Antec CP-850: Unique PSU with Top Performance

Power
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COMPARISONS

The comparison table below shows the SPL versus Power Load data on all the PSUs tested in the anechoic chamber thus far.

Comparison: Various PSUs Noise Vs. Power Output in Anechoic Chamber
Model
90W
150W
200W
250W
300W
400W
500W
6-700W
850W
Nexus Value 430
11
11
16
18
18
19
n/a
n/a
n/a
Antec CP-850
12
12
12
14
14
26
40
44
45
Seasonic M12D 850W
14
14
14
14
14
24
37
42
42
Enermax Modu82+ 625*
13
13
14
15
16
26
36
37
n/a
Coolermaster M700W
14
14
18
21
25
27
34
34
n/a
Chill Innovation CP-700M
15
15
15
15
17
30
34
34
n/a
Antec Signature 650
15
15
15
18
18
28
36
47
n/a
SilverStone DA700
18
18
18
18
23
32
35
41
n/a
Nexus RX-8500
14
14
17
22
28
32
32
33
33
NesteQ ECS7001
22
22
22
21
23
25
36
37
n/a
PCPC Silencer 610
20
24
24
24
24
30
40
50
n/a
The green boxes represent >30 dBA@1m SPL.
*Guesstimates based on the Modu82+ 425's idle in the chamber and the Modu82+ 625's load test.

The green colored blocks are 30 dBA@1m or greater SPL readings. The PSU that stayed quiet (under 30 dBA) to the highest load is not in this table because it has not been tested in the anechoic chamber: The Zalman ZM1000, which stayed below 30 dBA to almost 600W load. Its idle noise was not low enough, however, to match many of the PSUs in the above table; its measured SPL in the live test room was 20 dBA@1m, which would put it higher than any PSUs measured better than 16~18 dBA in the anechoic chamber.

Caution: Please keep in mind that the data in the above table is specific to the conditions of our test setup. Change the cooling configuration, the ambient temperature and any number of other factors, and you could change the point at which the fans start speeding up, as well as the rate of the rise in speed. The baseline SPL is accurate, however, probably to within 1 dBA.

As pointed out on the previous page, when employed in one of Antec compatible cases, the CP-850 will probably stay quieter to a higher power level than any other fan-cooled PSU.

CONCLUSIONS

The Antec CP-850 is a superlative power supply by almost any standard. Its electrical performance is up at the level of its more expensive brethren, the Signature 650 and 850, and Seasonic's flagship, the M12D-850: Voltage regulation is extremely tight for all the lines at all loads, and the ripple noise is amazingly low. (An Aside: The CP-850's performance makes me ponder again whether the best PSUs, going back even a couple of years, aren't already much better than they need to be. Is there really any benefit to having 1% tolerance for the 12V line? Or 20mv ripple instead of 120mv?) Efficiency is not quite up to the best, but it's nothing to be embarassed about.

The noise performance is excellent, with the <400W performance matching or bettering virtually every PSU tested thus far. Above 500W load in our heat box, the noise level goes over 40 dBA@1m, or about the norm for PSUs rated this high. It has the virtue keeping itself extremely cool, however, cooler than any other PSU we've tested at such high loads.

A serious consideration is that in each of the three compatible Antec cases, the CP-850 mounts on the bottom, and the intake for the PSU is quite separate from the rest of the system. In the P193 and P183, the PSU is in an entirely separate thermal chamber, and in the model 1200, a direct path can be maintained to the directly opposite, wide-open front vent. This means that our extreme hot box test conditions never apply to the CP-850; in other words, SPCR's test environment is unrealistically hot for the CP-850. Our atypical spot check with a room ambient thermal test showed the CP-850 would reach only 24 dBA@1m at 700W load in a 27°C working environment. This is ridiculously quiet for such high power output.

The above is an obviously unfair advantage for the CP-850... but what of it? Antec has used an integrated systems approach for its CP-850 and its best cases, and if that approach is an advantage over all other case/PSU combinations, then, all the more power to Antec! It's not uncommon for enthusiasts to frequently replace the motherboard and components that mount onto it — such as CPU, RAM and video card — while the case and PSU are retained. There would be ample reason to take that approach with the CP-850 and one of the compatible Antec cases.

For the quiet-seeking computer gaming enthusiast, the CP-850 (along with any of the three compatible cases) is something of a godsend. Fantastically stable power, super low noise at any power load, long expected reliability due to excellent cooling, modular cabling, and all at a price that's no higher than many high end 6~700W models. That you're limited to one of three well-executed high cases from Antec — one mostly for silence (P183), one mostly for gaming (1200) and one that's really an ultimate everyman case (P193) — is not exactly a hardship either.

The CP-850 is non-standard, but compelling, and in its typical application, as powerful and quiet a PSU as anyone will ever need. It could become a game-changing product if compatible cases become more widespread. Should Antec manage to persuade any PSU or case makers to produce CPX-conforming products, it might help breath a new lease on life on the embattled ATX tower case sector. No, ATX is not about to roll over and die any time soon, but it is in a period of decline as smaller, ready-made PCs increasingly dominate along with laptops. Kudo to Antec for taking a chance and creating a unique, compelling product.

Antec CP-850 Balance Sheet
Likes

* Excellent acoustic, especially in compatible cases
* Electrical performance on par with the best
* Best ever cooling
* Bargain pricing
* Clever, innovative & cost-effective engineering
Quibbles

* Efficiency could be higher
* Fits only 3 cases
* More cables could be detachable

Our thanks to Antec for the CP-850 sample.



SPCR Editor's Choice Award

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SPCR Articles of Related Interest:
Power Supply Fundamentals
SPCR PSU Test Rig V.4
Recommended PSUs
Nexus NX-8500
Coolermaster Silent Pro M700W
Chill Innovation CP-700M
Seasonic M12D-850
Zalman ZM1000-HP
Antec P183 Case

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