Silent Running: Two Fanless Power Supplies And A Quiet One, Tested

Measurements: be quiet! Straight Power E9 CM 480 W

Efficiency, According to the 80 PLUS Specification

Efficiency Across the Power Spectrum

In the test lab, the 480 W power supply follows and then surpasses the performance of the 580 W model. It conforms to the 80 PLUS spec even more closely, sporting particularly high efficiency at low loads. At 25 W, for example, the 480 W PSU comes close to 80% efficiency, which is a respectable number that ranks among the best performances we've seen. In standby, it only draws 0.18 W.

Our lab tests show that be quiet!'s E9 CM 480 W doesn't encounter any regulation issues, and also achieving low low ripple and noise values on the DC rails.

Last but not least, even when you're in a quiet room the Straight Power E9's fan can only really be heard close to the power supply itself.

A Peek at the PCB

The 480 W PSU's interior looks a lot like the 580 W model we've already reviewed. All be quiet! power supplies are manufactured by FSP and are similar to that company's Aurum family. Taiwanese firm CapXon makes the Straight Power E9's capacitors. Although they're not the premium caps from Japan, which FSP uses in its own-branded power supplies, they're still decent and shouldn't cause problems.

We did notice an extra ceramic capacitor in the mains-side circuit. Its task is to eliminate the chirping sound that sometimes emanates from power supplies. Another design feature intended to help reduce noise is a fan mount sitting on rubber grommets. This prevents vibrations from being amplified by the power supply enclosure. The manufacturing and soldering quality are both impeccable. Our only complaint is that FSP does not use heat shrink tubes to cover the locations where cables are soldered onto the PCB.

The be quiet! Straight Power E9 CM 480 W is very quiet and boasts an 80 PLUS Gold rating. It demonstrates no apparent weakness in our testing, and offers high efficiency across the entire load spectrum. Its feature set and quality are top notch, and although it is actively cooled, this power supply is the next best thing to fanless. Unfortunately, it isn't available to our U.S. audience, and only stands in as a comparison point for our other two passively-cooled contenders.

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41 comments
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    Top Comments
  • s3anister
    zeratul600Why does americans are so picky about the noise rate??? i never stop to think about that! it has never become an obstacle to enjoy my pc experience

    Last time I checked, Americans aren't the only ones who enjoy a silent computing experience...
    21
  • amuffin
    zeratul600Why does americans are so picky about the noise rate??? i never stop to think about that! it has never become an obstacle to enjoy my pc experience

    Many companies that are focused on silence such as Noctua and beQuiet! are not "American."
    18
  • Other Comments
  • amuffin
    Seasonic, me gusta :)
    4
  • zeratul600
    Why does americans are so picky about the noise rate??? i never stop to think about that! it has never become an obstacle to enjoy my pc experience
    -27
  • the1kingbob
    Fan noise has never bothered me much, which maybe why I own two 4870s... one of which has a jet plane I mean reference cooler on it..... sadly my wife doesn't care much for the noise, which lead me to buy her wireless headphones :)

    I think it is quite neat that they have fanless option. I would never take the risk, but if I did I would chose seasonic, my 750W has done me well.
    7
  • s3anister
    zeratul600Why does americans are so picky about the noise rate??? i never stop to think about that! it has never become an obstacle to enjoy my pc experience

    Last time I checked, Americans aren't the only ones who enjoy a silent computing experience...
    21
  • amuffin
    zeratul600Why does americans are so picky about the noise rate??? i never stop to think about that! it has never become an obstacle to enjoy my pc experience

    Many companies that are focused on silence such as Noctua and beQuiet! are not "American."
    18
  • Deemo13
    I didn't know they made fanless power supplies....cool beans.
    1
  • uruquiora
    Seasonic for the win :)
    5
  • mesab66
    ZERTUL600......FOR THE VAST MAJORITY OF FOLKS, PERSISTANT/RELENTLESS NOISE QUICKLY BECOMES VERY ANNOYING!!..........give 100 folk a choice of 2 pc rooms - one near silent and one, noisy as hell. Riddle me this....how many go for the quiet room?
    --> argument over.
    5
  • mitko
    A year ago I built a water cooled system with an i7 2600k and 2 x Radeon 6990. The whole point of the water cooling was to make things extra quiet, which it did, except for the power supply. I tried two different Corsair AX1200 units before switching to a Nexus RX1100. The power supply is still BY FAR the noisiest component in the computer. Does anyone have a suggestion how to reduce the noise? I could not find any currently manufactured water cooled PSUs. Do you think it is possible to use 2 low-noise PSUs to power components on the same motherboard? Any other ideas are also welcome. I need at least a 1100W PSU, as I've actually measured the power consumption to be 1067W at 100% CPU and GPU load.

