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Silverstone ST30NF 300W Silent PSU reviewed 143

VL writes "Silence is golden as they say, but in Silverstone's case, it's, uh, silver. Will this silent PSU bring it, or will enthusiasts continue to be plagued with noisy PSUs? 'Initially I had some reservations of how a 300W PSU would handle our test system in real-world testing. Needless to say the Silverstone ST30NF 300W PSU got the job done efficiently and quietly, or should I say silently. It doesn't come cheap, ringing in at close to $150, but that's the price you pay for a high quality PSU that does not make any noise at all.'"
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Silverstone ST30NF 300W Silent PSU reviewed

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  • by winkydink ( 650484 ) * <sv.dude@gmail.com> on Sunday February 19, 2006 @11:38PM (#14758505) Homepage Journal
    It's not hard to develop a fanless 300W PSU (or even more, if you're
    so inclined). I started my career in Silicon Valley working for a
    company that made small lots of custom power supplies for "the
    government": everything from teeny low power jobbies to big HV
    monstrosities in the KW range that drove TWT's. In the 5 years I
    spent there, we probably designed over 125 power supplies and nont
    one had a fan and all had very high MTBFs. The key is using
    high-grade, mil-spec components that can run hot (what were called
    JAN, JANTXV, and JANS back in the day), and using monster heat
    sinks. They are, however, not cheap. If you want to run at 105
    deg C, you pay accordingly.
    • That company must have built my Xbox 360 power supply since I had to add a room onto the house just for it.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        You lost the right to complain about bad product design, dude, the minute you decided it was a good idea to buy a Microsoft product. Suck it up.
        • You lost the right to complain about bad product design, dude, the minute you decided it was a good idea to buy a Microsoft product. Suck it up.

          You know, it is perfectly possible to find it a good idea to buy a badly designed product, and yet not being insane. It all depends of what you need. Buying a product does not mean you approve its design.
          Krazy Kat, An American Comic Strip [ignatzmouse.net]
    • That is all well and good but you have to cram all that stuff into standard power supply box. I think that is where the big problem is.
    • by pete-classic ( 75983 ) <hutnick@gmail.com> on Monday February 20, 2006 @12:09AM (#14758641) Homepage Journal
      That's all irrelevant to this discussion.

      A PC PSU must coexist with other components that can't be re-specified. Also, the PC PSU is generally assumed to suck air out of the case and blow it out the back, cooling the other PC components. (I'm aware that the one in this article doesn't.)

      • A PC PSU must coexist with other components that can't be re-specified

        Maybe you should tell that to Apple, who seem to disagree with you.

        Just move the power supply outside the PC (like the mini), already.
        • Maybe you should tell that to Apple, who seem to disagree with you.,/p>

          Apple doesn't make PCs, they make Macs. You know - single-source, limited configuration, with custom cases?

          • You know - single-source, limited configuration, with custom cases?

            Ohhhh yeah! Like Dell.
          • Apple doesn't make PCs, they make Macs. You know - single-source, limited configuration, with custom cases?

            Blah blah blah flamebait.

            Why is it that none of your wonderful customizable computer makers seem to make a case that dosn't require a built in power supply.

            None but Apple, anyway.

            (ok, there are probably a few, but doesn't it seem like there should be more?)
            • Probably because most PCs draw enough power that the power supply would have to have a fan regardless of whether it is internal or external. And the PC would generate enough heat that you would have to have an exhaust fan or two to get the heat out of the case. So combining the two by installing the power supply in the case with an exhaust fan makes sense. Just like how Apple puts the power supplies in the cases of their PowerMacs.

              And yes, there are PCs with external power supplies. Most of them have sm
              • ... So combining the two by installing the power supply in the case with an exhaust fan makes sense. Just like how Apple puts the power supplies in the cases of their PowerMacs.

                But I expect that the trend will be away from fans in general. With more and more PC sales being laptops (not to mention handhelds), heat dissipation is becoming even more important. Yes, there will still be towers and racks, but I imagine more and more PCs will move toward having external power supplies. It seems especially obvio
      • by /ASCII ( 86998 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @06:28AM (#14759902) Homepage
        Right. And this power supply is actually designed to be used in a case with a case fan to help move the air. So while the PSU itself is silent, it is not really designed to be a part of a silent computer.

