HEC Compucase Cougar 1000CM Modular PSU Page: 1
Introduction & Specificatons
 
HEC LogoI'd like to think that we've covered quite a wide range of PSU manufacturers here on OC3D over the past few years, but every once in a while a new review request drops into our inbox from a company that has been in the industry for an eternity, yet never really fallen under the Overclock3D radar. HEC Compucase is one such company, and founded in 1979 HEC Compucase originally started out life manufacturing metal sheet components for the automotive industry. However, almost 10 years later this knowledge was applied to PC chassis manufacture which was soon to become their primary focus.
 
Natural progression finally saw HEC move into the PSU market in 1997 where the company focused mainly on supplying devices to OEM customers rather than direct to consumers. One such example of this was our recent review of the MESH Matrix II PC System which contained a HEC 550w PSU.
 
But times are changing, and with the release of the "Cougar" range which we will be looking at today, it would seem that HEC have their sights firmly set on entering the retail sector. HEC have sent us over the 1000w model, so let's waste no time and jump straight into the specs:
 
Compatible with the Latest PC Technologies
-Supports the newest specifications of ATX12V & EPS12V
-Created for usage with current and next-generation multi-core CPU and GPU platforms

Green Design for Energy saving
-80plus® certified, environmentally conscious green product design for lower energy consumption
-Meets Energy Star requirement - Standby (Off mode) <2W, Sleep mode < 4W
-High efficiency: Up to 87%

Ultra quiet
-Extremely Low Noise Level at < 23dB
-Ultra quiet 140mm fan with thermal control function. Keeps the Cougar cool and quiet at all the times

Efficient and stable component architecture
-Six independent and stable +12V rails promote the best performance to gamers
-High-end industrial grade capacitors provide more electrical power storage to promote higher efficiency and longer product lifespan
-With Active-PFC (PF>0.99) at 100% loading and Universal AC input (100-240Vac Full Range)

Modular Cable Management
-Modular cable design allows you to detach connectors freely and use only the cables you need
-Smart plug design: cable connectors are designed to connect to their proper input only

Full safety protection
-Full Protection: OCP, SCP, OVP, UVP, OPP
-Safety and EMI certified: CB, TUV, CE, UL, cUL, FCC, MIC, BSMI
 
Although we'll take a proper look at the rail distribution in a minute, HEC have decided to split the +12v rail power over a total of six rails. Interestingly they attribute this decision as being in the best interests of gamers, but the last time I checked most other manufacturers were switching to a single +12v rail design for the very same reason. 87% efficiency is also on the cards, but with no mention of what mains voltage or load level(s) this is achievable at, this figure doesn't really mean too much. Additionally it would seem that the Cougar 1000CM has only been certified 80PLUS (Standard) rather than any of the newer Bronze/Silver/Gold ratings. This could possibly indicate that the efficiency of the unit drops as low as 80% at certain loads, or maybe that HEC just haven't got round to getting the unit properly certified.
 
Never-less, HEC state that the Cougar has been kitted out with high-end industrial grade capacitors to improve efficiency and MTBF. Hopefully they've also installed enough of the little electrolytic blighters to suppress any nasty ripple on the rails too!
 
A full set of safety features has been listed for the 1000CM with OCP (Over Current Protection), OPP (Over Power Protection) and SCP (Short Circuit Protection) all being be areas that will be tested for problems during the review today. Normally most units pass without any issue, but as we saw recently even the most respected of manufacturers can sometimes get things wrong.
 
HEC Compucase Cougar 1000CM Rail Layout
DC Output +3.3V +5V +12V1 +12V2 +12V3 +12V4 +12V5 +12V6 -12V +5VSB
30A 30A 20A 20A 20A 20A 20A 20A 0.8A 4A
Max Power 175W 960W 9.6W 20W
1000W
 
Each of the six +12v rails are limited to 20A with a maximum combined output of 960w across all rails. This layout is perfectly acceptable providing that HEC have evenly distributed the PCI-E connectors over each of the rails to ensure that multi-GPU configurations don't all end up trying to suck their power from only one or two rails. The +3.3v and +5v rails have also been given a reasonable amount of power with a combined max output of 175W. 
 
Now that we've got the basics out of the way let's move on to the next page where we unbox the unit.


