FD ION Gold 550

Current Situation

One of my self built boxes is my (currently) Ubuntu Linux based archive server.

It’s used essentially as a NAS (though it does do some other things) using an old CPU and motherboard, 6 HDDs and an SSD for OS. The non-drive components are getting old, so I have a plan to swap them out in 2024 and I’m being extra vigilent around them of late.

One item which doesn’t generate much alert data for me at the moment is the power supply and lets be honest, power supplies are the kinds of things which we just don’t think about much, are they? Poor power supplies. It’s also a shame given how important they are. Due to computers needing power.

However, I had noticed that this one’s fan had started getting a bit louder - not something I noticed day over day when it was on, but certainly when I’d power it off for a while and then fire it up again, I’d notice how loud it was and do the usual comparison-less conversation in my head: “Is that louder than last time? It seems louder. Hmmmm…”.

It was also taking a slightly longer press of the button to spring into life, but to be fair, once powered up it would run fine for weeks.

I’m sure the delay in starting could also be due to several other components, and that’s also why the whole compute side of the machine is also slated for renewal this year.

So, once the decision was made that a change was needed, I started having a look around for some options. Rating wise, whilst the existing 450W was apparently fine according to most calculators, and the box itself can’t really hold more than the numbers of drives I’ve got installed, I decided to go up a little to 550W. The current box doesn’t have a GPU in it, and since APU/built in GFX at the low end is getting erratic, it doesn’t help to have some wiggle room. Also, running a PSU (or anything) near it’s limit isn’t usually the best way to run things, especially when there’s usually a high peak on boot anyway - it’s not like I have a staggered power-on system like massive NASs.

The previous power supply was an Antec EarthWatts EA-450 Platinum. It was a 450W unit, and well built. Reviews were quite decent too. I’m pretty happy with the longevity of this and it’s never really had any functional issues, despite the warranty only being for 3 years, and not the 11 plus I’ve been using it.

Antec EA-450

It was time then for something new.

Obviously there are a lot of PSUs on the market, and I read a lot of comparisons, but most were on English language websites, and I live in Japan, so I had to mentally filter on what’s available here, and given the poor FX rate for the yen, how much they cost. Of course the reverse is true too - we have some PSUs available here which aren’t so easy to get outside, and of course Japanese caps are the mark of quality on pretty much any PSU anyway. It’s also worth remembering that in the enthusiast market 450W is very small these days, and 550W seemed to be where the real market started, with options such as modular cabling etc..

Another factor I looked into is the recently released ATX 3.0 standard, but for the most part that seemed to be targetted at supply and connectors for high end, very power hungry graphics cards - not my usage case, and the prices are still quite elevated.

I looked at the Coursairs but their prices were quite high locally. I also looked at Fractal Design - all my cases are FDs and whilst a case and a PSU are completely different, I had bought two for some family build PCs a couple of years ago, and they’ve been great so far. I did of course look at Antec and Seasonic, they’re workhorse brands who offer a decent range. Of course a lot of PSUs on the shelves are actually manufactured (OEMd) from a small group of companies, albeit built to a specification, so knowing the OEM for a specific unit would be useful too.

In the end I went for the Fractal Design ION Gold 550. I appreciate that FD are not known for their power supplies, but the reviews were decent, I like the modular cabling system, which reduces the number of cables a bit in the box and the quiet FD fan.

The unit is made by OEM High Power, which has a decent reputation, and so the unit comes with a 7 year warranty, which is pretty good in this price range. Indeed some of the Corsair units came with 3 years, but then again so did the old Antec.

Installation was as simple as expected - extracting all the old cables was the hardest bit and I’m glad I’d done a half decent job of tying up all those unused cables in the first place. Modular cables by comparison are much easier to get inand it also meant I could drop the 12V Molex -> SATA connector adapters I’d had to use since the Antec only had 5 SATA power adapters.

So that’s part 1 of the rebuild of the home server for this year, a new, quiet, hopefully healthy power supply. Next will be a new CPU / mobo / RAM - yes, pretty much the rest of it.

FD ION Gold 550