Who's Who In Power Supplies, 2011: Brands Vs. Manufacturers

Do you think that all power supplies are manufactured by the brand on the label? Think again. We show what makes a good PSU and reveal who builds them. You can actually find lots of quality (instead of just scrap metal) behind some of the budget labels.

With 472 entries associating power supply brands and manufacturers, our 2011 list is three times larger than it was last year. We owe a debt of thanks to all of the readers who sent us email and provided valuable feedback in the comments section of Who’s Who in Power Supplies: Brands, Labels, And OEMs. As of today, our list still doesn't cover all of the products on the market, an almost-impossible task due to the constantly fluctuating environment. But our database can at least help guide you away from costly bombs and toward true PSU bargains.

For those companies that don't manufacture their own products, such as HEC and Seasonic, we list the most notable product series and, wherever possible, the associated base designs. This helps to classify unlabelled or rebadged power supplies based on a certain description or the use of a standard PCB.

Several new labels have started selling supplies from a handful of dubious manufacturers, and most of these products belong in the junk category. Low-cost PSUs are not suitable at all for serious systems. Widely-unknown labels are preceded by a questionable reputation, to say the least, and are often followed by smoke and an unpleasant aroma. Almost every time we try to give lesser-known units a chance, they invariably blow up in our faces. Soon, we'll publish another piece that helps identify some of the warning signs of a poorly-built power supply, hopefully preventing you from turning your next build into a ticking time bomb.

This article first appeared on November 12, 2010, and has since been added to and updated.

Who’s Who?

Let’s start by dividing the manufacturers into three large groups so we can better understand the database and how these companies are connected:

1. The OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers)

OEMs manage all of their production internally. They either exclusively design and manufacture their own PSUs (like Enermax) or design and manufacture their own brands, as well as manufacture PSUs designed by other companies (such as FSP, HEC, and SeaSonic). Some of them focus heavily on worldwide exports and provide a range of models, which are then sold under different labels. It's common to find otherwise-identical models marketed under many different names and labels. The industrial areas around Shenzhen, China, are the cradle of the lowest-priced PSUs sold all over the globe.

2. Designers: Without Their Own Production

The second group of companies also develops and designs their own products. However, they have to outsource either some or all of the manufacturing to other companies. One example of this is Be Quiet. Those familiar with the brand noted how Be Quiet P7 models were suddenly much better than the disappointing P6. The answer was simply a manufacturer change, from Topower to FSP. Other examples of designers include SilverStone, Corsair, PC Power & Cooling, and Tagan.

3. The Labels: With or Without Any Technical Involvement

Arguably, this group could be subdivided. Some importers of foreign PSUs that resell models under their own labels have a certain influence over the quality and choice of components, while others simply bring in some very cheap products, change the label, and resell them.

This third group is the most interesting one for price-oriented customers, though also the most uncertain for quality. You're as likely to score a bargain by getting a relabelled high-quality product at a lower price as you are to be disappointed by being too tight-fisted. Some good examples of products to watch are new models from Aerocool, which are essentially the Cougar units from Compucase/HEC with a discounted price and completely restyled exterior.

After many tests and inspections of budget models (by us, our readers, and friendly computer stores), we would advise you to steer your piggy banks clear of the labels Rasurbo, Inter-Tech (Sinan Power, Coba), Tech Solo, LC Power, RaptoxX, Tronje, Xilence, Ultron, World Link, Q-Tec, etc. We were able to identify some of these models without looking at the UL number simply by checking out the installed components. These were almost exclusively the simplest work of such manufacturers as Enhance, World Link, Andyson, Topower, Casing Macron, and Channel Well.

Lack of protection circuits, low efficiency, and bad build quality were major points of criticism. The lowest of the low was a European label called Hardwaremania24, targeted at OEM PCs. While still in standby mode, the PSU heated to about 176 degrees Fahrenheit, spent the next six hours billowing smoke, and finally made what might be described as a trumpeting sound before dying. The host computer was never even turned on. After analysing the PSU, we found no protection at all save for a single slow fuse.

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  • jamesedgeuk2000
    Nice work, you guys have totally redeemed yourselves after your "spend at least £50 on a branded PSU or it WILL die!" article last week :D
  • 13thmonkey
    Very useful resource, can you make sure it is in some way able to be easily found in the future, i've lost count of the number of articles that i've not been able to find. Any idea who makes colorit.
  • bobdozer
    Igor Wallossek is THG's best writer by miles.
  • blubbey
    Good article.

    bobdozerIgor Wallossek is THG's best writer by miles.

