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Reviewed by: Trevor Flynn [10.23.06]
Manufactured by: Antec, Thermaltake, NZXT, Silverstone, Coolermaster

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Power Usage/Efficiency

A power supply's efficiency rating is as important as thier Wattage levels. A unit using 500W with only 75% efficiency will have to draw more power from the grid as compared to one with an 85% efficiency rating. Along with costing you more money per month to run, a unit with a higher efficiency also produces less heat which means a cooler case and cooler overall components.

As all units were setup on the same hardware running at the same load, the power supplies that draw less power from the walll socket (measured using a WATTSUP meter) can be judged to be the most efficient. Levels were measured when the unit was powered off, at idle and at full load.

As expected, the iGreen from Coolermaster and it's 85% efficiency claim is at the top of the pack here. Also looking very good are the True Power from Antec, the Strider from Silverstone, the Real Power again from Coolermaster as well as the Precise from NZXT. The two units from Thermaltake are at the back of the class in terms of efficiency.

Notice that all units draw small amounts of power event when turned off.  This is due to the +5VSB rail that we discussed earlier on that allows for things such as Wake on LAN NIC cards to work properly. The Precise from NZXT draws the most (about 10.7W) while turned off due to its more powerful 5VSB rail that allows for the fan to continue to spin after shutdown. The rest range from 1.7W to 4.6W when turned off.

Noise Levels

Noise levels are always tough to test in terms of power supply units as every one of these units have fans which automatically increase and decrease in speed, and as a result noise level, based on the units internal temperature.

I was unable to test the sound levels at full lload as the noise from the fans on my SLI setup drown any noise from the PSU exhaust fans compleltely out.  Instead a passively cooled X800 was subsituted for the SLI setup. Testing was completed using a dB meter 2ft from the rear of each system with the CPU at full lload. It's not perfect but it should still give us a general idea on which unit is the quietest overall. Note that the following results INCLUDE AMBIENT SOUND, so should only be used in this particular comparison, and no others:

Again we see the two Antec Power Supplies leading the pack here with the Silverstone and Coolermaster IGreen not far behind. The Pure Power from Thermaltake with its dual 80mm fans is the loudest of all the units coming in at 47.1dB

Next Page: (Conclusion)