Seasonic Platinum 520w (SS-520FL2) - Recommended?

PSUs: The source of DC power for all components in the PC & often a big noise source.

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sentry
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Seasonic Platinum 520w (SS-520FL2) - Recommended?

Post by sentry » Sun Dec 07, 2014 11:38 pm

Hello!

I'm building a new PC with the hope of it being silent.
Should I opt for the Seasonic Platinum 520w if I look for the ultimate silence?
It sure would not yield any noise due to moving parts or fans, but what about electric 'whine'? I've heard some reports about these units producing such noise, and I consider it unacceptable, especially for such a pricey PSU. I'm also considering the Seasonic X-650, which is priced more reasonably but it has a fan.

Thanks in advance.

bastiaan
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Re: Seasonic Platinum 520w (SS-520FL2) - Recommended?

Post by bastiaan » Mon Dec 08, 2014 9:48 am

The question with passive PSUs is is that the heat spreads to your other components and the CPU fan and/or case fans will have to spin harder, generating noise. It is much preferable to have an active PSU with a quiet fan.

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Re: Seasonic Platinum 520w (SS-520FL2) - Recommended?

Post by MikeC » Mon Dec 08, 2014 10:09 am

This is a must-read for anyone considering a fanless PSU for a PC: Fanless Power Supply PC Build Guide
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sentry
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Re: Seasonic Platinum 520w (SS-520FL2) - Recommended?

Post by sentry » Tue Dec 09, 2014 11:32 am

Thanks for the replies.

I read the article but still couldn't draw a conclusion. Help would be appreciated.

I'm planning to build the computer with pretty serious components - Core i7, at least two HDD's, and a Radeon HD5870 (which USED to be serious).

bastiaan
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Re: Seasonic Platinum 520w (SS-520FL2) - Recommended?

Post by bastiaan » Tue Dec 09, 2014 11:45 am

You can expect your system peak power draw to be about about 300W (assuming you aren't overclocking). A 500W supply doesn't seem unreasonable (but neither does a 400W or 450W unit). I would suggest either the Be Quiet Straight Power 10 500W or the Enermax Platimax 500W as your budget permits. Both should be practically inaudible with the projected maximum load, because the fans spin so slowly. In any case the GPU fans will be much, much louder.

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Re: Seasonic Platinum 520w (SS-520FL2) - Recommended?

Post by MikeC » Tue Dec 09, 2014 1:47 pm

sentry wrote:Thanks for the replies.

I read the article but still couldn't draw a conclusion. Help would be appreciated.

I'm planning to build the computer with pretty serious components - Core i7, at least two HDD's, and a Radeon HD5870 (which USED to be serious).
A passive PSU is best used in a case that isolates the PSU in its own compartment or allows its heat to rise without affecting the rest of the components. Hence our preference for the Antec Solo in that article: The PSU is mounted on top, and there's a vent above it to allow its heat to rise straight up and out. In the more common bottom mounting (for a tower ATX case), the passive PSU's heat would rise up to the VGA and CPU area.

Assuming you're going for a tower style case with bottom mounted PSU, you're better off with a fan-equipped PSU that's more self-contained thermally (ie, it gets its cooling air from outside and exhausts it outside without needing any help from case fans.)
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Re: Seasonic Platinum 520w (SS-520FL2) - Recommended?

Post by sentry » Wed Dec 10, 2014 1:31 am

I'm pretty sure I'm going with the Fractal Define R5, so I'm probably better off with a fan-cooled PSU?

And I'm not going to overclock anything.
Last edited by sentry on Wed Dec 10, 2014 1:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Seasonic Platinum 520w (SS-520FL2) - Recommended?

Post by MikeC » Wed Dec 10, 2014 7:16 am

sentry wrote:I'm pretty sure I'm going with the Fractal Define R5, so I'm probably better off with a fan-cooled PSU?
Yes
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Derpington
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Re: Seasonic Platinum 520w (SS-520FL2) - Recommended?

Post by Derpington » Wed Dec 10, 2014 10:34 am

My just-purchased Seasonic X-460FL2 has annoying coil whine, and after a bit of googling I found out that many X-series models have the same problem. It's not super loud or anything, but definitely audible with the case closed and under my desk. Kind of makes going fanless pointless, the buzz is more annoying than steady hum of fan.

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Re: Seasonic Platinum 520w (SS-520FL2) - Recommended?

