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be quiet! Dark Power Pro 430 power supply

Oct 12, 2006 by Mike Chin

Product
Be Quiet! Dark Power Pro 430

BQT P6-430W

ATX12V v2.2 compliant power supply
Manufacturer
Listan GmbH und Co. KG

Be Quiet! web site

Revoltec web site
MSRP
€ 77,50 (430 Watts); € 94,75 (530 Watts) and € 129,20 (600 Watts)

Be Quiet! is certainly a descriptive and unique name for a line of power supplies marketed as being quiet. The Be Quiet! web site claims...

"We utilise innovative technologies and high-quality materials, to be able to guarantee the quality and workmanship of our products. That is how our power supplies provide an efficiency that exceeds 80% by far, as well as a reliability that makes it possible for us to grant a full 3 year warranty.

"be quiet! power supplies are always characterized by an extremely low noise level. We believe that performance does not have to be loud. This assures you the possibility to concentrate on important things, while working with your computer."

The brand name appears to be owned by Listan GmbH und Co. KG of Germany, which also distributes other computer component brands such as Cooler Master, Arctic Cooling, Zalman, AeroCool and MB/Papst fans. It also offers a line of products such as fans, cases, case accessories, water and air cooling, and cables under the name of Revoltec (Revolution Technology). The brand appears to be fairly well distributed in the EU, but not in North America, where search engines turned up no retail visibility.

The Be Quiet! power supplies first came to our attention through posts by EU members of the SPCR forums, who were seeking confirmation of the reputation for low noise these products had garnered. Soon thereafter, Listan's marketing folks inquired whether they could submit samples for review. Naturally, we were open to their approach.

All of this happened months ago. One of the reasons for the long wait for this review is that at the time the samples were sent, there were no 120VAC or universal AC input versions of the Be Quiet! power supplies. The SPCR's PSU test lab is a converted kitchen with a 3-phase 120/240VAC outlet meant for use with an electric stove. We knew it would be possible to use that outlet to obtain the 240VAC required for this review. It took time for us to implement, however, and to ensure that it is safe. That project was finally done a couple of weeks ago.

APPEARANCES

The Dark Power Pro power supplies come in a fairly large retail package with full color graphics, sealed in cellophane. A 600W model is pictured below along with the 430. The 600 will be examined and the result added as an addendum to this review at a later date.



Multilingual retail packaging for the Dark Power Pro series.




Inside the box: A multilingual manual, the PSU itself, screws, a power cable, velcro cable ties,and a collection of detached output cables.

Yes, the Dark Power Pro is another addition to the growing list of PSUs with detachable output cables.

FEATURE HIGHLIGHTS

Be Quiet! Dark Power Pro 430 Feature Highlights (from Be Quiet! web site)
FEATURE & BRIEF COMMENT
Extremely high efficiency of >80% at loads of 50% for reduction of your electricity expenses
It's not "extremely" high any more, especially at 200~240VAC.
Active PFC with PF of up to 0.99 for stabilising and enhancing output voltage values Should be mandatory by now.
The power supply unit is manufactured in line with RoHS Guidelines
This is mandatory now.
The fan follow-up control unit (ECASO) protects your hardware against overheating. Featured in some other PSUs: The fan remains running for 3 minutes after turn off or after being connected to AC. It may be useful; it may be a marketing gimmick. No one knows for sure.
The electronic thermo-control unit controls the power-supply fan speed, as well as the speed of up to 3 case fans directly connected to the power supplies.
The three fan outputs are in parallel with the PSU fan. This can be a useful feature assuming the PSU fan controller is smooth and well designed. It has been done quite a few times in the past; Antec was the first to utilize it in their True Power series a few years ago.
Read-out tacho-signal from the power-supply fan through your mainboard.
Pretty common.
* 3-year warranty

* Service hotline: +49 40 736 76 86 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              +49 40 736 76 86      end_of_the_skype_highlighting – 559

* Technical email support: [email protected]

* Multi language manuals
Worthwhile.
Flexible cable management with 19 high-quality finish, nylon braiding sleeved output cable bundles, of which 17 are removable It's a lot of output cables. Good thing they are removable.
Safety and EMI approvals from CB, CE, TUV, and CSA/UL
OK
ATX12V 2.2 and EPS12V 2.91 These are the latest specs.
Two 6-pin power VGA connectors Only for gamers.
Missing information
There is no information on the kinds of electrical protections the unit has (such as overvoltage, overcurrent, etc.), or the maximum operating temperature at which full power can be delivered.

