Introduction

Not too long ago, a rogue division of Cooler Master left to form their own company called Silverstonetek. While they are arguably more famous for their HTPC cases today, Silverstone has already developed a vast number of power supplies and is getting stronger with each new series.

The Olympia series is designed by Silverstone's newly acquired crew that came over from several member of different teams of the power supply business. With this move, Silverstone makes it clear that they are interested in branching out into other areas of the power supply market. At the CeBIT earlier this year, they were already showing a server power supply, and more will follow in the near future.



There are two things which help this power supply stand out from most other units. Silverstone is one of the first manufacturers that is actually returning to Taiwan for production. What's noteworthy about this is the fact that Silverstone has set up a robot factory in Taiwan that is building the PSU totally by itself. The positive effect of this is the same as what we see with things like car manufacturing where the work is done by robots: the overall soldering and precision is just better than it is by hand. This fact can be seen quite clear later when we take a look inside of this unit.

The second special characteristic is the single 12V rail. In a time when other manufacturers are building up to six 12V rails in their PSUs, Silverstone has come up with a single rail able to pull a load up to 54 amps. If we look to the actual Intel ATX12V specs, it states that there should be no rail with more than 20 amps for safety reasons. That's a fine step but not possible when you listen to the graphics card manufacturers. They ask for up to 30 amps from a single 12V rail which would make every OCP kick in if reached since they lie at around 24 amps. The result would be a shut-down of the PC while running the actual application. With a single 12V rail Silverstone went in another direction. If you have enough power to supply every component in the PC from a single rail, there would never be any problem since the PSU is regulating all the power drawn from just one source.

This might be a valid way to design a power supply, but, even though we don't know what it is, Intel probably had a reason for designing the specifications around a 20 amp per 12V rail limit. Silverstone backs up their design choice by stating that there is no application which could force this kind of power supply to fail. We have not heard of any problems in the field with a single high current 12V rail, and in our tests we weren't able to provoke this power supply into failing. We will make sure to pay close attention to this during the tests.

Packaging and Appearance
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  • YellowWing - Friday, July 13, 2007 - link

    In a prior article you showed us the box you use for testing power supplies. I don't remember reading how the heat generated by the power supplies is removed from the sealed box. Does the temp of the air in the box rise with time? Would the drop off in voltage be less with full ventilation? Reply
  • YellowWing - Friday, July 13, 2007 - link

    Brownouts have caused power supply failures for me in the past. How about dialing the input voltage down to 90 or so and see what happens.

    From experience I can say that some supplies don't survive at lower input voltages.
    Reply
  • DerekWilson - Friday, July 13, 2007 - link

    we are considering looking at 90V input. Thanks for the suggestion. Reply
  • bpt8056 - Friday, July 13, 2007 - link

    I just want to say that I thought AT did a great job on the review. Keep up the great work! Reply
  • puffpio - Friday, July 13, 2007 - link

    Great article..looking forward to many many more

    On one of the graphs of the 230V tests, it is labeled as 115V
    Reply
  • jonnyGURU - Friday, July 13, 2007 - link

    Good job. Clearly a lot of effort was put behind putting the methodology and this review together.

    Couple questions..

    1. How much of the voltage drop shown would you contribute to the resistance created by the interface board and wires located between the end of the PSU's connector and the actual load. This isn't my favorite power supply, but I know the voltage regulation isn't nearly as bad as you have it graphed. And naturallly, since load also creates resistance, your voltage is going to decrease exponentially if you're not loading and measuring at the end of the connector. Since you're using a Chroma, I know you're not loading and measuring at the connector. Perhaps you could rig a DMM to measure voltages at the end of the connector instead of reporting what the Chroma is telling you since the Chroma is going to be incorrect since it doesn't take into consideration this added resistance.

    2. Do you think it's possible to define "10%, 20%, etc." as it pertains to your loads. Naturally, you can't load all rails by 80%, 90%, 100%" because you'd easily exceed the power supplies capabilities. And certainly you're not loading the +12V with 80%, 90% 100% and then filling up the remainder with a 3.3V and 5V load because then you would crossload the PSU with an unusually high +12V load.

    3. And, at risk of sounding like I'm beating a dead horse, ripple and noise results. We all know spec is 1%, and ripple and noise does typically increase with load. It would be nice to see if the power supplies being tested stay within that spec. through out it's total advertised capability.

    Thanks and I look forward to the next PSU review!
    Reply
  • mcvan - Saturday, July 14, 2007 - link

    Like Johnny said. ;)

    Another issue pertinent to the extreme sag in voltage lines and perhaps to the soaring temperatures is to ask how long the PSU was run at each load level (and in total) and what was the air temperature at the PSU intake? Maybe the test box is just letting the PSU get way too unnaturally hot, and this has a deleterious effect on performance. This test box is not the same as thermal control chamber where you can dial in a specific target temperature, which will then be held constant by the chamber throughout the testing.

    Since the test box is well insulated and sealed, there is a direct correlation between time spent with the PSU on and internal air temperature. No matter how the PSU is cooled, at any load, the temperature of the test box should rise continuously (even if only incrementally at very low load) as long as the PSU is running. This is a significant uncontrolled and unreported factor. That PSU intake temperature will be dictated by a complex mix of factors, by too many variables --

    -starting ambient air temp in the box
    -how long the PSU is kept running in the box and at which loads
    -heat loss out of the box
    -efficiency curve of the PSU
    -fan and fan controller characteristics

    If the time spent at each load and the starting ambient temp is kept the same for each and all PSUs, then the variables are correctly contained to the PSUs being tested. Then differences in the air temperature at the intake at any given power level for each PSU would reflect real differences in the cooling system and efficiency of each PSU. It would ensure a more level thermal playing field.
    Reply
  • qpwoei - Friday, July 13, 2007 - link

    quote:

    And, at risk of sounding like I'm beating a dead horse


    While we're beating dead horses, I'll land a few blows on the dynamic load response horse as well :)
    Reply
  • SilthDraeth - Friday, July 13, 2007 - link

    Seems like you know what you are talking about. I hope they take some of your points into consideration, since they all seem very valid.
    Reply
  • jonnyGURU - Friday, July 13, 2007 - link

    Thanks. But I'm just an old hack. ;)
    Reply

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