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[OCN Labs] Corsair HX850 Review By Jeffrey Edson

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Power supplies are crucial when considering any computer build. They provide vital power to each component, and this is one area you want to stick with good brands. If overclocking, you're going to want clean stable power for reaching those high speeds. Corsair offers reliable power supplies and the HX series has been around since 2012. The earlier version was gold certified, but since has been upgraded to a fully modular design and offers Platinum certification. The HX series is not to be confused with the HXi series, but the HXi models offer the same new design but with CorsairLink monitoring. Let's dive into the new design and see what the new HX series has to offer.

The specifications are as follows:
  • Warranty- Ten years
  • Weight- 1.95kg
  • 80 PLUS Certification Level- Platinum
  • Power- 850 Watts
  • Zero RPM Fan Mode- Yes
  • Fan Bearing Technology- Fluid Dynamic Bearing
  • Fan size- 135mm
  • Corsair Link Support- No
  • Continuous Output Rated Temperature (°C)- 50°C
  • Dimensions- 150mm x 86mm x 180mm
  • Modular- Fully
  • Cable Type- Low-Profile, All Black
  • ATX Connector- 1
  • EPS Connector- 2
  • Floppy Connector- 1
  • 4-Pin Peripheral Connector- 6
  • PCIe Connector- 6
  • SATA Connector- 16

Why choose the HX series PSU?

For starters, the new design is Platinum certified with a new modular design. You can expect tight voltage regulation with all Japenese 105°C capacitors, and quiet operation with the ZeroRPM mode. The HX series is the perfect choice when extreme efficiency is necessary. This 850W version being Platinum certified will offer 89% efficiency at 100% load, and at 50% load offers 92% efficiency. There is even a switch to change between Single or Multi rail distribution over the +12V rail. The HX series comes with a 10-year warranty to guarantee reliable operation across several system builds.

What is PSU Efficiency and why does it matter?



The 80 PLUS program was developed to rate power supplies more efficiently. You can find more information about it here. The certification tests efficiency at loads of 20% / 50% / and 100%. Over the years different certifications were developed to provide different requirements for different levels of efficiency. They range from 80 PLUS / 80 PLUS Bronze / 80 PLUS Silver / 80 PLUS Gold / 80 PLUS Platinum / Even a newer standard called 80 PLUS Titanium was added not too long ago. Please see the chart below for understanding the certifications for quick reference. This chart is listed on the Wikipedia page linked above for credit.



The entire point of the efficiency rating is to provide better efficiency the higher you go and to provide a standard for PSU manufacturers to follow. As you go up it gets more expensive, and the PSU market helps builders save money by essentially having cheaper prices the lower in tiers you go on the efficiency rating. Most users will be just happy even using the Bronze tier, which helps save you money. Also, most people don't even come to close to using even half of their PSU wattage, and generally is a common misconception when researching PSU for purchase. If your going to use a single modern Graphics card and a common CPU like Ryzen 5 or Core i5, even going beyond 600W is too much.

Shipping



You have to hand it to Corsair for having consistent packaging across several of its product lines. They keep marketing simple and label parts according to the performance you can expect. This HX850, for example, is considered a high-performance PSU and offers all the bells and whistles you can expect from one. With the 10-year warranty, this makes the HX series a very compelling investment for a high-end PC.  From my experience, Corsair rarely skimps out on accessories either, which always makes them worth considering for a purchase.

I'm reviewing this 850W PSU which is way more than what I need for even my test bench, but when considering buying a PSU look for what works for you in your budget. You would be surprised at what sort of deals you can get at different times.



The accessories included are as follows:
  • HX850W PSU
  • Fully modular cable set & Carry pouch
  • Product documentation
  • Zip ties / Screws / Corsair badge

The included cables are mixed with black sleeving and flat black low profile cables. This kit comes with any cable you would need to get up and running, and even has a second 4+4 EPS CPU cable for motherboards with an extra connector for additional power for overclocking.

Design



The HX850 is designed for giving systems builders a nice clean look. Most modern cases have a PSU shroud, but if you don't this PSU will look great with its simple Black/Grey color scheme. The HX series line ranges from 750W-1200W of power. The PSU feel very sturdy and weighs in at slightly above 4lbs.



The bottom of the unit goes into detail about DC/AC power inputs. We can see a break down of this below.