SPECIFICATIONS

OUTPUT SPECIFICATIONS: Be Quiet! Dark Power Pro 430
AC Input
200-240VAC, 6A, 50Hz
DC Output

+3.3V

+5V

+12V1

+12V2

-5V


-12V

+5VSB
Maximum Output Current

26A

28A

20A

20A

0.5A

0.8A

2.5A

Maximum Combined


170W

336W (28A)

2.5W

9.6W

12.5W
410W
20W
430W

The 12V ratings are about par for an ATX12V v2.2 power supply. 28A combined is plenty of juice for most systems. The existence of the -5V line is a bit of a surprise as this has not been required by the ATX12V specifications for some years.

EXTERNAL TOUR

The Be Quiet! Dark Power Pro looks much like many other 120mm fan ATX PSUs. Let's be frank: Just how different can they be when the form factor dictates most of their physical characteristics? It's nice looking, with a kind of brushed titanium finish and the logo on a gold colored wire fan grill.



Typical appearance. Blue output jacks are for PCIe vidcards.

The exhaust vent is extremely free and open, even around the power jack and switch. There will be very little airflow impedance caused by this vent. There are a couple of slotted vents on one side, presumably to help with airflow across some hot components. On the output site, there is a fairly substantial vent of many slots which will probably throw some heat from the PSU back into the case. This is not uncommon among 120mm fan PSUs and should be accounted for if you are building your own PC with this PSU.




DC outputs: The small ones let you connect fans in parallel with the PSU fan, with the voltage set by the PSU fan controller. This feature could take the place of an external controller for your other fans and save you some money, especially if you prefer automatic thermal fan control. It certainly could be worth playing around with when designing your system.

CABLES AND CONNECTORS

The features highlights mentioned 19 cables, but it's actually more like 19 connectors. Many of the cables are a meter long, one is even longer than that. Some of them are too long for easy management, so it is a good thing that you can leave off the cables that you don't need.

The individual cable sets shown in the photo above are listed below, from top to bottom:

  • 24" cable for main 24-pin ATX connector
  • 28" cable for AUX12V 4-pin and 8-pin +12V EPS AUX connector
  • 28" cable with motherboard header for PSU fan speed monitoring
  • 3 x 30" fan only cables with a standard small 3-pin connector and a 4-pin Molex connector
  • 2 x 23" cable for 6-pin PCIe connector
  • 2 x 20" cable with a single 4-pin IDE drive connector
  • 1 x 42" cable with three 4-pin IDE drive connectors and one floppy
    connector
  • 2 x 36" cable with three SATA drive connectors
  • 1 x 36" cable with two 4-pin IDE drive connectors and one floppy
    connector
  • 24-pin to 20-pin ATX adapter plug
    (not shown in photo)

INTERIOR

Opening the unit up reveals it to be made by Topower, a very active OEM/ODM based in Taiwan. The clearly labeled main transformer makes this obvious. Topower have produced good quality (and not quite as good quality) power supplies under their own brand as well as for many other brands.



Reasonably tidy wiring and layout, small heatsinks.



"TOP-T106" label on transformer shows it to be made by Topower.



It's a low speed ball bearing fan from Globe Fan.

This model is rated to deliver 67cfm at 2000rpm and 34 dBA.



Another view; the small HS seems to be for the bridge rectifier.



The fan controller actually has connectors for many fans.

TESTING

For a fuller understanding of ATX power supplies, please read the reference
article Power Supply Fundamentals & Recommended
Units
. Those who seek source materials can find Intel's various PSU
design guides at Form
Factors
.

For a complete rundown of testing equipment and procedures, please refer to
SPCR's PSU Test Platform
V.3
. The testing system is a close simulation of a moderate airflow
mid-tower PC optimized for low noise.

In the test rig, the ambient temperature of the PSU varies proportionately
with its output load, which is exactly the way it is in a real PC environment.
But there is the added benefit of a high power load tester which allows incremental
load testing all the way to full power for any non-industrial PC power supply.
Both fan noise and voltage are measured at various standard loads. It is, in
general, a very demanding test, as the operating ambient temperature of the
PSU often reaches >40°C at full power. This is impossible to achieve
with an open test bench setup.

