SilverStone SX600-G SFX Series Power Supply Review

by - 7 years ago

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Introduction & Packaging


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Silverstone is well-known for their high-end products, having created some very impressive power supplies, coolers, chassis products and a whole lot more over the years. One of their strongest areas is certainly in the power supply market, even more so when you look at smaller form factor units such as SFX. The benefits of SFX units are obvious, as they’re much smaller than ATX PSUs, which makes them great for slim and compact chassis designs, such as the RVZ01 which Silverstone produces. These slim chassis are often designed for compact workstations, or HTPC use and more recently “Steam Machine” style rigs. Squeezing a massive graphics card into a compact chassis isn’t impossible, but powering a monster GPU is not so easily accomplished with a tiny power supply and that’s where the new SX600-G comes into play.

The SX600-G packs an impressive range of features, such as 600W 80 Plus Gold Efficiency power delivery, more than enough for even the most powerful graphics cards on the market today, with some power headroom for overclocking of your CPU and GPU alike. In true TV infomercial style “but that’s not all”, this unit also features an intelligent semi-fanless design, allowing for zero RPM operation in low load or cooler environments, 100% modular cables, a powerful single 12V+ rail, and dual PCI-E 8/6-pin connectors; in short, this unit almost sounds too good to be true.

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The packaging is nicely designed, with lots of bright colours and a good photo of the product, as well as a quick run down of the main specifications.

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All the technical stuff is around the back of the box, not much interest to most consumers, but in short the PSU promises to be efficient and provide stable power output; pretty much what any PSU should do really.IMG_1408

In the box, you’ll find a few bits of documentation, an SFX to ATX adaptor bracket, some mounting screws and the AC power cable.

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A Closer Look – Exterior


Power Supply Unit

This is a compact unit, so there is one a small fan fitted here. What does surprise me is the amount of ventilation available to the fan or for passive cooling

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The specifications are detailed along the side. As you can see, we have a powerful 50A +12V rail.

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Lots of ventilation around the back as well as the AC line in.

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A small unit doesn’t need a lot of ports, but it’s still nice to see that it is fully modular.

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Cabling

This is a tiny PSU, so there aren’t a lot of cables included or needed. What I am happy to see is that all cables are of a very high quality and a flat-type design, which should reap huge rewards for cable routing in smaller chassis’.

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A Closer Look – Interior


Wow, it’s seriously busy in here, so much so, that it’s going to be a difficult feat to give you a rundown of what is going on inside. Silverstone have wasted no space in here and, of course, that’s not really a bad thing at all as it helps keep this power PSU in an SFX form factor.

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The main bulk capacitor is rated for 450V, 330 uF and 105c.

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There’s a mixture of output capacitors through the 600G, mostly good quality, but unfortunately not all Japanese high-end caps; that’s not really a “bad” thing, but we’ll find out in our testing shortly how it performs.

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There’s very little space in here, so there is a lot of wiring packed in, but SilverStone has taken extra care to wrap the ends to ensure nothing shorts out.

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Here you’ll find the EMI filter and AC input. which overlays some of the power board, again helping to save space. There’s a few protective films and thermal pads here too, which will help with safety as well as heat dissipation.

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The main output board for the modular connectors is tucked snug in the back of the unit, even if it is quite difficult to see here.

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There’s a small fan connector on the back of the PCB, a few passive heat sinks and again, lots of protective films, layers and glue spots to keep things neat and tidy.

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The fan is a good quality ADDA 12V unit, capable of very high RPM, although the PSUs controller will likely never need to max it out.

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Test Procedure


At eTeknix we take the power supply testing procedure very seriously and have invested a lot of resources into acquiring the appropriate testing equipment. For all power supply reviews we test the power supplies with dedicated power supply testing equipment. This means we are able to get the most accurate results from our testing as opposed to using software benchmarks (such as OCCT) or multi-meter readouts which are broadly inaccurate.

