Jon Bach (President)

Why Corsair power supplies?

Written on March 2, 2008 by Jon Bach
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You may have noticed Corsair power supplies popping up in our product line.  I wanted to take a minute to tell you about why we're doing this, and why I'm excited about it! 

When I was at CES a few months ago, I was not shopping for a new power supply vendor.  We have been using Seasonic for years, and have been very happy with their units.  And yet there are times when we find a company speaking our language.  Hype doesn't get our attention.  Show us the product!  We want to see real, measurable quality.  At CES, in their suite at the Wynn hotel, Corsair spoke our language.  We weren't looking to replace Seasonic, but Corsair was too good a fit to not get our attention.

I should first talk about why we like Seasonic.  We demand a high standard from our power supplies -- they need to be able to power our top end configurations, and also be very quiet.  Power supplies are also one of those parts that can cause very odd and difficult to diagnose problems if they are poor quality, so we don't want to mess around with them.  We started using Seasonic years ago, as our company focus was shifting to providing high efficiency quiet computers.  Seasonic was a name brand in quiet power supplies.   We tried them out, and were happy with the results.  Not only were they quality, quiet units, but our failure rates have been great! A recent sampling of our numbers sums it up:

Part Failure Rate Number Used Number Failed
Seasonic S12 Series 600W Power Supply 7.55% 159 12
Seasonic 650W High-Efficiency Power Supply 5.66% 318 18
Seasonic S12 Series 500W Power Supply 5.27% 531 28
Seasonic S12 Series 380W Power Supply 4.90% 245 12
Seasonic 550W High-Efficiency Power Supply 2.56% 351 9
TOTALS 4.93% 1604 79



We also track WHEN the parts fail, because parts that fail when the customer has them is much more of a problem than parts that fail in our testing process (which is still annoying, but at least managable). Looking at that data, Seasonic looks even better:

That's exactly the kind of data I like to see -- the vast majority of the units failed on OUR benches.   When it is all said and done, only 2% of the Seasonic units failed out in the field, and that's a good number.

When we met with Corsair, what caught my attention is that they said they used Seasonic to manufacture some of their power supplies. GREAT! That allowed us to keep a product we had faith in. However, it also caused me to immediately ask the question: why should I add a middleman when I already use Seasonic units?  Their answer hooked me, and has impressed me even more in the months that followed as I researched their claims:

1. They lock Seasonic into agreements for specific, higher quality components

This is of specific interest to Puget Systems because of a recent incident we had with Seasonic. I conveniently left off December 2007 from my statistics above, becuase in that month, we had a 75% failure rate on the Seasonic 380W power supplies. It turns out they changed a transistor somewhere that made them spontaneously turn off when used with Seagate hard drives (just the kind of "weird problem" I was mentioning). We caught 58 of them before they left our door, but 2 units made it out to our customers, and ended up coming back to be swapped out. This is something I am highly motivated to avoid, and to hear Corsair talk about what they do and why was refreshing. They didn't know anything about our long term or recent experiences with Seasonic, by the way.

2. They provide a strong US presence for technical and warranty support

This also spoke strongly to me given our recent Seasonic experiences. Understand that Seasonic's presence in the US is quite literally two guys in a warehouse shipping product. Everything else is overseas. When we had our problem with their 380W unit, it took us nearly a week to get in touch with anyone, and the answer we got was completely useless. We emailed them with detail of the problem we were seeing, and the answer was (quote): "So Please fill out the attached RMA Request form then we can process your RMA ASAP." Sigh. When we later emailed them saying we had narrowed down the problem to systems with Seagate hard drives, the reply was (quote): "I was told we've tested the psu with our system analysis machine. So we didnt test any of Seagate hard drives." Sigh, sigh. So, their technical support was useless. In situations like this, companies like Puget Systems EXPECT to be able to work directly with an engineer, to fix a problem that is mutually beneficial for us to solve quickly. With Seasonic, all we did was end up RMA'ing every single unit. Through the magic RMA process, we got working units back, but to this day, we still don't know exactly what the problem was. To have Corsair, with a strong US presence, and engineers we can talk to, will ensure that if we have similar issues, we'll be able to solve it more quickly and intelligently.

3. They are a resource for product development for Puget Systems

In other words, they focus on taking the best products they see, and making them their own (often improving them in the process). This caught my attention because it is exactly what we do with our product development. We look for the best, we qualify it, we add our expertise, and we sell a product to our customers that has a lot of research and testing behind it that our customers can't feasibly do on their own. This service that we provide for our customers, Corsair would be providing for us (for our power supplies, at least). It means that someday we may branch out from Seasonic, and we'll do it because we're confident in Corsair (a confidence they will have to earn, for the record).

After getting back from CES, we did our research, and decided this would be a positive move for our company. We aren't actively looking to replace Seasonic, but Corsair is an excellent fit. They appear to be able to address a specific vulnerability that we recently discovered in oursevles -- Seasonic is fine when things are business as usual, but when problems came up, we are on our own. I decided to move our 650W units over to Corsair first. They are based on the Seasonic S12 EE 650W, which was exactly the unit we were using. We make this move first because when it comes down to it -- we don't KNOW that Corsair is everything they say they are. It certainly appears so, but I trust years of MY numbers more. And the years of numbers I have tell me that the Seasonic 650W is a good unit, so this is a low risk move. Once Corsair has earned our trust, we plan to move most of the rest of our power supply line over -- and not all of those units are based on Seasonic. I'm excited about the way this move it strengths our position to consistently provide an excellent product, and how it strengthens our ability to improve and diversify our product line in the future.