The mysteries of ≤550W ATX PSUs

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

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LostHighway
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The mysteries of ≤550W ATX PSUs

Post by LostHighway » Wed Nov 18, 2015 12:43 pm

I'm about to embark on a build of a mATX Skylake i5 computer that will have no GPU in the near term so my immediate power needs are very modest, probably <250 watts. However, partially based on the paucity of really well made sub 400 W PSUs and partially because I'm not entirely convinced that I won't want to add a GPU in the future I've been mostly looking in the 400 - 550 watt range. The fanless Seasonics are probably fine for my uses (despite suggestions that Seasonic's QC perhaps isn't what it once was) but just for peace of mind I would prefer to have a PSU equipped with a fan but one that is actuated by a thermal switch at a reasonable level and hopefully doesn't run 80% to 95% of the time. The short list that leaves me with holds more questions than answers:
I have seen no reviews on the Antec EDG 550 so it is a completely unknown quantity.
The 500W Be Quiet! BN634 Straight Power 10 is not very competitively priced in the USA and their Dark Power units are insanely expensive here.
The Corsair RM (including x and i variants) 450 and 550 units have been moderately positively reviewed by OklahomaWolf but they also seem to be the subject of considerable negative comment on forums plus I have no idea how noisy they are with the fan running, I'm dubious.
The EVGA SuperNova 550 G2 received an exceptionally positive review from OklahomaWolf but my impression is that it is quite noisy with the fan on and that the fan threshold isn't all that high.
The Silverstone ST55F received a fairly positive review on JonnyGuru but again I have no sense how noisy the fan might be or how frequently it is likely to trigger.

Although they seem like complete overkill I'm not entirely opposed to stepping up to an EVGA SuperNova 650 P2 (my impression is that the fan is just as noisy as that on the 550 G2 but that the trigger point is higher) or a Seasonic X650 or Platinum 660 if I'm gaining in quietness and not creating a significantly greater heat source.

I'm looking for experienced feedback on any or all of the above and if there are other PSUs I should consider or if I should simply get over my anxiety about fanless PSUs please let me know.

edh
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Re: The mysteries of ≤550W ATX PSUs

Post by edh » Wed Nov 18, 2015 1:01 pm

LostHighway wrote:just for peace of mind I would prefer to have a PSU equipped with a fan
Passive PSUs are designed to work without a fan. If the manufacturer wanted to lose money by producing an unreliable product that would break down, lose them reputation, cost them money to replace and be a sales disaster then of course they would produce a PSU that couldn't handle it. This isn't the case though. No one is stupid enough to do that (except SilenX). Testing of the Seasonic X series has shown them to work around 700W. They are enormously strong.

Also, what kind of Skylake i5 system are you building? 250W is enormous consumption if you don't have a GPU. Do you have 20 hard drives or something? I would expect you will be <100W.

If you don't want to spend a lot of money then a 5V fan mod on any fairly high efficiency PSU with a 120mm fan will work fine.

LostHighway
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Re: The mysteries of ≤550W ATX PSUs

Post by LostHighway » Wed Nov 18, 2015 2:15 pm

edh wrote: If the manufacturer wanted to lose money by producing an unreliable product that would break down, lose them reputation, cost them money to replace and be a sales disaster then of course they would produce a PSU that couldn't handle it. This isn't the case though. No one is stupid enough to do that (except SilenX).
Here I think we have to agree to disagree. Of course corporations don't want to lose money or damage their reputations but I think the long record of corporate incompetence, misfeasance or malfeasance across quite a number of industries (VW for a recent example) suggests that companies will do what they think they can get by with and that they often can be extremely short sighted.

I'll grant that they are not statistically significant (small numbers and far from a random sample) but the Amazon and NewEgg comments on the fanless Seasonic PSUs seem to suggest that they are not exactly paragons of reliability or excellent QC. Compared to the EDG Antecs or EVGA SuperNova G2s the number of negative comments either related to coil whine or complete failure are quite high. It could be a competitor's disinformation campaign or a response fluke but it doesn't leave me with an entirely warm and fuzzy feeling.

