Your next SFX PSU [November 2017]

Discussion in 'SFFn Recommends' started by SFF Network, Jul 27, 2016.

  1. SFF Network

    SFF Network Editorial Staff
    Thread Starter Site Staff

    #1 SFF Network, Jul 27, 2016
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 2, 2017
    SFFn recommends the Corsair SF450 or SF600 for your next SFX PSU

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    Pricing and availability

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    Corsair SF450 High Performance SFX Power Supply Form Factor, 450 Watt (450W), Fully Modular Power Supply, 80+ Gold Certified, 7 Year Warranty

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    Corsair SF600 High Performance SFX Power Supply

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    The take

    Silverstone's been the king of the hill in the SFF PSU space for some time, but Corsair's recent entry to the space brought with it a pair of potent units that deliver either 450W or 600W of power - all while relying on a superior cooling solution, higher quality components, and a stellar 7-year warranty. The unit is well reviewed, including with us, and across all other features, Corsair's units meet or exceeds what Silverstone's selection provides. Finally, Corsair has even elected to match and undercut Silverstone on price, at the 450W and 600W tiers respectively - if not at a still-pricey $90 or $120 as of this writing. Simply put, we feel that they're the best choice for most.

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    The minutiae

    The small size of SFX makes a plethora of high-performance, low-volume builds possible - but it also presents unique challenges when compared to ATX, and even SFX-L. In particular, providing adequate cooling while keeping noise reasonable is a significant challenge. Thus, when considering what the best option on the market is, our top concerns were as follows:
    • Reliability & quality: Will the power supply last, and will it provide clean power to my computer?
    • Power delivery: Can I power the components I have in by build, even if they're enthusiast-grade, power-hungry and perhaps overclocked?
    • Cooling & noise performance: Is the thermal profile safe, and are the acoustics reasonable?
    • Cabling: Is the cabling solution practical for a cramped rig?
    • Aesthetics: Does the unit look reasonably nice?
    As mentioned earlier, Silverstone has been the undisputed king of the SFX space, having sold high-performance SFX and SFX-L units years before anyone else even bothered. In particular, the SX450-G and SX600-G are time-tested units that are well-reviewed, and share many of the same desirable features that the Corsair has: flat ribbon cables, a modular design, and semi-fanless functionality.

    However, all remaining comparisons give Corsair's units the edge. To start, Silverstone's comparable 450W and 600W units have an inferior cooling solution with a variety of problems. They rely on a tiny, 80mm fan that multiple reviewers - and many within the SFF community - have found to not only be noisy, but prone to making chirping or grinding noises. Furthermore, while Silverstone advertises the semi-fanless technology they've implemented in their units (which turns the fan off whenever power draw is low, eliminating any noise), our own extended time with their units has demonstrated that their method of detecting and enabling this functionality is unreliable, to the point where it will never re-engage without a system restart if you ever pull significant power.

    Compare this to the larger 92mm fan that Corsair utilizes in their SF series, which is grind- and chirp-free, and has a reliable semi-fanless implementation as well. It is by no means quiet at high loads - you really need a 120mm fan at the very least to have that sort of acoustic performance - but across the fan curve, the SF450 and SF600 compare favorably to their Silverstone counterparts.

    What about the quality of the electrical components used by each company? Teardowns of both units have demonstrated that Corsair seems to be using higher quality components in their own PSUs when compared to Silverstone - which may explain how Corsair can provide a stellar 7-year warranty, while Silverstone only provides 3 years of coverage.

    JonnyGURU, considered by many to be the foremost authority when it comes to PSU reviews, gave the SF600 a glowing recommendation (9.7 out of 10), finding that their unit exceeded its own 80 Plus Gold certification to the point of actually qualifying for 80 Plus Platinum, even during their grueling hotbox testing:

    They also uncovered the promise of high-quality Japanese capacitors in Corsair's marketing materials (a promise Silverstone doesn't make), and confirmed the delivery of such inside the PSU itself:


    Compare this with Silverstone, which notched an otherwise-excellent 9.1 out of 10, but utilized inferior tier-three capacitors in their SX600-G:



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    When SFFn's own James Schell tore down the SF600, he discovered a clean layout and solid overall quality.


    Finally, when you consider price, these tangible benefits don't even come at a premium - as of this writing, Corsair has matched Silverstone's pricing at the 450W tier, and has actually undercut Silverstone on price at the 600W tier. SFX units certainly continue to remain expensive relative to their ATX-sized counterparts, but the cost advantage does make it that much easier to give Corsair's SF line our recommendation.

