We recently tested the latest Silverstone Decathlon series power supply, but we also wanted to review one of their top-end models from the Zeus series. Silverstone has delivered many new features in the past, and their build quality has always been good. Unfortunately, the major addition for the Zeus family appears to be the bump to 1200W - power very few people will ever need for their system. However, the Zeus 1200W does make some changes to the voltage delivery subsystem that may be useful.

Silverstone is an established name in the market for their cases as well as their power supplies. The latest Decathlon had a superb acoustic noise level as we saw in our recent review. Before that we saw other Decathlon and Olympia models that performed decently. Silverstone also announced a new passively cooled power supply just a few weeks ago that we will test in the near future.

The label shows six 12V rails with an enormous combined power of 95A. However, each rail is rated at 17A, which is not too much as we will find out later during the tests. If you prefer, the 12V rails can be combined into one massive 12V rail that will deliver the 95A alone. On the side is a little white round sticker that hides a switch used for combining the rails, but we do not recommend peeling off this sticker since you still won't be able to reach the switch. To access the switch, you will need to open the PSU casing as we will see later (Update: This problem seems to be only with the first models like the one we have tested. The units in the shops have already access to the switch from outside). The 3.3V rates 28A and the 5V rail 30A, both of which are more than sufficient. The standby rail rates 4A, which is according to the latest EPS12V norm.

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  • thebackwash - Tuesday, July 8, 2008 - link

    At what point does the house's wiring really begin to be a factor in sustaining the power draw? I know you're measuring watts vs. volts, but if someone could give a practical range and a better explanation as to the practical problems with running appliances with a high current draw. Volts being constant generally in a house, is it amperage that cannot be increased past a certain point?

    What I'm trying to ask, to anyone who can elucidate, is at what point does the house become the limiting factor as compared with the computer PSU?

    I know that if I run the air conditioner in a room and someone sends a job to the (laser) printer plugged in in the same room, it trips the circuit breaker downstairs, and everybody gets an 'oh gosh, that was silly' out of it. When does one have to get new wiring run in the house to run their über gaming rig/cluster running department of defense simulations?
  • Carnildo - Tuesday, July 8, 2008 - link

    > At what point does the house's wiring really begin to be a factor in sustaining the power draw?

    Right about here. 1200 watts at 75% efficiency means that, at full load, this PSU is drawing 1600 watts from the outlet. Most 120v house wiring is limited to 1800 watts (15 amps) per circuit, so if this thing is sharing an outlet with almost anything (say, a laser printer), you'll be blowing fuses on a regular basis.

    If your power is only 110v (common enough), then 1200 watts at ~73% efficiency is 1650 watts at the outlet, exactly the limit of what a 15-amp circuit can provide.
  • thebackwash - Tuesday, July 8, 2008 - link

    "Is it amperage…"

    I should say, "Is it amperage and the correlated wattage that can't be increased beyond a certain rating?" What's generally the bottleneck or are the two tightly linked phenomena when it comes to encountering real world engineering limitations?
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, July 8, 2008 - link

    If you're running 115VAC (i.e. in the US), then you need to look at the circuit that's tripping. It's probably a 15A circuit, which means that you can only run around 1700W worth of equipment on that circuit before you have the problems you describe. (115V * 15A = 1725W) The question is then how much power the various devices use.

    I wouldn't be at all surprised if your AC unit can pull upwards of 750W... and if it's a powerful model it could easily reach the 1250W and higher range. (Yup, AC is expensive!) A laser printer might use anywhere from 100W to 300W I suppose. I'd suggest getting something like a cheap Kill-A-Watt device and plugging the various power users into it.

    Also, don't forget that lights use power as well. That 60W light bulb uses 60W, so if you have a light fixture with three bulbs, there's another 180W (or 225W if you use 75W bulbs). I highly recommend the florescent bulbs as a power efficient alternative.
  • gameman733 - Tuesday, July 8, 2008 - link

    I think theres an error in this graph."> (DC output at 12V, look at the left side, 12.12, 12.00, 11.88, 11.94, 11.40, out of order)
  • JonnyDough - Monday, July 7, 2008 - link

    The real problem with PSUs like this is that sometimes people that are well off and on their first build who want "the best" run out and buy something like this and absolutely do not need it. It just ends up wasting electricity, which we all know is largely derived from strip-mining/coal burning which is horrible for the ozone and natural habitats.
  • serchaing - Monday, July 7, 2008 - link

    This is actually a myth, one that I also thought to be true until recently. For example, a PC that requires 340W to operate will use 340W whether the power supply is a 450W or 600W. PC Power and Cooling's web site dispels this several other PSU myths here:">
  • C'DaleRider - Tuesday, July 8, 2008 - link

    Not the PCP&C myths again. While one or two are actually correct, the modular cable "myth" they dispel has been proven, time and again by independent testing, to be just marketing fluff by PCP&C. Add to that the "single rail is better" myth PCP&C pushes....only taken up, by the way after PCP&C absolutely failed at their design of the multi-railed Turbo Cool 1000W unit (it was horribly under powered on the rails supplied and caused problems....and their solution, instead of fixing the rails and supplying proper voltage/amperage per rail was to dump it for an easier to design single rail.)

    But, outside of efficiency, you are correct in that a power supply will only draw what is needed from the wall to run whatever is connected to more, no less. So, a 1kW ps will only draw XA or X volts from the wall to supply what's required from it, be it 200W or 900W. It's no more expensive to run a 1200W unit, again leaving efficiency out of the equation, than a 500W unit.

    And if you really look at power supplies and their construction, you'd notice that the high power units tend to be built better with better quality internals than lower wattage units.
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, July 8, 2008 - link

    While that is technically true, efficiency comes into play. If a PSU reaches maximum efficiency with a load of 30-70% of the rated output, then a system that requires 350W should have a 500W PSU minimum, and for optimal efficiency you almost certainly wouldn't want anything larger than 1150W (*cough*).

    Personally, I try to shoot for around 30 to 50% load, but even my most powerful system only draws a rather piddly 400W at peak. With a roughly 80% efficient power supply, that means the system is only using in the vicinity of 320W. Idle power draw drops to under 200W (160W or less power used by the system). This is with a quad-core Q6600 G0 stepping running at 3.40GHz, 2x2GB DDR2-800 RAM, two HDDs, and dual HD 3870 cards. It's been running quite happily with a 650W power supply for over six months.
  • mattclary - Monday, July 7, 2008 - link

    Can anyone explain to me, or point me to the info on how it is a power supply that will be plugged into a 20 amp circuit can provide more than 20 amps?

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