Corsair HX520W Review

paulktreg - 2008-09-12 12:25:27 in Power Supplies
Category: Power Supplies
Reviewed by: paulktreg   
Reviewed on: October 1, 2008
Price: $114.99

Introduction:

Are you looking for a new power supply for your PC or possibly considering putting together a new one? Which power supply do you choose?

Looking at the variety of power supplies available today can be a little daunting, especially for those with little experience. One thing can be said with some certainty, a power supply of around 500-600 watts will comfortably run all but the most powerful of rigs. Don’t skimp on the power supply; if finances permit, go for a good quality branded product. Find out how many watts your system is likely to consume (the Internet is your friend) and add fifty percent, double it if you are considering overclocking. (I'm sure not everybody will agree but that's my slant on power supply requirements). Once you have an idea of how much power you are likely to need, look at some of the hundreds of power supply reviews available on sites like OCC, they will give you all the information you are likely to need and more. Another good source of useful information is the signatures of forum members on sites like OCC, look for the members with powerful systems who like to push them and have a look at the power supplies they have installed. I guarantee that you won't find many duds there!  Alternatively, if you're not sure what to go for, why not sign up to OCC and ask for advice?

Today we are going to look at a 500-600 watt power supply, the Corsair HX520W, at 520W it will comfortably run most rigs. Corsair, probably known more for its high performance memory, also offer power supplies aimed at the enthusiasts market. Let’s see how it performs.

"The Corsair HX520W power supply is the most versatile and robust power supply available in the market today. Utilizing superior triple +12V power rails and a whisper quiet double ball bearing 120 mm fan, the HX520W is ready for tomorrows power hungry components. The HX520W conforms to the latest ATX12V V2.2/EPS12V 2.91 and RoHS standards, and delivers unparalleled continuous power to all of your critical system components reliably and safely. Corsair's easily detachable and flexible modular cables allow you to use only the cables you need and enhance airflow inside your system. The HX520W is backed with a five year warranty and Corsair's legendary customer service."

Closer Look:

The packaging of the HX520W uses a basic black and yellow theme and the layout is very much in line with the rest of the Corsair power supply range. The text is in English, French and German and gives you all the information you are likely to need when hunting down a power supply to suit your needs. The top of the box lists some of the more important features like how much current is available on the 12V rails (40A), high efficiency, silent operation, etc. The underside gives you a list of "Core Features," the specification chart and a list of awards from various websites.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Side panel information includes package contents, a list of the modular cables included and a short paragraph telling you how good the HX520W is (we will find out later) in English, French and German.

 

 

Lift the lid and you will find the user manual neatly placed atop a foam enclosed power supply. Tucked neatly down the side is the power chord and black canvas type bag containing all the modular cables. The bag for the modular cables is a welcome addition that more and more manufacturers like to include.

 

 

Also included are a bag of cable ties to assist you in your cable managements efforts and a bag of four power supply mounting screws.

 

 

All in all a well packaged unit with a good user manual and accessories. Let's have a closer look at the power supply.

Closer Look:

The HX520W is solidly built with a matte black, slightly textured finish to the paint. The label on top includes the specification table, a warning not to remove the top cover, the logo of the various testing houses for which the HX520W has received approval and a HI-POT/Grounding OK label. The front panel as the necessary honeycomb grill for the warm air exhaust, the IEC mains input socket and a mains on/off switch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The rear of the HX520W includes the outlet port for the hardwired cables and modular cable sockets. Both sides of the unit sport a yellow and black Corsair HX520W label with the sail logo.

 

 

The black canvas bag contains all of the modular cables. No colors or sleeves used here, they are all made up with flat black cables, which could help with cable management and give a neater appearance once installed. The fan is of 120mm 12V DC brushless design by ADDA.

 

 

The printed circuit board is well laid out with finned heatsinks widely spread to aid heat dissipation. The main electrolytic capacitor is a quality component by Rubycon.

 

Let's move on.

Specification:

 

Ratings Table:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AC Input
90-264V~9A 50/60Hz
DC Output
+3V3
+5V
+12V1
+12V2
+12V3
-12V
+5VSB
Max Current
24A
24A
18A
18A
18A
0.8A
3A
Max Combined
140W
480W
9.6W
15W
Total Power
520W

 

System Protection:

No specific figures are given for the over current/voltage/power protection, under voltage protection or short circuit protection. The only information given is in the features list.

