ST50F-ES and ST50F-P Review Introduction

Silverstone has been in the power supply market for quite some time now and it is a renowned manufacturer among advanced users and enthusiasts. If there is a thing that makes Silverstone standing out from other manufacturers is that it is one of the very few companies which has such a long products line-up and offers both pinnacle-level and budget-level products. Today we will be having a look at two 500W units, one from the Strider Essential series and one from the Strider Plus series. As the name suggests, the Strider Essential series is the most basic series which Silverstone currently offers, while the Strider Plus series is a step higher up the performance ladder and features a fully modular design.

ST50F-ES and ST50F-P

At the time of this review, Silverstone retails the 500W version of the Strider Essential for just $39.99 incl. shipping (after rebate), while the corresponding version of the Strider Plus series currently retails for $74.99 incl. shipping; therefore, in this review we will be seeing both what $40 can get you and if the upgraded modular Plus version is worth the nearly double retail price.

 

Silverstone Strider Essential ST50F-ES 500W specifications

Model No.

SST-ST50F-ES

Max. DC Output

500W

                 Load Range

 

+3.3V

+5V

+12V1

+12V2

+12V3

+12V4

+5VSB

-12V

Max.(Amps)

24A

20A

34A

/

/

/

2.5A

0.3A

Peak (Amps)

/

/

/

/

/

/

/

/

Min.(Amps)

0.1A

0.2A

0.6A

/

/

/

0A

0A

Range (%)

±5%

±5%

±5%

/

/

/

±5%

±10%

Line Reg.(%)

±1%

±1%

±1%

/

/

/

±1%

±1%

Ripple(mVp-p)

100mV

100mV

150mV

 

/

/

100mV

150mV

combined +3.3, +5V

120W

combined +12V

408W/34A

Input Voltage

103.5V~253V

Input Frequency Range

47Hz ~ 63Hz

PFC

Active PFC(PF>0.95 at Full Load)

Efficiency

>80% at 20%~100% loading

MTBF

100,000 hours at 25℃(at Full Load)

Operating temperature

0°C ~ 40°C

Protection

Over Current Protection
Over Power Protection
Over Voltage Protection
Under voltage protection
Short Circuit Protection

 

Silverstone Strider Plus ST50F-P 500W specifications

Model No.

SST-ST50F-P

Max. DC Output

500W

                 Load Range

 

+3.3V

+5V

+12V1

+12V2

+12V3

+12V4

+5VSB

-12V

-5V

Max.(Amps)

24A

20A

34A

/

/

/

2.5A

0.3A

/

Peak (Amps)

/

/

/

/

/

/

/

/

/

Min.(Amps)

0.5A

0.3A

0.5A

/

/

/

0A

0A

/

Range (%)

±5%

±5%

±5%

/

/

/

±5%

±10%

/

Line Reg.(%)

±1%

±1%

±1%

/

/

/

±1%

±1%

/

Ripple(mVp-p)

50mV

50mV

120mV

/

/

/

50mV

120mV

/

combined +3.3, +5V

120W

combined +12V

408W/34A

Input Voltage

90V~264V

Input Frequency Range

47Hz~63Hz

PFC

Active PFC(PF>0.95 at full load)

Efficiency

82%~85% at 20% ~ 100% loading

MTBF

100,000 hours at 25°C, full load

Operating temperature

0°C ~ 40°C

Protection

Over current protection
Over power protection
Over voltage protection
Under voltage protection
Short circuit protection

Silverstone Strider Essential ST50F-ES 500W - Page 1

The box

Silverstone supplies the ST50F-ES Strider Essential 500W power supply inside a relatively small, typical cardboard box for a power supply. Inside the box, the power supply is protected by just a basic bubble bag. A bluish pixel graphical abstract and a picture of the power supply itself synthesize the aesthetic theme of the box.

The box (rear)

A list of the power supply’s “special features” can be found on the rear side of the box, in several languages. However, the special features are not all that special nowadays, as all noteworthy products have, for example, 80Plus efficiency, PCI-E connectors and APFC.

Bundled items

This is a product designed for maximum value and the bundle (or lack of) reflects that. Inside the box we only found a manual, basic mounting screws and a power cable.

The Silverstone Strider Essential 500W PSU

While not as basic as the $20 tin power supplies, which usually are more usable as paper weights, the ST50F-ES is certainly not much to look at. Silverstone sprayed the chassis with a satin black paint and installed a black finger guard, but that is where any aesthetic enhancements stopped. Also, with the exception of the 24-pin ATX cable, the rest of the cables are not even sleeved.