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Our test machinery is as follows:

  • Sunmoon SM-5500ATE Active Load Tester (1200W rated)
  • Stingray DS1M12 USB Oscilloscope
  • Voltcraft DT-10L laser tachometer

The eTeknix test procedure involves:

  • Testing each power supply at 20/40/60/80/100% load (with balanced load across all rails) and measuring PFC (power factor correction), efficiency (actual power divided by power “pulled at the wall”) and voltage regulation (deviance from expected voltages of 3.3/5/12 on the main rails).
  • Measuring ripple with an oscilloscope at 20/40/60/80/100% load.
  • Measuring fan speed after a stabilisation period of five minutes at each load scenario using the Voltcraft DT-10L laser tachometer and a reflective strip on the fan.
  • Testing each power supply’s OPP (Over Power Protection) mechanism and seeing how many watts each power supply can deliver before shutting down

Other things to consider are that

  • We recognise that a single yellow 12 volt cable can provide only 6 Amps before overheating (which corrupts voltage regulation and efficiency) and so we used an adequate number of cables for each power supply to ensure there is not efficiency loss from poor cables selection
  • Our Sunmoon SM-5500ATE power supply tester is not capable of testing more than 300W on each of the 12 volt rails so where a power supply provides more than 300W on a 12 volt rail that power is distributed over multiple 12 volt rails on the load tester. For example a power supply with one 12 volt rail supplying 750 watts would be spread equally over three 12 volt rails on the load tester, a power supply with two 450W 12v rails would be spread over four 12v rails on the load tester, two 225W 12v rails for each of the 12v rails on the unit.
  • We use the same time scale and horizontal millivolt scale on our oscilloscope for all ripple tests, that is a 20ms T/DIV (horizontal) and a 0.02 V/DIV (vertical) meaning the scale is from -80mV to +80mV, ATX spec dictates that the 12v rail must fall within 150mv of ripple and the 3.3/5 within 50mv so that scale allows us to include both 150 and 50mV peaks. (Some older PSU reviews use different scales which were later ditched as the visual representation they give is inadequate, in these reviews written measurements are provided only).
  • Deviance is the terminology used to represent the way voltages diverge from the expected values
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Efficiency, PFC and Voltage Regulation


Voltage Regulation

To test voltage regulation we load the power supply to five different load scenarios that give an equal spread of load across every single rail. So that means 20% on all rails, 40% on all rails and so on. We then calculate the average deviance of each rail from its expected voltage.

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Due to the limitations of our load tester, we had to split the 12v rail across multiple “simulated” rails. Voltage regulation was surprisingly good on this unit, not that I was expecting it to be bad, but it’s still much tighter regulation than I was expecting and voltages are relatively consistent overall. There’s a bit of a droop on the 5v at full load, but I can’t see this being any cause for concern at all.

Power Efficiency

Power efficiency is measured by calculating actual supplied wattage divided by the wattage drawn at the wall/plug, multiplied by 100 to give a percentage. We then compare that to the particular 80 Plus certification the company claims to see if it meets that. You can see the 80 Plus certifications below, we always test 230v power supplies.

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This was quite a surprise, as the unit performs even so slightly under the 80 Plus Platinum specifications, that’s certainly no bad thing and good efficiency is always a welcome feature on and PSU.

Power Factor Correction

Power Factor Correction is the ratio of the real power flowing to the load, to the apparent power in the circuit. The aim of PFC is to make the load circuitry that is power factor corrected appear purely resistive (apparent power equal to real power). In this case, the voltage and current are in phase and the reactive power consumption is zero. The closer the number to one the better as this allows the most efficient delivery of electrical power (Source – Wikipedia).

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PFC was pretty good, especially so past 60% load and it’s about on par with what we see from most PSUs these days.

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Ripple


Noise and Ripple can easily be measured by an oscilloscope. These show how much voltage fluctuation there is on a particular rail. We tested the rail stability of the 3.3 volt, 5 volt and 12 volt rails using an identical time and millivolt scale for all graphs. millivolt ripple is measured by the peak to peak size of the voltage curve.

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Sample Ripple Graph

The latest ATX 12 volt version 2.3 specifications state that ripple from peak to peak must be no higher than 50 millivolts for the 3.3 volt and 5 volt rails, while the 12 volt rail is allowed up to 120 millivolts peak to peak to stay within specifications. Millivolt figures are stated to the closest increment of 5 given their variability.

Load (%) 3.3V Ripple 5V Ripple 12V Ripple
20  8  7.2  28.2
40  8  9.6  36.8
60  11.4  11,8  47.2
80  12.8  14.6  56.6
100  15.6  17.4  66

Ripple suppression was pretty good on the 3.3V and the 5V rails, but surprisingly high on the 12V rails. This is tricky, as it’s making me want to say it was “bad” but it’s still significantly within the rated specifications and it’s simply just not as good as most other PSUs we’ve tested here at eTeknix.

