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be quiet! PowerZone 650W PSU Review

Additional technical assistance: Peter McFarland and Jeremy Price.

Correctly testing power supplies is a complex procedure and KitGuru have configured a test bench which can deliver up to a 2,000 watt DC load. Due to public requests we have changed our temperature settings recently – previously we rated with ambient temperatures at 25C, we have increased ambient temperatures by 10c (to 35c) in our environment to greater reflect warmer internal chassis conditions.

We use combinations of the following hardware:
• SunMoon SM-268
• CSI3710A Programmable DC load (+3.3V and +5V outputs)
• CSI3711A Programmable DC load (+12V1, +12V2, +12V3, and +12V4)
• Extech Power Analyzer
• Extech MultiMaster MM570 digital multimeter
• SkyTronic DSL 2 Digital Sound Level Meter (6-130dBa)
• Digital oscilloscope (20M S/s with 12 Bit ADC)
• Variable Autotransformer, 1.4 KVA

DC Output Load Regulation

Combined

DC Load

+3.3V
+5V
+12V
+5VSB
-12V
A
V
A
V
A
V
A
V
A V
152W
2.03
3.35
2.04
5.07
10.12
12.15
0.50
5.02
0.20
-12.04
270W
3.02
3.35
3.05
5.07
19.14
12.12
0.50
5.02
0.30
-12.03
400W
4.05
3.34
5.00
5.03
29.17
12.09
1.00
5.01
0.30
-12.05
523W
6.08
3.34
7.04
5.02
38.19
12.07
1.50
5.01
0.30
-12.03
650W
8.00
3.33
9.00
4.99
48.00
12.02
2.50
5.00
0.30
-12.03

Voltage regulation is very good, and all output hold within an acceptable range.

be quiet! PowerZone 650W PSU Maximum Load
701W

The power supply would shut down at 701W, gracefully. The protection circuitry worked well.

Next we want to try Cross Loading. This basically means loads which are not balanced. If a PC for instance needs 500W on the +12V outputs but something like 30W via the combined 3.3V and +5V outputs then the voltage regulation can fluctuate badly.

Cross Load Testing +3.3V +5V +12V -12V +5VSB
A V A V A V A V A V
590W 1.0 3.35 1.0 5.06 48.0 12.01 0.2 -12.03 0.50 5.02
145W 12.0 3.31 15.0 4.92 2.0 12.13 0.2 -12.04 0.50 5.01

Cross load results are quite good. There is some fluctuation, but the results all hold well within what we would consider to be safe parameters.

We then used an oscilloscope to measure AC ripple and noise present on the DC outputs. We set the oscilloscope time base to check for AC ripple at both high and low ends of the spectrum. ATX12V V2.2 specification for DC output ripple and noise is defined in the ATX 12V power supply design guide.

ATX12V Ver 2.2 Noise/Ripple Tolerance
Output
Ripple (mV p-p)
+3.3V
50
+5V
50
+12V1
120
+12V2
120
-12V
120
+5VSB
50

Obviously when measuring AC noise and ripple on the DC outputs the cleaner (less recorded) means we have a better end result. We measured this AC signal amplitude to see how closely the unit complied with the ATX standard.

AC Ripple (mV p-p)
DC Load +3.3V +5V +12V 5VSB
152W 5 10 15 10
270W 10 10 20 10
400W 10 10 30 10
523W 10 15 35 15
650W 15 20 45 15

Ripple suppression is very impressive. Both +3.3V and +5V output hold within 15mV and 20mV at full load. The +12V output peaks between 40mV and 50mV which is well within safe industry rated tolerance levels.

Efficiency (%)
152W
81.78
270W
88.75
400W
88.12
523W
87.23
650W
84.51

Efficiency is very impressive for a 80 Plus Bronze certified unit, peaking at 88.8% efficiency at around 50% load. At full load this drops to around 84.5 percent efficiency.

We take the issue of noise very seriously at KitGuru and this is why we have built a special home brew system as a reference point when we test noise levels of various components. Why do this? Well this means we can eliminate secondary noise pollution in the test room and concentrate on components we are testing. It also brings us slightly closer to industry standards, such as DIN 45635.

Today to test the Power Supply we have taken it into our acoustics room environment and have set our SkyTronic DSL 2 Digital Sound Level Meter (6-130dBa) one meter away from the unit. We have no other fans running so we can effectively measure just the noise from the unit itself.

As this can be a little confusing for people, here are various dBa ratings in with real world situations to help describe the various levels.

KitGuru noise guide
10dBA – Normal Breathing/Rustling Leaves
20-25dBA – Whisper
30dBA – High Quality Computer fan
40dBA – A Bubbling Brook, or a Refridgerator
50dBA – Normal Conversation
60dBA – Laughter
70dBA – Vacuum Cleaner or Hairdryer
80dBA – City Traffic or a Garbage Disposal
90dBA – Motorcycle or Lawnmower
100dBA – MP3 Player at maximum output
110dBA – Orchestra
120dBA – Front row rock concert/Jet Engine
130dBA – Threshold of Pain
140dBA – Military Jet takeoff/Gunshot (close range)
160dBA – Instant Perforation of eardrum

Noise (dBA)
152W
<28.0
270W
<28.0
400W
29.1
523W
31.6
650W 33.8

The SilentWings fans are class leading. This power supply is silent until around 500W of power demand when it spins up a little to compensate. Even at a full 650W demand the unit is quiet. The fan speed rotates between 600 rpm and 1,900 rpm.

Temperature (c)
Intake
Exhaust
152W
36
40
270W
39
43
400W
42
47
523W
43
55
650W
45
59

The large fan spins slowly through the load range, spinning up between 500 watts and 650 watts.

Maximum load
Efficiency
701W
84.1

Pushing the PSU above its rated limits generates an ultimate efficiency level of around 84.1%. This is not a viable ‘real world’ situation, but its interesting nonetheless.

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