Side sticker

The sticker with the electrical specifications of the ST50F-ES on the right side of the power supply, a spot usually reserved for decorative stickers. The sticker will be visible if the side panel of the case is windowed over the PSU compartment area.

Left  side

The left side of the power supply sports a large 80Plus certification sticker. Note that it is no Bronze, Silver or any other modern certification level; just the basic 80Plus certification which denotes at least 80% efficiency under load.

Rear Side

As this is a basic, essential unit, the rear side of the chassis is home to nothing at all, with the exception of the hole that the hardwired cables come out from.

Front Side

Again, the front side of the ST50F-ES is as basic as the rest of the power supply, with just an on/off switch and the power cable receptacle.

Silverstone Strider Essential ST50F-ES 500W - Page 2

The cooling fan

A standard Globe S1202512L 120mm fan is being used for the cooling needs of the ST50F-ES. It is a fairly simple product with a sleeve bearing and a maximum speed of 1800RPM.

Inside the Silverstone Strider Essential 500W unit

The OEM behind the Silverstone ST50F-ES power supply is High Power (also known as Sirtec), a manufacturer known for their expertise on low-cost designs. The design of the ST50F-ES is indeed very basic and the manufacturing quality is mediocre, with numerous soldering joints looking rashly done and a lot of glue in charge of enhancing the mechanical cohesion between components.

The filtering and rectifying stages

The filtering stage is quite strong, beginning at the behind of the A/C receptacle and continues onto the main PCB. We counted four Y capacitors, three X capacitors, two filtering chokes and a MOV; more than enough components for a good filtering stage.

Primary side

The active components of the APFC stage are attached to the heatsink near the edge of the PCB, alongside the AC bridge rectifier. A medium sized coil and a 400V/220uF capacitor supplied by Su-Scon are the passive components of the APFC stage. Three transistors can be found on the primary stage heatsink of the power supply, two forming a half-bridge inversion circuit and one is responsible for the 5VSB line.

Secondary side

The configuration on the secondary is quite basic as well, with one transistor for each voltage rail, rectification via diodes and simple group regulation. The secondary side capacitors are all coming from Su-Scon as well. Su-Scon surely is not the unknown off-brand which is usually found in $20 products but also is certainly not the manufacturer of choice when it comes to high quality products either. 

Silverstone Strider Essential ST50F-P 500W - Page 1

The box

The box which holds the ST50F-P Strider Plus 500W power supply is actually more basic than that of the budget version but significantly larger and much stronger. Inside the box, the power supply is protected by just a bubble bag, yet the cardboard walls of this box can handle quite a lot of punishment.

The box (rear)

The rear of the power supply is focused on promoting the most basic features of the model, via graphs and images; only in English this time.

Bundled items

The bundle of the ST50F-P is actually interesting. Besides the basic bundle of manual, mounting screws and a power cable, Silverstone also provides a set of thumbscrews, a few cable ties and five cable straps.

Modular cables

This is a fully modular power supply and all of the cables, including the 24-pin ATX cable, come detached from the main body. The cables are quite basic, with black sleeving and color-coded wires.

The Silverstone Strider Plus 500W PSU

Silverstone sprayed the chassis of the ST50F-P with a satin black color and is using a bright blue cooling fan beneath a black round finger guard, in an attempt to enhance the visual appeal of the power supply. The chassis is only 140mm deep; good news for people with very tight cases.

Side sticker

Once again, the sticker with the electrical specifications of the ST50F-P is on the right side of the power supply, where it will be visible if the side panel of the case is windowed over the PSU compartment area.

Left side

The left side of the power supply is home to several stickers, mostly with serial and part numbers, including a 80Plus bronze certification sticker.

Top side

The whole company logo can be seen embossed on the top side of the power supply. The logo is very appealing but it would be better if it was to the rotated 90 degrees counter-clockwise, as it will now be facing towards the rear of the case from a windowed side panel, not the user.

Rear Side

As this is a fully modular design, the rear side is home to the connectors of the modular cables. There are six connectors; from right to the left there is the ATX 24-pin cable connector, three IDE/SATA cable connectors, one PCI-E cable connector and one 8-pin EPS connector. A large sticker with the legend can be seen as well.

