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Corsair Professional Series HX850 850-watt Power Supply Review

Corsair gives the HX850 PSU an overhaul and sets a new benchmark for DC output quality in the process.
@TweakTown
Published Fri, Aug 10 2012 1:15 PM CDT   |   Updated Fri, Sep 18 2020 10:50 PM CDT
Rating: 93%Manufacturer: Corsair

Introduction, Specifications, Availability and Pricing

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VIEW GALLERY - 26 IMAGES

Back in 2009, Corsair launched the HX850. The power supply quickly became a favorite amongst gamers and builders as it performed very well with great options and was available at a very competitive price. Add in the seven year warranty and for many it was a no-brainer that this was the power supply to have for mid-range systems.

Fast forward three years and we find that Corsair is still selling the HX850 like hotcakes. Unfortunately it is starting to fall behind in the PSU market as newer, more efficient models have made it to the market.

Fortunately for everyone who is a fan of the HX850, Corsair decided it was time for a refresh and gave the HX850 an overhaul. This time around it still has the same I/O specifications and awesome seven year warranty, but comes with increased efficiency, better connector availability and a slight aesthetic redesign.

Corsair promises the same great performance that the unit is almost legendary for so read on as we take an in-depth look into the new Corsair HX850.

Specifications, Availability and Pricing

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DC output is identical to that of the previous HX850 power supply. The unit is capable of 70A on the single 12V rail. Both the 3.3V and 5V rails are rated for 25A each. These have a combined total wattage of 150W. The 5VSB is rated for 3A for a total output of 15W. Total combined maximum output of the unit is 850W.

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The new HX850 comes with a full list of protections including short circuit, over voltage, over current, over power and over temperature protections. The unit has received a bump up in the efficiency department and is now rated for 80Plus Gold over the previous model which was rated for Silver. Corsair manufacturers the HX850 with both native and modular cabling, all of which is fully sleeved or of the flat ribbon type. Topping everything off is rating for 100% continuous output at 50C.

Corsair has an MSRP of $199.99 on the new HX850. That puts the unit towards the high-end of the price spectrum for 850W units and in direct competition with the Kingwin LZP-850 and SeaSonic Platinum-860, as well as Corsair's own fully modular AX-850. This gives it at a bit of a disadvantage in the price department, but we wouldn't be surprised if there was a price drop soon or a rebate offered to make it more competitive.

The new HX850 is still backed by Corsair's impressive seven year warranty.

Packaging

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The front of the packaging gives us our first look at the unit as well as wattage, warranty, and 80Plus information. Corsair makes sure that you know this unit comes with a seven year warranty right off the bat.

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The back gives the most information about the unit including connector availability, I/O specifications, noise and efficiency. There are also a few highlights of other features such as the single rail design and quality of build.

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On the bottom we find a couple of other features listed that talks about the DC-to-DC circuitry for the 3.3V and 5V rails and the semi-modular cables design.

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A little more information can be gathered on the top, most importantly the dimensions of the unit. We also learn the unit has auto-switching circuitry for accepting 100V-240V input.

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Both sides of the box simply list the model with a small picture of the power supply.

Inside the Box

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The unit is packed well inside the box with foam surrounding the entire unit. Modular cables and accessories take up the rest of the space and keep things from moving around.

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Corsair uses the same semi-gloss black color for the HX850. On the top of the unit we find the I/O specification label and serial number.

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One side of the power supply displays the make and model.

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The other side is inverted so that the logo is displayed correctly no matter where or in what orientation the power supply may be inside the case.

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Taking a look at the back, we find that Corsair has made a few changes here. The standard honeycomb mesh exhaust grill is used and there is an on/off rocker switch as well.

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The front has undergone a small change as well. Previously the peripheral connectors were stacked three high and two wide. They are now three wide and two high to match the PCI-E connectors.

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The bottom 140mm fan that provides the active cooling for the HX850. The grill has been changed as well over the previous model to match the current styling that we saw in the HX1050.

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All of the modular cables are either fully sleeved or of the flat ribbon type.

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Also included are the user manual, warranty guide, package of zip ties, case badge, mounting screws and a Corsair Flash Voyager Mini 8GB flash drive which contains a copy of the tests performed on the unit before being shipped out.