3.3 volt @ 100%

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5 volt @ 100%

5

12 volt @ 100%

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Over Power Protection and Max Wattage


Power supplies often quote as having various protection mechanisms such and the most important of these is Over Power Protection. In our testing we crank up the power draw until the power supply either shuts down (meaning the OPP mechanism is present and working) or blows up (meaning it is either not present or not working). We then note the maximum power consumption before the power supply shut down (or blew up).

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Wow, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever need to draw this much from this unit, especially since it’s really only designed to hook up to a smaller system and a single GPU, but should you hit a big power spike, OPP kicks in at almost 950w! I wouldn’t suggest running it past the rating for long though, as that tiny fan can only help so much.

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Fan Speed


When testing in a power supply laboratory it is difficult to take fan noise readings as the noise from the Sunmoon test equipment and air conditioning corrupts everything. The next best thing in our circumstances was reading off the fan speed with a tachometer to get an idea for the noise. The ambient temperature during testing held constant at 22 degrees, with 1 degree of variation. Each power supply had a consistent time period of 5 minutes to stabilise between each load scenario. 

In my experience the following general relationships apply between noise levels and fan speeds, though it can vary greatly between the type of fan used.

  • Below 800 RPM – Inaudible/Silent
  • 800 to 1000 RPM – Barely audible
  • 1000 – 1200 RPM – Audible but still quiet
  • 1200 – 1400 RPM – Moderately noisy
  • 1400 – 1800 RPM – Noisy
  • 1800 RPM or higher – Intolerable

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OK, things look a little crazy here, so let me do some explaining. The fan seems to tick on and off infrequently between 20% and 50% loads. They said it’s a hybrid fan, but the fan does tend to kick in after just a few minutes of usage. If it’s a cool day and you’re only checking your emails, maybe it won’t spin up, but if you’re gaming, it certainly will spin up the fan; the fan peaked at 1600RPM

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Final Thoughts


Pricing

The Silverstone Strider SFX 600W 80 Plus Gold Power Supply (SST-SX600-G) is available from Overclockers UK for £104.99. This isn’t especially cheap, but given that SilverStone has little to no competition in the high-power, high-efficiency SFX PSU market, there’s certainly a little bit of a premium to pay. You do however get a three-year warranty from SilverStone.

Conclusion

The latest PSU from SilverStone is very good, although it doesn’t come without a few minor flaws. This is a really nice unit in sense that it can deliver huge amounts of power relative to its size, but there’s certainly room for it to be even better. The passive fan mode is a little pointless, it kicks in a little too quickly and I can see there being benefits in opting to operate the fan constantly, even at a low RPM where it would be inaudible anyway. The fan is a little noisy at full load, but then again it is a small fan and a compact unit, so it’s understandable that it has to make a little more effort to keep this unit cool. The ripple suppression isn’t great, albeit not bad either, but it could be better. This could be improved with a range of better capacitors, which I would have expected at this price range, but again, it’s not something that’s likely to cause any issues for consumers or for the applications this unit will be used for.

The need for compact SFX PSUs is growing, as many are moving to slim chassis designs to build gaming PCs that are suitable for their home AV setup, limited office or desk spaces and even extremely portable LAN gaming systems. The new offering from SilverStone ticks a heck of a lot of boxes that make it appealing to system builders and if you’re on the market for an SFX PSU, this one should be right at the top of your shopping list. The power output will power any high-end graphics card money can buy, as well as a decent CPU, making it perfect for a gaming system. There’s high-efficiency, which will save you some energy costs in the long run, fully modular cables to make the build process nice and easy and it’s also fully modular. Overall, that’s a pretty good list of winning features.

Pros

  • Fully modular cables
  • Three-year warranty
  • Flat-cables
  • Excellent efficiency
  • 600W of power
  • Compact form factor

Cons

  • Passive fan mode not really needed
  • Higher than average ripple

Neutral

  • Will require a chassis with good airflow to prevent high-temps and higher fan RPM modes

“The SFX PSU market isn’t exactly rich with options right now, but the 600-G is still one of the best options on the market and will provide you with all the grunt you need for a high-powered and very compact gaming PC.”

SilverStone SX600-G SFX Series Power Supply Review

Thank you SilverStone for providing this review sample.

Article Index

  1. Introduction and Packaging
  2. A Closer Look - Exterior
  3. A Closer Look - Interior
  4. Test Procedure
  5. Efficiency, PFC and Voltage Regulation
  6. Ripple Testing
  7. OPP and Max Wattage
  8. Fan Speed
  9. Final Thoughts
  10. View All

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