We took our first look at Corsair's "European on a budget" targeted Vengeance series back in June, with a 650W model that turned in quite decent performance. It was quite a break from traditional Corsair units, in that it had multiple 12V rails and flaunted them proudly. It ended up with a rather high score for a budget model, and that score was well deserved.
Today, we'll look at the 500W non modular model in the series and see how it stacks up. Once again, we have a five year warranty, multiple 12V rails, and 80 Plus Bronze certification. This unit looks about as no-frills as it gets, so it's important that Corsair gets the performance aspect of this unit right. It's always a challenge to bring performance into one of these watt boxes without cost-downing them into gutless wonder status, and I'm very happy that so far Corsair has never tried to cross that line.
The ideal choice for budget minded people, brags the box. And this very well might be true, if the 650M was any indication. Because Europe is far less uptight about multiple 12V rails, this unit has three of them. Most consumers over there never really had issues with companies spreading myths about how single 12V is better to cover up their own design failures, and I'm rather happy about that.
See, I still personally prefer a well designed multi rail unit myself. Done right, multi rail protection is just safer than rocking a power supply that can dump 85A of current down one SATA cable if something goes wrong, and will not have any issues at all with shutting down when it's not supposed to. That said, down here at the 500W level, it doesn't really matter as much. According to the table on the box, the entire 12V output of the unit is only 41.6A. The risk is minimal. But there is still a risk, and our European friends just prefer not to take that risk.
So how did we get to a point where we in North America now have 1600W units with single 133A 12V rails? The industry started using multi rail wrong, that's how. Intel dropped a specification that called for no more than 240VA (volt amperes) to be present on any one 12V rail. Which... was a bit low. Manufacturers responded by putting out dual 12V units at first, because most power supplies of the day didn't need to be over 500 watts. The CPU got one rail, everything else got the other. And that was fine, at first.
Then, video cards decided they wanted more power and staged a bloody coup. These dual 12V units started shutting down, because they now had too much current on one rail, while older single 12V units of similar wattage had no problem. "Foul! Foul!" we consumers cried as video cards rampaged across the land leaving the twisted, unplugged carcasses of power supplies strewn across the fields of battle. What to do about this?
Why, we add more 12V rails, that's how! Many power supply companies did this the right way. They thought about how much power needed to go where, and made sure their units did it. Some did not, and one of these in particular happened to be the biggest name in enthusiast power supplies at the time. PC Power and Cooling brought in more rails and higher power, but these units adhered just as rigidly to the Intel SSI specification as the dual 12V units that came before. As a result, we now had quad 12V rails spread over 700 watts or so, but only two of those rails were available to video cards and they still operated with a 240VA shutdown requirement. The result? People overclocked their video cards, and those units shut down. I'm picking on PC P&C, because they were the most in your face about it, but they weren't the only offenders. FSP did it just as wrong with the original Epsilons.
Faced with backlash, PC P&C did something about it, not wanting their sales to slow down. They had two options - deviate from the Intel SSI spec and allow their PCI Express power cables to have more than 240VA, or just go back to single 12V. They went with option B. Whether or not that was because their main OEM, Win-Tact, refused to do option A I have no idea. But they went with B. But then they went even further than that, and I personally still have a problem with this... they made it a marketing feature. Single 12V is best! Single 12V is more stable! Get a PC P&C with single 12V today! All others are inferior!
And the North American market bought it. We bought it so hard that newcomers like Corsair had no choice but to buy it too. And then the rest of the power supply makers jumped on the bandwagon, with companies going way over the top with the marketing aspect of it, worse than PC P&C ever had. Now, we're at the point that I don't know if a good multi-rail unit has a chance in hell in this market anymore. And that's pretty sad.
Anyway, single 12V is not inherently more stable. Never has been. Multi-rail overcurrent protection is like a household circuit breaker. You go over the trip line, the unit shuts down. It does not make your rig unstable, because either it shuts the unit down or it doesn't. Period. It's nice that some parts of the world still remember that.
Moving on, we come to a list of the cables. While I very much prefer fully modular units myself, the fact remains that a unit this size doesn't have many extra cables you need to hide.
And if you're still one of those people swallowing the old PC P&C myths, remember the modular cable one? Where they insisted modular units were inherently less stable? Yeah, you just go find me the PC P&C unit that competes with my Seasonic Prime 850W, buddy. Really now... we in North America have rejected that myth and the one they came up with about big fans being bad, so they could continue using loud little 80mm fans. Shouldn't that "single 12V is better" one go right down the drain right with those?
Man, feels like I've been typing this review forever already. Let's unpack the box.
We have a warranty guide, a safety guide, a Shuko power cord, a wee bag of goodies, and a power supply. The manual is found online, as always, and I have not yet found any data on which 12V rail goes where. But with three sensible 25A 12V rails (that's 300 VA at exactly 12V for those of you playing along at home), I doubt you'll run into any major problems. I'll get the 12V assignments for you on the next page.
This being a budget unit, we don't have many goodies. Lots of zip ties and a few screws. That's really all I expected.
Add our RSS feeds to your favorite RSS Reader or homepage.