Quiet A-PFC PSU, with straight-through fan and EPS12V?

PSUs: The source of DC power for all components in the PC & often a big noise source.

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Irianta
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Quiet A-PFC PSU, with straight-through fan and EPS12V?

Post by Irianta » Mon Sep 05, 2005 6:05 pm

I'm facing a bit of a dilemma: I'm getting a dual-Opteron e-ATX server board, but I'm having some difficulties finding a quiet power supply that could power this beast in the Chenbro SR107 server case I'd like to get. As you can see this case separates the power supply, drives, and the motherboard into their own compartments. Unfortunately this means that the PSU has to have a straight-through fan configuration, and obviously it has to have EPS12V connectors. At least one PCIe connector, as well as a few SATA connectors, are also in the list. To muddle things further, I'd very much prefer active PFC power supply for a multitude of reasons. Fortunately, I think a good 400W power supply would probably suffice, though an extra 50W headroom probably wouldn't hurt given the dually nature of the computer.

Unfortunately, as luck would have it, most power supplies that fit all the other requirements have 120mm fans. It seems that very few power supplies have straight-through configurations nowadays, and the ones that do tend to have passive PFC here in the U.S.

I have researched the Seasonics, the Antecs, the Enermaxes, the Fortrons, and a number of others. So far it seems that the only viable candidates are the Seasonic Super Silencer rev.A3 power supplies, either 400W or 460W model. There have, however, been some doubts as to whether they could power a dual-processor board properly, and Seasonic's website is not being helpful in clearing that part up.

Would anyone have a suggestion for a suitable, quality quiet power supply? Fanless or with fan(s) in straight-through config.

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Post by Elixer » Mon Sep 05, 2005 6:57 pm

The first thing to come to mind is to get an enermax power supply and take out the bottom 92mm fan. The back 80mm fan should keep the power supply cool enough. There are several reviewed here and they score fairly well as far as noise goes. Enermax also makes a few high end power supplies that should have all the features you need as well as 3-4 12V lines. These tend to be very expensive though. Another option is to get FSP (Fortron Source) power supply. They've been known to be fairly quiet and they make APFC power supplies with 80mm fans.

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Post by Irianta » Mon Sep 05, 2005 7:31 pm

Thanks for the heads-up, Elixer. I'll think about the Enermax option; it might be a good option. Do you have experience with the noise level of the Fortron's 80mm models? Those are definitely good power supplies, but I've read mixed views on their noise level.

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Post by Elixer » Mon Sep 05, 2005 8:03 pm

No personal experience with FSP power supplies. I've had good experiences with a couple of enermax power supplies though.

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Post by NoNameFace » Tue Sep 06, 2005 3:19 pm

I happen to own a Fortron 300GTF, it's very high quality but, unfortunately, quite noisy.

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Post by Irianta » Tue Sep 06, 2005 7:37 pm

Back to the drawing board then, alas. I'm still holding out hope for finding a fitting PSU that'd be quiet without having to void the warranty.

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Post by Operandi » Tue Sep 06, 2005 10:04 pm

A 460 watt Seasonic should have little trouble powering dual Opterons. Aside from that there is the PCP&C Silencer which is actually based on a Seasonic design but seems to offer a bit more output.

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Post by Irianta » Wed Sep 07, 2005 12:52 pm

Unfortunately by all accounts the PC P&C Silencers do not have EPS12V connectors :( The only models they have that would work are the 510 AG/XE/ASL and the 850 SSI models. Given that you can get a FSP550-60PLN for less than half the price, I'd be more inclined to just get one of those and quiet it down somehow -- even if it means voiding warranties.

I was hoping that the new passive Magnum PSU would have been a candidate, but by some accounts it works with EPS12V and by other accounts it doesn't. It seems to have 2x 15A 12V rails, so specs-wise it'd probably have worked just spiffy. But then, this PSU is all about the bling, and bling doesn't tend to translate into quality particularily well. I read in the thread about that PSU that it may have gotten low marks in some credible reviews, but the jury is of course still out on that one. Meh.

