BeQuiet! L7 300W mini review

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

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J. Sparrow
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BeQuiet! L7 300W mini review

Post by J. Sparrow » Fri Feb 12, 2010 1:09 pm

The L7 models are a relatively recent addition to the PurePower line of budget, quiet PSUs by BeQuiet! aka Listan Gmbh. On paper they look quite interesting: 80+ Bronze certification SPCR-friendly power ratings (300W, 350W, 430W and 530W), a 120mm silent fan and attractive price to complete the offer.

I've picked one up for my HTPC, the 300W model - still very generous for an HTPC, but easily one of the smallest PSUs you can get these days, not counting 'exotics' like the PicoPSU or those 250W Dell replacements you can find on eBay.

A quick look at the market of traditional ATX power supplies reveals there's little competition for the 300W L7. Here in Europe, I was only able to find two models that were close enough.

The evergreen from Seasonic, the S12II line has a 330W entry level which has been upgraded to bring it to Bronze-level efficiency. Despite this, all the 330W units I've been able to find on sale (only a couple), were still the old, non-bronze S12II model. On top of that, the price is almost double that of the BeQuiet!.

The second competitor comes -quite unexpectedly if you ask me- from the stables of Thermaltake. Their TR2 QFan Series, manufactured by Channel Well Technologies (CWT), starts from 300W too, sports 80+ certification, but relies on a 140mm fan unlike the other two.

The 300W TR2 QFan is about 30% more expensive than the BeQuiet!, and received a less than stellar review from AnandTech.

So that's why I decided to give the BeQuiet a spin:

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The box looks nice despite some white specks which are part of the graphic theme, but can mislead you into thinking it has been dented. It's quite compact to the point it almost looks a bit small compared to the the longer boxes I am used to see from other manufacturers. The cardboard is thick enough and the PSU is protected by a bubble wrap bag as usual.

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The cables are unbraided, spoiling a bit the neat look of the PSU and of the final build. To make up for that, the box contains two velcro bands and a bag of zip ties. The velcros are useful to route the mainboard power cables and as an added bonus they make the build looks cleaner, while the zip-ties come handy to route the other two trunks coming out of the PSU. Keeping in mind this is a budget offering, I can't really complain.

As for the connectors, the main trunk has only two 4-pin Molex plugs, which are oddly positioned between a SATA and a floppy 4-pin connector (is anyone still using floppies in 2010?). The second cable provides power for 2 more SATA units, supposedly hard disk drives.

There seems to be a logic behind this placement, nonetheless a Molex instead of the floppy plug would have made my life easier.

The L7-300 was installed in my Antec Fusion, where the length of the cables turned out to be spot on, except for the ATX12V which proved a few centimeters too short. This however was partly due to the internal structure of the Fusion, in which PSUs with bottom-mounted fans must be installed upside down, so the cords exiting the PSU and the ATX12V header end up being the farthest away possible, exactly the opposite of what happens in tower cases which follow the standard ATX layout.

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The front of the PSU features a rather closed design, with very little openings compared e.g. with the standard slotted front of the S12II. Being a 300W the inside of the casing seems also quite empty, but that's to be expected.


Turning the key

When I finally powered up my HTPC, I had one very positive suprise: even with the case top cover removed, and a direct path to my ears, the PSU fan was inaudible. Manually stopping the case and CPU fan confirmed that this unit is really quiet, more so than the S12II-430.

On the other hand, the unit was emitting some sort of 'hiss', like a very high-pitched thin buzz, which will probably disappoint the most hardcore silencers, but there's good news: with the cover back in place, this 'hissing' disappeared, even at close distance.

The L7 replaced an old CWT 235W PSU, using the traditional layout with a 80mm Enermax Enlobal at the back which, at low speeds, is fairly smooth and unobtrusive. Still there was enough turbulence inside the PSU to create a 'whooshing' sound from the PSU which was audible e.g. in the middle of the night.

With the L7 in place, the only audible fan now is the other Enlobal which sits on top of the AMD heatpipe cooler. As for efficiency, the PSU upgrade netted a 10-12W saving to about 65W total in the configuration listed in my sig (this figure can certainly be improved, as the quietness of the build: keep in mind this incarnation of PC is relatively new and will be further tweaked)

The CWT was quite an ancient unit (we're talking 1998) so this does not mean much, to address that I'm planning to post updated numbers comparing my S12II-430 with the BeQuiet!. While I don't expect the L7 to post figures that different from than the S12II-430, I will let the numbers speak.


Bonus track:

Technik3D review (translated from german)

Efficiency graph, taken from Be Quiet! promotional material (best viewed on a black background, colored band goes from 80 to 90% efficiency)

Image

Test report from 80plus.org (PDF)

I hope you liked this mini review. Sorry about the piss poor quality of the pictures but those weren't originally taken with the idea to post them online.

petieken
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Post by petieken » Tue Feb 16, 2010 8:58 am

Thanks for this review!

