Arctic Cooling Fusion 550R PSU

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Product: Arctic Cooling Fusion 550R PSU
Provided By: Arctic Cooling
Price:

Introduction:

Today we are looking at a new PSU from Arctic Cooling that takes a look at energy efficiency in a whole new way.  Traditionally, "PSU" in an acronym for "Power Supply Unit", but Arctic Cooling believes they have something special as they label this a Payment Saving Unit.  While an inefficient computer certainly can cost you a bit extra at the end of every month, the cost for most homes is negligible.  However, if you multiply that cost by a thousand times and put this PSU in every computer in an office building, the savings could be tremendous.  We'll take a closer look at the energy efficiency and PFC values as we carry on.

 

Packaging & Bundle:

The Fusion 550R comes well packaged in an interesting clamshell.  Most PSUs come in a cardboard box of some sort, but Arctic Cooling is grabbing the consumer's attention with something different.  Thankfully the package is easily opened and you don't need tools, Band-Aids or assistance to quickly and easily pop this unit out.  Unfortunately this handy package also makes it much more difficult to put back together.  One of my major beefs with the packaging is that it doesn't show the PSU specs anywhere.  The only place they are listed is on the sticker that is on the underside of the package.  There are general features and that sort of thing, but no ripple/noise limits or wattage output details of the different rails.

 Fusion Package Front
Fusion Package Front
Fusion Package Back
Fusion Package Back

 

This PSU ties the Tuniq Potency 550W PSU as the lowest-wattage PSU we've looked at for a long time and although we didn't compare the two units directly, it's hard not to take a look at two units that have similar specs without making some comparisons.

 

Arctic Cooling Fusion 550R First Look:

The Arctic Cooling Fusion 550R starts things off by being different.  Instead of having the fan hidden away on the inside the metal box, it sits outside the unit and will be located inside the case.  It has a small, cheap fan-guard the will protect the fan from large objects from entering, but you'll have to take care not to get any cables stuck in the fan.  You'll also have to be careful not to pick up the unit by the fan guard or put too much pressure on it or you'll snap off the plastic guard very easily.

PSU Profile
PSU Profile
 PSU Profile Fan Side
PSU Profile Fan Side

 

You may notice that the rear of the PS is pretty plain and only has the power connector and a simple switch.  This PSU has active PFC correction and can switch between 100v and 240v without missing a beat.  Unfortunately, the specs over at the Arctic Cooling site just mention 200v - 240v as is popular in Europe.  It does however work on 60Hz/120v just fine.

 PSU Rear Grill
PSU Rear Grill
Fusion 550RF Label
Fusion 550RF Label

 

Like many other companies since the lawsuit filed by Ultra Products, Arctic Cooling has opted to save the $5 royalty per unit and gone with a non-modular design.  I'm not sure if I'm a fan as these cables seem a bit lean, short and cluttered, but that just my preference.

On the next page we'll take a look at some of the features and specifications of this PSU before we tear into it.


Features & Specifications:

There isn't really of lot of logos and other certification on the box or on the PSU itself in regards to what it can handle.  Arctic Cooling hasn't applied for SLI or Crossfire certification even though this unit comes with four PCIe connectors and seems to handle a pretty heavy load just fine.  Even though a "certified" PSU is said to be good, they can still fail, so don't put all of your money on the "certified" sticker on the box.  Arctic Cooling does say that it is Crossfire and SLI compatible though.  With that in mind, let's see what else they say about this unit.


Fusion Specs Fusion 550R follows the default ATX-Form-Factor and thus will fit into every ATX PC-Case. It fulfills the ATX 2.2 specifications and can offer a continuous power of 550 Watt - enough for every High-end System. Equipped with two 6-pin- and 8-pin PCIe connectors the PSU is ideal for powering a Crossfire- or SLi-setup.

Main features

  • Ultra quiet  80mm PWM fan with low noise impeller
  • 550W output power, ATX 2.2
  • 82-86% efficiency, 99% PFC
  • 80mm ARCTIC F8 Pro fan
  • Intelligent fan control (700 – 2,000 RPM)
  • Controller for case ventilation
  • Over-Power, Over-Voltage, Short Circuit protection, Over-Current Protection
  • SLI and Crossfire compatible


High Efficiency = Less Power Loss = Quiet Cooling
With an efficiency of at least 82 to 86%, less heat is generated inside the PSU. As a result of this a single 80-mm-fan is enough to cool the PSU. The rubber-mounted fan is spinning in a range between 700 and 2000 RPM making it virtually silent. Additionally to this the PSU comes along with two external fan-connectors giving the possibility to control the case ventilation based o­n load and temperature and thus lowers the noise level of the complete system to an absolute minimum.