HEC Compucase Cougar 1000CM Modular PSU Page: 2
Packaging & Appearance
 
HEC get straight down to business on the front of the Cougar 1000CM box with a picture of the unit in all its orange glory accompanied by a large image of a robotic feline in a bounding pose. Several certification stickers are lined up toward the bottom with features such as 87.5% efficiency,  1000w output and six +12v rails all being clearly visible. Flipping the box over reveals a specification list similar to the one on their website in a total of six languages.
 
Cougar 100CM Box Front Cougar 1000CM Box Back
Cougar 1000CM Box Side Cougar 100CM Box Side
 
No matter which side of the box you look at HEC have printed something there for you to read. At one end of the box you will find yet another specifications list, only this time with several images to represent each of the main features, while at the other end of the box HEC have printed rail distribution charts for both the Cougar 1000CM and 1200CM models.
 
Cougar 1000CM Box Open Cougar 1000CM Contents
 
Opening the box reveals three cardboard compartments that house the PSU, modular cables and other accessories such as the case screws and manual. The PSU itself is placed inside a black canvas drawstring bag that should protect the unit from any minor marks or scratches caused by contact with the cardboard packaging during shipping. Although there's no moulded polystyrene inserts like we've been seeing more and more recently from companies such as Corsair and OCZ, the thick cardboard ribbing around the PSU area of the box should be enough to protect the unit from most knocks, dents and drops.
 
Cougar 1000CM Top-down Cougar 1000CM Side
 
Cougar 1000CM Side View Cougar 1000CM Shiny
 
They say that first impressions count and HEC certainly seem to have taken this to heart with an extremely striking metallic orange paintjob contrasted with a black fan grill and screws. Although the paint job certainly isn't up to automotive standards when it comes to glossiness and shine, viewing the PSU from different angles gives an almost colour-shift effect from dark orange, to light orange, to gold. Anybody building a PC based on an orange and black theme is going to absolutely love the look of this unit. The only down-side of course is that it's not quite as robust as a powder-coat finish and will scratch/chip if mishandled.
 
Cougar 1000CM Rear Cougar 1000CM Switch
 
At the back of the unit is the usual honeycomb grill accompanied by a power switch and kettle lead style plug socket. Bling fans are going to be pleased to hear that the switch does indeed light up when the PSU is powered on, but unfortunately HEC missed a trick here by making it green rather than orange.
 
Cougar 1000CM Side Cougar 1000CM Top
 
Finally at the side of the unit we have the specifications sticker along with the Cougar logo embossed on the right-hand side at a vertical angle. As per usual the specification sticker is printed with a rail layout chart for the unit along with various other global safety certifications and warnings about how you'll get zapped if you open the PSU casing.
 
Now lets move on to the next page and take a look at those modular cables and internal components...


HEC Compucase Cougar 1000CM Modular PSU Page: 3
Cables & Connectors
 
With the exception of a few manufacturers, most modular PSU's available these days are what I'd call hybrid-modular. That is, most - but not all of the cables on the unit are modular. This is exactly the approach that HEC have taken with the Cougar 1000CM, hard-wiring the cables you are most likely to use into the unit, while providing the rest as modular cables.
 
Cougar 1000CM Modular Cougar 1000CM Modular plugged in
 
A total of eight modular plugs protrude from the front of the unit, with four dedicated to graphics card power (Red) and the remaining four (black) for use with the SATA/Molex modular cables. Interestingly HEC have used 8-Pin PCI-E style connectors for all of the plugs which could potentially lead to cables being inserted into the wrong connectors. Of course, all plugs on the cables are colour coded, but as I can attest to myself, when inserting new cables into a PSU that is already installed in a chassis it can be hard to see exactly what goes where.
 
Cougar 1000CM Hard Wired Cougar 1000CM Sleeving
 
Cougar 1000CM Hard Wired Cougar 1000CM PCI-E
 
I've desperately wanted to make comment on the sleeving used on the cables, and now we're finally at the right section of the review I can. THEY LOOK AWESOME! Maybe it's a Marmite thing, but the combination of orange, white and black in an almost milk snake like arrangement really looks unique and would suite a wide range of modified PC themes. Additionally the quality of the sleeving is also extremely good with the very tightly woven mesh completely hiding the wires beneath while also extending as far up the cables as possible.
 
