Reviews - Silverstone Element ST50EF-PLUS 500W
Sample Provided by: SilverStone (By jonny on Tue, Aug-15-2006)

Page 1 -

Today we're having a look at SilverStone's 500W "80 Plus" power supply offering, from their "Element Series," the ST50EF-PLUS.

The ST50EF-PLUS is a 500W power supply with active PFC, dual 12V rails, dual PCI-e connectors, a 120MM fan and... supposedly... 80% plus efficiency.

The power supply is very similar to the Enhance 400W I just recently reviewed. This is because this unit is built by Enhance and may actually be based on the Enhance ENP-5150 model.

SilverStone definitely makes sure we have plenty of connectors and, unlike the Enhance, most of them are sleeved.

Type of connector: Enhance ENP-5140GH
ATX connector 24
2 x 2 12V connectors 0
2 x 3 PCIe 2
8-pin Xeon/EPS connector 1
6-pin Xeon/AUX connector 0
5.25" Drive connectors

6

3.5" Drive connectors 2
SATA Drive power connectors 6
Fan only connectors (thermostatically controlled 12V only) 0
* = 4-pin is obtained by using an included adapter.

Unlike most power supplies that feature a 24-pin connector with a breakaway 4-pin or a pair of 4-pin connectors that combine to make an 8-pin,the Element only has a 24-pin and an 8-pin. Adapters are included (see below photo) so the power supply can be used in 20-pin motherboards or boards that only require a 4-pin connector for CPU power.

The label on the box (above) has more information pertaining to the rails than the label on the power supply itself (below.) If we only referenced the label below, we wouldn't even know what the combined 12V capability was.

SilverStone Element 500W
+3.3V +5V +12V1 +12V2 -12V +5VSB
25A 25A 18A 18A 0.3A 3.0A
Max Combined Watts 150W 432W 9.6W 15W
500W

The SilverStone Element 500W is one of the few power supplies we've seen where the two 12V rails are actually additive (18 + 18 = 36.) This power supply has a whopping 36A available on the combined 12V rails.

And now for the load tests.

For testing power supplies, I use a SunMoon power supply tester. Essentially, it's a machine made to put up to 10 different static loads on up to 10 different rails at one time. More information on the testing methodology can be found here.

Results from Element 500W COLD load tests
+3.3V +5V +12V1 +12V2 Watts Efficiency P.F. Intake Exhaust
Simulated system load tests
3A 5A 2A 2A 98.1W 79% .97 22°C 22°C
3.33V 4.97V 12.04V 12.05V
6A 9A 5A 5A 199.9W 83% .99 22°C 22°C
3.32V 4.96V 12.02V 12.02V
9A 12A 8A 8A 296.2W 84% .99 22°C 22°C
3.31V 4.95V 11.99V 12.00V
12A 15A 11A 11A 392.2W 83% .99 22°C 22°C
3.30V 4.94V 11.96V 11.97V
15A 18A 14A 14A 487.8W 81% .99 22°C 22°C
3.29V 4.93V 11.93V 11.95V
3A 4A 18A 18A 380.1W 84% .99 23°C 23°C
3.33V 4.97V 11.95V 11.97V

With each test being run for no less than 15 minutes (typically longer as a certain 3 year old often demands my attention away from the load tester,) we found that the Element 500W can certainly put out what SilverStone claims it can put out and it seems to be just as efficient as SilverStone claims too. Even with 18A on each 12V rail, we saw 84% efficiency and temperatures only raised 1 degree from room temperature.

Now let's see if any of this changes in the hot box.

The "hot box" is nothing more than the power supply running in a sealed up Ultra Wizard case. Only the side panel CPU vent has been replaced with an intake hose and an 80MM intake fan. On the other end of the house is the exhaust of the load tester. You can read more about it here.

Results from Element 500W HOT load tests
+3.3V +5V +12V1 +12V2 Watts Efficiency P.F. Intake Exhaust
Simulated system load tests
3A 5A 2A 2A 98.1W 79% .97 27°C 25°C
3.33V 4.97V 12.04V 12.05V
6A 9A 5A 5A 199.9W 83% .99 30°C 28°C
3.32V 4.96V 12.02V 12.02V
9A 12A 8A 8A 296.2W 84% .99 31°C 28°C
3.31V 4.95V 11.99V 12.00V
12A 15A 11A 11A 392.2W 83% .99 32°C 28°C
3.30V 4.94V 11.96V 11.97V
15A 18A 14A 14A 487.8W 81% .99 33°C 29°C
3.29V 4.93V 11.93V 11.95V
3A 4A 18A 18A 380.1W 84% .99 35°C 31°C
3.33V 4.97V 11.95V 11.97V

Despite pumping hot air from the load tester directly into the case, temperatures only shot up (if you can call it that) to 35°C. The air coming out of the back of the PSU was still a cool 31°C, so certainly the power supply wasn't adding much heat to what was being sucked in from the inside of the case!

