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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  • romrunning - Tuesday, March 24, 2015 - link

    Hey, I knew someone would give me the actual % difference. :)

    Not to be overly pedantic, I was just thinking a different word would be better - like "significant". What if you had another test that showed a 10% variance? What word would be appropriate then - "ginormous"? Words that describe the scale of difference begin to lose impact when they start out with a descriptive word that is a little too large in scale itself.
  • romrunning - Tuesday, March 24, 2015 - link

    Anyway, just having a little fun here. E.Fyll, you did a nice job with the review!

    I also agree with the opinions given here that we need more 500-600W reviews. That is what I think most buy when they are building their own PCs with a single GPU, and that's where we need the expert guidance/reviews to make the most informed purchase.
  • E.Fyll - Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - link

    Each word is appropriate for a specific purpose. In this case, an energy conversion efficiency drop from 2% to 3.7% just from the increase of the ambient temperature is massive. If there was a 10% drop in that test, something would be horribly wrong.

    As you mentioned, the scale itself is important. However, the scale is not 0-100%. Even the entirety of the ECE scale itself is 60-100% (you cannot really have 0.1% efficiency with such a PSU). In this specific test, the maximum of the scale that is being described is perhaps a 0% to 5.5-6% drop (you cannot have a 90% drop either), meaning that going from 2% to 3.7% is a move a whole 1/3 down the scale. The large drop at maximum power output is also a sign of overloading - units rated at 50°C do not (should not) behave like that, the efficiency decline due to the higher temperature is even across the entire load range.

    You just gave me an idea for a new graph. Thank you.

    You see, everything is relative. An efficiency loss of 1.7% does not initially sound much, I agree. However, when you consider that the losses nearly double and that a good PSU should not even reach 1% during that test, let alone 3.7%, the huge difference becomes obvious.
  • Dr.Neale - Thursday, March 26, 2015 - link

    Actually, a 3.7% decrease in efficiency REALLY IS MASSIVE.

    For example, a 3.7% DECREASE IN EFFICIENCY from 90.0% to 86.3% means that the waste heat produced by the PSU increases from 10.0% to 13.7%, or a 37% INCREASE IN HEAT OUTPUT.

    I would call 37% a MASSIVE INCREASE in anything!

    The amplification factor, call it A, is obviously given by:

    A = 100% / (100% - Efficiency)

    In my example, A = 10. In an 80+ Platinum rated PSU operating at 93.3% Efficiency, A = 15. Even in a plain vanilla 80+ PSU operating at only 80% Efficiency, A = 5.

    So the % increase in HEAT is roughly 10X the % decreased in EFFICIENCY. It would behoove you to be mindful of this.

  • Dr.Neale - Thursday, March 26, 2015 - link

    Sorry for the typos at the end.

    But the drive for HIGH EFFICIENCY is mainly motivated by the desire for LOWER HEAT PRODUCTION, hence LOWER COOLING REQUIREMENTS, hence LOWER NOISE.

    The savings on your electricity costs are merely a fringe benefit.

    One other thing... Seeing as how a name-brand high-efficiency PSU with a 7-YEAR WARRANTY will likely last 10-20 years before failure, and moreover that the QUALITY OF THE POWER DELIVERY (voltage accuracy and ripple) strongly influence the MTBF of the other components in your computer build, WHY CHEAP OUT ON YOUR PSU ???

    My father once bragged to me about how much money he saved by only buying a cheap $20 watch EVERY YEAR. I responded by showing him my $200 Citizen solar-powered watch, with the titanium bracelet and sapphire crystal, which was 10X as accurate, looked way nicer, and over 10 years would cost the same, and over 20 years half as much as he would spend on cheap, cheap-looking, and minimally accurate watches.

    Better to buy a GOOD one once, than to buy a CHEAP one over and over again.

    That's my philosophy for any (so-called) durable goods.
  • The_Assimilator - Tuesday, March 24, 2015 - link

    Considering its price and features, I feel that this PSU deserved at least a Bronze award.

    E. Fylladitakis, please can you add a cable/connector table to your future reviews, similar to e.g. JonnyGURU? It's a bit of a pain to have to find the manufacturer's page, and available connectors play a big part in the selection criteria for a PSU. For example this model has 8x 6+2-pin PCIe and 15 SATA connectors, which is quite generous for a 1050W unit.
  • E.Fyll - Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - link

    I simply do not do awards. Not at all, ever. Every specific product has its own advantages, disadvantages and market potential. For user X, a "bronze" product might be much better than a "gold" product, even if they are similar, just because the former suits the needs of the user better. Everything is relative.

    I'll consider the tables. It is not difficult, I just thought that it is something too redundant.
  • seerak - Tuesday, March 24, 2015 - link

    While we're suggesting things to review (like midrange and lower end units), there's something I'm not seeing in reviews that really should be in there: UPS compatibility testing.

    Active power factor correction (PFC) doesn't seem to be a feature on this unit, but it's becoming increasingly common, and many of those units don't seem to like the modified sinewave output of cheaper UPS units. Seeing as this is the sort of incompatibility that could be very bad to learn about the hard way, that would be a good quick test to add into PSU reviews.
  • E.Fyll - Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - link

    All modern switching PSU include (or should) APFC. It is actually illegal to sell a PSU without APFC in Europe nowadays, for example.

    Unfortunately, that is an issue of having a bad UPS, not a bad PSU. A cheap UPS will certainly output a modified sine wave. If the output is that bad that would cause overvoltage within the APFC circuit and blow the capacitors, it is not because the PSU is bad but because the output of the UPS is awful. A waveform that would increase the voltage at the APFC capacitors from the expected maximum of 340V to >450V does not even remotely pass as a "modified sine wave".

    The only PSU that I have ever seen being too "sensitive" about modified sine wave signals was an Enermax design nearly a decade ago. Even then, Enermax enhanced the tolerance of the unit on its second revision. Still, it was not the PSU's fault that some UPS had terrible outputs. That's where the major difference between a $50 600VA Chinese off-brand UPS and a Schneider $200 600VA UPS usually lies...

    Generally speaking, the voltage rating of the input capacitors usually hints the tolerance of the PSU when handling such signals. The higher, the better.
  • kaborka - Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - link

    I heartily agree it should be tested whether a PSU will work with an old non-sine UPS. Why should we have to dump a working UPS and buy a $150+ new sinewave one when we get a new PSU? I'm all in favor of PFC, but I would have to return any one that wouldn't work with my existing inventory of older UPS.

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