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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [08.08.03]
Manufactured by: Ahanix, Nexus, Thermaltake, Vantec

Ahanix PSU supplied by: ExoticPC
Nexus PSU supplied by:

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What's in a PSU?

Okay, I'll openly admit it: I am somewhat reluctant to do this Power Supply review. Why? It's very rare that hardware sites have the tools necessary to comprehensively test power supplies. Even a low end analog oscilliscope will cost around $500.00. And the real test for power supplies is time; the #1 factor has to be reliability and warranty. Obviously it's hard to test that in a short period of time.

However we're commonly asked which power supplies are the best to buy. There are certainly many out there to choose from, and many market to different segments. Today we're going to look at 4 different power supplies built for 2 different segments. Our goal is to find a clear winner for each segment.

The 2 segments PSU manufacturers have focused on are the Silent Computing segment, and the Case Modders. The two case mod PSU's we have are the Thermaltake PurePower Xaser Edition, and the Vantec Stealth. Both of these PSU's have features to keep quiet, but the other 2 PSU's dedicated their engineering specifically to making the most quiet power supply possible. You'll see some differences right away. The 2 leaders in silent Power Supplies are Nexus and Ahanix.

Here's how the power supplies stack up against each other, in terms of maximum output current. You can also see how the prices range - you'll find the Xaser PurePower for just around $70 on Pricewatch, while the Vantec Stealth only goes as low as $90. The Ahanix and Nexus are also priced quite well.

Model Power Rating +3.3V Output +5V Output +12V Output -12V Output -5V Output +5 Vsb Min. Sound Rating Price
Ahanix SilenX 400W 28A 32A 16A 0.8A 0.3A 2A 14 dBA $79.00
Nexus 400 300W 28A 30A 15A 0.8A 0.3A 2A 18.6 dBA $69.00
Thermaltake PurePower Xaser Ed. 480W 30A 40A 18A 0.8A 0.3A 2A 17 dBA $70.00
Vantec Stealth 420W 26A 42A 18A 1.0A 0.8A 2.5A 20 dBA $90.00

Keep in mind that the minimum sound rating numbers are given by the manufacturers, and based on low temperature operation (all these PSU's have dynamically controled fans, some give you more control over the fans than others). We'll get to actual sound levels later on.

With the specs out of the way, let's take a closer look at each power supply individually...

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