Cooler Master has been in the headlines quite a bit lately as it has been a pretty busy making products this year. We have seen them renew their enclosure offerings, release amazing High-End PSUs and there is even more to come as the 2009 progresses. But looking away from all the flashiness, we didn't want to go in to multi-KW power supplies. Rather, we acquired a 500W PSU from the new Silent Pro M500 series. This model boasts an 80% efficiency rating and claims silent operation.
Let’s see if this product can really keep it up in the real world.
The Silent Pro M500 arrived in a nice looking box that was also pretty functional. On the outside you will find an image of a butterfly, in line with Far Eastern tradition - the manufacturer obviously wanted to let a potential buyer know what to expect from this power supply - Sound of Silence. The box, as usual, has specs and pictures and other data to show off what the Silent Pro M500 is capable of.
The packaging in three pictures...moddable cables are in a separate box underneath the PSU.
The packaging passed our "Drop and Kick" test and its sturdiness should protect the PSU from potential shipping damage. On the "Think Green" eco-friendly side - a large portion of the materials used for the packaging are biodegradable with the plastic shrink-wrap, ties and the bag being the major exceptions. We would advise that the company removes the plastic shrink-wrap, and replaces it with wave-cardboard carriers.
Construction and Design
All of the Cooler Master Silent Pro series are modular power supplies - a nice improvement from the past models where you had to work on stuffing the extra PSU cables out of the way. The down side is that due to the way the cable sockets are setup - if you do not connect both PEG [PCI Express Graphics] power adapters during installation you might have a rough time getting them in later, especially if you use this in an SFF case.
Cooler Master has also done some work on the cables as all modular cabling is flat, with the exception of the main 24-pin power cable and the 8/4-pin AUX power cable. Given the rated power, you won't be surprised to find a bare minimum of cabling: two 6+2-pin PCIe cables, and four cables featuring a total of five Molex and six SATA connectors. The flatness of cabling means it is very easy to run the cables under the board or behind the mainboard tray. This new design will also help with the airflow. Given the name of the product, we know that Cooler Master featured several noise-reducing tricks. For starters, they have coated the metal casing with a fingerprint resistant material that also has the added effect of reducing any resonating noise from inside the power supply, and there are two rubber gaskets that are meant to further isolate the Silent Pro M from the rest of the case [one at the back, one at the front, where PSU rests on the internal PSU hold. Ed.]. Internally, the Silent Pro M is a 34A/12V Single-Rail PSU.
The power supply in four pictures - as you can see for yourself, this is a good and clean design across the board.
CM elected to go with the all-Japanese Capacitors and a Copper Aluminum alloy for all internal heatsinks. Cooling of the this power supply is handled by a large 135mm high-efficiency fan spinning at a low RPM. The Silent Pro M is also sturdy and built to last with an estimated MTBF (Mean Time between Failures) of over 100,000 hours. Efficiency is a very acceptable 85% typical at temperatures between 0-40c. On paper - not bad at all.
Can this little (wattage wise) PSU take a beating? How will it stand up to some heavy power usage? To answer this we decided to throw a Core i7 920 and see what we get.
The test system is consisted out of following components:
• Intel Core i7 920 with stock cooler
• Intel DX58SO "SmackYourselfOver"
• Qimonda 3GB Triple Channel DDR3-1066
• Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2
• 2x Seagate 80GB Barracuda HDDs (RAID 0)
• Windows Vista Ultimate x64 Edition
To test for voltage and amperage droop we used three Fluke 87V Digital Multimeters and connected them to the 12V (one for each rail in turn), 5V and 3.3V lines. Next we placed a P3 Kill-A-Watt wattmeter inline to test power draw from the wall. We used our usual idle and four load tests to see how the Silent Pro M faired.
Load -1 - This is nothing more than a full 32MB run of Hyper Pi 0.99b. HyperPi uses the CPU, memory and hard drives causing a good amount of power usage. We will test for 3.3, 5, and 12 volt stability as well as seeing what the wattage use from the wall is. We will take a wattage measurement at each loop and then average this for the final wattage score. We will also take the Voltage reading at each loop and this will result in our average. Final numbers will be high, low and average for each reading.
Load-2 - For this test we will run a full render in LightWave 9.3 64-bit. We will use Moonbase http://www.complex-productions.com/space1999/alphamoonbase3d.htm as the sample for rendering. We will take readings for Wattage, and voltage every 10 minutes and average these out. The same High, Low and Average will be recorded. Final numbers will be high, low and average for each reading.
Load-3 - Third load test consists of a full defragmentation using O&O Defrag Professional Edition (Space) of the system drive. Again voltage readings will be done every 10 minutes.
Load -4 - Finally, the gaming tests. For this test we will run Crysis Warhead and then Bioshock for 1 hour each. Readings will be taken every 10 minutes and every level load. Final numbers will be high, low and average for each reading.
Both games were at a setting you would use if you shelled out $500 for a card - we cranked details to the maximum, AntiAliasing and Anisotropic Filtering to high values [8xAA/16xAF], using FullHD resolution [1920x1200 in our case]. designed to make the graphics card loaded to maximum - thus, there is no doubt GPU was eating as much power as possible.
As you can see the Silent Pro M500 was able to easily provide us with enough power even under 100% load on the i7 920. The supplied wattages did not waiver during our stress testing.
More interestingly, a lot of online power calculators and resellers advise users to go with beefy power supplies if they decide to deploy a high-end graphics card such as ATI Radeon HD 4870 or GeForce GTX295. In theory, it is true, these boards can suck up to 300W on their own [75W from PCIe slot, 150W from 8-pin and 75W from 6-pin PCIe Power connectors] - but in reality, we have not seen 300W with the complete system under high load. While it is true that power consumption will jump if you for instance, clock our i7 920 to 3.5-4.0 GHz, but for default clock usage and even some moderate overclocking [3.2 GHz for the CPU], you should be good to go.
The Silent Pro 550 has a price tag of under $100. With its ability to handle the core i7 920 and an ATi Radeon HD 4850X2 the Silent Pro M500 is a very good deal for the money. The problem that the M500 faces is the fact that the Silent Pro M600 is also roughly $10-15 more, and getting 16% more juice for 10% price bump is a valid point you should consider.
Cooler Master has been on a roll lately, their products have improved significantly in terms of performance design and value. The Silent Pro Series is another win for them especially at a time when the 1000 Watt PSU was becoming the norm for modern high-end systems. Cooler Master’s highly efficient [80 Plus] Silent Pro M500 shows that you do not need a massive multi-rail design to run a high end system properly. Their attention to the little details, like the rubber gaskets to help reduce vibration noise, shows Cooler Master’s commitment to quality. If you are looking to build a quiet, yet powerful system - the Silent Pro series gives a lot of reasons to be the first choice for the role.
Update: After looking around a bit, these power supplies can be found at retailers such as Frys.com for 85 dollars after mail in rebate online and even in some stores for 75 after mail in rebate. So these power supplies are an even better value than had been thought before.
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