Great effort has been made to devise as realistic an operating
environment for the PSU as possible, but the thermal and noise results obtained
here still cannot be considered absolute. There are too many variables in PCs
and too many possible combinations of components for any single test environment
to provide infallible results. And there is always the bugaboo of sample variance.
These results are akin to a resume, a few detailed photographs, and some short
sound bites of someone you've never met. You'll probably get a pretty good overall
representation, but it is not quite the same as an extended meeting in person.

REAL SYSTEM POWER NEEDS: While our testing loads the PSU to full output
(even >600W!) in order to verify the manufacturer's claims, real desktop
PCs simply do not require anywhere near this level of power. The most pertinent
range of DC output power is between about 65W and 250W, because it is the power
range where most systems will be working most of the time. To illustrate this
point, we conducted system tests
to measure the maximum power draw that an actual system can draw
under worst-case conditions.
Our most power-hungry Intel 670 (P4-3.8) processor
rig with nVidia 6800GT video card drew ~214W DC from the power supply under
full load — well within the capabilities of any modern power supply. Please
follow the link provided above to see the details. It is true that very elaborate
systems with the most power hungry video card today could draw as much as another 60~100W, but the total
still remains well under 400W in extrapolations of our real world measurements. As for high end dual video card gaming rigs... well, to be realistic, they have no place in silent computing today.

SPCR's high fidelity sound
recording system
was used to create MP3 sound files of this PSU. As
with the setup for recording fans, the position of the mic was 3" from the exhaust
vent at a 45° angle, outside the airflow turbulence area. The photo below shows
the setup (a different PSU is being recorded). All other noise sources in the
room were turned off while making the sound recordings.

INTERPRETING TEMPERATURE DATA

It important to keep in mind that fan speed varies with temperature,
not output load. A power supply generates more heat as output increases, but
is not the only the only factor that affects fan speed. Ambient temperature
and case airflow have almost as much effect. Our test rig represents a challenging
thermal situation for a power supply: A large portion of the heat generated
inside the case must be exhausted through the power supply, which causes a corresponding
increase in fan speed.

When examining thermal data, the most important indicator of cooling efficiency
is the difference between intake and exhaust. Because the heat
generated in the PSU loader by the output of the PSU is always the same for
a given power level, the intake temperature should be roughly the same between
different tests. The only external variable is the ambient room temperature.
The temperature of the exhaust air from the PSU is affected by several factors:

  • Intake temperature (determined by ambient temperature and power output level)
  • Efficiency of the PSU (how much heat it generates while producing the required
    output)
  • The effectiveness of the PSU's cooling system, which is comprised of:
    • Overall mechanical and airflow design
    • Size, shape and overall surface area of heatsinks
    • Fan(s) and fan speed control circuit

The thermal rise in the power supply is really the only indicator
we have about all of the above. This is why the intake temperature is important:
It represents the ambient temperature around the power supply itself. Subtracting
the intake temperature from the exhaust temperature gives a reasonable gauge
of the effectiveness of the power supply's cooling system. This is the only
temperature number that is comparable between different reviews, as it is unaffected
by the ambient temperature.

240V AC TEST SETUP

As mentioned earlier, some work had to be done to get 240V AC into the lab, along with test instrumentation that would give us AC data. The Kill-a-Watt and Seasonic Power Angel AC power meters work only on 120V AC with US/Canada AC jacks.

The room where the PSUs are tested used to be a spare kitchen. In fact, there is a 120/240V three phase AC outlet for an electric stove/oven directly behind the cabinet on which the PSU test loader rests. This dedicated outlet runs directly off two 15A/120V circuit breakers in the main electrical panel. This feature makes it ideal for use as a dedicated PSU test AC line. (Especially now that we have a 1,000W PSU awaiting testing in the wings: It will probably trip a 15A breaker if we try to get full output.) We obtained a power cord for use with this outlet, then ran the leads to two paired utility AC outlets, one pair for 240VAC and the other pair for 120VAC.




The dedicated heavy-duty 240VAC appliance
outlet and plug. The standard Canada/US 120VAC plug is dwarfed in comparison.




The dedicated 240VAC and 120VAC outlets are only for PSU testing. The Extech 380803 Power Analyzer / Data logger in the background has no trouble with 240VAC, which is run through the unit. The LED display shows that 244VAC is at the input.

FINALLY, THE TEST RESULTS

Ambient conditions during testing were 21°C and 18 dBA. AC input was 244V, 60Hz.

