Seasonic X-Series SS-460FL: 460W and Fanless

Many people are happy with a decent computer that will handle their everyday tasks—nothing fancy, not too expensive, but just a good all-around build. Then there are the enthusiasts that we often hear from in our comments, looking for not just good but great components. Whether we're talking HTPCs, CPUs, GPUs, laptops, SSDs, etc. there are people out there that want the "best". If you just happen to be a users with a passion for silent computing, then today's review of Seasonic's fanless X-460FL is going to be right up your alley.

The 460FL is based on the same design as their new 850W model, but they've changed some components and put in some additional heatsinks. The topology remains the same, with the major difference being the removal of the Sanyo Denki fan and the fan control. You also get fewer connectivity options, though there are still two PEG connectors for graphics cards which is pretty good for a passively cooled PSU. Pricing on the other hand is quite steep: $160 online, which is in the same ballpark as high-end 800W and larger models! Then again, if you're looking to build a silent midrange PC, you wouldn't want to start with an 800W PSU that only gets 75% efficiency on an 80W idle PC load.

The casing for the SS-460FL has more ventilation holes than we're used to seeing, with perforations on practically every available spot! Besides the bottom (where a large fan might normally sit) and the back (to exhaust heat from your system), Seasonic has holes on the front and sides of the casing. Even the top (not shown, and assuming a top-mounted PSU; otherwise this is the "bottom") has a few extra holes to help with cooling. With no fan, there's obviously a need to remove heat and the extra ventilation should help in that regard. Of course, even a very slow fan would help a lot more, and perhaps a good CPU heatsink with a large, low-RPM 120mm fan is just what the doctor ordered. If you still want to be completely fanless, though, we'd exercise extreme caution before trying to stuff in 460W of components and other hardware!

Most of the honeycomb holes are over areas that radiate heat, like the holes over the secondary circuit attached to the back of the PCB. The casing is 16cm long, with a power switch on the rear of the unit. Modular cables attach to the front, and the overall build quality is very good.

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  • numberoneoppa - Wednesday, October 20, 2010 - link

    Well, in most quiet systems, the PSU generates most of the noise. This seems to really address that. Sure, 460W seems like the perfect amount of power for all but high-end gaming machines (this is fine for a single-card arrangement).

    I agree with the need for some sort of airflow, though, like a 120mm CPU fan pushing air along, which for all intents and purposes, is silent.

    You need some fans somewhere, its up to you where you want to put them, though.

    Me likey.
  • defacer - Thursday, October 21, 2010 - link

    Not sure what you mean bu "most quiet systems", but in my experience the most noise is generated by the GPU fan and/or the HDDs (for the latter, vibration-induced noise can be a major pain unless your case or HD mounting can take care of it).

    My main system runs a few undervolted Nexus fans (2x120mm + 1x80mm on the CPU heatsink), an Arctic Cooling Accelero Turbo Module on the GPU heatsink and a Corsair HX520 PSU. The Nexus fans are louder than the Corsair (although of course you can't tell unless you open up the case -- there's not much to hear otherwise).
  • Hrel - Thursday, October 21, 2010 - link

    well that's a quiet system not a silent one. It's not that hard to make a system with no fans at all and rubber grommets to mounts everything. In that case, you would want to use a low CFM 120mm fan somewhere to get some kind of airflow going, exhaust fan or on the CPU. Scythe makes a nice one rated at 8db, can't hear it.
  • defacer - Saturday, October 23, 2010 - link

    Technically I have to agree it's quiet and not silent. However, encased in an Antec P182 and placed under the desk you would be hard-pressed to hear anything at all unless it's the dead of night, and even then it's no more than a whisper.

    Anyway, the OP was referring to quiet systems and used the word silent with the disclaimer "for all intents and purposes", kinda like I tend to use it as well.

    Of course I would use this PSU if I were gifted one, but I really don't think it's good value for money spending double for a PSU to make a practically silent system also be technically silent.
  • mindless1 - Tuesday, December 27, 2011 - link

    You would not want to use a low CFM fan "somewhere" with a passive PSU. That's worse than no other fans but the one in the PSU because it pulls the PSU heat into the case or if it were only an intake fan, to be effective it'd be on the front of the case where a much larger % of noise reaches the user than if it were a rear exhaust fan.
  • dj christian - Friday, December 30, 2011 - link

    Eehh what? What's a CFM fan? If you put a fan in the front of the psu it would have to be small and noise so i don't see that as an option.
  • Souka - Wednesday, October 20, 2010 - link

    I see this in a more open case design...where natural convection would disappate the heat.

    For shame anyone who sticks this in a closed case, with a hot HD, and a gaming grade video card.....especially if they play games! :)

    But yeah, in the case a single large fan, spinning slowly, would all the system needs.
  • numberoneoppa - Wednesday, October 20, 2010 - link

    Yeah, like those new Antec Lanboy Air cases I see advertised on the banner here all of the time. Sounds like a match made in heaven.
  • AstroGuardian - Wednesday, October 20, 2010 - link

    Convection is not possible inside a case where there are few other fans.
  • hangfirew8 - Wednesday, October 20, 2010 - link

    "Convection is not possible inside a case where there are few other fans. " -AstroGuardian

    In an open case design, as Souka stated, fans only affect what they are blowing against, and convection will happen whether you want it or not.

    Convection assisted ventilation is entirely possible in a closed case with one or more fans. Just set the case fan(s) near the top to blow out (create negative pressure). A bottom mounted power supply will then draw cool air in, and once inside the case, that P/S-heated air will be heated will rise to meet the fans.

    A blow-down CPU fan (Intel, AMD stock) can be disruptive of convection, while a blow-through CPU cooler design (Hyper 212+, Freezer Pro, Mugen 2) can assist convection, or if ducted both in and out, can co-exist with convection. Since we are talking about a $160 P/S targeted to the Silent PC market, there is no reason to assume stock CPU coolers and unmodded case internals.

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