Hard-wired into the unit are two PCI-E graphics card cables (one 6-Pin, the other 6+2Pin), an 8-Pin EPS-12v connector (with a 4-Pin P412v connector piggy backed) and of course a 20+4Pin ATX connector. This pretty much ensures that the Cougar 1000CM will work with any system both old and new with the exception of some server/high-end motherboards that require two EPS-12v connectors.
 
Cougar 1000CM Modular Cables Cougar 1000CM PCI-E Cables
 
Cougar 1000CM SATA Cougar 1000CM Molex
 
HEC Cougar 1000CM Connectors
 ATX ConnectorNative1x 20+4 Pin
 EPS-12v / P4-12v Connector(s)Native1x 4 Pin / 1x 8 Pin
 Molex ConnectorsModular7x
 Floppy Disk ConnectorsModular1x
 SATA ConnectorsModular8x
 PCI-E ConnectorsNative / Modular3x 6 Pin / 3x 6+2 Pin
 
The total number of modular plugs is quite evenly weighted with a eight SATA connectors and seven Molex connectors  both of which are spread over a total of four cables. While this means that you can indeed have every cable provided with the unit all plugged in at the same time, it could potentially hinder any cable routing attempts where having more cables allows you to route them individually to the components you need to power.
 
 
Internal Components
 
Moving on to the internals now and at first glance, the internals of the Cougar 1000CM look quite neatly arranged. Very few cables can be seen running wild around the unit, and all cables entering the unit from the hard-wired connectors are bunched tightly together. The only thing which is a bit of an eyesore is the large quantities of white glue used to make sure than none of the components touch.
 
Cougar 1000CM Internals Cougar 1000CM Internals
 
Cougar 1000CM Internals Cougar 1000CM Internals
 
The first thing to notice here is obviously the two large transformers. These each service three of the six +12v rails inside the unit making the 1000CM one of very few dual transformer designs we've had the opportunity of reviewing. Over to the left of these and hidden beneath an angled black heatsink is yet another transformer, only smaller and responsible for powering the +5vSB rail.
 
 Cougar 1000CM DC-DC COugar 1000CM Filtering 
 
Two DC-DC daughter-boards positioned right at the edge of the PCB are responsible for stepping down the main +12v output into +3.3v and +5v outputs for the rest of the rails. It has to be said that these don't look quite as impressive as those used on some other high-end units (such as the HX850w) which also feature several solid state capacitors. Also in the image above-right we can see the mains filtering circuit which consists mainly of a ferrite inductor.
 
Cougar 1000CM Capacitor Cougar 1000CM Capacitors
 
A single, fairly small capacitor manufactured by Taiwanese company Teapo with specs 420v  / 560uF / 85c has been installed on the primary side of the unit. Over on the secondary side I had absolutely no joy identifying the origin of the capacitors, but at the very least from the pictures we can see that they are rated at 105c. In all honesty the quantity of (or lack of) caps inside the unit is a tad on the worrying side, but obviously we'll find out exactly how it performs over on the next page.
 
Cougar 1000CM Fan Cougar 1000CM Fan
 
Although the label would have you believe that the installed fan is manufactured by HEC, the model number DFS132512H actually relates to a model manufactured by Young Lin Tech. Even more interesting is that this fan isn't 14cm in size as indicated in all of HEC's specifications, it's actually 13.5cm just like most other recent PSU's. The rest of the specs are as follows:
 
 
• Weight: 175
• Size (mm): 135x135x25
• Blades: 7
• Noise Output: 36 dBA
• Airflow (CFM): 91.16cfm (154.98 m³/h)
• Power: 3 Watt (0.25A)
 
Now on to the testing!


HEC Compucase Cougar 1000CM Modular PSU Page: 4
Simulated Load Testing
 
To provide accurate and consistent results in all of our PSU testing, Overclock3D uses professional grade DC electronic load equipment capable of placing a sustained load of 3690w across a total of six rails (including +5vsb and -12v) on the PSU! This is achieved by using a combination of SunMoon and Analogic electronic load equipment which allow us to adjust amperage loads in increments as small as 0.01A while also measuring voltage and wattage readings on-screen.
 
During today's tests, we will be placing the Cougar 1000CM under 25%, 50%, 75% and 100% load levels inside a hot box regulated to a temperature of around 50°C. Additional 'Cross Load' and a 'Max Load' tests will also be performed under these conditions to simulate how the PSU reacts to heavily uneven loads as well as running above its specified output.
  
