Zalman ZM460-APS Power Supply

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COMPARISON

For some time now, our standard for a quiet power supply has been the Seasonic S12 series, which combines an excellent fan with an excellent fan controller. The Zalman is also quite good, so it is worth comparing the two to see just how they differ. The FSP Green PS was also included in the comparison because of its similarity to the Zalman. The data in the following table has been taken from the reviews for the FSP Green PS, the Seasonic S12-430 and the Seasonic S12-500/600. For the S12-430, the data for the most recent revision was used.

SPL Comparison (in dBA@1m): Zalman ZM460-APS vs. Seasonic S12
Target Output Power
65W
90W
150W
200W
250W
300W
Zalman ZM460-APS
(Ambient 20°C/20 dBA@1m)
22
23
26
29
31
34
FSP Green PS FSP400-60GLN
(Ambient 20°C/19 dBA@1m)
25
26
29
31
34
37
Seasonic S12-430 (Rev. A2)
(Ambient 21°C/19 dBA@1m)
20
20
22
25
29
32
Seasonic S12-500 (Rev. A2)
(Ambient 21°C/18 dBA@1m)
21
21
22
25
28
34

It should be noted that the ambient noise level in this comparison puts the Zalman at a slight disadvantage, but not so much that it changes the result. Add and subtract appropriately if the specific numbers mean that much to you.

At the lower output levels, the noise levels are pretty close, although the Seasonics are still a bit better. At 40W output, the Zalman may have been better, but as the Seasonics were not tested at this level it is impossible to say for sure. The difference is biggest between 150-200W output, but the Zalman manages to catch up by the time the output reaches 300W, where the difference is too close to call. They're all too noisy by this power output level, anyway.

In spite of the almost identical circuit design and fan controller, the Zalman was clearly quieter than the Green PS. The difference is due almost completely to the different fan that Zalman has used.

CONCLUSIONS

The ZM460-APS should go a long way towards cementing Zalman's reputation as one of the most noise-conscious PC component companies. It should also help overturn the relatively poor reputation of Zalman's past power supplies. Although it is not quite on the same level as our perennial favorite, the Seasonic S12, it does do quite well, and has a smoother fan to boot. It also features a couple of added features over the S12-430, notably sleeved cables and, thanks to the included adapters, more SATA and PCIe connectors.

Both efficiency and voltage regulation are very good, so there's nothing to worry about in the electronics department. The only sticking point is the price. At >$90, the ZM460-APS is among the priciest PSUs in its power category. But the Seasonics are pricey too: The S12-430 sells for a bit less, but the S12-500 sells for >$100 just about everywhere.

If noise is the main concern, the Seasonic is still a winner, but the differences are small enough that price and availability may be the deciding factors. Even if Zalman doesn't have a clear champion, they have a worthy competitor.

* * *

Much thanks to Zalman for the opportunity to examine this power supply.

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