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FSP Aurum CM 650 Watt PSU Review

Connell takes a look and shows us around the FSP AU-650M power supply, one heavy hitting PSU from one of the largest ODM Manufacturers.

The power supply is an essential component in a computer, there’s no doubt over that but this does not stop many overlooking its importance. Power supplies are not always made by the name it says on the packaging; instead a select few make power supplies and sell them to consumers themselves as well as letting other companies re-badge them, possibly tweaking them slightly as well. As you can expect, there are manufacturers ranging from the low-end all the way up to the high-end. FSP are one of these OEMs and the high-end is where they happily sit. I will be giving my impressions of the 650W version from their new Aurum CM series. This series so far contains two power supplies, with the other rated at 750W, both of which are 80 PLUS Gold Certified.

To set you clear on what I’ll be doing and saying, I’m very reluctant to call this a review but intend it to be more about my impressions of the unit. Currently we do not have what I’d define as the proper testing equipment to give a power supply a full review and do it complete justice. Known as an ATE load tester, these machines allow the controlled loading of the power supply’s rails to everything from minute loads to extreme levels. Pairing this with an oscilloscope allows us to view any ripple the rails may be experiencing as well as finding the hold-up time, how the unit performs under certain loads (e.g. can it sustain what it says it can on the side?) and how noisy/hot does it get during this? In this position some would attempt to emulate this by placing as much load on the power supply as they can, measuring the input power draw (where they’d then guess the load on the power supply) and monitor the voltages in something like HWMonitor. This falls down in several places, firstly the actual load on each rail is unknown with only an inaccurate guess used to gauge the overall load. Next, the test conditions are very limited as to what power supplies can be tested and to what extent – the maximum load scenario may be too much for some power supplies while being less than 50% of what other power supplies are rated at. Possibly most importantly, you have the inaccuracies of the whole testing methodology and the method used to gather results not being the most reliable. For example, below is a screenshot of HWMonitor with me having left it running in the background for a few days.

Hardware Monitor Screencaptue

 

 

You will notice that some of the voltages recorded wouldn’t see the computer even functioning. This screenshot was taken while idle and the current Voltage for the -12V rail is instantly outside of the ATX specification. Admittedly there are other rails that are well within the ATX spec. but that doesn’t even tell half the story as among other important facts, the ripple, load and load spread is not known. Some reading this may wonder why it matters when I’m normally all up for real-world tests but with a power supply you want to see if it can do what it claims. In short, you want to answer the following two questions:

-           Can it provide the amount of power it states for a sustained amount of time, keeping the rails within the ATX specification?

-           If too much power is drawn, there is a surge or some other power problem occurs, will the power supply shut down to protect itself and the rest of the computer or will it blow and potentially take out computer components?

Moving on then, we get to the power supply. And upon opening the box you are presented with a feeling of quality. Everything is neatly packaged so as not to waste space but keep it well protected from dents or other damage that may occur during transit.

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Taking a closer look at the power supply we can see the non-removable cables are nicely braided. These cables are the ones you’d expect to be there as the target market for this power supply (gamers and workstations) will need them with very few exceptions. We have the ATX 24-pin connector (in a 20+4-pin configuration), a 4+4 CPU power connector as well as 2x 6+2-pin PCIE connectors (labelled “PCIE 1”). Just along from where these exit the power supply we can see five connectors for the modular cables.

Moving to the back of the power supply we see the AC power connector, a rocker switch and plenty of ventilation. FSP call their ventilation holes “ArrowFlow Technology”, stating that the design allows natural air dynamics to improve air extraction resulting in a cooler power supply. A black powder coated finish leaves the power supply looking and feeling rather rugged. A 120cm PWM controlled fan takes up the majority of the bottom with a large grille containing an FSP logo in the middle and gold styling around the edge. To the final side now and we see the usual sticker showing the power supply’s rated output along with a table we don’t see too often. This is a table showing how the 12V rail is split up, showing that a great deal of thought has gone into it.

Taking a look at the accessories that come with this power supply we can see that connection wise we should have most builds covered and cable management shouldn’t be a problem either. The modular cables are plentiful and built to a nice standard. They’re all flat with sheathing not only from the power supply to the first connector but between each connector as well. This gives a much cleaner and professional look when compared to power supplies without any braiding/sheathing or those who only braid/sheathe up until the first connector. Overall, in addition to the permanently attached cables previously mentioned, we have: 2x 6+2-pin PCIE connectors (labelled “PCIE 2”), 8x SATA connectors, 5x 4-pin Molex connectors and a Floppy Disk Drive connector. The individual cable lengths can be found at the end of this article. Also included are thumb screws, four Velcro cable ties, a FSP case sticker and a UK power lead.

 

Having installed the power supply and used it in my computer for a fair while, it has given me the impression that this could be a really good power supply but falls down in one place. That is the noise, my fans are run from a fan controller and whether the fans are on their quietest – where the noise emitted is near inaudible - or up to their max – which unless listening to music/watching a film or sitting there with a headset on is annoying – this power supply was noticeably louder. Whether idle or under load it didn’t matter but checking at the back of the power supply, the air being exhausted was cool so the PSU wasn’t running particularly hot. Other than that it would be nice to have a longer CPU power cable so that it’s long enough to route around the back of the motherboard tray without extensions, but that’s pretty minor and nothing specific to this power supply.

Ultimately, it is quite a pricey power supply but it’s from a reputable manufacturer, has a five year warranty, is 80 PLUS Gold certified and with the plethora of connectors it at first looks to be a great buy. Unfortunately, it’s far from a quiet power supply and unless noise is not an issue then this really is a deal breaker. If this wasn’t an issue, then from what I’ve been able to see and hear myself I’d have no issue recommending it but would, of course, like to be let loose with an ATE load tester at it to get the full story and give it a proper review.

 

Cable lengths

If you’re worried about the length of cable runs for your build and would like to verify if you need any extensions then below are the lengths for all cable variants found bundled with this power supply.

PSU – 55cm – 20+4-pin connector [Permanently attached]

PSU – 55cm – 6+2-pin PCIE connector – 10cm – 6+2-pin PCIE connector [One permanently attached, another modular]

PSU – 55cm – 4+4-pin CPU connector [Permanently attached]

PSU – 55cm – SATA – 15cm – SATA – 15cm – SATA

PSU – 55cm – SATA – 15cm – SATA – 15cm – 4-pin Molex – 15cm – 4-pin Molex

PSU – 55cm – SATA – 15cm – SATA – 15cm – 4-pin Molex – 15cm – 4-pin Molex – 15cm – Floppy

PSU – 55cm – SATA – 15cm – 4-pin Molex