The brand name suggests cooling, but this Danish company specializes in power supplies, exclusively to the EU market. Some silent PC enthusiasts have said it’s very quiet, so we test the 700W modular CP-700M to find out whether it can join the ranks of SPCR-recommended PSUs.
March 22, 2009 by Mike
| CP-700M |
700W ATX12V Power Supply
Chill Innovation is hardly a household name, even in a tech geek household, but this Danish company has been offering power supplies since 1996. The company doesn’t actually make its own power supplies, of course. That work is subcontracted out to an OEM in China, which is the norm for all kinds of power supply brands, even big ones like Antec and Cooler Master. A check through the dealer list on the company web site shows that distribtion is limited to the UK and Europe, so it’s no surprise that the brand is not widely known on this side of the Atlantic.
Some six PSU models are currently offered, covering the range from 400W to 1000W. The 520W, 700W and 1000W models offer modular cables. The 700W model under review here is the 2nd most powerful in the lineup. Company reps informed us that the product is made by a Chinese manufacturer called Kingnod, who sells a similar product as an 850W model under their own brand. Chill integrates tweaks to improve the base product, including derating down to 700W for assured performance.
The big cardboard box shouts out the salient message:
Virtually silent 700W hi-end power supply
Inside, some closed cell foan, PSU, cables and a set of 4 screws.
Chill Innovation CP-700M Feature Highlights (from the Chill Innovation web site)
|FEATURE & BRIEF||Our Comment|
|OK, not so unusual, usually a price premium.|
ATX12V v2.3 + 8-pin for EPS12V
|2.3? v2.2 looks like the most recent…|
|+85% efficiency and 1W on standby||Not 80 Plus certified — not that it has to be, but we’ll find out.|
|Sleeved cables||The norm these days.|
|True Virtual Silent Operation||The juxtaposition of True and Virtual is unfortunate. It can’t be both. We’ll find out.|
|4 x 12V Rails||Who really cares?|
|Samxon GT Hi-End ‘Long-Life’ industrial 105°C Low-ESR capacitors||Expected in a high-end PSU.|
|Advanced Heat Dissipation with 135mm fan and high efficiency||We’ll find out about this too.|
|Full range automatic VAC input with Active PFC||Both quite common these days.|
|EMC / CE, FCC, CB, TÜV, RoHS compliance||Safety standards; no UL/CSA* – not intended for US/Canada market?|
|Gold Connectors for better contact||In high salt air, gold can help slow corrosion. Most useful if the mating connectors are also gold plated, and they’re usually not. Mixing metals can accelerate contact degradation.|
|*Chill informs us that the unit has passed UL/CSA testing, and it is just a matter of paying the fee, which will not be done until US/Canada distribution is established.|
The label on the PSU (above) tells much of what we want to know. However, more details are provided on the company web site, from which the following table comes:
| 150 x 160 x 86 mm|
(D x L x H)
|ATX 2.3 / EPS 2.92|
| Active PFC (PF|
| 135mm Auto Temp/Load|
| ~650-1650 RPM|
| 100.000 hours|
minimum at 25°C
|10°C to 50°C|
| 20% to 70%,|
| OVP / UVP, OLP|
OTP, SCP, Surge
| EMC / CE, FCC,|
CB, TÜV, RoHS
Four 12V lines are listed on the specifications. If this is true, each should have a 20A limiter, but there is no guide about which connectors are part of which "line".
The CP-700M sports a plain black finish with chrome wire fan grill. The 135mm diameter fan is a bit bigger than the standard 120mm. The mesh exhaust grill has round instead of hex or square holes and appears nicely open for airflow. There’s an on/off switch and AC power socket.
A 135mm fan with obligatory black finish.
All the cables came plugged in.
There is a row of small slot vents on the DC output side, presumably to assist in cooling. This may force a bit of the heat from the PSU into the PC case.
The Chill Innovation CP-700M comes with a lots of outputs.
After being folded up, the cables don’t want to straighten.
With all the modular cables plugged in, one output socket remains free on the PSU. Perhaps this model shares the same PCB/chassis as the next model up which comes with an additional cable.
The components are laid out on a reasonably tidy PCB that fills the available space. The heatsinks are quite small for a 700W model.
The primary capacitor in our sample is a big UUCAP 400V 470uF rated at 85°C.
