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Corsair Builder Series Modular CX600M PSU Review

Rating: 9.0.

If you have a very limited budget but need a reliable power supply for a new system build then you may feel you are walking into a serious minefield of choices. Thankfully there is no need anymore to just blindly accept a cheap ‘no name’ oriental power supply. Corsair have had great success with their affordable system builder range of supplies and today we look at their latest modular unit.

The latest Corsair System Builder power supply is semi (hybrid) modular and ships with 80 Plus Bronze certification. Corsair are known to work with a handful of reputable companies to create their power supplies however they are keen to point out that this unit has received more than just a Corsair sticker on the chassis. We will look at this in more detail later in the review when we open it up.

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Features

  • Up to 85% energy efficiency means less heat generation and lower energy bills
  • 0.99 Active Power Factor Correction provides clean and reliable power
  • A dedicated single +12V rail offers maximum compatibility with the latest components
  • Over-voltage and over-power protection, under-voltage protection, and short circuit protection provide maximum safety to your critical system components
  • Extra long fully-sleeved cables support full tower chassis
  • ErP Lot 6 Compliant
  • A three year warranty and lifetime access to Corsair’s legendary technical support and customer service.

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The Corsair CX600M ships in a lovely white box, with green accenting. The product is pictured on the front of the box, with a close up of the Corsair logo in the center of the fan.
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The box opens up to expose a clear bag of modular cables, a user manual, regional specific power connector and cable ties with screws.
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Cable Connectors
MB 20+4 pin (native) x1 (hardwired)
6+2 pin PCIe (native) x2
4+4 pin EPS12V/ATX12V (native) x1 (hardwired)
SATA x3
SATA x3
MOLEX x4
FDD x1

This power supply has two 6+2 pin PCIe connectors to handle either two budget graphics cards in SLI or Crossfire, or a high end card in a single configuration.

The cables are all thin ‘ribbon’ style, which is proving popular with the enthusiast audience lately thanks to the ease of routing and enhanced air flow characteristics. These are extra long cables too, ideal for a full tower chassis.

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Considering the budget nature of the Corsair CX600M, the paintwork and finish is reassuringly good. We have reviewed many ‘budget’ power supplies in the past which ship with substandard paintwork and rough edges. Not so, with the CX600M.

It also passed the ‘scratch test’ which is our way of replicating a rough ‘real world’ installation. We run the head of a Philips screwdriver down the side of the unit applying light to moderate pressure. When building a system, it is often possible to accidentally glance the head of a screwdriver against the paintwork of a power supply. In this case it didn’t remove the paint.
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The large fan resides behind a black grill, with the Corsair badge shown in the center. We will take a closer look at the fan, when we open the power supply later in the review.

The unit measures 150mm x 86 mm x 140mm (WxHxD).
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One side of the unit has a power connector and switch, next to the honeycomb air venting.
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On the other side of the power supply are four modular cable connectors which are labeled. One of the connectors is larger, to ensure you can only hook in the PCIe connector cable.
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Corsair Modular CX600M
DC Output
+3.3V
+5V
+12V
-12V
+5Vsb
Max Output
25A
25A
46A
0.8A
3A
Total Power 130W 552W 9.6W 15W
600W

Both +3.3V and +5V rails can deliver 25A. The single +12V rail can deliver 46A, for 552W of the total output.

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Corsair are using the excellent Yate Loon D12SM-12 sleeve bearing fan (120mm) which we have seen in some other supplies in the last year. This is a fan rated to a maximum speed of 1,650 rpm, producing 70.5CFM airflow at 33dBa.
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The CX600M is a CWT design, however Corsair are using a non standard PCB layout and have incorporated a different PFC/PWM controller IC that gives them better standby efficiency. Due to this, the CXM therefore passes ErP 2013 certification. There are several rows of heatsinks to ensure heat is adequately dispersed outside the chassis.

Corsair source higher quality transformers that are both higher efficiency and higher capacity. They also use Japanese capacitors, rather than Taiwanese. The CW600M adopts four FET’s for +12v regulation as opposed to just two in the base platform. This provides lower temperatures, longer life, better efficiency at higher loads and more stable voltage regulation.
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The transient filtering stage comprises of a single X capacitor, two Y capacitors, an MOV and two ferrite coils. This power supply uses a push pull topology with two Mosfets and two diodes. This is a well proven design which is generally reliable however not ideal to achieve very high levels of efficiency. As this is a 80 Plus Bronze Certified unit however, it should be perfectly fine.

