Discussion Power supply / PSU models - What to buy, what to avoid - And PSU discussion thread

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BlueCat57

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Please forgive this "lazy" question. It kind of relates to Blitz Blitz's question about the older Seasonic models.

From the original post:
"...if you go with a Haswell or newer Intel configuration you will want to avoid those because they do not support the C6/C7 Intel low power states..."

Do AMD processors have any similar issues with power supplies?

I usually just run my systems with a "never" power scheme. Never shut the monitor off (that's what the on/off button is for). Never wind down the hard drives. Never put the system to sleep. I am NOT a patient man and have a terrible short term memory and the few seconds it takes to get things back up.... what was I talking about?
 

4745454b

Titan
Moderator
I also notice you are a person who likes to post 4 times or more in a row. There is such a thing as an edit button.

We aren't supposed to get political in these forums so I'm just going to say that PSUs are being hit by some really bad Tariffs right now. Which is why they are so expensive. I bought my 550W Seasonic on prime day and spent around $70 or $75 for it. So it is possible. But it's also more expensive than it should be for reasons beyond our control. Perhaps in a few months there will be more options.
 

Darkbreeze

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We aren't supposed to get political in these forums so I'm just going to say that PSUs are being hit by some really bad Tariffs right now. Which is why they are so expensive.
Exactly. THIS is why power supplies are so expensive right now. A year ago, a unit that currently will cost you 100 dollars could probably have been obtained on sale for around 65 bucks if you factored in rebates or discounts. It's not a matter of ME being too discerning. It's a matter of the market being raped by politics and an ongoing trade war with a country that makes and ships 95% of the worlds electronics. Expect the current prices to GO WAY UP since the province in China responsible for the majority of manufacturing IS NOT CURRENTLY MANUFACTURING due to the fact that the country is largely shut down due to the rising fear and complications from the Wuhan Coronavirus. That means there is going to be a HUGE shortage of these electronics because not only is nobody making them, nobody is shipping them out, and even if somebody was shipping them out, nobody would be allowing them through customs for fear of spreading disease on our end. Prices are going to skyrocket and there will be price gouging. Mark my words.

If you think anything is expensive now, wait two months. Or four. Or six.


I have at least two systems using 10-year old Antec EarthWatts Green EA-380D power supplies. I seldom shut the systems down and have had no issues with them.
That's great. It doesn't mean much, but it's great. The fact is, The EA-380D was an OK lower end power supply for it's time. It's a platform that is well over 10 years old, but for the price and for a system that needs less than 400w, it's fine in most cases. The majority of our user base is NOT looking for THAT kind of power supply however. Most of our visitors are enthusiasts or gamers looking for something that can handle the rigors of a mid to high end graphics card, or overclocking or that will have an extremely long lifespan, or that affords all of the expected protections, or all of the above. If you have no graphics card or a slot powered card with a very low demand system, then there is little reason to spend more than 30-60 dollars on a power supply unless you might be inclined to add upgrades at some point.


Obviously I’m frugal
There is a difference between frugal and cheap, as I'm sure you can understand. Frugal is being as cheap as what is reasonably permissible. Cheap is being cheap beyond what common sense allows for.

Do power supplies “wear out”?
Yes, they wear out. Capacitors are not endlessly capable. The warranty is the length of time you should "expect" the unit to last. If it lasts longer, that's great. But if it does, I personally won't continue to use it with my high end hardware. It makes no sense to use a five or ten year old component that costs 100 to 150 bucks to replace every five to ten years, with hardware that cost me hundreds of dollars more than that. I currently have a Seasonic Prime Ultra Titanium that cost me 164.99. It has a 12 year warranty. Whatever hardware I have at the time that warranty runs out will be worth a lot more to me than the cost of replacing that power supply, regardless that it was one of the very best ATX power supplies that money could buy at the time that I bought it, and regardless that it might still be running fine fine when the warranty expires. It is simply not worth the risk, and it IS a risk no matter how you want to look at it.