This is not one of the promised Samxon GT 105°C capacitors, but all the smaller ones on the secondary are. Apparently, we have one of the last batches of this variant; all current stock employs Samxon GT 105°C capacitors throughout.
The The big transformer in the center is for 12V, from which the 5V is obtained via DC/DC conversion; the smaller one appears to be only for 3.3V.
The 11-blade 135x25mm fan, rated for 0.6A at 12V, is from a company called Ever Grand Electronics Tech. It has four wires: Two ground, the red +V and a yellow one for speed monitoring by the motherboard. The B2 at the end of the model number suggests it is a ball bearing. Its speed is thermally controlled, and the speed range is given as 650-1650 RPM. Strut and blade geometry do not look great as the trailing edge of the blades are almost parallel with the four struts, which suggests tonality will develop along with the turbulence noise. (See Fan Blade Geometry on page 3 of the Anatomy of the Silent Fan for more details.)
Ever Grand Electronics Tech 135x25mm fan.
For a fuller understanding of ATX power supplies, please read
the reference article Power
Supply Fundamentals. Those who seek source materials
can find Intel’s various PSU design guides at Form
For a complete rundown of testing equipment and procedures, please
refer to SPCR’s
PSU Test Platform V4.1. The testing system is a close simulation of
a moderate airflow mid-tower PC optimized for low noise.
Acoustic measurements are now performed in our anechoic chamber with ambient level of 10~11 dBA, with a PC-based spectrum analyzer comprised of SpectraPLUS software with ACO Pacific microphone and M-Audio digital audio interfaces.
Chilli Innovation PSU in test rig in anechoic chamber.
In the test rig, the ambient temperature of the PSU varies proportionately
with its output load, which is exactly the way it is in a real PC environment.
But there is the added benefit of a high power load tester which allows incremental
load testing all the way to over 1000W.
Both fan noise and voltage are measured at various standard loads. It is, in
general, a very demanding test, as the operating ambient temperature of the
PSU often reaches >40°C at full power. This is impossible to achieve
with an open test bench setup.
The 120mm fan responsible for "case airflow" is deliberately
run at a steady low level (6~7V) when the system is run at "low"
loads. When the test loads become greater, the 120mm fan is turned up to a higher
speed, but one that doesn’t affect the noise level of the overall system. Anyone
who is running a system that draws ~400W or more would definitely want more than
20CFM of airflow through their case, and at this point, cooling is the main concern, not the noise level.
Great effort has been made to devise as realistic
an operating environment for the PSU as possible, but the thermal and noise
results obtained here still cannot be considered absolute. There are too many
variables in PCs and too many possible combinations of components for any single
test environment to provide infallible results. And there is always the bugaboo
of sample variance. These results are akin to a resume, a few detailed photographs,
and some short sound bites of someone you’ve never met. You’ll probably get
a pretty good overall representation, but it is not quite the same as an extended
meeting in person.
REAL SYSTEM POWER NEEDS: While we test the PSU to full
output in order to verify the manufacturer’s claims, real desktop PCs simply
do not require anywhere near this level of power. The most pertinent range of
DC output power is between about 40W and 300W, because it is the power range
where most systems will be working most of the time. To illustrate this point,
conducted system tests to measure the power draw of several actual systems
under idle and worst-case conditions. Our most power-hungry overclocked
130W TDP processor rig with an ATI Radeon X1950XTX-512 graphics card drew ~256W
DC peak from the power supply under full load — well within the capabilities
of any modern power supply. Please follow the link provided above to see the
details. It is true that very elaborate systems with the most power hungry dual
video cards today might draw as much as another 150~200W, but the total should
remain under 500W in extrapolations of our real world measurements.
INTERPRETING TEMPERATURE DATA
It important to keep in mind that PSU fan speed varies with temperature,
not output load. A power supply generates more heat as output increases, but
is not the only the only factor that affects fan speed. Ambient temperature
and case airflow have almost as much effect. Our test rig represents a challenging
thermal situation for a power supply: A large portion of the heat generated
inside the case must be exhausted through the power supply, which causes a corresponding
increase in fan speed.
When examining thermal data, the most important indicator of cooling
efficiency is the difference between intake and exhaust. Because
the heat generated in the PSU loader by the output of the PSU is always the
same for a given power level, the intake temperature should be roughly the same
between different tests. The only external variable is the ambient room temperature.
