Need some help choosing a PSU for low power HTPC.

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Silent but deadly
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Joined: Sun Jan 19, 2014 9:39 am

Need some help choosing a PSU for low power HTPC.

Post by Silent but deadly » Mon Jun 22, 2015 11:22 pm

First I should say that I'm somewhat sleep deprived having had very little sleep due to looking after a litter of puppies. So please forgive any rambling... perhaps I'll edit the following tomorrow.

I'm planning to build a low power HTPC as soon as Intel release the Skylake i3's. Of my several goals for the HTPC, two may be significantly effected by the choice of PSU. The power consumption and the noise level. One of my main goals is to see just how little power I can make the system use without sacrificing stability (as I'll be undervolting the CPU if possible). Before I go further, I should list the components I'll be using. I'm afraid I can't be specific as some haven't even been announced yet.
  • CPU: Skylake i3, undervolted if possible
    Heatsink: A Noctua NH-L9i (or similar)
    Mobo: mATX, low power consumption, high quality and supported by SpeedFan
    RAM: 1x 8GB DDR4... probably made by Crucial as they seem to use the least wattage
    SSD: Preferable mSATA or M.2. Again because they tend to use fractionally less wattage than SATA SSD's
    HDD: 1x 2TB WD AV drive
    ODD: A Samsung Bluray drive... I may put it in an external enclosure as it'll only be used for ripping disks to the HDD in order to watch them in relative silence
    Case: Silverstone Milo ML04B
    Case Fans: Most likely a single 80mm fan by either Noctua or Be Quiet!
    Misc.: A DVB-S or DVB-S2 dual antenna satellite tuner card (power consumption between 10w and 20w)
    Note: I may add a second tuner card at a later date but no other components.
As you can see, power consumption should be pretty low. So a PicoPSU is a candidate but looking at reviews of high quality but average efficiency i.e. 80 Plus Bronze, SFX units (see link below), I'm wondering whether there's much difference between it and a PicoPSU when you take the efficiency losses of the PicoPSU and it's power brick into account.

Then there's TFX PSU's. Prime example being the Seasonic SS-300TGW. It's a not ideal at 300w but it is 80 Plus Gold, semi-passive and SPCR gave a positive review to a very similar model, the SS-350TGM (see second link)... it sure ticks a lot of boxes. There might be a clearance issue in the case I've chosen if I decide to have an optical drive and I would have to find/make some kind of ATX to TFX bracket.

So fellow SPCRers, what do you think the best option is?



1. http://www.jonnyguru.com/modules.php?na ... 3&reid=368
2. http://www.silentpcreview.com/article1246-page1.html

quest_for_silence
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Re: Need some help choosing a PSU for low power HTPC.

Post by quest_for_silence » Tue Jun 23, 2015 4:49 am

Silent but deadly wrote:So fellow SPCRers, what do you think the best option is?

Whether that system should be inaudible, the Pico option is likely the safer bet, perhaps something like a 19V unit with adapters like this FSP one.

On the other hand, whether the absolute highest energy efficiency is paramount, your mileage may vary (I don't know which AC/DC adapter may offer the highest conversion efficiency: I hope some Pico-like advocates may help you about that).

If you will go along the single-case-fan/mATX/TFX route, IMVHO the proven Antec Minuet might be a viable alternative (providing you'll swap the stock PSU, as that one is noisy: take note that the various Seasonic TFX Gold are not that efficient at your expected power draw, I think that some lower-rated unit may actually be a touch better, though maybe not in the TFX format).

CA_Steve
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Re: Need some help choosing a PSU for low power HTPC.

Post by CA_Steve » Tue Jun 23, 2015 6:02 am

Congrats on the puppies :)

The absolutely lowest power motherboards tend to be the ones with a single 19V or similar input and an external brick. See the various NUCs, Zbox, Baytrail reviews and threads. Don't know if this will be an option for mITX/uATX mobos this time around, but we can hope.

Silent but deadly
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Re: Need some help choosing a PSU for low power HTPC.

