Do not buy Corsair products (especially if you are European)

Corsair, the natural sponsorship fodder of the Web 2.5 YouTube generation. You can’t travel far in North American centric technology media without encountering their name and logo plastered across the screen.

2 weeks ago, my Antec Neo 650 power supply died after I borrowed the 240v AC adapter to power a screen. I’ve used Antec since the 90’s with generally good reliability (apart from the Phantom 500 range which quickly disappeared). Without my workstation I did sought to quickly do the obvious thing – find out what is moving and shaking in the PSU world and find the efficiency vs/ cost price point.

Jumping on the “independent” reviews, I was quickly able to observe that Antec just weren’t featured…. Anywhere! I couldn’t find them listed in a single PSU round-up, recommended list or top 10. It has been some 6/7 years since I last changed the PSU in one of my non-server systems. So I concluded that I found Antec’s lack of presence to be a warning sign and decided to look elsewhere.

I knew I wanted a fully modular PSU. Partially modular were becoming common when I last changed PSU, but I was still left with this air-flow sapping thermal mass ball of unnecessary cables, even on a partially modular system.

A quick read around, some investigation into whether I need an X or an I series (and what on earth the difference was) and then off to price comparison for the RM650x (CP-9020091 / 75-010885). Of course, it was Friday when all this happened, and I wasn’t going to be around over the weekend, so I online ordered. PC World UK didn’t have stock on their main site, but their eBay site had plenty of units for the same stock code – sold.

RM650x

On the Monday my initial impressions were reasonable. The build quality on the main PSU unit looked OK. Cable quality was… acceptable but not great and the unit passed a basic PSU tester and powered up a test board OK.

The packaging was excessive. Why the PSU needed to have its own faux-velvet draw-string bag and the cables come in a Velcro branded carry case is beyond me. I’d rather it have been £5 cheaper.

Having passed a basic test, I committed the original sin of not performing an out of case test on the actual motherboard and proceeded to strip out all the carefully managed Antec cables from the case, substituting them with the new Corsair ones. Before making the cable routing permanent I performed a headless power-on/power-off test (time mistake #2) before bedding everything in, closing-up, connecting all peripherals and moving to get back on with what I needed to be doing.

Nothing happened.

Well, the fans span up, the system even booted, but my three Dell u2415’s stayed blank, in standby without even a DPMS acknowledgement.

Open it up, reseat everything, check wiring. Did I somehow blow out the graphics card? It’s intended for 2D only, a Asus GTX750, low power draw and won’t blow up any benchmarks (but it isn’t supposed to, it’s there to drive three 1920×1200 screens in 2D rendering). I swapped in a GTX645 and… it worked… until I connected the second monitor. Putting the GTX750 back in and repeating the test did not work, until I connected to DVI. Connecting to DP or HDMI would result in non-booting on both the GTX645 and GTX750, but DVI would work.

Next I unloaded the motherboard, RAM down to 1x4GB stick, removed all PCI card, USB peripherals etc… still nothing. So I did the thing that I had been trying to avoid all along and went and lazily mule’d the PSU from a different system into my main workstation by placing the case side by side – another (but 3 years newer) Antec Neo 650 as it happened. With all peripherals and RAM restored, everything was fine. All three monitors powered on with both cards.

Putting the Corsair back, nothing. We clearly aren’t getting enough power through the PCI bus. The PSU is a dud. Infuriating for me having now wasted the best part of Friday and Monday on it, but ‘it happens’ I thought to myself and went off to see if Corsair could shed any light on it.

Do not buy Corsair if you want warranty support

FAQ and Knowledge Base

My original intent was to look at their knowledge base/FAQs. Thinking perhaps they’d recommend a different product in something that I’d missed in my hasty dash to buy something, my genuine initial assumption was that I’d goofed up – I did this once before when the -5v rail disappeared from the ATX specification back around the introduction of the LGA775.

Well, they didn’t have anything. FAQ’s were all about selling you things and in order to get to anything in their support section you had to register.

Data-raping

So in order to see if there was anything aimed at addressing my issue, or any expert tips of things I could try, I had to register. In order obtain any contact info, you guessed it, I had to register.

To register they demand that you provide them with email, name, full postal address and telephone number, accept their privacy policy and terms and conditions. But I just wanted to read your KB/FAQs?!?! Why is any of that relevant – hint, it isn’t. They’re just building a marketing list plain and simple. I created a unique email address just for them so that I can tell when they sell it to a marketing company and fake filled in the address and phone number fields. At this point in our relationship, none of the above is any of your concern Corsair.

Nothingness

I quickly gave up on the idea of FAQ/KB searching because I was annoyed enough at this point to want to just make it customer services job to tell me what I’d done wrong, so I filled in a ticket. Which demanded my name, address, phone number… explained the situation, tests, evidence and hit send.

At this point I had noted that their entire site only mentioned the USA and Canada and made no mention of anywhere else in the world. With hours posted on the US west-coast time-zone, putting me 7/8 hours ahead. So I won’t get anything until tomorrow.