The temperature of the exhaust air from the PSU is affected by several factors:
The thermal rise in the power supply is really the
only indicator we have about all of the above. This is why the intake temperature
is important: It represents the ambient temperature around the power supply
itself. Subtracting the intake temperature from the exhaust temperature gives
a reasonable gauge of the effectiveness of the power supply’s cooling system.
This is the only temperature number that is comparable between different reviews,
as it is unaffected by the ambient temperature.
Ambient conditions during testing were 20°C and 10 dBA. AC input was 121V,
60Hz. One important thing to keep in mind is that since this power supply is sold exclusively in the EU where 220~240VAC is the rule, the efficiency numbers will be 2~4% higher than our results for most users. A quick check on efficiency at 240VAC input is done on section 7 below.
OUTPUT & EFFICIENCY: Chill Innovation Value
DC Output Voltage (V) + Current (A)
Total DC Output
+12V Ripple: 88mV max @ 700W
+5V Ripple: 64mV max @ 700W
+3.3V Ripple: 27mV max @ 700W
NOTE: The current and voltage for -12V and
+5VSB lines is not measured but based on switch settings of the DBS-2100
PS Loader. It is a tiny portion of the total, and potential errors arising
from inaccuracies on these lines is <1W. Data in red indicates out of ATX12V spec.
OTHER DATA: Chill Innovation CP-700M
Target Output (W)
Temp Rise (°C)
AC Power in Standby: 0.9W
AC Power with no load: 10.3W / 0.38 PF
NOTE: The ambient room temperature during
testing can vary a few degrees from review to review. Please take this
into account when comparing PSU test data.
1. EFFICIENCY — This is a measure of AC-to-DC
conversion efficiency. The ATX12V v2.2 Power Supply Design Guide recommends 80% efficiency
or better at all output power loads. 80% efficiency
means that to deliver 80W DC output, a PSU draws 100W AC input, and 20W is lost
as heat within the PSU. Higher efficiency is preferred for reduced energy consumption
and cooler operation. It allows reduced cooling airflow, which translates
to lower noise.
80% efficiency was not reached till 150W load. It is a fairly high load to achieve this nearly standard efficiency marker compared to the best PSUs we’ve seen in the past year or two. That represents 21% of maximum rated power, which means that this sample would just miss the 80% efficiency at 20% load required for 80 Plus certification. The broad peak of 80~84% was reached at 200~500W, with a maximum of 83.8% at 250W. Efficiency dipped below 80% above 500W, dropping to 76.5% at full load. The operating temperature was quite high, and the internal temperature of the PSU would have been considerably higher yet. More on that later.
2. VOLTAGE REGULATION refers to how stable the output voltages
are under various load conditions. The ATX12V Power Supply Design Guide calls
for the +12, +5V and +3.3V lines to be maintained within ±5%.
The voltage lines were stable, especially the 12V line, which started a bit high at 12.33V, but dropped only to 12.09V at full load. The 3.3V line also stayed within spec, even at full load. The 5V was not as stable. At 550W load the voltage dropped to 4.75V, the maximum recommended, and at 700W load, it fell to 4.55V, which is a 9% drop from the nominal value, substantially greater than the 5% maximum variation recommended. Keep in mind that the load on the 5V line at this point was 21.3A, for a total power of 106.5W — far higher than you’re likely to see on the 5V line in any modern PC. Voltage regulation in the crossload test was very good on all lines.
3. AC RIPPLE refers to unwanted "noise"
artifacts in the DC output of a switching power supply. It’s usually very high
in frequency (in the order of 100s of kHz). The peak-to-peak value is measured.
The ATX12V Guide allows up to 120mV (peak-to-peak) of AC ripple on the +12V
line and 50mV on the +5V and +3.3V lines.
Ripple was modest through most of the range, but as the load approached maximum, it climbed steadily. The 88mV peak on the 12V line is a bit higher than we’ve seen recently but still within ATX12V guidelines. The 64mV peak on the 5V lin exceeds the recommended 50mV, however. The importance of this result is questionable, however, because no sensible user will subject this PSU to full load. Every PC should have a PSU with some headroom.
4. POWER FACTOR is ideal when it measures 1.0. In the most
practical sense, PF is a measure of how "difficult" it is for the
electric utility to deliver the AC power into your power supply. High PF reduces
the AC current draw, which reduces stress on the electric wiring in your home
(and elsewhere up the line). It also means you can do with a smaller, cheaper
UPS backup; they are priced according to their VA (volt-ampere) rating.
