Efficiency, Differential Temperature and Noise

Efficiency

Efficiency is defined by the power output divided by the power input and is usually expressed as a percentage.  If a PSU were a 100% efficient (which none are) 650 watts of AC power going in would result in 650 watts of DC power coming out (with no waste heat to dissipate).  In the real world there are always inefficiencies and power is lost in the form of heat during the conversion process. Newer revisions to the ATX12V Power Supply Design Guide V 2.2 have continued to increase the efficiency recommendations for PC switching mode power supplies and now lists both required and recommended minimum efficiencies.

We measured the AC power input to the Pure Power 9 600W PSU with an Extech power analyzer while the total DC load was found by adding all the individual +3.3V, +5V, +12V, -12V and +5VSB loads together.  


The overall efficiency of the power supply started out very good and easily exceeded the 80 Plus Silver guidelines for 20% and 50% loads but as the load (and internal temperatures) increased, efficiency suffered. Note: the 80 Plus Organization conducts their tests at room temperature (25°C), which typically result in higher efficiencies. Our tests are conducted at more demanding temperatures, which can cause efficiency to decrease as seen at the 100% load mark.

80 Plus Program

    Note: Tests conducted at room temperature (25°C)

Differential Temperature and Noise Levels

To simulate a demanding environment, some of the warm exhaust air from the PSU under test is recirculated back to the intake through a passive air duct, which allows the PSU air inlet temperature to increase with load, up to 40°C.  

The differential temperature across the power supply was calculated by subtracting the internal case air temperature (T in) from the temperature of the warm exhaust air flowing out the back of the power supply (T out).  

Thermocouples were placed at the air inlet and exhaust outlet. The ambient room air temperature was 23ºC (74ºF) +/- 0.5ºC during testing.

T out = temperature of air exhausting from power supply
T in = temperature of air entering power supply
Delta T = T out – T in

Sound pressure level readings were taken 3’ away from the rear of the case in an otherwise quiet room.  The ambient noise level was ~27 dBA.  

The PSU was virtually silent at low to mid power levels just as be quiet! claims. Once the cooling fan started to speed up at the 75% load test, the noise was still barely noticeable. At full load with an elevated ambient temperature, the cooling fan did speed up and the noise became noticeable but never became really loud.

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