CORSAIR AX860I POWER SUPPLY

-CP-9020037-NA-Gallery-AX860i-01The Corsair AX860i (CP-9020037-NA ) power supply is an enthusiast model for extreme gaming. The AX series a high-end enthusiast class power supply the is designed for extreme setups.

We believe Flextronics is the contracted manufacturer for the AX860i and other models of the series.

The AX860i can deliver the full rated  power with 100V or better AC voltage. Low input power may reduce the maximum power output slightly.

The Corsair AX series offers the AX860i, AX1200i and the AX1500i. Having experienced many PSU failures in the past, we went for the highest capacity. The top model has adequate power and cables for a pair of single or dual GPU cards in SLI or CFX configuration.

The AX860i is bigger than the standard ATX, 86mm by 150mm at the back panel, to fit the standard ATX screw positions. The AX860i is 160mm long which is 65mm deeper than the standard ATX. The longer size allows for the use of a bigger 120mm fan as well as for bigger heat sinks etc. The AX860i substantially exceeds the capacity guidelines for the old ATX standard.

The AX860i uses a single 12V circuit with 71A of current capacity which is enough to start a small car.

There are 8 PCIe 6+2 pin cables to support 2-way SLI and CrossfireX configurations. There is also lots of SATA connectors and Molex connectors to hook up peripherals.

The AX860i is really a 12 V PSU and it simply uses DC-DC converters to fulfill the ATX requirements. This is a common design with better quality power supplies as it means lower marginal costs using mass produced modules that can be used across the industry. This design means maximum power is available for any application.

The AX860i features an industrial looking paint scheme. Using red trim gives the impression of a safe design. Given the complete set of safety features this seems appropriate.

FEATURES

  • The best enthusiast PC power supply you can own
  • 80 PLUS Platinum certified efficiency
  • Flat black, Low-Profile Modular Cables
  • 860 watts of reliable, continuous power delivery. Engineered to meet maximum power output at a server-grade 50°C temperature rating
  • Corsair Link Integration for monitoring and adjustment of performance, noise, and OCP settings.
  • Ten year warranty: Your guarantee of reliable operation that will last across several system builds
  • RoHS Compliant

The AX860i features complete protection. Over current (OCP), over voltage (OVP), over power (OPP), under voltage (UVP) and short-circuit (SCP, tested and working) protections.

Corsair CP-9020037-NA ATX Power Supply
AC INPUT DC OUTPUT
AC Input: 100V – 240V DC Output +3.3V +5V +12V -12V +5Vsb
Current: 15A Max Load 25A 25A 71.6A 0.5A 3.0A
Frequency: 50Hz – 60Hz Maximum Combined Wattage 125W 1500W 6W 15W
Total Maximum Power: 860W

CABLES

  • ATX 2.x 20+4 connector
  • Dual ESP12V 4+4
  • 6x PCIe 6+2
  • 4x SATA strand with 4 connectors
  • 4x Molex strand with 4 connectors
  • Berg strand

The cable bundle is excellent with long cables to support larger EATX chassis. All of the cables are sleeved properly using a braided sheath. The connectors are also excellent and are easy to attach. The cables seemed to be ideal in length when the AX860i was installed in our Corsair Carbide 300R chassis.

One of the PCI Express cables is 6-pin which is perfect for cards that are up to 120W of power.  The AX860i can handle a pair of 250W cards easily. The extra capacity is handy when video cards are pushed hard. Some games can push cards to 120% of TDP.

PERFORMANCE

The AX860i is a very strong performer that is well suited to a modern gaming machine. The cables are sleeved to make it easier to zip-tie cables so that air flow is unimpeded. Sleeves also protect cables from abrasion that can happen with fan vibration.

Even loaded near its rating did not bother the AX860i but the fan did run hard when loaded to maximum. Voltages were all far better than the ATX specifications require. Obviously heat is the limiting factor and if the AX860i overheats the safety shutdown will activate.

We consider the AX860i to be a solid choice for a gaming machine. The single rail for power means any configuration is well provided for. The PSU can connect up anything from an old Pentium machine on up to the latest greatest rig.

We selected the AX860i for its competitive value. It has all of the features needed for a leading edge gaming machine. Bests of all it has lots of 12V capacity. 71A of current is enough to start a small car.