Post by edh » Wed Dec 10, 2014 12:30 pm

Derpington wrote:My just-purchased Seasonic X-460FL2 has annoying coil whine, and after a bit of googling I found out that many X-series models have the same problem. It's not super loud or anything, but definitely audible with the case closed and under my desk. Kind of makes going fanless pointless, the buzz is more annoying than steady hum of fan.
It's not universal. Some people have had it, others haven't. It can depend upon other system components and there are specific BIOS power saving settings that need changing on some motherboards:
viewtopic.php?p=573354#p573354
Raijintek Metis: i5-6400, Scythe Ninja 4, Asus Z170i Pro Gaming, 8Gb RAM, GTX 950, Crucial 250Gb M.2, Seasonic X-400

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Re: Seasonic Platinum 520w (SS-520FL2) - Recommended?

Post by MikeC » Wed Dec 10, 2014 12:46 pm

FWIW...

We've had several samples of the 520W Platinum fanless Seasonic in the lab. The first was obviously "off" with a fair bit of electronic whine upon turn-on. It was returned to Seasonic for analysis. The second was much better, but still audible. A 3rd sample proved best, with trace whine not audible from more than a foot away. These 2 PSUs have been used interchangeably in the lab for some 2 years and we cannot tell the difference between them any more. If the two were placed side by side and tested carefully in turn, then some difference might show up, but in actual use, they are both silent.
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Derpington
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Re: Seasonic Platinum 520w (SS-520FL2) - Recommended?

Post by Derpington » Wed Dec 10, 2014 12:46 pm

edh wrote:
Derpington wrote:My just-purchased Seasonic X-460FL2 has annoying coil whine, and after a bit of googling I found out that many X-series models have the same problem. It's not super loud or anything, but definitely audible with the case closed and under my desk. Kind of makes going fanless pointless, the buzz is more annoying than steady hum of fan.
It's not universal. Some people have had it, others haven't. It can depend upon other system components and there are specific BIOS power saving settings that need changing on some motherboards:
viewtopic.php?p=573354#p573354
I turned on EuP and all it did was make the PSU completely silent when on standby (computer off but still connected to AC power). Before, it would make a very faint noise that I could only hear if I place my ear right next to the case. So that's pretty great, but noise on standby was never a problem to begin with.

It did nothing to fix the buzz the PSU emits while computer is in use.

Actually, I've had coil whine from graphics cards before, and this is quite lower in tone, so I'm not sure it even qualifies as "coil whine". It sounds similar to what this video is showing, just not nearly as loud.

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Re: Seasonic Platinum 520w (SS-520FL2) - Recommended?

Post by artbio » Thu Dec 11, 2014 6:41 am

Same problem here. Bought Seasonic SS-520FL2 for new build. I hear very loud coil whine. I even separated the PSU from the motherboard and placed my head next to it while on. The noise is definitely coming from the coils. Enabled ErP in BIOS without help. I contacted Seasonic Europe. They are going to replace the power supply. But I hope they fix it this time. I am going to ship the PSU at my expense.

Motherboard is Gigabyte GA-Z97N Gaming 5. Which one is yours?

Cheers.

Derpington
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Re: Seasonic Platinum 520w (SS-520FL2) - Recommended?

Post by Derpington » Thu Dec 11, 2014 7:04 am

Mine's a pretty old Asus M4A87TD. I was considering that maybe my PC (which is fairly low-end) isn't drawing enough power. I heard that sometimes the PSU can "whine" at lower loads. However, launching intensive programs like prime95 actually seems to make the buzz louder. I don't know what's up with that.

Did you write [email protected]? I'll try that too and hope that the replacement won't have the same problem. That guy on Youtube said he went through 3 PSUs and all had the same issue.

Ah... Apologies to sentry, I didn't mean to hijack the topic.

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Re: Seasonic Platinum 520w (SS-520FL2) - Recommended?

Post by artbio » Thu Dec 11, 2014 8:36 am

Yes I wrote to that e-mail address describing my problem with the PSU. They were very quick at responding. I filled the RMA form. They assigned an RMA number. Now I must send the PSU to Germany at my expense. I am in Luxembourg. They promised to replace the PSU. I am still considering returning this PSU to amazon where I bought it. And order a Super Flower Golden Silent to replace it. Since there are no or little reports of coil whine with those. If was was sure that Seasonic would send a flawless unit then I would prefer Seasonic.

Cheers.

sentry
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Re: Seasonic Platinum 520w (SS-520FL2) - Recommended?