Not once could I hear the power supply fan inside the chassis. That's good, but do be mindful that the power supply may not be exhausting all that much heat from the inside of the chassis. Notice the intake temperatures are higher than the exhaust temperatures. It's not as if the power supply is chilling the air. It's just not sucking that much of the air up into it. So the hot air must escape the case by other means.

Now let's use the oscilloscope to figure out how much ripple we have.

Ripple is measured at the load by an USB Instruments Stingray DS1M12 . Instead of using the Stingray with probes to measure ripple, I actually use the Stingray as a medium between the data being spit out by the SunMoon load tester and my laptop. Each change in voltage is collected and reported every .2ms. The time divide on the graphs is 2ms (every square being 2ms) The voltage scale on the graph is .05V, or 50mV.

Element
500W
+3.3V +5V +12V1 +12V2
Test 1
Test 2
Test 3
Test 4
Test 5

 

As we can see from the results of the Element 500W, there is very little ripple even under the heaviest loads. Even during test 5, while the 12V rails were at their limit, the ripple is less than 50mV.

Now for some obligatory inside shots....

No doubt this power supply looks exactly like the Enhance 400W power supply that I had just reviewed.

Photos above and below show Teapo caps used on both the primary and secondary sides of the power supply.

Below we can see that the Element 500W uses the same ADDA 120MM sleeve bearing fan as the 400W Enhance unit.

Now let's score our power supply...

Performance (weight of 40%) gets a 10. The efficiency was almost always 80% or better (79% at an unusually low load where efficiency would be at it's worse,) it has active PFC and it does what SilverStone says it should do: 500W, no problem. 36A on the 12V rail, no problem. Ripple was less than 50mV even under full load and the fan was nearly silent. SilverStone gives us a pair of PCI-e connectors, so we must assume that this power supply can do some fairly high end SLI or Crossfire, but I'm going to say we might want to keep it at the 7900, not the 7800 SLI, and at the X1700 and not the X1900 Crossfire.

Aesthetics (weight of 10%) is 7. Just like it's 400W little brother, the Element 500W has a very utilitarian appearance. But at least they sleeved the main ATX, the EPS+12V and the two PCI-e cables. Just hide the peripheral connector cables behind the drive bays and you're set.

Value (weight of 30%) score is a 10. To see a 500W power supply that has active PFC and 80 plus efficiency is refreshing. To see it come in at under $100 is a relief!

For functionality (weight of 20%,) I'm giving this power supply a 8.5. Most of the cables are sleeved, we're given a pair of PCI-e connectors. That's a great start!

Overall, the Silverstone Element ST-50EF-Plus gets a score a "9.5" This power supply is simply awesome. It really does offer all of the features that everyone should look for when looking for a power supply of this power range.

Performance 10
Aesthetics 7
Value 10
Functionality 8.5
Total Score 9.5

 

SUMMARY:

SilverStone's product selection definitely covers a broad range, and I've yet to be disappointed with anything they've offered for a particular market group. Here, Silverstone is targeting the "efficient" market with an 80% plus model. Naturally, with better efficiency comes lower noise since the fan doesn't have to move as much air. So the "quiet PC" folks will be happy. But because this power supply offers 500W of power with 36A on the combined 12V rails, they meet the needs of some of the most power hungry systems. When the icing on the cake is the fact that this power supply sells for under $100, it's hard to look past this product no matter what kind of power supply market you're in.

The Good....

  • 80%+ efficiency
  • Active PFC
  • Solid rails with only a .1V drop over a 12A load on the 12V rail and less than 50mV of ripple!
  • SLI/Crossfire ready with two PCI-e connectors and plenty of juice
  • Plenty of connectors
  • Great price

The Bad....

  • Nothing bad to say!

The Mediocre....

  • Not all of the cables are sleeved

 
 

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