Introduction & Specifications, Availability and Pricing
Time flies when you're having fun, and while there is a lot of effort and hard work that goes on in the background to provide our viewers with the quality content that they demand, it is fair to say that we have a lot of fun doing our jobs here at TweakTown. That also means that the time flies by and what seems like was just a month or two ago can be quite a bit longer than that.
This is exactly what has happened here as it feels like Corsair delivered us the AX1200i just a few short months ago. We praised the unit time and time again, not only in our review but to friends, family, coworkers, and numerous others. It's become one of the top units amongst enthusiasts, overclockers, system builders, and many more. Most of us at TweakTown have at least one of these power supplies in use with our test systems and some even have a spare just because it comes in very handy. It does everything you can ask of a power supply and does so with excellence.
As with everything related to technology, what was once the king of the hill is surely to be yesterday's news within a few years' time. The AX1200i is something that we felt to be a little different as we even labeled it as a unit that "defines a new bar for what it means to be an enthusiast level power supply." Corsair has been very hard at work seeking to outdo themselves, and the AX1500i that we are covering today has a very solid chance to do just that.
Many may think that the AX1500i is simply a higher wattage version of what they already had, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Corsair still utilizes Flextronics as their OEM for the unit, but almost everything is elevated to the next level. While there is most certainly a significant increase in power output, there is also a nice boost in efficiency, increased cabling to make use of this power, integration of the Corsair Link dongle, and more. If you're a true enthusiast, then this should be more than enough to make you want to know more. Let's start digging into this unit and see what it has to offer.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
I/O specifications have changed very little for the AX1500i when compared to the AX1200i. 12V power is increased and now up to 125A, which can be delivered over a single rail or split upon multiple rails with custom OCP points via their software. Both the 3.3V and 5V minor rails are rated for 30A each with a combined maximum output of 180W. The 5VSB rail remains the same as well with 3.5A of power available. Maximum combined output of the Corsair AX1500i is 1500W.
We would be sadly disappointed if Corsair didn't give us all the features that we check for right out of the box. Protections are plentiful with SCP, OVP, OCP, OPP, and OTP all present. All of the cables for the AX1500i are fully modular and are of the flat ribbon type. The power supply is rated for 100 percent continuous power at 50C as this unit is meant to be tortured from start to finish. The AX1500i is rated for 80 PLUS Titanium efficiency, which is something new for the TweakTown test bench. Up until now, Titanium efficiency has been very hard for manufacturers to achieve with 115V.
The AX1500i is a fully digital power supply. This allows for the unit to make adjustments on-the-fly and increase efficiency. It also integrates with the Corsair Link software for real-time monitoring and more. We will cover more on this soon as we are currently working on putting together a new test system specifically designed to show what all you can do with digital power supplies and their associated software.
Corsair has an MSRP of $449 for the AX1500i. There's no way to sugar coat this, and Corsair is quite proud of what they've brought to the market, but you can't race a Lamborghini with a Corolla either. If you want and need the best, you're going to have to be prepared to spend some money. At the very least, you know that you are covered for years to come. Corsair will stand behind the AX1500i with their industry leading 7-year warranty.
Package & Inside the Box
If we get too many more of these high wattage units, I'm going to have to get a new photo booth. The box is insanely large, but thankfully Corsair keeps it relatively simple.
The back gives us a little bit of information along with a few graphs. This may be the first 1500W unit that we've seen that is silent at least at lower RPM. The fan stays off till 30 percent load or 25C, whichever comes first.
The other half gives some information about the Corsair Link software and the I/O specifications.
Sadly, this is all that there is on the box. There is nothing regarding cables or connectors, let alone cable length. The box is certainly large enough to give us that information up front, but I also highly doubt that anyone is going to spend $450 on a power supply without knowing what they are getting themselves into and will do some research to find out if it will give them what they need.
Inside the Box
Everything is safe and sound on the inside. Short of the UPS guy running over the box before throwing it on your porch (which we've had happen…), you'll know your shiny new power supply is in good condition.
Corsair gives the AX1500i a felt bag to protect it inside my room. I almost want to set this on the shelf beside the limited edition Crown Royal. I could see myself pulling both off the shelf to enjoy simultaneously on rare occasions.
It's big, and it is a power supply. It's a BFPSU without a doubt. The AX1500i is finished in a semi-gloss black finish.
Both sides of the AX1500i feature the same logo, with the opposite side being inverted.
Corsair may have been able to squeeze one more connector on the front, but I doubt it. Everything is clearly labeled, including the two connectors for use with the Link software. There is also a self-test button on the front that you can use before you fry your computer with a faulty unit.
There isn't anything special on the back of the unit other than the sticker that covers the C20 power connector. Many may think that the On/Off switch isn't heavy enough for this much power, but we'll cover that soon.
The bottom of the unit gives a nice perspective of the size of the power supply. It uses a 140mm fan to provide the cooling, and while a fan this size would normally cover most of the unit on a normal power supply, it only covers about two thirds of the AX1500i's bottom.
