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Corsair TX850 850W Power Supply Review

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SKYMTL

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HX1000W-52.jpg


Corsair TX850 850W Power Supply Review


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Product Number: CMPSU-850TX
Price: Click Here to Compare Prices
Manufacturer’s Product Page: Corsair TX850W
TechWiki Info: Click Here
Warranty: 5 Years
Availability: Now



Like all of you, we here at Hardware Canucks love getting our greedy little hands on the newest, highest-end products on the market. Fortunately for consumers and much to the detriment of our obscenely-priced hardware fetish, the market is rife with affordable products which cater to those of us who don’t want to spend a fortune on one piece of hardware. For many that means ignoring the latest and greatest products and instead concentrating on units that have been on the market for a while and as such are priced far below their original cost. This perfectly sound outlook towards component buying is what led us to request one of Corsair’s older yet very competitively priced power supplies for review: the TX850.

Back when it was first released about a year ago, the TX850 was the next logical step for Corsair to take on their march towards market domination. They didn’t have a power supply to challenge the 800W to 900W units being released by other manufacturers and needed a stepping stone between the HX620 and HX1000. At it stands, the TX850 is now supplemented by a number of higher end units including the modular HX850 and budget conscious products such as the CX400. Through all of this, Corsair has kept the TX850 appealing by gradually decreasing its price while maintaining the same great customer service and warranty consumers have come to love.

Like it or not, the market between the 700W and 900W segments is cluttered with power supplies of every shape, size, quality and price. Corsair has distinguished themselves as being the go-to company for power supplies these days because of one main reason: people know that when they buy a Corsair power supply they’re getting quality. Sure, the 5-year warranty and great customer support are reasons as well but a stringent qualification process means every unit from Corsair is expected to meet the same high standards. This in itself has made their PSUs some of the most popular on the market.

We can talk about popularity and potential performance all we want but what we are here for today is to see if this year-old power supply is still able to live up to our expectations. With an average price of around $140CAD and having been on sale for around $120CAD (with a mail in rebate) at times, the TX850 could be just what the doctor ordered for people who need a high end product at a bargain price.


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SKYMTL

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Specifications & Features

Specifications & Features



Output Specs

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The TX850 is geared towards enthusiasts who are on a budget and the unit’s single +12V rail layout reflects this. In this +12V-centric computing world, we love seeing power supplies like this one which offer nearly 100% of their power on this all-critical rail. Naturally, the little-used +5V and +3.3V rails get a minimum of output to draw upon. All in all, that 840W will do wonders for the amount of high-end equipment the TX850 can power.


Features

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SKYMTL

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What is the 80Plus Program and Does it Matter?

What is the 80Plus Program and Does it Matter?


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The Corsair TX850 has an 80Plus rating.

If you have been out of the power supply scene for the last year, you would be forgiven for not knowing what 80 Plus refers to or how it can affect your buying decisions when it comes to power supplies. The official designation has only been around in the industry since 2007 as part of the Energy Star initiative but it has since become extremely popular.

Before we go on, let’s give a quick, simple rundown about efficiency and what it means to you.

Efficiency numbers are based on the power loss that occurs when a power supply transforms the AC input power it draws from your household outlet into DC power. This DC power (12V, 3.3V etc.) is used by your components but the transformation process naturally causes some power loss. Higher quality power supply components will decrease this loss but only to a certain extent.

To put this into simple terms, a power supply which looses 30% of the input power through conversion has an efficiency of 70% and a power supply that looses only 15% has an efficiency of 85%. If we refine this down to the actual wattage consumption, if a system demands 600W of a power supply that has an efficiency of 80%, it will draw 720W from the mains. Indeed, you can begin to see how a mere 10% bump in efficiency can have a huge impact on the overall consumption of your system as well as your electricity bills.