Another potential candidate has been Thermaltake's (*shudder*) bling-bling PurePower 680W. Unfortunately by all accounts it's one loud power supply, so it'd end up on the surgery table anyway. And if that'd be the case anyway, why not go with the cheaper Fortron? You can get two Fortrons for every Thermaltake..

If you've gotten the impression that I'm leaning towards the Fortron, you're right. Either the Fortron or the Seasonic Silencer that's being discontinued. I'm still holding out a little on that bling-bling passive PSU, just in case.

Thank you, all of you who have replied with suggestions and thoughts. I appreciate your contribution, and you've given me more ground to work with.

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Post by teknerd » Wed Sep 07, 2005 1:13 pm

well depending on how comfortable you are with building your own power supply cables, you could use an Antec Smartpower II 500W and simply build your own 8-pin Mobo cable. (or use a converter that turns 2 molexes into an EPS 12V connector).

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Post by Irianta » Wed Sep 07, 2005 2:07 pm

Unfortunately it appears that all Antec's power supplies have passive power factor correction here in the U.S. Only the European models have active PFC :(

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Post by teknerd » Wed Sep 07, 2005 2:09 pm

hmm, thats too bad. I think you will have trouble finding an appropriate psu, simply because server psu's were never designed to be quiet. I think your best shot right now is going to be a fan swap.

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Post by Irianta » Wed Sep 07, 2005 2:19 pm

Aye, so it would seem. Still holding out on that passive PSU, but a fan swap seems the likeliest at the moment.

Ah well. I have these neat Torin blowers that push a lot of air quietly. When you undervolt them the only sound you hear is the air noise... which admittedly can be a lot by SPCR standards. The Chebro 107 just might have enough space in the PSU tunnel to rig one of those blowers to cool things down.

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Post by blunden » Thu Sep 08, 2005 6:42 am

Look at some of the new Tagan models. They have straight-through (the 2force) design and they have compatible connectors. Though for some reason people here don't talk about it.

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Post by Irianta » Thu Sep 08, 2005 9:18 pm

On your suggestion I have spent the day looking into Tagan power supplies.

They look very nice, but there are a few things that will likely keep it from my short list: first of all it looks like Tagan has problems with quality control. Second, they reputedly run hot. Whilst the latter would probably not be a problem because it's sitting aloof in its own space, the former is a show-stopper. The Fortron PSU would likely run just as hot, but at least FSP's QA seems to have their act together.

I am very curious about that new XG Magnum passive power supply. Newegg lists its efficiency at 90% -- which of course is wholly unconfirmed. Most of the reviews around the 'net have been very favorable, and show good voltage regulation, but no-one has really pushed it to see where it buckles. How much power can it really supply you with?

Beyond that one... who knows. Take a gamble and go Tagan TG480-U22? Hunt down a Seasonic SS460rev.3 and hope it can supply steady enough power for a power-hungry dually rig? Play it safe and unimaginitive and go Fortron? At least the list of potential candidates is only four candidates long :)

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Post by tomcat » Fri Sep 09, 2005 12:32 pm

i have two tagan 480W power supplies and they are great ... low-noise but a bit hot. Both are running 24/7 for over a year now (Dual Xeon and AMD XP)

Markus

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Post by okayfine » Fri Sep 09, 2005 1:00 pm

I second tombcat's suggestion.

My Tagan 480W used to power dual Barton's + 6 HD's + 3 CDRoms + ATI AIW 8500DV without any problems whatsoever. It ran 24/7 for about 2.5 years.

Extemeley quiet. I did have a fan duct that supplied cool air directly to the
PSU though.

Now that I sold my dually setup, my Tagan is not doing anything right now but I plan to sell it as part of my watercooling setup.