OUTPUT & EFFICIENCY: Be Quiet! Dark Power Pro 430











DC Output Voltage (V) + Current (A)

Total DC Output

AC Input

Calculated Efficiency
+12V1
+12V2
+5V
+3.3V
-12V
+5VSB
12.03
0.94
12.02
1.70
5.10
0.95
3.38
0.95
0.1
0.2
42.0
62
67.7%
12.02
1.87
12.01
1.68
5.10
1.89
3.38
2.76
0.1
0.4
64.8
85
76.3%
12.01
1.84
12.01
3.19
5.10
2.77
3.38
3.62
0.2
0.5
91.7
119
77.0%
12.01
3.76
12.00
4.95
5.10
4.77
3.38
4.74
0.3
0.8
152.5
194
78.6%
12.00
5.60
12.00
6.60
5.10
5.65
3.35
4.65
0.4
1.2
201.6
248
81.3%
12.00
7.70
11.96
6.60
5.07
8.23
3.35
7.80
0.5
1.5
252.7
314
80.5%
11.95
8.60
11.96
9.64
5.08
8.23
3.37
7.80
0.6
1.8
302.4
374
80.8%
11.88
13.10
11.88
12.60
5.02
13.20
3.34
11.00
0.8
2.5
430.4
557
77.3%
NOTE: The current and voltage for -12V and +5VSB
lines is not measured but based on switch settings of the DBS-2100 PS
Loader. It is a tiny portion of the total, and potential errors arising
from inaccuracies on these lines is


OTHER DATA SUMMARY: Be Quiet! Dark Power Pro 430
DC Output (W)
42.1
64.8
91.7
152.5
201.6
252.7
302.4
430.4
Intake Temp (°C)
23
25
28
31
34
38
40
47
Exhaust Temp (°C)
25
26
30
34
38
45
46
55
Temp Rise (°C)
2
1
2
3
4
7
6
8
Fan Voltage (V)
4.3
4.3
4.6
5.3
6.3
7.0
7.8
9.7
SPL ([email protected])
21
21
22
24
26~27
30
32
35
Power Factor
0.85
0.90
0.97
0.98
0.98
0.98
0.98
0.98

AC Power in Standby: 0.9W / 0.04 PF

AC Power with No Load, PSU power On: 14.4W / 0.45 PF
NOTE: The ambient room temperature during testing
can vary a few degrees from review to review. Please take this into account
when comparing PSU test data.

ANALYSIS

1. LOW LOAD PERFORMANCE

Power consumption in standby mode was quite low, coming in at ~0.9W. Power factor was 0.04, which is difficult to understand. The power supply started properly
with no load applied on the test bench, drawing a moderately high 14.4W at 0.45 PF. This suggests that the unit has built-in additional resistance to ensure low-current startup. Whether that additional load is dynamic is not clear, but the efficiency at higher loads is fairly good, so we suspect it is some kind of dynamic minimal loading.

2. VOLTAGE REGULATION was tops; none of the voltages fluctuated
by more than +2.4% and -1.0%. Mostly they were dead on.

3. EFFICIENCY was very good compared to most PSUs we've tested, and about average for a recent ATX12V v2.2 power supply. The peak
of 81.3% was reached at 200W and stayed above 80% until close to maximum output where it dipped a bit. At lower loads,
efficiency was moderate, but reached 76.3% at 65W. Most
systems require little more power than this at idle and tend to spend much of their time idling. This PSU would be fairly efficient under real world circumstances.

EFFICIENCY ADVANTAGE AT 240V AC

Because this unit is the first to be tested at 240VAC input, we wondered how much of an efficiency advantage it had compared to all the others we've tested with 120VAC input. To get some idea of the answer, we grabbed the nearest "free range input" power supply and tested it at a few selected power points, first at 120VAC, and then at 240VAC. The results on this early Antec NeoHE 430 are tabulated below.











Antec NeoHE 430 Efficiency at 120VAC and 240VAC



DC Output



120VAC
input



240VAC
input


Δ


Power



Efficiency



Power



Efficiency



66W


90W

73.3%

88W

75.0%


+1.7%



153W


189W

80.1%

183W

83.6%


+3.5%



253W


317W

79.8%

305W

83.0%


+3.2%



430W


574W

74.9%

545W

78.9%


+4.0%

The difference in power efficiency was smallest at low power and highest and high power. It ranged, for this sample, from a minimum of 2W or 1.7% at 66W output to a maximum of 29W or 4% at 430W output.

If this 2~4% efficiency advantage at 240VAC can be said to be typical, then the Be Quiet! test sample would have to be considered somewhat below average in efficiency for a high end PSU.

