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Choosing a PSU for HTPC (power supply=quiet and clean volts)

Discussion in 'Computer Components' started by Rob.Screene, Mar 23, 2003.

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  1. Antec

    6 vote(s)
    24.0%
  2. Enermax

    8 vote(s)
    32.0%
  3. Zalman

    5 vote(s)
    20.0%
  4. Quietpc

    1 vote(s)
    4.0%
  5. Seasonic

    4 vote(s)
    16.0%
  6. Other...

    1 vote(s)
    4.0%
  1. Rob.Screene

    Rob.Screene
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    [Edit: added review links and extracts, plus add Seasonic UK supplier]

    Following on from Retro's radical external PSU idea, JohnS's experience and I'm sure Jeff has had a nice PSU or two! I thought it's time to bring knowledge on modern PSU's together.

    Enermax have been praised for accurate, clean volts and being quiet in the past. Since then some reviews have found them far from the quietest.

    I have an Enermax Whisper in my HTPC which isn't totally silent and an Enermax Whisper PFC (manual+auto fan control) which pretty much is silent, but then again it's in my desktop that has two averagely loud Western Digital 7200rpm BB hard disks so they may be masking the PSU noise a bit.

    I did notice that the Enermax gave me a noticably better, noise free capture with an IDS Falcon at the time of the change from the original generic 300W PSU that came with my first case.

    I think only users of power hungry Radeon 9700's+ or triple multi hard disk raid arrays in a HTPC will need over a 300W rated unit. Higer ratings can mean more component heat and hence more air that needs moving (and noise) to cool them.

    Here's some that I've read ought to be good:-

    a) Antec TruePower 330PGB 330W ATX 2.03 AMD/P4 Dual Fan £39.00 http://www.dabs.com
    Good temp sensitive dual fan speed curve, plus two similarly controlled case fan feeds.
    Review: http://mikhailtech.com/articles/psu/truepower330/

    b) Enermax EG365AX-G-FMA PSU 350W with Manual Fan Control/Temp Control 2Yr £33/£31 ex VAT http://www.scan.co.uk
    Review: http://mikhailtech.com/articles/psu/enermax365fca/

    c) Zalman 300A-APF Ultra Quiet PSU 300W £47.00 http://www.aria.co.uk
    "Pros: Extremely quiet, Temp sensor controlled output fan, Plenty of device connectors, The Multi-Connector,
    Great voltage regulation."
    Review: http://www.ocaddiction.com/reviews/psu/zalman_300w/
    "Very quiet 300W, cool operation, big heatsinks, intelligent fan control. Handy 5V/12V multiconnector for fans. Active PFC. Sample exhibited a negligible amount of coil buzzing. 6/02"
    "The Zalman PSU does a better job of keeping itself and the case cooler. Both CPU and PSU temperatures are significantly lower than with the Seasonic, suggesting better hot air exhaust and throughput due to its higher fan voltage. The large heatsinks in the Zalman may also contribute to the lower PSU temperature. All of this is likely related to the efficiency ratings of the two PSU: 75% for the Zalman vs. 65% for the Seasonic.
    The ambient temperature was 3° C higher when the Zalman was tested; one can conjecture that at 23° C, the Zalman would have provided lower CPU and PSU temperatures and/or lower noise.
    The tradeoff in the Zalman may be a slightly faster rate of fan noise increase under load. However, the slightly lower noise of the fan in the Zalman may offset its higher driving voltage. "
    Review: http://www.silentpcreview.com/modul...ns&file=index&req=viewarticle&artid=24&page=1

    d) Quietpc ATX Ultra-Quiet PSU 300W AMD Approved - £52.00 http://www.quietpc.com
    "I can say that in a normal room this PSU is noiseless. For that I mean that you need to put your ears really close to the fan to hear it spinning, and even then it’s just a low noise. It’s about the same as the Zalman’s PSU. For comparison, the Enermax wishper is noisier because of it’s dual fan design."
    Review: http://mikhailtech.com/articles/psu/quietpc300/

