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William W.

William W.

Joined on 02/19/15

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Product Reviews
product reviews
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Most Favorable Review

A Nice Sounding Set of Surround Sound Gaming Headphones

Corsair Gaming VOID Surround Hybrid Stereo Gaming Headset with Dolby 7.1 USB Adapter - Red
Corsair Gaming VOID Surround Hybrid Stereo Gaming Headset with Dolby 7.1 USB Adapter - Red

Pros: I tested the Corsair Void Surround Hybrid Stereo Gaming Headset with the included Dolby 7.1 USB Sound adapter. These headphones are also available in a version without the Dolby 7.1 surround adapter and a battery powered wireless Bluetooth version. The headphones include a flip down microphone for communicating with a gaming partner. The red universal headset I received had a single 3.5mm stereo pin plug with one tip connector and three ring connections. These consist of: left and right stereo channels, a microphone output ring contact and a grounding ring contact. So being an electronic tech I’m looking at this pin plug and wondering how the heck do they get 7.1 surround sound with only two audio connections. So I did some research on the Internet. Turtle Beach a longtime PC sound card manufacturer had a nice video on YouTube that made it all clear with animations and audio demos. Do yourself a favor and do a search on YouTube for “Turtle Beach Surround Sound Demo”. The keyword regarding the Dolby surround system used with these headphones is the word “hybrid.” In all truthfulness there is only a single 50mm neodymium driver in each headphone cup, that’s it. Yes these are just plain old stereo headphones and nothing else special except for the added microphone. The secret to the surround effect is in the shape of the human earlobes. By emphasizing sounds in front of you and attenuating sounds from behind the head, your ear lobes allow you to localize where a sound originated from. Hybrid surround sound uses science to electronically process the audio signal output by your game or other stereo source to fool your brain into thinking these headphones are 7.1 surround capable when they really aren’t. The included Dolby USB Surround adapter is the secret sauce that makes all of this science actually work. Dolby Labs by carefully tweaking delay and reflection timing (echo effects), does a pretty convincing job of fooling your brain into thinking sounds are originating from behind and to the sides of your head. In fact you can plug any stereo headphone set into the included Dolby 7.1 Surround audio adapter and achieve pretty much the same surround effects. The effect is called ambiance. The best recordings result from using a dummy head with plastic earlobes and microphones mounted where the ear canals would normally be. These binaural recordings contain the added ambiance signals that the Dolby surround processor can use to decode and to recreate the original audio environment. I compared the sound of the Void headphones to another pair of Panasonic Technics RP-DH1200 DJ headphones that I own. The Voids had a muddier bass and less sparkle in the upper treble range by comparison. Audiophiles would say the Voids were more polite sounding than the DJ headphones and they are. The Voids were also more comfortable to wear for extended listening sessions. The Voids seem to be optimized more to the human voice range, which makes perfect sense considering their intended purpose. In listening tests my wife preferred the Voids to the Technics. The Voids were smoother sounding and less sensitive than the Technics headphones. Corsair should consider selling the Dolby Surround adapter as a separate stand-alone item. Just the cure for older laptops and desktop users who would like an inexpensive way to upgrade their PC sound systems.

Cons: Overall I liked the Void headphones. However there were a few weak areas. The microphone did a poor job of picking up my voice. I had to bend it inward so the tip was pointing at my mouth in order for it to pickup my voice properly. The mike boom is made out of a rather springy plastic material and the microphone kept unbending, back outward away from my mouth, requiring frequent readjustments. On the good side it stayed-up when not in use. It can also be switched-off when not needed. The Corsair Utility Engine was a rather clunky piece of software. I should not have to go to three different places to control one set of headphones. Having to hunt down the sound icon in the control panel to choose the default audio device was a waste of time. This should have all been controllable from the Corsair Utility. The other audio features should have likewise been better integrated into the Corsair Utility. Many of the features lacked logic on their placements in the Corsair Utility. The menu system was kind of a mishmash affair. The Corsair Utility should have been more easily accessible from the notification bar.