PF was relatively low at low loads, and it did not reach the >0.95 typical of Active PFC power supplies until a fairly high 200W load. It never went above 0.96. For practical purposes, unless you’re running a very low power system, the difference between this model and higher PF power supplies is immaterial.
5. LOW LOAD PERFORMANCE is significant mainly to minimize energy waste and with system that demand very low power; the latter can cause some PSUs not to start. Standby performance good with just 0.9W draw. The unit powered up with no load, suggesting it will have no trouble with very low power startup/idle systems..
6. CROSSLOAD TEST – Basically the load on the 12V line was maximized while the load on all the other lines was minimized. Voltage regulation on all the lines was very good, and ripple stayed well within limits. There were no other changes.
7. 240 VAC INPUT
SPCR’s lab is equipped with a 240VAC line, which
was used to compare power supply efficiency at 120VAC and 240VAC input. Since, as mentioned before, this model is sold only in 240VAC areas, this test is actually quite important. Hence the mutiple load points instead of the usual single mid-load test. With the higher AC input, the 80% efficiency is reached somewhere around 100W load. At 150W, it reaches 82%, which better by 2.6% over the 120VAC input efficiency. The efficiency benefit of higher VAC increases as load rises, reaching 3.7% by 550W load, which is probably the upper limit of peaks in systems that this PSU will likely be used to power.
Efficiency w/ 120/240 VAC input at various loads
Operation at 240VAC could have consequences on other aspects of performance. Higher efficiency means less heat generated in the PSU, which in turns means lower temperatures. At 550W, the extra heat with 120VAC input amounts to 32W; at 700W, where there was a bit too much AC ripple and +5V voltage drop, it would amount to some 40W. It’s very possible that with 220~240 VAC input, running cooler, the CP-700M could exhibit significantly less voltage drop and AC ripple at full power.
It’s quite likely that even though the unit is equipped with a full range VAC feature, it is tested and optimized for operation at the high input voltage. It only makes sense; the unit is only sold in 220~240 VAC areas. You could argue that the SPCR test procedure is biased against any PSU optimized for 220~240 VAC operation. On the other hand, all the samples reviewed thus far have been tested at 120VAC, so they have had the same handicap, yet most have stayed within ATX12V guide recommendations.
8. NOISE and FAN CONTROL
The noise level during the pre-test warmup with 65W load was a very modest 15 dBA@1m. The quality of the sound was smooth and benign, with just a trace of the typical ball bearing buzz — audible only from up very close. There might have been a trace of buzzing from the PSU but at such a low level as to be trivial. This is top acoustics, and although a few others are even quieter, the advantage may not be noticed in the context of noise from other components in the PC and from the ambient in the environment.
The fan speed was monitored via the 3-pin plug provided for this purpose, using a completely fanless lab PC running off an Intel X25-M solid state drive. This is a new lab system used mostly to test hard drives in the anechoic chamber. The CP-700M fan started at 645 RPM, then stabilized at 650.
Although the fan speed crept up incrementally as load was increased (by just 15 RPM to 680 RPM at 250W load), the noise level did not change until the 300W mark. At this point, with the fan about 900 RPM, the SPL rose to 17 dBA@1m. The overall noise character was smooth, mostly broadband, with a bit of growl. Beyond this load, the fan speed jumped quickly, reaching 1480 RPM at 400W. The 30 dBA SPL was mostly broadband, but not really what we’d describe as quiet any more. Interestingly, the maximum speed was only 1600 RPM, reached by 550W load, when the intake air temperature inside the test box reached over 35°C. The data entry for the 400W load shows just 33°C intake, however, because by the time the thermals and fan speed had stabilized, the cooling effect of the increased fan speed had lowered the internal temperature of the box.
Through the first half of the load testing — over four hours in total during which time the PSU was always on with the load steadily increasing to the rated output — there was no concern about overheating. The °C temperature rise through the PSU stayed modest, in single digits until 400W load.
Beyond 500W load, the combination of the slow fan in our test box and the slow fan in the CP-700M kept temperatures rising. Again, it’s unlikely that the maximum load thermal results are all that important, but builders should keep them in mind if the system is going to push this PSU regularly to such high loads.
The question of how much heat is pushed into the PC case (or test, box in this case) via the slots on the output side of the CP-700M was not possible to answer. The internal temperature in the test box was perhaps slightly higher than with other PSUs at the same test loads, but then the slow fan at high power could well be responsible. If there is any effect , it seems very small. In a real system run hard for long periods, an optical drive directly in front of the PSU may get hotter than normal. The simple solution would be to leave the top optical drive bay empty and perhaps set it up as a vent.
