A couple months ago, we went over the 8 Most Silent Computer Cases and by far it is one of the most viewed articles on Custom PC Guide .net. That’s quite unexpected; yet I’m glad it proves to be helpful. Now since you guys seem to love the concept of quiet computing as much as my wife makes me do, let’s find out which power supply unit would be best to pair with those silent cases today !
Generally when it’s time to choose a low-noise power supply, we will be looking at a slightly higher price tag than regular generic PSUs. Perhaps that is acceptable because these PSUs are also much better built. They are equipped with higher-quality capacitors and solid materials that by no doubt would easily outlive the life of your system or other lower-end power supply units.
Perhaps it is also the saver for your components when a storm hits town. During my past life of being a tech repair guy, especially in the summer time when random thunderstorms occurred, I would make a fortune from fixing pcs that were fried from an electrical surge. I probably should open a seasonal computer store just for that reason.
Now on this list, you will recognize many familiar names because they have set the right standards for PSUs in this particular category. I’m trying my best to reach out for other less popular makers to challenge their quality and claims. If you have any recommendation that isn’t here, please drop us a line in the comment section!
1. PC Power & Cooling – Silencer MK Series
Most enthusiast users would tip their hat to this name brand for its consistent quality and reliability. PC Power & Cooling now lives under the hood of OCZ Technology. Even though OCZ has been under many financial problems recently, PC Power & Cooling is in their own division and actually doing a lot better than OCZ’s line of mainstream power supply units.
The Silencer MK II and III series are industrial-graded PSUs, meaning they are designed for heavy load, continuous usage workstation or home and small business server. Being one of the top-notch power supplies available to the consumer market, yet these units could almost show you how it feels like to be in the the Anechoic Chamber: dead silent. All series have integrated fan speed control circuit to put the ventilation under control.
Series II comes with with 135mm fan size which is much preferred over the 120mm. The bigger fan doesn’t have to work as hard and spins as fast to move the same volume of air as the smaller fan. By default, all products in this generation are rated 88% Silver (with the exception of the 500w version that is only 85% Bronze) without losing its performance even at 50°C. There is a small drawback when you find out none of these bad boys is modular capable, but it shouldn’t be the reason for leaving it out –the 7-year warranty easily makes up for the minor con.
I still have the Silencer MK II 750W power supply in my old gaming pc that runs two 560 Ti cards in SLI mode, without a single hiccup ever since.
The Series III on other hand is a newer gen with semi-modular capability. Power efficiency on anything lower than 900w is bronze (85%), but the higher line up is up to 90% or 92% Gold, small increase from the Series II but when you consider the top 1200w could deliver up to 90% energy efficient, that is premium.
With those in mind, I think the the new series III shines better on the higher wattage models while the more lower models have only 5 year warranty (note that only the 500w of the Series II has 5-year warranty).
Fan dimension wise, I believe PC Power & Cooling has improved their design in the way that they could now implement 120mm fan without making it work its ass off to cool the unit. You will still find 140mm on the 750w and above, though. The main reason you may take the III over its older sibling is for the semi-modular option. Nevertheless, they are one of the most quiet/most affordable power supply units on the market.
2. OCZ Technology ZX and Fatal1ty Series
While we are still talking about OCZ brand, we might as well take a good look at these two most quiet PSUs series they have to offer.
I have heard many complaints on OCZ lower models for its being a little noisy and some just dies for no reason. Yet rest assure, I have tested the ZX and Fatal1ty Series for years and they do live up to the expectation.
The ZX Series is the beast at heart. It implements the same speed control circuit technology from PC Power & Cooling while bearing the 140mm fan to take care of heat. You will find similarities between the ZX and some of PPC MK Series, but the true difference comes in term of amperage on the 12V Rail.
ZX is the enthusiast series dedicated to hard core gamers or overclockers, thus it has plenty of power on its single rail design to run your high-end triple SLI setup or extreme CPU tuning. Another valuable touch for the ZX is its fully-modular design, no messy cables for them spiders.
