PC Power & Cooling Silencer 610 EPS12V Power Supply Review
By Gabriel Torres on February 7, 2008
Silencer 610 EPS12V is a 610 W power supply from PC Power & Cooling using the traditional PC power supply design with a single 80 mm fan on its rear side. Besides its Spartan looks this unit features active PFC, two video card power connectors for SLI and CrossFire, EPS12V connector and is labeled at 40° C, so the manufacturer guarantees that you will truly get 610 W of power. In fact, this unit came with a testing report generated by a Chroma 8000 machine (probably the most high-end power supply load tester available today), showing that not only this unit can deliver its 610 W but it can peak up to 680 W. We completely disassembled this power supply to take an in-depth look at its design and components and also tested it by ourselves to see if it can truly deliver 610 W of power.
You can see the report that is included with this power supply in Figure 3.
According to the report the unit we had in hands could truly its rated power, peaking to 680 W and providing 84.5% efficiency at 615 W, which is absolutely great (the manufacturer says this unit has 83% efficiency). Of course we will make a load and efficiency tests by ourselves to see if we can really trust the numbers provided by the manufacturer.
The higher the efficiency the better – an 80% efficiency means that 80% of the power pulled from the power grid will be converted in power on the power supply outputs and only 20% will be wasted. This translates into less consumption from the power grid (as less power needs to be pulled in order to generate the same amount of power on its outputs), meaning lower electricity bills – compare to 50% to 60% on regular power supplies.
Active PFC (Power Factor Correction), on the other hand, provides a better usage of the power grid and allows this power supply to be comply with the European law, making Corsair able to sell it in that continent (you can read more about PFC on our Power Supply Tutorial). This power supply doesn’t have an 110V/220V switch, feature available on power supplies with active PFC.
This power supply comes with seven peripheral power cables: two auxiliary power cables for video cards, one peripheral power cable containing two standard peripheral power connectors and one floppy disk drive power connector, two peripheral power cables containing three standard peripheral power connectors each and two Serial ATA power cables containing three SATA power connectors each.
One of the video card power connectors can be transformed into an 8-pin one, as you can see in Figure 4.
The plastic sleeving used by the main motherboard cables comes from inside the power supply, which is something we always point out that manufacturers should do.
This power supply has one ATX12V connector, one EPS12V connector and the main power supply connector can be used both on older 20-pin motherboards and on current 24-pin motherboards.
All wires used on this power supply are 18 AWG, which is good enough for this power supply power range. Cheap power supplies use 20 AWG wires or even 22 AWG, which are thinner.
We decided to disassemble this power supply to see what it looks like inside, how it is designed, and what components are used. Please read our Anatomy of Switching Power Supplies tutorial to understand how a power supply works and to compare this power supply to others.
On this page we will have an overall look, while in the next page we will discuss in details the quality and rating of the components used.
We can point out several differences between this power supply and a low-end (a.k.a. “generic”) one: the construction quality of the printed circuit board (PCB); the use of more components on the transient filtering stage; the active PFC circuitry; the power rating of all components; the design; etcetera.
As we mentioned on other articles, the first place we look when opening a power supply for a hint about its quality, is its filtering stage. The recommended components for this stage are two ferrite coils, two ceramic capacitors (Y capacitors, usually blue), one metalized polyester capacitor (X capacitor), and one MOV (Metal-Oxide Varistor). Very low-end power supplies use fewer components than that, usually removing the MOV, which is essential for cutting spikes coming from the power grid, and the first coil.
On this section this power supply is flawless, as it has more components than the necessary – one extra X capacitor, two extra Y capacitors, one extra coil and a ferrite bead on the main power cable. This power supply also features an X capacitor after the rectifying bridge.
A very interesting feature from this power supply is that its fuse is inside a fireproof rubber protection. So this protection will prevent the spark produced on the minute the fuse is blown from setting the power supply on fire.
In the next page we will have a more detailed discussion about the components used in the Silencer 610 EPS12V.
We were very curious to check what components were chosen for the power section of this power supply and also how they were set together, i.e., the design used. We were willing to see if the components could really deliver the power announced by PC Power & Cooling.
