Corsair AX1500i Digital ATX Power Supply Review

It is not every day that a company has the moxie to come out and say that it makes "the best" of anything, but that is exactly what Corsair is saying about its AX1500i computer power supply; "The best enthusiast power supply you can own." Of course that begs one question, "Is it, or isn't it the best enthusiast PSU you can own?" We answer that.

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Build Quality

As we already know from the product images and packaging the Corsair AX1500i features a single 140mm fan design. 140mm fans are in the same vein as 120mm fans in that they can provide for quiet cooling environments due to the ability to move a larger volume of air at slower speeds than a smaller diameter fan. The 140mm fan is the almost the largest diameter fan we are likely to see in ATX power supplies given the physical constraints of the form factor. While great for quiet computing environments, the key criteria in our evaluation is whether or not the cooling solution is sufficient; not necessarily its sound level or form factor.

External Build Quality

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Reviewer Sample/Retail Sample

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The exterior of the Corsair AX1500i is identical to the AX1200i for all intents and purposes except that the AX1500i is longer. As such, the external build quality of this unit features a fully modular design with the connectors being numbered and the groups of connectors labeled as to the function. Also like with the AX1200i, the AX1500i is dominated by its overhead 140mm fan while the rear is perforated for good airflow. The black finish of this unit is a textured black finish exactly as we saw with the AX1200i.

As noted on the previous page, you see the 1300 watt limitation at 100 volts spelled out on the power specification labels on both our PSUs.

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The Corsair AX1500i itself is ~8 13/16 inches long which is almost a full inch longer than the AX1200i. The modular cables provide a serviceable length of ~19 to ~32 inches to the first or only connector. The sleeving is all the flat FlexForce style and complete.

Internal Build Quality

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Once we open the AX1500i, we see a general organization and arrangement that looks very much like what we saw from the previous AX1200i yet still has a number of changes. The most obvious initial impression about this unit is just how crowded this unit is throughout and that a significant amount of caulk was used in the securing of components. As before with the AX1200i, the PFC/PWM controller and supervisor IC have been replaced by a digital signal processor (DSP). Also like with the AX1200i, the AX1500i has a modern resonant LLC primary as well as DC-DC VRMs. Changing things up from the previous AX1200i, we find that this unit has a Corsair rebranded FDB fan rated at 0.22A at 12v. This fan is paired with a number of small heatsinks throughout the unit. When we flip the main PCB over, we see that the soldering on the PCB is excellent, as was the case with the AX1200i. Lastly, whereas with the AX1200i had an apparently improvised solution when it came to attaching the fan lead, the AX1500i attaches the fan lead properly which is a promising change.

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Starting on the primary side, we see that with the AX1500i the self contained can (EMI line filter) that was on the housing in the AX1200i for input filtering has been replaced by a lower end design which then trails onto the main PCB where it appears to be complete. Identifying every component without missing something is somewhat difficult with the amount of caulk on the PCB. Moving over, just before we get to the primary side proper, we come to a heatsink which has a pair of MOSFETs attached to it rather than bridge rectifiers which would normally be found here. Right next to that, we find find the coils for the bridgeless interleaved PFC. Next to that, we see that the PFC power components are attached to a heatsink on the edge of the main PCB and not only are the power components bolted in place but these are clipped as well. Directly behind that heatsink, on the edge of the main PCB, we find the DSP controller for the primary side. Interior to that, we next find the main input capacitors which are a pair of Nippon Chemi-con capacitors rated at 420v 680uF 105C. Directly behind those capacitors is an add-in PCB that houses a transformer that is part of the +5vsb circuit and we see a mix of Rubycon and Nippon Chemi-con capacitors on that PCB. Lastly, we see a smattering of the remaining power components (MOSFETs) that are then bolted to the heatsinks we find sandwiched in the very middle of the unit.

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Moving to the "secondary," we see a pair of transformers right up against the modular PCB. Past these transformers, on the edge of the main PCB, we see a PCB which houses the DC-DC VRMs for the minor rails. When we look at the add-in PCB, we see that the soldering we can see is very well done. When we move around to the front of the modular PCB, we see that the AX1500i features a very large number of capacitors that are going to be trapped without airflow on this PCB between it and the housing of the unit. Unfortunately, only a few of these capacitors are solid while the majority are standard electrolytics. In the end, the capacitors on the "secondary" side are provided by Nippon Chemi-con for the standard electrolytics and CapXon for the majority of the solids and Samxon for the minority of the solids.

Build Quality Summary

The overall build quality of the AX1500i is excellent and, while it has a few caveats, it represents a slight increase in quality over the AX1200i which is the mostly closely related power supply we have seen to this unit.

The exterior is very close to identical to the AX1200i so there is nothing new there; it is very functional. Moving to the interior, the build quality of the AX1500i exceeds that of the AX1200i in that the one major issue on that unit has been corrected here while the the rest of the design and construction is very high end and modern. The component selection is roughly equivalent to what we saw before with the AX1200i overall as we get slightly more mixed capacitor choices with Nippon Chemi-con and Rubycon on standard electrolytics and CapXon and Samxon on the solid capacitor front. This is then buoyed again by the change to the FDB fan that Corsair is rebranding in this unit today.

This AX1500i unit does seem to make some improvements over the older AXi in regards to build quality when viewed as an overall product. Let's move on now to the 120v load tests to see how this unit performs.