One of the more interesting things about this PSU is its ability to switch between Single or Multi rail configurations. I'm not going to get into a major conflict over whats better, you can read more about that here. I imagine most power users, and overclockers will use single rail distribution mode. You can expect about 71A for the +12V rail at a full load.



Looking at the front of the PSU we see the modular connections for your cables. You will always need at least one EPS (CPU 8 pin power) and 24pin (Motherboard Power) for power, so that is always funny when they are separate modular cables. Really, fully modular equates to easier and cleaner cable management. The HX series offers the Single or Multiple +12V rail switch. In single mode, the full output is used over the +12V rail to all connectors, and in multi mode, each connector has over current protection with a limit of 40A on each cable. You can see this broken down on the above charts.



The back of this PSU has your standard connector for your AC power cord, and before plugging it in you need to read the silent operation mode disclaimer. The back also has a power on/off switch for easy access.

The top offers easy access to air flow through the top grill. This is a 135MM fan that uses Fluid bearing Technology from the specifications. We will look closer at this as we inspect the inside of the PSU. From the looks of the fan, I would Imagine it's another NR135P, which Corsair reuses in a lot of their product lines. The "ZERO RPM" mode is rated for up to 40% of the maximum load, and will not spin up until reaching this threshold. This means silent operation until high or medium loads are detected. It does this also by individually monitoring the load and temperature of the PSU through the internal MCU (Microcontroller).

Internal Layout / Testing



I want to point out a few things before I get into this next section. My whole goal of this review is to go over the design and internals of the PSU, and test what I can within my limits. Testing power supplies is a very complex procedure and often requires equipment that is so expensive, it's out of reach for most people. I am limited to what tool I have, so I will only be covering a few simple tests below to give you a reasonable idea if this PSU fits your requirements or not. If you're looking for efficiency testing or load testing, you will need to look elsewhere, and there are many reviewers who do cover these types of tests. My hope is to show off the design of this PSU and give you a good idea of its build quality, and if it will fit with your current system or a future one. You can see what Corsair found the efficiency curve to be for the HX850W PSU above.

I will be testing different load conditions to see what type of power is drawn from my system. I will be testing Stock and overclocked settings to compare differences. This should tell us how much more power you can draw while overclocking vs just using a system as intended with stock settings. I have it set so that under idle conditions my CPU speed drops as well as voltage. I will test the Watts used by using a KILL A WATT.

I will also test the temperature the PSU gets under max load conditions and will be testing the system on 100% full load with AIDA64 Extreme. The overall temperature and internals will be looked at with the FLIR ONE. This will help us see if the internals will even get hot enough to cause the MCU to kick in the fan curve.



The FLIR ONE tool is fantastic because it will allow tech enthusiasts and reviewers to show visual results for thermal testing. It is a next generation thermal camera that works with iOS and Android devices. If you want to buy one look here.



Having experienced many styles of this ZERO RPM function in PSU's, I'm willing to bet that it most likely won't kick in due to the fact that most people don't even use half of their systems power. Which brings me to audio testing, which may not be worth investigating due to the high 40% curve Corsair set. Under regular conditions, you will have no noise due to the ZERO RPM function. I will, however, include above Corsairs chart to show a point of reference to show their rated noise levels. Typically, for me even with no PSU fan running, I'm going to hit around 50dB. This is about as loud as a normal conversation and can be contributed to various background noises from all my other system parts.

Please keep in mind that each system is different and actual loads can vary greatly even with similar hardware. I will be testing the system on 100% full load with AIDA64 Extreme for the FLIR ONE & watts consumed.



My test bench is as follows:
  • ViewSonic XG2703-GS Monitor
  • Motherboard- Asus x370 ROG Crosshair Hero VI
  • CPU: Ryzen 5 1600
  • Network Card- Netgear AC 1200 USB
  • Cooler- Cooler Master Masterliquid 240
  • Memory- Corsair LPX DDR4 3000 MHz @ 2800MHz
  • Video Card: Nvidia GTX 1060
  • Storage- Plextor S3 SSD
  • Power Supply- Corsair HX850
  • OS: Windows 10 x64 Pro (Creators Update)
  • Mouse- Logitech G403 Wireless Gaming Mouse
  • Keyboard- Logitech G413
  • Headphones- Logitech G533 7.1 Surround Sound Wireless Headset



I overclocked my Ryzen 5 1600 to 3.8GHz / 2800MHz memory, this is 24h AIDa64 stable from overnight testing. I couldn't quite hit the mark with 2933MHz on the memory. This should be more than enough to get a higher power draw compared to stock.