From all the specs provided on the databook of each component, we are more interested on the maximum continuous current parameter, given in ampères or amps for short. To find the maximum theoretical power capacity of the component in watts we need just to use the formula P = V x I, where P is power in watts, V is the voltage in volts and I is the current in ampères.
We also need to know under which temperature the component manufacturer measured the component maximum current (this piece of information is also found on the component databook). The higher the temperature, the lower current semiconductors can deliver. Currents given at temperatures lower than 50° C are no good, as temperatures below that don’t reflect the power supply real working conditions.
Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean that the power supply will deliver the maximum current rated for each component as the maximum power the power supply can deliver depends on other components used – like the transformer, coils, the PCB layout, the wire gauge and even the width of the printed circuit board traces – not only on the specs of the main components we are going to analyze.
For a better understanding of what we are talking here, please read our Anatomy of Switching Power Supplies tutorial.
This power supply uses one GBJ1506 rectifying bridge in its primary stage, which can deliver up to 15 A (rated at 100° C). This component is clearly overspec'ed: at 115 V this unit would be able to pull up to 1,725 W from the power grid; assuming 80% efficiency, the bridge would allow this unit to deliver up to 1,380 W without burning this component. Of course we are only talking about this component and the real limit will depend on all other components from the power supply.
The active PFC circuit from this power supply uses two power MOSFET transistors (20N60C3 – the same one used by several other power supplies we took a look). Other power supplies from around the same power range of Silencer 610 EPS12V like OCZ StealthXStream 600 W and Zalman ZM600-HP use three transistors here instead of two. Each 20N60C3 can handle up 300 A @ 25° C each in pulse mode (which is the case).
In the switching section, two FQPF18N50V2 power MOSFET transistors in two-transistor forward configuration are used, and each one has a maximum rated current of 72 A in pulsating mode, which is the mode used, as the PWM circuit feeds these transistors with a square waveform. Interesting to note that these are the same transistors used by several other power supplies, like OCZ StealthXStream 600 W, Zalman ZM600-HP, OCZ GameXstream 700 W and Corsair HX620W.
The active PFC transistors, the switching transistors and the PFC diode are installed on the same heatsink, as you can see in Figure 9.
The primary from this power supply is controlled by a UCC28515DW integrated circuit, which is an active PFC and PWM controller combo. It is located on a small printed circuit board shown on the left-hand side from Figure 6.
This power supply uses four Schottky rectifiers on its secondary.
The +12 V output uses two 30A50CT in parallel, each one capable of handling up to 30 A at 125° C (15 A per internal diode). The maximum theoretical current the +12 V line can deliver is given by the formula I / (1 - D), where D is the duty cycle used and I is the maximum current supported by the rectifying diode (which in this case is made by two 15 A diodes in parallel). Just as an exercise, we can assume a typical duty cycle of 30%. This would give us a maximum theoretical current of 43 A or 514 W for the +12 V output. The maximum current this line can really deliver will depend on other components, in particular the coil used.
The +5 V output uses one 30L30CT, which is capable of handling up to 30 A at 140° C (15 A per internal diode). The maximum theoretical current the +5 V line can deliver is given by the formula I / (1 - D), where D is the duty cycle used and I is the maximum current supported by the rectifying diode (which in this case is made by one 15 A diode). Just as an exercise, we can assume a typical duty cycle of 30%. This would give us a maximum theoretical current of 21 A or 107 W for the +5 V output. The maximum current this line can really deliver will depend on other components, in particular the coil used.
The +3.3 V output uses one 30A40CT, capable of handling up to 30 A at 135° C (15 A per internal diode). Using the same math the +3.3 V output would have a maximum theoretical power of 71 W.
Even though this power supply has a separated rectifier for the +3.3 V output, this rectifier is connected to the same transformer output as the +5 V line, so the maximum current +5 V and +3.3 V can pull together is limited by the transformer.
As we said earlier, the maximum power the power supply can deliver depends on other components used – like the transformer, coils, the PCB layout, the wire gauge and even the width of the printed circuit board traces. The numbers presented are just a theoretical exercise.