If a manufacturer says "this unit is expected to last five years" and that is how long we guarantee it to last, then THAT is how long YOU should expect it to have trouble free operation. Beyond that, you should NOT have expectations of it having trouble free operation and if you cannot expect it to have trouble free operation then you should not use it with a system that contains your primary, valued system hardware. A secondary system or as a temporary backup in case of a failure, ok. I can understand that.


Of course, the current trend is for all components to use LESS energy, so if I build a “new” system in a year or two, I might not need that many watts and my trusty 380s might be “good” enough. Any chance they will last 15 years?
See my last answer.


Based on Darkbreeze’s “recommendations”, there are NO “moderately” priced power supplies worth purchasing since pretty much every 4 and 5-star rated power supply on Newegg that is less than $75 is “not good” according to Darkbreeze.
Anybody with a modicum of common sense that's using their head realizes that ratings on Newegg and Amazon can't be taken seriously or even acknowledged, at all, EXCEPT when there is an obvious and common pattern that exists across a HIGH NUMBER of reviews, to show that a specific issues PROBABLY exists for a certain product. Other than that, the ratings are a fracking joke. Seriously? 4 and 5 star ratings on Newegg? You mean the ones that give a 5 star rating because it showed up? At all.

Or when expected? Or powered on the system? At all.

Or because the box wasn't damaged. Or because "this power supply looks nice installed".

Or four hundred other things, whether talking power supplies or ANY other kind of product on Newegg or Amazon, that have literally NOTHING AT ALL to do with whether or not the product has substantial quality, is fit for a particular use or has a significant expectation of performance when compared to other products, much less the fact that these "reviews" are not reviews and are just "opinions". If you want to see reviews, go here:

https://www.tomshardware.com/topics/power-supplies

Or here:


Or here:

https://www.techpowerup.com/review/?category=Power+Supplies&manufacturer=&pp=25&order=date

The rest of what you posted, I'm not going to even address. If you want to run the cheapest crap possible, then that's fine. If you don't, that's fine too. I have never told anybody they needed to by ANY specific power supply AND I have NEVER told anybody that they SHOULDN'T buy any specific power supply either. I have only offered that some units are a better investment than others AND that there are some units out there that we KNOW for a FACT are known to be problematic. If you want to run one of the units or a unit sold by a brand that I've listed as problematic, be my guest. I'm not here to tell you what to do. I'm here to offer guidance. What you do with it is up to you. Sometimes the horse will actually die of thirst while standing next to the trough.
 
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Karadjgne

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I wouldn't call a 12v only psu 'groundbreaking' technology. What I would call it is a bunch of cheap sob's who didn't want to put in the other rails into a standard psu. Considering all the logic circuitry on a mobo runs 3.3v and all your drives and USB run 5v, a 12v only psu is going to have severely limited usage. Unless somebody makes a brilliant decision to stick those rails on the mobo itself or as a seperate entity. All in all I consider it a half-baked idea.
 

BlueCat57

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I also notice you are a person who likes to post 4 times or more in a row. There is such a thing as an edit button.

We aren't supposed to get political in these forums so I'm just going to say that PSUs are being hit by some really bad Tariffs right now. Which is why they are so expensive. I bought my 550W Seasonic on prime day and spent around $70 or $75 for it. So it is possible. But it's also more expensive than it should be for reasons beyond our control. Perhaps in a few months there will be more options.
I posted multiple times because they were different questions. And I'm not on Tom's every day. I come here for a specific reason (in this case researching power supplies) and since I'm curious, I usually have multiple questions which I feel are best posted in multiple comments. I posted similar information in two comments because one was a "short" version and the other a "long" one and I explained that.

Stating a fact is not political. If it is a fact that electronics prices have gone up because of trade relations with China then that is an answer to the perception that power supplies are expensive. How you "feel" about that is political. I was trying to be funny with my insertion of the word "political". I had forgotten that many people have lost their sense of humor. That is a political statement and the moderator may ding me for that.

I obviously don't shop power supplies frequently. My perception of power supply (or any other components) prices is that I see them "on-sale" when I'm looking for other components. Now that you mention the tariffs, it makes sense. A year or more ago I heard a story that said the price of washers and dryers were going to go up because of tariffs. Didn't mean anything to me then but now I'm in the market to buy, but since I haven't bought those items in almost 10 years the nearly doubling of the price is "reasonable" since prices go up.