    For the record I am not an American and I don't live in the US :)
    2
  • belardo
    In a quality modern PSU... can anyone really hear the PSUs?

    I've been buying Corsair and even $45 Thermaltake 500... and I cannot hear them... with the cover open. The problems with FANLESS PSUs and GPUs is that they become heat-sinks... sure they are quiet, but everything around them gets warm. You need to blow the hot air out.

    Going from a fanless GPU to something with a huge fan (H.I.S. brand) - the fans barely makes noise and use a rear exhaust and I can run the system fans at a lower speed.


    Mitko: get soundproofing material, apply to inside of case. Put case on floor.

    My case is on the desk, a foot or so away from me... its no louder than the A/C vent blowing air in the room.
    9
  • jassenjj
    There are some things to consider with fanless PSUs:
    1. The heat stress is the factor No. 1 for the lifespan of the capacitors, no matter if they are conductive polymer or very high quality electrolytic brand.
    2. The case should use more higher intake flow to make sure that the power supply's heat does not enter the case.
    3. A noise level of 10-13 dB can be tolerated for the sake of sustainability and avoiding the risk of heating up your case with the heat from from the PSU.

    Personally, in the last 10 years I admire Seasonic for their stile... But I would use a passive solution that is still in the PC case just for a while.
    0
  • razor512
    the main difference with a silent PSU is the capacitor rating. Most noise ones use 1000 hour 105C capacitors, while a high end silent one will use caps that are in the range of 10,000 hour 105c, or even 125c

    most of the voltage regulators are mostly the same though they may add a larger heatsink on them.

    you could pretty much turn a standard PSU into a silent one by swapping the caps and heatsinks. High quality capacitors are about 3-5 times more expensive (may take the cost of a single cap from 5 cents, to around 15-20 cents)
    2
  • waxdart
    razor512the main difference with a silent PSU is the capacitor rating. Most noise ones use 1000 hour 105C capacitors, while a high end silent one will use caps that are in the range of 10,000 hour 105c, or even 125cmost of the voltage regulators are mostly the same though they may add a larger heatsink on them.you could pretty much turn a standard PSU into a silent one by swapping the caps and heatsinks. High quality capacitors are about 3-5 times more expensive (may take the cost of a single cap from 5 cents, to around 15-20 cents)


    Yeap, and you get a better, more reliable, energy efficient bit of kit too. Bit I don't think I'll be having a go a swapping them :)
    2
  • freggo
    zeratul600Why does americans are so picky about the noise rate??? i never stop to think about that! it has never become an obstacle to enjoy my pc experience


    Not an 'American' thing, but a medical one. Noise pollution is becoming more and more of a problem; and affects long term hearing quality.
    No wonder people can no longer hear the difference between an MP3 and a CD recording.
    4
  • willard
    Seasonic's X series units are pretty damn good. I've got the X650, and its fan doesn't even turn on until you apply a substantial load to the unit. Even then, it's still inaudible over the other noise in my case.

    Every now and then you can find it on sale for $120. A steal for the best 650W PSU in the world.
    4
  • Anonymous
    I've been using a fanless psu in my HTPC for a few years now. A computer in the living room has different noise thresholds from a gaming PC.
    0
  • vmem
    I ordered the seasonic just last night, needless to say, this article makes me feel very good about my purchase decision :)

    it'll be used in an HTPC/home media server. to those that have doubts about the usefulness of such a PSU, I will ask: "what's the point of having that nice audio system in your living room if all you're gonna hear is fan noise in the background?"
    0
  • Anonymous
    I kinda wanted to see the KingWin 500W Stryker being compared to other fan-less units. Since it has 42 amps and it is platinum rated, it should be the best silent PSU in the market.
    0
  • majorlag
    I am currently using the Seasonic x400 fanless in my silent fanless HTPC system. And a x560 in my desktop build. One of the best power supply brands I have ever used. Currently my pick for new systems being built.

    Another article is what got me hooked http://www.silentpcreview.com/Seasonic_X-400_Fanless_PSU, they basically had to resort to a hair dryer to make the thermal protection trip. A very good power supply that can put up with alot of heat before having to shut down.
    0
  • nebun
    amuffinSeasonic, me gusta

    translate please...don't understand...thanks in advance
    -4