Seasonic Super Series Revisited - Rev. A3

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June 6, 2004 by Mike Chin

Products
Seasonic Super Silencer 400 PSU (ATX12V v2.0 compliant)
Model SS-400AGX Active PFC - Rev.03

Seasonic Super Tornado 300 PSU (ATX12V v1.3 compliant)
Model SS-300FB Active PFC - Rev.03
Manufacturer
Sea Sonic Electronics
Supplier
Sea Sonic Electronics USA

The Seasonic Super series of PSUs were reviewed almost a year ago. The Super Tornado and Super Silencer models were both rated as exceptional products with very low noise and the then unheard-of high efficiency of ~78%. They went to the top of our list of Recommended PSUs and quickly became the PSUs of choice among PC silencers everywhere.

Since the rosy product launch, there have been fan and fan controller anomalies reported by users of both Tornado and Silencer models. Some of the original Revision A1 Tornado models were afflicted with a fan that would sometimes get stuck in a non-spinning, squealing mode. A change in the fan controller circuit in Revision A2 fixed the problem, but some of them exhibited somewhat random ramp-ups in fan speed. This problem affected the Silencer models too, as all the Super series share the same fan controller circuitry. I was able to duplicate this second round of problems with samples on my test bench, and reported the problems directly to my contacts at Seasonic. In the meanwhile, the Super series PSUs were demoted in the SPCR Recommenced PSUs list.

The current Revision A3 is Seasonic's final fix for these problems. Last week I received a package of four Rev. 03 Super series samples: One each of Tornado 300 and 400, Silencer 300 and 400.

I am happy to report that the fans and the fan controllers in the Revision A3 Super series exhibit none of the strange anomalies noted in the past. A completely different fan controller circuit seems to be employed.

There are other improvements, including even higher efficiency than in the originals. Each change is minor, but when they're all put together, it's a big enough change that a revisit seems appropriate, especially as the Super series models have been moved back up to the top of the recommended PSUs again.

If you have not read the original reviews, you may want to refer back to them as you read this article: Super Silencer 400 and Super Tornado 300. Rather than go over all the details, the focus here is on the changes and core performance issues, with the Tornado 300 and the Silencer 400.

SUPER TORNADO 300 - REV.03

1) Packaging and Physical Changes

The packaging itself has not changed except for a small sticker that states Serial ATA Ready. Inside the box, there is an adapter which converts a 4-pin Molex to a single SATA power connector.

The PSU itself is unchanged externally. The label on the PSU itself is the only place where the revision is identified.

Internally, two changes are visible: A different fan and a mini-PCB that appears to be the fan controller circuit.


The new 120mm fan is a medium-speed Yate Loon. It is the same model used in some Fortron and Nexus PSUs (except for color).
The photo on the right below shows the new mini-PCB that appears to be the fan controller circuit.

2) Performance Measurements

A complete set of tests were conducted using the current SPCR PSU Thermal Load Testing Rig. Please follow the link to find out the full details of our testing setup, which we believe is the most comprehensive of any hardware review site in the world. Thermally, it may even be more realistic (and tougher) than the testing setups of safety certification agencies.

SEASONIC SUPER TORNADO SS300FB Active PFC - REV.03
DC Output (W)
65
90
150
200
250
300
AC Input (W)
83
113
186
244
306
372
Efficiency
78%
80%
81%
82%
82%
81%
Case Temp (°C)
27
28
32
34
35
36
PSU Exhaust (°C)
28
30
35
38
40
42
Fan Voltage (V)
4.3
4.4
5.25
6.8
8.9
10.6
Noise (dBA/1m)
18
18
21
24
31
34

* Power Factor was unchanged from the original: 0.97~99.

TEST CONDITIONS

* Ambient room temperature: 21°C
* Ambient noise: 17 dBA
* AC input voltage: 119V
* Readings after 15 min at each power level

3) Analysis of Test Results

Yate Loon Fan: This fan is quieter than the SuperRed in the original Tornado. It has a smoother more benign sonic signature and remains smoother as it speeds up. The comments about the Nexus 3500 PSU fan noise can be applied here; they use the same fan. However, the Super Tornado has a smarter fan speed / thermal curve.

Efficiency: It is significantly higher than the original Tornado. The min and max numbers are 78% and 82% with this new one; the old one ranged 75.5% to 77%. The Rev.03 efficiency is tops, on par with that of the Enermax Noisetaker 475.

Noise: Like the original, at low power and thermal levels, the fan voltage stays low at modest output power levels, and the noise stays very low as well. It is not until the air at the intake side of the PSU reaches 34°C that the fan noise climbs above 30 dBA/1m, our definition of quiet. The noise at full load with an intake temperature of 36°C is just 34 dBA/1m, which is impressively quiet, considering the power output. The 10.5 fan voltage at max power suggests that either this is the maximum voltage the fan controller will give the fan, or that higher voltage is available only at higher temperature.

Overall: The Super Tornado Rev.03 is an improvement over the original (Rev.01) in every way. It's not dramatic, but definitely real and probably noticeable in actual use.



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