My perception of graphics card prices is that they are going DOWN. Well, until I checked prices on a card I had researched maybe a month ago and the price on it seems to be 50% HIGHER than it was a month ago. Am I going to spend an hour trying to figure it out? No. I don't need to buy it right now so I'll just wait until I'm ready and see what the price is then.

All about perception and careful observation.
 

Eximo

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Herald
I wouldn't call a 12v only psu 'groundbreaking' technology. What I would call it is a bunch of cheap sob's who didn't want to put in the other rails into a standard psu. Considering all the logic circuitry on a mobo runs 3.3v and all your drives and USB run 5v, a 12v only psu is going to have severely limited usage. Unless somebody makes a brilliant decision to stick those rails on the mobo itself or as a seperate entity. All in all I consider it a half-baked idea.
See laptops, all...
 

BlueCat57

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Thank you for replying to my comments and questions.

Here are the takeaways I gleaned from those replies. These are for those of us that are enthusiastic about building our own systems but don’t have an unlimited budget.

1. Power supplies are “expensive” right now due to trade issues and manufacturing challenges. If you don’t need one right now, pick out what you want to buy when you do and wait for the pricing to change. It may go up, but things will certainly change.

When I broke down Darkbreeze’s original post I found that you could buy a 500 to 699 Watt “recommended” power supply for around $100. This would be the “entry” level model from one of his “recommended” brands.

While I limited the upper end to less than 700 Watts, it wouldn’t surprise me to see a “bargain” on a quality unit with more watts. So set a price point shop until you find one that meets quality, specifications and price.

2. “If you have no graphics card or a slot powered card with a very low demand system, then there is little reason to spend more than 30-60 dollars on a power supply unless you might be inclined to add upgrades at some point.”

Think ahead. What will your systems look like during the “life” of the power supply? Will you be adding a gaming graphics card? Which leads to the next valuable takeaway.

3. “The warranty is the length of time you should "expect" the unit to last.” While “parts is parts” applies to “commodity” components, the quality of the parts used in power supplies varies greatly. If you don’t want to get into the details then Darkbreeze’s guidance on brands and models can guide your search. See the post where I broke down his original post by brands and series to find a starting point for your search.

4. Most important takeaway from Darkbreeze’s guidance is:

Buy the best QUALITY power supply that has the wattage you need.

See my comment above where I broke down Darkbreeze’s guidance by brand and series. That shouldn’t replace your own research but with a couple of years worth and over 40 pages of comments in this thread, it is a place to start.

We’re here to find “simple” answers. I’ve already spent over 3 hours researching power supplies. What is the “opportunity cost” of that time for you?
 

BlueCat57

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This takeaway is going to be more “controversial” so I’m offering it in a separate comment. This isn’t meant for experts and hard-core gamers, but for those frugal system builders who just want to build something that will last and that they can enjoy for several years before having to upgrade it.

Many that come to Tom’s Forums are looking for SPECIFIC answers and solutions. They are NOT “hard-core gamers” and have LIMITED budgets for their builds and upgrades.

Due to their limited budgets, they have to make hard choices. “I want a GTX 2080, but I don’t have a big enough budget for a Titanium PSU. What do I do?” (Of course, you buy a GTX 2070 and a Gold PSU.)

Based on some of the replies I received here, I thought I’d breakdown “Tom’s Best PC Builds” to see what percentage of each build the power supply would represent and how that cost compared to other components selected. Of course, the format of that article has changed and there wasn’t a breakdown of pricing for ALL of the components as there has been in the past, but here are my observations.

For the $500, $1,000 and $1,500 builds (the most likely budgets for casual gamers) the power supply is as costly as the CPU, Motherboard, RAM or drive. Cases are likely to be about the same too but a case “failure” isn’t as likely. And monitors aren’t even mentioned but you would expect to spend $100 (24” 1920x1080) to $300 (a 4K TV) for something to play on.