    e) Seasonic SS300-FS 300W intelligent thermal fan control £42.50 http://www.koolnquiet.co.uk
    "Very quiet 300W, neck & neck with Zalman; runs a bit hotter. All Seasonic PSU utilize their smart S2FC fan control for minimum noise. Active PFC. Note: All Seasonic PSUs feature the S2FC fan control; preliminary firsthand examination of entire line is promising. 6/02"
    "Compared to ALL other unmodified power supply units I have used, the Seasonic SS-300FS is about the quietest. These other units include 2 models of Enermax, SH, Zalman and many generic power supplies. Despite the slightly quieter startup noise level of the Zalman ST-300BLP, that unit's rapid speedup makes it significantly more intrusive than the Seasonic, overall. As mentioned before, this is the same behavior observed in the Enermax and SH models, as described in detail in my previous PSU articles. "
    Review: http://www.silentpcreview.com/modul...ns&file=index&req=viewarticle&artid=24&page=1
    Review: http://mikhailtech.com/articles/psu/ss303540fs/
    Reference: http://www.seasonic.com/products/p_atx12v.htm

    f) Dangerous passive cooled open PSU! Would still need a 80mm case exhaust fan in place of PSU's fans!

    g) Add panaflow 80mm fan and speed controller to an existing PSU. How do you know it's still running within it's design thermal limits? One unit with a panafow mod burnt out in a web test I read somwhere.

    I've added a poll to make summarising results more interesting.

    Your comments and experience appreciated.
    regards,
    Rob.
    Keywords: Chosing choosing pc power supply psu power-supply
     
  2. ReTrO

    ReTrO
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    For a PSU for myself I'd just mess around modding whatever I have spare (providing it has the power capabilites).

    For anyone else I can't really say, but as a quick choice I'd say Enermax, only ever heard good things about them.

    I'm hoping to get my mod done to the PSU over easter, but due to work/financial, entertainment and other DIY commitments it looks like it may have to wait until the summer time.

    Other DIY etc I'm doing:

    I've got to help Taz finish the DIY sub project, and maybe kick off on the next one. (15" Tempest)

    I'm currently skint (until my next loan check) so I need a job for easter, which will take all my spare time.

    I've got to go to Fabric on April 4th to see Hybrid play.

    And I'm at Uni, but not past the summer. So I'll be requiring a job next.

    Sound card repair - I need to fit a new RCA/phono socket to my Hercules Game Theatre XP breakout box for the digital input, which is screwed.

    Finish off my DIY LoRad power leads.

    Damn expensive hobbies I have.:rolleyes:
     
  3. Mark Ward

    Mark Ward
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    John also recommended this to me. I've ordered from Kool'n'Quiet.

    Mark.
     
  4. JohnS

    JohnS
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    I had the Enermax EG365AX-G-FMA PSU 350W with Manual Fan Control/Temp Control which in my system always used to have the thermally controlled fan quickly speed up to its maximum allowed speed and consequently stopped being all that quiet. Its a nice stable PSU though and I've got another one in my Desktop machine and amongst all the rest of the noise in my office its fine.

    I bought the Seisonic after reading reviews at http://www.silentpcreview.com/ where it was at the time the one that made the least noise after it was properly warmed up. It's got a single 80mm thermally controlled fan which is completly inaudible when spinning slowly and barely audible after its speed up. The reason silent pc review liked it was that the thermister was well placed which prevented un-necessary speeding up of the fan. This was the most common probelm amongst all of the so called quiet PSU's, they all seemed to start off reasonable quiet but most speed up before they really need to and then aren't all that quiet any more.
     
  5. ReTrO

    ReTrO
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    Thje thermistor in my PSU was screwed to the heatsink right above the transistor. So I took it off and moved it too the end of the heatsink. It's probably helped the speed stay down.
     
  6. JohnS

    JohnS
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    I think most of them are, the reason I changed from the Enermax was that I didn't want to start messing around with what is quite an expensive PSU when for not much more money I could get one that was quieter to start with.
     
  7. mephistopheles

    mephistopheles
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    I highly recommend the Antec True Power. I fitted a 330 watt into my new system and it's working brilliantly - clean and completely silent.