I was thinking of buying this psu for my new build but couldn't find any reviews to find out if it really was quiet. I just ordered the psu a few minutes ago now.

J. Sparrow
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Joined: Wed Jan 17, 2007 7:55 am
Location: EU

Post by J. Sparrow » Tue Feb 16, 2010 9:16 am

You're welcome. Let us know whether your own unit exhibit that weird high frequency buzz as well!

petieken
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Post by petieken » Tue Feb 16, 2010 9:41 am

J. Sparrow wrote:You're welcome. Let us know whether your own unit exhibit that weird high frequency buzz as well!
I'll do that :wink:

I'll probably post some pictures of the complete build in the gallery section as well. This is going to be my first silent/quiet build.

After reading the "How much will a 300W psu run" thread I'm confident 300W will be enough to power an AMD PhenomII 905e, Sapphire ATI HD4670, 1TB 7200rpm HDD (SSD to be added in the near future probably), DVD burner, and a few Scythe slip stream case fans and CPU fan.

I will probably give undervolting a try too, although I expect the cpu won't undervolt much because it's already the low energy variant.

J. Sparrow
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Post by J. Sparrow » Tue Feb 16, 2010 11:44 am

I'll be looking out for your pics - and it'll be interesting to see if/how the PSU fan will ramp up if you manage to put it under a more serious load. My HTPC wouldn't probably go much beyond 100W from the plug under stress testing.

What case are you planning to use anyway?

You should be able to cool that build with just one case fan.

petieken
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Post by petieken » Tue Feb 16, 2010 12:47 pm

I've ordered a Lian Li A05NB 8), the one with the upside down motherboard and 'reverse' airflow. I've seen some reviews about that case and the graphics card area seems to be a bit problematic because there is no direct airflow there.

I may be ditching the front fan if the system & hdd temperatures aren't getting too high without it, only keeping the rear intake fan and psu exhaust fan.

If the graphics card temperatures are getting too high I can get the BS-03 or BS-06 accessory from Lian Li with a silent/slow fan to provide some (intake) airflow in that area.

This is my first build with the 'silent' goal so I'll probably have to experiment a little with airflow and fan speeds etc... My current ancient P4 system (3.8Ghz H/T / 115W TDP) is like a vacuum cleaner (in terms of noise and dust suction power :lol:)

You can expect the full build report thread in a few weeks probably, I should have all the parts by then.

While I'm waiting for the parts and the case I'll have to get a Watt meter to measure power consumption. I'm curious about the consumption and performance of the Be Quiet! psu. I'll post the result here.


EDIT:
Oh, and I still use floppies sometimes, even in 2010! :D. I play retro games now and then and a floppy drive comes in useful. I ordered this thing from Scythe:
http://www.scythe-eu.com/en/products/pc ... combo.html
Modern and old in one 3.5" unit :)

J. Sparrow
Posts: 414
Joined: Wed Jan 17, 2007 7:55 am
Location: EU

Post by J. Sparrow » Tue Feb 16, 2010 7:29 pm

I wouldn't be too worried about the 4670, it's quite a cool card and if you get the one with the Accelero cooler the fan barely spins at all. Plus it can take some punishment at stock clocks.

BTW I remember that Lian Li case and I'm a bit skeptic about the ass backwards concept -- I suppose you have good reasons for not picking up a classic like the Sonata Solo?

It's really a straightforward case: you just buy it, stick the parts in it and call it a day!

PS: I know something about Prescott suckers, my SO has one and will be replacing it soon with an Athlon II X4. The only thing she'll be missing is that it doubled up as a heated footstool!

And as far as floppies go, I remember installing Slackware in 1993 maybe? I do not really miss those days. The only fun thing about that period was Monkey Island asking you to cram 3 floppies in the drive and then press all the keys :)

petieken
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Post by petieken » Wed Feb 17, 2010 6:11 am

I already have quite a few components, I was going to build a mini-itx pc last year but I gave up on that idea. So I have the cpu and graphics card since last year already :D That's why I didn't choose a card from the 5xxx series, they weren't available at the time :)

I chose the Lian Li because I like the design, simple.

About the floppies, I own quite a few originals in their boxes, no crap floppies here :)

J. Sparrow
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Post by J. Sparrow » Wed Feb 17, 2010 10:31 am

If you lose the front exhaust and ramp up the back intake you could try to make it work in positive pressure. Close the holes on the back and stick a filter on the back intake and you've got rid of dust.

It won't be as cool or quiet as a Solo or another well-designed negative pressure case, but I guess it's a worthy upgrade from your current system.

petieken
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Location: Belgium

Post by petieken » Sat Feb 27, 2010 3:50 pm

My system is ready, only some minor details need attention.

