Thermaltake Toughpower Gold 550W Power Supply Review

We have used Thermaltake Toughpower computer power supplies here in our offices for over a decade with many of those units still in use today. This 550 watt unit comes in a bit towards the smaller end of enthusiast power supplies, but does that keep it from fully showing off its tough Thermaltake heritage?

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Conclusions

The Thermaltake Toughpower Gold 550W is the latest in a long line of power supplies that we have seen from Thermaltake but it is the smallest unit we have seen from the current Toughpower Gold line. As this unit is part of the Toughpower Gold line, it is in a difficult position as being both a higher end product but a lower capacity one where compromises are more common for price point. With that in mind, we have to wonder if Thermaltake has been able to deliver on the promise of a high quality and low powered (by modern standards) product with the Toughpower Gold 550W, or not? Let’s see.


HardOCP’s testing methodology is intended to very much push power supplies to their advertised wattage rating in temperatures that will represent some of the hottest computer enthusiast cases. So if a unit passes all our testing it is definitely not something to take lightly. In fact we expect more power supplies to fail our testing than make it through unscathed.

Build Quality

The build quality of the Thermaltake Toughpower Gold 550W starts things off today on a rather mixed footing. Externally, the Toughpower Gold 550W is very much like what we saw from the 1200W model and that is actually a bit better today as, while we called the exterior "mundane" previously on the 1200W model, a 550W product is not nearly as high end as a 1200W model so mundane becomes good enough. When we move to the interior of the Toughpower Gold 550W, we find a rather run of the mill CWT design that has its upsides and its downsides in today's implementation. On the upside, the actual integration of the unit is very clean and we do get Nippon Chemi-con providing some of the standard electrolytics (though the advertising of "Japanese capacitors" in the unit is borderline). On the downside, the rest of the capacitors are from lower quality providers like Apaq, CapXon, and finally JunFu. Some of these quality choices are mitigated by the fact that the unit does feature a 5 year warranty so Thermaltake is at least on the hook for a bit with this product but we would still like to see better quality from a line of products such as this one. Lastly, the documentation that comes with the unit leaves a good bit to be desired as well so everything isn't exactly roses on the support front even if it does average out to good enough.

Load Testing

Today, the load testing results for the Thermaltake Toughpower Gold 550W were very good overall and easily passing. When we look at the voltage regulation, we see that the 12v rail had a drop of 0.12v during testing and the minor rails had a peak change of 0.06v during testing. Given the ATX12v standards, these results are very good as stated above but they are only good enough for this unit to end in the middle of comparable units we have seen recently. Indeed, the only unit that this unit was able to solidly beat was the Corsair CS550M while trailing the Seasonic G-550 and almost tying the Seasonic S12G-550. When we look at this unit’s efficiency, we see that it was 87.84% to 91.02% efficient at 120v and 86.57% to 89.85% efficient at 100v during our tests today. These efficiency values are very good overall. Following our regular load tests we then ran the 80 Plus tests and we saw efficiency values of 86.76%-90.56%-87.92% for the Toughpower Gold 550W (which put this unit just under its claimed 80 Plus Gold category). Lastly, the Toughpower Gold 550W finished the Torture Test in fine shape as well so we saw no major hiccups through this portion of our testing.

The Transient Load Tests results for the Thermaltake Toughpower Gold 550W were passing and excellent given the category we are looking at today. When directly loaded, the 12v rail showed a peak change of ~300mV and the 5v rail had a peak change of ~100mV. The unloaded 5v peak change during the 12v load was ~70mV. These results put this unit ahead of the most recent comparable units such as the Corsair CS550M and the Seasonic S12G-550 and G-550. On top of that, these results are very good for a product this small. Overall, this makes for a nice result for this unit as in this test it is very much the top dog.