However, a 120/240 VAC comparison of efficiency on a single sample is hardly conclusive. We did try a few other full range AC input PSUs from Seasonic, Enhance and Enermax, and found very similar 2~4% differences. A more formal presentation of this issue and the corresponding test data will be presented in our next PSU test rig update, which will probably come in the next month or two.

4. POWER FACTOR was excellent thanks to the active power factor correction
circuit, staying very
close to the theoretical maximum of 1.0.

5. TEMPERATURE & COOLING

Cooling in the Be Quiet! was not a cause for concern. The temperature
differential between in/out never rose above 8°C — a very good result. The temperature
stayed modest in absolute terms. The 55°C exhaust temperature reached
at the end of the test suggests good cooling.

As with many low speed fan PSUs, the Dark Power Pro should be considered only as a minor player in system cooling. Its fan is designed mostly to keep itself cool, not to provide ancillary cooling for other components in the system.

6. FAN, FAN CONTROLLER and NOISE

The quality of noise at turn-on was very good: Quiet, smooth and devoid of tonal or cyclical annoyances. The baseline SPL was about as low as we've recorded for any fan-cooled PSU at 21 [email protected]

The early promise continued as the load on the PSU was increased. The control circuit exhibited a smooth, slow-rising increase in fan speed/noise that puts it in a select group of the quietest PSUs. The 26~27 dBA reached at 200W output is not quite the equal of the most recent Seasonic S12 Energy Plus and M12 models (which remained at 21 [email protected] even >250W), but it's roughly on par with earlier S12s and the Antec NeoHE, both of which are still extremely quiet. There's little question that this Be Quiet! DP Pro 430 is an impressively quiet power supply. It's too bad distribution is limited to 240VAC locales.

Power Supply SPL (in [email protected]) Vs. Power Output
Model
65W
90W
150W
200W
250W
300W
400W
Be Quiet! DP Pro 430
21
22
24
26~27
30
32
35

Antec NeoHE 430

20

20

21

26

31

37

40
Seasonic S12-430
20
20
22
25
29
32
37
Seasonic S12 Energy Plus 550/650
20
20
20
20
21
25
38

Silverstone Element Plus ST50EF-Plus

23

23

23

25

34

41

43

Zalman ZM460-APS

22

23

26

29

31

34

37

Enermax Liberty EL500AWT/EL620AWT


21

21

24

30

35

38

41

MP3 SOUND RECORDINGS

Each of these recording have 10 seconds of silence to let you hear the ambient
sound of the room, followed by 10 seconds of the product's noise.

Sound Recordings of PSU Comparatives

HOW TO LISTEN & COMPARE

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.

The one meter recording
is 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. For best results, set your volume control so that the
ambient noise is just barely audible. 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 recording is
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.

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

CONCLUSIONS

In the noise generated by all those who wish to grab a bite out of the expanding quiet computing pie, it often seems that the number of really quiet products hasn't grown that much. There's just a lot more "quiet" marketing BS to wade through. Thankfully, this Be Quiet! Dark Power Pro power supply is an addition to the genuinely quiet group.

The product is well packaged, well made, and is very quiet. There is not much to quibble about. The suggested price (approximately US$100 by today's exchange rate) does not seem out of line with other quality products of similar power rating, either. The modular wiring and extensive outputs for thermal fan control are nice touches. Efficiency could be higher, but for most users in most applications, we're really talking only about a few watts.

One possible downside is the small size and tight fins of the heatsinks along with the rather substantial vents on the output cable side. The ambient temperature in the lab was a modest 21°C during testing. In hotter weather, the fan might end up spinning up considerably quicker to maintain the same internal temperature, given the relatively small size of the heatsinks. This would mean a substantial amount of heat being blown back into the case, which would increase the need for cooling airflow in the system. This is a conjecture, however.

About the single biggest quibble is that the unit is not available in a 120VAC version. Almost every generic PSU has a 120/240 VAC switch; is that such an added expense?

In any case, our thanks to Be Quiet! for these review samples, for providing another valuable addition to the slowly growing family of quiet PSUs for system builders, and last but not least... for giving us a good motivation to finally get our 240VAC power source set up.

*

SPCR Articles of Related Interest:

Power Supply Fundamentals & Recommended
Units


Power Distribution within Six PCs

Seasonic S12-430

Seasonic S12 Energy Plus

Antec NeoHE 430

Silverstone Element Plus ST50EF-Plus

* * *

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