HEC Compucase Cougar 1000CM Results @ 50°C
   +3.3v  +5.0v  +12v  +5vSB  -12v  AC Watts /
 DC Watts
 Efficiency  Intake /
 Exhaust
Δ Temp
Test 1
(Low)
5.25A 5.25A 16.75A  1.00A  0.20A  288w /
255w
 88.54% 50.8°C /
53.0°C
2.2°C
3.36v 5.03v 12.10v 5.04v  -12.07v
Test 2
(Med)
10.50A 10.50A 33.50A 2.00A  0.40A  563w /
506w
 89.87%  50.2°C /
56.8°C
6.6°C
3.31v
4.96v
12.04v 4.96v  -12.08v
Test 3
(High)
15.75A 15.75A 50.25A 3.00A  0.60A  851w /
759w
 89.18% 53.2C /
66.3°C
13.1°C
3.22v 4.90v 11.84v 4.89v -12.11v
Test 4
(Full)
21.00A 21.00A 67.00A 4.00A 0.80A 1155w /
999w
86.49%  50.3°C /
72.9°C
22.6°C
3.21v 4.81v 11.70v 4.83v -12.12v
Test 5
(x-load)
21.00A 21.00A 1.00A 0.00A 0.00A  233w /
185w
79.39% 50.6°C /
51.6°C
1.0 °C
3.32v 4.93v 12.16v 5.06v -12.09v
Test 6
(x-load)
 1.00A  1.00A  77.00A  0.00A  0.00A 1069w /
958w
89.61%  53.0°C /
66.0°C
 13.0°C
3.32v 4.98v 11.94v 5.03v -12.12v
Test 7
(MAX)
 21.00A  21.00A 70.00A  4.00A  0.80A 1257w /
1031w
82.02%  53.3°C /
77.1°C
 23.8°C
3.22v 4.82v 11.70v 4.82v -12.12v
 
HEC Compucase Cougar 1000CM Performance Overview
 +3.3v Diff.
T1-T4
 +5.0v Diff.
T1-T4
 +12v Diff.
T1-T4
Avg Effic.
T1-T4
Noise Rating
-4.46%   -4.37% -3.30%  88.52% Low 
 
Starting off with the performance overview chart which shows the fluctuation in voltage between Test 1 and Test 4 results, we can see that the Cougar 1000CM manages fairly reasonable voltage stability with less than 5% fluctuation between idle and load on the +3.3v and +5v rails. The +12v rail rail also performs reasonably well with 3.30% fluctuation between Test 1 and Test4. However, when comparing these results to other PSU's tested recently the Cougar 1000CM doesn't quite make it into our top 10.  PSU's such as the Corsair HX850w and PCP&C Silencer 910w have shown to be capable of less than 1% fluctuation on the +12v rails and around 2% on the +3.3v and +5v rails, offering much tighter voltages between idle and load.
 
During the cross-load tests 6 & 7 the Cougar copes surprisingly well with no out-of -check voltages at all. Only the efficiency takes a nose-dive during test 5, dropping to just under 80%. This is a fairly surprising result considering the average results from the other tests so far, but very few PSU's pass these tests so the Cougar deserves a few points here at least.
 
Finally in the MAX Load test, it is quite obvious to see that the Cougar 1000CM is already stretched to its limits as far as power output is concerned. Although the unit was briefly capable of up to ~1400w before OCP/OPP kicked in and shut it down, the maximum sustainable load was just 1031w. Obviously at this load the voltages were quite similar to those at 1000w in Test 4 with the only difference being a 4% lower efficiency at 82.02%.
 
HEC Compucase Cougar 1000CM Scope Results @ 50c
   +3.3v  +5.0v  +12v
Test 1
(Low)
T1_3.3V T1_5V T1_12V
Test 2
(Med)
t2_3.3v t2_5v t2_12v
Test 3
(High)
t3_3.3v t3_5v t3_12v
Test 4
(Full)
t4_3v t4_5v t4_12v
Test 5
(x-load)
t5_3.3v t5_5v t5_12v
Test 6
(x-load)
t6_3.3v t6_5v t6_12v
Test 7
(MAX)
T7_3.3 T7_5 T7_12
 
And now we hit the major snag. The ripple output across all rails on the Cougar 1000CM was quite frankly shocking! Actually scratch that...I don't think there is a word which can describe how appalling 144mV of ripple on the +12v rail is during Test 1! This is already outside of ATX specification which states that ripple should be no higher than 50mV on the +3.3v/+5v rails and 120mV on the +12v rails, and we havent even applied any significant load yet! Similary the +3.3v and +5v rails are also cringe-worthy topping out at 118mV and 106mV respectively.
 