DC Output Quality

Moving on to the DC Output Quality today, we see that the Toughpower Gold 550W is passing with very good to excellent results but, at the same time, the Toughpower Gold 550W is moving back from leading the pack. During our testing, the peak 12v trace amplitude was ~25mV while the peak 5v trace amplitude was ~20mV and the 3.3v trace amplitude was ~15mV. Each of these results are well within the ATX12v specification limits but the competition in this regard is, generally, very tough. As such, this unit trails the Seaonic G-550 while being mixed compared to the Seasonic S12G-550 and the Corsair CS550M. So, this would make this part of testing very good for the Toughpower Gold 550W but the competition is just very tough to beat here.

Noise

The Thermaltake Toughpower Gold 550W is much like the TPD-1200M as Thermaltake doesn't go to a huge amount of effort to promote how quiet this unit is supposed to be on the packaging. This unit differs from the TPD-1200M in that it is a 550W power supply and it has a 140mm fan. These factors make it such that the unit has the potential to be a quiet power supply. As it turns out, this unit was a generally quiet power supply. When this unit did to begin make noise that we could detect in our load testing environment it was during the Torture Test and Test #4. However, when it was making noise it did require some concentrated effort in the Torture Test to detect the noise and then it was somewhat more obvious in Test #4. Overall, this means that the Toughpower Gold 550W was generally quiet and will work for most people in this regard. There will, of course, be people who will demand quieter units and quieter 550W units do exist. Those quieter units would therefore more appropriate for those people but those people who would actually notice this would be a minority of the purchasing public.

Paul's Thoughts:

The Thermaltake Toughpower Gold 550W is a very good power supply. If you don't look too close you might even get away with calling it a great power supply under certain conditions. However, like with the Corsair CS550M, when we do start to look closely at what we have "behind the curtain" it is a bit like that scene in the Wizard of Oz. The performance is impressive and we are being presented with what is a more premium line so we expect that presentation to hold up but when we are greeted with some of the lower quality components that we see here we feel like the curtain has been yanked back to a degree. Now, that said, at least in the case of the Thermaltake Toughpower Gold 550W Thermaltake is supporting these lower quality options relatively well by including that 5 year warranty as opposed to the 3 year warranty that we saw on the Corsair CS550M. With that being the case and the performance numbers that we can prove being what they are the Thermaltake Toughpower 550W is a very good power supply. I am just left with the feeling that this unit could have been a bit more for no real cost to users and that would have left us with a real winner instead of just a real competitor. From my perspective, that would have been a real treat as we have not seen a many products in this category of late that have pushed the likes of the multitude of re-branded Seasonic G-Series based units to give users some real options here and options are good. As this unit stands today, if it is going to get after those G-Series based units like it is positioned to then the pricing is going to have to be aggressive to provide users with a value proposition rather than a straight performance/quality proposition as this unit is just a touch behind there, but just a "smidge," if you will.

The Bottom Line

The Thermaltake Toughpower Gold 550W is a very good power supply that really only misses out on being excellent and class leading in the performance categories by a slim margin. Realistically, there is nothing to worry about in the performance as this unit had very good voltage regulation, excellent transient load tests results, and excellent dc output quality. The real issues the Toughpower Gold 550W has is that while doing so well it only managed to be the best in one set of our testing metrics, the build quality is not quite as good as it could have been when it came to some of the components used, and the pricing to a small degree. In the end though, the Toughpower Gold 550W is selling for $73.99 with Prime Shipping which puts it right in there with the comparable units. Certainly, the pricing and performance for the Toughpower Gold 550W is tight when we look at the likes of the Sesonic S12G-550 (The S12G-550 happens to be on sale at Newegg for $69.99, with a 10% coupon code "SSMAY10" for two days, and also has a $10MIR, making it $57!) so there is no real reason to get this unit over any of the other comparable units have seen but in the end this unit was a solid competitor so if you buy based on performance alone then you won't be let down with the Toughpower Gold 550W today. However when that sale is over and the price goes back up to $90 on the S12G-550, the Toughpower starts to look very attractive at $74.

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Thermaltake Toughpower Gold 550W

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