9-Way 850W Power Supply Roundup

by Michael "SKYMTL" Hoenig     |     December 23, 2009

9-Way 850W Power Supply Roundup

(Featuring: Antec, Cooler Master, Enermax, Seasonic, Silverstone, Thermaltake, Ultra, XFX & Xigmatek)

With new graphics cards on the market from ATI and upcoming units from NVIDIA, the GPU industry isnít the only one that is flourishing. While these new cards are more efficient than ever, better multi-card scaling means the insatiable need for more power hasnít stopped and if anything it has increased in pace. As such, power supply manufacturers have been concentrating their efforts on several key parts of the market: budget-friendly 750W to 850W units as well as flagship products that serve to plant a flag with claims of never-before-seen specifications and sky-high prices. In this review we will be looking at a range of 850W power supplies that should be able to power literally any dual-card setup that you could possibly dream up while still having output to spare.

You may be asking yourself: why feature a roundup of high-end 850W power supplies when money is so tight these days? In our opinion, 850W power supplies are the new sweet spot in the market since many of them offer an excellent value for your money. Just a few short years ago, we would have expected to pay an arm and leg for some of these units but now even the best of the best can cost less than $200CAD. Compared to the prices for other components, this is a small investment which can pay dividends when it comes to the safety and overall performance of your equipment. In our opinion, 850W units are the cornerstone of the power supply market and a good power supply is an essential part of a properly running system.

In this roundup, we will be taking a look at a large cross section of the 850W power supply market by putting nine of the most talked about products under the microscope. Naturally, not every 850W unit under the sun is here but most of the major manufacturers with products on the North American market are represented. We will be running the gamut from a decidedly budget-friendly Cooler Master unit to Silverstoneís brand new Strider Plus series and on to XFXís first foray into the PSU market. Prices are all over the map as well with some units retailing below the $150 mark while others are easily pushing into the $220 category before rebates here in Canada. All in all, this should make your pre or post Christmas shopping a bit easier.

There are however also some notable absences with the OCZ Z-series 850W and Corsair HX 850W sitting on the sidelines for two totally different reasons. Corsair isnít here for the simple reason that we have already reviewed all of their currently available 850W units. On the other hand, OCZís omission is due to an inability on their part to send a review sample and a lack of Z-series 850W units in stock at Canadian retailers when we were in the process of testing.

Even though there are a ton of bases to cover in an article such as this, we should also mention right here that there will be a custom test system used. In order to keep as close as possible with real-world expectations, the usual high-wattage HD 4870 X2 cards will be replaced by a pair of new Sapphire HD 5870s.

Enough talk. On to the roundup, hereís to hoping you enjoy it.

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