Safety & Agency Approvals

 

CE

EN55022:1998/A1:2000/A2:2003 Class B EN61000-3-2:2000, EN61000-3-3:1995/A1:2001 EN55024:1998/A1:2001/A2:2003

FCC
FCC Part 15 & Part 2 (CISPR 22 Class B)
C-TICK
AS/NZS CISPR 22:2002 Class B
UL
UL 60950-1
CSA
CSA C22.2 NO. 60950-1
TUV
EN 60950-1
CB
IEC 60950-1

 

Power Supply Weight:

 

Power Supply Weight
Manufacturer/Model
Weight
Corsair HX520W
2.0kg
4.4lbs

 

Power Supply Connectors:

 

Corsair HX520W Connectors
20+4 Pin Motherboard
Hard Wired
1
EPS12V 8 Pin
Hard Wired
1
P4-12V 4 Pin
Hard Wired
1
Molex 4 Pin
Modular
8
SATA Power
Modular
4
FDD 4 Pin Power
Modular
2
PCI-E 6+2 Pin
Modular
4

 

Features:

 

 

 

Testing:

For more information on our testing system, please browse our testing methodology.

Electrical Safety:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Electrical Safety Test Class 1
Manufacturer/Model
Pass/Fail
Corsair HX520W
Pass

 

Short Circuit Protection:

I short circuited the 3V3, 5V0 and all four 12V lines in turn. The power supply did shut down, and once the short was removed and the unit switched off for at least one second, resumed normal operation. Although listed here at the beginning of the testing section, I tend to leave this test until the very end, in case it doesn't quite go to plan.

DC Output Voltage Load Regulation

Testing @ 110VAC:

 

 

110VAC - Total Load at 140W which is 27% of Rated Maximum Output Power.

PSU
DC Line
Measured
Voltage(V)
Measured
Current (A)
Load Power
(W)
ATX12V V Limits
(V)
Pass/Fail
+3V3
3.39
3.13
10.61
3.135 – 3.465
Pass
+5V0
4.98
4.57
22.76
4.75 – 5.25
Pass
+12V0(1)
12.06
2.55
30.75
11.4 – 12.6
Pass
+12V0(2)
12.02
2.54
30.53
11.4 – 12.6
Pass
+12V0(3)
12.05
2.53
30.47
11.4 – 12.6
Pass
-12V0
11.81
0.35
4.13
10.8 – 13.2
Pass
+5VSB
4.84
2.14
10.36
4.75 – 5.25
Pass
Total Power Supply Loading
140W
 

 

110VAC - Total Load at 334W which is 64% of Rated Maximum Output Power.

PSU
DC Line
Measured
Voltage(V)
Measured
Current (A)
Load Power
(W)
ATX12V V Limits
(V)
Pass/Fail
+3V3
3.39
3.15
10.68
3.135 – 3.465
Pass
+5V0
4.94
4.59
22.67
4.75 – 5.25
Pass
+12V0(1)
12.02
8.02
96.40
11.4 – 12.6
Pass
+12V0(2)
11.88
7.94
94.33
11.4 – 12.6
Pass
+12V0(3)
11.95
8.00
95.60
11.4 – 12.6
Pass
-12V0
12.08
0.36
4.35
10.8 – 13.2
Pass
+5VSB
4.84
2.14
10.36
4.75 – 5.25
Pass
Total Power Supply Loading
334W
 

 

110VAC - Total Load at 506W which is 97% of Rated Maximum Output Power.

PSU
DC Line
Measured
Voltage(V)
Measured
Current (A)
Load Power
(W)
ATX12V V Limits
(V)
Pass/Fail
+3V3
3.40
7.95
27.03
3.135 – 3.465
Pass
+5V0
4.85
13.33
64.65
4.75 – 5.25
Pass
+12V0(1)
12.00
11.32
135.84
11.4 – 12.6
Pass
+12V0(2)
11.78
11.07
130.40
11.4 – 12.6
Pass
+12V0(3)
11.90
11.21
133.40
11.4 – 12.6
Pass
-12V0
12.23
0.37
4.53
10.8 – 13.2
Pass
+5VSB
4.83
2.14
10.34
4.75 – 5.25
Pass
Total Power Supply Loading
506W
 

 

Testing @ 240VAC:

 

 

230VAC - Total Load at 140W which is 27% of Rated Maximum Output Power.

