Introduction, Specifications, Availability and Pricing
We've taken a look at several of the new Corsair AX and AXi series power supplies and they have proven to be some of the best darn units available right now. The AX1200i is arguably the best unit in the world at the moment and the lower wattage units with digital capabilities are just as potent as we've seen with the AX860i. We've also taken a look at the Corsair AX760 without the digital capabilities, and were quite pleased with it, except for the price.
What we haven't taken a look at to this point is the AX860 power supply. Its features are identical to that of the AX760, but it offers an additional 100W of power. It still offers the same Platinum efficiency and modularity. It even has the same wattage minor rails which means that all of extra power comes from the 12V rail. Making things even more interesting is that prices have changed a bit since these units hit the market and not only is the price difference between the AX760 and AX860 units much closer, but you can also currently get the AX760i for the same price as the AX860.
Let's tear this thing apart and find out if the extra 100W is worth the price increase or if you are better of going for the digital capabilities offered by the AXi unit if your budget is at this level.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The Corsair AX860 boasts a single 12V rail rated for 71A or 852W of power. Both the 3.3V and 5V rails are rated for 25A each with a combined maximum output of 125W. The 5VSB rail is rated for 3A of 15W. Maximum combined output for the Corsair AX860 is 860W.
The AX860 is an enthusiast grade power supply and its features mimic just what you would expect out of such a unit. It features a full suite of protections including SCP, OVP, OCP, OPP and OTP. The power supply is fully modular and all of the cables are fully sleeved. Corsair rates the AX860 for 100% continuous output at 50C and the unit is also rated for 80 PLUS Platinum efficiency.
Corsair has an MSRP of $199.99 on the AX860 power supply. A quick bit of searching will yield a slightly cheaper price of $189.99 from Newegg at the time of writing. This may not be the cheapest price for a unit of this wattage on the market, but it is competitively priced against the competition. The AX860 comes with a seven year warranty to back it up.
The front of the packaging gives us just a hint of what is inside. There is a small picture of the actual unit and a few specifications present as well.
Turning to the back of the box, we are presented with connector availability at the very top. The left side gives us information pertaining to the efficiency and noise of the unit as well.
The right half of the back gives us a bit more information, letting us know that the unit is fully modular and that it has "reliable" power delivery.
The remaining sides of the box offer up no other pieces of useful information.
Inside the Box
As always, this Corsair power supply is very well packed. Even if mishandled during shipping, it is sure to arrive safely, unless your driver intentionally runs over the package with his truck.
The top houses the I/O specification label for the AX860 and gives us a look at the textured black finish of the AX860.
Both sides feature the same AX860 logo with the opposite being inverted so that it can be installed in your case however you would like it to be.
There isn't anything special going on in the back of the unit. Here we see the standard honeycomb mesh grill, AC input and on/off rocker switch.
Rotating things around to the front presents us with all of the modular connectors for the unit which are well labeled. Also present here is a switch that allows you to choose between semi-fanless operation or having the fan always operational.
The bottom presents us with the 120mm fan that cools the AX860.
Included with AX860 is a standard set of modular cables. I say standard because they offer additional kits of different colors... which we will be covering soon here as well.
Also included with the AX860 are ten zip ties, mounting screws, a case badge and AC input cord.
Rounding out the contents of the box is the warranty guide and user manual.
Cabling Arrangement and A Look Inside
Out of the box, the AX860 has one of the best selections of cables and connectors of nearly any power supply available. It offers dual ATX 4+4 cables, short and long SATA cables, and even PCI-E cables in both single and dual connector varieties. As far as the number of connectors go, there are six PCI-E connectors, 12 SATA connectors, eight Molex and two Molex to FDD connectors.
Rail distribution is as simple as it gets with a single 12V rail. There is no need to worry about load balancing here.
A Look Inside
Opening things up reveals why there is only a 120mm fan cooling the unit. First, there is plenty of passive cooling going on inside the AX860. On top of that, the daughterboard that breaks out to the modular connectors shortens the depth of space on the inside that would normally allow for a 140mm fan to fit.
A pair of Nippon Chemi-Con bulk capacitor sits on the primary side of the power supply.
The secondary side is littered with a bunch of Nippon Chemi-Con caps.
Corsair cools the AX860 with the Sanyo Denki San Ace 120mm fan, model 9S1212F404.
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 AX860 860W 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 2% regulation from start to finish with a total drop of .14V. The 5V rail managed to stay within 1% of specification with a total drop of .03V from start to finish. Moving towards the 3.3V rail, we see that regulation was within 2% of specification with a total voltage drop of .03V.
DC Output quality for the Corsair AX860 860W was excellent and well within specifications. During Test 1, we saw 11mV of noise on our scope. When we increased the loads in Test 3, the ripple climbed to 17mV at just over half. During Test5 under a load of 860W, the oscilloscope showed a maximum of 22mV on noise on the 12V rail.
The Corsair AX860 860W is rated for 80 PLUS Platinum efficiency. This means that the power supply AX860 860W passed on our bench, and wasn't close to failing at any point.
There's no other way to say it other than that the Corsair AX860 is a fantastic power supply. The voltage regulation, DC output quality and voltage regulation are all just what you would expect from an enthusiast grade power supply. Even the price of about $190 is pretty good for a top notch power supply between 800W and 900W.
This is also the problem with the AX860 as it seems Corsair may be their own worst enemy. Corsair has four different enthusiast grade power supplies within 100W of each other just considering the AX760, AX860, AX760i and AX860i. With the price drops since the units went on sale, there has been a blur between these units, especially the two in the middle.
The AX760i is currently available for the same price as the AX860, yet it offers the same performance, but with the addition of digital features and Corsair Link integration. It becomes a no brainer that unless you absolutely have to have the extra 100W that the AX860 offers, the AX760i is a better route to go.
That doesn't mean that the AX860 isn't worth your consideration. It will be a great addition to your rig if you need the additional wattage over the AX760i, or don't need the extra features that the AXi model offers.