Overall Review: When I first connected the Dolby Audio adapter I could not get any sound out of it. With Windows 7 you have to dedicate a default audio adapter. Sorry, but MS will not allow you to run two adapters at the same time. Maybe this has been fixed in Windows 10, unfortunately my Win10 system is at the manufacturer being repaired, so I can’t test this theory at the moment. (The audio jack popped off the motherboard). Since my Asus Xonar was my default audio adapter I had to go into the Sound icon in the Win7 Control Panel and designate the new Corsair Dolby Surround adapter as the new default audio device. After that and locating the partially hidden volume control under the left headphone cup; suddenly everything started to work properly. The Dolby audio driver allows you to control the amount of sidetone volume that is reproduced by the headphones. Sidetone has been around since the early days of telephony and the invention of the hybrid coil. When you speak into a land line telephone mouthpiece, a small amount of your voice is instantly fed back to the handset earphone, so you can hear yourself speaking. This feedback tells you the phone is working correctly and prevents people from speaking too loudly into the receiver and hurting the person’s ears on the other end of the line. It’s a simple form of feedback. The amount used on land-line phones is only about 8%. I found a setting of about 50% worked good with the Void microphone/headset. The microphone has its low-end frequency response limited to 100 Hz. This is probably done to prevent puffing and wind noises caused by your breathing from disrupting the vocal audio quality. That is a good design compromise based on its intended function. This headset should be very useful for VoIP and for use with Skype. Since I am not a big gamer I listened to various audio sources to get an idea of how the Voids performed. There are some nice test videos on YouTube that will sweep just about any audio frequency range you could ask for. There are bass tests that start at 10 Hz and sweep up to 100 Hz. Other videos covered the mid-range and treble ranges. I also listened to MP4 video and MP3 audio files. I listened to a video on YouTube from an album called “Gift Wrapped” 20 Songs That Keep On Giving by Regina Spektor. The particular test track I listened to is called “My Dear Acquaintance [A Happy New year].” Yes its holiday music. But the recording quality is amazing on this track. On a high-end audio system the sound staging makes it sound like Regina is in the same room singing to you. The track starts out with the sounds of a helicopter flying over an urban war zone and then her piano is brought in. My subwoofer loves the deep bass of the helicopter blades swooshing overhead. The helicopter then fades away and you hear Regina singing her lyrics while playing the piano. There are sounds of mayhem in the background, including distant explosions, gunfire, Etc. (Not unlike gaming, eh). The sound staging on this minimally miked recording is outstanding. So it makes an excellent audio test for both headphones and speakers. On the Voids the initial helicopter sounded somewhat muted. On the Technics it’s a little better, but the deep bass output by my den subwoofer put both headsets to shame. Headphones obviously have their limitations. Another track I listened to was Vangelis Titans (ArtoriusMix) from the motion picture Alexander. This is an extremely dynamic movie sound track. The horns sounded strained and started to breakup on the Void (at high volumes - not recommended), yet sounded pretty natural on the Technics. The Technics seemed to have more dynamic range than the Voids. This track can also be found on YouTube. Overall I liked the Corsair Void Surround Hybrid Stereo Gaming Headset. The USB 7.1 Dolby Surround adapter was an amazing little piece of micro electronics. I have used other similar USB sound systems in the past, but this one blows those away. The headphones were comfortable to wear for extended periods, and while they are not audiophile quality, they provided fully adequate sound quality for their intended gaming purpose. Given their price point I would highly recommend them.

Most Critical Review

Inexpensive Cable Modem & WIFI Router

NETGEAR N300 (8x4) WiFi DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem Router (C3000) Certified for Xfinity from Comcast, Spectrum, Cox, Cablevision & more
NETGEAR N300 (8x4) WiFi DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem Router (C3000) Certified for Xfinity from Comcast, Spectrum, Cox, Cablevision & more