All of the cables for the AX1500i are of the flat ribbon type, including the 24-pin cable.
The only exception to this is the USB cable for the Corsair Link software on the right side. It appears to be nothing more than a regular USB cable with the large end cut off and terminated to attach to the USB header on the motherboard.
Corsair also includes a user manual, warranty card, Corsair Link information card, case badge, zip ties, mounting screws, and C19 Power cable. The manual does list the included cables and their lengths, but it is hard to read that when it is sealed inside the box.
Cabling Arrangement & A Look Inside
With 1500W of power comes a lot of cabling. There are a total of 22 cables offering various lengths of different connectors. Out of everything included, the only things we don't like are that the SATA cables are all one length and so are the Molex cables. It would be nice to see a few long ones along with a few shorter cables. It is a minor detail, but when you're spending this much for a power supply, the little details matter.
The AX1500i is a single rail unit, so you can load it down however you wish and not have to worry about load balancing. If you are worried about overloading, you can use the Corsair Link software to set customized over-current points. For our testing, we will be doing it as a single 12V rail without setting any OCP points.
A Look Inside
For those that weren't sure how to make one of the world's best power supplies, this is how you do it. The high efficiency of the unit results in minimal heat output and thus less passive cooling is needed. I especially like the warning sticker over the capacitors that state to make sure the unit is unplugged to ensure the capacitors are discharged.
The interleaved LLC transformers have Sync Rectifier boards attached.
This is the reason for the warning label on the bulk capacitors. If you follow the power switch, you will notice it goes directly to the main board and that the current doesn't actually flow through it. It simply controls whether the unit can turn on or off. Be safe, and unplug the unit before working on things.
Nippon Chemi-Con capacitors reside on the primary side of the power supply.
Nippon Chemi-Con capacitors can also be found on the secondary side with a few Rubycon caps here and there.
We weren't happy to find CapXon solid state capacitors present, but there haven't been too many issues arising with these like there have been with electrolytic caps.
Corsair uses there NR140P fan to provide active cooling when necessary. The fan doesn't turn on until the power supply hits 25C or 30 percent load, whichever comes first. Even after ramping up to full speed, the NR140P puts out less than 30dB of noise. Chances are you'll never hear this unit if you are anywhere close to maxing it out as everything else will be screaming instead.
Test Results & Final Thoughts
Our load tests utilize a couple of FAST ATE active load testers and a variety of other equipment, including 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 lower than that of the Corsair AX1500i 1500W power supply, we can only test it to 1000W.
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 percent regulation from start to finish, with a total drop of .06V. The 5V rail managed to stay within 2 percent of specification, with a total drop of .05V from start to finish. Moving towards the 3.3V rail, we see that regulation was within 1 percent of specification, with a total voltage drop of .03V.
DC Output quality for the Corsair AX1500i was excellent and well within specifications. During Test One, we saw 5mV of noise on our scope at 15 percent load. When we increased the loads in Test Three, the ripple climbed to a mere 7mV at around 38 percent load. Increasing loads even further showed that the noise on the 12V rail climbed to 12mV at 100W.
The Corsair AX1500i is rated for 80 PLUS Titanium efficiency. This means that the power supply must perform at 90% / 92% / 94% / 90% efficiency at 10% / 20% / 50% / 100% loads, respectively. As you can see, the Corsair AX1500i is performing exactly as would be expected to reach these levels of efficiency.
It is important to note that we are not able to fully load down this power supply, and thus we cannot provide performance results for the unit under 100 percent load. Judging by the performance results that the unit showed during testing, we are very confident that the unit would continue to show outstanding performance results the entire way through.
Corsair redefined what it meant to be an enthusiast power supply when it released the AX1200i almost two years ago. We said back then that it would be the standard for time to come and that many would be scrambling to catch up. Fast forward to today and nobody has been able to touch the combined performance and features of that unit. There have been attempts, and some have come close on features or performance, but nothing is close when combined.
The AX1500i is a direct evolution of AX1200i in almost every way. The performance that we see for a 1500W unit is as close to perfect as we've ever seen, and it is that way across the board. If the 5V rail would have started out just a little bit lower, I think we would be looking at what truly could be a perfect power supply concerning performance.
All of this is before we even consider the fact that we are seeing this happen out of an 80 PLUS Titanium rated power supply. It is typically harder to maintain efficiency with higher wattage units, and Corsair is certainly walking into the ring with their fists raised from the start. They not only pull it off, but do so with the performance backing it.
You can then combine this with the seven-year warranty they back it with, and you've got nothing but a win, even if you have to pay some serious coin to get your hands-on it. The AX1500i may not be a unit that redefines what it means to be an enthusiast grade power supply, but it certainly takes the bar and elevates. It's harder, better, faster, stronger. It is the AX1500i, and it is going the power supply of choice for those who demand nothing less than perfection.
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