Introduction, Specifications, Availability and Pricing
Corsair set a new standard when it comes to enthusiast grade power supplies when it launched the AX1200i digital ATX power supply. We took a look at the unit back in August and couldn't say enough good about the unit. It is easily one of the top three power supplies we have ever laid our hands on, but it comes with two drawbacks: it is expensive and delivers way more power than most will ever have a need for.
For those that go balls to the wall with quad GPUs and lots of overclocking, this isn't going to be an issue. Your average enthusiast with dual GPUs and a decent air cooler is left with technology that he would find incredibly useful, but out of his or her budget, mostly because of the cost associated with high wattage units.
Today Corsair is launching the AX860i and AX760i which should alleviate both of these issues. The two new power supplies bring the same digitally controlled power and 80 PLUS Platinum efficiency provided by the AX2100i, just at reduced wattages and prices. As with all power supplies in the new AXi line, the new units are also controllable, and can be monitored via the Corsair Link software.
We will be looking at the AX860i today, but you can expect all the same features and performance from both units.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The AX860i features a single 12V rail that is capable of delivering 99% of the rated output for the power supply. It is rated for 71.6A or 859.2W. Both 3.3V rails are rated for a strong 25A each with a combined maximum output of 125W. The 5VSB rail is rated for 3A or 15W. Combined maximum output for the AX860i is 860W.
Just because Corsair has brought the AXi series down to the mid-range market doesn't mean that they have cut any of the features. The power supply features a full set of protections including SCP, OVP, OCP, OPP and OTP. Furthermore, the OCP points are adjustable via the Corsair Link software for the PCI-E cable should you desire.
The unit features fully modular cabling. All peripheral cables are of the flat ribbon type while the rest are fully sleeved. The unit is rated for 80 PLUS Platinum efficiency and capable of 100% continuous output at 50C.
Corsair has an MSRP of $249.99 listed for the AX860i. This makes the AX860i the most expensive 800W-900W power supply available on the market, but you also have to figure in that none of the others are digitally controlled or able to be monitored in real-time from your PC. Figuring in the premium for that, it puts it right in line with the likes of the SeaSonic Platinum-860 and Enermax Platimax 850W. Corsair backs the AX86-i by a seven year warranty.
Corsair doesn't give us much looking at the front of the box with the exception of a small picture and the 80 PLUS Platinum logo.
The back highlights the DSP that allows for better voltage regulation and lower noise. It also tells you that it has increased efficiency and is silent under 30% load.
The other half of the box goes over the Corsair Link functionality of the unit and gives us the I/O specifications.
Both sides are blank other than the AX860i logo.
The top gives us a good list of connectors and cable lengths.
Flipping things over, we find some dimensions listed as well as a quick comparison chart between the various models of Corsair's power supply lineup.
Inside the Box
Everything is packed in tightly and well protected with at least a half inch of foam or more.
The top of the power supply houses the I/O specification label and gives us a shot at the matte black finish on the power supply.
Both sides feature the same logo, just inverted on the opposite side.
On the front we find a set of fully modular connectors. The peripheral and PCI-E cables are numbered and should make identification of them in the Corsair Link software easy.
The back features a standard honeycomb mesh grill with AC input and on/off rocker switch. It is as unobstructed as possible since the AX860i logo area is already blocked off by the PFC inductor inside.
On the bottom we find the 120mm fan that cools the power supply. The grill is designed to blend in with the enclosure and still provided maximum airflow.
All cables fully sleeved with nylon mesh or of the flat ribbon type.
The included USB dongle allows you to connect the power supply directly to your motherboard. You can also connect it directly to a Corsair Link Commander if you are utilizing one.
Paper documents included are the warranty guide, Corsair Link software information and AX760i user manual.
Rounding out the contents of our box are the case badge, mounting screws, cable ties, double sided tape for mounting the USB dongle and a flash drive with some Chroma test results on it. The flash drive is not included with retail units.
Cabling Arrangement and A Look Inside
Corsair provides a near perfect set of cables and connectors with the AX860i, all of which are fully modular and sleeved or flat.
The dual ATX 4+4 cables are nice to see on top of the PCI-E cables that offer both dual and single connectors in a single cable. There are six PCI-E connectors, 12 SATA connectors, and eight Molex connectors. That's quite a bit for 860W and should take care of just about anyone's needs. Even better are the short/long cables for the SATA connectors.
The Corsair AX860i features a single 12V rail so there isn't much to talk about here.
A Look Inside
This top down shot gives us a good glimpse at the inside of the power supply. There isn't much in the way of passive cooling, but what is here is more than sufficient. One of the benefits of increased efficiency is reduced heat output.
A Panasonic capacitor sits on the primary side of the AX860i power supply.
Rubycon capacitors are soldered in on the secondary side.
Corsair utilizes the Yate Loon D12BH-12 120mm fan to actively cool the AX860i.
Test Results and Final Thoughts
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 higher than that of the Corsair AX860i power supply, we can test it to the maximum.
The above tests represent typical loads that we have measured from various systems and are meant to give a rough idea of where your computer might fall in line with our tests. Please keep in mind that each system is different and actual loads can vary greatly even with similar hardware.
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 1% regulation from start to finish with a total drop of .09V. The 5V rail managed to stay within 2% of specification as well with a total drop of .07V from start to finish. Moving towards the 3.3V rail, we see that regulation was back within 1% of specification with a total voltage drop of .05V.
DC Output quality for the Corsair AX860i was amazing and well within specification. During Test 1, we saw 6mV of noise on our scope. When we increased the loads in Test 3, the ripple climbed to 12mV at a little over half load. During Test 5 under a load of 860WW, the oscilloscope showed a maximum of 18mv on noise on the 12Vrail.
The Corsair AX860i is rated for 80 PLUS Platinum efficiency. This means that the power supply must perform at 90%/92%/89% efficiency at 20%/50%/100% loads respectively. As you can see, the AX860i passed on our bench and wasn't close to failing at any point.
Whenever we see top end enthusiast features trickle down to the mid-range market, a combination of three possible things happen. Either you pay out the nose for it, get it with reduced quality, or get it with reduced features.
Corsair didn't cut any of the features from the AX1200i when designing the AX860i. You get the same functionality across the board. This includes the DSP, high efficiency, real-time monitoring with integration into Corsair Link, and even the ability to set custom OCP points as you wish. They didn't cut from the quality of the unit either. Voltage regulation, DC output quality, and efficiency are all almost identical to what was delivered with the AX1200i. You simply can't ask for more out of a power supply.
Unfortunately this leaves just one way for this to go. The Corsair AX860i is definitely in the category of paying a premium for what you get. At a price of $249.99, it is certainly going to hit the wallet for a power supply that is less than 1000W. Once you've got your hands on it, you'll know where that money went, and if you're any sort of enthusiast, it will be very apparent that your money was very well spent.
It is cost and cost alone that keeps us from giving the AX860i an Editor's Choice award over the Performance award. If it were just a bit more competitively priced, it would be an unbeatable package.