Effective energy-use preserves nature and saves money
By making appreciated use of natural resources, especially energy you can contribute to lower CO2-Emissions. Additionally you save electricity cost of about 100 €, so the Fusion 550R is a true Payment Saving Unit*.

* In 4 years, 200 d/y with 4 h/d full load at 0,15€/kWh

Save and stable PSU
With a PFC-factor of 99 % and two separated 12-volt-rails, which are supporting each other if necessary the Arctic Fusion 550R is a very save PSU, that manages to come along with highest demands. The overload, overvoltage and short-circuit protection safeguards the hardware as well as the user from damage.

 

While Arctic Cooling rates this PSU as 550W, if you look at the label above and do a little math you can see that they didn't leave a lot of room.  According to the documentation, they nailed the math and their rating.  Hopefully they underrated the rails at 17A or we could have some stability issues later on.


Specs:

Output Power   550 Watts
Dimensions   160L x 150W x 86H mm (including fan)
Efficiency   82 – 86%
PFC   Active 99%
Fan   80mm ARCTIC F8 Pro
Fan Speed   700 – 2,000 RPM by Intelligent Controller
Noise Level   0.08 – 0.3 sone
Power Good Signal   100 – 500 mS
Hold Up Time   >17 mS
MTBF   100,000 hours at 25°C ambient temperature
Safety   CUL (Level 6) / CE / CB
Protection   OVP / OPP / SCP / OCP
     
    Input
Input Voltage   Ac 200 – 240V (Auto Range)
Input Current   3.0A at 230 Vac
Input Frequency Range   47 – 63 Hz
     
    Output
Power Output   550 Watts
+12V (case fan)   2 x 0.3A
     
    Environment
Operating Temp   0°C - 50°C
Storage Temp   -40°C - 80°C
Operating Humidity   20% - 80%
Storage Humidity   10% - 95%

 

Connectors:

1 * 20+4Pin Mainboard
4 * PCI Express (2 * 6Pin, 2 * 6+2Pin)
4 * 4Pin Molex
1 * 4Pin FDD
6 * SATA
1 * 4Pin P412V
2 * +12v Case Fan

 

Take a look below as we've got a few pictures of cables before we head on over and take a look inside.

 Main Connector
Main Connector
Molex Connectors
Molex Connectors
   
SATA Connectors
SATA Connectors
 PCIe Connectors
PCIe Connectors

 

On the next page we'll dive inside this PSU to take a better look at what makes it tick.


 


Inside the Arctic Cooling Fusion 550R:

As I grounded myself and prepared to pull the cover off of this PSU, I discovered that there weren't any "Warranty Void if Removed" stickers on the case or covering the screws.  This is the only the second PSU I've pulled apart that didn't have such a sticker.  Even though there wasn't a sticker warning about electric shock, I still made a mental note not to discharge any large capacitors with my fingers.  Once the case was opened I got a good look at the backside of the fan and the main layout of the PSU.

PSU Inside Profile
PSU Inside Profile

 

There are a couple of large choke coils inside this PSU and a nice fat capacitor to help smooth out ripple and noise.  The heatsinks are pretty hefty and should be more than adequate in an energy efficient PSU.  Most PSU of this wattage have smaller heatsinks, but bigger fans - such as the Tuniq Potency 550W.  This PSU looks a little heftier that other larger rated PSUs we've looked at in the past.  The large heatsinks should make the small fan stay at reasonably slow speeds and keep everything nice and cool.

Inside PSU
Inside PSU

 

There is a lot of clear plastic ducting inside the Fusion 550R.  This enables the externally mounted fan to provide airflow to the key areas first.  Once it goes through the main transformer and VRMs it then can cool other voltage regulators that don't generate as much heat.

Inside PSU
Inside PSU

 

Test Setup & Info:

In the past, we've prided ourselves on real-world testing.  For graphics cards, CPUs and memory, what matters is what takes place in real applications and games.  We also held that philosophy for PSU testing, but after a while, we realized that there is more to a PSU that being able to run a machine stable over a few weeks or months.  In reality, if there is a lot of ripple, this can damage sensitive traces on your $700 graphics card or $1300 CPU.  A multi-meter alone is not good enough to check PSU voltage stability.  It's for this reason that we've updated our PSU testbed, and will continue to improve the detail and quality of our PSU reviews.  That being said, we will still be testing the PSU in a system and will be including stress tests from real components in the real world.

We recently purchased a Tektronics TDS2002 60MHz Dual Channel scope and it has already become invaluable around the shop here at BCCHardware headquarters.  I've used it to troubleshoot everything from PSU's to Radars, and we are using it today to check the stability of the Tuniq Potency 550W PSU on the next page.