The comparison table below shows the SPL versus Power Load data on all the PSUs tested in the anechoic chamber thus far.
Comparison: Various PSUs Noise Vs. Power Output in Anechoic Chamber
Nexus Value 430
Seasonic M12D 850W
Enermax Modu82+ 625*
Chill Innovations CP-700M
Antec Signature 650
PCPC Silencer 610
The green colored blocks are 30 dBA@1m or greater SPL readings. The PSU that stayed quiet (under 30 dBA) to the highest load is not in this table because it has not been tested in the anechoic chamber: The Zalman ZM1000, which stayed below 30 dBA to almost 600W load. It’s idle noise is probably not low enough to match the M12D-850W , the Enermax, or the Signature 650; its measured SPL in the live test room was 20 dBA@1m, a dB or two higher than the others.
The CP-700M is close to the Antec Signature 650, but the nod has to go to the Chill because its fan ramps up slightly slower, and at higher speeds, the big 135mm fan has a nicer, smoother character than the 80mm fan in the Signature.
Caution: Please keep in mind that the data in the above table is specific to the conditions of our test setup. Change the cooling configuration, the ambient temperature and any number of other factors, and you could change the point at which the fans start speeding up, as well as the rate of the rise in speed. The baseline SPL is accurate, however, probably to within 1 dBA.
MP3 SOUND RECORDINGS
These recordings were made as 24-bit / 88 kHz WAV files with a high
resolution, lab quality, digital recording system inside SPCR’s
own anechoic chamber (11 dBA ambient), then converted to LAME 128kbps
encoded MP3s. We’ve listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation
from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of
what we heard during the review.
These recordings are intended to give you an idea of how the product sounds
in actual use — one meter is a reasonable typical distance between a computer
or computer component and your ear. The recording contains stretches of ambient
noise that you can use to judge the relative loudness of the subject. Be aware
that very quiet subjects may not be audible — if we couldn’t hear it from
one meter, chances are we couldn’t record it either!
Each recording starts with 6~10 seconds of room ambient, followed
by 10 seconds of the product’s noise. For the most realistic results,
set the volume so that the starting ambient level is just barely audible, then
don’t change the volume setting again while comparing all the sound files.
Sound Recordings of PSU Comparatives
in the Anechoic Chamber
The Chill Innovation CP-700M slides in comfortably among the quietest fan-cooled power supplies tested by SPCR. Its base noise level is low enough to form the foundation of a virtually (not truly virtual) silent computer, and the noise level stays low even to very high power levels.
The electrical performance is good in almost all respects, but it is not flawless, at least not at the limits of its power rating. At full power. both +5V ripple and voltage regulation exceeded maximum recommended limits set by the ATX12V v2.2 guideline. Active PFC is not quite as effective as others we’ve seen, as >0.95 PF is not reached until a high 200W load. Efficiency, too, is not quite at the level of the best, and it probably would not meet 80 Plus requirements, except with >220VAC input. (This brings up a salient point: The fact that the CP-700M is only sold in the UK and in Europe, where the higher VAC is the norm.) All of these suggest a PSU using slightly older technology, but quite well-optimized for very quiet operation within a range of power loads.
Like the electrical performance, cooling is fine until very high power loads are reached. Steady-state >500W power draw is not normal even for high performance dual-video card gaming systems. The sensible approach to getting the most from this power supply is to allow some headroom to ensure it’s never asked to deliver more than ~500W. It’s what most users will do anyway; the typical DIY PC system builder usually choose a PSU with a power rating at least double the maximum actually demanded by his system.
For silent PC enthusiasts with higher power requirements in the EU, this Chill Innovation is obviously a good option. The lowest current selling price appears to be around EUR 87, or roughly US$120, which is fairly competitive for a quiet 700W PSU. We welcome the CP-700M to the SPCR recommended power supply list.
Our thanks to Chill Innovation for the CP-700M sample.
* * *
SPCR Articles of Related Interest:
Power Supply Fundamentals
SPCR PSU Test Rig V.4
Nexus Value 430
SilverStone Decathlon DA700 power supply
Modu82+ 625 Power Supply: Enermax to the Forefront
Corsair HX520 & HX620
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