In its most basic guise, the 80 Plus program provides manufacturers a way of certifying their power supplies for use above 80% efficiency. However, it isn’t the last word in efficiency measuring since manufacturers aren’t required to submit their power supplies to 80 Plus for certification. As such, there are plenty of power supplies on the market that exhibit amazing efficiency numbers but are not 80 Plus certified. It should also be noted that the 80 Plus certification does not guarantee you a quality power supply since it is possible that a highly efficient power supply could fall flat in other areas.

There are three certifications which are handed out by the 80 Plus organization for desktop power supplies. All of these certifications refer to the efficiency achieved by the power supply at 20%, 50% and 100% of its rated load.

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At least 80% efficiency @ all stated loads & a PFC of .90 at 100% load

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At least 82% @ 20% and 100% loads, at least 85% @ 50% load & a PFC of .90 at 50% load

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At least 85% @ 20% and 100% loads, at least 88% @ 50% load & a PFC of .90 at 50% load

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At least 87% @ 20% and 100% loads, at least 90% @ 50% load & a PFC of .90 at 50% load​


So what does the 80 Plus designation really mean to you? More and more consumers these days are looking for ways to save money while being environmentally conscious and normally this is a tall order of business. The 80 Plus certification allows people to quickly glance at the specifications of a power supply to easily determine what kind of pre-tested efficiency values that particular unit has. In this way they can know which products will be healthier for their electricity bill and the environment.

Without a doubt, this certification provides a great quick-reference point for the masses but as we already stated, it is not a requirement for manufacturers to have their PSU 80 Plus certified. This means that there are plenty of efficient units out there without the little 80 Plus sticker so make sure you do your research before making a decision on which power supply is right for you.
 

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Packaging and Accessories

Packaging and Accessories


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The box design of the TX850 fits perfectly with the other power supplies in the Corsair lineup. It has a predominantly neutral color which is accented by hints of yellow. The sides of the box also hold additional information about the rail layout and output capabilities while the back gives a list of features in a number of languages.

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Corsair loves over protecting their power supplies and this one is no different. Once the box is opened we are greeted by a large piece of foam which protects the top of the power supply against bumps and bruises while the cables are pushed to the side to give some lateral protection. As we will see in the next section, the TX850’s exterior is finished with a durable powder coat but that doesn’t stop Corsair from wrapping the unit in a clot bag to prevent scratches.

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When it comes to accessories, most power supplies leave us wanting but Corsair gives us a few extras that will go a long way when it comes to building your dream system. Other than the usual power cord, we get four screws that are coated in a black finish to blend in with the power supply and a Corsair case sticker. Additionally, there is a bundle of black zip-ties that will help you store the mass of unused cables that are left when using a non-modular power supply such as the TX850.
 

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Exterior Impressions

Exterior Impressions


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The TX850 is the highest wattage non-modular unit in Corsair’s stable but despite its high wattage it maintains the standard ATX form factor. When it comes to the overall design, there really isn’t much to talk about other than the fact that the finish is durable and won’t show finger prints unless you have some seriously greasy digits. The labels on the unit also tend to pick up on the packaging design with a shout-out-loud yellow being used.

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One thing that we have come to loathe about Channel Well-based power supplies is their usual insistence to not fully sleeve the cables all the way into the power supply housing. This leaves an unsightly mess but it isn’t anything a few passes with electrical tape won’t fix.

The backmost portion of the TX850 is denude of any fancy LED indicators and instead houses a straightforward label, power switch, power connector and perforated exhaust grille.

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Other than its diminutive size when compared to behemoths like the HX1000 or Enermax Revolution 1050W the first thing you will probably notice is the massive 140mm fan which adorns the TX850’s topmost side. This fan is protected by a black fan grill that blends in seamlessly with the overall color of the housing.
 

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Cables and Connectors

Cables and Connectors


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Click on image to enlarge

As expected of a power supply in the TX850’s price range, all of the cables have a perfect length with the PCI-E cables standing out as especially bright points at a full 24” in length. Normally, 22” is sufficient for the ATX, CPU and PCI-E cables so seeing all of these between 23” to 24” long are a welcome surprise. The fact that you have enough cables here to power any dual card SLI or Crossfire system on the market also says a lot about the confidence Corsair places in this unit’s output potential.