PSU
DC Line
Measured
Voltage(V)
Measured
Current (A)
Load Power
(W)
ATX12V V Limits
(V)
Pass/Fail
+3V3
3.39
3.11
10.54
3.135 – 3.465
Pass
+5V0
4.95
4.56
22.57
4.75 – 5.25
Pass
+12V0(1)
12.06
2.55
30.75
11.4 – 12.6
Pass
+12V0(2)
12.02
2.55
30.65
11.4 – 12.6
Pass
+12V0(3)
12.04
2.54
30.58
11.4 – 12.6
Pass
-12V0
11.81
0.35
4.13
10.8 – 13.2
Pass
+5VSB
4.94
2.14
10.57
4.75 – 5.25
Pass
Total Power Supply Loading
140W
 

 

230VAC - Total Load at 333W which is 64% of Rated Maximum Output Power.

PSU
DC Line
Measured
Voltage(V)
Measured
Current (A)
Load Power
(W)
ATX12V V Limits
(V)
Pass/Fail
+3V3
3.39
3.15
10.68
3.135 – 3.465
Pass
+5V0
4.95
4.59
22.72
4.75 – 5.25
Pass
+12V0(1)
12.02
7.99
96.04
11.4 – 12.6
Pass
+12V0(2)
11.88
7.93
94.21
11.4 – 12.6
Pass
+12V0(3)
11.96
7.99
95.56
11.4 – 12.6
Pass
-12V0
12.08
0.36
4.35
10.8 – 13.2
Pass
+5VSB
4.84
2.14
10.36
4.75 – 5.25
Pass
Total Power Supply Loading
333W
 

 

230VAC - Total Load at 506W which is 97% of Rated Maximum Output Power.

PSU
DC Line
Measured
Voltage(V)
Measured
Current (A)
Load Power
(W)
ATX12V V Limits
(V)
Pass/Fail
+3V3
3.40
7.97
27.10
3.135 – 3.465
Pass
+5V0
4.85
13.34
64.70
4.75 – 5.25
Pass
+12V0(1)
11.90
11.33
134.83
11.4 – 12.6
Pass
+12V0(2)
11.79
11.09
130.75
11.4 – 12.6
Pass
+12V0(3)
11.90
11.23
133.64
11.4 – 12.6
Pass
-12V0
12.23
0.37
4.52
10.8 – 13.2
Pass
+5VSB
4.83
2.14
10.34
4.75 – 5.25
Pass
Total Power Supply Loading
506W
 

 

If you are still awake at this point you will notice that the 12V0(2) is at a consistently lower voltage than the other two 12V0 rails at higher loading. This can be easily explained. The 12V0(1) was measured and loaded using the eight conductor EPX12V connector (four for the 12V and four for the 0V), the 12V0(3) using a three conductor PCI-E (three for the 12V and three for the 0V) and the 12V0(2) using a four conductor Molex cable (one for the 12V, one for the 5V and two for the 0v).  The one conductor Molex is at an obvious disadvantage here and is going to drop considerably more voltage than the other two, especially when 8 or 11 amps is flowing down the single 12V conductor. This isn't a problem as the only load on the Molex connectors is very likely going to be hard disk drives and optical drives of one type or another, that pull, relatively speaking, very little current. No problems here. Let's move on.

Testing (Continued):

Efficiency and Power Factor:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Output & Efficiency at 110VAC
DC Load (W)
AC Load (VA)
AC Load (W)
PF
Efficiency (%)
Pass/Fail
0
8
5
0.70
N/A
N/A
140
169
168
0.99
83
Pass
334
400
397
1.0
84
Pass
506
650
649
1.0
78
Pass

 

Output & Efficiency at 230VAC
DC Load (W)
AC Load (VA)
AC Load (W)
PF
Efficiency (%)
Pass/Fail
0
10
0.2
0.24
N/A
N/A
140
171
166
0.95
84
Pass
334
400
393
0.98
85
Pass
506
643
632
0.98
80
Pass

 

Corsair does not claim any international efficiency standards for the HX520W in the accompanying literature and quite simply states in the features "up to 80% efficiency under wide load range." The Corsair HX520W performed admirably with some excellent results. This power supply easily meets the ATX12V minimum required efficiency and therefore gets an emphatic pass.

