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.
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.
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.