The AX860i uses DC-DC converters for the 3.3V and 5V circuits to increase efficiency. This design is now very common with better quality power supplies. These are the same the type regulators found on motherboards and graphics cards.

The AX860i uses a very good quality set of components to provide excellent correction capacity. This is important with the grid voltage often swinging around depending on the load etc. Here grid voltage swings from about 105V to 123V with an average around 112V. PC power supplies all have to install filters to prevent high frequencies from leaking onto the grid so they are easily designed to handle a wide range of input voltages without the need for a switch.


NOISE

The AX860i i uses a 120 mm double ball bearing fan which is very quiet when the load is under 25% and only begins to become noticeable when the unit is loaded hard.  The Yate Loon D12BH-12 has a rating of 140 CFM for airflow and rated 48.5 dB A-weighted noise level. In the typical gaming chassis general fan noise is perfunctory with two extreme gaming video cards installed. Fan noise with a single card is extremely good.

The AX860i  has thermal controller for the fan which generally leave the fan at a very low operating speed. Its only when the power draw exceeds 50% that we noted the fan start to spin up.

TEMPERATURE

Our Corsair AX860i  is rated for 860W at 50°C which is very realistic. A PC PSU runs hot so anything that is not rated at 40°C or more is not suitable. We use digital thermometers and these can continuously monitor temperatures. The AX860i is clearly designed for use in older style chassis that mount the PSU on the top rear.

The thermometer has showed the exhaust air from the AX860i to be between 35°C and 40°C depending on the load. This is typical in a gaming PC with lots of fans installed. Clearly the AX860i is a very good performer that delivers full power even in a warm environment.  The motherboard usually ranges from 25°C to 30°C and the PSU seems to be < 15°C above the ambient.

Even powering a pair of overclocked HD 6970s did not appreciably warm the AX860i . The larger Yate Loon D12BH-12 140mm fan does spin up considerably with games as expected–the video cards spin up too. Fan noise was not as bad as the AMD CPU fan which has a reputation for being very noisy. Larger fans move air more efficiently which is helpful for demanding applications.

When we installed the AX860i in our Corsair 300R chassis we noted a significant reduction in the PSU exhaust temperatures. The 300R moves the PSU to the bottom rear and the motherboard is moved up. Loaded temperatures fell to between 25°C and 35°C. With the cooler room air being drawn into the PSU, the thermal load is reduced considerably. The lower operating temperatures also extend the service life. Capacitors are the usual mode of failure of PC PSU failures.

VOLTAGES

Using the onboard motherboard sensors. They are as good as the digital multimeter we have. The oscilloscope also shows the AX860i to be extremely clean and nicely centered on the target voltages.

SPECIFIED VOLTAGE  METER PRECISION
3.3V (orange) 3.280V < 1%
5V (red) 4.919V < 1%
12V (yellow) 11.904V < 1%

Obviously the AX860i achieves precision far beyond the required specifications in the ATX manuals. Its clear that Corsair worked hard to design a quality power supply. Generally enthusiast power supplies are far beyond the old ATX requirements.

Increasing the load on the AX860i has no material effect in the voltage, the regulator are rock solid. Even at 800W the 12V line was right on the money. Anyone running dual video cards can be assured that the AX860i has the power needed even with power pig video cards.

POWER FACTOR

Testing the AX860i with the P4400 showed the PSU to have an excellent power factor above 99% at all loads. Power supplies all use a simple low pass filter to prevent RF leaking into the grid. Many low cost power supplies have a poor power factor which has an adverse effect in the grid.

RIPPLE

Connecting our handheld oscilloscope to the 12V line show ripple levels were so low we had to zoom in 3 times to see it. The ripple is well under 50mV which is excellent. Clearly excellent quality capacitors and MOSFET’s are needed to achieve such good ripple values. Our low cost USB oscilloscope is under $100 and it’s ideal for PSU testing and general RF use.

Agilent oscilloscopes cost over $25,000 and are intended for large engineering shops and are excessive for an independant PC gaming review studio.

TX850V2 power at 3200%

Even with 3200% zoom, the AX860i does not flinch. This level of quality is why we selected the AX860i for the workstation.

