Although the COUGAR brand has been in the gaming peripheral market for some years now, the company is still relatively new to the power supply business. Having started off with some modest units back in 2012, COUGAR stepped up a gear with a few hardcore products between 2013 and 2014. What we have for you today is the COUGAR CMX 850W 80+ Bronze V3. Quite a few labels have been thrown in, typically as marketing, such efficiency, quietness, durability, or high performance, but we have good reason to believe that COUGAR may have delivered on this promise with the CMX range. We put it to the test.
Build and Cabling
As Razer is synonymous with its green and black colour palette, COUGAR is with its orange and black, from the outer packaging to the actual power supply itself. Apart from the top cover, the unit is predominantly covered in a semi-gloss, orange (otherwise known as COUGAR red) metal finish. The semi-gloss coating appears to change colour ever so slightly depending on the light and angle at which you view it. Both sides feature a large, COUGAR CMX logo. The rear has your standard, honeycomb mesh covering, with the AC input and power switch towards the left. Turning over to the front you’ll find a set of native cables, with modular connectors. The bottom of the unit also has the same black, honeycomb ventilation for the fan with the COUGAR logo in the middle. Also included in the box are a set of modular cables. These cables have been flattened to provide more room and better airflow inside of your rig, but does, however, make things a little tricky when trying to manoeuvre a cable into harder to reach areas as they don’t flex as well.
In terms of the native, attached cables, what you’ll find on the CMX 850 is x1 main/ATX connector (20+4 pin), x1 CPU/ATX12V connector (4+4 pins), x4 S-ATA connectors, and x2 PCI-E connectors (6+2 pin). For a standard build, this is more than sufficient, and have just about enough cabling for most gaming rigs. As mentioned, the unit does include the capacity for further cabling with the additional modular connectors included.
COUGAR has made use of a dual, 12V rail system on the CMX 850. The split on these rails are as follows:
- 12V1: 24 Main connector, native PCI-E connectors, all peripherals, and half the modular PCI-E connectors
- 12V2: Native ATX12V connector, and the rest of the modular PCI-E connectors
The CMX 850 has a load limit of roughly 850W, which, for most PC setups shouldn’t be an issue. Given my single graphics card, almost standard, gaming setup, the load observed was between 220W and 230W. One would expect that the higher end cards have a lot more load, but a modern card, such as the Nvidia GTX Titan only a load of around 250W thanks to efficiencies built in. Using the standard SLi or XFire setup will increase the load to about 550W, whereas a tri- or quad- setup about 750-800W. You don’t ever want to be pushing the maximum all the time, which is why it’s recommended for tri- and quad- setup users to have a minimum 1000W PSU. At the end of the day, the CMX 850 is able to deal with most gaming rig setups.
While I was unable to perform the full, end-to-end tests, I decided to do a lot more research on the unit than I would typically do for a review, just to make sure I bring you the correct facts. Having compiled a comprehensive list, we take a look at the result of the CMX 850. Depending on the different setups, at a load of 100W (wall), 12V1 and 12V2 drew an average of 12.2V with an average ripple (noise) of 12mV. The output for the 100W was 82W, which means an 82% efficiency. Increasing the load to 200W, 400W, 500W, 800W and 1000W had efficiencies of 86%, 87.5%, 88%, 86% and 85%, respectively. Given that the CMX 850 has a certified bronze rating, efficiencies are expected to be 80+. Not only did the unit comfortably meet these requirements, at certain points of load testing it actually reached 88%, which would mean a silver rating.
Onto the less technical aspects of testing, the CMX performed very well. Noise levels were almost non-audible from a respectable distance (as per the standard PC layout). In order to clearly listen to the noise it generated, I had to disconnect all my PC fans for a moment, as they’re all much louder than the PSU. The unit has also been observed to operate well in reasonably high temperatures. COUGAR has specified high performance even at 40°, which have actually been tested with good results, with between 0.5 and 1% drop in efficiency over the above-mentioned tests, and only observing a real drop over 800W above the 40° mark. Beyond this, COUGAR has also fitted the CMX range with Japanese 105° capacitors over the standard 85°. In theory, this should increase the lifespan of the unit thanks to the increased temperature tolerance.
COUGAR’s CMX 850W 80+ Bronze V3 is a very good unit for what the company claims not to be a high-end PSU given the certification. That said, it does seem reasonable in the end, as it may be pushing the limits in an attempt to gain higher certification. Be that at it may, an 80+ unit performing at 85+ is a pretty good achievement. The unit also has most protection covered with Undervoltage, Overvoltage, Short-circuit, Overload, and Overcurrent protection.
The build quality of the CMX 850 is good on the outside, but there were one or two small concerns when opening up the unit, which we didn’t touch on. As said, these aren’t big issues, with gripes such as not perfect soldering on my list. That said, many people wouldn’t generally open it up, since it will void any warrantee you may have.
Performance overall is good, but again not great. Although many users wouldn’t exceed operating temperatures of 40°, it is worth noting that a 50°+ operating temperature earns the title “server grade.” Fans are generally quiet as well, much quieter than my current set, so this should never be a concern.
At the end of the day, costing drives most purchases, and at a RRP of R1,600, the unit comes into some tough competition in the gaming PSU category. If the small shortcomings noted above, plus with full modularisation of the cables, then I wouldn’t see any problem with it going up against the market leaders. Still, the CMX 850 is a worthy PSU, and will stand the test for, I’d estimate a guess of, more than 95% of all PCs and gaming rigs.
The unit is available at the following online stores:
- Landmark Computers