Cabling Arrangement and A Look Inside

Cabling Arrangement

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Corsair gives a relative well thought out list of connectors and cables with the HX850. There are a total of two ATX 4+4, six PCI-E, 12 SATA and 12 Molex connectors available with the inclusion of two adapters to go from Molex to FDD. To utilize the second ATX 4+4 connector, you will have to give up one of your PCI-E connectors and possibly the ability to utilize triple GPU's. Very few should run into this problem though as most will need to have a stronger power supply for a triple video card setup.

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Rail distribution is as simple as it gets with a single 12V rail.

A Look Inside

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Taking the fan off of the unit, we get a great shot of the inside. There isn't much going on in the way of passive cooling, but it is sufficient. The design of the unit helps fresh air penetrate to all areas of the power supply as it is very open.

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A pair of Nippon Chemi-Con caps covers the primary side of the Corsair HX850 850W power supply.

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Nippon Chemi-Con capacitors can be found on the secondary side of the PSU as well.

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Active cooling comes in the form of the Ong Hua 140mm fan, model HA1425H12B-Z.

Test Results and Final Thoughts

Test Results

Our load tests utilize a couple of FAST ATE active load testers and a variety of other equipment such as an oscilloscope, power conditioner, temperature probe and a power consumption meter. You can read more about our standard testing approach here.

The tests performed are based around six conceivable setups that are out there and progressively load down the PSU up to the power supply's limits or 1000W, whichever comes first. Since our test equipment's limits are greater than that of the Corsair HX850 850W, we can test it to the maximum.

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Let's start by taking a look at the voltages to see how well this unit did during testing. Starting with the 12V rail, we see 2% regulation from start to finish. The 12V rail showed a total drop of .16V from start to finish. The 5V rail did just better as it managed to stay within 1% of specification with a total drop of .05V from start to finish. Moving towards the 3.3V rail, we see that regulation was still within 1% with a total voltage drop of .05V.

DC output quality is incredible and much higher than we expected out of this model. We started off seeing 5mV of ripple on the 12V rail during Test 1. As we increased the loads, the ripple had increased to 11mV at a little over half load. By the time we had the maximum load of 850W we were seeing 15mV of noise.

The Corsair HX850 is rated for 80Plus Gold efficiency. This means that the power supply must perform at 87%/90%/87% efficiency at 20%/50%/100% loads respectively. As you can see, the Corsair HX850 passed on our bench wasn't close to failing at any point.

Final Thoughts

Normally, when a manufacturer does a product refresh, it is for one of two reasons. Either they have found a way to manufacturer the unit at the same level of performance of substantially lower costs or they have brought improvements to the unit that makes it more competitive with the current market. The new HX850 from Corsair is most certainly in the latter category. The results above show that it performs very well all the way around. The bump from 80Plus Silver to Gold was very nice to see and the unit does a great job showing the increased efficiency.

It is getting very hard to distinguish the bad, the good and the great units simply from voltage regulation as could have been done in the past. As we've seen from almost all the power supplies in the last few years, voltage regulation has been improved by just about everyone and almost all units are within 3% of ATX specifications. About 20% of the units we have tested seem to have found the sweet spot of 1%-2% regulation and the Corsair HX1050 is right in that sweet spot. It manages to stay within 2% on the 12V rail while keeping the minor rails within 1%. You can't really ask for much more considering the market this power supply is aimed at.

DC output quality is a whole different ball game and where we are seeing differences between the good and the great power supplies. We re-ran the tests on this unit and pulled out another power supply just to confirm that our scope was still working correctly as this level of DC output quality is just amazing. The noise seen on the 12V rail was a measly 5mV during Test 1 and maxed out at 15mV during Test 5. Under max load, the Corsair HX850 has better DC output quality than most power supplies do at minimal loads.

Add in the top notch build quality of the unit and the fantastic seven year warranty and Corsair has an almost flawless unit with the HX850. The only flaw that we can find in the unit is the price as you can pick up units with similar build quality and either Platinum efficiency or full-modular design for the same price or less. Even this doesn't take much away from the unit due to the incredible performance which warrants a few extra pennies out of your pocket.

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Chris Ramseyer started his career as a LAN Party organizer in Midwest USA. After working with several computer companies he was asked to join the team at The Adrenaline Vault by fellow Midwest LAN Party legend Sean Aikins. After a series of shake ups at AVault, Chris eventually took over as Editor-in-Chief before leaving to start Real World Entertainment. Look for Chris to bring his unique methods of testing Hard Disk Drives, Solid State Drives as well as RAID controller and NAS boxes to TweakTown as he looks to provide an accurate test bed to make your purchasing decisions easier.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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