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 Post subject: Sparkle Power SPI220LE 80 Plus FlexATX PSU
PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2007 7:12 am 
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Sparkle Power SPI220LE 80 Plus FlexATX PSU

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2007 8:05 am 
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If all FlexATX are as efficient/quiet as this one I would pick up the AOpen FlexATX case right now (don't have hope for the HEC cases... oh well).

Conditions in a FlexATX case won't be as nice as in the test platform though, these cases have at most a 80mm exhaust/intake at the side where the PSU is mounted, or 40mm exhausts at the rear, or none at all.

But give a little handiwork, let the CPU fan suck in air from outside, use the 80mm side exhaust as dedicated intake for PSU, plus some form of thermal transfer to chassis, this PSU may even have it easier in a case then in the test chamber. Guess it'll depend on the case.

24dbA @ 90W doesn't sound too bad, that'd be around the wattage of a (SPCR-type) FlexATX system - integrated gfx or low-profile low-power card, with a CPU cool enough to be cooled by a low-profile heatsink. I'd worry about the CPU fan more if the CPU isn't a <40W one that's been further undervolted.
Plus, the only other reason to get a slim casing apart from looks is that you need to stuff it in a tight space, which effectively acts as a sound barrier.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2007 8:59 am 
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wwenze wrote:
If all FlexATX are as efficient/quiet as this one...

Nope, they're not. The noise of this thing is difficult, not the level, per se, but the quality. I have to mess with it a bit more; figure out whether a different fan could improve things. Maybe one of the 40mm fans that Scythe is pushing as quiet replacements... tho they're 40x20 and 40x10, not 40x15.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2007 9:14 am 
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Typo on the second page I believe, should be RoHS compliant, not RoHC.

It's a shame about the fan, but because of the high efficiency I think this power supply still has a lot of potential. For example in an SFF with an 80mm exhaust, one could remove the power supply fan and tape off all case intakes except the rear grill. This would bring air in over the power supply and keep it pretty cool I suspect.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2007 11:15 am 
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Any chance of replacing it with a larger fan and using a some sort of shroud to direct the airflow?


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2007 11:20 am 
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At a max load of only 220w, this unit could be cooled passivly. I know they have passive 220w external brick converters.

Did you check to see if the heatsinks on the mosfets were live or not? I know ive seen a few people on the forum playing around with custom made heatpipes. Something like this would be a good candidate to use a few heatpipes, and strap them to an aluminum block and just strap the heatsink to the side of the PSU. Then you could easily cool it with a larger 120mm case exaust fan, or some other method with a larger, quieter fan.

One has to wonder if its worth the trouble though. The 450w corsair should hit 80% at its 20% load mark of 90w, and below that we have the pico PSU. So this PSU doesnt really fill a void. If your load will be 90w or higher, stick with a standard 80+ certified PSU around 450w. If your dealing with a system with a load under that, then the pico psu will fit the bill perfectly.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2007 11:26 am 
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The main issue with the picoPSU is that it adds another little box and more cables. Not everyone likes power bricks. If I was going to use the SPI in a silent low power box (typically, mini-ITX), I'd simply remove the cover and fan and ensure some kind of airflow over it with decent intake. Of course, this means you need the right case, which to me, seems to be the #1 problem with making a silent mini-itx system for DIYers -- there are no good cases.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2007 4:21 am 
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Aris wrote:
At a max load of only 220w, this unit could be cooled passivly. I know they have passive 220w external brick converters.


I wonder how much this thing costs. If not far from an external brick, the external brick would seem like a better buy. :roll:

Aris wrote:
One has to wonder if its worth the trouble though. The 450w corsair should hit 80% at its 20% load mark of 90w, and below that we have the pico PSU. So this PSU doesnt really fill a void. If your load will be 90w or higher, stick with a standard 80+ certified PSU around 450w. If your dealing with a system with a load under that, then the pico psu will fit the bill perfectly.


I've always wanted a system that's <11cm in height for a few years now. This PSU isn't perfect, but it's a start, the manufacturors are saying that they haven't forgotten thin clients.

The fan... I've always placed an external fan to suck out air from those mATX PSUs that uses a 80mm fan blowing in (into the PSU) at 90 degrees, I find that it reduces temperatures by a lot.
The point is to use the full area of the honeycomb for sucking air without dead zones with a fan that's much thicker.

Oh wait the fan is inside the case blowing into the PSU and out of the case. That makes for more straightforward fan replacement. Time to bring up the epoxy and hacksaw. :twisted:


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2007 4:47 am 
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Cheaper than a PICO setup.......by quite a bit if you add in the cost of the ac/dc power supply for the PICO. Add in the cost of a quieter 40mm fan or two for the Sparkle....about $50 plus some experimental time.

This would make a nice start to a custom DIY project. The main cable is short so you don't have to deal with excess wiring. And there are a minimum number of other cables. Might work out....if you can keep the fan noise down.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2007 4:45 pm 
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From the Intel D201GLY2 Mini-ITX mainboard review:

"and the Sparkle SPI220LE power supply fan did not turn on"

In the review it had to handle 10W of heat.

