed at all was my HX620, when I was using it for load testing systems. (keep in mind it was at or very slightly over rated capacity)


it was still under warranty though and I had a new one in less than a week, so I can't complain ;)
desertstalker 18th July 2008, 08:44 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Timmy_the_tortoise
Right.. Okay, thanks.

But, why would I want twin rails? Like two 12v rails?

That was done (i believe) to comply with some EU standard or other about not having more than 120VA (20A @12V) through a user accessible cable. Most PSUs have a single 12V regulator and then have 1/2/3 sets of over current cut-offs for the rails (unless this has changed recently). There is no real practical difference.
B1ackbeard 18th July 2008, 09:26 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Rhodes
Excellent.

How was the load distributed between the various outputs?

I believe that the six PSUs mentioned in the video were tested at 12V = 18A, 3.3V = 20A and 5V = 10A (332W). Three prior to this also failed at 12V = 21A, 3.3V = 10A, 5V = 10A (with case lid on).
Sark.inc 18th July 2008, 12:08 Quote
can someone explain to me how they undercut all other power suppliers?
wuyanxu 18th July 2008, 19:06 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sark.inc
can someone explain to me how they undercut all other power suppliers?
cheap, reliable, superb performance.

the Hx620w under cuts all modular 600w with its performance and price
Burnout21 18th July 2008, 19:53 Quote
i dont know why but something seemed a little odd in that advert, yes i agree with buying a quality PSU. But i would be surprised if they were trying to draw 110% from those PSU's just to make it seem a little more dramatic.

iv got a little Q-tec at my feet right now says on the side 500W, but even i know thats a joke. it used as a test PSU, i.e for testing fans after rewiring. i wont power any hardware off it though as i dont think the power is clean enough, or another way to put it, stable enough.
Garbach 18th July 2008, 23:42 Quote
The only time I blew up my PSU is when I inadvertently switched the little switch on the back to 110 Volts and then promptly proceeded to plug it to my 220 Volts mains.... It did not go with a pop, but with a surprisingly loud bang, a flash and a nice puff of acrid smoke. Fortunately the PSU was the only thing to go and the rest of the components were fine... phew....
GavX 19th July 2008, 00:45 Quote
2 faulty Enermax Infiniti's taking 4 motherboards to silicon heaven, and one "Jeantech" one exploded in my face, leaving a lovely sulphur taste around the air, I bricked it, nice blue flash
outlawaol 19th July 2008, 05:12 Quote
I dont think corsair is doing anyone a favor except hyping up there own products/themselves. Nothing better then self proclaimed propaganda! Oddly, I have a no-name brand in my semi-older computer and it works great.

This whole debacle should not have been posted on the front page, it isnt showing any statistics that dont appear to have a bias to them. And thats horrible...
Gravemind123 19th July 2008, 06:17 Quote
I've had 2 PSUs die on me, one was a cheap backup one that over the course of 3-months when I didn't use it, went from working fine to not turning on at all. The other one is my Antec NeoHE which I had to RMA, nice bright blue spark inside the power supply(I could see through the fan grate). Luckily neither took anything with them.
Amon 19th July 2008, 06:35 Quote
Mein power supply on the PC was a grey box no-namer. It went kaput, but, thankfully, it didn't leave with the dramatic exit my brother's 4 other power supplies did with the 4 motherboards.
Ramble 19th July 2008, 23:39 Quote
You're bound to get one going wrong eventually.
Power supplies may not be sexy like a graphics card, but they're damn important.
Abhorsen 20th July 2008, 09:17 Quote
I'm paranoid with Power Supplies and this video just increased it :P

I won the 750w Corsair power supply in the Bit-Tech reader survey but haven't put it in my setup as my current 530w Hiper Type-R is doing sterling work and i figured if it aint broke....
Nexxo 20th July 2008, 16:38 Quote
My PC Power & Cooling went up in smoke a few weeks ago... mind you, it had just about lasted 5 years.

http://i42.photobucket.com/albums/e314/Nexxo00/DSC_0501Medium.jpg
DougEdey 20th July 2008, 16:42 Quote
That was probably the dust on it setting fire :p
Aterius Gmork 20th July 2008, 17:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Abhorsen
I'm paranoid with Power Supplies and this video just increased it :P

I won the 750w Corsair power supply in the Bit-Tech reader survey but haven't put it in my setup as my current 530w Hiper Type-R is doing sterling work and i figured if it aint broke....

No problem! I'll just give you my address... ;)


Anyway, I cannot agree more on this video, being from Corsair or not! My last rig before this one I had a cheap generic PSU, I thought "It has enough wattage so: who cares?" After not even a month the thing catched fire! Note: It burned, not a bit of smoke, but flames! It took the whole computer including the case with it. Really scared the **** out of me. Too bad I hadn't a camera around.


Plus I'd have sex with my current 450W Corsair PSU if I could.
[USRF]Obiwan 21st July 2008, 08:56 Quote
Hmmz

My psu's never last more then a year, because I want the newer better fancier more efficient one thats reviewed here.
stan 11th March 2010, 20:43 Quote
Pure scare tactics from Corsair and I speak from experience because my own Corsair TX650 Watt PSU failed after only 12 weeks, when I posted about this on the Corsair forum everyone was saying Aw shucks you just got a bad unit, but if I had said I was using a generic 650 Watt PSU, I'm sure the response would have been along the lines of "serves you right".

Any PSU, no matter how much it costs or who made it, is capable of failure and any moron with a video camera can make a clip of a PSU going pop! Corsair are hardly going to show you one of their own PSU's going pop are they, because that would be bad for business.
Bindibadgi 11th March 2010, 21:11 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by stan
Pure scare tactics from Corsair and I speak from experience because my own Corsair TX650 Watt PSU failed after only 12 weeks, when I posted about this on the Corsair forum everyone was saying Aw shucks you just got a bad unit, but if I had said I was using a generic 650 Watt PSU, I'm sure the response would have been along the lines of "serves you right".

Any PSU, no matter how much it costs or who made it, is capable of failure and any moron with a video camera can make a clip of a PSU going pop! Corsair are hardly going to show you one of their own PSU's going pop are they, because that would be bad for business.

Not really: http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/psus/2010/02/22/600-700w-psu-review-round-up/2
thehippoz 11th March 2010, 21:20 Quote
blew one up and it did catch on fire.. it was a deerfield made back in the 90s

those cheap ultra brand psu aren't too shabby though.. least for the money
dire_wolf 11th March 2010, 21:42 Quote
To be fair to Corsair, I've had 3 no-name taiwanese PSUs go pop (not in flames), and 2 just completely stop dead for no reason in the history of me building PCs. Never had an Antec or Corsair fail on me, not one (which is why I only use them now). They cost more but it's cheap insurance I suppose.
sneeker 11th March 2010, 22:13 Quote
In the last 3 weeks Ive had...
1x winpower 750w.. came home to find my pc switched off so took it back and replaced it with.
1x winpower 850w modular.. plugged it all in and the system got its standy led lit on the motherboard, and never powered up.
Now got a corsair Tx650 and its working wonderfully and nice and quiet.
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