Quinnbeast
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Re: The mysteries of ≤550W ATX PSUs

Post by Quinnbeast » Wed Nov 18, 2015 2:47 pm

I'm in a broadly similar situation of contemplating a lower power system that (very likely without a GPU in my case) doesn't really justify the juice that a premium ATX unit can offer. I'm definitely still considering my options.

If you're worried about fan noise enough to consider the 650W P2 based primarily on the trigger point, then a fanless unit does look to be a fairly logical choice assuming there will be decent airflow through the case. The Seasonic Platinum fanless units have a 7-year warranty, and I'd be fairly confident (for what it's worth) that they're going to uphold their end of the bargain. The SuperFlower equivalents has a 5-year warranty, and given that SF provide the OEM units for the EVGA P2, I'd happily put them at the front of the queue of considerations.

Personally, I've been using a Be Quiet Dark Power Pro 10 (550W) for the last couple of years in my main system (see below). Not cheap, but I'd buy another in a heartbeat... budget permitting :o If memory servers me correctly, the fan only ramps up once you're above the 400W power draw mark, and even then, the upper limit isn't more than about 700 RPM. Both the current incarnation of these units (DPP 11) and the Straight Power 10 use the same low RPM 135mm fan. They're inaudible as far as I'm concerned, and easily on a par with my case fans running @ 450 RPM. The Be Quiet SP10 units aren't badly priced in the UK, so for my money they're pretty much a front runner for a quiet system with a single GPU. That said, I'm still looking at the alternatives to ATX for a GPU-less setup.
Last edited by Quinnbeast on Wed Nov 18, 2015 3:04 pm, edited 2 times in total.

edh
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Re: The mysteries of ≤550W ATX PSUs

Post by edh » Wed Nov 18, 2015 2:57 pm

LostHighway wrote:Of course corporations don't want to lose money or damage their reputations but I think the long record of corporate incompetence, misfeasance or malfeasance across quite a number of industries (VW for a recent example) suggests that companies will do what they think they can get by with and that they often can be extremely short sighted.
That's your opinion but it simply doesn't follow. If you want to talk about VAG and their regulatory irregularities I've got plenty of time to talk about it though. :wink:
LostHighway wrote:Amazon and NewEgg comments on the fanless Seasonic PSUs seem to suggest that they are not exactly paragons of reliability or excellent QC.
Of all the PSUs that get reported as failing on SPCR I honestly can't recall the last time a Seasonic was mentioned. They are extremely reliable.
LostHighway wrote:Compared to the EDG Antecs or EVGA SuperNova G2s
These companies don't make their own PSUs. Neither do Corsair et al. The most common OEM used is Seasonic which Antec use for their higher end units however I think EVGA use SuperFlower for their high end units. Cheaper PSUs from many companies will just be subcontracted out to the cheapest bidder. So why do so many companies use Seasonic as an OEM if you insist that they are so unreliable?
LostHighway wrote:coil whine
Interesting one. People who buy some 1500W gaming PSU probably won't notice the noise of their own PSU over system or early onset tinitus through wearing overly loud headphones all of the time. Only particularly quiet systems will be affected by coil whine badly anway and a fanless PSU is more likely to find it's way into one of these. As has been pointed out many times there are certain configurations that result in coil whine. Not setting up certain BIOS settings in line with ErP requirements for example. In some cases one particular component won't play nicely with a particular PSU. I used to have a Modu82+ with a 9600GT. It made the 9600GT whine under load. When the PSU was changed, the whining stopped. If the reverse had happened an easy thing to blame would have been the new PSU!

I have a fanless Seasonic and have nothing but praise for it. Seasonic are consistently highly rated on SPCR and used by countless OEM's. Ever wondered by both Silverstone and XFX passive PSUs are exact copies with only branding changed?