As you can see in the pictures, Corsair are using a high grade 85c Panasonic capacitor rated 270uF at 400W. On the secondary side there is a single coil for both +5V and +12V. The +3.3V is generated from the 5V coil. Secondary capacitors are rated 105c. Output filter capacitors are supplied by CapXon.

The unit has OVP, UVP and OCP protection handled by a PS229.
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The hardwired cable is sleeved inside the chassis and tied down, to ensure protection from long term fraying against the naked metal chassis.

On this page we present some super high resolution images of the product taken with the 24.5MP Nikon D3X camera and 24-70mm ED lens. These will take much longer to open due to the dimensions, especially on slower connections. If you use these pictures on another site or publication, please credit Kitguru.net as the owner/source.
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Additional technical assistance: Peter McFarland and Jeremy Price.

Correctly testing power supplies is a complex procedure and KitGuru have configured a test bench which can deliver up to a 2,000 watt DC load. Due to public requests we have changed our temperature settings recently – previously we rated with ambient temperatures at 25C, we have increased ambient temperatures by 10c (to 35c) in our environment to greater reflect warmer internal chassis conditions.

We use combinations of the following hardware:
• SunMoon SM-268
• CSI3710A Programmable DC load (+3.3V and +5V outputs)
• CSI3711A Programmable DC load (+12V1, +12V2, +12V3, and +12V4)
• Extech Power Analyzer
• Extech MultiMaster MM570 digital multimeter
• SkyTronic DSL 2 Digital Sound Level Meter (6-130dBa)
• Digital oscilloscope (20M S/s with 12 Bit ADC)
• Variable Autotransformer, 1.4 KVA

DC Output Load Regulation

Combined

DC Load

+3.3V
+5V
+12V
+5VSB
-12V
A
V
A
V
A
V
A
V
A V
75W
1.08
3.35
1.45
5.07
4.90
12.07
0.50
5.02
0.20
-12.05
150W
2.09
3.34
2.99
5.06
10.07
12.04
0.50
5.00
0.30
-12.05
300W
4.27
3.33
6.02
5.04
20.61
12.00
1.00
4.98
0.30
-12.07
450W
6.56
3.31
8.51
5.02
31.84
11.94
1.50
4.98
0.30
-12.07
600W
9.95
3.28
12.22
4.98
41.82
11.87
2.50
4.98
0.30
-12.08

The Corsair CX600M delivers decent results with our regulation test, holding within 3 percent.

Corsair CX600M Maximum Load
622W

We managed to get 622W out of the power supply before it would shut down ….safely, we might add.

Next we want to try Cross Loading. This basically means loads which are not balanced. If a PC for instance needs 500W on the +12V outputs but something like 30W via the combined 3.3V and +5V outputs then the voltage regulation can fluctuate badly.

Cross Load Testing +3.3V +5V +12V -12V +5VSB
A V A V A V A V A V
590W 5.0 3.33 5.0 5.05 46.0 11.84 0.2 -12.07 0.50 5.00
145W 12.0 3.27 15.0 4.94 2.0 12.06 0.2 -12.05 0.50 4.99

The Corsair unit handled the intensive Cross load tests rather well, although there was some droop on both +3.3V and +12V rails. Nothing we would consider concerning or long term problematic however.

We then used an oscilloscope to measure AC ripple and noise present on the DC outputs. We set the oscilloscope time base to check for AC ripple at both high and low ends of the spectrum. ATX12V V2.2 specification for DC output ripple and noise is defined in the ATX 12V power supply design guide.

ATX12V Ver 2.2 Noise/Ripple Tolerance
Output
Ripple (mV p-p)
+3.3V
50
+5V
50
+12V1
120
+12V2
120
-12V
120
+5VSB
50

Obviously when measuring AC noise and ripple on the DC outputs the cleaner (less recorded) means we have a better end result. We measured this AC signal amplitude to see how closely the unit complied with the ATX standard.

AC Ripple (mV p-p)
DC Load +3.3V +5V +12V 5VSB
75W 15 10 25 15
150W 20 15 35 15
300W 20 20 40 20
450W 25 25 45 25
600W 30 25 50 25

Ripple results are within the tolerance guidelines set out by the industry. The +3.3V Output peaks at 30 mV and the +5V output peaks at 25mV. +12V output peaks at 50mV, well within the rated parameters.