This power supply uses a tiny semiconductor thermal sensor located on the solder side of the printed circuit board, under the secondary heatsink (see Figure 11). This sensor may go unnoticed by an untrained eye. The purpose of this sensor is controlling the speed from the power supply fan.
This power supply uses a mix of Japanese (Chemi-Con) and Taiwanese (OST) electrolytic capacitors. The big electrolytic capacitor from the active PFC circuit is rated at 85° C while all other smaller capacitors are rated 105° C.
In Figure 12, you can see Silencer 610 EPS12V label stating all its power specs.
As you can see in Figure 12, PC Power & Cooling labeled this unit as having only one +12 V rail. In fact this company has been defending single rail against multiple virtual rails for quite some time, as you can read on their website as being myth #8 about power supplies.
Inside the power supply, however, you can find two +12 V virtual rails printed on the printed circuit board, as you can see in Figure 13. According to PC Power & Cooling this marking is wrong and the power supply has really just one +12 V rail.
We got this very educative explanation from Doug Dodson, founder of PC Power & Cooling:
"It is single rail. Otherwise there would be separate OCP on each output. Instead there is one single overall power protection. The silk screen on the board is wrong and should be removed since we decided to forget multiple rail designs before we ever released the product. All a reviewer would have to do is ohm it out to see it for themselves.
If it had multiple rails the power supply would shut down if one of the two rails was loaded over 20A. They can prove it to themselves that it is single rail by loading what they think is 12V1 or 12V2 to 49A and seeing that the power supply will not shut down.
The reason we left the 12V1 and 12V2 on the circuit board is we wanted to fool our competitors since we were the only ones doing single rail and we were getting much more performance because of it. Then we admitted our edge and started bragging about it. Now it looks like we fooled Gabriel since he couldn't figure out that it's a single rail just like we've been admitting since the product was released. That's what's really ironic!
Bottom line here is that when we make a technical claim, it's true."
The power and currents labeled are inside the specs from the semiconductors used on this power supply.
Once again we’d like to remind that this power supply is labeled at 40° C. Usually when no temperature is stated, the manufacturers assume 25° C, which is a temperature far below the power supply real working temperature. Keep in mind that the maximum power a power supply can deliver drops as its internal temperature increases.
Now that we have all the necessary equipment to make a true power supply review we will check whether this power supply is capable of delivering its rated power or not. Read on!
We conducted several tests with this power supply, as described in the article Hardware Secrets Power Supply Test Methodology. All the tests described below were taken with a room temperature between 45° and 47° C. During our tests the power supply temperature was between 47° and 48° C.
First we tested this power supply with five different load patterns, trying to pull around 20%, 40%, 60%, 80%, and 100% of its labeled maximum capacity (actual percentage used listed under “% Max Load”), watching how the reviewed unit behaved under each load. In the table below we list the load patterns we used and the results for each load.
+12V2 is the second +12V input of our load tester and on this test it was connected to the power supply EPS12V connector. Keep in mind that power supply uses a single rail design.
4.5 A (54 W)
8.5 A (102 W)
16 A (192 W)
25 A (300 W)
33 A (396 W)
4.5 A (54 W)
8.5 A (102 W)
10 A (120 W)
10 A (120 W)
10 A (120 W)
1 A (5 W)
2 A (10 W)
4 A (20 W)
6 A (30 W)
8 A (40 W)
1 A (3.3 W)
2 A (6.6 W)
4 A (13.2 W)
6 A (19.8 W)
8 A (26.4 W)
1 A (5 W)
1 A (5 W)
1.5 A (7.5 W)
2 A (10 W)
3 A (15 W)
0.5 A (6 W)
0.5 A (6 W)
0.5 A (6 W)
0.5 A (6 W)
0.8 A (9.6 A)
% Max Load
Ripple and Noise
|AC Power (2)||152.6 W||271.8 W||423.4 W||584.6 W||743.0 W|
|AC Voltage||115.4 V||114.3 V||112.9 V||111.3 V||109.5 V|
Updated 07/03/2009: We re-tested this power supply using our new GWInsteak GPM-8212 power meter, which is a precision instrument and provides accuracy of 0.2% and thus presenting the correct readings for AC power and efficiency (results marked as "2" on the table above; results marked as "1" were measured with our previous power meter from Brand Electronics, which isn't so precise as you can see). We also added the numbers for AC voltage during our tests, an important number as efficiency is directly proportional to AC voltage (the higher AC voltage is, the higher efficiency is). Also, manufacturers usually announce efficiency at 230 V, which usually inflates efficiency numbers. We added power factor (PF) numbers as well. These numbers measure the efficiency of the power supply active PFC circuit. This number should be as close to 1 as possible.