A seasonic G360 might be better suited for your purpose though given power levels we're talking about.
Last edited by edh on Wed Dec 16, 2015 2:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

LostHighway
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Re: The mysteries of ≤550W ATX PSUs

Post by LostHighway » Wed Nov 18, 2015 3:25 pm

Re: VW
That's your opinion but it simply doesn't follow.
I picked VW simply because it was a recent and well known example. Would you prefer the XBox failure rate? Or? Plenty more where those came from.

Of all the PSUs that get reported as failing on SPCR I honestly can't recall the last time a Seasonic was mentioned.
If anything that is an even less statically significant sample than NewEgg or Amazon buyers.

Look, I appreciate that you and many other people like their fanless Seasonic PSUs. I'm not trying to convince you not to like yours, I'm only trying to find out if there are viable alternatives and, if so, what they might be?

I'm not trying to be churlish here, I genuinely appreciate that you have take the time to respond and I was willing to acknowledge from the start that the fanless Seasonics are "probably fine for my uses" but the notion that they are the be-all and end-all still strikes me as a bit of a push.

quest_for_silence
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Re: The mysteries of ≤550W ATX PSUs

Post by quest_for_silence » Thu Nov 19, 2015 1:39 am

LostHighway wrote:I have seen no reviews on the Antec EDG 550 so it is a completely unknown quantity.

The relevant fan is terrible, from an SPCR-like perspective, please avoid.

LostHighway wrote:The 500W Be Quiet! BN634 Straight Power 10 is not very competitively priced in the USA and their Dark Power units are insanely expensive here.

The BeQuiet E10/P11 and Enermax Platimax 500 are your best bet for a fully fanned unit: any of those is not competitive, price-wise, but noise wise there's simply nothing better.

LostHighway wrote:The Corsair RM (including x and i variants) 450 and 550 units

The x and i are NOT variant of the three RM lineup (there were the original CWT and Chicony and now a revised CWT platform, introduced with the RM1000 IIRC): x/i are efficiency-reduced versions of the Corsair HXi.

LostHighway wrote:they also seem to be the subject of considerable negative comment on forums

The original CWT-based RM 450/550 got only positive comments on SPCR forum: the negative ones come from different perspectives and sometimes from prejudices.

LostHighway wrote:plus I have no idea how noisy they are with the fan running, I'm dubious.

They're decent when kick in (you'll probably never see that), they are rather similar noise-wise to the Corsair AF140 Quiet and they will run at a rather low pace.

LostHighway wrote:The EVGA SuperNova 550 G2 received an exceptionally positive review from OklahomaWolf but my impression is that it is quite noisy with the fan on and that the fan threshold isn't all that high.

The 550G2 is not noisy but clearly noticeable, due to the not that good noise signature of its below-average (noise-wise) fan. Take note that Sanyo Denki fans (used by Seasonic) aren't that better, noise-wise.

LostHighway wrote:I'm looking for experienced feedback on any or all of the above and if there are other PSUs I should consider or if I should simply get over my anxiety about fanless PSUs please let me know.

If a possible RMA for coil whine (which seem to affect in various form about 10% of that Seasonic platform) isn't an issue, go for the Platinum 400 FL2, it's a perfectly reliable unit under any operating condition.
In EU I'd rather a Super Flower Leadex Platinum 550 or a BeQuiet E10 400W (or a P11 550), but those PSUs are not available in North America, as well as other alternatives (mainly efficiency-wise) like the Cooler Master V450S/V550S.

LostHighway wrote:that is an even less statically significant sample than NewEgg or Amazon buyers.
Those user feedbacks are always questionable, often groundless, more than once misleading: handle them with extreme care.