    I have connected one of its two chassis fan connectors to a Panaflo 92mm low volume 2150rpm CPU fan, which sits on a Thermalright SLK-800 (thanks John Spicer!)/ PIII Tualatin 1.26. Admittedly it's all in a big server cube case, so there's a lot of room inside, but there are no chassis fans and even after hours and hours of DScaler on the verge of 100% CPU the max CPU temp recorded is around 50C with m/b around 33C at only ~1250rpm. Totally inaudible.

    I'm building a new system for a neighbour based on an ASUS A7N8X D/L and XP 2500+ Barton (envy! envy!) in a much smaller case, so I'll check out the same cooling arrangement on it.
     
  8. Rob.Screene

    Rob.Screene
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    Cheers guys.
    From reading the reviews you mentioned (I added links to the first topic post), it sounds like the Enermax and Antec having a second 92mm fan helps case temperatures, but adds a little noise.

    Before the Zalman 300A-APF was available, I would have gone for the Seasonic SS300-FS over the previous Zalman ST-300BLP which apparently ramps it's fan a bit quicker when warmed-up.

    But this is now and my own vote would go to the £47 Zalman 300A-APF:-
    "The Zalman PSU does a better job of keeping itself and the case cooler. Both CPU and PSU temperatures
    are significantly lower than with the Seasonic, suggesting better hot air exhaust and throughput
    due to its higher fan voltage.[snip] The tradeoff in the Zalman may be a slightly faster rate of fan noise increase under load.
    However, the slightly lower noise of the fan in the Zalman may offset its higher driving voltage. "

    Anyone else compared it to a Seasonic?

    regards,
    Rob.
     
  9. nfordenfield

    nfordenfield
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    Like Mark, i took John's advice and went for the Seasonic. I was going for the Vantec VAN-520A, the Stealth, but that was over £100 and had already shot way over budget, tipped over £1150 now without software :confused:

    Nice and cheap this HTPC not.....................

    P.S. Great service from KoolnQuiet, this was the last thing I ordered Thursday night and turned up at 7.30 a.m this morning.

    Now just waiting for Interlink, Amtrac and Citylink to turn up today.
     
  10. Underscore

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    I just built my HTPC over the weekend, in an Antec case supplied with the TruPower 330 PSU. I have it controlling the two case fans - one inlet blowing on to the graphics card and one exhaust - and the whole lot is so quiet that the noisiest part of the PC is the 92mm Zalman fan blowing on to the flower cooler at the lowest setting (1400rpm) on the FanMate. Very impressed.

    _
     
  11. Threadkiller

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    I've recently fitted a Hiper 420w, same as Coolermaster are fitting in their cases. I find it really quiet, Only £48.00 inc.

    reviewed here
     
  12. Sinzer

    Sinzer
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    I got the Antec Truepower 430 and it is extremely quiet, shame it is comepletely ruined by the mini hurricane that is the Thermaltake 7+ :p
     
  13. Rob.Screene

    Rob.Screene
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    If your cpu temp is low (and I'm fairly sure it is!) then how about a Zalman fanmate controller from aria.co.uk for £4+6.95 ex VAT delivered? This gives me fan speeds from 2500 down to 1400rpm.

    regards,
    Rob.
     
  14. Spunky

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    I've got an enermax 431W one with the fan speed turned all the way down. I've also volt modded the case fans and now i cant hear a thing...... Peace and quiet.
    Couldn't have done it without the enermax though, it keeps the volts within acceptible levels, although. Thats my PC i don't use it for HC although i am being quite tempted by the optical out on my motherboard sound card (Abit NF7-S).

    Spunky
     
  15. Rob.Screene

    Rob.Screene
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    Replaced Enermax whisper 365W with Zalman 300A-APF 300W, it's definitely better build and quieter.

    Mind you I'll only appreciate the difference when listening to music, as the Barco 808s overhead was louder anyway.

    Oh and the electrical noise readings Zalman provide make me feel happy the M-audio and Radeon are getting some clean volts to work with!

    regards,
    Rob.
     

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