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Chill Innovation CP-520W Modular Power Supply Review

Rating: 8.0.

Many of you might not have heard of Chill Innovation, a Scandinavian company who have been working within the power supply sector for 9 years now. They are targeting the enthusiast performance media center audience with their new 520W ‘Virtually Silent’ Modular ATX power supply.

Chill Innovation are a Danish company who have been focusing on noise pollution in modern computer systems – their goal? Create cost effective products while lowering noise levels as much as possible.

The CP-520W power supply is rated to 50c and has two separated 12V rails. The 135mm fan is S.M.A.R.T. controlled to reduce noise levels, while delivering good airflow.

  • Form Factor: ATX 2.3 / EPS 2.92
  • Power Factor Correction: Active PFC (PF >0.9)
  • Cooling System: 135mm temperature controlled fan
  • Efficiency: >85% Nominal
  • Standby Consumption: ~1W
  • MTBF: +100.000 hours minimum at 25°C
  • Operating Temperature: 10°C to 50°C
  • Operating Humidity: 20% to 70% non-condensing
  • Protection: OVP, OLP, OCP, SCP, Surge
  • Approvals: EMC/CE, FCC, CB, UL, TÜV, RoHS
  • Dimensions: 150 x 160 x 86 mm (D x L x H)

The CP-520W arrives in a rather understated box with only a list of the key selling points across the top, along with the wattage below.

Inside, the power supply is protected with thick foam inserts on all corners.

This power supply is a modular design, although all the cables are supplied fitted into the rear with a heavy duty cable tie around them.

There is a large 135mm fan at the top, behind a silver grill. We like the plain black and silver appearance as this will suit the majority of systems on the market.

The rear of the PSU is fully vented to help with the air flow as much as possible. There is a power button above the power connector.

For a power supply in this range, the output specifications are quite impressive, with 25A available to both +12V1/2 rails.

Connectors Chill Innovation CP-520W
ATX Connector 1x 20/24 pin (55 cm extra long)
EPS Connector 1x (55cm extra long)
PCI-E Connector 2x 6+2 pin (removable)
4 Pin Peripheral Connector 5x (removable)
SATA Connector 6x (removable)
Floppy Connector 1x (removable)
RPM monitor 1x

The connectivity is very impressive, and we particularly like the extra length ATX and EPS connectors, especially as some motherboards place the EPS cable top left.

The Chill Innovation CP 520W power supply has no ordinary fan installed. The Yate Loon D14BM-12 is rated to a maximum speed of 1,400 rpm while generating 62cfm at a noise level of 29dBa. This model sits between the D14BL-12 which rotates at 1,000rpm but pushes only 46.9cfm of air. The higher models in the range such as the D14SH-12 can emit up to 48 dBa while pushing 140 cfm of air. This choice offers good air flow with low noise emissions.

This is an active PFC design and can offer less than 1W power drain in standby mode. Chill Innovation are using Samxon components, a company who specialise in Aluminum Electrolytic Capacitors. The overall board layout is clean, with large heatsinks separating the PCB design into three sections. The design incorporates hi grade industrial level 105c low ESR capacitors from Samxon.

The cables are fully sleeved into the case, offering protection against cabling fraying. There are cable ties in place to keep the internal layout neat and to ensure airflow isn’t hindered. The RPM fan header lets you monitor the revolutions when hooked into a 3 pin fan connector on the motherboard.

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

12V outputs are combined for testing today.

DC Output Load Regulation

Combined

DC Load

+3.3V
+5V
+12V
+5VSB
A
V
A
V
A
V
A
V
110W
1.02
3.35
1.03
5.05
8.02
12.12
1.00
5.07
220W
2.04
3.32
2.02
5.04
16.01
12.11
1.00
5.05
305W
3.02
3.31
3.04
5.02
22.06
12.08
1.50
5.03
410W
4.01
3.30
4.05
5.01
30.12
12.04
2.00
5.01
515W
5.02
3.29
5.06
4.98
38.14
12.02
2.50
5.00

Voltage regulation is very good indeed, maintaining close to reference figures right across the testing.

Chill Innovation CP-520W Maximum Load
550.3W

We managed to load the PSU with 550W watts before it shut down gracefully. The overcircuit protection worked fine.

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
493W 1.0 3.31 1.0 5.03 40.0 11.78 0.2 -12.12 0.50 5.05
153W 15.0 3.30 15.0 4.98 2.0 12.04 0.2 -11.79 0.50 4.96

The PSU copied well, even when loaded with 40A on the 12V rail, there was some fluctuation, noticeably on the 12v rail, but nothing outside 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
110W 15 15 10 10
220W 15 15 10 15
305W 15 15 20 15
410W 15 20 30 15
515W 20 20 35 15

Ripple suppression is actually very good, hitting 35mv at full load on the 12V rail. Some supplies in this sector can easily fall down with ripple testing.

Efficiency (%)
110W
84.7
220W
86.3
305W
86.8
410W
86.1
515W
82.4

Efficiency results are pretty good, peaking at 86.8 at around 50 percent load, and falling to 82.4 percent efficiency at full load.

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)
110W
27.5
220W
27.9
305W
28.8
410W
30.1
515W 31.4

This is certainly one of the quieter power supplies we have tested, and at 100% load, the fan spins at 1,400 rpm, peaking at 31.4dBa. Fantastic results and barely audible at all.

Temperature (c)
Intake
Exhaust
110W
35
38
220W
36
41
305W
39
47
410W
42
50
515W
44
56

The large fan maintains good temperatures throughout, rising to a 12c above ambient intake threshold at full load.

Maximum load
Efficiency
550.3W
80.4

Pushing the PSU above its rated limits generates an efficiency level of around 80.4%. This is not a viable ‘real world’ situation, but its interesting nonetheless.

To test the standby power draw today, we used an ErP supported product – the MSI Big Bang XPower MS7666 Rev. 1.1 Motherboard which complies with EuP 2013 standards. This specific board has been tested and consumes 0W in Standby mode.

ErP Lot 6 system build
Standby Power Drain
MSI & Chill Innovation
0.8W

When we received this product, we weren’t expecting such a positive review experience. While this specific power supply won’t suit power hungry gamers wanting to run high end dual card systems, it will be ideal for a performance related media center, especially when factoring in the extremely low noise levels, which are barely audible even at full load.

Technically, the power supply combines very good ripple suppression with solid load regulation. The inclusion of a Yate Loon D14BM-12 fan was an educated decision, as this particular model is rated at 29dBa but can produce a reasonable flow of air across all the components. The three large heatsink areas ensure that radiated heat is dispersed quickly, outside the chassis. Efficiency is also reasonably impressive considering the modest asking price.

There is a little fluctuation with our cross load testing, but nothing to worry a prospective customer.

We also like the fact that it is a modular design, meaning that users can easily remove cables they don’t need for storage later. This ensures a clean, tidy system build, although we would have liked to see a little pouch included for storage purposes.

The Chill Innovation power supply costs £69 including VAT.

Kitguru says: The Chill Innovation CP-520W ideal power supply for an enthusiast media center.

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