If somehow we can make it not turn on @ 20W (meaning 80W @ 80% efficiency), we have a cheap solution to a hybrid high-power external brick. :shock: Sure it may look ugly, but I've had ATX PSUs powering mATX cases due to noise issues, you won't see anything once you tuck everything behind. :D

If we leave it outside add a slow 25mm thick fan to suck at the exhaust... that'd probably be enough? I don't think a 40mm fan @ 24dbA will push more air than half of a 80mm fan @ 20dbA anyway, except if high pressure is needed. :P


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2007 5:23 am 
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After reading the SPCR review, I ordered two of these PSUs, along with two different types of Scythe fans for modding purposes. I have high hopes for these things.....maybe to be a cheap alternative to the PICOs. We'll soon see....

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2007 3:25 am 
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Good luck! Let us know of your progress!

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2007 2:12 pm 
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Bluefront, where'd you find a vendor for the Sparkle? I'm only coming up with one place at eBay.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2007 3:11 pm 
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I'm guessing he got it from the link in his first post:
http://www.censuspc.com/Sparkle-Power-S ... -6996.html

Would opening up this PSU void the warranty?

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2007 4:41 pm 
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Yeah that's the place.....they should arrive early this next week. Warranty on modded computer pieces? Doubt it unless you can put it back to stock and leave no traces.

I really don't worry about cheap stuff like this. I'll run the thing for a while before I open it. I intend to replace the fan, and run the RPM wire out to the MB. I'd like to mount this on the outside of the case, replacing the standard-size fanless fortron. There just might be enough space to mount it inside the case, in this project......I'll find out.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2007 5:51 pm 
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Damn it! Sorry about the stupid question. I installed a new browser version and my links don't show up in alternate shades yet. (You'd think that'd be a default setting, wouldn't you?)

If this is mounted on the back of the wood case, will it likely stay cool enough (not being in the GPU or CPU airflow) so as to not need the fan?

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2007 2:27 am 
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Good question. The Fortron Zen back there now is completely out of any airflow.....it runs aprox 42C in a 24C ambient. But it's case is well ventilated.

The Sparkle was designed with a fan.....but with a low-power setup like the one in the link, it should be running fairly cool. I may construct a new case for the Sparkle, made from perforated aluminum, allowing convection airflow through it.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2007 5:15 am 
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Update on my order with Censuspc.....still haven't got it. An Email to the place confirmed they were OOS, even though at the time of the order, that was not indicated.

They claimed a new shipment would arrive shortly.....so I'm still on hold. This is my first order with the company, and I'm not happy with them so far. :(

Update....the order was shipped today. 12-13. So I should know more about the PSU shortly, as well as the two different Scythe fans ordered for possible modding purposes :D

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2007 7:24 pm 
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I just emailed Sparkle if the SPI270LE2 is available anywhere; I can't find it. It seems to have similar specs as the SPI220LE, but with an 80mm fan and 270W.

Sparkle 80Plus Power Supplies


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2008 11:29 am 
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SPI250EP seems to be just what Mike was asking for in the review, 250W with 80+ certification in an ATX form factor. It would be very interesting to crack this open and see if the fan is a standard 80X25. If so, replace it with a Nexus and go to town. I'd be curious to see what if anything this buys you in terms of efficiency advantage over the Seasonic 300SFD 80+ at the lower wattages . . .


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 9:45 pm 
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Just wondering, has anyone tried repackaging one of these in an ATX case?

I've got a Zalman ZM-460 power supply powering my main PC (just a fairly ordinary dual-core pentuim machine, which pulls ~70-80W at idle), with mounting points for a 120mm fan. It looks like the SPI220LE board will physically fit within an ATX supply case (according to the drawings on the Sparkle Power website, at any rate).

Running the numbers, it looks like I can expect about 10-12W improvement, at idle, load, and (importantly for me) standby, where my Zalman draws about 12W).

So has anyone tried this? How's the SPI220LE board held into its case? Are there any gotchas?


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 2:24 am 
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The thing is just smaller on the inside, nothing else. But why bother installing the guts in a larger ATX case? Works fine as is.

Image

That one is running fan-less, in a positive pressure case. All the exhaust goes out, around and through the Sparkle. I made a new cover for the thing out of a perforated sheet of aluminum. There's a thread of mine here about the whole procedure.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 3:03 am 
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Bluefront wrote:
The thing is just smaller on the inside, nothing else. But why bother installing the guts in a larger ATX case? Works fine as is.

Image

That one is running fan-less, in a positive pressure case. All the exhaust goes out, around and through the Sparkle. I made a new cover for the thing out of a perforated sheet of aluminum. There's a thread of mine here about the whole procedure.


Very cool! And encouraging. The only fan in my machine is the one in the power supply, so I wanted to keep that to keep the whole mess cool. I also wanted to sneak a 12V relay in there, so I could have a couple of switched IEC outlets (to run my monitor and audio amp off, as each of them draw around 10W standby). I think it'll all fit neatly in the ATX case, and otherwise there'd be messy stuff all over the place.