Efficiency (%)
75W
81.12
150W
82.96
300W
86.22
450W
84.64
600W
82.53

Efficiency is very good, considering the modest 80 Plus Bronze certification the unit is rated at. It peaks at just over 86% at 50% percent load, and this drops to around 82.5% at full load. No concerns here.

We take the issue of noise very seriously at KitGuru and this is why we have built a special home brew system as a reference point when we test noise levels of various components. Why do this? Well this means we can eliminate secondary noise pollution in the test room and concentrate on components we are testing. It also brings us slightly closer to industry standards, such as DIN 45635.

Today to test the Power Supply we have taken it into our acoustics room environment and have set our SkyTronic DSL 2 Digital Sound Level Meter (6-130dBa) one meter away from the unit. We have no other fans running so we can effectively measure just the noise from the unit itself.

As this can be a little confusing for people, here are various dBa ratings in with real world situations to help describe the various levels.

KitGuru noise guide
10dBA – Normal Breathing/Rustling Leaves
20-25dBA – Whisper
30dBA – High Quality Computer fan
40dBA – A Bubbling Brook, or a Refridgerator
50dBA – Normal Conversation
60dBA – Laughter
70dBA – Vacuum Cleaner or Hairdryer
80dBA – City Traffic or a Garbage Disposal
90dBA – Motorcycle or Lawnmower
100dBA – MP3 Player at maximum output
110dBA – Orchestra
120dBA – Front row rock concert/Jet Engine
130dBA – Threshold of Pain
140dBA – Military Jet takeoff/Gunshot (close range)
160dBA – Instant Perforation of eardrum

Noise (dBA)
75W
<28.0
150W
<28.0
300W
29.7
450W
31.5
600W 35.1

The power supply is quiet, even when hit with around 400W of load. The fan starts to actively spin up in the last 15% of output becoming audible, although never that intrusive – it really isn’t practical to be running at a constant 550W+ output from a 600W unit anyway.

We noted earlier that Corsair are using the Yate Loon D12SM-12 fan, an excellent choice as the testing indicates.

Temperature (c)
Intake
Exhaust
75W
35
39
150W
37
44
300W
39
48
450W
44
53
600W
47
59

The large fan works well, holding decent ambient temperatures, even under heavy load. At full load temperatures rise to 12c above ambient.

Maximum load
Efficiency
622W
81.5

At 622W the Corsair PSU rates at 81.5% efficiency. This is not a viable ‘real world’ situation, but its interesting nonetheless.
The Corsair CX600M is undoubtedly a very high value for money power supply. This Builder Series range is specifically designed to target the budget audience who want a reliable, stable power supply. The non modular CX600 has been a low cost favourite for many years now, and the modular version has certainly impressed me.

While buying a quality power supply under £100 is easy enough thanks to a huge variety of options, when the price drops to £60 it becomes more difficult and the shortlist narrows considerably.

One of the best prices for the CX600M is at ARIA …. they are selling it for £56.84, including VAT. At this price it seems like a no brainer to us, especially when you factor in the semi modular design, high build quality and stable overall performance.

The unit didn’t exhibit any glaring technical faults which could cause a reservation – there are actually no concerns and performance throughout all our testing was certainly commendable. Corsair are standing by it with a 3 year warranty, so clearly they feel the same.

Some people may complain about the CX600M only having dual 6+2 pin PCI connectors. In reality however this could handle a high end graphics card such as the AMD HD7970 or AMD GTX680, or two lower end solutions (with a single 6 pin connector each) for an SLi or Crossfire configuration. If you want a more specialised unit for dual graphics cards then there are plenty of other options available, at extra cost. Obviously there is also the option to use molex to PCIe power converters, although we don’t normally recommend these.

If you need an inexpensive modular power supply, but aren’t willing to accept a ‘cheap n nasty’ no name brand then this should be right at the top of your shortlist. At £57 inc vat this claims our top spot on the budget throne.

Pros:

  • remarkable price point.
  • semi modular.
  • great finish quality.
  • decent little bundle.
  • solid all round performer.
  • old school internal design is stable.

Cons:

  • None at the price.

Kitguru says: At under £60, this is the new budget king.
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