I'm very happy with this PSU, I disconnected all the fans to hear how loud it was and it's very silent to me. Because it's in a Lian Li A05N case, which has the PSU in the front it's even more silent because the front cover 'traps' the noise. My PSU also exhibits the same hiss but it's very faint, I can only hear it when the front case cover is off and when I put my ear against it. With the cover on it's inaudible, even when I put my ear against it.

Power consumption is about 65W idle.
Under full load (OCCT power supply test CPU+GPU) power consumption is ~130W.

System components are:
Gigabyte MA770T-UD3 motherboard
AMD Phenom II 905e (quad core @ 2500Mhz)
OCZ 2x2GB 1600Mhz Gold AMD Edition, timings 8-8-8-24 (1T) @ 1.64V
Sapphire ATI HD4670 512MB GDDR4
Seagate 1TB 7200.12
LG DVD burner
Card Reader & Floppy Drive
Scythe Kabuto CPU cooler with Slipstream PWM fan
stock Lian Li case fans (to be replaced with 800rpm Slipstreams)

J. Sparrow
Posts: 414
Joined: Wed Jan 17, 2007 7:55 am
Location: EU

Post by J. Sparrow » Sun Feb 28, 2010 5:59 pm

petieken wrote:My system is ready, only some minor details need attention.
Post pics :)
petieken wrote:My PSU also exhibits the same hiss but it's very faint,
BTW I realized it's only audible when the system is powered on from dead cold. Give it a few minutes to warm up and it's gone.

To give some (useful?) comparisons: my HTPC is currently running twin TriCools, connected to the 5V line and set to M (which equates to 3.7V). According to SPCR 1 Tricool @4.5-5V amounts to 19-20 dBA, so 2 of them are likely /under/ 20 dBA

Well, the two darn things are drowning out everything else! that's how quiet the BeQuiet really is.

frenchie
Friend of SPCR
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Post by frenchie » Mon Mar 01, 2010 6:13 am

Thanks a lot for the review. (Could have been in the User review section ;) ).
Let us know how it does on the long run, or if something changes in the noise. I'm seriously considering this to replace a 1997 PSU (with modded fan) that is starting to show signs of tiredness...
Main/gamming : Antec Solo|X-650|Asus P5Q-E|Intel Q9550@3.4GHz|HR-01 Plus 120mm Nexus @6V|Corsair 2x2Go XMS2 DHX cas 4 @4-4-4-12|Exhaust Nexus 120mm @9V|Intel X25M G2 160Gb|Samsung 1TB in SQD|2xGigabyte GTS450 OC (@900/1900/3800)|GPU fan 120mm Nexus @6V
HTPC/folder/Storage : Silverstone|E5300 with Samurai-Z|2Go RAM|GTX460@800|2x1To WD EARS|Intel X25M G2 80Go

Fold with SPCR

petieken
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Location: Belgium

Post by petieken » Mon Mar 01, 2010 7:46 am

J. Sparrow wrote:
petieken wrote:My system is ready, only some minor details need attention.
Post pics :)
Soon! :wink:
I'm waiting for the slipstreams and sound proofing mats to arrive, when these are installed I'll snap a few shots :D .

J. Sparrow
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Location: EU

Post by J. Sparrow » Mon Mar 01, 2010 10:01 am

frenchie wrote:Thanks a lot for the review. (Could have been in the User review section ;) ).
Yep you're right, I only realized later this should have gone elsewhere. I wonder if a moderator would be kind enough to move it to the proper section?

Alexander01
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Post by Alexander01 » Tue Mar 09, 2010 6:59 pm

I want to use the Be Quiet L7-300 in a PC with SSD and only 1 casefan at 500rpm (Noctua S12B ULN). The room is death silent. Will I hear the BeQuiet fan? (Case is NSK3480)

Is the Nexus Value 430 more quiet?

J. Sparrow
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Post by J. Sparrow » Wed Mar 10, 2010 6:42 am

Is the Nexus Value 430 more quiet?
That PSU exhibits SciFi SPL, just 11 dBA, that only makes sense in an anechoic chamber. As a reference SPCR's own test lab measures ~17 dBA at night.

The L7 is inaudible for me even in the middle of the night, but I don't live in an anechoic chamber :)

However, the comparison is a bit flawed: value? affordability? does the Nexus retails for 80$?! as much as a Seasonic, hardly a value product IMO.

You can probably but a couple L7s for that sum. That's excellent value and if you don't like the PSU, you can always keep it as a spare.

onesoma
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Re: BeQuiet! L7 300W mini review

Post by onesoma » Thu Sep 15, 2011 12:47 am

Hello,

Sorry to drag up an old topic, poor first post!

Thanks to OP for the review and other contributors. Would anyone know if the 350w/430w models would have the same nice quiet characteristics? 300w isn't available from my preferred supplier at the moment (http://www2.hardwareversand.de/articled ... &agid=1625)

Cheers!

john

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