        But it can be done. I own a Silvestone PSU, and I use it in a fanless case. I have connected the PSU to a Zalman Reserator [zalman.co.kr], which is a fanless watercooling solution. I'm also using the Reserator to cool my GPU, CPU and Northbridge. In order to silence my HDD I built a really sturdy noise-proof box, and put the HDD in it, together with a water block connected to the Reserator.

        The result? I've been running a nearly 100% silent system with reasonable performance (Athlon64 3000+, dual videocards, fast HDD) for about one year. The biggest downside is the maintainability. Changing a system component can take well over an hour, what with emptying the system of water, removing the tubing, etc..

      • the PC PSU is generally assumed to suck air out of the case

        Not only is moving air assumed, it is part of the ATX specification. At least it is in the original ATX spec. You can find the pdfs online. Look at the mechanical specification and you should see a bit about air movement.
    • That's true. PSU doesn't need to be cooled as efficiently as CPU and other component, however most PSU are used as venting duck for casing by design which isn't efficient itself. After all, the noise from PSU is mainly by the vibration of the metal grid caused by the oscillation from the fan.

      Hence heat sink design seems to be the obvious for any low noise PSU solution. Better design would be having vent on top of casing with heat sink outside of encloded casing.
    • Misleading (Score:3, Informative)

      by Perl-Pusher ( 555592 )
      Sure you don't need a fan in a power supply for TWT's. That's because they are usually mounted to a cold plate along with the TWT. The cold plate is liquid cooled with coolanol, a silion based coolant. The pumps pumping the coolant are 20 time as loud as any PC. PC power supplies really don't require a fan either. The fan is used to suck air from the front of the case to the back. A CPU fan is useless if you don't have sufficient air flow. Putting a PSU without a fan in many cases will cause your CPU to ove
      • Putting a PSU without a fan in many cases will cause your CPU to overheat. The way to fix it is guess what?

        Adding a fanless liquid cooling system?
      • Heh take any normaly design psu and take the fan out of it. You will quickly see it over heat and then begin to burn ....
      • Well, I can assure you that, for instance, the 250W one that was the size of two packs of smokes and was part of a suitcase sized device had no coolanol nor any pumps.
      • Add a fan, you don't gain anything.

        You know, as I have discovered recently, the more fans, the less noise. I bought 3 Noiseblocker S1 and recycled two old Antec 80mm fans (plugged serially, so 6V each) to make my PC cooler and quieter. Effectively, two fans can blox as much air as one making no noise at all where one fan would be very noisy.

        Airflow still remains the easiest way to cool a computer. Just double the number of fans you have but make them run twice as slow. Silence you will have, and for a very
  • by repetty ( 260322 ) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @11:42PM (#14758525) Homepage
    >> "It doesn't come cheap, ringing in at close to $150..."

    Wow. Those $200 WalMart PC's have got everyone's value systems really fucked up.
    • Steady on there... $150 for the psu, $300 for a Lian Li case, a few hundred more for a nice big barracuda, a few hundred for a 16x12 flat panel, a few hundred for a late model vid card... I think we broke $1000 a while ago.

      $150 for one component of a system isn't really 'cheap'.I don't think $200 PCs have trashed value systems. As the adage goes, you get what you pay for.
    • >> "It doesn't come cheap, ringing in at close to $150..." Wow. Those $200 WalMart PC's have got everyone's value systems really fucked up.

      That's a pretty idiotic comment. PSUs tend to cost about $50, so, yes one that costs three times that would be expensive. Similarly, if someone was charging $10 for a very good apple, one might comment that they didn't come cheap also. Value isn't some absolute: $100 isn't very expensive, but $500 is. It depends on the product in question.

      • PSUs tend to cost about $50

        How much do _fanless_ PSU's tend to cost? You are comparing apples to oranges here. Yes, we are talking about PC PSU's here, but on the one hand we have your standard PSU with a fan, and on the other hand we have a fanless PSU. While they might serve the same function (power up the PC), one is not really an alternative to the other.