I see Sparkle do a similar ATX supply, but its standby consumption is considerably higher, at 6.5W from what I read.

My PC is only used a couple of hours a day. At the moment it (the box, plus LCD monitor and audio amp) draw 32W when it's "off", and that really bugs me. I quite like the thought of knocking it all down to 2W or so.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2008 12:29 am 
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That's a fizzer.

My SPI220LE arrived today, so with much enthusiasm, I connected it up and powered things up. It happily powers my system, but it's no more efficient than my original supply (which is actually a Corsair HX520, not a Zalman ZM-460 as I originally thought). My PC is a generic Core2 machine, with an i945 based motherboard. The actual bits are:

Motherboard: Asus P5B-VM
Ram: Corsair XMS2-6400 (2x 512mb sticks)
CPU: Core 2 Duo E6600 at 2.4GHz
HDD: 400Gb Seagate Barracuda ES 7200RPM SATA-II
Audio: M-Audio Delta-44 PCI
Case Fan: Nexus 120mm.

So the consumption figures are (with 240V 50Hz AC power):

Corsair HX-520W:

Standby (PC switched off using the button on the front): 12W
Idle (showing Ubuntu desktop, no CPU or drive activity): 71W
Load (running 2 x cpuburnP6 processes): 104W

Sparkle Power SPI220LE:

Standby (PC switched off using the button on the front): 15W
Idle (showing Ubuntu desktop, no CPU or drive activity): 68W
Load (running 2 x cpuburnP6 processes): 103W

As I said, a bit of a fizzer.

I presume the consumption figures quoted in the review were all done at 110V. I imagine that if the standby power load is entirely resistive, then that would go some of the way to explaining the 15W standby consumption (vs 2.2W in the review). I verified that it's the power supply by disconnecting all the output cables. Still 15W.

It is a tad more efficient at idle, but the difference is only 3W, or 5%. I was hoping for more like 10W.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2008 1:14 pm 
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No, the 70-100W operating envelope of your PC is already close enough to the sweet spot of most good PSU. To get any serious benefit from the lower wattage PSU vs. a good medium wattage PSU, you need a system that runs well < 50W. You were probably already around 75% efficient at your idle load with that Corsair. Now if you had been using some generic PSU, chances are it would have only been about 60% efficient at idle and you would have seen maybe as much as a 20W savings! But, again, you would have seen nearly the same going from a generic to that Corsair.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2008 10:49 am 
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It would appear that the SPI220LE shutdown power consumption is a lot lower than my original measurement of 15W. I had a look at the voltage and current waveforms using an oscilloscope, and the power factor is extremely low - perhaps 0.1-0.2.

Image

Channel 1 shows the current (voltage across a 1 Ohm power resistor). Channel 2 shows the line voltage. So the apparent power is 16.7 VA.

But due to the low power factor, the real power is probably around 1-2W.

Importantly, my power meter (an Australian version of the Kill-o-watt) isn't properly taking into account the power factor, which is a pity. Now I distrust all it's measurements, especially of shutdown power where PFC circuitry is likely to be disabled.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2008 4:56 am 
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Oh well, I guess this counts as my PSU modding entry.

Ingredients:
    One SPI220LE 220W power supply.
    One Antec Basiq 350W ATX power supply.
    One Nexus 8cm fan
    Fan mounting hardware
    Copious quantities of heatshrink
    Some random bits of wire.


Remove the cover from the SPI220. Discard cover. Cut the fan free and discard. Cut the wires to the 24 pin motherboard connector a couple of inches from the PCB. Discard connector.

Remove the cover from the Antec Basiq. Remove the fan and PCB. Cut the 24 pin motherboard connector off, a couple of inches from the PCB. Discard everything but the case and motherboard connector.

Graft the Antec motherboard connector onto the SPI220LE PCB. Use plenty of heatshrink to keep it neat.

Solder the 8cm Nexus fan where the little 40mm one went.

Solder some mains lead where the SPI220LE IEC connector went, and extend it to the IEC connector in the Antec box.

Put some 3mm spacers in the base of the Antec box, to mount the SPI220LE PCB.

Do all the screws up.

And Viola. An SPI220LE in an ATX case :)



Image

Here is is from the back. You can see the 8cm Nexus fan. It spins really slow under normal operation. I added an IEC outlet, which will eventually be wired via a relay to the IEC inlet. That's what the heatshrunk 12V and ground wires are for at the back of the case - I'll wire them to the relay coil.

Image

From the front. This provides a better view of the fan, which is mounted on a silicon mount. The SPI220LE PCB was a very easy fit in the Antec case. There's still gobs of room.

Image

And from the side. Most of the work involved replacing the cable to the motherboard connector, as the one that was on the SPI220LE was too short by about 3".

It's a big improve over my old Corsair HX520W for this machine. Idle power consumption (measured with a digital oscilloscope and some math) has dropped from 70.8W to 62.8W.


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