LostHighway
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Re: The mysteries of ≤550W ATX PSUs

Post by LostHighway » Thu Nov 19, 2015 1:45 pm

Luca, thank you for your kind reply, that was very helpful. It would appear that short of going down the road of PSU fan replacement I have three choices:

Pay a premium for PSU with a high efficiency and a quiet fan, e.g. BeQuiet!, Enermax Platimax, etc.
or
live with more noise, e.g EVGA 550 G2
or
accept that the Seasonic SS 400 or 460 FL2 is probably an entirely satisfactory solution and be prepared to return it if I get one of the noisy units.

I was hoping for a more ideal solution in the form of a ≤$100 (street price), very high quality 80 Plus Gold or Platinum rated PSU with a quiet fan thermally triggered at a relatively high threshold, say 30-32C. The Super Flower Leadex Platinum 550 seems to hit all those marks except, sadly, for North American distribution.

Thanks again.

CA_Steve
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Re: The mysteries of ≤550W ATX PSUs

Post by CA_Steve » Thu Nov 19, 2015 2:36 pm

Or, set a price alert for the EVGA P2 650. Look at the price history halfway down this page. I'd expect another sale between now and Dec 25.

fuzzymath10
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Re: The mysteries of ≤550W ATX PSUs

Post by fuzzymath10 » Fri Nov 20, 2015 6:25 am

I will give a vote of support for seasonic. I haven't pushed my x460 that far but it has run for 3 years nearly 24/7 with a quad core intel, an igp or 90w gpu, and 7 hard drives plus an ssd. Peaks at maybe 200w, usually around 100w.

But I haven't had to baby it at all, and the case has three fans running at 500-700rpm.

If it fits in your power requirements and budget, the seasonics are excellent and if you're still worried they have very good warranties of 5+ years in many cases.

Behemot
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Re: The mysteries of ≤550W ATX PSUs

Post by Behemot » Wed Dec 16, 2015 12:15 pm

I'd go for fanless Seasonic or RM550x. Both were amongst the best units I have reviewed so far. Digifanless is also good but the most expensive. The Be Quiet Dark Power has very much worse price per value ratio, Straight Power is just rebatched FSP Aurum - you want to stay away from that.

Which Silverstone unit do you exactly mean? ST55F is actually quite many different units. SSs main drawback today is possibly the shortest warranty from all high-end.

quest_for_silence
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Re: The mysteries of ≤550W ATX PSUs

Post by quest_for_silence » Wed Dec 16, 2015 2:44 pm

Behemot wrote:Straight Power is just rebatched FSP Aurum

It is not, Pavel, that E10 is a custom design (I guess you know it performs differently from the E9, which is Aurum-based).

Behemot
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Re: The mysteries of ≤550W ATX PSUs

Post by Behemot » Wed Dec 16, 2015 3:05 pm

You cought my interest. There are only two foreing reviews so I guess I always just glimpsed at it and saw mostly familiar design…but you are right, it seems to have original Aurum design, but they put DC-DC converters in that. It even has OTP! Only those terrible teapo crapacitors…still seems to be inferior to RM550x. It is slightly cheaper, but 5y versus 7y warranty. And not modular. The CM version is on par with RM550x in price and still shorter warranty and bad caps.

But I think now it may be worth asking for a sample. Because as I thought it is another Aurum (and their marketing did not even tell me it is not! they should put more effort into it :lol: ), I dismissed the idea of reviewing it…everybody did Aurum hundred times over. But this is different…

quest_for_silence
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Re: The mysteries of ≤550W ATX PSUs

Post by quest_for_silence » Wed Dec 16, 2015 3:17 pm

Behemot wrote:still seems to be inferior to RM550x.

It is: nonetheless for the silence crowd it is a very good option, particularly for those looking at a fully fanned unit, and if you can get rid of the modular cabling the E10 may be also significantly cheaper (I'm thinking to the 400W entry model).

Behemot
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Re: The mysteries of ≤550W ATX PSUs

Post by Behemot » Wed Dec 16, 2015 3:27 pm

Yeah it is good it also comes in 400 W version. But I would still be concerned about the teapos…

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