As one of the best-known companies in the high-end PC peripherals business, SilverStone needs little introduction. The company has made a name for itself with its variety of boutique products, especially off-beat and compact designs. And, even though the company has diversified over time into several other segments of the market, their unique cases and assorted power supply units (PSUs) remains their most defining product lines to this day.

It's a field that SilverStone has become so entrenched in that although other companies produce compact PCs and related peripherals as well, none of them are really trying to be SilverStone's peer. As a result, SilverStone is one of the very few companies with a true variety of small form factor power and cooling solutions, rather than just a token device or two. Even with relatively standard, ATX-compliant equipment, SilverStone’s power products tend to have great power-per-volume ratios.

For today’s review, we are taking a look at the FX500, a very different PSU than the typical ATX fare that we typically cover. SilverStone’s FX500 is a Flex-ATX format PSU, with the tiny physical proportions that entails, and yet can output up to 500 Watts while meeting 80Plus Gold efficiency standard. Few OEMs – let alone retail companies – bother to develop advanced PSU platforms that are smaller than the full ATX format, making compact PSUs an underserved market. All told, we have seen a few high-end SFX units in the past couple of years, but nothing smaller or even different than that. This makes the the Flex-ATX FX500 a very rare product, as one of the only high-power Flex-ATX PSUs on the market.

Power specifications ( Rated @ 40 °C )
AC INPUT 100 - 240 VAC, 50 - 60 Hz
RAIL +3.3V +5V +12V +5Vsb -12V
MAX OUTPUT 14A 17A 41.67A 2.5A 0.3A
90W 500W 12.5W 3.6W
TOTAL 500W
 

Packaging and Bundle

SilverStone supplies the FX500 PSU in a simple cardboard box that is half the size of boxes designed for ATX products. The artwork on the box is simplistic, with a plain blue/white color theme and a picture of the PSU itself on the front side of the box. Inside the box, the PSU is merely wrapped in a bubble bag, with SilverStone betting that its small proportions and low weight are enough to prevent damage during transport.

Inside the box, we found only the basics that come with any retail PC PSU. Altogether, the PSU comes with four mounting screws, an AC power cable, and basic instructional leaflets. There are no cable straps, cable ties, or other accessories of any kind.

SilverStone FX500
Connector type Hardwired Modular
ATX 24 Pin 1 -
EPS 4+4 Pin 1 -
EPS 8 Pin - -
PCI-E 6+2 Pin 2 -
PCI-E 8 Pin - -
SATA 4 -
Molex 3 -
Floppy 1 -

The SilverStone FX500 Flex-ATX 500W PSU

External Appearance

A mere glance on the FX500 once unpacked is enough to leave most experts wondering how a designer managed to fit a platform with 80Plus Gold efficiency at 500 Watts inside such a small chassis. The body of the FX500 is merely 81.5mm/3.21" (W) × 40.5mm/1.59" (H) × 150mm/5.91" (D), occupying barely a quarter of the volume of a typical ATX PSU. Even its own cables take up more space than the body of the PSU itself.

 

The sticker with the unit’s electrical certifications and specifications covers most of the top surface, with intake airflow vents on the rest. Despite the very limited design options, SilverStone’s engineers did try their best to make this PSU aesthetically appealing. As a result, the FX500 has an all-black chassis, cables, and connectors. The cables are of “flat” type, without external sleeving, in an effort to minimize their volume as well.

SilverStone’s engineers managed to fit a switch next to the AC receptacle at the rear side of PSU. Concerning the tiny proportions of the unit, even the presence of a switch must have been a design challenge. The tiny 40 mm cooling fan of the PSU covers the rest of the rear side’s surface and is supplied by YS Tech, whose products we frequently encounter into middling-to-premium range PSU products.

Internal Design

The OEM behind the platform of the FX500 is Channel-Well Tech (CWT), a company that developed and marketed several Flex-ATX platforms for 1U systems in the past. Yet none of those were as powerful as this variant. The textbook filtering stage is crammed and shielded right behind the AC receptacle, which comes as no surprise due to the lack of space.

 

There is only one significantly-sized heatsink inside the PSU, which is used to cool the two transistors that form a typical half-bridge primary inversion stage. The primary APFC capacitor is a 400V/220μF electrolytic capacitor made by Nippon Chemi-Con and is supported by a very sizable coil that takes almost as much volume as the main transformer of the PSU does.

The secondary side conversion stage is also simplistic, with just a couple of MOSFETs generating a single 12V line. The rest of the voltage lines are being generated by DC to DC converters that are mounted on secondary boards. Nearly all of the secondary capacitors are solid-state polymer products and are supplied by APAQ, a Taiwanese manufacturer. The cables are soldered directly near the edges of the main PCB. The PSU’s designer clearly had no hope of making this platform into a modular design without increasing the unit’s length – there is simply not enough space for the connectors.

Cold Test Results
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  • Spunjji - Friday, November 13, 2020 - link

    Yes, my personal experience from messing with Noctua 40mm fans is that they won't move very much air at all when running at reasonable noise levels.

    That said - it might still be manageable in a situation where the user can guarantee the load will remain at 60% or below in a chassis that is otherwise reasonably well ventilated and/or where the PSU is thermally isolated.
    Reply
  • Reflex - Thursday, November 12, 2020 - link

    This one supposedly has a silent fan mod, I'd love to see someone look into it: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N4IGM0O/ Reply
  • zodiacfml - Friday, November 13, 2020 - link

    god, the price! Reply
  • edzieba - Friday, November 13, 2020 - link

    The key for low noise in SFF is to eliminate as many fans as possible. Rather than peppering 40mm and 80mm fans on top of individual components, use a single 140mm (or at least 120mm) fan and duct airflow to individual components. Same total airflow volume, less noise. While in theory that means you fan now has to spin up if /any/ component demands a higher fan speed, it's still better to have a 140mm go from dead-slow to kinda-slow-ish than to have 3 idling 40mm screamers and one 40mm going hell-for-leather. Reply
  • dotes12 - Friday, November 13, 2020 - link

    They should have designed this around a centrifugal blower fan, instead of an axial 40mm. They can move a lot of air at low dBs. Reply
  • pvdw - Saturday, November 14, 2020 - link

    Good article, but please can stop using the word simplistic when you mean simple, it's a negative word.

    See, e.g.: ://www.thoughtco.com/simple-and-simplistic-1689612
    Reply
  • linuxgeex - Thursday, November 19, 2020 - link

    What's the power factor like? For commercial use that's a significant concern because utilities charge more per kWh for loads with a poor power factor. Reply
  • qwertymac93 - Thursday, November 19, 2020 - link

    The Silverstone has active power factor correction so power factor is likely very close to 1. Reply
  • qwertymac93 - Thursday, November 19, 2020 - link

    I wonder what sticking an 80mm fan onto the internal vents with double-sided tape would do to the thermals. Perhaps it'd help just enough to use a resistor to drop the 40mm fan's RPM a bit and reduce noise. Reply
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