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SilenX and 80mm Fan PSUs
Why is the industry moving towards the 120mm fan PSU design?

You may have seen it, other power supply manufacturers promoting a new, silent PSU with a 120mm fan. They claim incredibly low noise levels with a low price tag. You might even be tempted to buy one to try out for yourself. But should you?

Cost, cost, cost savings...

There's a simple reason why these power supply manufacturers are going in that direction...cost. To get a low noise level, instead of focusing on ways to "beef" up the electronics inside the PSU by using heat-hardened components and larger heatsinks, these other companies are using large fans to dissipate heat generated by the power supply. Whereas using high quality electronics and larger heatsinks would add significant costs and also increase the weight (thereby increasing shipping costs), it makes perfect business sense to cut corners by shrinking the heatsink and slapping on a large 120mm fan to cool it!

But have you ever seen the interior of one of these 120mm fan based "silent" power supplies? They use smaller (and fewer) capacitors obviously due to a lack of space, have tiny coils and use miniscule heatsinks that look like they've been reused from a cheaper, smaller rated power supply. This might surprise you, but in fact, a majority of manufacturers with 400w, 120mm fan based power supplies out there use the same circuitboard and heatsinks as their 300w, 80mm fan based models. There's simply not enough space with a 120mm fan inside a PSU to stick in high quality components and large heatsinks. You might get better airflow with one of these power supplies but in the end, it uses the same components as a much lower rated power supply and they use lower quality components.



Simple comparison!

On the left is a typical 400w 120mm based power supply on the market currently. On the right is our 400w 80mm based power supply. Notice the difference in size with the heatsink. Also notice that on the left, fewer and smaller capacitors are on the board. And no, the heatsink is not made out of copper on the left unit, it is merely anodized to appear like copper. You won't see a PSU with a 120mm fan rated any higher than 400w and the obvious reason is, you simply cannot make a power supply that can provide that much power with the space restriction a 120mm fan provides. You can't tell from the above photo but the power supply on the left weighs a full 400 grams lighter than our unit on the right. Our recommendation? Stick to the "old" adage, "the heavier the power supply, the better the quality." Obviously the heavier unit requires more raw materials and thus should most definitely cost more to manufacture.

Our last words...

The conclusion: don't buy in to the marketing frenzy made over 120mm fan based power supplies. Sure, they might save you a few dollars, but at what cost? For one is noise. 120mm fans cannot be as quiet as 80mm fans, no matter what. The large airflow itself will generate more noise, in addition to the noise from vibrations brought on by much larger fan bearings. In addition, decreased stability (more fluctuations in the rails) is one of the culprits of using fewer capacitors. A far higher likelihood of the power supply breaking down after a year of use is another. You're going to see more companies roll out 120mm fan based PSUs in the future, there's no doubt about that. But after reading this, you should know better than to get suckered in to marketing gimmicks!
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