Post by sentry » Thu Dec 11, 2014 1:02 pm

Hi,

1) I was wondering if there's any reason to go for Platinum rating when choosing fan-cooled PSU? (considered that it should run cool anyhow...)

2) Is there currently a fan-cooled PSU that stands above all others in terms of silence (while being a reliable, quality one, of course)?

Thanks

bastiaan
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Re: Seasonic Platinum 520w (SS-520FL2) - Recommended?

Post by bastiaan » Thu Dec 11, 2014 1:25 pm

sentry wrote:1) I was wondering if there's any reason to go for Platinum rating when choosing fan-cooled PSU? (considered that it should run cool anyhow...)
Aside from reducing power consumption, efficiency also has an impact on the amount of heat a fan has to remove from the PSU.

But that's only the theory of 80 Plus' PSU ratings. The question of which units are actually quiet and efficient is something that can only be determined by testing. One must keep in mind also that the difference between a platinum and a gold unit is only 2-3% efficiency, a mere 6 Watts when a 500W PSU is providing 250W DC output.

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Re: Seasonic Platinum 520w (SS-520FL2) - Recommended?

Post by sentry » Sat Dec 13, 2014 6:25 am

1) Is there currently a fan-cooled PSU that stands above all others in terms of silence (while being a reliable, quality one, of course)?

2) I wish my new PC to be at least as quiet as the new generation (black cylinder) Mac Pro's. Is that achievable with a fan-cooled PSU? (considering all other components are quiet)

3) Are the consequences of using a passive PSU with a bottom PSU mount case that bad?
Because most of the top mounted PSU cases currently available to me are roomier, offer more features and more convenient to work with - compared to the Antec Solo.

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Re: Seasonic Platinum 520w (SS-520FL2) - Recommended?

Post by MikeC » Sat Dec 13, 2014 8:50 am

sentry wrote:1) Is there currently a fan-cooled PSU that stands above all others in terms of silence (while being a reliable, quality one, of course)?

2) I wish my new PC to be at least as quiet as the new generation (black cylinder) Mac Pro's. Is that achievable with a fan-cooled PSU? (considering all other components are quiet)

3) Are the consequences of using a passive PSU with a bottom PSU mount case that bad?
Because most of the top mounted PSU cases currently available to me are roomier, offer more features and more convenient to work with - compared to the Antec Solo.
1) No single PSU stands out like that but there are many which are equally quiet. Look at the comparison tables on this page. They don't show every PSU that's quiet out there, but you get the picture -- lots which are virtually silent to fairly high load.
2) Why not?
3) "that bad" -- you never listed your other system components. Do so and we can address your question better. It depends a lot on your CPU & GPU -- esp the latter.
Mike Chin, SPCR Editor/Publisher
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Re: Seasonic Platinum 520w (SS-520FL2) - Recommended?

Post by sentry » Sun Dec 14, 2014 12:07 am

MikeC wrote:
sentry wrote:1) Is there currently a fan-cooled PSU that stands above all others in terms of silence (while being a reliable, quality one, of course)?

2) I wish my new PC to be at least as quiet as the new generation (black cylinder) Mac Pro's. Is that achievable with a fan-cooled PSU? (considering all other components are quiet)

3) Are the consequences of using a passive PSU with a bottom PSU mount case that bad?
Because most of the top mounted PSU cases currently available to me are roomier, offer more features and more convenient to work with - compared to the Antec Solo.
1) No single PSU stands out like that but there are many which are equally quiet. Look at the comparison tables on this page. They don't show every PSU that's quiet out there, but you get the picture -- lots which are virtually silent to fairly high load.
2) Why not?
3) "that bad" -- you never listed your other system components. Do so and we can address your question better. It depends a lot on your CPU & GPU -- esp the latter.
Hi Mike,

Thanks for the reply.

2) I had assumed that this is difficult to achieve with regular desktop PC builds. The Mac Pro is very uniquely engineered, especially in terms of acoustics. I never did a thorough analysis of its thermal and acoustic properties, but it seems pretty hard to reproduce, especially with performance oriented conventional PC's.

3) The build is not final, but the core components will most likely consist of the following:

Intel Core i7 4790, probably with a Scythe Kotetsu
Gigabyte GA-H97-D3H
RAM: 2x4GB or 2x8GB
Radeon HD5870 1GB
Samsung 840 Pro 256GB
2xSamsung HD103UJ 1TB
An optical drive

Thanks!

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Re: Seasonic Platinum 520w (SS-520FL2) - Recommended?

