Introduction & Closer Look
It’s no surprise that when people talk about power supplies within various communities, the importance of a good quality one is paramount in people’s opinion. It’s true however that having a reliable and good quality power supply is a wise move as a ‘bad’ unit can’t just fail, but it can wipe out other components too. Brands such as Kolink among others are trying to fill the gap between value and premium products including the model on review today; the Kolink Core Series 500W power supply.
Although very basic in design even down to the packaging, the Core Series range is available with different wattage output’s; these include 300, 400, 500, 600 and 700 watt models. Today of course, we will be focusing primarily on the 500w model.
One of the side panels features a sticker containing information regarding vital specifications of the power supply. This sticker is black in colour and sports a green trim at the top and bottom. This unit along with the other Core Series models complies with the 80PLUS efficiency standard and is officially certified.
The rear panel of the unit features a ventilated panel which sports a rectangular themed design as opposed to the more popular honeycomb most manufacturers use. It also has a simple 3-pin kettle lead power input to connect the power supply to the wall mains.
Due to the low cost of the Kolink Core Series 500W power supply, this unit is unfortunately not modular, but given the pricing, it’s easy to understand why the unit is fully wired. The 500w model has the following connections:
1 x 20+4pin
1 x 4+4pin (CPU 12V)
1 x 6+2pin (PCIe)
1 x 4 x SATA
2 x 4pin Molex
Not a great amount of connections and in this particular unit’s defence, it is a rather basic unit which is intended for a rather low powered system and of course, basic system.
Let’s take a look at the official specifications of this power supply and then see how it performs within our testing.
- Dimensions: 140 x 86 x 150 mm (W x H x D)
- Fan: 120 mm (automatic control)
- Efficiency: at least 80 percent at 50/20/100 percent load, 80 Plus certified
- Active PFC (0.9)
- Form Factor: ATX12V 2.3
- Rated power: 500 W + 3.3V: 15A + 5V: 15A + 3.3V / + 5V: 100W + 12V: 396W / 33A -12V: 0.3 A / 3.6 W + 5Vsb: 2.5 A / 12.5 W
- Connections (fixed):
1x 20 + 4-pin
1x 4 + 4-pin (CPU / ATX12V / EPS12V)
1x 6 + 2-pin PCIe 4x SATA
2x 4-pin Molex
Since we don’t currently have access to an ATE load tester, a multi-meter is used to show each of the power supplies performance on the 3.3v, 5v, and 12v rails. Although we can’t do full load tests, we can provide relative information regarding variance and fluctuation of current and ripple on the rails which is integral and indicative of quality in a power supply.
To perform the above tests, the methodology will be as follows:
Intel Core i7 7700K @ 4.5GHz
ASUS Z270 Maximus IX APEX
ASUS GTX 1060 STRIX OC
Crucial (2x8gb) 32GB DDR4 Ballistix Elite 3000MHz
1 x 525GB Crucial MX300 SSDs
Voltages will be monitored via a multi-meter and the AC power draw will be monitored via a power monitor when drew from the wall. For the idle test, the system will be simply booted up and let to run into windows and after 5 minutes when the power draw has leveled out, the readings will be taken.
To load and apply power to the power supply, a combination of IBT and Furmark will be run to put as much strain on the power supply as possible. After 10 minutes the readings will be taken and to ensure maximum strain, the CPU will be overclocked to 4.5GHz. Depending on the power of the power supply, multiple graphics cards could be used in line with how comfortable I feel the power supply will cope with such load. In the case of this unit, the GTX 1060 doesn’t support SLI. We will endeavor to improve our testing methods throughout and sometime in 2017 though!
ATX themselves specify that a fluctuation and variable of 5% is acceptable so to number crunch it means that:
3.3V = 3.135V – 3.465V is acceptable
5V = 4.75V – 5.25V is acceptable
12V = 11.4V – 12.6V is acceptable.
Any readings outside of these figures will be an automatic fail.
|3.3V = 3.25V|
|5V = 5.1V|
|12V = 12.32V|
|3.3V = 3.38V|
|5V = 5.14V|
|12V = 12.18V|
Despite what people tell you when you’re looking to buy a power supply, you don’t necessarily need to ‘over buy’ on the wattage. The one key thing you should really look for is quality and sometimes spending extra on stupidly high wattage power supplies seriously isn’t needed. At the other end of the spectrum, we have the Kolink Core Series 500W which comes in at just £27…is it too good to be true though?
First of all, the performance is actually relatively good despite the load placed on the unit. It did however produce some of the highest 3.3V levels of any power supply we have seen, but it’s also one of the cheapest too which seems to indicate the reason. You’re not going to be able to run a massively overpowered system on this particular power supply and that’s heavily indicated by the inclusion of a single 6+2pin PCIe power connector; it powers a GTX 1060 and i7-7700K no problems though! Overall, it’s a pretty good showing for such a budget option.
Kolink isn’t going to win any design awards with the use of such basic and garish looking cables, but they do suit the purpose of this unit pretty well so I won’t be too hard on them. Obviously, a 500W power supply with non-modular cables at such a good price as the Core Series unit is there are going to be sacrifices made and the cables used were certainly one of them. The unit itself looks relatively good albeit it very basic; exactly what we would expect. It would have been fundamentally nice to have 2 x 6+2pin PCIe power connectors, but given the wattage, Kolink has played it rather safe in this instance. If in doubt though and your graphics card does need 2 x PCIe power cables to operate, you can use a Molex to PCIe adapter and power it that way.
This is probably the strongest and most defining feature about the Core Series 500W; the price. For only £26.99 (at the time of review), you can purchase one of these power supplies at Overclockers UK and I have to say, it’s probably one of the best low-cost options on the market as although it does look cheap, it still conforms to 80PLUS efficiency rating standards and that has to be taken into consideration… in a good way of course!
Although it’s not exactly nice to look at and the cables look outdated, the Kolink Core Series 500W power supply represents fantastic value and whether you’re a gamer, you are building a simple PC for the office or whatever your uses, it does offer an option to those looking to save a few quid. It has 80PLUS efficiency certification and in our limited testing, it doesn’t perform too badly so if you’re in the need for a sub £30 500W power supply, make sure you give this one a look in.
Big thanks to Overclockers/Kolink for sending the Core Series 500W power supply in for review.
- Really good value 500W power supply
- Offers exactly what it says on the tin
- 80PLUS certified
- Good quality for the price
- Cables look outdated
- 3V performance could be better