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Post by MikeC » Fri Sep 09, 2005 1:43 pm

Why mess around? IMO, the Seasonic S.S. 460 is your best bet. It's a known excellent performer, and it has 25A 12V capacity, 27A peak, tons of power on the 5V and 3.3V lines, which may still be useful in a server board, as they have not gone all (or nearly all) 12V yet, AFAIK.

The max power draw from any Opteron is ~90W. Two make 180W, which means 15A on the 12V line, assuming ALL the power for the CPU comes from the 4x12V plug. (This may depend on the motherboard.) That leaves 10A for all the rest. As long as you're not using a high end gaming vidcard AND more than, say, 4 drives, this is plenty. A mid power vidcard + 4 drives would probably still be OK.

Full disclosure about your intended components would help us help you better.

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Post by Irianta » Fri Sep 09, 2005 6:48 pm

Why mess around, indeed? That's what I keep asking myself :)

Inevitably I keep returning to the same conclusion: because the allure of the passive power supply is a great one, and that I do not want to completely exclude potential power supply options even if they've not been formally reviewed at SPCR. After all, there is a finite number of reviews you can reasonably do, and new options pop up all the time. The Tagans, for example, have not been reviewed here, but by all accounts are very quiet when you get one that works.

Another reason I'm still researching is because I am not entirely convinced that SS-460's 27 peak amps on 12V rail is enough in the long term.

It is true that the top of the line Opterons are rated at 95W, but the top of the line Athlon64 dual-cores are rated at 110W and I'm pretty sure things are going to go even hotter for a while. I'd like to keep a decent margin for future expansion, in case AMD doesn't go low power across their product lines during the lifetime of this motherboard. I do intend to upgrade the processors before scrapping the whole system, and I don't think it'd be particularily sane to have to replace the power supply at the same time. That is the other reason I am looking at the alternatives for SS-460. Future expansion.

At the initial stages the workstations are fairly basic. Two Opteron 246 processors (cooled with Scythe Ninjas?), two gigabytes of memory, ATI Radeon X700 Pro, and two <200GB PATA drives. Nothing particularily fancy.

Later though... two dual-core Opterons is a sure bet, much more memory is in sights, two reasonably high-end video cards -- although cooling those quietly will be a nightmare, to be sure -- and the eight hot-swap SATA trays are just begging to have laptop drives in them configured as RAID arrays. These are systems that we intend to grow over time, but by the same token we'd like to avoid unneccessary hardware swaps.

And hopefully they'd be reasonably quiet, too :)

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Post by okayfine » Fri Sep 09, 2005 7:05 pm

PSU's output is much improved when it is not running hot, so even with what seems like an underpowered PSU, as long as you make sure it is running cool, you will get very good output.

My main problem with Seasonic is that I just don't like the fan arrangements. All my computers are in rack mount cases with all the airflow going cleanly from front of the case to the back exhaust. My CPU cooler (passive) also depends on this one way clean direction of airflow. The side mounted (or undermounted for regular tower cases) 120mm fan greatly interferes with this.

Anyway, I've changed all my PSU's to Antec Smart Power 2.0 500 Watters because 1. I like their in-line fan setup much like the Tagan's and 2. I like the modular cabling. In fact, I ended up buying 6 pin ATX connectors/pins and molex connectors/pin and making my own modular cables with very precise lengths.

Antec's are very quiet, although I find the Tagan's to be a bit quieter. If you want to see how I had set up the air ducts to my Tagan, check out my FS in about a week when I finish taking the pictures and listing it in the thread.

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Post by Irianta » Fri Sep 09, 2005 7:19 pm

I'll definitely look forward to your ducting solution! :D

To be honest, that keeping the PSU cool part is an unknown to me. While the PSU is separated from the motherboard and the drives, it is above all the other components. No doubt it'll warm up more than if it was at the bottom like it is in the P180, but I've no idea how much of a difference there'll be. I'd like to keep the number of fans at an absolute minimum because the thing will be noisy enough as-is, so I'm going to try to avoid putting a fan in with the PSU. It'll have to keep itself cool.