As you can see this power supply could not only deliver its labeled power at 45° C but could keep an high efficiency between 84.5% and 85.4% when delivering between 40% and 60% of this labeled capacity (between 244 W and 366 W). At light load (20% load, i.e., 122 W) efficiency was also high at 83.7%. At 80% load (488 W) efficiency dropped but was still at a somewhat high value (82.8%). At full load (610 W) efficiency dropped a lot, but still above the 80% mark.
As for noise, the maximum level we’ve seen was of 47 mV peak-to-peak on +12V1 input during test number four, which is well below the 120 mV maximum allowed.
After being happy with these results, we tried to pull even more power from Silencer 610 EPS12V but we couldn’t: after increasing one amp at +12V1, +12V2, +5V or +3.3V the power supply wouldn’t turn on.
Then we started our next test, which was trying to figure out the maximum peak power this unit could handle. We started at load 1, then switched to load 2 and so on, after reaching load 5 we increased the current at +12V1, +12V2, +5V and +3.3V to the maximum possible with the power supply not shutting itself down and with the voltages and noise level within the proper working range. We came out with the following maximum peak specs for this unit:
33 A (396 W)
18 A (216 W)
10 A (50 W)
10 A (33 W)
3 A (15 W)
0.8 A (9.6 W)
% Max Load
|AC Power (2)||897 W|
|AC Voltage||107.2 V|
The power supply, however, couldn’t work constantly at these specs, however, and that is why we are calling them “peak.” We made this test just to let you know how much is the maximum power you can draw from this power supply for very short periods of time. After some minutes noise starts increasing until the power supply shuts itself down. But this is an impressive result, as we are talking about a room temperature of 45° C.
Also all important protections worked as expected, as the power supply shut down automatically under over power and over current situations – cheap power supplies simply burn when stressed out due to the lack of such protections. The bottom line is: Silencer 610 EPS12V survived to our load tests, working just fine after them.
Also the power supply fan started spinning faster as the temperature increased. In fact this power supply uses a good name, “Silencer”: we could only hear the fan spinning under high load.
PC Power & Cooling Silencer 610 EPS12V power supply specs include:
* Researched at Pricewatch.com on the day we published this review.
This is a 610 W power supply without any fancy feature like modular cabling system or 120 mm fan, but providing all the specs a regular user needs nowadays: active PFC, high efficiency (83% nominal, peaking 85.4% if you pull 244 W from it), two power connectors for video cards, a nominal power high enough to feed both mainstream and high-end video cards and what is more important: this power supply can truly deliver 610 W of power under 45° C.
Another highlight of this product is its warranty (five years, which is far more than most manufacturers give).
The only weak point we can think of is its price, only because OCZ StealthXStream 600 W is cheaper. This model from OCZ, however, has less peripheral power connectors available (only three SATA and five standard peripheral power connectors), so you should check first whether this will be a problem for you or not.
We, however, haven’t made a load test with this model from OCZ yet to check whether it can really deliver 600 W or not. With this model from PC Power & Cooling we guarantee you that you will be able to pull its rated 610 W. Also, Silencer 610 EPS12V is quoted at the same price range of power supplies around 600 W from other manufacturers. So we think that pricing won’t be a real issue if you are looking for a good 600 W power supply.
Since this power supply passed flawlessly all our tests – and continued working after that –, is really able to deliver its labeled power at 45° C and provides a high efficiency, this is definitely a model we recommend, and that is why we are giving it our Golden Award Seal.