PC Power & Cooling Silencer 610: A legend reviewed

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7. TEMPERATURE & COOLING

Temperature control was excellent, with the °C temperature rise through the unit staying in single digits throughout. The numbers indicate a conservative approach to cooling that sacrifices the lowest acoustics for better cooling.

8. FAN, FAN CONTROLLER and NOISE

The PSU fan stabilized at 3.7V shortly after turning on. The fan was clearly audible, with the sound typical of a ball bearing fan: A buzzy hum accompanied by some broadband wind noise and a trace of higher frequency noise most often associated with electronic components like coils or capacitors. It's not the smoothest sound from a PSU, nor is it the most annoying. The fan speed seemed quite high even with the low voltage, and a quick check with a calibrated strobe showed it to be about 1050 RPM. The measured SPL was modest at 22 dBA@1m in the live room, but at 20 dBA@1m in the hemi-anechoic chamber, it's several decibels higher than the quietest PSUs, which measure as low as 15~16 dBA.

The fan speed remained constant until 150W, where it rose slightly, then stayed steady to beyond the 300W mark, which is quite high for a desktop PC. At 400W load and 35°C intake temperature, the voltage to the fan rose to 4.4V. It may still have risen a bit higher if left at this power level for longer than 15 minutes. The voltage rise was just 0.6V, but the impact on noise was very audible: It rose nearly 10 dBA to about 30 dBA. The overall noise signature actually improved at bit in some ways, as the buzzing aspect tended to be swamped by the broadband whooshing of wind turbulence. It was too noisy to be called quiet, however. At higher loads, the noise continued to increase dramatically.

The red trace in the graph below shows the averaged frequency response of the empty hemi-anechoic chamber in red, and the Silencer 610 in black. Please note the position of the 0 dBA reference line.


Red trace: Empty hemi-anechoic chamber; black trace: With Silencer 610 at idle.

The screen capture below shows the difference between the above traces. The area under the blue trace and above the 0 dBA line represents the contribution of the Silencer 610 (at idle) in a room with a perfectly flat frequency response. The spike at ~15 kHz may be audible; it could be the higher frequency electronic noise mentioned above. The peak at ~1.8 kHz and 600 Hz are certainly audible. They are part of the tonal hum alluded to in the subjective description. Finally, the peak around 160 Hz is probably the buzzy quality. (You can safely ignore the dips below 0 dBA that occur under 150 Hz; there was probably just a bit less external low frequency noise during the measurement of the PSU.)


This trace is obtained by subtracting the ambient room trace from the Silencer 610 trace.

MP3 SOUND RECORDINGS

These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality, digital recording system inside SPCR's own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber, 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.

These recordings are intended to give you an idea of how the product sounds 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!

Each recording starts with 6~10 seconds of room ambient, 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, then don't change the volume setting again while comparing all the sound files.

  • PC Power & Cooling Silencer 610 at Various loads in anechoic chamber, 22-37 dBA@1m: One meter This recording ranges over three load levels - 40W, 250W, and 550W.
  • Ambient acoustics of the anechoic chamber vs the live room - Some of you will be interested to hear this difference. The recording begins with 8 seconds in the anechoic chamber, then 8 seconds in the live room, followed by a few seconds in the anechoic chamber. The SPL levels, as mentioned before, were 11 dBA and 18 dBA respectively. It's interesting to note that the hiss many SPCR forum members attributed to electronic noise is, in fact, not so; it's part of the live ambient, due at least partly, to reflections at higher frequencies in the room. This is obviously absent in the chamber. (However, we did make a change to a new microphone which also has considerably less noise than what we were using before the anechoic chamber, so some of the hiss in past recordings was caused by microphone noise.)

Sound Recordings of PSU Comparatives

  • NesteQ ECS7001 at Various loads in Hemi-anechoic chamber, 18-37 dBA@1m: One meter
  • Enermax Modu82+ 625W at 20~150W output, 19 dBA@1m: One meter
  • Enermax Modu82+ 625W at 300W output, 22 dBA@1m: One meter
  • Seasonic S12 Energy Plus 550 at 0~150W, 20 dBA@1m: One meter,
  • Corsair TX650W at 250W, 21 dBA@1m: One meter
  • Corsair TX650W at 300W, 23 dBA@1m: One meter
Please note that other than the NesteQ, all of these recordings were made in the live test room, whose acoustic are considerably noisier and reverberant than the hemi-anechoic chamber. The comparative database will get better as we update some previous tests and recordings, and as more reviews are added to the mix.

CONCLUSIONS

The PC Power & Cooling Silencer 610 delivers clean power with tight voltage regulation all the way to its full rated output. In electrical performance, it is consistently excellent. A couple of years ago, this would be good enough performance for it to rank in the top 10 percentile of all similar products. Today, the competition is a stiffer, and testing covers more parameters than electrical power delivery.

AC ripple was within the ATX12V specification and unlikely to give any trouble, but a bit higher than expected given PCP&C's reputation. Its efficiency is a touch lower than the best, especially at under 150W load, where it drops below 80%. Some PSUs offer 80% efficiency even as low as 60W or 70W, and many current PC systems can actually spend much of their time idling at such power levels or even lower, so this is significant. If your system idles at 65W, this PSU will pull 90W from the wall, compared to 82W for the recently tested NesteQ ECS7001 or Enermax Modu82+ 625.

The acoustic performance is fairly good, staying modest in our test setup till well past 300W, which is about as high a peak load as you'll encounter in a sane quiet PC. Above this power level, the fan noise rose to a higher level than any other PSU tested in recent memory. It's a moot point as anything above 30 dBA@1m or so is simply too loud, but the fan behavior is indicative of a decision to keep the unit well-cooled, especially at higher load, even at the cost of higher noise. That high speed 80mm fan does not scale down well; its sound signature at idle is not particularly benign. In a quiet room (installed in an otherwise quiet PC), it will be easily heard, and many listeners will hear it as being at least mildly annoying, due to the complex mix of tonal sounds.

At $110~120, the Silencer 610 is competitively priced with other high profile quiet PSU brands such as Corsair, Enermax, Seasonic or Silverstone. The 5-year warranty is very generous. Acoustically, it does not match the quietest models from these brands, so for the core SPCR audience, it is hard to recommend this unit over others. However, if an 80mm fan in-line fan design is more to your liking than the 120mm fan designs that prevail, if the PC Power & Cooling brand has always pulled you, and if reduced noise is what you seek acoustically, then the Silencer 610's fine electrical performance and well-cooled behavior may be a perfect fit.

Much thanks to PC Power and Cooling for this review sample.

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SPCR Articles of Related Interest:
Power Supply Fundamentals
Recommended Power Supplies
Power Distribution within Six PCs
SPCR PSU Test Rig V.4
Enermax Modu82+ 625W
Seasonic S12 Energy Plus 550 and 650
NesteQ ECS7001 700W PSU: A Modular Twist
Corsair HX520 & HX620

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