With the Photon 1050W, Rosewill attempts to lure enthusiasts and advanced users with the promise of high quality and performance at an affordable price tag. After all, competitive pricing is the foundation of Rosewill's market strategy. With a retail price of $140 including shipping, the Photon 1050W is one of the cheapest modular 80Plus Gold units with that kind of power output. The target group that the Photon is aiming to however is not easily swayed by a low price tag - most enthusiasts would gladly pay a little more to get something better.  So one must consider the true question of where exactly the Photon 1050W stands.

The retail price of the Photon 1050W is competitive but there is a catch - this unit is rated for continuous operation at 40°C. If it were to be rated at 50°C, as most of the competition does with their high-end units, it would most likely end up with a 950W-980W label. Competitive units that boast the same power output at 50°C are, bluntly put, more powerful. The Photon 1050W did reach its specified maximum power output inside our hotbox, yet not without signs of overloading and reaching temperatures that could turn water into vapor.

For those seeking quality, the Photon 1050W will not disappoint. We found some of the finest components inside, from all-Japanese capacitors (including the polymers) to the microchips. Sirfa performed a good assembly job, although not the best we have ever seen but surely much better than that of their usual low-cost unit. Even the fan, although it is a simple model, comes from a seasoned and reputable manufacturer.

When it comes to performance, the Photon 1050W left us with mixed feelings. It does perform very well in room temperature, confirming its 80Plus Gold efficiency certification and staying almost inaudible up to 50% load. When the ambient temperature is high however, there is a cascading negative impact on the electrical, thermal and acoustic performance of the unit. Despite the presence of a powerful fan that is trying to catch up, the Photon 1050W does get very hot and that reduces the efficiency of the components, which then produce greater energy losses and make the unit even hotter and louder. Remarkably, even under such conditions the output power quality remains very good, with the Photon 1050W maintaining great voltage regulation and good ripple suppression. These figures are much lower than the ATX design limit and would be very good for a mainstream product; however, this is a PSU trying to entice enthusiasts and other advanced users away from other high end units which can be leagues ahead when it comes to power output quality, especially at high ambient temperatures.

The Photon 1050W is a well-made fully modular PSU, capable of good overall performance and retails at a competitive price ($140 shipped at the time of this review). It is however difficult to find supporters in the user group it is meant to attract. If all someone cares about is to get a good quality 1000-1050W PSU that works well for the lowest possible price, then the Photon 1050W becomes a plausible option. If however a user is looking for class-leading electrical performance and or inaudible/low-noise operation, they will probably have to dig a little deeper into their pockets. 

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  • DanNeely - Tuesday, March 24, 2015 - link

    Yup. And while I know loaned/donated hardware is the default for most reviews; in a roundup review, spending $30-60 for a single no-name model to show what spending a little more for a brand name model gives should be an acceptable use of editorial dollars. Two cheap models might be worth it as well; one obvious garbage box to be sacrificed on the alter of magic smoke, and a second that while expected to survive is a few steps down on the performance scale (eg bare 80plus). I wonder if you might be able to fiangle the latter out of one of the OEMs: "I want a baseline model to demonstrate why your 80+ gold model is worth the extra $20."
  • chlamchowder - Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - link

    If I may add one more thing, I have never once looked at a 1000W power supply and said "this unit performs well, so this brand's 400-600W units must be good too".

    When I went shopping for a PSU, I went for a $40 500W model with a plain 80+ rating because there were practically no reviews of sub-$100 400-600W units (and I didn't want a $20 no-name model that might have 45% efficiency). But if reviews showed that spending $100 gave a big improvement over lower priced units, I might have decided differently.
  • DanNeely - Tuesday, March 24, 2015 - link

    The other half is that high efficiency PSUs only pay for themselves under largish 24/7 loads at typical US power prices. I played around with the numbers recently for my new build:For a 24/7 load (distributed computing), $0.12/kwh for electricity, modular designs only, and wanting ~200W headroom to keep the PSU fan from adding to the system noise; and over 6 years a 91% platinum PSU only broke even over an 88% gold unit if I ran SLI/xFire for about half the time. In a pure single GPU config the gold model barely broke even vs a cheaper silver model. I ended up going with the platinum model because I expect the 5k monitor I'm planning on buying in the next 12-24 months almost certainly will require SLI/xFire for a few years; combined with a housing situation where my landlord is responsible for the heating bill while air conditioning is on me tipping the scale.

    If your PC spends most of its day off/idle a high efficiency PSU isn't going to give much of a return except possibly at very high electricity rates. If an OEM ever makes one, a small 80+ titanium unit might be worthwhile for mainstream users just due to the large boost it requires at a 10% load.
  • JeffFlanagan - Tuesday, March 24, 2015 - link

    Good point. Power requirements for PCs with massive storage have also come down quite a bit now that 3 2TB drives can be replaced with a single 6TB drive.
  • bigboxes - Tuesday, March 24, 2015 - link

    I have 8 hard drives (1 SDD for the OS) in my file server. If they increase the size I'll just get 8 6TB drives. Right now I'm slowly migrating to 4TB models (up from 1.5TB and 2TB models). Hard drives don't consume a lot of energy regardless.
  • Gigaplex - Tuesday, March 24, 2015 - link

    My home server has 5 hard drives (4x 3TB array plus the OS drive) and i'm using a 450W PSU. The system idles at 60W measured at the wall. It hits about 75W when the array is maxing out the gigabit network connection. The only time you really need to worry about power requirements for "massive storage" is during boot, but if you stagger the spin-up then it's not a problem. Not that I've had to bother with my current system.
  • romrunning - Tuesday, March 24, 2015 - link

    "The high ambient temperatures have a significant impact on the electrical performance of the Photon 1050W, reducing its energy conversion efficiency by an average of 2%. The drop is higher as the load increases, reaching a massive 3.7% drop with a load of 1050W."

    C'mon now, an increase from 2% to 3.7% is NOT a "massive" difference.
  • SirGCal - Tuesday, March 24, 2015 - link

    You wouldn't be saying that if it was the APR % difference in your mortgage for example... If you were at 2% and they raised you to 3.7%, you'd @#$% the bed. Everything is perspective.
  • romrunning - Tuesday, March 24, 2015 - link

    C'mon now, don't conflate two items that are completely different. Changes in a mortgage APR don't equally equate into slight changes in a power supply's energy conversion efficiency.

    If two power supplies were being compared and one was 3.7% while the other was 5.0%, would you still describe the 3.7% variance as "massive"? How would you describe the 5.0% variance?

    E.Fyll did a good job with his review; I just thought the word "massive" was a bit hyperbolic in the context used.
  • E.Fyll - Tuesday, March 24, 2015 - link

    Actually, it is an 85% increase over the average efficiency drop. That, alongside the fact that everything above 1-1.5% for that particular test is very high, is pretty much massive.

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