Post by MikeC » Sun Dec 14, 2014 7:45 am

sentry wrote:2) I had assumed that this is difficult to achieve with regular desktop PC builds. The Mac Pro is very uniquely engineered, especially in terms of acoustics. I never did a thorough analysis of its thermal and acoustic properties, but it seems pretty hard to reproduce, especially with performance oriented conventional PC's.
Agreed, it is a brilliant execution of a clever design, afaik. "12 dBA at idle" is what Apple says, but no reviewer appears to have tried to verify it. This is with a single blower (squirrel-cage) ~6" (15cm) fan spinning at <800rpm at idle, according to Anandtech's review. They reported it measured 32.2 dBA (@ 1.5') at idle and 44.7 dBA at full tilt (with a little over 400W, AC, afaik). We can take an educated guess at how this data might translate to SPCR terms.

First, our 10-11 dBA room ambient makes our own SPL measurements less accurate as we get below ~15 dBA. The closer our noise-maker gets to the ambient, the higher our measurement is compared to the actual SPL. In other words, the mITX Gaming system we reported to be running at 13 dBA could well be 11 dBA if it was measured in a pro/lab anechoic chamber with a 5 dBA ambient rather than our own 11 dBA. Given that the Mac Pro was measured in such a chamber, we can deduce that our sub-15 dBA readings of the various gaming systems we've posted about are likely to be at about the same noise level at idle: extremely quiet, barely audible even from quite close is how I'd describe them.

The 12.5 dBA rise (from 32.2 to 44.7) measured by Anandtech at full load can be simply added to Apple's 12 dBA for idle, because the 18" measuring distance is very close to what Apple used -- they specify "seated user position" which is a reference to the ISO 7779 definition: 1/2 meter distance and a little above the PC on table. That translates to maybe 20", which is close enough to make not a whit of difference. So 22.5 dBA @0.5 m is probably about what the real SPL at 1/2m would be. Given our experience, the difference between 1m and 1/2m SPL is ~2 dBA, so at the 1m distance we've been measuring, the Mac Pro would top out a little over 20 dBA at full load.

Surprise, surprise! This is slightly higher than the max load SPL we've been getting on our recent gaming system build guides! OK, the Mac Pro was pulling >400W while the most most power hungry of our builds so far was only pulling 290W. But you see now why I said "why not?" to your question of whether we can build a PC as quiet as a Mac Pro. I say quieter -- with lower total power. :wink:
3) The build is not final, but the core components will most likely consist of the following:

Intel Core i7 4790, probably with a Scythe Kotetsu
Gigabyte GA-H97-D3H
RAM: 2x4GB or 2x8GB
Radeon HD5870 1GB
Samsung 840 Pro 256GB
2xSamsung HD103UJ 1TB
An optical drive

Thanks!
1. You'll need to replace the cooler on the HD5870. One of the 2 or 3 fan Arctic models will do the job very quietly. Accelero Xtreme III or Accelero Twin Turbo II.
2. I'd also rethink the HDDs. Together, they'll push your SPL up quite a bit at idle. If they're for RAID, you'd be way better off with a pair of 2.5" drives. Do the WD Red 1TB 2.5"drives instead, they're easy to float or suspend even in a 3.5" drive cage. Or just go for a single 1TB SSD, they're only ~$400 these days & well worth the $ if speed & silence is important.
3. Gigabyte boards usually don't have the best fan controls; Asus, ASRock & MSI generally seem better... but you don't need anything fancy, and a new Gigabyte mATX board we've been using for another gaming system development has been OK.

With a good 600~700W semi-passive PSU (like Corsair HX650, Seasonic X-660 or be quiet! Straight Power 10 600W) in a Fractal R5 case and some work with careful fan config, such a system could idle <15 dBA and be no more than 20 dBA at full load. The PSU fan might only come on during intense work/gaming on hot days.
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Re: Seasonic Platinum 520w (SS-520FL2) - Recommended?

Post by RIchardF » Mon Dec 15, 2014 7:40 am

The quietest power supply with a fan at lower loads seems to be the Corsair RM 850. The only drawback is that it uses a lot of Chinese capacitors which bothers some people since it has a 5 year warranty and not a super long one like some other brands do. But, unlike most "quiet" high wattage power supplies, it doesn't begin to spin its fan at 200-300 watts and doesn't produce 50+ decibels when heavily loaded. It will, though, produce 40+ decibels at about 670 watts. It didn't spin its fan until 500 watts of load in techpowerup's test.

http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/Corsair/RM850/6.html

The 750 unit doesn't spin its fan until 450 watts so if you're in that range you can save a bit of money by going with the 750. It's also still quiet at 500 watts. The 850, though, doesn't hit 40+ decibels as quickly.

