The L7 models are a relatively recent addition to the PurePower line of budget, quiet PSUs by BeQuiet! aka Listan Gmbh. On paper they look quite interesting: 80+ Bronze certification
SPCR-friendly power ratings (300W, 350W, 430W and 530W), a 120mm silent fan and attractive price to complete the offer.
I've picked one up for my HTPC, the 300W model
- still very generous for an HTPC, but easily one of the smallest PSUs you can get these days, not counting 'exotics' like the PicoPSU or those 250W Dell replacements you can find on eBay.
A quick look at the market of traditional ATX power supplies reveals there's little competition for the 300W L7. Here in Europe, I was only able to find two models that were close enough.
The evergreen from Seasonic
, the S12II
line has a 330W entry level which has been upgraded to bring it to Bronze-level efficiency. Despite this, all the 330W units I've been able to find on sale (only a couple), were still the old, non-bronze S12II model. On top of that, the price is almost double that of the BeQuiet!.
The second competitor comes -quite unexpectedly if you ask me- from the stables of Thermaltake
. Their TR2 QFan
Series, manufactured by Channel Well Technologies (CWT), starts from 300W too, sports 80+ certification, but relies on a 140mm fan unlike the other two.
The 300W TR2 QFan is about 30% more expensive than the BeQuiet!, and received a less than stellar review from AnandTech
So that's why I decided to give the BeQuiet a spin:
The box looks nice despite some white specks which are part of the graphic theme, but can mislead you into thinking it has been dented. It's quite compact to the point it almost looks a bit small compared to the the longer boxes I am used to see from other manufacturers. The cardboard is thick enough and the PSU is protected by a bubble wrap bag as usual.
The cables are unbraided, spoiling a bit the neat look of the PSU and of the final build. To make up for that, the box contains two velcro bands and a bag of zip ties. The velcros are useful to route the mainboard power cables and as an added bonus they make the build looks cleaner, while the zip-ties come handy to route the other two trunks coming out of the PSU. Keeping in mind this is a budget offering, I can't really complain.
As for the connectors, the main trunk has only two 4-pin Molex plugs, which are oddly positioned between a SATA and a floppy 4-pin connector (is anyone still using floppies in 2010?). The second cable provides power for 2 more SATA units, supposedly hard disk drives.
There seems to be a logic behind this placement, nonetheless a Molex instead of the floppy plug would have made my life easier.
The L7-300 was installed in my Antec Fusion, where the length of the cables turned out to be spot on, except for the ATX12V which proved a few centimeters too short. This however was partly due to the internal structure of the Fusion, in which PSUs with bottom-mounted fans must be installed upside down, so the cords exiting the PSU and the ATX12V header end up being the farthest away possible, exactly the opposite of what happens in tower cases which follow the standard ATX layout.
The front of the PSU features a rather closed design, with very little openings compared e.g. with the standard slotted front of the S12II. Being a 300W the inside of the casing seems also quite empty, but that's to be expected.
Turning the key
When I finally powered up my HTPC, I had one very positive suprise: even with the case top cover removed, and a direct path to my ears, the PSU fan was inaudible. Manually stopping the case and CPU fan confirmed that this unit is really quiet, more so than the S12II-430.
On the other hand, the unit was emitting some sort of 'hiss', like a very high-pitched thin buzz, which will probably disappoint the most hardcore silencers, but there's good news: with the cover back in place, this 'hissing' disappeared, even at close distance.
The L7 replaced an old CWT 235W PSU, using the traditional layout with a 80mm Enermax Enlobal at the back which, at low speeds, is fairly smooth and unobtrusive. Still there was enough turbulence inside the PSU to create a 'whooshing' sound from the PSU which was audible e.g. in the middle of the night.
With the L7 in place, the only audible fan now is the other Enlobal which sits on top of the AMD heatpipe cooler. As for efficiency, the PSU upgrade netted a 10-12W saving to about 65W total in the configuration listed in my sig (this figure can certainly be improved, as the quietness of the build: keep in mind this incarnation of PC is relatively new and will be further tweaked)
The CWT was quite an ancient unit (we're talking 1998) so this does not mean much, to address that I'm planning to post updated numbers comparing my S12II-430 with the BeQuiet!. While I don't expect the L7 to post figures that different from than the S12II-430, I will let the numbers speak.
Technik3D review (translated from german)
Efficiency graph, taken from Be Quiet! promotional material (best viewed on a black background, colored band goes from 80 to 90% efficiency)
Test report from 80plus.org (PDF)
I hope you liked this mini review. Sorry about the piss poor quality of the pictures but those weren't originally taken with the idea to post them online.