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Review: Corsair AX860i Digital ATX Power Supply

by Tarinder Sandhu on 6 November 2012, 14:00 4.5

Tags: Corsair

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qaboqc

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Running the numbers

Our testing procedures can be found at this link.

Efficiency

Load 10pc 25pc 50pc 75pc 100pc
Efficiency 84.8pc 91.2pc 92.7pc 91.4pc 90.8pc

Efficiency, as expected, is excellent from 25 per cent to 100 per cent load.

Regulation

In terms of regulation, we're looking at just how well the supply is able to hold to the various lines. The ATX spec. has a +/- 5 per cent leeway on all but the -12V line.

Line/Load 3.3V 5V 12V
10 per cent +0.6pc +0.4pc +0.5pc
50 per cent +0.4pc +0.4pc +0.5pc
100 per cent -0.5pc -0.3pc -0.5pc

Most supplies overvolt with little load and undervolt when stressed. We're seeing barely more than a one per cent swing from the highest-to-lowest figures, which are the best we've witnessed so far in 2012.

Regulation - cross-load

How about providing uneven loads that stress particular voltage rails? In the first attempt, we've put 65A on the 12V rails, and 1A on the 3.3V and 5V rails. This can actually be somewhat typical for a system heavy on graphics and CPU power. In the second, we've turned the tables and gone for 12A on both the 3.3V and 5V rails - highly unlikely in a real-world environment - and just 2A on the 12V - even more unlikely!

Line/Load 3.3V 5V 12V
Cross-load 12V focus +0.8pc +0.9pc -0.5pc
Cross-load 3.3V/5V focus -1.3pc -0.9pc +0.5pc

Hammering one part of the PSU power delivery while using just a small portion of the other can throw cheaper supplies of out kilter. There's little variation going on here; you're looking at just over two per cent from a best-to-worst-case scenario.

Ripple

Line/Load (mv - p-p max) 3.3V 5V 12V
10 per cent 10mV 15mV 15mV
50 per cent 15mV 15mV 20mV
100 per cent 15mV 20mV 25mV

The ATX v2.2 spec states that the maximum permissible ripple is 120mV for the 12V line and 50mV for others.

PSUs convert AC power into DC, but doing so requires the AC waveform to be suppressed. What we're really testing here is the quality of the supply's rectifier and any smoothing capacitors in getting rid of this unwanted up-and-down ripple - the raison d'etre of this supply.

Per-line ripple is roughly one-third of what the ATX specification permits - the figure that Corsair liberally quotes in the accompanying literature. The 12V ripple at full load is usually the worst figure, in pure mV terms, with AC suppression being hardest to control under this load, but the AX860i's 25mV is very good even for a high-quality supply.

Temps

Temperatures Intake Exhaust
10 per cent 28°C 33°C
50 per cent 32°C 35°C
100 per cent 37°C 39°C

Our sample's fan doesn't activate until the load hits roughly 30 per cent, though, rated at Platinum, wasting such little energy means the supply remains cool at all times.

Fan performance

Temps are good but they mean little in isolation. Obtaining accurate noise readings is near-on impossible when the supply is connected to the Chroma test harness and dual-unit load-tester. We can test the manufacturer's quietness claims in a different way, by using an AMPROBE TMA10A anemometer placed directly over the centre of the PSU. The anemometer records the airflow being pushed/pulled from the PSU's fan. We can use a Voltcraft DT-10L RPM meter to measure the rotational speed of the fan, too.

Load Fan RPM Airflow Noise
10 per cent 0rpm 0cfm Silent
50 per cent 610rpm 20cfm Very quiet
100 per cent 1,450rpm 55.0cfm Quiet

The supply's effectively silent at low loads; the fan switches on momentarily and then stops when the load is below 240W on our Chroma test-harness. Put it in our high-end PC and, surprisingly, it remains silent while we bust out the guns in Max Payne 3, running on a GeForce GTX 680 graphics card.

We also managed to load a real-world PC up by swapping out the GTX 680 for a couple of ultra-high-end, wattage-guzzling GeForce GTX 590s. The fan switches on, certainly, but it can't be heard over the din produced by the remaining fans in the machine.