Just before I closed the browser I happened to noticed at the bottom of the ticket a form stating requirement for proof of purchase. Thinking myself clever I attached a PDF of the PC World VAT invoice and then closed down the browser; I may as well short-circuit that inevitable problem, right?

Pointless and Infuriating

[Keeping in mind that I’m desperate to get back to work here] 25 hours later the first reply comes back.

“Please attach the following for validation of the warranty:
– A photo/screenshot/PDF of the receipt/invoice to the ticket so that we can validate the warranty, if you purchased this directly from us please provide us the Order number instead.
– Photo showing the Part Number or Serial number of the product

The attachment area is at the bottom of this screen. Afterwards, please respond back with a ticket comment so that we know the requested files have been attached, thank you kindly.”

– Staff Account (Richard TS) via channel ‘Email’ 06/01/2018 08:37 AM

But I did that?!?!! I gave you the serial numbers too. It turns out that – as mentioned above 25 hours later – if you upload an attachment into a Corsair support ticket, it doesn’t save the attachment to the ticket unless you write a new text message to update the support case. It doesn’t SAY THAT. It doesn’t make sense to do that either, but that’s a discussion for another day.

I take the photo, re-upload the invoice, upload the photo and send a message through their painfully slow support portal which has page reload times in excess of 25 seconds… and so begins the saga of 1 message per 24 hours. After a WEEK we are still doing this…

After a WEEK! They haven’t even acknowledged the problem or suggested any ideas or troubleshooting steps. Corsair from the start were squarely trying to find a way out of having to involve themselves in it because all they want to do is focus on administrative bureaucracy.

… and here, finally for them, is their ‘way out’

“Corsair products purchased from online private sellers or internet auction sites such as eBay are not able to be guaranteed, and so are not covered by our warranty.”

– Staff Account (Richard TS) via channel ‘Email’ 06/05/2018 01:32 PM

I uploaded them a VAT invoice from PC World remember!

To make a start on dissecting this, the above statement is a flagrant breach of UK consumer rights and the Sale of Good Act. Companies do not even have to offer a warranty to be compelled to warrant that their product works in the first place. On top of this, EU law stipulates that they must provide a warranty – and the UK is still in the EU until March 2019 at least.

Corsair provide no indication on the box that their warranty is non-transferable. If this was a second-hand purchase and the warranty was non-transferable, then if the product is outside of the statutory mandated initial function period, this would stand-up. However, this is a new purchase from a VAT registered retailer who I assume are a Corsair partner in Europe? What merchant that is sold through is utterly irrelevant in the eyes of the law and makes no difference on statutory requirements.

So what did the helpful people at Corsair have to say to that?

“For further validation of the warranty, please send us a photo showing the part number or the stick at the of the PSU.”

– Staff Account (Richard TS) via channel ‘Email’ 06/07/2018 03:04 PM

... and repeat.

As you can see, the proof of purchase and requested photograph (note the photo date, this was the second one) are quite literally above the request in the screenshot. They are quite literally wasting my time at this point.

In summary

  1. Corsair have no European operations or presence, ‘technical support’ only operate in the US West-coast time zone – geographically this is no use for anyone in Europe (especially for businesses)
  2. Corsair data-rape you
  3. Corsair are not interested in troubleshooting or offering technical support
  4. Corsair have no interest in honouring their own warranty
  5. Corsair at best can manage one short message in a 24-hour period – and that will be it for the day. Even if you stay up late and reply immediately after they respond to you – as I have done on 4 nights now. That is all you will get.
  6. Corsair have no interest in customer service, there is no emphasis on speedy resolution. They offer no advanced replacement service (such as Seagate or Western Digital do) and in my case, have not even acknowledged that there is a problem.
  7. Corsair’s support portal is badly designed and slow. Refreshing the support ticket page takes upwards of 25 seconds and I wasted an entire 24 hours’ worth of exchange because file uploading doesn’t actually upload a file.
  8. They keep asking you for the same thing over and over again, so if they clearly have no engagement with you and are not interested in a dialogue with their customers

Therefore, I conclude:

If you are in Europe and might need technical support

If you are in Europe and might need to use RMA service

If you are in Europe and purchased from an online retailer

If you are in the second-hand market (anywhere)

If you are running a business and need to keep your business running

DO NOT BUY CORSAIR

Over a week in, I’ve given up. I have a “premium” PSU that doesn’t work, a workstation which at this point I’ve cannibalised into new working arrangements and I am still no further forward on starting a discussion over what the problem might be.

I’ve posted it back to Curry’s PC World with the corsair ticket number attached and notified them that it is defective. Full credit to Curry’s PC World, they’ve refunded it without any problems and have been extremely good about the saga. I just feel bad that I’ve basically passed the problem to them instead of resolving it myself.

This is the first Corsair product that I have purchased and it will be in no uncertain terms be the last. I would urge you to ignore their pervasive and at this point almost saturation marketing in the sector and do the same. May be they do make good products and this unit was just a lemon. Yet with a belligerent attitude, slow, unhelpful customer service, a US of A ‘screw-you’ starting position coupled with no European support presence. You really do not want to be on the wrong side of a defect; not at these prices.