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NZXT E850 PSU First Impressions: Power and Control

By Damien Gula on September 06, 2018 | Hardware Reviews | Comments

NZXT E850 PSU First Impressions: Power and Control

Everyone does it. It’s natural.

You look at PC builds and long for some of those sweet, sweet components to be on display in your own desktop. Whether it’s completely synchronized RGB flash or simplicity in the understated, if you’re like us here at MMORPG, we love great components! So, when NZXT reached out to us about their new line of power supplies, we were excited, but quizzical. It’s just a power supply, right?

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If you aren’t familiar with NZXT, they are know for their clean designs and sharp lines, making a name for themselves with their premiere PC components. Whether it their H-Series cases to show off your components, a Nuka Cola themed CRFT motherboards, or the Krazen-series AiOs to deliver deep-sea chill to your CPU, NXZT has a specific style that evokes feels of class. But in all of their classiness, can NZXT make a power supply just as sexy? This is our review for the E850 PSU by NZXT.

Specifications

  • MSRP: $149.99
  • Power delivery: 850-watt, 80 Plus Gold certified
  • CAM-enabled via build in DSP allows for real-time monitoring
  • Connection monitoring provides over-current protection for major components
  • Full modular with cabling included: 1x 24-pin ATX Power (nylon sleeved), 1x 4+4-pin CPU power(nylon sleeved), 3x PCIe (6+2 pin) (nylon sleeved), 2x SATA, 2x Peripherals, 1x Mini-USB
  • Connections: 1x 24-pin ATX Power, 1x 4+4-pin CPU power, 4x PCIe (6+2 pin), 8x SATA, 6x Peripherals, Mini-USB
  • Quiet, 0dB Fan Mode in operation while utilizing under 100 watts
  • 10-year limited warranty

Getting Under the Hood

Delivering 850 watts at an 80 Plus Gold certified efficiency rating, the E850 has power for days. In fact, the 850-watt version we’re testing may be a little much for the average user, but that is where its little brothers come in: the NZXT E500 and E650. If you are aiming for a multi-GPU or power hungry GPU/CPU set up, this PSU has you covered with its delivery of 70A on the +12V rails and 20A on but +3.3V and +5V rails.

But the E850 isn’t simply about the raw power. Let’s take a quick side-bar about that efficiency rating and talk a bit about how to choose the right PSU for you:

While your PC components needs low voltage DC power and your outlet provides AC power, your power supply’s job is to convert that power and, as the name suggests, supply your parts with the juice they need in a regulated environment. Since you are converting from AC to DC (and no one wants to get thunderstruck), there will be some power “loss” through the conversion. However, most modern PC power supplies are manufactured with efficiency in mind. You may have noticed that some power supplies have an “80 Plus” certification on them. This signifies that under 20%, 50%, and 100% loads, this power supply is at least 80% efficient at converting power.

Since 80 Plus has become a common standard, a new set of parameters have arisen to give further indications of efficiency: the precious metals categories. There were created to further distinguish PSUs with greater levels of efficiency with some PSUs reaching over 90% efficiency when you get into the Titanium or Platinum ranges.

To create a power supply with both power delivery and efficiency in mind, NZXT partnered with Seasonic to create the E850 to be within 3% efficiency of each of those states. So, the E850 is 87% efficient at 20%, 90% efficient at 50%, and 87% efficient again at 100% loads.

If you are curious about your system’s power needs, I would highly recommend plugging you components in PCPartPicker or use OuterVision’s Power Supply Calculator to see. According to PCWorld, you are looking for something that will sit you in the zone of 50-60% of the PSU’s peak power under heavy loads while leaving room for expansion.

What’s in the Box?

Right out of the box, you can see that NZXT takes pride in its gear. The PSU itself is wrapped in a muslin cloth bag with all of the cabling and mounting screws secured in a branded purple zip-up bag. The PSU itself has that understated NZXT feel to it that we have come to expect. It has a matte finish with E850 written in a lighter gray and NZXT logo in gloss on the side.

The modular cabling ports are clearly labeled on the facing, making for quick and easy connections. Many of the main cables included have a nice black nylon sleeve over them with the SATA and Mini-USB cables being the exception. There is a warning on the PSU not to use cables that are from other power supplies. While the E850 will support aftermarket cable mods, they must be specifically designed you use with NZXT’s E-series. This might be a sticking point for the PC builder with a specific theme in mind; though CableMod already offers custom-sleeved options for each of these new PSUs.

Field Testing: Installation, Interesting Information, and CAM Monitoring

With everything so clearly labeled and many of the major component cables so neatly shrouded, installation with very intuitive. If you are paying attention to what you are doing, you will not find yourself accidentally plugging GPU cables into CPU power ports or vice versa! Not that any of us have ever done that…

One of the features that sets the E850 apart as a different kind of PSU is that it has a Texas Instruments UCD3138 Digital Signal Processor (DSP) build into it. This DSP allows you to monitor voltage, temperatures, and power usage through NZXT’s CAM software.

The DSP is not only there for monitoring, it provides over-current protection along the three visualized 12V rails. In fact, they reside on a single rail, but there are sensors that mark the 12V1, 12V2, and 12V3 rails; the system treats them like individual rails, similar to a much more expensive multi-rail system. This means that components like your CPU, GPU, and motherboard have a reduced chance of damage in the event of a critical power failure. You will notice in the screenshot below that when this option is enabled, it allows you to manage both the CPU amperage and GPU amperage separately, with two different spectrums for the devices.

You may have also noticed a spike in power on the above screenshot. While CAM records averages in real time, you can also see how much power is being drawn during high power usage sessions. This particular spike in power usage was captured while running Unigine Superposition.

If you have not used CAM, it is NZXT’s system monitoring and control center software, and one that will also give you some options for overclocking components. The user interface is fairly simple to understand and offers special touches like a dark mode and options to take screen shots of the window. If you are someone who likes to know what is going on with your system along with having some control, NZXT’s smart monitoring system helps you accomplish that. As accompanying software, it is great to see NZXT’s pride in their hardware carry over into this realm.

To control the E850 with CAM, you will need to use the included mini-USB cable to connect directly to your motherboard. It isn’t the longest cable, so for some USB header locations, you might need to get creative to keep things pretty inside… if you care about that kind of thing. (I know you do.)

Final Thoughts

If you are in the process of building or upgrading your PC, the PSU is the least likely to get a second look, let alone more of the budget spent on it. While it is not the only digital PSU on the market, at $149.99 USD, the NZXT E850 falls into the higher-end of the price bracket for fully modular, 80 Plus Gold rated power supplies.

However, that extra $30 - $40 USD give you access to NZXT’s CAM software and its built in safeguards against critical failures, as well voltage monitoring to know what you’re actual system draw is. I consider the extra cost as an insurance policy for your GPU and worth considering, especially if you want to get a better eye on your actual electricity usage. You also get premium cabling with storage for the spares - a little bit of extra for the cost.

If you are in the market for a new power supply, the NZXT E850’s understated design, power efficiency, and smart features make it a versatile choice. Whether you are going for full-on RBG with your rig or you simply want to provide safer, more efficient power for your parts, the E850 puts that control in your hands. 

Pros

  • Subtle design will allow this PSU to fit into any build - themed or not
  • Monitoring and protection offered through CAM can give the end-user peace of mind
  • Ease of installation
  • Clear labeling

Cons

  • Short internal cable could be problematic for cable management

The NZXT E850 discussed in this article was provided by NZXT for the purposes of review.