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Silverstone Olympia 650W Review

by Michael "SKYMTL" Hoenig     |     May 12, 2007


Silverstone Olympia 650W (OP650) Power Supply Review







Table of Contents:
Intro
1- The Packaging
2- Exterior Observations
3- The 8-Pin PCI-E Adaptor
4- Interior Impressions
5- Efficiency Testing
6- Voltage Regulation Testing
7- +12V AC Ripple Testing
8- Noise and Heat
9- Conclusion


Price: $147 at Directcanada
Packaging: Retail
Fan Size: 1x 120mm

Cord Lengths and Connectors:

- Molex: 6 Connectors
o 2x 39” (3 connectors each)

- SATA: 6 Connectors
o 2x 39” length (3 connectors each)

- PCI-E 6-Pin: 2 Connectors*
o 1x 22” length
o 1x 29” length

- PCI-E 8-Pin: 1 Connector**
o 1x 24” length

- 4-Pin Floppy: 2 Connectors
o 2x 44” length (at end of Molex cables)

- 20+4 ATX Connector: 22” Length

- 8-Pin CPU Connector: 22” Length

* Both 6-pin PCI-E connectors are on the same cable
** 8-pin PCI-E has an included adaptor. 8-pin PCI-E cannot work without this adaptor.

When someone mentions Silverstone, many people immediately think of high quality computer cases but recently Silverstone has been releasing a glut of power supplies as well. The review unit in this case is one of their newly-released Olympia 650W units which promise big-league performance in a compact, quiet package. This power supply also comes with something we have yet to see here at Hardwarecanucks: an 8-pin PCI-E connector used to power upcoming ATI and Nvidia graphics cards. Silverstone has been long known for great after-sales support and this unit is backed up their usual 3-year warranty.


1-The Packaging




The exterior packaging of the OP650 sure casts an imposing shadow; the box is extremely large when compared to its competitors. In addition to the usual information (read: reasons Silverstone thinks you should buy this unit) on the exterior of the box, we see that this power supply is rated at 650W continuous output. One of the sides holds the power distribution where we see that this puppy has a single +12V rail that can output a massive 54A (648W) all by itself. All of these specifications are repeated on the sticker which is placed on the power supply which also includes mention that it has APFC.

You may notice that there is a sticker stating that this is V1.1 of this power supply.



When the box is opened, the instruction manual (which is VERY detailed) can be seen sitting all alone atop the packaging material. One thing is for sure; Silverstone packaged this power supply very well even though there is a lot of space left in the box. The unit is cradled by foam on all sides but I really have to wonder why they would choose to put a smaller power supply in such a large box. As you can see, this box should have had a handle attached to it but it seems to have fallen off somewhere. In addition to the power supply, there is also a Ziploc bag with the accessories.


Inside the bag there are screws (which are black to match the power supply), zip-ties, a power cord and an 8-pin PCI-E adaptor.


2- Exterior Observations



Silverstone once again decided to paint this power supply in their trademark black powdercoat which is an extremely durable finish that resists scratches very well. While opinions may vary, some of us prefer this understated look to the bling that other manufacturers feel the need to include with their units. There is also single 9-blade, 120mm fan which promises quiet operation.



While all of the connectors have sleeving on them, they are not all completely sleeved; the Molex, 6-pin PCI-E and SATA cables are sleeved up to the first connector and then the sleeving vanishes into thin air and we are left with bare cables. The sleeving doesn’t continue into the housing of the power supply either. Couldn’t Siverstone have spent the few bucks more to completely finish the sleeving job? Is that too much to ask? Luckily the ATX, CPU and PCI-E 8-pin connectors are all completely sleeved and all of the cables are nice and long whether they are sleeved or not.


The 6-pin PCI-E cable is a two-stage affair which may cause as many problems as it solves. On one hand it cuts down on having two cables cluttering the inside of your case and provides some extra cable length for the second graphics card. On the other hand, if the lower connector isn’t zip-tied to the main cable it tends to flap around the inside of the case which can cause it to be caught in a fan (this happened to me) or end up touching a hot resistor.


3- The 8-Pin PCI-E Adaptor


No doubt you have heard that the new ATI R600 cards will feature a new 8-pin PCI-E plug which is not featured on too many power supplies. The Silverstone OP650 has one of these plugs….but needs an adaptor which is included in the box. The reason for this is because the PCI-SIG changed the specification of the pins at the last moment. Thus, many power supply manufacturers were caught with their pants down as they had already begun shipping units with the incorrect pin configuration. It seems like Silverstone was caught in the same boat and was quick thinking enough to include this adaptor in their packaging. There have also been some reports of some OP650 power supplies that ship with the correct 8-pin connector right away.



From nearly all outside appearances, the adaptor and the original connector look the same. They both have 3 +12V wires and 5 Ground wires leading to them. They also have two of the pins’ exterior plastic fused together so they cannot be inserted into the EPS12V 8-pin socket on your motherboard. If they were able to be inserted into the EPS socket, there would be hell to pay because the polarity is completely reversed on the PCI-E connector when compared to the CPU connector.