Silverstone Strider Essential ST50F-P 500W - Page 2

The cooling fan

Despite the blue color, the 120mm cooling fan is a relatively common Yate Loon D12BH-12.  This particular model has a ball bearing and a maximum speed of 2300RPM; a notably better and more powerful fan than that of the ST50F-ES.

Inside the Silverstone Strider Plus 500W unit

Although both units share the same output, the ST50F-P is an entirely different design and from a different OEM. Fortron (also known as FSP) is the manufacturer of the ST50F-P. The heatsinks are notably better, as is the quality of the assembly, which is well above average, especially considering the price range of the power supply.

The filtering and rectifying stages

The filtering stage begins at the behind of the A/C receptacle and continues onto the main PCB. We counted four Y capacitors, two X capacitors and three filtering chokes. Unfortunately there is no MOV; Fortron has a habit of not using MOVs as the company claims that their usefulness has been made obsolete by the APFC circuitry.

Primary side

A CapXon 270uF/420V capacitor and a fairly large coil are the passive components of the APFC stage. The active components, two transistors and a diode, are on the large heatsink, alongside the single AC rectifier. The smaller heatsink next to the primary side of the main transformer holds the primary inversion transistors, which form a half bridge configuration.

Secondary side

The DC generation is again based on a simple topology, making use of diodes and group regulation, yet not as basic as the design of the ST50F-ES, as this time two transistors hold the 12V line, two the 5V line, one the 3.3V line and one the 5VSB line. The secondary side capacitors are supplied by Teapo and CapXon. Unfortunately, the secondary side is badly crowded by the many cables transferring the power onto the vertical PCB, which holds the modular cable connectors. 

Test Setup

The load

 

In order to be able to effectively and efficiently test any computer power supply unit, we developed and constructed our own proprietary testing station. Our testing station consists of a number of power resistors and small capacitors, which in turn are connected to a RS485 electronic relay array which allow our load to be controlled through computer software alone.

 

USB interface and connection panel

 

When accuracy and speed are of critical importance, a simple multimeter or voltage meter is not sufficient for the task. To ensure the quality of our testing, an USB laboratory interface is being used to continuously monitor and record the readings of all voltage lines simultaneously. For ripple measurements, an oscilloscope is necessary and we chose the USB Instruments Stingray, the most widely used oscilloscope amongst low voltage PSU engineers and testers.

 

Measurement instruments

 

For accurate testing and repeatable results, a stable power input is also required. Thus, we are providing power to our test samples through a 3kVA VARIAC which allows us to control the input voltage of our test samples and also perform efficiency tests under both 110V AC and 230V AC input. A Lutron DW-6091 is also being used, monitoring the input voltage, real and apparent power, power factor and amperage.

 

The software

 

A power supply testing procedure would not be complete without thermal and acoustics tests. For our acoustics tests we are using a SL-5868P digital sound level meter, placed 1 meter away from the unit (DIN standard). Two PT100 sensors and their respective displays are being used to monitor the ambient temperature and the exhaust temperature of the unit.

 

Complete test setup during trial run

 

 

Testing results (Regulation & Ripple)

 

 

 

 

The electrical performance of the Silverstone Strider Essential 500W power supply is nothing more than acceptable. Voltage regulation is fair, at about 3% for the minor lines and 3.6% on the 12V line, significantly better than the 5% design limit. Ripple suppression however is nothing more than adequate, with our instruments displaying a ripple of 96mV on the 12V line and 44mV on the 5V line under maximum load, figures quite close to the 120mV and 50mV design limit respectively.

 

 

Although not astonishing if compared to that of high-end products, the electrical performance of the Silverstone Strider Plus 500W power supply is significantly better than that of the essential version. Voltage regulation remains mediocre, at about 3.4% for the 12V and 5V lines and 4.6% for the 3.3V line. However, ripple suppression is much better, sporting a reduction of about 30% across the entire power range for the 5V and 12V lines. The maximum recorded ripple was 62mv and 30mv for the 12V and 5V lines respectively.

Testing results (Efficiency, Noise & Thermal)

Silverstone Strider Essential ST50F-ES Efficiency

As the ST50F-ES only carries the most basic 80Plus certification, which only denotes at least 80% efficiency across the load range of the power supply, we cannot really complain about the relatively low efficiency of the Strider Essential as it meets the certification standards. However, 81.2% peak efficiency at 110VAC and 82% at 230VAC respectively definitely are not good figures by current standards, even for a “builder-class” product.