STANDBY

80-plus-platinumThe AX860i provides 15W of standby power to be able to support USB hubs in the event a keyboard is connected to one. Many power supplies are very inefficient with the 5 V standby circuit. The AX860i manages about 75% on the 5V standby which is much better than most rivals. The front USB 3.0 ports are powered when the machine is powered down, so its possible to charge a mobile phone or MP3 player without powering up the machine.

The AX860i is also able to achieve the 1W standby when a matching motherboard is used. The M5A99FX supports the latest standards making it a good match.

80 PLUS

The AX1500i is certified 80 PLUS platinum. This means it must be 82% efficient at 20%, 50% and 80% loads. As the graph shows the AX1500i is a very well designed and efficient model.

ax860i efficiency graphThe curve shows that the AX860i , like all power supplies, is more efficient with 220V. Its also is most efficient at around 50% load which is also very typical.

A LOOK INSIDE

The AX860i is very cleanly designed. The pair of big capacitors handle the output of the regulator. This way the power is available through the 50-60 Hz AC cycle. The older version of the AX860i has a single larger rated capacitor.

ax860i inner view

WARRANTY

Corsair provides a 10 year warranty on their AX series power supplies. This can be done due to the very high quality components used.

Because Corsair rated their PSU at 50°C  we are confident in the quality of the product. 50°C  is much more reflective of real world conditions. We would like to see the whole industry use 50°C as a standard for testing.

Most gaming machines run cooler due to good air flow, but many machines have few fans so the overall operating temperatures are higher.

MISLEADING ADVERTISEMENTS

Many PSU vendors claim that their model is 850W but these vendors include 3.3  and 5V capacity in duplicate. Corsair and other respectable vendors only state the important 12 V capacity which is what matters to a PC gaming rig. After all the 3.3V and 5V are drawn from the 12V line. This is why 12V matters.

Because Corsair only states the realistic power capacity, we strongly recommend them. This way when selecting a video card and when the power requirements are checked, the rating of the Corsair PSU will be consistent with the gaming video card requirements.

Corsair has earned a reputation for better quality power supplies. They are more expensive, but the value is stellar.


OUR MACHINE

We have installed the AX860i into the Corsair Carbide 300R chassis. The PSU is bottom mounted right-side up so that the cable bundle easily fits the slot. The cables easily reached the various connections suggesting this PSU cable set was designed for a mid-tower chassis. The AX860i also fits the larger 750D which has more room for water cooling.

The M5A99FX motherboard has enough fan headers that Molex cables are not needed. Fan controllers are a popular option with machines that lack adequate motherboard headers.

We have a pair of GTX 260 video cards and that is the load we intended when considering PSU capacity. The extra capacity provides lots of room for overclocking. The GTX 400 series reinforced the expectation that graphics power consumption was still growing. It was not until 2012 when the GTX 600 series became available that power consumption started to ease. Our GTX 660 Ti uses less than 150W of power.

ECONOMICS

Assuming that the old PSU is 60-70% efficient and the AX860i is 94% efficient we can develop a table of savings at all power levels. Saving 100W of power load amounts to 438 kWh in savings assuming 24/7 operation. Every watt saved is about $1 per year for 24/7 operation.

The state of California has much higher electric costs compared to us (14 cents per kilowatt hour) and the payback period would be far shorter. Hawaii has brutal electric rates of around 32 cents per kilowatt hour magnifying the savings even more. The EU pays very high electric rates and and as rates get higher the payback time get shorter and shorter.

Power plants are expensive and sometimes hard to place. So power companies work with the EPA to develop solutions and over the decades the work has saved the need for hundreds of power plants. Consumers also benefit with reduced energy costs.

5 YEARS ON

Intel introduced the Z170 chipset 2015 and we noticed some motherboards now have a pair of EPS12V connectors. The AXi series PSU come with a pair of EPS12V cables to be able to cope with the increased motherboard demands. The AX860i is still practical for a dual video card setup, the more extreme 3-way and 4-way boards that are more demanding.

We noticed that older obsolete model power supplies are still widely available. Power supplies are durable and are usually only replaced when they fail. At least modular cable models are widely available.

The venerable AX860i has been rock solid. That level of durability influenced the purchase of the CS450M for another build. The cables are interchangeable too adding to the value.