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We love seeing sleeved cables as they make for a nice, clean build but as we mentioned before: things would have looked even better had the cables been sleeved all the way into the TX850’s housing instead of leaving an inch or so of bare wires.

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All of the PCI-E connectors on this power supply are the 6+2 pin type which means they can be adapted to either 6 or 8-pin PCI-E equipped graphics cards.

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While the SATA cables are run of the mill as they are on every power supply, it is good to see that Corsair has chosen to go with quick-release Molex connectors. These connectors have two small tabs on them which when depressed allow the connector to be easily removed from the component you have it attached to.
 

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Interior Impressions

Interior Impressions


Please note that opening a power supply will void its warranty.

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After cracking open the lid on the TX850 we are able to see what amounts to the typical layout as seen on all CWT PSH platform power supplies. However, Corsair has made a few of their own minor modifications.

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On the primary side we have a single large 105°C rated Nippon Chemi-Con capacitor as well as a filter coil that is wrapped in typical CWT-fashion. Moving a little further into the middle of the PCB we are able to see another NCC capacitor as well as a number of rectifiers attached to a heatsink to dissipate the heat they generate.

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The secondary side features a small forest of Nippon capacitors in addition to a lone solid NCC cap which seems to be used on the +12V rail output.

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Next to the well-appointed transient filter is a vertical PCB which houses the components for the fan control. All of the temperature monitoring is done here as evidenced by the temperature probe wires attached to it and the lone fan header.

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The fan used on this power supply is a 140mm Yate Loon unit with a ball bear fan which is rated to operate at a very high 2800RPM. Corsair has also seen the need to attach a clear plastic fan shroud to it in order to direct airflow to the most necessary areas.
 

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Testing Methodology

Testing Methodology


Sub-700W PSU test system has not yet been determined.

Test System Setup


Processor: Intel Core i7 920(ES) @ 4.0Ghz
Memory: Corsair 3x2GB Dominator DDR3 1600Mhz
Motherboard: Gigabyte EX58-UD5
Graphics Card(s): HD4870X2 Single and Crossfire (@stock speeds)
Cooling: CoolIT Boreas mTEC + Scythe Fan Controller
Disk Drive: Pioneer DVD Writer
Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar Black 640GB
Additional Fans: 2x Yate Loon 1200RPM
Monitor: Samsung 305T 30” widescreen LCD
OS: Windows Vista Ultimate x64 SP1
* Open test bench


General Notes

*Each test is run over the course of 30 minutes.

*Please note that the Crossfire setup is only used for 900W and higher PSUs

*Unless otherwise noted, the Boreas TEC runs at a constant 100%


Idle Conditions

Off: Is a load value where the system is turned off but a small amount of power is still required.

Idle: Idle values are determined by a stable Windows Vista x64 desktop.

Idle + TEC: Reflects an idle conditions mentioned above but with the Boreas TEC’s running at 100% load

Idle + CF: Same idle conditions as indicated above with a pair of HD 4870X2 cards installed.


Load Conditions

CPU Load: This test is run with 8 instances of a custom Prime95 test which we have found uses the most non-GPU power. The test is run for 30 minutes.

GPU Load: For this test we are aiming to show power consumption in a typical fast-paced gaming scenario. As such, we load a single HD4870X2 with custom timedemo of Far Cry 2 at 2560 x 1600 with 4x AA enabled and set it to loop for approximately 30 minutes.

Max Load: For this test we use the single GPU setup running 3DMark06 Batch Render Test at 2560x1600 4xAA / 16xAF while running our custom Prime95 test on the CPU in the background. Once again, this is a 30 minute test.