Please don't try and take apart a PSU if you don't know what you're doing. This can be very dangerous and cause serious harm and possibly death. My hope for taking this PSU apart will help some people better understand the internals of how the PSU works.

Getting to the fan first I was right to assume it was an NR135P. this fan is rated for 12V, 0.22A, and is 135MM. It uses fluid dynamic bearings and uses direct airflow for cooling the PSU internal parts. This gets directly connected to the internal MCU for controlling the ZERO RPM function.



If we look above I've gone ahead and labeled some of the more critical features of this PSU. I will go ahead and label what each on is for reference. For starters, it's important to note that Corsair uses all Japanese capacitors on both primary and secondary power stages. The identified capacitors are Nippon Chemi Con, rated for 105°C. The main LLC transformers are the black items towards the middle that are black with the Corsair logo.
  1. AC socket for regulation and filtering
  2. AC/DC rectifier
  3. PFC inductor (Power factor correction)
  4. PFC MOSFETs
  5. PFC LLC control board
  6. +5.5V/+3.3V control board
  7. MCU for fan and over protection control
  8. LLC main transformer
  9. Bulk main capacitors
  10. LLC resonant capacitor
  11. LLC driver & +5VSB transformers
  12. Secondary capacitors and temperature thermistor
  13. Modular control board

The HX series of power supplies have the following protections:
  • Over Current Protection (OCP): Shuts off power if any rail is overloaded beyond a safe level.
  • Over Voltage Protection (OVP): Shuts off power if voltages exceed specification.
  • Under Voltage Protection (UVP): Shuts off power if voltages drop below specification.
  • Short Circuit Protection (SCP): Shuts off power if a short circuit is detected.
  • Over Temperature Protection (OTP): Shuts off power if temperatures exceed a specified value.
  • Over Power Protection (OPP): Shuts off power if the total output power exceeds a safe level.



As you can see above I hit about almost 38°C. This is interesting as most of the PSU stayed cool while under load at 100% You have to remember when we look at the watts used below that I was not using anywhere near even half of my PSUs power. The hottest parts are as expected the transformers and surrounding the capacitors, but even they are considered cool. The temperature recorded was as is with no fan running due to the ZERO RPM mode function and curve. What this really shows us is that unless you require extreme power, this PSU will stay dead silent and cool.



You can see above that I don't even come remotely close to using even 40% of this PSU's power. 165W total using a Ryzen 5 and GTX 1060, and this included overclocking. This is my point about common misconceptions when considering what size PSU you need. To power your system, most people don't even need a 500W PSU. You don't start needing higher wattage PSUs until you get into multi-GPU configurations, and higher end CPUs and motherboards. Overclocking Ryzen "Threadripper" with dual Vega cards will possibly require a PSU of this size. Intel X299 and Skylake-X is another example where you could max a PSU like this depending on your configuration.

This is good to have a PSU rated for more power than you need. Depending on what deal you can afford, this helps with possible future upgrades to higher performing system like mentioned above. Just be cautious when considering your build to help save any money where you can, this can help allocate more money to a better GPU or CPU. if you don't even want to think about it most sites have a nifty tool that helps you calculate what wattage will work for you based on your selections and parts. I highly recommend you check out this enhanced calculator here by OuterVision.



As you can see OuterVision recommends about 370W. I included things like gaming keyboards, mice, and monitors. The KILLAWATT test above was based on my system alone.

Conclusion



The HX850 PSU comes packaged with everything you would ever need for a high-end PC. What you can expect with this PSU is tight voltage regulation and awesome efficiency from the Platinum certification. Having the single rail distribution switch gives you options in how you want your power distributed, and allows you to choose between safer multi rail limits or the full +12V across all connectors. 

One thing to consider here though is that most people under utilize their power supplies. So if you're looking for something large for future upgrades then the HX850 is an excellent choice, but if you want to save as much money possible you may want to look at cheaper options. For instance, this PSU didn't even kick in any fan action due to the higher MCU curve. 

The overall build quality of the HX850 is outstanding. The internal components are rated as high quality and should provide you power for years to come. With the 10-year warranty backing up this product, it's hard to label it as anything but fantastic. Even the price for the HX850 isn't too bad for the quality parts included. You can usually pick one of these units up for $160. If you're lucky enough to catch a sale, I highly recommend you do so if you're looking for a PSU that will last you the years. You can buy the HX series ranging from 750W / 850W / 1000W / & 1200W models.