Pros: I tested the Netgear N300 WIFI/C3000 Model Cable Modem Router. As you can see by its full name the C3000 is actually three devices in one unit. It has a Netgear N300 WIFI radio combined with a cable modem and a two port gigabit switch/router with DHCP support. Compared to other similar devices I have tested the C3000 is quite compact considering everything it can do in one unit. Looking at the backside, the C3000 has a USB port so you can attach a hard drive and share it with everyone on your C3000 SOHO network. There are two gigabit Ethernet output ports instead of just one. Four would have been more ideal, but I will take two any day over just one port. Next you see a coax connector for attaching the coax cable from your cable Internet Service Provider (ISP). Next is a standard round power connector for the AC power supply. Near the base is an On/Off switch. I like the idea of a power switch as it’s more convenient if the unit needs to be rebooted. Pulling a power cord in my den where all of my networking equipment is located could result in it falling into an abyss of cables never to be found again. So yes I like simple conveniences like a power switch. As far as compatibility goes the C3000 supports DOCSIS 3.0 which is the current defacto cable transmission standard in the USA. It is listed as compatible with the following networks: Time Warner, Comcast, Charter, Cablevision, Cox, Optimum, Xfinity, and others including WOW (Wide Open West), my ISP in the Detroit area. I was unable to test this feature, but the C3000 supports self-activation for XFINITY customers; get connected without a service call! That could easily save you an hour on the phone with the cable tech support! Netgear also provides 24/7 technical support on this product. The C3000 has a one-year limited warranty. I have used Netgear networking products in my consulting business for many years and can highly recommend them. The WIFI can be disabled in the onboard Admin web menu if not needed, or to save power. This can be handy if you already have a preferred WIFI router. The web menu and setup menu are excellent on the C3000. The number of parameters that can be tweaked and customized could keep a geek up all night. Up to three different Dynamic Name Server (DNS) providers can be specified. I typically use one from my ISP (not always reliable) and two from other DNS services like FreeDNS, OpenDNS, or even Google offers free DNS services. Do an Internet search on free DNS services to see what is available. DNS is what translates popular names like NewEgg.com into the IP address numbers the Internet uses. The WIFI-N supports WPA2 with either TKIP, AES, or both encryption algorithms running simultaneously for maximum compatibility with your wireless devices. Once connected the C3000 will show up under the SSID: NETGEAR49 The C3000 had a really cool feature under the admin menu called “Channel.” Opening this item produced a bar chart of all of the nearby WIFI stations and allowed me to choose a different WIFI channel that was less congested. The fact that it showed bars above each channel number and when you hovered your mouse over a bar, it listed the device using that channel and how many devices were on each those channels. This was a way cool feature! There is a hidden reset button located underneath the C3000, between the base plates, inside a ventilation hole near the center case screw. This can be used to reset it to the factory defaults. With a street price of $99.00, or $89.00 at NewEgg at the time of this review, the C3000 offers a lot of value for the money.

Cons: The C3000 seems to be a device that has been on the market for several years. The WIFI radio only supports WIFI-N, no WIFI-AC support is provided. Also the 8 x 4 DOCSIS single band channel bonding will limit the network speeds that the C3000 can connect to. Other competitor modems are offering 24 x 8 channels for slightly more outlay. A good investment for expected future cable speed increases. My test unit had firmware v1.01.11. The reason I mention this is that there does not seem to be anyway to upgrade the firmware on this device. This can lead to rapid device obsolescence, if for example it can’t be updated to handle improved cable or OS standards, or to patch security exploits. I also noted issues with the Net Genie web interface sometimes behaving buggy, as in freezing when updating its menu screens after I changed a parameter, or changed the default MAC address for example, or simply clicking on another menu item. It would freeze with the hourglass spinning away forever. I had to reboot the C3000 to recover it. I had better luck connecting to the router interface on the C3000 via its WIFI port, versus the Ethernet port with my ThinkPad notebook. Even disconnecting from the C3000 WIFI did not help. This was a rather odd behavior. Could these issues possibly be fixed with a firmware upgrade? Changing the LAN base IP address from 192.168.0.1 to 192.168.1.10 to work with my existing Linksys network broke the C3000. I could not reach its user interface at the new address with my notebook plugged into it? The C3000 only seems to work with octet addresses using: 192.168.0.1 Any attempts to make it compatible with an existing 192.168.1.1 Linksys network were met with error messages. So why offer a LAN screen if you can’t change the base LAN address? These changes were attempted with the C3000 isolated and only connected to one notebook? So this eliminates any chance of an IP conflict. One other annoyance was while I was viewing the internal menus in the C3000 it kept logging me off constantly. The logoff delay is too short. There is also no place to set the date and time in the router. I believe this is because it is designed to grab this data from the cable carrier network. I had just tested another cable modem and did not want to go through the activation process a third time with my ISP for fear of totally messing up my cable bill this month and incurring additional service charges. Having a bad date and time could have been why I could not connect reliably to the C3000's Ethernet port with Windows 7.