Extreme Load Test: This is the big one which separates the boys from the men. Basically, it is the same test as the Max Load test but we add another HD4870X2 into the mix and tested for 30 minutes.


Voltage Regulation Testing Methodology

Multimeters Used:
Extech 430 DMM x3

*Note: All voltage readings indicated in the review are the minimum voltages seen over the period of our tests

We always take voltage readings from a loaded connector in order to more accurately see the voltage fluctuations our components are experiencing. Thus, this is how voltages are measured:

+12V: In the CPU Load test the voltages are taken directly from the CPU connector and the used 8-pin PCI-E connector of the power supply. In the GPU Load test the voltages are taken from an 8-pin PCI-E connector which is plugged in to the topmost graphics card as well as the CPU connector. In the Extreme Load test, readings are taken from both the CPU and the PCI-E connectors and the lowest reading is recorded.

+3.3V / +5V: From the main ATX connector.

Please note: Due to the lack of load on the +3.3V and +5V rails in a modern PC, we WILL NOT be including charts for their results unless there are noteworthy fluctuations.


AC Ripple Testing Methodology

Tolerances:

+12V : 120mV Max
+3.3V: 50mV Max
+5V: 50mV Max

The values were the highest peak ripple measurement across all of the +12V rails. So, if the +12V1 rail shows a ripple of 20mV and the +12V2 rail shows a ripple of 40mV, the highest value will be graphed.

Instruments Used:
USB Instruments Stingray Digital Oscilloscope
USB Instruments Differential Oscilloscope Probe

Since we do not have a load tester with a BNC connector for the standard o-scope probe, we needed a Differential probe in order to give us the proper capacitance to accurately determine ripple. In addition, the differential probe has a pair of connectors which are very much akin to a multimeter's probes which makes them ideal for use on SMPS designs. The locations of the probes for each test reflect the locations of the multimeter probes detailed in the Voltage Regulation Testing Methodology section.


Efficiency Testing Methodology


Instruments Used:
UPM Power Meter
Tripp Lite LC1800 Line Conditioner

The data points you see in our charts show the AVERAGE PEAK AC power consumption over all of the tests conducted.


Temperature Testing

Considering the amount of heat our open-air test system produces, it was found to be nigh-on impossible to properly regulate the temperature in the room even with a 10,000 BTU air conditioner. As such, we will be measuring the delta between room temperature and the exhaust temperature from the power supply.

To test temperature, we set up a pair of Type-K temperature probes. One is placed in the middle of the testing room at an elevation of 5 feet AFF to measure ambient temperatures. Meanwhile, the other temperature probe is placed 4” away from the exhaust grille of the power supply.


A few other tidbits

- AC Input Voltage: 120V constant
- Noise is subjectively tested
 

SKYMTL

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Efficiency Testing

Efficiency Testing


Idle Efficiency

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When the system is at idle, the TX850 is able to hang with some of the highest-end power supplies on the market even though at times its consumption is a good amount higher than the 80 Plus Silver-rated Enermax.


Load Efficiency

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All around load efficiency is very good as well but we can see that as the system demands more and more of the TX850, efficiency decreases in relation to the other power supplies in the chart. At one point, it is a good 6% less efficient than the Enermax.
 

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Voltage Regulation

Voltage Regulation


+12V Regulation (CPU Connector)

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+12V Regulation (PCI-E 8-pin Connector)

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Let’s take this one thing at a time since as you can see, even though this is a single rail unit the voltage regulation between the two connectors we tested is quite a bit different. The voltage running to the PCI-E connector was amazingly stable, beating even the two higher-end units it was pitted against. Meanwhile, the CPU connector proved to be a little more lively but its fluctuations were still well below the ATX-specified norm. Looks like the TX850 passed this test with flying colors.


+3.3V / +5V Regulation Notes

As our system does not draw much power from the +3.3V or +5V rails, the Corsair TX850 displayed next to no voltage fluctuations on either of these two rails. The maximum variance we saw was +/- 0.05V for each.
 
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