Enermax Galaxy: A KiloWatt power supply

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MP3 SOUND RECORDINGS

Each of these recording have 10 seconds of silence to let you hear the ambient sound of the room, followed by 10 seconds of the product's noise.

  • Enermax Galaxy at less than 100W load, 29 dBA: One meter, One foot (30cm) There's no point listening to recordings at the higher levels. They just confirm that it's much too noisy.

Sound Recordings of PSU Comparatives — they are not exactly comparatives; we've never tested such a high power PSU before.

HOW TO LISTEN & COMPARE

These recordings were made with a high resolution, studio quality, digital recording system, then converted to LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s. We've listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review. Two recordings of each noise level were made, one from a distance of one meter, and another from one foot away.

The one meter recording is intended to give you an idea of how the subject of this review sound in actual use — one meter is a reasonable typical distance between a computer or computer component and your ear. The recording contains stretches of ambient noise that you can use to judge the relative loudness of the subject. For best results, set your volume control so that the ambient noise is just barely audible. Be aware that very quiet subjects may not be audible — if we couldn't hear it from one meter, chances are we couldn't record it either!

The one foot recording is designed to bring out the fine details of the noise. Use this recording with caution! Although more detailed, it may not represent how the subject sounds in actual use. It is best to listen to this recording after you have listened to the one meter recording.

More details about how we make these recordings can be found in our short article: Audio Recording Methods Revised.

CONCLUSIONS

The Enermax Galaxy has excellent features and near-flawless electrical performance. The Power Guard worked well, with a tidy fault detection and explanation system, and it should be a strong benefit as long as it isn't overprotective in real systems. Voltage regulation was executed with finesse, and ripple was superb. These are all good things. If the dual 12V transformers are part and parcel of this package, well, that's good and fine, too.

We've considered how the Enermax Galaxy might fit with the end user. If you were thinking about buying this power supply you are undoubtedly using it for gaming. (The Enermax folks talk about how it's also great for a server and so on, but no one buys a >$300 retail PSU for a server.) You'd need to believe that your system is the biggest, baddest gaming rig ever — or want everyone else to think so; otherwise, why would you consider such power and price tags? Perhaps you're one of the handful of gamers fantasizing about a 4-CPU / 4-GPU rig in the future and want to make sure you have enough power for that.

That being the case, a nice set of headphones with the volume cranked up should cover the noise. Such an approach, however, is not in the SPCR spirit.

As regular readers know, low noise and high efficiency have long been our cornerstones for rating PSUs. The Galaxy doesn't cut it here. Efficiency only barely reached 80% on our test rig, and it suffered badly at loads under ~100W; efficiency is the one aspect of electrical performance that's less than tops. The unit was a source of terrible noise, hitting maximum around where it achieves best efficiency. It started a bit too noisy and got worse as soon as power output reached just a hundred watts. By 150W, it was 35 dBA@1m, which is already well beyond unacceptable; we consider ~30dBA@1m to be the upper limit for "quiet". In contrast, all of the comparative PSUs above (audio recordings of which are above) stay at just 25 dBA@1m or less up to 200~300W output. Also, the noise character of these other PSUs is far smoother and more benign.

We should also address the price. The Galaxy comes with a healthy supply of extras from the plethora of wires to a third transformer. These things have to add up; how else to explain the >$300 market price? There is only one thing to say: Whatever is driving up the price unnecessarily, keep it. Potential buyers will probably be happier with a leaner package and a lower price. Maybe some of the add-ons can be options.

Enermax has a strong, well earned reputation in the PSU field and we look forward to trying many more of their units. Next time, let's hope we get one more geared to the silent market.

Much thanks to Maxpoint USA for the Galaxy sample.

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SPCR Articles of Related Interest:
Power Supply Fundamentals
Recommended Power Supplies
Power Distribution within Six PCs
Corsair HX520W & HX620W Modular Power Supplies
Seasonic Goes High End Gaming with the M12
Silverstone Element Plus ST50EF-Plus

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