Overall Review: Pretty much everything you need to know to access and set up the C3000 is printed on labels hidden under the base, including the base IP address and the logon name and password. It also lists the default WIFI password. And the PW is a combination of a friendly name and short number. So its easy for us humans to remember it. You would want to change this PW for security reasons after your cable Internet is up and working. With an internal WIFI antenna the range on the C3000 was modest. Making it suitable for an apartment or a small home or office. You would need to use range boosters or access points in a larger building. I tested two different cable modems while reviewing the C3000 and I was not aware of the hassle in having to call my ISP (WOW) just to have them update their equipment to allow a new cable modem to connect to their network. I hear that Xfinity has a method where the customer can do this themselves, known as self-activation. The cable companies should be required to allow customers to perform these simple CM-MAC number upgrades themselves without having to involve a technical support agent. I would think it would be possible for the cable modem industry to come up with a method to clone the existing cable modem settings and save them. Then it would be a simple matter of moving the coax cable from one modem to another. This would save both parties a lot of time and money. The FCC should open up the cable industry more to help speed up this connectivity process. If you are paying the typical rental fee of $10.00/month to rent a cable modem from your ISP, the C3000 could easily pay for itself in only nine months. One caveat to keep in mind is if your present cable modem is also doing double duty as a VoIP device to operate your land line phones, (telephony) then the C3000 will not be able to replace that feature. I did not realize this when I was offered the C3000 for testing, that phone lines are an expensive upgrade feature on most cable modems. If you do not have any land lines, an increasingly popular trend these days to save money, then the C3000 should work like a charm. If you have multiple desktop computers or other devices that require a hard wired connection, just buy a Netgear gigabit switch with more than enough ports to handle all of your other wired devices. Connect the switch to one of the two Ethernet ports on the C3000. Then connect your other devices to the gigabit switch. The DHCP server in the C3000 will take care of issuing IP addresses to all of your connected devices. The other Ethernet port on the C3000 could be used to connect a notebook for trouble shooting purposes, or a nearby desktop PC. I can recommend the C3000, if you take the C3000's WIFI-N and other limitations mentioned in the cons area into account.

11/13/2016

A Good Quality Budget Power Supply

CORSAIR CX-M Series CX750M 750W 80 PLUS BRONZE Haswell Ready ATX12V & EPS12V Semi-modular Power Supply
CORSAIR CX-M Series CX750M 750W 80 PLUS BRONZE Haswell Ready ATX12V & EPS12V Semi-modular Power Supply