On the other hand, these PSUs take a minor performance hit once the temperature hits 45°C but it is a very rare occasion, the fan works in silent and seems to be more than sufficient to do its magic. Lastly, this series is backed by 5-year warranty. Great enough for any ultra gaming dash break-the-bank PC builds.
There isn’t much to talk about the Fatal1ty Series. It’s basically the little modded version of the ZX with individually-sleeved cable and LED 135mm (140mm on the 1000w) fan. Whoever has the transparent window chassis would love this model. Power efficiency now drops slightly to 85% but it is still pretty decent. Fatal1ty can pair well with SLI setup but generally the amperage is a bit lower than ZX Series. However, I never think that is never problem unless you are housing two or three GTX 690 or Titan in the system.
Do not go with OCZ ModxStream Series if silence is your concern. It’s good power supply and all but it does not have the right ventilation control like these above premium models.
3. Corsair GS, HX and AX Series.
As the world knows it, these are the high-end Power supply models with excellent quality and reliability offered by Corsair and designed by Seasonic. We did the round comparison of Corsair closed-loop liquid coolers the other day, so you bet we can’t miss Corsair PSUs today.
First, HX is semi-modular while the AX is fully-modular, GS is non-modular and is equipped with LED fan for a gaming touch. HX comes with 80% Silver while most of the AX models go as far as 90% Platinum, which is greater than GS bronze rating.
All of the three have smart fan controller that does not let the fan kicks in until the system reaches certain load percentage level. Most the GS series fan won’t start spinning until it passes 25% load and 40% it is for HX series, while some of the new AX models (black box with red stripes) can hold up to 65% at 0 rpm.
The HX 1050w series is a little different because the fan spins at low speed all the times, yet it only generates 20 decibels in noise level until the power usage goes above 60%. The dBA could go as high as 40 on AX Series and 45 for GS/HX Series, but most of their lower wattage models (below 1000w) won’t exceed 35.
I have outlined all other details in The Differences between All Corsair Power Supply Units, visit the article if you cannot decide which one of these three to go with.
4. Antec High Current Gamer 620W PSU
There are more than just the only 620w model in the High Current Gamer, but this is the best pick for our low-noise requirement. It dawns on me the other day that this PSU resembles the Seasonic design instead of Delta like other higher wattage offers in the same series. And having that said, we expect great things from this power supply.
This unit is rated up to 88% Bronze and on top of that it is equipped with a 135mm fan spinning anywhere between 600rpm to 1700 rpm. Worry not, in most of the stress tests I can assure you the noise level will barely exceed 38dBA. It’s more likely to stay from 25dBA to 28dBA after it raises above 50% load, lower than that = ‘hun why are you so quiet are you mad?’ kind of thing.
To be honest, there were occasions that it reached 44dBA –which is about as high as the more expensive Corsair HX 650 does; yet the internal temperature is about five to ten degree C lower. That is surprisingly fine for a power supply unit in this price range.
I believe Antec also cuts cost on production of this PSU by eliminating the modular design as well as shortening the warranty period to 3 years. I see best use of this PSU for many HTPC and entry level gaming system whereas the machine does not always run on high load. Once it passes 50% load, the fan takes off.
5. Cooler Master Silent Pro and Hybrid Series
The Silent Pro series is Cooler Master’s best-seller dated all the way back since the year of 2008 when they were first introduced in the CES.The family consists of Silent Pro M, M2, Gold, Platinum and Hybrid.
All of these PSUs implement powerful single-rail design for quality of current along with decent modular design for all cable works.
As the name implies, this line up aims to promote near silent acoustic level for custom pc. The reason I said that is because most of the units in this series do not stop fan rotation under low load, except for the latest Hybrid models. You’ll find that with the Silent Pro M, M2, Gold, Platinum whereas the fan spins between 500 to 1000rpm even on a low load, generating a noise level around 14 to 22 dBA — which is still acceptable.
