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Fractal Design Ion SFX Gold 500W Power Supply Review

Top performance at a reasonable price.

Editor's Choice
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

Our Verdict

The Fractal Design Ion 500G is an excellent SFX-L power supply with top performance and quiet output.

For

  • Full power at 47 degrees Celsius
  • High performance
  • Quiet enough operation
  • Flexible and fully modular cables
  • SFX-to-ATX mounting bracket
  • Ten-year warranty

Against

  • 5VSB efficiency could be higher
  • Some high EMI peaks at low frequencies

The Ion SFX Gold with 500W capacity has a reasonable price since it carries an MSRP of $89.99 (£84.99 in the UK market and 94,99€ in the EU)  it achieves high overall performance, and it's relatively quiet since its overall noise output is below 30 dB(A). This is a great product and one of the best power supplies in this category, with the most notable competitors being the similar capacity Seasonic SGX model and the Corsair SF450, which has 50W less. Still, the latter has even smaller dimensions since it is an SFX unit and not an SFX-L one. 

We have already evaluated the more-muscular Ion SFX Gold model with 650W max power, which left an excellent impression on us, although the SFX competition is strong in this Wattage range (600-650W). Besides the unit mentioned above, Fractal Design also released a lower capacity one, the Ion 500G, which, as its model number depicts, can deliver up to 500W. 

The SFX power supplies are destined for small chassis, which in the majority of cases don't host energy-hungry systems. There is no need for high Wattage, which in such small platforms skyrocket's thermal loads, so the noise output is also heavily affected. Thanks to  highly-efficient modern CPUs and GPUs, 500W are enough for a potent system equipped with an Intel Core i7 or an AMD Ryzen 9 CPU and a high-end GPU (Nvidia RTX or AMD RX), given that there is no overclocking involved. 

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The Ion 500G is a fully-modular SFX-L unit, featuring highly flexible cables that will help you the most during the PSU's installation. In small chassis, it is already difficult to work because of the restricted internal space, so imagine if you also had to deal with rigid and bulky cables. Thankfully, this is not the case with this PSU since Fractal Design has vast experience in building chassis, so its engineers know well which type of cables allows for easier cable management and routing. 

The cooling fan is the largest that can be used in an SFX-L unit. Practically it fully covers the PSU's top side. Seasonic, the original manufacturer of this unit, installed such a large fan to lower the noise output since the larger the fan, the slower it has to spin to produce the required airflow. Nonetheless, a proper fan speed profile is also essential to fully exploit the fan's large (for an SFX-L unit) diameter. 

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Specifications

Manufacturer (OEM)

Seasonic

Max. DC Output

500W

Efficiency

80 PLUS Gold, *ETA-A (88-91%)

Noise

*LAMBDA-A- (25-30 dB[A])

Modular

✓ (Fully)

Intel C6/C7 Power State Support

Operating Temperature (Continuous Full Load)

0 - 40°C
Maximum 80% load 50°C

Over Voltage Protection

Under Voltage Protection

Over Power Protection

Over Current (+12V) Protection

Over Temperature Protection

Short Circuit Protection

Surge Protection

Inrush Current Protection

Fan Failure Protection

No Load Operation

Cooling

120mm FDB Fan (S1201512HB)

Semi-Passive Operation

Dimensions (W x H x D)

125 x 65 x 125mm

Weight

1.1 kg (2.43 lb)

Form Factor

SFX-L, EPS 2.92

Warranty

10 Years

* Not certified yet by Cybenetics. According to our measurements the PSU falls into these efficiency and noise categories. 

Power Specifications

Rail3.3V5V12V5VSB-12V
Max. PowerAmps20204130.3
Watts100492153.6
Total Max. Power (W)500
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Cables and Connectors

Modular CablesCable CountConnector Count (Total)GaugeIn Cable Capacitors
ATX connector 20+4 pin (350mm)1118-22AWGNo
4+4 pin EPS12V (400mm)1118AWGNo
6+2 pin PCIe (400mm+100mm) 1218AWGNo
SATA (310mm+200mm+200mm+100mm)1418AWGNo
4-pin Molex (310mm+200mm)1218AWGNo
AC Power Cord (1380mm) - C13 coupler1118AWG-

There is no need for a pair of EPS connectors in a 500W unit, so we are not going to complain about this. The number of available PCIe is also sufficient. Finally, it would be nice if the number of peripheral connectors was slightly increased, but again this power supply is for compact chassis which don't have space for lots of parts. For the same reason, the cables are short. The good thing is that the distance between the peripheral connectors is pretty long, so you won't fall into any compatibility problems.