        You might as well compare 28" CRT-television to 37" LCD-television, and proclaim the LCD to be "expensive", since the CRT-tube is so much cheaper. I me

      • >> "That's a pretty idiotic comment."

        No, it's deep. I think that your reasoning is idiotic.

        I stand by what I wrote. People (like you, apparently) have become accustomed to getting great stuff for almost free -- in fact, EXPECTING it to be almost free.

        You have become confused and believe that because something is common that is then somehow good or right.

        I do believe you are correct when you say, "Value isn't some absolute..." but I think you don't really understand what you mean. You just stumbled acr
  • No fan (Score:5, Interesting)

    by chanrobi ( 944359 ) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @11:42PM (#14758530)
    I'd be a bit more comfortable with the unit having a fan when it does reach load temperatures. I have a similar power supply of fanless design that has a "backup" fan. It is 0rpm idling and when playing games it spins up. Makes me feel just a wee bit safer. Especially during the summer.
  • 300W? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kraiger ( 704911 ) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @11:47PM (#14758550)
    Is this even applicable with high end systems today? I personally run a CPU at 3.5GHZ, have an ATI 9800XT, a DVD burner, a DVD player, multiple HDDs, etc. I just can't see a 300W power supply working for that type of application. Maybe for a low end system, but at that point you're not going to pay 150 bucks for a PSU in a low end system.
    • Re:300W? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Tweekster ( 949766 )
      actually a most end system... you dont exactly have anything particularly fantastic in that system to begin with... the CPU and video card will be the hogs, the rest are easy to power. So for anyone going AMD and a slightly less pigish graphics card , 300watts is more than adequate.
      • I just had to upgrade my 310W PSU because it wasn't enough to power my average system. My second SATA HD would spin down and up once in a while for no apparent reason and when I only connected 1 drive, no problems.

        • Asus MB with nForce Chipset
        • AMD64 3000
        • Nvidia 6200 Video
        • 2 X SATA 200G HD
        • 1G of DDR400
        • NEC DVD Burner
        • TDK CD Burner
        • 1.44 Floppy
        • Onboard NIC and Sound
        • USB Mouse and Keyboard
        • USB Camera
        • USB MP3 Player
        • Serial connection to APC UPS
        • Serial connection to Palm IIIc cradle

        I would say the minimum f

    • Have you measured the draw of these components? The big draws are the video and processor, everything else you list is generally peanuts. For example, the drives take maybe 10 to 15 watts each in use, much less when idling.
    • If you read the review, they hook a bunch of stuff up to it, and measure the draw to be 332W(!). And it seems to handle the load fine. However, I wouldn't want that for a long term solution.
      • If you read the review, they hook a bunch of stuff up to it, and measure the draw to be 332W(!). And it seems to handle the load fine. However, I wouldn't want that for a long term solution.

        I have one of those Shuttle XPC systems that has an Athlon64 3700+ w/1GB RAM in it, as well as a GeForce 6600GT AGP, a DVD+/-RW, and of course a hard drive. This XPC only comes with a 240W PSU(!). I was worried at first about cramming a GeForce 6600GT in it, since it is a power hungry card (plus this xpc is a socket

    • Re:300W? (Score:2, Informative)

      by houseofzeus ( 836938 )
      A good, reliable 300W power supply is far, far better than one of the many cheapy 500W ones flying around. While yes the larger number sounds impressive it isn't actually necessary for a *lot* of systems.
    • Re:300W? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RedWizzard ( 192002 )
      HTPC. That's the target market, that's where people will pay for silent, that's where this will work.
    • Re:300W? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by 10Ghz ( 453478 )
      Did you RTFA? They tested the PSU on a system that has MSI P4N Diamond, Intel Pentium 4 560, 2GB Corsair DDR2 8000UL, 2 x Seagate 400GB, Seagate 120GB, 2 x MSI 7800GTX, MSI 16X DL, AOpen CDRW 52X, Koolance PC3-720SL, and it worked fine. That's pretty "hi-end", don't you think?
    • Re:300W? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by eander315 ( 448340 )
      I can't speak for your system, but most people wildly over-estimate their power supply needs. Couple that with the fact that this product is aimed at a fairly small segment of the computing population who will go as far as to underclock their processors to make their computer quieter, and you see why it's still relevant.
    • Probably not, and as a gamer you've probably got 5.1 Surround and big speakers anyhow. As the old adage goes "if you can hear your fan or drives, you haven't got big enough speakers"

