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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  • Martimus - Friday, July 13, 2007 - link

    It was a nice article. I know not to buy this PSU now when I build my roommates computer later this month. I don't like how it falls out of spec at high loads. I would like to see a review on the PC P&C 750W Silencer Quad, as that was what I was planning on using for his computer.

    Looking at that board frightened me, seeing as how much power was in that supply, and how close together the components were. I hope that they can increase the size of the standard power supply to help alleviate this problem now that we are building computers that have such high loads. I used to design and test power supplies (albeit for automotive conponents) and seeing how they crammed those parts so close together was scary. That is an easy way to kill the reliability and life of your supply. The heat just kills the board and components. Although it does reduce problems like parasitic capacitance. Maybe that is why many manufactures are avoiding using the top mounted 120mm fan; to keep from having to package the component like that.
    Reply
  • yacoub - Friday, July 13, 2007 - link

    quote:

    If you leave the PC off for a long period of time, you should still always hit the switch or unplug the cable.


    But doesn't that mean the motherboard will need to use its little battery backup to keep the BIOS settings? Turning off the PSU switch and/or unplugging the cable to fully remove power sounds like a way to kill your motherboard's battery quickly.
    Reply
  • mindless1 - Wednesday, July 18, 2007 - link

    It is only a "suggestion", there is just as valid an argument to not unplug it unless you're on a quest to save every last bit of power possible which is a nobile goal but put in perspective, a bit of a band-aid since anyone using a modern computer to access webpages is wasting orders of magnitude more power, even ignoring the typical products with large power consumption.

    It might be said that unplugging also provides some protection against surges, limiting exposure to them, but it's really something that would have to be considered on a per-site basis, remembering that most people don't unplug their computers any day of the year and seldom is surge damage a recurring problem. IOW, a matter of how much extra effort to put forth to guard against something that, statistically, isn't likely to happen.
    Reply
  • DerekWilson - Friday, July 13, 2007 - link

    iirc, your mobo battery is in use when the computer is off and the PSU is on anyway. i could be wrong ... its been like a decade since i paid attention to that.

    But either way, mobo batteries last years even when their not powered up.
    Reply
  • SpaceRanger - Friday, July 13, 2007 - link

    Very nice work on AT's first PSU review with such detail. One question though, what happened to the Ripple and Noise results from the PSU? In the methodology they were mentioned to be tested, yet not in this review?

    Looking forward to more PSU reviews..
    Reply
  • Shadowmage - Friday, July 13, 2007 - link

    I agree. The reviews must have ripple. That's why Jonnyguru's reviews are so highly regarded. Reply
  • mindless1 - Wednesday, July 18, 2007 - link

    and yet, we don't really need to know the ripple values so long as they stay within ATX specs at the max rated loads and all crossloading combinations possible. Within these limits, lower ripple is not necessarily "better" per se, if it were important to have lowest possible ripple we wouldn't be using switching PSU at all or they'd at least have an addt'l stage of LC filtration before the output. Reply
  • LTG - Friday, July 13, 2007 - link

    The first page leaves out an explanation of why multiple rails are used in the first place.

    I'm sure many technical software people, who don't know hardware, wonder like I do, why wasn't it always just one rail?

    Just a couple sentences would probably be helpful.

    thanks.
    Reply
  • qpwoei - Friday, July 13, 2007 - link

    A PSU having multiple rails just means that a single rail in the PSU runs through a number of parallel current limiters - so all lines on the 12V1 rail go through one 20A current limiter, all lines on 12V2 go through another, etc. This is done as IEC safety requirements (and consequently ATX PSU requirements) say that "operator accessible" connections must not be able to deliver more than 240 VA (ie: 20 A at 12 V).

    In older PSUs, only a single current limiter was used as there was no requirement for maximum current per line. In many recent PSUs, the single current maximum is starting to come back as well due to the high current requirements of modern GPUs and motherboards.
    Reply
  • mindless1 - Wednesday, July 18, 2007 - link

    While it is common (because it's cheaper to implement) for a 12V multi-rail PSU to use parallel current limiters, it is not necessarily true that all are designed this way, typically only those built towards lower component cost instead of higher sustainable current. Other options include having separate capacitance after the current limiter (resistor), or a second inductor-cap LC stage, or additionally a separate rectifier stage, or additionally a separate transformer (essentially going backwards towards building in a 2nd supply until available space and budget limit it). Reply

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