Pros: High wattage / Silent

Cons: NONE / Not really a con, but it may be more wattage than your system requires!


Edited by Jedson3614 - 8/15/17 at 11:17am
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post #2 of 5
Corsairs psu prices is pretty reasonable in my country, so ive been thinking about getting one of these for my new build. But im skeptical about the zero rpm fan feature as its only control factor is the psu load and not temp and you cant turn it off. Summer here is unbearably hot so im sure my system gets really hot even at idle so im not sure if the fan feature can keep the psu safe.

And can someone tell me a case when switching to single rail is useful ?

I also heard that the i version has a better fan, how better is it and is it worth getting the i version instead of this?
    
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post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ih2try View Post

Corsairs psu prices is pretty reasonable in my country, so ive been thinking about getting one of these for my new build. But im skeptical about the zero rpm fan feature as its only control factor is the psu load and not temp and you cant turn it off. Summer here is unbearably hot so im sure my system gets really hot even at idle so im not sure if the fan feature can keep the psu safe.

And can someone tell me a case when switching to single rail is useful ?

I also heard that the i version has a better fan, how better is it and is it worth getting the i version instead of this?

I have not had a chance to see the "i" version yet but it is my understanding it should use the same fan. All top tier Corsair PSUs seem to have this particular fan in the higher end units. About Zero RPM, it only kicks in when needed, and if it gets enough of a load will work as intended. The only real issue is, I would look at the graph above in the review. This is monitored by the internal MCU. If I was you I would get a smaller PSU that can hit those loads so the fan does kick in. Like I said in the article most people don't need a PSU higher than 600W on average. Even then it may be too much power. I don't know what parts you have so it's hard to make a recommendation.

The entire debate of multi vs single rail is quite frankly way too complicated to get into, each has its own benefits and advantages, as well as disadvantages. Simply put Multi offers a bit of overvoltage protection and can protect your PSU from shutting off immediately, while single rail some argue is better for overclocking because it really comes down to the 12V lines. In single rail, your 12v power is distributed across all the connectors, while multi-rail it splits it up among them to keep the PSU safer.There is no actual evidence to prove single has better overclocking, but having the full power just makes it available at all times, instead of being split up or distributed. Single could be dangerous at higher wattages becuase if you overextend your power over a certain rail, it could short-circuit and cause a fire. With voltage protection in modern PSUs, it's less of an issue today than it was before.

Simply put for regular system usage you probably won't see much of a difference between the two modes. If you get higher wattage PSUs you may want to consider multi rail as it will offer a better layer of protection. Really though in lower watttage PSUs, it really doesn't matter as much. For this particular PSU the 12v on single rail is rated for up to 70A, and multi rail limits each 12v rail to 40A. it's important to note either of these modes doesn't affect the performance of the PSU in the slightest, it really only matters about the amount of Amps that are allowed oer the 12v rail.
Edited by Jedson3614 - 8/18/17 at 7:34am
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MyDigital BPX CoolerMaster Master Liquid 240 windows 10 x64 pro Viewsonic xg2703-gs 
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Logitech G533 
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post #4 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by ih2try View Post

Corsairs psu prices is pretty reasonable in my country, so ive been thinking about getting one of these for my new build. But im skeptical about the zero rpm fan feature as its only control factor is the psu load and not temp and you cant turn it off. Summer here is unbearably hot so im sure my system gets really hot even at idle so im not sure if the fan feature can keep the psu safe.

And can someone tell me a case when switching to single rail is useful ?

I also heard that the i version has a better fan, how better is it and is it worth getting the i version instead of this?
Reminds me of this: https://www.hardocp.com/article/2017/06/27/be_quiet_pure_power_10_600w_supply_review/9
My ambient is 35°c and I'm worried about PSU with 0 fan speed.
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post #5 of 5
I cant speak on the HX850 specifically but I have the AX850 which should behave the same and it controls fan speed based on temps not load. The marketing image from Corsair showing fan speed correlating to system load is an example of how it would perform at 25 C ambient.

My AX850 is running in my garage 24/7 and it has been over 100 F outside on some days. Im only pulling 450 watts from the wall so its at half of its rated power. But the point is if I reboot the system after running for a while the fan will still spin while Windows is loading or idle on the desktop and the system is only pulling 80-120 watts.
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