    I respectfully disagree with you PoV, I also enjoy reading Angelini's articles.
  • mi1ez
    Dell HP and FujiSiemens all with invalid ULs? Somehow it surprises me... What do they have to gain?
  • doive1231
    Yeah or Colorsit. Big, cheap brand here in the UK but who makes them?
  • hankmarvin
    I'd also would like to know who makes Colorit PSU's.
  • Anonymous
    "A PSU equipped with chokes (a kind of inductor) is a clear indicator of passive Power Factor Correction (PFC). Passive PFC plays a significant role in the efficiency of the PSU. Only active circuitry allows for factors close to the optimum value of 1, while passive components can reach 0.7 to 0.8 at best, meaning they only achieve 70% to 80% efficiency. PSUs with a passive PFC may be cheaper to buy in the short run, but poor efficiency can swallow savings over time in the form of higher electricity costs."

    This is BS. PFC = Power factor correction. Nothing to do with efficiency. If Igor doesnt know this how can your trust anything else he is writing.
  • hannahmay
    Surely there are laws in place to protect consumers from "cheap" hardware that will go up in flames? Why aren't the fire brigade inundated with calls from thousands of people that have bought such PSU's either on their own or in a PC? Sounds like the big companies are paying you to promote their expensive brands whilst a huge number of consumers have bought and are still buying cheaper but just as effective and safe units.
    Can you justify your comments? If such laws exist then they're either inadequate and need to be revised (pretty soon if people lives are at risk) or the companies that make cheap PSU's are ignoring them and need to be imprisoned!
  • 13thmonkey
    if you look at some of the more in depth psu reviews you'll find that the poorer examples fail significantly before their rated levels, sometimes 50% of it. When they fail they can be quite spectacular, or they just take out other components. And as to why people don't kick up a stink about it, how many watts does your system pull? do you know? I happen to but i'd argue only about 1% of PC users do, and they'll buy the good psus. The remainder will buy a new PC, or take it to [insert large PC store of choice] who'll tell them they need a 600W psu minimum.
  • 13thmonkey
    Additionally they'll spark, but there's not a fat lot to burn in a PC, partly thanks to UL certification, which is important in the US.
  • hannahmay
    So what exactly are we paying for with the expensive PSU's? Are the digital security chips so expensive to incorporate into the equipment? Does using capacitors that can handle 105 degrees instead of 85 degrees cost that much extra?
    Does altering the PCB design cost that much more?
    We all know that we can buy DVD players for £20 that have been mass imported from Asia from major electrical stores that would hardly flaunt the law and have to pay huge fines/face possible imprisonment/public embarrassment.
    Or are we just paying for expensive certification?
    Seriously, if the models you list are that dangerous then you should state which ones, the types of protection that they use, and the laws they are breaking and forward this information to the relevant authorities.
    I agree with "Anonymous" - this is BS, powered by rip-off companies trying to promote their overpriced goods at our expense. If it isn't then we need to stock our huge office buildings with mass quantities of fire precautions and harass our politicians every day until something is done!
  • 13thmonkey
    http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/410 regarding how to test psus

    http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Logisys-PS600A12-Power-Supply-Review/1211 a bad one i think

    http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Apevia-Turbolink-ATX-TL450W-BK-Power-Supply-Review/1212 and another one

    http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/iMicro-PS-IM400WH-Power-Supply-Review/1072/7 and another one

    Note that these are not real fake, a fake would be someone else making an enermax psu and claiming that it is one. these are no-name psus claiming to be no name psus. There is no standard for psus to be measured against so trading standards can't easily say that is doesn't do what it says. And in 95% of useage cases nothing will happen, but for enthusiasts, or up and coming enthusiasts who haven't learnt yet.

    Like I said earlier burning is unlikely, sparking internally is the normal failure mode.

    in our office buildings you have dells, hps, compaqs, lenovos, Acers and other main brand pc's which have small psus, but one that are accurately rated, a lot of dells will have 300W psus, but they'll do 300W all day every day, and the system will draw under 300W, but don't add anything to that system else it'll draw more than 300W.

    I know that my system draws about 300W max, i've a 600W seasonic S12, its very quiet, not at all stressed, and that was my choice. If I used a 300W psu it would be noisy, stressed and have no head room for system expansion.

    For the majority of pc buyers who buy a system then there are no concerns, its uneducated builders that are at risk.