Post by Silent but deadly » Thu Jul 02, 2015 12:10 am

It's been one of those weeks, so sorry that my reply is kind of slow.
quest_for_silence wrote:
Silent but deadly wrote:So fellow SPCRers, what do you think the best option is?

Whether that system should be inaudible, the Pico option is likely the safer bet, perhaps something like a 19V unit with adapters like this FSP one.
Having read Jonnguru's review of the PicoPSU you linked, it was a contender from the start but I'm unsure of how much wattage I'll need for a number of reasons, not least of which is that some of the key components I'll be using haven't been released yet. There's also the small nagging doubt as to whether the tuner card/cards I'll be using will be able to be powered by the motherboard alone. They have 6pin power connections that are used when the mobo can provide the full wattage... it's almost certainly not and issue but on the off chance it is, then a PicoPSU is completely out of the question.

The other thing playing on my mind is this article - http://uk.hardware.info/reviews/4683/45 ... -efficient

I plan to assemble the system using my Seasonic G 360 in order to measure it's power draw so I know which PicoPSU would best suit my needs. But if I'm reading the results correctly, the G 360's performance is pretty close to the that of the 120-WI-25... I've been up all night though, so I might have had a brain fart whilst review the results of the two articles. The G 360 might be a viable option if the non modular cables don't prove to be an issue. Better yet would be the EarthWatts Platinum 450W but I can't find anywhere in the UK that sells it and the stock fan would need replacing.
quest_for_silence wrote:On the other hand, whether the absolute highest energy efficiency is paramount, your mileage may vary (I don't know which AC/DC adapter may offer the highest conversion efficiency: I hope some Pico-like advocates may help you about that).


It's worth noting that a PicoPSU + 150w FSP power brick would cost more than a G 360 but I'd appreciate any input from Pico-like advocates.
quest_for_silence wrote:If you will go along the single-case-fan/mATX/TFX route, IMVHO the proven Antec Minuet might be a viable alternative (providing you'll swap the stock PSU, as that one is noisy: take note that the various Seasonic TFX Gold are not that efficient at your expected power draw, I think that some lower-rated unit may actually be a touch better, though maybe not in the TFX format).
Thanks for the suggestion but the Antec Minuet is really not to my tastes. Just a quick note regarding efficiency at low loads, lets hope that the current trend for energy efficient electronics pushes the next version of the 80 Plus certification to focus on the <20% rated power draw.

CA_Steve wrote:Congrats on the puppies :)
Thank you.
CA_Steve wrote:The absolutely lowest power motherboards tend to be the ones with a single 19V or similar input and an external brick. See the various NUCs, Zbox, Baytrail reviews and threads. Don't know if this will be an option for mITX/uATX mobos this time around, but we can hope.
I'll cross my fingers that there's a uATX 19v board to go along with Skylake gen chips but I'm not holding my breath... one can dream though. I've read a few articles that say that MSI tend to be fairly good with low power consumption mobos but again, I'll have to wait until the hardware is actually released.

Abula
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Re: Need some help choosing a PSU for low power HTPC.

Post by Abula » Thu Jul 02, 2015 6:20 am

Silent but deadly wrote:It's worth noting that a PicoPSU + 150w FSP power brick would cost more than a G 360 but I'd appreciate any input from Pico-like advocates.
Pico (or alike PSU) only drawback (imo) is the external brick, but i never been able to duplicate such low idle consumptions, i been around 5-10W higher than with picoPSU, but if you dont care much about idle or low consumption the G360 is a nice PSU. But for me in all the builds that consumption counts, where i run my camera server and my download station... i use only picoPSU =).
Silent but deadly wrote:I've read a few articles that say that MSI tend to be fairly good with low power consumption mobos but again, I'll have to wait until the hardware is actually released.
Im an MSI Fanboy, loved their motherboards and gpus, but i never been impressed with their consumptions, even their eco line, never saw anything that drop my jaws, as i have been with intel motherboards, but given that intel is out of the motherboard buisness, i seen (not tried for myself) asrock being the best thing besides Intel. You should check Vicotnik builds, HDPLEX H1-S and ASRock mini-ITX.

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