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Post by MikeC » Fri Sep 09, 2005 10:23 pm

Irianta --

When you consider that you can get a refurbished S.SS-460 w/ 3 year warranty for $56 directly from Seasonic USA, I just don't see that replacing it at some point in the future is a big deal.

http://store.seasonicusa.com/repr1.html

okayfine is right, basically, not so much that PSU oputput increases when cooled, but certainly it works best when a bit cooler. There is some ideal temp -- I often notice PSUs reaching higher efficiency after they've been run with a middling load for a while. Making some kind of fresh air duct shoul be easy in that case -- just sacrific the top CD bay and create a straight through tunnel for the PSU.

For details on PSu ducting, check this thread in this forum, Building a PSU intake duct/vent and lilla's PSU duct:
http://home.earthlink.net/~lillarenfro2/index0002.htm

BTW, okayfine, the Super Silencer is a conventional 80mm fan PSU.

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Post by Irianta » Fri Sep 09, 2005 10:38 pm

Fair enough, $54 is a really good price for that. Thanks for pointing my nose that way :) I just hope they'll have two.

Eventually we'll switch to a (semi-) passive PSU. That Seasonic'll give us time to wait for someone to come up with a good one.

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Post by okayfine » Sun Sep 11, 2005 8:34 pm

Irianta wrote:I'll definitely look forward to your ducting solution! :D

To be honest, that keeping the PSU cool part is an unknown to me. While the PSU is separated from the motherboard and the drives, it is above all the other components. No doubt it'll warm up more than if it was at the bottom like it is in the P180, but I've no idea how much of a difference there'll be. I'd like to keep the number of fans at an absolute minimum because the thing will be noisy enough as-is, so I'm going to try to avoid putting a fan in with the PSU. It'll have to keep itself cool.
Here's a picture of it : If the image doens't show up below, here's the link : Picture.

Image

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Post by Irianta » Sun Sep 11, 2005 8:57 pm

Nifty :)

Nice clean box, by the way.

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Post by Irianta » Wed Sep 14, 2005 9:33 pm

Well, the two Seasonic Super Silencer 460 rev. 3 refurbs came in today. I'm not entirely convinced I'd trust them to power our systems...

Image

I wonder if the QA on the innards is any better. I've a bad feeling about this..

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Post by Mellman » Fri Sep 16, 2005 5:10 am

lol OUCH! that looks rough.

I'm honestly a bit surprised at how powerful the 460w is. Its opened my eyes that I might be able to get away with a seasonic 430w for my dual xeon config w/ 2gb of ram.

That psu is in rough shape though.

-Matt

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Post by MikeC » Fri Sep 16, 2005 6:26 am

:shock:

No kidding! Did the shipping box look like it'd been dropped? It might be worth send Seasonic an email pointing to your post / pic here and ask whether this is normal for refurbished items from them. If so, I think I will stop recommending people there.

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Post by Irianta » Fri Sep 16, 2005 6:53 am

Nah, the shipping box and both the retail boxes in it were in great shape and well protected, i.e. that's the way this unit was when they packaged it. I've sent an email about it to Seasonic, and I'm awfully curious to hear what they've to say.

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Post by MikeC » Fri Sep 16, 2005 7:02 am

If there is no seal on one of the 4 screws on the cover, try opening it up to see if there is any sign of wear/abuse inside. Also, you can probably bend the cover back w/o any problem (I've had a PSU or 2 that got dropped accidently in the lab...). Do they both look like this? Have you tried either of them -- ie, do they work?

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Post by Irianta » Fri Sep 16, 2005 7:29 am

Unfortunately both units have the seal on one of the screws, so I'm reluctant to try opening them. I think you're right about bending the cover back, but I'm more concerned about the innards. I've not tried either of the units, because I fear that if they haven't been tested they might have problems that'd fry the motherboard or give me an electric shock... mains voltage can be just a mica shim away sometimes. Both of these refurbs are going back to Seasonic, I'm afraid, basically because I don't trust their refurb quality control :(

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