The MAIN component to consider in your choice of power supply is the Graphics Card. Currently, “gaming” cards start at about $300 (GTX 16XX but of course as I write this a GTX 2060 is on sale for $310. If I didn’t need to spend $100 on a power supply to use that card I might buy one. See, hard choices.) and go UP quickly from there. That base level card recommends a 500 Watt power supply. The $750 GTX 2080 recommends a 650 Watt minimum.

Based on that range of requirements and pricing, your power supply will represent about 15% to 20% of your TOTAL build. I guess you could look at it as “I’m paying 20% for “insurance”.”

Most important takeaway from Darkbreeze’s guidance is:

Buy the best QUALITY power supply that has the wattage you need.

(OK, now someone can define “need”. The “minimum recommended” is likely different from what you actually “need”.)

I’m suggesting that you should expect to pay 15% to 20% of your build budget to buy a quality power supply.
 

Karadjgne

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Herald
No. A very good or better power supply is cheap. You are looking at 7+ years warranty. You are looking at protective circuitry out the wazoo. You are looking at ripple as close to actual DC as it gets. You are looking at honesty in output claims and size.

What's expensive is replacing motherboards, gpus, ram, drives, entire pc's, your house.

Initial investment in long term insurance is nothing compared to the investment in risk a low grade, sub-grade or psu shaped doorstop can and unfortunately far too often offers.
 

Eximo

Titan
Herald


Laptop say what?
I know what the topic was. Just saying that they are not lazy for not wanting to put the rails in the PSU like it is impossible to do otherwise. Limited usage doesn't even make sense.

Every laptop is taking ~20 volts, then producing 12V, 5V, and 3.3V for all of its internal functions, including powering other devices over USB, in a smaller package than a typical desktop motherboard. Not like it is impossible. And there are plenty of, stupid, motherboards out there that do this as well. See many small form factor designs, and even mATX from Dell and others.

Basically the 12V only supply is an external brick with a fan...

Not saying it is the best path, but a powerful 12V only supply covers almost everything in typical desktop computer. It has the VRMs to get the really low voltages already, what are a few more for 5V and 3.3V with some expectation of reasonable power delivery. Big heatsinks and fans already making their way back on to motherboards...
 

Darkbreeze

Titan
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When I broke down Darkbreeze’s original post I found that you could buy a 500 to 699 Watt “recommended” power supply for around $100. This would be the “entry” level model from one of his “recommended” brands.
Sorry, but I don't agree with your assessment of my original post in this thread OR any of the replies you've received, at all. I appreciate that you've asked, and been respectful mostly, but you seem to almost be riding right on the edge of insult/snark without actually going there, in the way you've presented things. If that's not been your intention, it has certainly felt that way. Either way, here is the reality.

THIS is an entry level power supply for anybody with an average mainstream gaming card, right now.

It's a pretty decent power supply. Not fantastic, not terrible. Definitely not garbage, absolutely not high end. Sure as hell nowhere near a hundred bucks.

PCPartPicker Part List

Power Supply: Corsair CX (2017) 650 W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply ($59.99 @ Newegg)
Total: $59.99
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2020-02-04 17:36 EST-0500



This is a very good unit that could be had that would run just about any single graphics card system that is currently being used from among current gen graphics cards and CPUs. IT is around a hundred bucks.

PCPartPicker Part List

Power Supply: Antec Earthwatts Gold Pro 650 W 80+ Gold Certified Semi-modular ATX Power Supply ($94.99 @ Amazon)
Total: $94.99
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2020-02-04 17:39 EST-0500


Things go UP from there. If you want a better unit, with better specifications, lower ripple, better voltage regulation, better capacitor selection, longer warranty, PROBABLY fewer chances that YOUR sample will have problems, higher efficiency (Gold, Platinum, Titanium) or anything else that is likely to increase the price such as a very high end fan with silent operation, RGB, etc. then the prices will certainly go up from there aside from the possibility of any sales or rebates which can change from day to day or week to week.