Fast forwarding to Test 4 and as you'd expect, things only get worse. 194mV of ripple on the +3.3v rail, 192mV on the +5v rail and 212mV on the +12v rail. It's almost like somebody forgot to solder in the capacitors! At this point we actually uplugged the Cougar from the testing equipment and tried a different PSU in there to make sure that there wasn't an issue with our load tester. There wasn't.
 
The strange thing is that most of the high ripple output is attributed entirely to infrequent spikes. Sometimes they would only be as high as 100mV while other times they would go completely off the chart and hit closer to 300mV. If it wasn't for this the average ripple of the 1000CM could actually be quite reasonable.


HEC Compucase Cougar 1000CM Modular PSU Page: 5
Conclusion
 
If I were to base this review on looks alone, then the HEC Cougar 1000CM would easily be in my top 5. The orange paint job is really is striking and has an almost colour-shift effect to it that changes under different lighting angles. The black fan grill and screws contrast really well. And the snake-like black/white/orange striped sleeving is totally unique and completes the look.
 
Unfortunately what lets this PSU down is the performance. Never before have I seen such large ripple spikes across all rails on a PSU. 140mV on the +12v rail at idle is simply unacceptable and I can only hope that this is the result of a faulty sample rather than anything to do with the sparing use of unidentifiable capacitors on the secondary side of the unit. Things only got worse throughout the testing with ripple consistently breaking 200mV and sometimes even briefly coming close to 300mV although this happened to infrequently to catch in a screenshot.
 
The voltage stability on the other hand was slightly more acceptable with the worst results being seen in tests 4 and 7 where the +12v rail dropped down to 11.70v. Of course this is well inside ATX specifications and only represents a 3.3% fluctuation from the idle voltage of 12.10v. Similarly the +3.3v and +5v rails only dropped as low as 3.21v and 4.81v respectively representing less than 5% fluctuation on each rail. Never less, enthusiasts will undoubtedly frown on these results knowing that there are plenty of other PSU's out there than can achieve much tighter regulation.
 
Efficiency however, regularly exceeded expectations with the Cougar achieving around 89% at 500-750w loads. Only in tests 5  where the unit was subjected to a heavy crossload did the efficiency drop to 79%, but this is pretty much expected as a 170w load on only the +3.3v and +5v rails is not going to be something easily replicated in any ordinary PC system.
 
At the end of the day, it's hard to recommend the Cougar 1000CM due to the ripple issues. If HEC can get this fixed or prove that this was simply a faulty batch then the outcome would certainly be different. The Cougar is one very smartly dressed PSU that would go down a treat inside any PC with an orange theme, but unfortunately looks count for very little when it comes to powering high-end PC systems.
 
The Good
- Orange paintwork looks great.
- High quality, unique sleeving.
- Great efficiency at medium load levels.
- Silent operation.
 
The Mediocre
- Appearance of PSU is only likely to appeal to small market segment.
- Voltage regulation is fairly average.
- Little white lie about the 14cm fan which is actually 13.5cm.
 
The Bad
- Awful ripple results from all rails at all loads.
 
 
Thanks to HEC Compucase for sending the Cougar 1000CM in for review. Discuss in our forums.
 
 
Further to the publishing of this review, HEC Compucase have responded with the following statement:
 
Dear James,

Firstly I would like to thank you and Overclock3d for reviewing our Cougar power supply posted 23rd October 2009. Admittedly it was not the kind of review that we were hoping for nor expecting.

Action had to be taken by Compucase HEC, this industry relies heavily on reviews and word of mouth, for us to not do anything was unthinkable, therefore the review went directly to our R&D department and the product manager in Taiwan where they took the review apart paragraph by paragraph.

The good news is a revised version will be going into production next week of the 1000w, that will address the ripple issue that you highlighted as well as some other smaller points you brought to our attention.

I firmly believe this has been a worthwhile exercise that has allowed us to revisit, review and correct the issues you highlighted, we wanted to demonstrate the level of support you could expect from Compucase HEC, being the “new kid on the block” (excuse the pun) we have to work that little bit harder to prove ourselves.

Mark Szachno
Compucase UK Ltd.