Aspire Chameleon 550w PSU Page: 1
Introduction

People choosing a new Power Supply Unit generally fall into 3 catagories, those who are on a budget, those who want a fully 'blinged out' unit, and those who want rock stable voltages with high power output.

Today i'm going to be reviewing the Chameleon 550w PSU from Aspire which appears to be targeted at all of these catagories. Will it perform? Read on to find out!


Packaging

Aspire Box Aspire Box Side

Clearly set to stand out from the croud, Aspire have chosen a gaming theme for the graphics on the front of the box. Turn the box around to the side and Aspire have put in a window so that you can get a bit of a look at the braided cabling without tearing the box open.

Aspire Box Side Aspire Contents

Inside the box you will find a standard power cord, some thumb screws and the unit itself with the bulk of cables being held together by an elastic band. It's nice to see that Aspire chose thumb screws over standard ATX screws, as these add a bit more class to the look of the unit when it is in place.


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Specification

Specification taken directly from Aspire's website:

* Aluminum casting for best cooling
* LED color switch changes the fan colors
* High quality colorful components and materials ensure superior performance and appearance
* Excellent ventilation:1 x 120mm uv blue LED fan and punched out side panels for excellent cooling
* Super silent:1 x fan speed controller optimizing cooling while reducing noise
* Wire management:fully sleeved cables to avoid clutter and improve airflow
* Supports ATX Intel 12V V1.2 and AMD systems
* All connectors, switch and wire sleeves are uv green reactive
* Protection:Short circuit/ Under voltage/ Over voltage/ Over current/ Over power/ Electric-shock free protection
* Safety approval:UL, CSA, FCC, CE, CB, TUV
* High efficiency and reliability
* Low noise and ripple
* 100% Burn-in test/ Hi-pot test/ Viibration test/ Leak Current test

Aspire 550w Specs


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Appearance

I can imagine the appearence of this power supply having a 'marmite-like' effect on people. You'll either love it or hate it.
The unit is made up of 4 aluminium mesh sides and a corrugated top for maximum cooling performance. Surprisingly, the unit still managed to have a heavy, quality feel to it.
Aspire have also taken care to professionally braid and sleeve all cables in UV reactive material, and have also included UV reactive easy-grip molexes.

Aspire PSU Top Aspire PSU Front

Aspire Top Aspire Cables

It's nice to see that Aspire continued the green theme of the PSU right down to the power switch and power connector.
Also around the back of the PSU is a Fan Speed Adjuster (which i will cover later on), and a switch for changing the colour of the fan LED's as seen below.

LED Blue LED Green LED Red


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Connectors

Although this PSU is ATX 2.0 compliant, I was quite disappointed with the lack of connectors provided. SLI/Crossfire users should steer clear as the unit only has one PCI-E connector. Similarly, users of multiple SATA hard disks will be disappointed as this power supply only provides 2 SATA connectors.


Connector Connector Connector

Connector Connector Connector

As with many modern Power Supplies, Aspire have opted for a 20+4pin ATX connector, which means that the connector will work with both old and new motherboards.

Cables UV

Under UV light you can seen where this power supply really shines (sorry for the pun!). The cables and connectors glow a very bright green without needing to be too close to a UV light source.


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Looking Inside

Quite often the quality of a power supply can be seen by just a quick look at its internals. Lots of empty space, small capacitors and small heatsinks is often a tell-tale sign that the unit isn't going to be able to cope under heavy load.


PSU Insides PSU Insides

And it looks like we might be putting that rule to the test in this review. The Aspire internals look quite inadequate, with small capacitors, small heatsinks and a mesh of cables laying on top of the components.

I was also unable to find any adjustable potentiometers, which may have come in useful for boosting voltages if they dropped below ATX specifications in our tests.


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Testing

In order for our tests on high end PSU's to remain fair and comparable with past and future reviews we have created our own PSU stress testing device. The device is capable of placing a 8,16,24 and 32 amp load on the power supply on single or multiple 12v rails.

The images below were taken during the testing of the 12v rails.

12v Idle 12v 16a Load

12v Rail 32a Load

According to the specification given by Aspire, the power supply is capable of delivering 36 amps over both rails. However, when pushing the power supply to 32a load the unit started emitting a high pitched buzzing noise and as you can see from the picture above, the voltage dropped drastically.

+12v Rails +5v Rail

+3.3v Rail

ATX specification states that all voltages should be within +/- 5% to prevent damage to components. We see here that the Aspire falls short of this specification on the +12v rail with a -6.3% deviation. The 3.3v and 5v rails however were rock solid never dipping below their specified voltages.


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Conclusion

The Chameleon is a good looking power supply with some nifty features. However it is let down by a lack of connectors and its unstable voltages on the +12v rail.

At around £35-40, this unit is a good alternative to the generic £20 units you see around on eBay and other sites, but don't expect it to be able to power your high end SLI or Crossfire machine.

Aspire do have a new range of 600w and 680w PSU's entering the UK market soon. Hopefully these will be able to keep up with the demands of the modern power hungry PC.


Pro's
- UV Sleeved Cables
- UV Molex's and ATX connectors
- Switchable fan colours
- Adjustable fan speed
- Mesh casing for increased cooling performance

Con's
- Poor performance on +12v rails
- Lack of second PCI-E connector
- Lack of SATA connectors
- Buzzing noise under load

Reviewed

Thanks to Aspire for providing this Unit for review :)



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