 

Testing - 225W & 495W: 

We initially plugged the PSU into an EZ PSU Tester 3 in order to power it on for our "idle" measurements.  As noticed below, the voltage rails were fairly stable with no load, but these aren't necessarily indicative of overall load performance.  According to our Kill-a-Watt, the power draw was 6W.  We thought these results would be interesting to include and compare with other power supplies to see how they manage a non-load situation, and how much power the PSU itself will draw.  

Just before we jump into testing it would be helpful to know what each of the +12v rails do.  As near as we can tell, one +12v rail handles the 24-pin, and PCIe connections while the other +12v rail works with the 4-pin power connector and the Molex and SATA lines.  While we don't have any documentation to back this up, we noticed that these two groups followed the same ripple, noise and average voltage readings.

The test system consisted of a Core i7 920 CPU on the ASRock X58 Supercomputer motherboard.  We tested the load with 12GB of DDR3 memory, a single Radeon HD 4870; tons of fans and the low noise CoolIT Domino ALC running at maximum power for the loaded test.  We used a pair of PCIe connectors for the Radeon HD 4870 and still had two more to spare.

 12v1 Load
12v1 Load
 12v2 Load
12v2 Load
   
3.3v Load
3.3v Load
 5v Load
5v Load

 

All of the rails where pretty consistent and all but the 5v line managed to stay above the rated voltage.  Even with no load, the 5v line came just under the 5 volt measurement.  The reality is that it only dropped down to 4.96v - even with a fairly heavy load.  The total fluctuation on this line was only 0.03v - which is pretty much rock solid. The 3.3v line stayed at a solid 3.38v whether at idle or loaded.  The 12v lines dropped a whole 0.1v at full load but managed to stay above the 12.0v requirement.  Keep in mind that Power Supplies are typically allows 10% fluctuation on the 12v lines and 5% on the 5v and 3.3v lines.  The biggest percentage of variance is on the 12v lines and they are less than 3% high, and drop down to about 1% high.  They only vary 2% maximum on their voltage measurement.

 

Ave Voltage

 

Ripple and noise is an area where are few companies try and get away with some poor quality components.  General consumers can easily measure voltage, but not all can measure ripple and noise to see if the quality of the power supplied to their expensive system is actually any good.  We have taken a look at both average voltage as well as average ripple as you could see in the images above.  Below is the chart showing how it adds up through testing.

Ave Ripple

 

The other 550W PSU we've looked at recently was the Tuniq Potency 550W unit and while it stayed within spec on all of the lines, the Arctic Cooling PSU did far better.  The 5v and 3.3v lines are always a little shaky with our precise test equipment, but the Arctic Cooling Fusion 550R was as stable as any PSU I've seen.  The 3.3v and 5v lines are well under the 50mV limit in all load tests and the 12v lines are relatively quiet when compared to most other PSUs on the market.

 

Conclusion:

The Arctic Cooling Fusion 550R 550W PSU is an interesting unit.  It has a few innovative ideas - mainly the fan on the outside of the box that adds to the curb appeal.  It appears to be very stable in terms of voltage as well as ripple and noise.  In fact, it's probably one of the most stable PSUs we've tested around here.  You'd think that it would be a hands-down winner, but it does have a couple of issues.  The fan "grill" is very fragile as it is just plastic, and the bars are spaced wide enough apart that you could easily get something stuck in there, stop the fan and overheat the PSU.  Second, there is only one "line" of Molex connectors and while it is fairly long, if you need Molex connectors at the front of your case from optical drives, they won't likely reach the rear of your case to power a fan as well.  You'll need to use some extension and this cheapens the feel of the unit.  SATA follows the same trend, but this shouldn't be an issue as all SATA devices are pretty much in the same place.

The fact that the Fusion 550R comes with four PCIe connects shows a lot of promise and I'm pretty impressed with the overall finish of the unit.  It would probably make consumers feel more comfortable with the unit if it did carry some sort of SLI or Crossfire certification though.  In terms of Power Factor Correction, under any load the PSU shows 99% just like Arctic Cooling stated.  With a non-load situation, the PFC was 96% - still very good.

Pros:

  • Nice small unit
  • Interesting looks with external fan
  • Four PCIe connectors
  • Extremely quiet/noiseless
  • Very stable voltage

 

Cons:

  • Fan "grill" is fragile
  • All molex connectors on a single line could cause limitations

 

BCCRating

While the Arctic Cooling falls just short of an award due to the fan grill quality as well as the cable configuration limitations, it's one of the most solid PSUs we've tested and for a 550W PSU, it's a great little unit.  If you can live with the grill and don't have a lot of Molex spread, you'll be very happy with this unit.

I'd like to thank Arctic Cooling for sending this unit over for us to review.  If you have any questions or comments please post at the "Comments" link below.