      However, this would do fairly well for office machines, especially places with rows on rows of noisy machines (of course, a silent-style CPU fan would also be needed, and a lower pricetag for most offices).
    • This other SPCR article [silentpcreview.com] shows that your computer probably draws around ~250W at full load. There are very few situations today where you need a 500W or a 600W power supply.
  • by honestmonkey ( 819408 ) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @11:48PM (#14758556) Journal
    I have a Taurus fanless PS, and have had it for probably around a year. It's a 350W, and seems to be working fine - doesn't even heat the top of the case up. Unfortunantly I still have 4 other fans in the box to move air around. But the fanless PS really helps. So what's so great about this one?
    • I have a taurus also for a couple of years, and has worked well for me.

      I only have one slow fan for the cpu. I use a big roomy old style server case, which I think is key for a fanless system.

      Even if you were to use a fanless cpu heatsink, the heat still needs to be dissipated out the case, and you can use slow 160 mm fan for that (which will be the configuration for my next computer).
  • alternative (Score:4, Informative)

    by TheClam ( 209230 ) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @11:49PM (#14758559)
    What's wrong with this one?

    http://froogle.google.com/froogle?q=Seasonic+S12+3 30 [google.com]

    Got mine for $50 and the 120mm fan doesn't contribute any more noise than my CPU cooler or old noisy hard drives.
    • Um whats wrong with that one? it has a FAN! that completely destroys the requirement many people have for a FANLESS PSU. if it has a fan, it doesnt meet the requirements some people have.
    • Gotta agree (Score:4, Informative)

      by Brian Stretch ( 5304 ) * on Monday February 20, 2006 @12:11AM (#14758651)
      Having used a fanless PSU before (Antec's), they're heavy, not to mention expensive. Seasonic S12's are practically silent and the PSU will run cooler with a 120mm fan giving it a little ventilation. The Enermax Liberty's are supposed to be very good too, nice to have the detachable cables in SFF machines. Spend your money on power-efficient components that don't make the cooling systems work so hard.
      • What's wrong with a PSU being heavy? Presumably a heavier PSU would have larger heatsinks, better electronics and capacitors, etc... The cheapest no-name PSUs are as light as a feather.
        • I own a cheap no-name PSU. ("A1 Power" anybody?) I wish I had my digital camera around, but it's in another state. This PSU is rated at 300W - the system it's powering isn't the server or anything. But it has two fans. The outside 80 mm one is quiet through most of its RPM range, but the inside one is a little smaller and is really noisy. They're both DC brushless.

          So I did some measurements and found the RPMs I wanted to run them at -- measured the voltage drop and current. Then I soldered in some resisto

        • The extra weight for the fanless PSUs is mostly from the thick aluminum case, which does double-duty as a big heatsink. If the PSU is getting enough of a breeze from a case fan, like it would in an Antec P180 case, then that works quite well but otherwise I'd much prefer to have a PSU fan.

          Fanless PSUs are a nice idea in theory but less impressive in practice.
      • Indeed, the S12 series generally runs around 18-22 dBA/1m (often below the background noise level, let alone any of the other fans in the system).

        The S12 is also very efficent (78-82%), runs cool (particularly compared to fanless units), has good voltage stability, active PFC, automatically adapts to 100-240V and 50/60Hz, and has all of the expected safety certifications.

        Basically, the problem with fanless PSUs is that they often become unacceptably hot during high-load conditions. Moreover, they often incr
        • 78-82% is not very efficient unless you are a mechanical engineer. 90% is very efficient, but I don't know of any PC power supplies that are that good. The best PC supplies are about 85%. 80% is not bad, but it is not amazing either.
    • A someone who has worked in the professional recording industry, I can tell you, there is a need for a FANLESS system.

      (save your RIAA jokes - we produced commercials for radio, private corporations and such)

      Sometimes it's just more practical to go with a fanless system than it is to route tons of lossy USB and video cable to an acoustically sealed server closet.

