– An 80Plus Gold certification is no guarantee of a good power supply. Nevertheless, BitFenix and Sea Sonic are redefining the upper class with prices starting at 70 euros. Only the Inter-Tech power supply lacks fine-tuning in the test.
The upper class in the price slide
80Plus gold power supplies in the lower price segment hardly have any weaknesses, as the Xilence Performance X 550W recently demonstrated. A high quality of the output voltages and the built-in technology as well as a low volume and complete protective circuits are already standards that have to be met. The air for high-end power supplies with a comparable efficiency is getting thinner and thinner, which is why it must be questioned whether a power supply for more than 100 euros still offers advantages in practice.
Promising new releases and successors to BitFenix, Inter-Tech and Sea Sonic
With the Formula Gold 550W, BitFenix now offers a cheaper, non-modular alternative to the Whisper-M series. With the Focus Plus Gold 550W, Sea Sonic is retiring the now five-year-old G-Series. With the Sama Armor 550W, Inter-Tech sells power supplies from the Chinese manufacturer Sama, which operates as a private label in Asia and sells this power supply, among other things.
The BitFenix and Inter-Tech test samples examined in this article were provided by the manufacturers – the Sea Sonic Focus Plus Gold 550W was purchased from BitcoinMinersHashrate.
The details of the test methodology, the test station used, the electrical measurements and the sound pressure level measurements can also be read separately in this case in the article "How BitcoinMinersHashrate tests power supplies". The power supply ranking list with the best list offers a constantly updated overview of recommended power supplies.
Technical key data in comparison
The technical data of today's test candidates are very similar with an efficiency certification according to 80Plus Gold and a 120 mm fan. While BitFenix and Sea Sonic accommodate the technology in a space-saving manner in a 140 mm deep housing, the Inter-Tech Sama Armor 550W is significantly more expansive.
Only the Formula Gold 550W protects the 12-volt rail more effectively against overcurrents via three separate channels. The Formula Gold 550W would recognize a so-called soft short circuit, for example on a peripheral device, to a greater degree than the other two test subjects. Regardless, the power supplies from BitFenix and Sea Sonic have the complete protection circuit package. The Inter-Tech Sama Armor 550W, on the other hand, lacks overheating protection and the implementation of the overcurrent protection has an error, as the subsequent measurement shows.
Each of the brands goes its own way in terms of the guarantee. The most customer-friendly are the conditions of BitFenix and Sea Sonic, because processing via the manufacturer or at BitFenix via the distributor Caseking is possible without further action by the customer. For direct processing via Inter-Tech, however, the manufacturer requires product registration using the serial number of the power supply and a copy of the proof of purchase. Without registration, the customer can return the goods within the warranty period, although this method is associated with a longer duration.
Sea Sonic with a ten-year guarantee
At the age of ten, Sea Sonic offers an unusually long warranty for a power supply of this class. At the age of five, BitFenix and Inter-Tech's turnout is only half as long. Because the damage in the event of a failure remains relatively manageable after five years, taking into account the loss in value, a five-year warranty is nevertheless a generous gesture on the part of the manufacturer.
Scope of delivery and exterior
All technical data are mentioned on the packaging of the Formula Gold 550W and Focus Plus Gold 550W. Specifying the (correct) speed curve of BitFenix is particularly commendable. Otherwise, all manufacturers list a list of marketing terms, whereby the gold-plated terminals and the semi-passive fan control stand out as features at Sea Sonic. BitFenix in turn highlights the 12-volt multi-rail fuse, which promises greater security.
The scope of delivery of the power supplies is complete with power cord, screws and manual. BitFenix also includes cable ties. Sea Sonic goes one step further with Velcro cable ties.
The casing of the Formula Gold 550W is identical to the Whisper M series except for the fact that it is less deep. Common to all implementations is the massive construction of the sheet metal cuboid and the fan grille, which consist of parallel metal struts and is therefore particularly advantageous in terms of flow technology. Here Sea Sonic said goodbye to its predecessor's honeycomb grille, which is hoped for a lower volume. The visual highlight of the Sama Armor 550W are the brushed metal emblems, which enhance the design of the otherwise black tin box.
The number of attached plugs for supplying the hardware components is roughly identical among the three power supplies and is sufficient for a gaming system with a few drives. BitFenix only distributes the peripheral connections over two cable strands, which is why the flexibility in cable laying is somewhat limited. The two PCIe connectors are implemented via Y cables, which leads to increased losses in the cables for graphics cards with high power consumption. BitFenix counteracts this by using 16 AWG instead of 18 AWG strand for this strand.
Black cables in sleeves and as a flat ribbon version
When it comes to cable sheathing, every manufacturer goes his own way. Sea Sonic uses a combination of ribbon cables for the peripheral cables and sleeves for the rest. BitFenix sleevt only the large 24-pin ATX cable harness and Inter-Tech completely relies on ribbon cables, which, however, with the large cable harnesses for less order than sleeve sheathing to care. In addition, the sleeve sheathing was used advantageously to hide capacitors in order to further reduce the ripple.
Inter-Tech has a slight need for improvement in terms of cable lengths, because 61 cm may be too short for the 4 + 4-pin EPS cable, depending on the housing, to guide the strand behind the mainboard tray. BitFenix dispenses with the barely used floppy connector, Inter-Tech has integrated it into the cable harness and Sea Sonic provides it optionally via an adapter.
On the next page: Technology analyzed in detail