Pros, Cons And Final Verdict
Nowadays, many users seek a top-notch and low-to-medium-capacity PSU. Very few offerings exist in this category, however, and even fewer of them have Platinum efficiency. Currently, the only PSUs with Platinum efficiency and 550 W capacity that can compete with the SF-550F14MP in performance and noise output are the passively cooled Seasonic SS-520FL and the Enermax EDF550AWN. Both of these units, however, cost much more than Super Flower's model. We deliberately compared this Leadex model with two passive PSUs because it has such low noise output that its operation reminds us of a pure passive PSU. Super Flower managed to significantly lower the noise output by increasing efficiency, which leads to minimized energy losses and lower thermal loads. At the same time, the company increased the effective period of the passive mode and relaxed the fan profile as much as possible.
We aren't very fond of long-lasting passive modes in PSUs, since we believe that lots of stress is applied to sensitive components like electrolytic capacitors. As we pointed out in our recent PSU 101 article, a 10 C increase in an electrolytic capacitor's operating temperature cuts its life span in half. However, in this case we have a low-capacity and highly efficient PSU equipped with top-notch capacitors. On top of that, Super Flower backs it up with a five-year warranty.
Super Flower made a very strong entry in the high-end, lower-capacity category and given the company’s increased activity in the PSU market, we won't be surprised if they release a low-capacity Titanium unit in the near future as well. The SF-550F14MP offers tight load regulation, amazing ripple suppression and high efficiency that is between 90 and 95 percent throughout a very large part of the unit’s operational range. Additionally, this model is by far the most silent PSU that we have tested in this category, and under normal conditions it will mostly operate in passive mode if you select the ECO mode. Even when the fan is engaged, it spins at very low speeds, making very low noise. We had to push the PSU to its limits and in some cases beyond them, in order to make the fan spin at 1000 RPM. Even in this worst-case scenario the noise level didn't exceed 36 dBA. The only downsides of this fine PSU are the lower-than-minimum-allowed hold-up time, the mediocre performance of the 3.3V rail in the Advanced Transient Response tests, and the higher price.
In our opinion, if you need a high-performance PSU with low capacity and an inaudible operation, then you should seriously consider buying the SF-550F14MP. In the U.S. market Super Flower doesn't have a retail presence, but EVGA's T2, P2, G2 and B2 offerings are based on Super Flower's platforms. This means that we will most likely see an EVGA SuperNOVA 550 P2 unit in the near future.