Taking into account the short cables, it is weird that Fractal Design includes in the bundle an SFX to ATX adapter bracket, which allows this PSU's installation into a normal sized chassis. With such short cables you won't be able to properly route those short cables into a normal ATX case, so this adapter won't be proved useful. Fractal Design should offer this adapter separately, along with a set of longer modular cables, for users that for their own reasons want to use an SFX power supply along with a normal sized chassis. 

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Cable Photos

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Component Analysis

We strongly encourage you to have a look at our PSUs 101 article, which provides valuable information about PSUs and their operation, allowing you to better understand the components we're about to discuss.

General Data
Manufacturer (OEM)Seasonic
PCB TypeDouble-Sided
Primary Side
Transient Filter4x Y caps, 2x X caps, 2x CM chokes, 1x MOV
Inrush ProtectionNTC Thermistor & Relay
Bridge Rectifier(s)1x
APFC MOSFETS
2x Champion GPT18N50D (500V, 18A, 0.27Ohm)
APFC Boost Diode
1x ST STTH8S06 (600V, 8A)
Hold-up Cap(s)
1x Rubycon (400V, 390uF, 3,000h @ 105°C, MXG)
Main Switchers2x Infineon IPP50R250CP (550V, 9A @ 100°C, 0.25Ohm)
APFC Controller
Champion CM6500UNX
Resonant ControllersChampion CM6901T6
TopologyPrimary side: Half-Bridge & LLC converter Secondary side: Synchronous Rectification & DC-DC converters
Secondary Side
+12V MOSFETS2x Nexperia PSMN1R0-40YLD (40V, 198A @ 100°C, 1.93mOhm @ 150°C)
5V & 3.3VDC-DC Converters
Filtering Capacitors

Electrolytics: 9x Nippon Chemi-Con (4-10,000h @ 105°C, KY), 3x Nippon Chemi-Con (105°C, W), 1x Nippon Chemi-Con (1-5,000h @ 105°C, KZE)
Polymers: 24x FPCAP

Supervisor IC Weltrend WT7527V (OCP, OVP, UVP, SCP, PG)
Fan ModelGlobe Fan S1201512HB (120mm, 12V, 0.45A, Fluid Dynamic Bearing Fan)
5VSB Circuit
Rectifier
1x MCC MPR1045ULPS SBR (45V, 10A @ 90°C)
Standby PWM ControllerExcelliance MOS Corp EM8569
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Overall Internals

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Like its 650W sibling, this unit is based on a Seasonic design. This is a well-built platform able to offer high performance in all areas. Moreover, up so far this is the only SFX (L) platform that comes with a ten-year warranty, a good indication of its reliability through time. 

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Transient Filter and Bridge Rectifiers

Transient Filter and Bridge Rectifiers (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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The transient filter is complete, but it doesn't do an excellent job at low frequencies since we measured several high conducted EMI spikes in this frequency range. 

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APFC Converter

APFC Converter (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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The APFC converter is equipped with a small bulk cap, which, thanks to the proper design, manages to offer a longer than 17ms hold-up time.

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Main Transformer and Resonant Tank

Main Transformer and Resonant Tank (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The resonant tank and the capacitive part of the LLC converter, are installed right next to the main transformer. 

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+12V and VRMs

+12V and VRMs (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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The +12V FETs are soldered on the back side of the main PCB. A pair of heatsinks above them, help in removing the heat. The minor rails are generated through a couple of VRMs, with both of them installed on the same daughter-board. 

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Modular board

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At the front of the modular PCB, besides power transfer bus-bars we also find a large number of polymer caps along with two electrolytic ones. 

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Build quality

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We don't have any complaints about Seasonic's soldering quality. 

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Cooling Fan

Cooling Fan (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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The cooling fan is made by Globe Fan and it measures 120mm across. This is the largest fan that the Ion's chassis can accommodate. It uses a fluid dynamic bearing, so if you treat it well (normal ambient temperatures), it will outlive the long warranty. 

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  • Dark Lord of Tech
    Very nice thanks ARIS!
    Reply