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Cougar PowerX 550-Watt 80 PLUS Bronze Power Supply Review

Cougar PowerX 550-Watt 80 PLUS Bronze Power Supply Review

Cougar's budget level power supply looks amazing and performs well for such a low cost unit. Let's dive in and take a close look at it now.

@zovadka
Published Thu, Sep 12 2013 9:01 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:32 PM CDT
Rating: 87%Manufacturer: Cougar

Introduction, Specifications, Availability and Pricing

Cougar PowerX 550-Watt 80 PLUS Bronze Power Supply Review 01 | TweakTown.com
VIEW GALLERY - 23 IMAGES

Cougar is a name that is really starting to grow on us here at TweakTown. They have presented us with some products that are excellent in terms of design and performance, but also rather easy on the wallet, considering what you get. The only power supply that we have looked at has been their higher-end offering, the https://www.tweaktown.com/reviews/4923/cougar_gx800_800_watt_80_plus_gold_power_supply_review/index.html' target='_blank'>GX800 V2.

Today we are looking at the PowerX 550W. The PowerX series are budget units for those who simply have tight monetary constraints when building computers. Nowhere in the specifications will you find anything that will define this power supply as an industry leader, a game changer, or anything revolutionary.

What you will find is that the power supplies are a solid platform that will perform well, look good, and save some money.

Specifications, Availability and Pricing

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The Cougar PowerX 500W power supply features dual 12V rails. 12V1 is rated for 28A, while 12V2 is rated for 22A with the two 12V rails rated for a combined 516W or 43A. The 3.3V rail is rated for 24A, while the 5V rail is rated for 15A. The minor rails are rated for a combined output of 120W. Finally, the 5VSB rail is rated for 3A or 15W. Maximum output for the power supply is 550W.

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Protections are usually the first thing to be cut in a budget unit, but Cougar doesn't like that. The PowerX 550W features a full set of protections including SCP, OVP, OCP, OPP and OTP. The power supply is rated for 80 PLUS Bronze efficiency. All cables are natively wired and fully sleeved. Finally, the unit is not rated for 100% continuous output at 50C, but Cougar does rate the unit for it at 40C instead.

Cougar's PowerX 550W has an MSRP of $69.99. That's pretty cheap and chances are we will see it cheaper once it finally hits market as it isn't available yet. The higher wattage 700W model is available though and with a price of only $75.99 from Newegg. Cougar backs the PowerX series with a three year warranty.

Packaging

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There isn't too much going on with the front of the box. All we can tell is wattage, warranty and efficiency.

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The back gives us all of the information pertaining to the power supply. On the top, we are presented with a bulleted list of features. Just below that, I/O specifications and connector availability are present. The bottom of the back gives us both efficiency and temperature charts.

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Rounding out our shots of the external packaging is a shot of the top, which happens to be the same as the bottom.

Here we have a few logos to give us some quick information about the unit. Both the left and right sides of the packaging are for other languages.

Inside the Box

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The PowerX series of power supplies certainly have some no frills packaging. Aside from the bubble wrap, little protects the unit from the outside world.

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The top is a blank slate and shows the black finish on half of the power supply.

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This side gives us the I/O specification label and the beautiful red/orange metallic color in high gloss that covers the rest of the unit.

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This side of the power supply features nothing more than the Cougar logo.

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The other side is inverted and features Cougar logo.

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Flipping things to the back we find nothing more than the standard honeycomb mesh grill with AC input and on/off rocker switch.

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The front presents is rather bland, but it does have a few vent holes for excess heat.

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Normally I try to take a picture straight down, but I wanted to make sure I captured how the color changes depending on the angle and I think this is a very good representation of just how red and orange the unit can be at the same time. Present here is the 120mm fan that cools the PowerX 500W PSU.

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Included with the PowerX 500W is an AC input cord, four zip ties, mounting screws and user manual.

Cabling Arrangement and A Look Inside

Cabling Arrangement

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Budget power supplies are usually very simplistic in the cable layout. The PowerX 550W has a little less of a traditional approach and features some cables mixed with different peripheral cables. This is nice to see as when you're building on a budget, you generally don't have a lot of peripherals and with this cable layout it is plausible that you could get away with a single peripheral cable and hide the others to keep things tidy inside the case.

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The Cougar PowerX 550W features dual 12V rails. 12V1 is responsible for the Main, PCI-E and all peripheral cables, while 12V2 is responsible for nothing more than the ATX 4+4 cable. It just doesn't seem like a good idea to devote a full 22A to the auxiliary power connector, while throwing everything else on a rail that is only capable of 336W of power.

A Look Inside

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There isn't too much going on inside the PowerX 550W power supply, but that's to be expected with a budget unit. There is plenty of passive cooling going and it looks like Cougar could have gone with a shorter enclosure if they really wanted to as the PCB is much shorter than the enclosure.

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A single Panasonic capacitor sits on the primary side of the power supply.

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Teapo capacitors litter the secondary side of the power supply.

[img]24[/img]

Cougar uses their own DFT122512M 120mm fan to provide the active cooling for the PowerX 550W power supply.

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 higher than that of the Cougar PowerX 550W power supply, we can test it to the maximum.

Cougar PowerX 550-Watt 80 PLUS Bronze Power Supply Review 25 | TweakTown.com

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.

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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 121V rail, we see 2% regulation from start to finish with a total drop of .25V. 12V2 fared slightly better, showing 2% regulation from start to finish with a total drop of .23V. The 5V rail managed to stay within 2% of specification with a total drop of .04V from start to finish. Moving towards the 3.3V rail, we see that regulation was within 3% of specification with a total voltage drop of .06V.

DC Output quality for the Cougar PowerX 550W was good and well within specifications. During Test 1, we saw 12mV of noise on our scope. When we increased the loads in Test 2, the ripple climbed to 14mV at around half load. During Test 3 under a load of 550W, the oscilloscope showed a maximum of 31mV on noise on the 12V rail.

The Cougar PowerX 550W is rated for 80 PLUS Bronze efficiency. This means that the power supply must perform at 82%/85%/82% efficiency at 20%/50%/100% loads respectively. As you can see, the PowerX 550W passed on our bench, and wasn't close to failing at any point.

Final Thoughts

Remember that I stated at the beginning of this review that in no way would we be able to define this power supply as an industry leader, a game changer, or anything revolutionary. It is strictly a budget power supply that gives you solid performance beyond the $30 no-name junk units that may or may not last more than six months. It does a very good job at doing this too.

The performance results are nothing to brag about, but having voltage regulation at no worse than 3% in a budget unit is a very nice thing. I have to admit that I am pleased with the noise suppression on the 12V rail too as it is much better than I expected. The efficiency is just what you would expect as it starts falling off fast as you near full load for this Bronze rated unit.

The real deal with this unit though is the price and the fact that it is dirt cheap. When it comes to the US market at $70, it will be a steal and it is only a matter of time before it drops in price a little bit making it even more of a bargain.

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Zac provides professional IT support by day, but plays the role of enthusiast by night. He's been building high-end custom computer for the nearly fifteen years and writing PC hardware reviews for the better part of a decade. Aside from computers, he also dabbles in quite a bit of home A/V equipment. Throughout the years, Zac has picked up an extensive knowledge of power circuitry and leverages this to provide the PSU reviews. When not found testing or writing, you can often find him speeding through the winding countryside on his motorcycle.

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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