Modu82+ 625 Power Supply: Enermax to the Forefront

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MP3 SOUND RECORDINGS

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

The one meter recordings are 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. 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 recordings are 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.

Each recording starts with 6~10 seconds of room ambience, followed by 10 seconds of the product's noise. For the most realistic results, set the volume so that the starting ambient level is just barely audible.

NOTE: The low acoustic level of the Modu82+ meant that the same extra care and effort that went into measuring the SPL also went into making audio recordings. They were done at the same time, between 1~2AM on a quiet, still night. (Wind noise is insidious when you're trying to record very quiet sounds.) Be forewarned: Unless you have a good pair of headphones or speakers connected to a decent amplifier with low noise, you may have a hard time hearing the lowest level recordings.

On the 19 dBA@1m recordings, please don't turn the volume way up without listening through them all the way at least once at a modest level. There's an audible CLICK about 8 seconds into each recording; this is the sound of the PSU being switched on, left in place to make sure you know when the PSU was turned on.

Sound Recordings of PSU Comparatives

CONCLUSIONS

The top ranks of the quietest fan-cooled power supplies have seen little movement in the last couple of years. Seasonic dominates, along with Corsair and Antec, whose quietest PSUs are made, amusingly, by Seasonic. Other brands have made it onto our Recommended PSU list, including Nexus, Enermax, Silverstone, and Zalman, but at the very top, it's been a one-company show for some time. The Modu82+ 625 is the first power supply made by a company other than Seasonic to take the highest position as the quietest fan cooled PSU reviewed by SPCR. Considering that we are the choice review site for brands catering to the quiet PC market, it's likely that the Modu82+ is, in fact, the quietest fan-cooled PSU in the world today.

The near-inaudible acoustics of this Enermax do not come at the expense of other performance aspects. On the contrary, the efficiency is as high as any PSU we've tested, probably higher; voltage regulation is very tight; the ripple noise is low; and cooling is certainly good enough (in any real use, rather than prolonged, constant full power output lab test — utterly unlikely in real use). By any standard, the Modu82+ 625 is an excellent power supply.

Having crowned a new silent PSU king, it's prudent to point out that in a competition among the best in any category, whether Olympic athletes or high performance computer power supplies, the differences between first, second and third place (and even lower ranks) are often marginal. With swimmers, runners, and skiers, it's sometimes measured in hundredths of a second. Similarly with quiet, high performance PSUs, a number of Seasonic and Corsair models come within 1~2 dBA@1m of the Modu82+ 625's default acoustics, and their electrical performance is close enough to be considered identical. In practical usage, the noise advantage between this PSU and some of the other top ranked quiet models may not even be audible because of the masking effects of other louder noise sources, either in the computer or in the environment. The noise advantage will also be insignificant if you're going to run this (or any other) PSU above the "hinge" point of the noise/load curve; once this point is exceeded, the differences between the various top models becomes truly moot — basically they all get too loud to be called "silent". So those who already use one of SPCR's top-rated PSU can rest assured that there no need to rush out for a Modu82+ replacement.

But if you are starting out from scratch, you have a truly low ambient noise environment, and you seek to build an inaudble PC without the complexities of a fanless PSU, then a Modu82+ is a worthwhile purchase. It will make less contribution to the overall noise of the PC than any other PSU, by a small margin.

All this assumes that we were not sent some carefully-tweaked, golden sample meant to wow the crazy, quiet-obsessed, reviewers at SPCR. Our Enermax contact assures us that this sample is exactly the same as the packages going to the stores. It was the first of a small handful of Modu82+ samples that arrived at their US office in January without the retail box — because the new box had not been ready yet. I have no reason to doubt these words, and at least one other sample has been promised within the next two weeks, along with samples of the lower power models.

The Enermax Modu82+ 625 is a great addition to the world of quiet PC components. It cuts the quiet edge just a little bit closer to the nirvana of silence while making worthwhile incremental gains in energy efficiency. The other PSU brands have reason to sit up and take notice, as do any DIY computer enthusiast who prefer their computers to be strong, silent types. Highly recommended.

Much thanks to Enermax USA for this review sample.

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WARNING! There are many reports from users of the fan in this PSU going bad (noisy, clicky) after just a few months use. Since the remarkable performance of the fan in our sample is a major reason for our strong recommendation, potential buyers are cautioned.

SPCR Articles of Related Interest:
Power Supply Fundamentals
Recommended Power Supplies
Power Distribution within Six PCs
SPCR PSU Test Rig V.4.1
Seasonic S12 Energy Plus 550/660
Corsair HX520W & HX620W Modular Power Supplies

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Discuss this article in the SPCR Forums.

POSTSCRIPT, April 3, 2008: Not a PWM Fan

Here's something of interest that came from Enermax recently. It's regarding the fan, which shocked me with its smooth quiet performance in our review sample:

The new Enermax MODU82+ and PRO82+ series power supplies use a new patented SpeedGuard control circuit to achieve low fan RPM and extremely low noise without any negative effects. The patented control circuit requires a unique fan with a 4-Pin power connector, like a PWM fan. But this is not a PWM fan; it is a patented bi-voltage fan.

To clarify:

1. Enermax's new SpeedGuard control circuit does not require an expensive PWM fan; instead, they use a new special design fan which offers low RPM with higher CFM.

2. The new MODU82+ and PRO82+ series PSU fan cannot be substituted with a standard 3-pin fan or a 4-pin PWM fan. Doing so may cause the substitute fan to not run, run only at full speed, or be damaged. There is also a risk of damage to the SpeedGuard control circuit. The 4-pin configuration is not standard.

Conclusion: Do not modify ENERMAX MODU82+ or PRO82+ PSU models with any other fan (unless you have a very good understanding of electronics and you're willing to void the warranty). The fan control circuit in these new PSUs can only work with their own stock fan.



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