Corsair also claims, in the features, "99% active power supply correction" which it failed to meet at 140W DC loading with a 230VAC input. Not such a big deal, but a minor discretion nonetheless.

These are excellent results for efficiency and the PF results are still satisfactory.

 

AC Ripple on DC Outputs:

 

All AC ripple measurements are made at the maximum load, and were found to be virtually identical for 110VAC and 230VAC input. I have therefore included oscilloscope screenshots for 230VAC only.

 

AC Ripple on 3V3 rail.

 

AC Ripple on 5V0 rail.

 

AC Ripple on 12V rail.

 

Corsair HX520W AC Ripple/Noise Measurements

DC Output
+3V3
+5V0
+12V1
+12V2
+12V3
-12V
+5VSB
Ripple (mV p-p)
5
5
28
28
28
30
15
Pass/Fail
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass

 

AC ripple/noise levels are excellent. The 3V3 and 5V0 rails are very clean with substantially more ripple on the 12V0 rails. This is to be expected and 28mV is still well under the 120mV maximum set by the ATX12V specification.

Testing(Continued):

Temperature, Noise Levels and Fan Speeds:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am not going to give a pass or fail in this section, as the ATX12V V2.2 does not really have any references on which to base a decision.

Temperatures are purely for information only, as there are too many variables involved when installed in a case, which, by the way, it wasn't. Ambient temperature, processor cooling efficiency and case cooling fans all play their part on the temperature of the air entering the power supply, and consequently the temperature of the air leaving it. No valid conclusions can be made from this test.

 

DC Loading
Temp In (°C)
Temp Out (°C)
Δ Temp (°C)
Fan Speed (RPM)
140W
21.7
24.7
3.0
557
334W
21.2
28.7
7.5
588
506W
21.6
31.8
10.2
1343

 

The noise level from the Cosair HX520W cooling fan was at all times very quiet. When loaded at 506W the fan only ramped up to 1343 RPM, which I could hardly hear.  Noise levels are, of course, my personal opinion, and what I may consider quiet could quite easily be considered noisy by other people.

 

Conclusion:

Environmental Factors:

With excellent performance for efficiency and almost unity power factor, the Corsair HX520W will play a small part in cutting your energy bills. The Corsair HX520W complies with RoHS and WEEE regulations, which isn't really unusual these days, if it didn't you wouldn't find it for sale in the UK. Packaging on the HX520W could have been better from an environmental point of view, there are alternatives to foam and the packaging uses quite a lot to encase the power supply. The bag for the modular cables, although nice to have, is of a synthetic/plastic base and I have to ask, is it really necessary?

Price Per the Watt:

Power Supply Corsair HX520W at $114.99 = $0.22/Watt (September 2008).

The Corsair HX520W power supply surprised me. It made no excessive claims for efficiency yet proved to be excellent. The rails held solid at all load levels and the DC quality was excellent.

The cooling fan is bearly audible, even at 1343 RPM. The 120mm thermally controlled cooling fan kept the unit cool without having to ramp the speed up to excessive levels. I feel a combination of large cooling fan, well designed heatsink layout and high efficiency all contributed to keep the unit cool.

I would highly recommend the Corsair HX520W to anyone considering mid-range graphics cards in SLI or Crossfire but perhaps it's a little underpowered for the serious gamer/overclocker. The Corsair HX520W is Nvidia certified for up to, but not including, the 7800GTX and is listed on the Nvidia website in the "For all other SLI configurations" section. This will no doubt put the majority of gamers considering an SLI or Crossfire setup off this power supply but if you require one for an Internet, office and single graphics card PC then look no further, the Corsair HX520W would be a wise choice. I have no hesitation in giving the Corsair HX520W an OCC Gold Award, what else can I do?

 

Pros:

 

Cons: