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Cougar PowerX 550W PSU Review

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

We combine all +12V output for the results below.

DC Output Load Regulation

Combined

DC Load

+3.3V
+5V
+12V
+5VSB
A
V
A
V
A
V
A
V
110W
1.18
3.32
1.18
5.06
8.02
12.04
0.50
5.02
220W
2.07
3.31
2.07
5.05
16.13
12.01
0.50
5.01
340W
3.04
3.30
3.05
5.03
25.12
11.98
1.00
4.99
445W
4.12
3.26
4.06
5.01
33.23
11.92
1.50
5.00
550W
5.13
3.24
5.03
4.98
41.03
11.83
2.50
4.96
Cougar PowerX 550W PSU
Maximum Load
583W

Load regulation is acceptable across the output range. The power supply delivered 583 watts of power before it would shut down, safely.

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
493W 1.0 3.32 1.0 5.03 40.5 11.79 0.2 -12.02 0.50 5.00
153W 15.0 3.20 15.0 4.87 2.0 12.04 0.2 -12.04 0.50 4.98

The 12V+ output dropped noticeably when hit with over 40A, to 11.79V. Similarly +5V and +3.3V dropped to 4.87V and 3.20V respectively when tasked with 15A. Not the greatest results we have seen in recent months.

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
110W 10 10 10 10
220W 10 10 10 10
340W 10 10 15 15
445W 10 15 25 20
550W 15 20 30 20

Noise suppression is excellent, peaking at 30 mV at full load on the +12V output. All other rails held to 15mV-20mV when loaded.

Efficiency (%)
110W
83.55
220W
85.71
340W
86.21
445W
84.97
550W
83.27

Efficiency is good for an 80 Plus Bronze certified unit, peaking over 86 percent at around 50 percent load. At full load this drops to just over 83 percent efficiency.

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. That said, measuring lower than 28dBa proves very difficult, unless in strict laboratory conditions.

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 Refrigerator
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)
110W
28.0
220W
29.7
340W
32.3
445W
33.8
550W 35.7

The fan maintains a low level of noise, until around 350W of load when it becomes audible in a quiet room. This rises in the last 10% of power output, to a maximum of 35.7 percent.

Temperature (c)
Intake
Exhaust
110W
36
39
220W
38
43
340W
41
49
445W
44
54
550W
46
58

Temperatures rise to a 12c above ambient intake at full load.

Maximum load
Efficiency
583W
82.9

Pushing the PSU above its rated limits generates an efficiency level of around 82.9%. This is not a viable ‘real world’ situation, but its interesting nonetheless.

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