      Ever try to cut a vocal with even a low-noise fan whizzing in the corner?

      Some people.......
  • by TheUnknownOne ( 810624 ) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @11:55PM (#14758588)
    I have a 500 watt antec phantom in my newest computer, the thing is silent. It does have a fan in the case that the PSU does get too hot, it can cool it off. I have played some pretty high end games, done some 3d rendering and what not, still haven't had the fan turn on, and the PSU hasn't gotten hot. It is nice to know that it's there though. I don't think I would ever buy a powersupply that didn't function like this, as I due value the quiet. I hope they continue to improve on this technology to provide even more powerful PSUs than currently available. (And at a lower cost, because I seem to remember this supply costing a bit more than most other 500w PSUs)
    • The Antec Phantom is US$150 at newegg [newegg.com]. That compares very well with the Silverstone ST30NF from the review: the Phantom is 500W vs the ST30NF which is 300W.

      It makes perfect sense to have a fan that spins up when under high load. It'll increase the longevity of the PSU, and the small amount of noise when under load will easily be covered up by the sound from your game, or won't matter too much because you're acutually working on the computer. When it's time to sleep, the fan will spin down.

      The best of b

    • I have the 350 watt version of the Antec Phantom, which doesn't have a fan. It's been rock-solid since I got it, all through last summer. (Much better than my Zalman "Silent" PSU, which wasn't silent and gave occasional voltage warnings.) I suspect that the only real difference between the two models is the addition of the fan for huge P4 + dual SLI + RAID wattage requirements.
  • I have 2 $90 case/ps combos in the room with me. To hear either I have to put my ear basicly on the famn things. Unless you're extremely anal, ps noise doesn't even exist.
    • This all depends on the ambient noise in the room. At work there is quite a lot of noise in the environment that you just tune out. Air conditioners, other computers, people, etc.

      Having the same small amount of noise in a bedroom when you're trying to sleep will quickly become annoying because the background noise level is virtually zero.

      Incidentally, I find it's the same with LEDs. Having heaps of flashy lights on things is fun while the lights are on but quickly become annoying when the lights are of

      • Oh, and to venture OT here for a second: I have a friend who is a draftsman involved in the design of office spaces. If the airconditoning that they install isn't noisy enough, they have to install speakers that just pump out white noise. He said that this is to promote "privacy" in open-plan offices. If the noise level is too low then everyone can hear everything that everyone else says, whether they're right next to each other or on opposite sides of the office. This is highly distracting, not to men
        • If the airconditoning that they install isn't noisy enough, they have to install speakers that just pump out white noise.

          We had these installed in our office. The speakers were about the size/shape of paint cans. They actually pump out pink noise [wikipedia.org], because we perceive pink noise to be the same loudness at all frequencies (i.e. white noise sounds too harsh at higher frequencies). Everytime the power went out, the place got *really* quiet.

          Incidentally, the pink noise system in our office had a mini-pl

    • I have an older computer with a crappy PSU, and the PSU is by far the loudest piece of the system, and that is what influenced me in my choice of a fanless unit.
  • Needless to say? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Radak ( 126696 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @12:02AM (#14758613) Journal
    Needless to say the Silverstone ST30NF 300W PSU got the job done efficiently and quietly...

    Needless to say? Then why did you write a review about it? Or were you just padding your remarks with random babble to bring the word count up and to try to make yourself sound smart and competent?

    Please, leave the verbiage to people who know how to do it, and just get right to the point.
    • Thank you. Its about time someone tries to hold authors of hardware reviews accountable for excessive wording and babbling. They should get right to the point.

      Sad to say, too many website are just like this. Reviews of simple componenets discuss the packaging, the company that makes the product, the box the product was shipped in, and then finally, they get to the actual review. But, not before 200 pictures of the aformentionned. Then you find it performs about the same as everything else. Surprise! Except
      • Mark Twain [telerama.com] suggests several rules for good writing.

        ...the author shall:

        12. Say what he is proposing to say, not merely come near it.
        13. Use the right word, not its second cousin.
        14. Eschew surplusage.
        15. Not omit necessary details.
        16. Avoid slovenliness of form.
        17. Use good grammar.
        18. Employ a simple and straightforward style.