If you just want to bash something, go take a look at the tier list over on Linus tech tips. I have recommendations on units that if you buy one, you won't have purchased a piece of junk no matter which one you buy. That is all. It is simply "buy one of these and no matter which one you get, you won't end up with a turd". Over there, I won't even go into that, because it's already been ridden into the ground too many times but you are welcome to go torment them if you wish.
 
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Darkbreeze

Titan
Moderator
I know what the topic was. Just saying that they are not lazy for not wanting to put the rails in the PSU like it is impossible to do otherwise. Limited usage doesn't even make sense.

Every laptop is taking ~20 volts, then producing 12V, 5V, and 3.3V for all of its internal functions, including powering other devices over USB, in a smaller package than a typical desktop motherboard. Not like it is impossible. And there are plenty of, stupid, motherboards out there that do this as well. See many small form factor designs, and even mATX from Dell and others.

Basically the 12V only supply is an external brick with a fan...

Not saying it is the best path, but a powerful 12V only supply covers almost everything in typical desktop computer. It has the VRMs to get the really low voltages already, what are a few more for 5V and 3.3V with some expectation of reasonable power delivery. Big heatsinks and fans already making their way back on to motherboards...
The problem I see with this is that PSU manufacturers are not going to want to reduce the cost of units because of it, they are going to want to INCREASE the cost, because they will have to abandon designs they have sunk millions of dollars into AND they will have to redesign for the new standards. Then, motherboard manufacturers are going to want to INCREASE the cost because now THEY have to redesign everything they've been doing as "typical" for decades now, for the most part, plus having to also ADD new components to the board AND find a way to do it while not affecting the stability or thermal capabilities of designs that are already beginning to seriously toe the line in that area. At least, that's how I'm envisioning it. Maybe I'm wrong, but if so I'm not understanding how. Would certainly not be the first time though.
 

Rogue Leader

It's a trap!
Moderator
The problem I see with this is that PSU manufacturers are not going to want to reduce the cost of units because of it, they are going to want to INCREASE the cost, because they will have to abandon designs they have sunk millions of dollars into AND they will have to redesign for the new standards. Then, motherboard manufacturers are going to want to INCREASE the cost because now THEY have to redesign everything they've been doing as "typical" for decades now, for the most part, plus having to also ADD new components to the board AND find a way to do it while not affecting the stability or thermal capabilities of designs that are already beginning to seriously toe the line in that area. At least, that's how I'm envisioning it. Maybe I'm wrong, but if so I'm not understanding how. Would certainly not be the first time though.

Agree,

As I mentioned before, the spec just came out and ONE aftermarket unit has showed up. Call me in a few years when everyone changes their designs over to support 12v only PSUs then I will believe that change is happening. Its a big difference and change and loss of support for legacy hardware. Until then there has been no indication that everything will change.
 

Eximo

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Herald
I agree completely. It would be a total shift in design, but I can see it happening. Not like the technology is new.

I'm not sure if it was this thread, but I did make similar comments before. PSU designers are the ones who stand to lose the most. I believe I covered that the real winners would be whoever manufactures the best/cheapest AC to 12VDC components. And they certainly have enough clout to tell the PSU designers to get bent. Factories that actually build power supplies would have to re-tool, but all their staff would basically keep their jobs (unless they go for nearly full automation during the retool)

Wouldn't necessarily drop support for 'legacy' hardware. Remember all those AT/ATX power supplies, happened before. Granted, the standards aren't that different, but a standard ATX still outputs 12V, so it could also retain 5V and 3.3V for a while during any transition period. This would be a transition lasting a decade or more, so no one would immediately lose their business model. And what do you know, you can still get AT power supplies.

Prime even: https://www.amazon.com/Athena-Power-AP-AT30-Supply-Connector/dp/B0042P2IIG
 

Rogue Leader

It's a trap!
Moderator
I agree completely. It would be a total shift in design, but I can see it happening. Not like the technology is new.
Right, I meant it more along the lines of more than a new spec needs to be a released for this to happen. Look at SATA Express. The standard came out, heck even most motherboards had the ports for it, but there were no drives ever released for it.