Silverstone Strider Plus ST50F-P Efficiency

The efficiency of the ST50F-P Strider Plus is significantly better than that of the Essential series model, reaching up to 86.4% peak at 230VAC and up to 85.3% peak at 110VAC. It is also noteworthy that the Strider Plus appears much more efficient at low loads regardless of the source voltage, with the efficiency continuously declining as the load increases beyond 250W.

Silverstone Strider Essential ST50F-ES Thermal Performance

 

The thermal performance of the ST50F-ES is good for a low-cost product, with the temperature delta reaching up to 9.5 °C under maximum load. Although such a figure might appear high if compared to a high performance unit, it actually is very good for a product with such a basic design and heatsinks.

Silverstone Strider Plus ST50F-P Thermal Performance

The Strider Plus 500W unit does quite a bit better on the thermal performance front, with the temperature delta reaching up to 6.9 °C at maximum load. Across most of the load range, the temperature is kept quite steady, with the delta averaging at about 5°C from 30% to 80% capacity.

Silverstone Strider Essential ST50F-ES Acoustics Performance

 

As far as acoustics are concerned, the performance of the Strider Essential ST50F-ES can only be classified as horrendous. With the basic heatsinks obviously lacking the capability of removing heat fast enough, the fan accelerates quickly and actually reaches its maximum speed at only 60% load. As such, the power supply is quiet only at very low loads and it quickly becomes noisy if loaded even up to 40% capacity.

 Silverstone Strider Plus ST50F-P Acoustics Performance

Acoustics are perhaps the section where the difference between the ST50F-ES and the ST50F-P really stands out. The Strider Plus operates at much lower noise levels, staying virtually quiet up to 60% load. The noise levels keep increasing after that, yet only at maximum load the fan does reach its maximum speed. 

ST50F-ES and ST50F-P Review Conclusion

We knew that we could not possibly expect from products of value-oriented series to be comparable, in terms of quality and or performance, to high-end units designed with enthusiasts in mind; however, we have to admit that we expected a bit more from the Strider Essential 500W (ST50F-ES). In terms of quality, it comes from a well-known OEM but the parts are just half a step above those commonly found in very poor quality, overrated products of the $15-25 range. Although we managed to have it deliver its full power output at room temperature, it is highly doubtful that this power supply will survive such a punishment for prolonged periods of time, as the cooling fan maxed out very quickly even while testing the power supply at room temperature and not inside a hot box.

 ST50F-ES

 

The electrical performance of the ST50F-ES is acceptable, with both the regulation and the ripple suppression of the voltage lines staying within the limits of the ATX design guide, yet the figures were unimpressive. In terms of efficiency, the ST50F-ES does honor the 80Plus certification which it carries but the plain 80Plus certification has ceased to be impressive nearly a decade ago. Clearly, this power supply has been designed with the lowest possible retail price in mind alone. At just $39.99 incl. shipping (after rebate), it is not a bad deal for those seeking the least expensive upgrade possible but want a branded product; however, with products such as the Corsair CX430 ($39.99 shipped) and the Lepa N 500W ($42.18 shipped) retailing in the same range, competition will be very tough for Silverstone.

ST50F-P

On the other hand, the Silverstone Strider Plus 500W (ST50F-P) is quite impressive. Yes, it currently retails for $74.99 incl. shipping, nearly double the price of the ST50F-ES; however, it also is leagues ahead of the entry-level model in every aspect. The electrical performance is significantly better, with the voltage line ripple suppressed down to levels worthy of a performance product and efficiency which should exceed 84% most of the time during typical usage. It also runs much cooler and far quieter, making it ideal for use in everyday work and gaming systems, especially in quiet environments, where a noisy computer would be uncomfortable. The strongest advantage of the Silverstone Strider Plus 500W however is the fully modular design; it is quite difficult to find any fully modular unit anywhere close to the price that the ST50F-P currently retails for, which will certainly draw the attention of many users seeking a fully modular power supply.

Legit Bottom Line: If you are a system builder or need a basic power supply for a secondary system, then the Strider Essential 500W unit at $39.99 incl. shipping (after rebate) is a deal you should consider; however, if you are intending to buy a power supply for your primary system and especially if you are after a modular power supply, you really should consider spending the extra money and going for the Strider Plus 500W for $74.99 incl. shipping.