  • by Spazmania ( 174582 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @12:07AM (#14758633) Homepage
    Having just heat-fried a Enermax 600W power supply that Tom's Hardware said was so good, how about a nice noisy PSU that is actually reliable over time? Does anybody still make them? Seriously, I don't care what the sound level is in the server room. None of this thermally controlled crap. I just want a high-wattage ATX-EPS12 PSU that runs cool enough to keep on working and constantly contributes enough airflow to the case to allow the rest of the computer keeps working too.
    • Seriously, I don't care what the sound level is in the server room.

      "Server room" or "broom closet with servers in it"? Filling a closet with milk doesn't mean you have a fridge. Same goes for server rooms. :)

      If you are having heat problems:

      1) Make sure the server room is adequately ventilated and that the air is circulating properly to avoid "hotspots".

      2) If necessary get an air conditioner to bring ambient temperature down.
      • In the case of the blown Enermax, Server Room = Professionally managed MCI data center with a server intake temperature around 69 degrees F.

        Thanks for the tips but a well chilled computer room does not adequately compensate for poor airflow in the server.
        • Glad to hear it. You'd be surprised how many dusty broom closets get called "server rooms". Or maybe you wouldn't be. :)

          Still, a PSU dieing to heat death in a properly maintained server room with proper air circulation around the servers is either in an absolutely horrid case. (Which doesn't seem likely given what you've said...) or the result of fan that died within the PSU, ultimately causing a heat death.

          I just can't see *any* decent brand name PSU in a proper environment getting heat fried unless the PS
          • I wouldn't be the slightest bit surprised having maintained quite a bit of Cisco equipment located in dusty furnace closets. No, this was a correctly engineered computer room.

            The case is a nice 4U antec rackmount; it has relatively good airflow front-to-back though not quite as good as I'd like around the cards. The PSU fan didn't wear out. Enermax picked a fan with a relatively poor CFM to start with and then under-volted it so that it spun even slower to stay quiet.

            The 600W PSU had to support 9 drives and
    • I have a PC Power and Cooling "Silencer" 470 [pcpowercooling.com]. It is quiet and good. I believe my quiet Seagate is louder. It is a heavy, no-nonsense power supply. I will never buy another "quiet" Enermax or Antec supply again.

      Many power supplies from the big names have dubious features as they chase the enthusiast market. These companies are driven by marketing. PC Power and Cooling have engineered their supplies to be power supplies first, and quiet second. PC Power and Cooling is one of the few companies still driven by
  • by wirelessbuzzers ( 552513 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @12:14AM (#14758661)
    I have a Seasonic PSU, and it seems better in almost every way. The Seasonic's fan is very quiet, its construction is excellent, the efficiency is very high, it provides more peak power, and it costs less than this silly thing. I assume that it's also lighter, due to having a sanely-sized heat sink.

    Now, while this PSU is "totally silent", the power supply is assumed to have at least a minimal fan by just about every ATX system designer. As another poster mentioned, if yours doesn't have a fan, you're going to have to either choose very low-power components, or put in/ramp up other fans to compensate. So unless you're going to put this on some teeny underpowered VIA or Pentium-M-based system, you're going to make up in noise anyway.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Not unless you go silent with the rest of your system. Spending more to get silence is very much worth it for some folks. I spent as much on silencing my personal computer as I did on parts and most of it will be reusable when I upgrade.
      • Not unless you go silent with the rest of your system. Spending more to get silence is very much worth it for some folks. I spent as much on silencing my personal computer as I did on parts and most of it will be reusable when I upgrade.

        If said system is under your desk, and you get a good, quiet PSU (like the Seasonic), you probably won't be able to hear it. If it's on your desk, it's probably SFF, and so this ATX supply isn't going to help.

