Fanless PSU Torture Test Roundup

Power
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C. SILENX LUXURAE 460 - $240 MSP

The SilenX fanless power supplies have not been reviewed by SPCR before. It is a brand we've never held in high regard, for a variety of reasons. The caption comments below show how this product reinforced our opinion.

There's some question whether the Luxurae line is still in production. SilenX USA's on-line store lists them, but the SilenX web site has no mention of them. Documentation is sparse and somewhat conflicting. For example, the web site claims ATX 2.10 compliance, while the PSU's label adds ATX12V v1.3 compliance. There's also a reference to a 10A / 250V fuse rating, presumably on the AC input.

SilenX Luxurae 460 Specifications
AC Input
115/230V @ 50/60 Hz
DC Output
3.3V
5V
12V
-12V
-5V
5Vsb
40A
40A
20A
1.5A
1.5A
2.5A
260W
240W
18W
7.5W
12.5W
460W
Line regulation ±1%
Load regulation ±3%

The enormous current/power available on the 3.3V and 5V lines, combined with the modest juice on the 12V line suggests that the ATX12V v1.3 appellation is correct. Modern systems draw 90% of the current on the 12V line, and modern PSUs reflect this balance.


Despite the allusion to luxury in its name, there's nothing luxurious about the SilenX Luxurae packaging, which is a plain white carton with a color sticker on the cover. Points for eco-packaging, perhaps, but little else.

The 60mm fan mounted outside the shiny black painted PSU screams for one's attention. A fan on a PSU marketed as fanless with a "0 decibels" notice on the cover. Hmmm... There s a big heatsink on the back with 8 fins. Large aluminum extrusion heatsinks are also visible inside, through the open top grill. AC cable screws and a couple of photocopied letter sheets, one with a big warning notice.

This is an amazing warning: Don't use the bottom row of standard screw mounting holes lest you damage the internal circuit board! So does that mean only the top screw mounting holes should be used for this >5 lb beast? Take a look at the back panel of the PSU, and we find...


... the screw holes that should not be used. There are five others, but only one near the bottom in a non-standard location. The normal case will have only two screw mounts along the top row. So mounted as instructed in a typical case, the SilenX Luxurae's 6 lb weight will hang off two screws along the top of the PSU's back panel. Amazingly mickey mouse.

While we're looking at the back panel, note that there is a manual 230/115VAC switch rather than the almost ubiquitous auto-range 100~240VAC input in modern PSUs. Passive Power Factor Correction is used. There's also a little knob which switches on with a click: This is a manual fine output voltage adjustment that raises or lowers the output voltages, presumably to compensate for voltage sag under load. It's a concept that disappeared from modern PSUs years ago; they now have voltage regulation that's tight enough so no one has to "tweak" it any more.


Here's how that fan is powered. It runs at full speed via an adapter connected to one of the SilenX PSU's 4-pin output connectors. If you disconnect the cable at the join closest to the fan, there will be a live exposed 2-pin connector that could short the 12VDC line — and take out other components, too.


The fan is secured with three (instead of four) vibration reducing plugs. It falls off the plugs quite easily, by accident. There are no instructions about why or when the fan should be used.


The presence of this output connector suggests an ancient design. It's been so long out of use that we had to hunt around to remember that it is a 6-pin auxiliary power connector for +5V and +3.3V lines used a decade ago on dual-CPU AMD motherboards. The web page where we found this info stated, "You're more likely to sight Bigfoot than a motherboard which uses this connector."

Speaking of connectors, there is no PCIe 6-pin or 8-pin output connector for video cards that demand it.


Finally, one of the skimpiest PSU labels.

All of the above are good reasons for low expectations even before the first power-up. The external fan was removed and disconnected for the test; it is supposed to be a fanless PSU.

TORTURE TEST SUMMARY
SilenX Luxurae 460
460W Rated Output
Duration
Output (W)
Efficiency
Hotbox ¬įC
Power Factor
10~15 min
22.1
56.7%
24
0.63
42.6
68.2%
25
0.65
65.9
73.8%
27
0.65
90.5
75.5%
31
0.67
150.1
77.7%
35
0.69
198.2
79.0%
37
0.69
249.9
77.8%
41
0.69
462.2
65.2%
61
0.70
1 hr (fail)
248.4
77.8~71.4%
41~45
0.69
n/a - (fail)
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
+12V Ripple (peak-to-peak): <50mV @ <150W ~ 1V @ 250W
Voltage Regulation during 1 hr test:
250W -
12.13V, 4.73V, 3.19V
AC Power in Standby: 3.3W / 0.49 PF
AC Power with No Load, PSU power On: 6.6W / 0.54 PF
OTP Shutdown: None.

ANALYSIS

The SilenX Luxurae 480 emitted prominent electronic whining noise upon turn-on. It diminished and increased with different load combinations, but it never disappeared completely. For some users with sensitive hearing, the sharp, audible tonal quality of this electronic noise would make this PSU unacceptable at any power level. Efficiency would have been considered good 6~7 years ago, but today, it doesn't even come close to reaching 80 Plus standard, which is almost a minimum requirement. None of the measured electrical parameters can be considered good: Voltages fell nearly out of spec at just 250W load, the power factor was low as expected, and the ripple and noise set new standards for poor performance. It was measured on the 12V line about 20 minutes into the 250W long term test, and found to be peaking around a volt. That's not a typo. A whole volt, when a maximum of 120mV is recommended. Such a high reading of the ripple/noise on the oscilloscope was a new experience; it was double and triple checked to make sure.

The long test at 250W load was halted after just one hour, and the full power test was not conducted at all. There was no point doing any testing beyond 250W, because the ripple and noise was so high at this load as to be risking damage most components in a PC, and the unit was emitting such a loud. piercing whine that it was audible from a carpet adjoining room more than 25' away. It sounded somewhat like a "dirty" whistle, with multiple tones. It would be considered unusable by anyone who can hear. The efficiency dropped steadily throughout this test period as temperature in the hotbox rose. At the start of the test, it was consuming about 318W from the AC line; by the time the test was stopped an hour later, the AC power consumption had risen to nearly 350W.


The SilenX Luxurae 460 had the dubious distinction of being the only PSU in this roundup to require frequency spectrum analysis. The electronic noise reached 27 dBA@1m in the live lab room; it would have measured a few dBA lower in the anechoic chamber, but still way higher than most of our top ranked fan-cooled PSUs at this power output. (If there is demand, an MP3 format recording of this noise can be posted.)

Our sample SilenX Luxurae 460 failed to qualify as a good PSU in any way. It still powers up on the PSU tester, but we will not risk any other components to see if it can actually run a PC.

It's possible that this 460 is a bad sample... and we happen to have also obtained an identical-looking 400W SilenX Luxurae. Without going into details, we can report that the 400W sample performed pretty much the same, that is to say, poorly, with less electronic noise that was still obviously audible from a couple meters away. It, too, was unacceptable for the same reasons as the 460W Luxurae.



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