Until the market adopts it and shifts in that direction, I'm not calling it a "groundbreaking change", and even if it does, its not "groundbreaking" by any means, as you mentioned laptop power systems are already designed this way.
 

King_V

Distinguished
Hey, as a suggestion (I guess mostly directed at @Darkbreeze - as newer, know good/excellent models come out, could they be added to the first post in this thread? It would kind of be helpful, especially when trying to point people to suggestions, to be able to have the summary of "known good" right up at the beginning of the thread, rather than asking them to wade through 40-odd pages, or possibly different threads.

Possibly under each paragraph summary of a brand, a bulleted "recommended" and a bulleted "avoid" list (or JUST a short recommended list and skip the avoid when it's a "this brand has one or two good models, the rest are crap" scenario). Possibly making the recommended bullet list in order of quality, for those who want to be able to choose between Great vs SuperAwesome levels... (or something like that).

ie: I only just found out today, in another thread on this forum, that the Corsair Vengeance PSU is highly regarded and high quality.
 

Darkbreeze

Titan
Moderator
Hey, as a suggestion (I guess mostly directed at @Darkbreeze - as newer, know good/excellent models come out, could they be added to the first post in this thread? It would kind of be helpful, especially when trying to point people to suggestions, to be able to have the summary of "known good" right up at the beginning of the thread, rather than asking them to wade through 40-odd pages, or possibly different threads.

Possibly under each paragraph summary of a brand, a bulleted "recommended" and a bulleted "avoid" list (or JUST a short recommended list and skip the avoid when it's a "this brand has one or two good models, the rest are crap" scenario). Possibly making the recommended bullet list in order of quality, for those who want to be able to choose between Great vs SuperAwesome levels... (or something like that).

ie: I only just found out today, in another thread on this forum, that the Corsair Vengeance PSU is highly regarded and high quality.
When you have specific recommendations for or against something, please feel free to make your argument here or by PM. I will absolutely consider it. That doesn't mean I'm GOING to follow every recommendation, or change the format of the front page, but I'm reasonable in regard to ideas, I'm just not terribly flexible when it comes to implementing them. LOL.
 
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Karadjgne

Titan
Herald
Most of the issue with lists like that (to me anyway) is the subjectivity of opinion. Sure, you can rank a psu as Great, but for what and for whom? A Corsair VS (for instance) is a very popular model in the Middle to Eastern markets and while most view it as sub-par, it's a Great psu for a cheap OEM replacement for grandma's 5 yr old web surfer. She doesn't need anything extravagant or mind-blowingly over the top performance like the RM or better series.
 

Darkbreeze

Titan
Moderator
While not bad idea for the ease of read, it sure does sound like a PSU tier list... and we all know how that went.
Not going to happen.

I'm absolutely willing to add ANY units that anybody among you wants added IF you can point me to a review, a REPUTABLE review, showing that it is a good unit that we can in good conscience recommend, whether from the use case of entry level slot powered gaming all the way up to high powered flagship overclocked full RGB ten drive eight fan powered monsters, that is CURRENTLY available in a major market somewhere, if it's not already on the front page. Or at least consider it. But there will never be a tier list up there that was created by my hand because it is simply too much work and there are too many whiners out there, even very knowledgeable whiners, that will want to snivel and whine about placement, and I don't have time for that crap.
 
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4745454b

Titan
Moderator
I've mentioned before I want to make a PSU list. But it's only going to have three categories. Safe to run, safe to use for awhile/in a pinch, don't even let in your house. Simple and no fighting about how PSUx is better than PSUy because X scored .1 points higher at JG. Should be simple to maintain the list as well. New PSU comes out, just dump it in the correct grouping with the others.
 
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King_V

Distinguished
While not bad idea for the ease of read, it sure does sound like a PSU tier list... and we all know how that went.
I thought more along the lines of within each of the brand names a quick list of "the known good ones" and "the known bad ones" (or "buy this" and "not that" models within each brand), either before, or after, the details explanation about the brand overall that currently exists.

It may not necessarily be worthwhile for all brands, though - particularly the "NOTHING from this brand is good" ones. 😬
 

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