        If you're in audio production or whatever, you might actually nee
      • Sorry for the extra reply, but remember that silencing often increases temperature, and high temperature causes component failures. Because my machine runs extremely cool -- CPU core temp stays under 40C even under load, and the hard drive has a fan directly on it -- I expect it to last longer than if I cut the fans.
        • Well, it depends on how you go about it, I suppose. My PC actually runs cooler (and faster) than my old system with the changes I've made - big heatsink on CPU, Gigabyte 6800 which comes with a massive twin heatsink/heatpipe setup attached, energy-efficient Antec Phantom 350 watt CPU, case that can accomodate a big slow-running 120mm fan instead of 80mm fans which would make more noise to produce less airflow, etc.
  • I'm not impressed. I built a system for my living room last fall that needed to be completely silent. For my Silent PC Project, I used the Zalman 300W Silent PSU and a Zalman AlCu 92mm CPU heatsink. My friends don't beleive me when I tell them its on, until I turn on the monitor to show that it's sitting at the Windows desktop. Zalman has been making very high-quality products for a long time, and their emphasis has always been on the lowest noise factor possible.

    I run a Sempron 3200+, 1GB RAM, GeForce 6600
  • $150 for 300W? You gotta be kidding me. I spent less than that for a 650 and a 350 on my main machine; a kilowatt of power and the main PSU even glows. For $150 I expect silent, cool, >650W, and modular. I've blogged about this.

    My Blog: http://blog.damnednice.com/ [damnednice.com]
    Pics of System: http://www.flickr.com/photos/damnednice/99975127/ [flickr.com]
  • I found the review rather lackluster. In reviewing a fanless PSU I would think the PSU temperature and the case temperature would be measured both idle and under load for every PSU, instead of just saying "by the way it hit 51C under load". Also I would expect a more constant load draw than "running prime 95" for an hour or so. Perhaps hook up the PSU's to resistors so we can take the randomness out of the equation. Average fluctuation on each of the voltage lines (5, 12 & 3.3) measured in 5-minute inte
  • by a_ghostwheel ( 699776 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @01:21AM (#14758911)
    SPCR [silentpcreview.com] generally does rather high-quality reviews against consistent baseline, which allows to do the comparison. It also covers all aspects of "silent computing" (and is essentially dedicated to it - including forums). For this particular PSU, just go here [silentpcreview.com].
  • ...about 30 feet away behind three doors and I can't hear a thing. Ran the cables under the floor to the room under the stairs.

    The USB hub is closer... a couple doors away which means I have to get up to change DVDs every so often. The RF remote works fine... and there are almost no wires around my desk. Plus the main unit is completely accessible and comfortable to fiddle with.
  • The major thing I see with this product isn't so much what the product is, but what it represents. As more companies produce more fanless PSU's, then that means competition will naturally bring the price down. All I need for my silent media station is 400GB of solid-state storage. Why 400GB, you ask? When you have a silent system, why would you want to use compressed audio? In fact, I believe 400GB would be the minimum, especially if I wanted to store iso's of my movies on there as well.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @02:11AM (#14759135) Homepage
    The picture of the data plate [viperlair.com] shows that it's really an Etasis EFN-300. The UL approval number is E176239, which can be looked up here. [ul.com] to obtain this data. [ul.com]

    This is important, because there are too many unapproved power supplies out there. Those are the ones that fail, or worse, catch fire, when loaded up to their rated load.

    The heat pipe arrangement looks like an afterthought. A simpler design would have the power semiconductors on the back plate with the fins. That's how industrial power supplies are usually built.

  • This isn't scorn against the PSU mentioned in this article, nor those people who are searching for a silent PSU but I have to ask,

    What the hell are people doing to make their PSU's noisy?

    I've got a 450Watt PSU that came in my Codegen Mini-server case when I bought it a few years ago. I have never heard it, even when I stick my ear near it. The only way I know it's functioning is that I can feel the breeze blowing out the back of the PSU.

    The noisiest fans in my case are the little fans on the back

    • NINE Fans, and you can't hear them?!? Go see the DOCTOR to get a HEARING AIDE!
      • The whole computer isn't completely silent - he said as he listened to the gentle sounding, perpetually crashing waves on the beach -, just the three big mothers in the back (two case, one PSU) that push a lot of air but spin kind of slow. The little ones spin faster than the big'uns but they're not trying to spin at 10,000 RPM or more.

        A little bit of heat isn't going to kill my machine.