There doesn't appear to be any quiet power supply at 650+ watts. The RM 850 produces 22 db at 600 watts which is better than other power supplies from what I've seen (techpowerup's decibel measurements may not be as rigorous as spcr's, however).

People have claimed that these power supplies aren't keeping temperatures low enough, but the delta rise is much lower in these units than in much louder competing units like the EVGA SuperNOVA G2 750. The RM 850 peaks in fanless mode at under 7 degrees of rise, while the EVGA hits 13.5.

One thing to note: Avoid all other Corsair RM models. They are made by a different OEM. Chicony makes the 750 and 850 watt units.

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Re: Seasonic Platinum 520w (SS-520FL2) - Recommended?

Post by sentry » Mon Dec 29, 2014 12:28 pm

Sorry for the bump but a quick question: Can't I install the SS-520FL2 inside the Fractal R5, and through some DIY-action make my own heat-divider and partition the case?
(I think even a well-installed piece of closed cell foam might do the job...)

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Re: Seasonic Platinum 520w (SS-520FL2) - Recommended?

Post by MikeC » Mon Dec 29, 2014 1:06 pm

sentry wrote:Sorry for the bump but a quick question: Can't I install the SS-520FL2 inside the Fractal R5, and through some DIY-action make my own heat-divider and partition the case?
(I think even a well-installed piece of closed cell foam might do the job...)
Be bold: Just try it! Then come back and tell us how it went.
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Re: Seasonic Platinum 520w (SS-520FL2) - Recommended?

Post by _mikey » Wed Dec 31, 2014 10:47 pm

Big no vote on the 520. Just got one with an irritating sizzling and whistling noise. Quite ironic that my old PSU with a fan was more pleasant to be around and 'quieter' than an expensive fanless one. Returning mine to the store, not going to pay even more money to play the RMA game hoping for a truly silent unit. I should have known better after owning an x400fl gold with similar noise issues and reading all the complaints about it.

btw I did spend hours trying the recommended BIOS tweaks and moving the PSUs (both the x400 and 520) over to several different systems with no luck. I have several other older PSUs around and none produce electrical noise on my rigs that is audible from from more than a foot or 2 away. I'm now convinced these seasonic units just have inherent noise issues.

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Re: Seasonic Platinum 520w (SS-520FL2) - Recommended?

Post by sentry » Thu Jan 01, 2015 12:47 am

That's quite disturbing. I'm having a hard time to decide between the two.

I just noticed that the X-650 has its exhaust fan positioned on top, doesn't that mean that it will blow hot air directly towards the core components, essentially in the same way that hot air would rise from the SS-520 through convection?

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Re: Seasonic Platinum 520w (SS-520FL2) - Recommended?

Post by Lucky Luciano » Thu Jan 01, 2015 2:21 am

I just noticed that the X-650 has its exhaust fan positioned on top
It's not, it's installed just like any other bottom fanned PSU.
case CM Silencio 550 + Antec True Quiet 14 + Scythe SY1225SL12L | psu Super Flower Golden Green SF-550P14XE(GX) + Be Quiet! Pure Wings 2 fan swap
mobo ASRock Z97M Pro4 | cpu Core-i7 4790 | cooler Scythe Kotetsu | ram 2x8 + 2x16 Kingston HyperX
ssd Samsung 860 Evo 1TB| hdd Seagate NAS 2TB| hdd WD Blue 2TB| hdd WD Red 2TB
gpu MSI GeForce GTX 1660 SUPER GAMING X

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Re: Seasonic Platinum 520w (SS-520FL2) - Recommended?

Post by artbio » Fri Jan 02, 2015 5:39 pm

Update.

Received a new Seasonic SS-520FL due to RMA. However the replacement has the same annoying electronic noise. No it's not the same PSU. I checked the serial numbers. I ended up returning the RMAed Seasonic to amazon. Ordered the Super Flower SF500P14FG also from amazon. The Super Flower fanless is dead silent!

Cheers.

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Re: Seasonic Platinum 520w (SS-520FL2) - Recommended?

Post by _mikey » Tue Jan 06, 2015 1:14 am

hey, i just did the same thing :-)

returned the seasonic junk and replaced with Superflower silent (sold under Rosewill in US) and very happy so far, no more irritating sizzling and whistling noises

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