Before diving into my overall impressions of each PSU, I should take a moment to make a few general observations. First and foremost, all but our generic entries did a good job of delivering clean, consistent voltages all the way up to full capacity. That should be expected, of courseâ€”after all, supplying quality power is what a PSU is supposed to do. But our two generics illustrated how some relatively no-name PSUs simply don't measure up. Our CoolMax 400W was a complete and utter failure, and although the SolyTech model we tested made it through our test suite without flaming out, it wasn't capable of fully delivering on its rated capacity. That's an automatic failure in my books, one that becomes epic if you consider all the other things wrong with the PSU, such as its single-year warranty, poor efficiency, lack of PCIe and SATA plugs, short cables, and weak 12V output capacity. Generic PSUs may not always be time bombs waiting to take your system down with them, but based on what we've seen, they're not worth the trouble and are poor values, anyway.
With that off my chest, we can move onto the rest of the field. I've summarized my thoughts on each PSU below, in alphabetical order.
Antec Basiq 350W â€” I didn't expect much from this $24 PSU, mostly because I didn't expect it to be this cheap. For less than one might pay for a generic, you get a power supply built by a reputable manufacturer with a two-year warranty and the ability to run at full bore without the aroma of melting plastic. This is still a cheap PSU with short cables, no PCIe connectors, relatively low efficiency, and high noise levels, but at least it works, which is more than can be said for the generics we've encountered in the same price range. I'd still recommend spending more to get a much better PSU, but if $24 is all you can afford, you can do a whole lot worse than the Basiq.
Corsair VX450W 450W
OCZ ModXStream Pro 500W
December 2008Corsair VX450W 450W â€” The VX450W has a lot going for it, including a five-year warranty, the longest warranty term in this field. At $72 online, it's not that expensive, either. What's more, the VS450W is one of the quietest and most efficient PSUs of the bunch, with long, sheathed cables and the lowest overall power consumption in our real-world system. My only real gripe with the VX450W is its lack of a second PCI Express power connector, but that's not going to be a big hindrance for most budget and mid-range systems. Since it offers the best overall performance at a reasonable price, we've singled out the VX450W for Editor's Choice distinction.
Enermax MODU82+ 425W â€” The MODU82+ is quiet, efficient, and offers both dual-8-pin PCIe connectors and modular cables. You also get a three-year warranty and clean voltage delivery. However, the privilege costs a cool $107, which is a heck of a lot to pay for only 425W of output capacityâ€”far too much to pay, in my view, which is what keeps the MODU82+ from being an award winner today. This is a great PSU, but a poor value overall.
FSP Blue Storm II 400W â€” With a street price of only $51, the Blue Storm II is one of the more affordable units in this round-up. That makes it a tempting option, especially since we found no problems with power delivery. However, most of the Blue Storm's cables are short, the PSU isn't quite 80% efficient, and while it cools well, the fan is rather loud, even at idle. Those factors conspire to keep the Blue Storm off of our recommended list.
OCZ ModXStream Pro 500W â€” For just $8 more than Corsair's VX450W, the ModXStream Pro serves up a higher output capacity, dual PCIe power connectors, and modular cabling. Score! It's also one of the most efficient PSUs of the bunch, and pretty quiet, too. The ModXStream doesn't offer the best of everything, but for those looking for power and flexibility, it's a tough option to beat, which makes it our second Editor's Choice.
Tagan Silver Power SP-SS400 400W â€” You might have a hard time tracking this particular model down, but it's a reasonable alternative to some of the more expensive PSUs we've looked at today. The Silver Power cools well, is at least 80% efficient, and offers dual PCI Express power connectors at a decent price. My only real problem with the Silver Power is that it's quite noisy under loadâ€”a full four decibels louder than the Corsair. Couple that with only two years of warranty coverage, and the Silver Power falls just short of our recommendation.