        I'm not deaf either, I can still hear the sound of muted television set. :)

  • Faulty review (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DaCool42 ( 525559 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @03:40AM (#14759425) Homepage
    This is not a very good review. They did not make any useful measurements of the supply, nor did they even crack it open to see if it's well designed.

    For some reason they used an actual computer as a load. That is going to result in an inconsistant load and useless results.

    They claim to have measured "power" with a simple DMM. You cannot measure AC power this way. What they probably measured was apparant power. This doesn't take into account inductive or capacitive loads.

    The voltage table is useless because the amount of load is unknown and inconsistent between tests.

    There is no measurement of electrical noise on the output - which is the only problem I have ever had with PC PSUs (besides outright failures).

    Basically their only real conclusion as "all of the power supplies worked".

  • 0 dBA != silent (Score:2, Interesting)

    by johnsur ( 245027 )
    From TFA:

    Since the noise rating equals 0 dBA at all times, you won't find any cooling fans at all in the ST30NF.

    <pedant>I just have to get it off my chest as I see this mistake so often in 'silent' hardware reviews. dBA is a logarithmic scale, so 0 dBA isn't silent - that would be negative infinity dBA.</pedant>

    0 dBA is extremely quiet, and fanless PSUs may be extremely quiet, but using '0 dBA' to mean 'practically silent' just perpetuates confusion over the dB scale.

    • 0 dB is defined by the hearing threshold of the average human ear. While 0 dB might be quiet but audible to you, it may be inaudible to someone else.
      • 0 dB is defined by the hearing threshold of the average human ear. While 0 dB might be quiet but audible to you, it may be inaudible to someone else.
        But if a noise source produces sound that measures 0 dBA at a certain distance, and you move closer to the source, it will become audible even to average or below-average ears. Thus, it doesn't make sense to call such a source "silent."
  • by Anonymous Coward
    While having no fans makes manufacturing completely silent PSU possible, it doesn't make PSU completely silent by default. Case in point is my fanless PSU - while it has no fans, it manages to produce some noise by itself (detached from the motherboard and peripherals) and through the graphics card (electric noise?). Either way it's constant whining/whistling, although rather quiet, is perfectly audible at night.
  • We don't need no stinking control room....

    I've had issues when doing PC recording with the fan noise bleeding into sensitive condensor mics. Silent power supplies are great because they will allow more flexible design on home recording studios with the ability to keep the system in the room with you. A longtime issue fo DIY bands.

    Right now I use a FW800 MDD Mac Dual 1.0 G4 which still has a siginicifant amount of fan noise. But much quieter than my first recording box which was a cobbled Frankenstien
  • The PSU fan isn't just about getting heat out of the power supply -- they're also about getting heat out of the case altogether.

    What do these silent PSUs do with their excess heat? If they merely radiate it off of the PSU case, they're going to seriously pump up the ambient heat in your case. Transferring it to the chassis would help, but that's still not as effective as dumping it entirely outside the case.

  • I bought a 300 watt power supply for $17 (CDN) - call it under $15.

    The issue is: how to make it QUIET. I take a "system" level approach to the problem. Built a cabinet around the whole computer, providing sound-proofing. Did the cabinet cost around $135? It was less. Much less.

    Now, my power supply has a fan (it actually has two). But so does the processor, the video card, and there are two fans in the hard drive carrier.

    6 fans making noise. The box also has 3 hard drives, and a DVD.

    A lot of stuff making noi
  • If you are running a dualcore athlon, with two video cards running with SLI, a PVR, Soundblaster card, two gigs of RAM, two hard drives, and a few other accessories, you need at least 450W power supply. 300W PSU won't cut it for most computers that slashdotters are building.
  • This doesn't work very well for the small-form-factor people, but what I would rather see are cases with larger fans in general. A larger, lower-RPM higher-air-displacement fan is generally a lot quieter. In many cases, there is at least room for a slightly larger fan at the bottom of the PSU, but the best best is a side-mount casefan.

    Some of the newer server machines here at work have larger-than normal fans to the rear of the case. They run slow, steady, and quiet.

    er, As you might notice, this doesn't

"If you lived today as if it were your last, you'd buy up a box of rockets and fire them all off, wouldn't you?" -- Garrison Keillor