Pros: I tested the CORSAIR CX-M series CX750M, 750W, 80 PLUS BRONZE, Intel Haswell Ready ATX12V & EPS12V semi-modular power supply. Here are the vital specs: + Form Factor: ATX12V / EPS12V + 750 Watt Maximum Output + Active Power Factor Correction + Semi-Modular Power Cables + Single Rail +12VDC Design + 80PLUS “Bronze” Certified + Efficiency: 85% + Outputs: +3.3V@25A, +5V@25A, +12V@62A, -12V@0.8A, +5VSB@3A + MTBF: 100,000 hours + Warranty: 5 Years Lets go over some of the more important specs: The ATX/EPS12V is the form factor or type of power supply (PS). This defines the type of system case it will physically fit into. The 750 Watt rating is the maximum power output, including all of the outputs summed together. I try to avoid power supplies with dual 12VDC rails with ratings of less than 650 Watts. The reason is they generally don’t have enough current on either 12V rail to properly drive even a single mid-range graphics card. Look to a 750W, or larger single-rail unit like this PS for: dual graphics applications, low-end workstations, or for moderate gaming use. Active Power Factor (A-PFC) correction helps to keep your utility company happy and to reduce your annual electric costs. The ideal PF is a ratio of 1.0. Anything below that is considered inductive and anything above is appearing capacitive to the utility company’s equipment. A power supply that maintains the desired PF ratio of 1.0 appears to be a resistive load for all intents and purposes to the utility company. Power supplies rated more than 75 Watts have to include PFC to be sold in Europe. Most power supply manufacturers now include PFC as a standard feature, so they can sell into any worldwide market. This PS has semi-modular output cables. This means the ATX motherboard cables are not detachable, while the: graphics, SATA and Molex DC output power cables are all detachable. Two of each detachable cable type were included with the PS. The motherboard cables had webbing, whereas the DC output cables did not. Modular PS normally provide for a neater cable layout. 80PLUS, White, Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Titanium ratings? This is all part of a trade-marked 80PLUS voluntary industry standard created by Ecos Consulting and the EPRI in 2004, with pressure from the EPA and other Eco organizations. It refers to power supplies that have an 80% efficiency rating or higher. The white, bronze, silver, gold, Etc, was created by several large PS resellers to act as a buyers guide for consumers and IT-people when purchasing computer/server PS. An 85% efficient PS wastes less than 15% of the energy it consumes as waste heat. Note the bronze, silver, gold, Etc, has nothing to do with the quality or construction of a PS. A gold PS can use poor quality parts and have bad solder joints, or be made using a cheap PCB material, as long has it holds together long enough to pass the gold efficiency industry test standards. White power supplies just meet the minimum 80PLUS efficiency standard. Bronze units are generally 82-85% efficient, silver 85-88% Eff, gold 89 to 92% Eff. Platinum are in the 90-94% efficiency range. Titanium supplies are always more than 90% efficient and are designed for data center servers and are seldom seen in consumer grade equipment. Keep in mind these are just approximate efficiency ratings for each color range. The actual efficiency can vary based on the input voltage and the output loading. This power supply is rated 85% efficient, which is excellent for a bronze PS. This Corsair PS is notable for its 5-year warranty in this price/power range. This is a rare find on a budget power supply. This generally shows the manufacturer has a lot of confidence in the quality of their product. I also like the larger 140mm fan and the black wire finger guard mounted over it. Stamped finger guards used on lower quality PS tend to restrict airflow through the fan and can cause more fan noise, due to increased airflow turbulence.

Cons: All of the modular DC output cables included with this PS were black colored flat cables. Given the modest cost of this PS, this was probably one of the cost cutting features made to hold the unit’s cost down. Personally I prefer to spend a little more and get a gold PS with color-coded, web covered, DC output cables. I am also not a big fan of modular PS. The additional connection points needed where the DC output cables plug into the PS are another possible point of failure. They also create more voltage drop. Sorry but soldered output cables are more reliable in my experience as a system builder and suffer less voltage drop. While this is not a con, I would like to see PS manufacturers list whether their SATA power plugs have the keys orientated left or right handed. This unit had LH keys which means its better suited to a bottom mount tower case. A PS with RH power keys works best when located in a top mount tower case. In the latter situation the wires dangle down from the top, so you want the SATA keys to be on the near side, to easily align with the optical drives and hard drives. Otherwise the builder is faced with a twisted wiring mess of cables, which is the antipathy of a neat build. Rounded output wires are also more flexible and easier to install. I always look at the reviews posted on NewEgg before I purchase a new product. This PS had 430 reviews when I looked it up, which means its been around for awhile, with a lot of units sold. It had an overall 3-egg rating. After reading reviews posted over the past six months though, I’m concerned about the early and high failure rates reviewers are experiencing with the current production. I would only use this PS in a budget system where the end-user is trying to keep the overall system cost down and wants a modular PS. I would also keep in mind that people who normally would not bother to review a product, will be more motivated when they have a problem with it. So this can quickly skew the overall review ratings in a negative direction. In my personal experience of building PCs since the late eighties; Corsair generally has very high quality, reliable PS. The 5-year warranty does offer potential buyers some added purchase protection.