    All-in-all, the Corsair units aren't perfect by any stretch. They're still a bit noisy when delivering high amounts of power, and their cables are stiffer and less friendly than Silverstone's. But the advantages in our eyes are far more substantial: power supplies should be reliable first and foremost, and cost competitive secondarily, and Corsair notches solid victories in both respects. Further, by matching Silverstone's level of execution in all other respects, they've ensured their status as Recommended by SFFn until such a time that Silverstone - or some other competitor - can meet or beat the SF line's performance, at a lower price.



    Some alternatives

    Of course, some enthusiasts will find the Corsairs to simply be too noisy, or they might even need even more power delivery than the 600W unit can manage. If that sounds like you, we'd suggest checking out our upcoming pick for the best SFX-L unit, as these have larger (and thus quieter!) fans, and higher theoretical power delivery to boot.

    Additionally, if 450W is overkill for your needs, or you want the smallest possible solution for power delivery, you might want to consider other form factors that can further minimize the overall footprint of your power supply.

    If you're wanting something a little different, FSP's Dagger 600w unit is a value proposition in the market, but still provides excellent performance, with modularity to boot.

    Sources

    SFF Network, KitGuru, Tom's Hardware, JonnyGURU
     
    Biowarejak likes this.
  2. IntoxicatedPuma

    IntoxicatedPuma Customizer of Titles
    Silver Supporter

    Agreed! I own the SF-450 and the Silverstone ST45SF-G - the Corsair SF-450 is much quieter as the fan does not operate under low usage while the Silverstone has a fairly annoying buzzing fan. The SF450's 92mm fan is also much quieter and smoother in operation than the ST45SF-G. The Silverstone is a great SFX power supply, but the Corsair I feel is better due to the quieter operation.
     
  3. K888D

    K888D SFF Guru
    Bronze Supporter Lazer3D

    The SF450 is an awesome power supply, its capable staying fanless with sustained loads up to around 180W if it has good ventilation access.
     
  4. Kmpkt

    Kmpkt Innovation through Miniaturization
    Gold Supporter KMPKT

    Honestly I'm glad there's an alternative out there. I've always felt with all of Silverstone's products like they provide 80% of the quality they should to save 5% of the cost. Also their logo is hideous and I don't want it on any of my stuff (yes I know this is petty).
     
  5. PlayfulPhoenix

    PlayfulPhoenix Just another human
    Site Staff Kimera Industries SFFLAB

    Whoops, this was not supposed to go live yet! Our bad :eek:

    A quick explainer - the SFFn Reccomends section is meant to be a place for the SFF Network editorial staff to publish what we believe the top choices are for given product segments in the computer hardware market. It will be updated as new hardware comes out and our opinions/preferences shift towards newer/greater/better stuff - as well as when we review products, scrounge the web for information, and revisit past recommendations.

    For stuff like fans, power supplies, and so forth, it's easy to give straightforward recommendations (like the one above). For CPU's and GPU's, it's a much more complicated decision, and we're still considering the best methodology to provide recommendations for it. No matter the product, though, the end goal is to make it easier for folks to make informed buying decisions.
     
    Soul_Est and Phuncz like this.
  6. Phuncz

    Phuncz Spatial Philosopher
    Moderator Gold Supporter

    Here's hoping this leads to more Silverstone products made available for review by SFFn !
     
  7. NATi

    NATi Average Stuffer
    NATi Tray

    Hi,

    How about the new Silverstone SX650-G !

    Jonnyguru review:
    http://www.jonnyguru.com/modules.php?name=NDReviews&op=Story&reid=533

    I am going with this on my build.

    (Allthough I was sponsored with it, I honestly would have bought it retail over corsairs sf600, so I don't feel biased, see for yourself)

    From silverstonetek.com:
    ■ Silent running 92mm fan with 18 dBA minimum

    ■ All Japanese capacitors

    ■ High efficiency with 80 PLUS Gold certification

    ■ Class-leading single +12V rail

    ■ Strict ±3% voltage regulation and low ripple & noise

    ■ 100% modular cables

    ■ All cables made with flexible flat arrays

    I like to have The PSU fan running all the time, to help with cooling my small case (PSU over MB), also I have the gigabyte ab350n and I use the psu fan to draw heat away from VRM..

    As you see, it runs at 1000rpm in under 325w load with 18dbA sound
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    Jonny727272 likes this.
  8. RushNY

    RushNY SFF Gamer
    Silver Supporter

    Can't go wrong with the SF450, they have been my choice for the past two SFF builds.