According to the specimens we tested, Cooler Master uses a generic 135mm fan that specs at a maximum of 1500RPM or 17rpm with the noise level up to 36.44dBA in its older Silent Pro M and Gold Series. The newer Silent Pro Platinum, M2 and top of the line Hybrid series are particularly blessed with the cool Hydraulic Dynamic Bearing Fan that lasts longer and makes less noise at higher rpm.
There are reports and feedback on the web said that under certain stress tests, the Silent Pro series creates somewhat strong ripple level on the 12V rail. It does not make any difference for a normal/enthusiast user but this series isn’t meant to be used for an insane 5GHz overclocking rig.
The M Series is being replaced with M2 which is rated 80 Plus Silver (Bronze for lower wattage models). It depends on your pocket, you could also set eyes on the Gold, Platinum or Hybrid Series to get slight better power efficiency from regular use. The Hybrid would be the best option if sensitive hearing is concerned, there is no noise until the system draws 200 worth of wattage or the internal temperature of the power supply raises above 25 degree Celsius. Yet it will be only around 32 dBA when the fan reaches its maximum rpm.
On the side note, the Hybrid model also comes with a front panel speed control box that allows you to adjust the power supply fan speed at your command, as well as 3 additional system fans. Lastly, most of the models support Dual or Quad-SLI setup if serious gaming is required.
6. Seasonic 400/460w Fanless Series
You gotta love the fact that this is the only power supply model in this round up that uses passive cooling. There is no freakin’ fan. Complete silence. Unlike any baby or gf. Which is perfect for HTPC setup in a mini ITX chassis.
Seasonic is well known for delivering top quality when it comes to PSUs and they are trusted by many other manufacturers.
You will find high grade hardware in this platform, along with remarkable power efficiency at 80 Plus Gold. The 400w model has 33A on the 12V while the 460w is up to 38A, which is good enough to power a mid-range gaming video card.
Now when ventilation is concerned, because of its characteristic of having no method to move air you should definitely consider some good chassis that at least does not allow hot air accumulated inside the power supply for too long. A case that has top mount power supply with open vent also at the top is most ideal, since that will let hot air rise and escape from the PSU. If not, you can help by adding some silent fan to the case but then again it would defeat the purpose of reducing fan count in the system.
Anyhow, you could have one of the most quiet computers ever built using these superb PSUs.
What Else ?
EVGA Supernova NEX 750G / 650G
Have you ever seen the monstrous NEX1500W Classified PSU ? I could use that for morning weight lifting routine after I installed it in the Cosmos II chassis. But short answer, no. Not. everybody. needs. that much power from a PSU.
Eventually, EVGA realizes that and proceeded to supply two decent lower models that are the direct trimmed version of its big brother.
First of all, these power supply units come with many PCIe connectors (6) that sometimes only available in many more expensive products. The G letter in the name stands for Gold energy efficiency, rated around 88 to 91%. The power supply is paired with the Yate Loon ball-bearing 140mm fan to remove accumulated heat at 2800rpm, 48dBA. Consequently, the NEX series generate a very high noise level after half load.
During some easy graphics benchmarks, you could hear the 55 dBA mark quiet clearly.
What it means to you is despite the badass look, you do not want to use these PSUs in your quiet configuration. Even though you still can use the 650G model which can keep the fan at lower speed for higher load percentage, these models are only decent for serious gaming setup. You take a hit when comes to appropriate silence.
So why the heck is it on this list ? I don’t know, someone asked so I tested it and this is the little report for everyone.
There are 2 other units that have my interests but I don’t have a mean to test them yet, or they are not available at where I am. The first one is Kingwin Lazer Series, which looks pretty good on the label but there isn’t much data to justify the quality.
The second one is XFX Core Edition Series, which is also manufactured by Seasonic. Do you have any other recommendation ? Share with us in the comment section below!