Overall Review: I will let you all in on a big secret, the warranty period is generally the key to the build quality of any given power supply. Price, eh not so much. Avoid PS with one-year or less warranties, they are mostly junk. The length of the warranty is the best guide to the seller’s confidence in the quality of their product. There are always exceptions to any rule. Some shady manufacturers will post a longer warranty, but when you read the fine print you find that you pay the freight both ways over-seas and the labor cost to repair the unit under warranty, or you get a refurbished replacement, so buyer beware. While this PS should fit most modern ATX tower cases. This power supply exceeds the dimensions of the original ATX form factor to accommodate the larger 140mm cooling fan. This PS may not fit some older, or smaller ATX cases. Before purchasing make sure the case you intend to use can handle a PS that protrudes 6.5 inches into the case. I would also allow for an extra two inches of depth for the output cables, or 8.5 inches of total depth space. This power supply is by no means the deepest PS that I have seen or used in my builds, its just a factor to be aware of. The variable speed fan ran quietly during my testing and provided excellent airflow. I credit this to the larger 140mm fan that Corsair used, versus the standard 120mm fans used by other PS. Corsair also includes a package of 10 black wire ties to help dress the cables with and four black colored matching mounting screws. The logo stickers applied to both sides of the PS are reversed, so no matter which mounting orientation you use (top or bottom mount) the logo showing is always right side up. All of the output jacks and cables are clearly labeled. These are all a nice added touches. As a longtime user of Corsair power supplies I have no issues with recommending the CX750M PS for end-users looking for a good, cost effective, power supply. These are also excellent replacements for older computers with failed power supplies. This power supply should have no problems powering two low-end to mid-end, non-over-clocked graphics cards. I would recommend a larger, more costly, gold PS for users who want to build a high-end gaming, or workstation system. This power supply should be fine though for most budget to middle market class end-user applications.

Great Low-Cost SSD Drive

Toshiba OCZ TRION 150 2.5" 480GB SATA III TLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) TRN150-25SAT3-480G
Toshiba OCZ TRION 150 2.5" 480GB SATA III TLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) TRN150-25SAT3-480G

Pros: I have been using these Toshiba OCZ Trion 150 SSD drives to upgrade older desktops and laptops. They also work fine in new builds. So far every SSD drive I have tested, has worked great, with no installation issues. My clients are very happy with the speed boost they provide. Its like breathing new life into a tired older PC. They also work in the recommended AHCI mode. These also make good secondary data drives for two-drive systems. Toshiba has a nice utility you can download from their support website to help setup and maintain your Trion 150 SSD.

Cons: None so far.

Overall Review: An economical solution for those that have been putting off upgrading to an SSD drive. Highly recommended. Don't wait, buy it!

Economical Mounting Solution

Black Metal 2.5" to 3.5" Hard Drive Mounting Adapter Bracket Holder
Black Metal 2.5" to 3.5" Hard Drive Mounting Adapter Bracket Holder

Pros: These adapter plates are inexpensive and allow a lot of adjustment range when the bottom slots are used. The black color works good with most builds. They have four mounting holes on each side of the tray, so if your system case lacks a front fan, you can mount the drive, so its recessed about and inch further than normal. This could increase clearance available to allow a full length graphics card to fit into a tight case for example and still clear an SSD drive.

Cons: The screws provided seemed to have non-standard threads. The holes were also poorly tapped. Standard M3 metric screws used on 2.5" drives did not want to thread properly into the tapped side holes. Even the provided screws felt like they were cross-threading and took and excessive amount of torque to get them to screw in. It felt like I was manually cutting threads. These only allow for mounting one 2.5" form factor drive in a single 3.5" bay slot. Some plastic adapters allow for double stacking of two mini drives.

Overall Review: I would like to see the manufacturer use standard Metric dimensions in their design and to properly tap the mounting holes to fit standard Metric hardware. They are usable as they are currently shipping, it just means a little more work for the installer.

