in Power supply units

Silverstone Element 500W

ST50EF stock

Introduction

Silverstone. They make the widest range of PSU’s I have ever seen; from server redunate supplies to silent passively-cooled units. But today I test their Element ST50EF 500w supply, with the tag line ‘Power through efficiency’ which hopefully means it’ll be as groundbreaking as their other products.

About Silverstone

Founded in the summer of 2003, SilverStone Technology is now a proven leader in the field of aluminium enclosure design and manufacturing. Our expertise in creating functional works of art from ordinary electronics and computer components is widely recognized. Numerous designs and ideas for improving computer enclosures were first created by our talented team of engineers, who are regarded by many as leaders in their respective fields. Today, SilverStone Technology continues to garner attention and awards that reflect our original vision of creating the most advanced and beautiful products available on the market.

ST50EF Specs.

Input Voltage

90V ~ 264V (Auto Range)

Input Frequency Range

47Hz ~ 63Hz

PFC

Active PFC (PF>0.95 at full load)

Efficiency

Typical >80%

MTBF

100,000 hours at 25°C, full load

Operating temperature

0 ~ 50°C

Protection

Over current protection, Over voltage protection, Short circuit, No load operation

Connectors

1 x 24/20-pin motherboard connector (550mm)

1 x 4-pin ATX12V connector (550mm)

2 x 6-pin PCI-E (550mm)

2 x dual SATA power connectors (500mm + 250mm)

6 x 4-pin IDE power connector (500mm + 250mm + 150mm)

2 x 4-pin floppy power connector
(500mm + 250mm + 150mm +150mm)

Color

black (lead-free paint)

Cooling System

1x 120mm fan

Noise Level

21 dBA minimum

Weight

2.5 kg

Dimension

150 mm (W) x 86 mm (H) x 140 mm (D)

The Element

ST50EF Retail Box
ST50EF Opened box

The external box of the ST50EF is the same design as all of the other Silverstone products; it’s subtle and has an air of quality. The box is quite small for a power supply; however, on the inside there are the standard bits and pieces.

ST50EF Box contents

You’ll find the power supply itself, a 24 to 20 pin converter, 4 black mounting screws, a detailed manual and a kettle plug. The 24 to 20 pin converter was a bit of a surprise, most manufactures simply have a 20+4 pin configuration that lowers cost and cable clutter in your case. Why Silverstone have chosen this method is beyond me, but it does show their commitment to quality.

ST50EF Matt finish
ST50EF Side label

The unit is covered in a lead-free matt black spray paint which is a nice change from the ultra shiny excessive finish that are seen on today’s power supplies. It’s subtle in its appearance, and this shows in the label on the side of the PSU. The whole supply is completely black and is designed to sit in the background as opposed to stand out. There is nothing, bar the small label, that marks this unit as Silverstone. I personally thing that it works for this unit. I hope that the results speak louder than any fancy logo would.

ST50EF wires

Poking out the tail-end of the unit are cables that connect the mains to your PC. You’ll find the main ATX 24 pin plug, 6 standard molex connectors, 2 FDD plugs, 4 SATA power cables, 2 PCI-e power cables and the extra P4 4 pin cable. The ATX cable, the 2 PCI-e cables and the P4 plug are sleeved. This puts this PSU in the gamer category; with its 500w, enough power cables for multiple HDDs and case fans while retaining the ability to power two GPUs. The connections options are more than adequate for most people’s setups.

ST50EF 3/4 view
ST50EF PSU back

The power supply uses the honeycomb method of venting the case. Previously, manufactures would use circular holes to allow air to escape, then changed to vertical slots, and then started using honeycomb mesh’s. The honeycomb method is the closest that you can get to nothing being in the way of the airflow. Obviously the best would be an open rear, but there are obvious problems with this (people sticking their fingers in etc.). Using a honeycomb pattern means the air can flow easier, meaning less noise and a less powerful fan is needed.

ST50EF Contents

Looking inside the unit, we see that there are large aluminium heatsinks that take the heat away from the high performance capacitors and other electrical wizardry. The quiet 120mm fan sucks air from beneath the unit and forces it out the back of the unit where it is vented into the room. The fan is shown below. By using the ADDA model number sheet, the fan is: a brushless DC fan, running at 12v, its 120mm big, high speed, with sleeve bearings, 25mm thick, it has 7 blades and its a low noise version. Essentially, all this translates into a well-rounded quiet fan :).

ST50EF fan

Included in the box is a short manual explaining all the technical information about the ST50EF. Things like the overshoot and hold up time. The manual is in excessive detail and if you wanted to know anything about the PSU, then this is the place to look. Whilst the information is likely to be too much for even the most seasoned PC user, it does show the amount of testing and care that Silverstone have gone to in the R+D department for this unit. The manual reads more like a textbook than actually how to install etc.

From reading the manual and the Silverstone website, the power supply always achieved greater than 80% efficiency no matter what the load put on it. It reaches higher efficiencies depending on the load put on it. This means that it’s essentially on par with the Coolermaster iGreen 430w that I reviewed earlier this month. It should be interesting to see what results the product gets in the testing…

Testing

To test the unit, I’ll be using the following setup:

  • Intel P4 3.2 GHz (socket 478)
  • Gigabyte GA-8IPE1000-G motherboard
  • Sapphire Radeon 9200 256mb Graphics Card
  • 1Gb OCZ RAM
  • 200Gb Maxtor SATA HDD
  • 80Gb Western Digital IDE HDD

To make sure that the unit is being tested to the max, I’ll be using everything that my PC has that sucks power. This includes, running CPU Burn-in, playing load music, copying files, and playing Unreal and having as many powered USB devices as possible connected.

I’ll use Speedfan to graph and record the results. I’ll also use a multimeter to read the rails from a molex plug.

ST50EF Power supply
3.3v rail – Graph shows 18 minutes

ST50EF Power supply
5v rail – Graph shows 18 minutes

ST50EF Power supply
12v rail – Graph shows 18 minutes

The full load was started within the first 6 minutes of this graph. None of the rails vary a particularly large amount. The 5v rail is especially stable with it barely varying for the entire testing procedure. It should be noted that the graphs are really sensitive and a rise of just 0.01v will give a peak in the graph. ALL of the rails are WELL within their respective tolerances, in fact the 3.3v rail ± 0.01v (3.31v), the 5v rail ± 0.01v (5.18v), while the 12v rail is ± 0.04v (12.31v). Changes of less than a 0.1 are very commendable, especially under the testing conditions.

ST50EF performance graph

The voltmeter read the same as the motherboards on board voltage testing facilities.

The results are slightly less than the Coolermaster iGreen which I reviewed earlier. With that said, the difference is over 0.01 of a volt so its not a great deal. The supply has a similar efficiency to the iGreen but it has a higher wattage and it supports multiple graphics cards which the iGreen couldn’t out of the box.

Conclusion

As with most modern power supply units, the rails are very stable, and there is no real difference from any other power supplies at the same price level. However, the twin PCI-e connectors, matt black finish, high efficiency and ultra-quiet cooling are not so ordinary.

If you’re looking for a solid performer with features normally found on higher end power supplies, the Silverstone ST50EF is definitely for you.

Pros Cons
SLi/Crossfire compliant May not be eye-catching enough for some
Excellent rails
Very efficient
Very quiet