Here we have the adaptor on the left and the original connector on the right; note the lower right-hand pin on both connectors. On the original connector, the last pin is in a square configuration while on the adaptor, the last pin has a “D” configuration. Remember what you learned when you were a child about not being able to fit a square peg in a round hole? Well the same can be said about this situation; if you have one of the original connectors (the one on the left) it WILL NOT FIT into an 8-pin equipped graphics card. Thankfully, Silverstone included that adaptor.


4- Interior Observations




When opening up this power supply, we are immediately greeted with two large transformers and a whole flock of huge coils. The choice and layout of the components hints at independent regulation which should prove to be a huge boon for the performance tests. The heatsinks are laid out in a way which does not interfere with the airflow through the unit.



On the primary filtering stage there are two Hitachi caps behind a vertical PCB.



Things get a little more interesting on the secondary side where there are a few Toshin Kogyo caps among a whole forest of Teapos. Something that immediately draws the attention is the vertical PCB which holds the fan header, two thermal probes for the thermistors and more interestingly a potentiometer (or POT). I didn’t play around with it too much but the pot seems to control the fan speed.



The fan used is a 120mm ball bearing unit from Everflow which takes up nearly the whole top of the power supply. Unfortunately, I could not find any more detailed specs for it.



PERFORMANCE TESTS:

Instruments Used:
Belkin 1100VA UPS
Rexus PSU tester
Fluke 187 Digital Multimeter
UPM Power Meter
Tektronics TDS3032B Oscilloscope

Test Platform:
DFI Lanparty SLI-DR Expert
AMD X2 3800+ (at 2.6Ghz)
2GB Corsair PC4000 Ram (at 520Mhz)
EVGA 8800GTS (Stock, OC 650/1900, SLI, SLI OC 650/1800)
1x Samsung Spinpoint 250GB SATA Hard drive
Gigabyte 3D Aurora 570 Case
Pioneer DVD Writer
4X 120mm fans

Important note:

Because of processor limitation, 8800GTS cards in SLI are seriously bottlenecked in Company of Heroes. Thus, while they still drew quite a high amount of power, when coupled with a higher end system or playing at higher resolutions they would probably draw much more.

One way or another, I would NOT recommend anything under a good 700W power supply for a pair of 8800GTS cards. These tests are done as benchmarks ONLY.




5-Efficiency Testing:

To test efficiency, plugged in my UPM power meter to the Belkin UPS and determined what the highest sustained power draw from the outlet was over a 1 hour test period. All tests were run twice and if there were anomalies, I tested a third time. All “Startup” results are the peak power output required while powering on the computer between the POST screen and a usable WindowsXP desktop.

The first efficiency test’s “Load” value was done with an overclocked processor and the graphics card at stock speeds while running Company of Heroes. The values are the highest sustained power draw over the 1 hour test period.

The second efficiency test’s “Load” value was done with an overclocked processor and a heavily overclocked (both 2D and 3D overclocked to the same value) graphics card. Company of Heroes was played while Orthos was running on the processor in the background.

The third efficiency test was run with 2 8800GTS 320MB cards in SLI running at stock speeds with the processor overclocked to 2.6Ghz. Company of Heroes was then run for 1 hour to determine load values.

The final and test was run with 2 8800GTS 320MB cards running in SLI and overclocked to 650/1800. Company of Heroes was played for 30 minutes while the overclocked processor (at 2.6Ghz) ran Orthos in the background. In addition, HDtach was looped in the background and a full DVD was burned at the same time as well.


Efficiency Test #1






Efficiency Test #2






Efficiency Test #3






Efficiency Test #4




It should be noted that every power supply has its own efficiency pattern which would look like a kind of bell-curve if it was plotted on a graph. Efficiency does not increase in a linear pattern as some would believe but rather rises and falls as load is put on the power supply.

This power supply is not 80+ certified and it shows with these test results. The efficiency is acceptable but it could be better, especially at lower loads. Something that should be noted is that this is the only power supply that drew power from the electrical socket even when the unit itself was turned off. While it was only 3W, it was still something that made this power supply stand out.


6-Voltage Regulation Testing:

To test voltage regulation I used the same tests as the efficiency. They were all done over two tests of 1 hour where the voltage drops were logged with the Fluke 187 multimeter installed on a typical Molex connector. The tests were as follows:

The “Idle” value was done with an overclocked processor and the graphics card at stock speeds while running the Windows Desktop.

The “Load” value was done with an overclocked processor and the graphics card at stock speeds while running Company of Heroes.

The “Load (OC)” value was done with an overclocked processor and a heavily overclocked (both 2D and 3D overclocked to the same value) graphics card. Company of Heroes was played while Orthos was running on the processor in the background.