Good Quality Value Power Supply

CORSAIR VS Series VS600 (CP-9020119-NA) 600W ATX12V / EPS12V 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply
CORSAIR VS Series VS600 (CP-9020119-NA) 600W ATX12V / EPS12V 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply

Pros: I tested the Corsair VS600 Series model CP-9020119-NA) 600 Watt, ATX12V/EPS12V 80%+ efficient White Certified Active PFC Power Supply. Here are the vital stats: ATX12V / EPS12V 600 Watt Maximum Output Active Power Factor Correction Single Rail +12VDC 80PLUS “White” Certified Efficiency Outputs: +5V@24A, +3.3V@20A, +12V@48A, -12V@0.3A, +5VSB@3A MTBF: 100,000 hours Warranty 3 Years Lets go over some of these specs: The ATX/EPS12V is the type of power supply (PS), its intended usage and form factor. The 600 Watt rating is the maximum power output, including all of the outputs summed together. Exceeding the current rating on one or more of the voltage rails will usually result in a current limiting circuit cutting in, an internal fuse blowing, or the PS output being shut down to protect the PS unit from overload. I have seen this occur on old power supplies that are failing. They are no longer able to meet their rated load and need to be replaced or upgraded. I avoid power supplies with dual 12VDC rails, with ratings of less than 650 Watts. The reason is they generally don’t have enough current on either 12V rail to properly supply drive even single mid-range graphics card. Look for a 750W, or larger unit for dual graphics applications, heavy duty workstations, or for heavy gaming use. Active Power Factor (A-PFC) protection helps to keep your utility company happy and to reduce your annual electric bill. The ideal PF is a ratio of 0.9-1.0. Anything below that is considered inductive and anything above is appearing capacitive to the utility company’s equipment. Excessive capacitance from lots of compact fluorescent lamps for example operating in a residential neighborhood can cause the local AC voltage levels to soar well above expected 120VAC, especially during the Fall and Spring, or during light usage periods and can cause damage to voltage sensitive appliances. PFs below 1.0 are inductive and cause the current in an AC circuit to lag the voltage. This can cause the motors in appliances, AC units and other devices to have difficulty starting, or overheat. It can also lead to local area voltage sags and it causes older analog Watt meters to under-read the amount of electricity being consumed by the customer. A terrible thing for a utility company! Older PS designs used passive elements, usually RC circuits, to help compensate for their tendency to appear inductive. This results because switching power supplies draw power in pulses. Active PF correction uses an active circuit to monitor and adjust the PF on the fly. It does a much better job of maintaining an ideal PF of 0.9 to 1.0. 80PLUS, White, Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Titanium ratings? This is all part of a trade marked 80PLUS voluntary industry standard created by Ecos Consulting and the EPRI in 2004, with pressure from the EPA and Eco organizations. It refers to power supplies that have an 80% efficiency rating or higher. The bronze, silver, gold, Etc was created by several large PS resellers to act as a buyers guide for consumers and IT-people when purchasing computer/server PS. An 80% efficient PS wastes less than 20% of the energy it consumes as waste heat. Note the bronze, silver, gold, Ect, has nothing to do with the quality or construction of a PS. A gold PS can use poor quality parts and have bad solder joints, or be made using a cheap PCB material, as long has it holds together long enough to meet the gold efficiency industry test standards. White power supplies just barely meet the minimum 80PLUS efficiency standard. Bronze units are generally 81-85% efficient, silver 85-88% Eff, gold 89 to 92% Eff. Platinum are in the 90-94% efficiency range under actual testing. Titanium supplies are always more than 90% efficient and are designed for data center servers and are seldom seen in consumer applications. Keep in mind these are just approximate efficiency ratings for each color range. These ranges can vary based on the input voltage and loading. The efficiency of a power supply will also vary with the amount of load placed on it. Lightly loaded or over-sized PS tend to waste more energy in the form of excessive heat radiation. PS are usually the most efficient at the 50-75% load level. Resellers who re-brand an OEM PS are supposed to have the unit re-certified to post the 80PLUS trademark. The www.plugloadsolutions.com website lists certified efficiency ratings for hundreds of different PS models, at four different test load levels.

Cons: I have no real complaints about this Corsair VS600 PS given its value price, you could do much worse in this price range. I mean that as a compliment. Corsair in my years of working with their products builds solidly-built power supplies. I tried to look up this model on the plug load solutions site, but it was not listed. It may be too new of a model, or the site just needs to be updated. The PS specs list it as being 80PLUS (TM) certified. I would also like to see PS manufacturers list whether their SATA power plugs have the keys orientated left or right handed. This unit had LH keys which means its better suited to fit into a bottom mount tower case. A PS with RH power keys works best when located in a top mount tower case, the most popular type. In the latter situation the wires dangle down from the top, so you want the SATA keys to be on the right side to easily align with optical drives and hard drives. Otherwise the builder is faced with a twisted wiring mess of cables, which is the antipathy of a neat build.

Overall Review: The most common mistake I see people make is buying too large of a power supply for a system project that they are building. Over-sizing just results in: wasted money, more electricity consumption (due to waste heat), and more fan noise. In my 27+ years of custom building personal computers, the hardest component to choose can be the power supply. They vary widely in build quality and longevity. For a builder your worse nightmare is a customer returning with an expensive system you just built recently, due to a failed PS. And no they don’t always fail within the first month or year, if they are defective. Yet PS are the most common failure point I see in my consulting business. My expectation is that the PS will last the expected life of a desktop of at least 5-7 years of moderate usage. The major sellers like Dell and HP manage to achieve this goal in my experience using inexpensive custom made OEM power supplies. This is why I am underwhelmed by so many name brand retail PS brands that can’t seem to meet this simple goal. I once had a series of name brand (not Corsair) PS fail because the OEM used a cheap power switch that would fail after only about 20 operations. Internal arcing destroyed the under-rated SP contacts. Pricing a PS: For a customer who is price sensitive the VS600 is the perfect value solution for a basic PC build, or as a failure replacement. For the more discerning customers I use a bronze CX430 (430 Watt) size and up for my basic models. For my business professionals: CPA’s, doctors, engineers, lawyers, musicians, and light gaming customers, I will usually specify a 550 to 650 Watt, silver or gold rated PS model, with a minimum 5-7 year warranty period. Anything above gold for consumer applications is a waste of money in my experience. The little bit of efficiency gained is not worth the extra added cost. The only exceptions to this rule would be large enterprise and or data center clients, where they pay twice for their electricity. Once to power the workstation or server, and the second time in air conditioning costs, to remove the heat generated by running hundreds or thousands of computers/servers. Tip: I will let you all in on a big secret, the warranty period is the key to the build quality of a given power supply. Avoid PS with one-year or less warranties, they are mostly junk and will burn-up your build. The length of the warranty is the best guide to the seller’s confidence in the quality of their product. There are always exceptions to any rule. Some shady manufacturers will post a longer warranty, but when you read the fine print you find that you pay the freight both ways over-seas and the labor costs to repair the unit under warranty, or you get a poorly refurbished replacement back, so buyer beware. I tested this Corsair VS600 as a replacement in a circa 2011 Intel Core2, quad-core PC that was being upgraded. This PS has some heft to it, another sign of quality. It weighs in at just over 4LBs. Weight in a PS usually means more aluminum, iron and copper in my experience, a good thing. I also upgraded the boot drive with an SSD drive and added more memory. This PC also had an older NV6600GT graphics card and a 500GB HDD data drive installed. The older NV6600GT draws a fair amount of power, runs hot and can be a difficult load when two graphics cards are doubled-up in a system. I personally like color-coded wires. If I need to check the output voltages, I want to know what to expect when I apply my meter probes and don’t have to guess, like with all-black cables. The fact that the cables had full length webbing for protection against cuts and abrasions was a nice extra added feature in this price range. The 12VDC line measured 12.26VDC under load and the red 5VDC output read 5.04VDC on my Fluke meter. Both voltages were well within the recommended 5% tolerance. The fan stayed quiet at all times in this older basic build. I think a 430-525 Watt PS unit would have probably sufficed for this rebuild. With all SSD and onboard graphics card I would have definitely gone with a 430 Watt PS. You want to run your PS at around 50% of its rated load for the best efficiency. As a longtime user of Corsair power supplies I have no issues with recommending the VS600 for end-users, or builders looking for good solid, cost effective, power supply. These are also excellent replacements for older computers with failed power supplies, where you or your client just need to get a few more years of use out of an older system and don’t want to spend a lot of money on a replacement power supply.