The “Load (SLI)” value was run with 2 8800GTS 320MB cards in SLI running at stock speeds with the processor overclocked to 2.6Ghz. Company of Heroes was then run for 1 hour to determine load values.

The “Load SLI OC” test was run with 2 overclocked 8800GTS cards (650/1800) in SLI while playing Company of Heroes for 30 minutes. At the same time, Orthos was running in the background to put stress on the processor (OC’d to 2.6Ghz) while a DVD was burned and HDtach was running a hard drive scan.


+5V Voltage Regulation:

Once again, I am going to keep this short and sweet; because I do not have (and the typical user does not have either) enough components that draw power from the +5V rail to put much stress on it. Thus, I did conduct the tests with the system I had and the Silverstone passed the tests within +/- 3% of +5V. I did not add a chart as it would have looked VERY boring.


+12V Voltage Regulation Testing




The voltage regulation of this power supply is nothing short of amazing. These results show only part of the story; through even the SLI OC test, the voltage barely even budged through the whole 30 minute test period. Most of the other power supplies that have been tested by us had their voltages fluctuate up and down but the Silverstone’s voltages stayed stable throughout.


7- +12V AC Ripple Testing

This is a very significant test in the fact that AC Ripple can be the cause of many common computer problems. Short term effects of excess ripple can be anything from an unstable overclock to memory errors while long term effects can include premature component failure and decreased component performance. The ATX v2.2 ripple tolerance is anything below 120mV on the +12V rail.

To test for ripple the following tests were run twice for 30 minutes while the ripple was being measured by the Tektronics o-scope. The values were the highest peak ripple measurement.

The “Idle” value was done with an overclocked processor and the graphics card at stock speeds while running the Windows Desktop.

The “Load” value was done with an overclocked processor and the graphics card at stock speeds while running Company of Heroes.

The “Load (OC)” value was done with an overclocked processor and a heavily overclocked (both 2D and 3D overclocked to the same value) graphics card. Company of Heroes was played while Orthos was running on the processor in the background.

The “Load (SLI)” value was run with 2 8800GTS cards in SLI running at stock speeds with the processor overclocked to 2.6Ghz. Company of Heroes was then run to determine load values.

The “Load SLI OC” test was run with 2 overclocked 8800GTS cards (650/1800) in SLI while playing Company of Heroes for 30 minutes. At the same time, Orthos was running in the background to put stress on the processor (OC’d to 2.6Ghz) while a DVD was burned and HDtach was running a hard drive scan.




The Olympia shows itself to be head and shoulders above any other power supply we have tested here at Hardwarecanucks. The ripple at idle was so minimal, 1mV is just an educated guess as we had trouble calibrating the o-scope to read smaller that 1mV increments (this will change as the next tests will use a USB Instruments Stingray USB O-Scope). This Silverstone had no problem burning through the higher wattage tests that had lesser power supplies begging for their mommies. The ripple test is usually a good litmus test for the quality of the components inside the power supply and in this case, the industrial-grade design of the OP650 is paying off in spades. Without a doubt, this is an impressive result and places this Silverstone power supply in some elite company.


8- Noise and Heat

With the inclusion of a 120mm fan, Silverstone almost guarantees that this unit will stay silent even when it is under the heaviest load and I can report that the fan stayed whisper quiet through all of my tests. Even in the SLI OC test the fan stayed blissfully silent but the internal components exhibited some noise. The noise was a VERY low transformer buzz which could only be heard if my ear was placed within 6” of the power supply. It is very important to note that in a regular case with case fans and GPU fans, the noise will be completely drowned out. Even with all of my case fans disabled, I was unable to hear it from 24” away. Interestingly enough, the buzz gradually subsided as more load was put on the system.

The heat coming out of the rear of the Silverstone was minimal, even at the highest load with the case closed and two 8800GTS cards acting like space-heaters.


8- Conclusion

Without a doubt, the Silverstone Olympia 650W blew me away with its performance. Its ability to deliver boatloads of stable, clean power to power-hungry components is second to none and it does so in a pretty compact package. The ripple / noise suppression needs to be singled out as something that is nothing short of a revelation.

There are however some minor (and I mean VERY minor) flaws that stop this power supply from being “The One”. Silverstone could have completed sleeving the cables and even though it may be very minimal, the transformer buzz is there at lower loads. In addition to this, the efficiency was a bit behind some other power supplies we have tested. This is really beginning to feel like I am splitting hairs as all of these “flaws” I have listed are only shown because this power supply is so good in every category. Thus, annoyances that may be passed over in lesser units are brought to the forefront here.

With a street price of less than $150CAD, performance that blows away the competition, great Silverstone customer service and quiet operation, the Silverstone OP650 is one of the best power supplies in its price range. It receives the Hardwarecanucks coveted “Dam Good” Award.



Please join the discussion about this review here:
http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/revie....html#post8900

To contact me directly, please do so by writing me an email at SKYMTL@hardwarecanucks.com