Seasonic also gave us the following comment to us about the design:
"Now power conversion efficiency has increased, the cost of high grade components has come down (in relative terms compared to a few years ago), so the topology used has advanced dramatically and [Seasonic] also has its patent pending back panel with VRM to increase air space within the PSU for better air flow. All these factors contribute to Seasonic finally presenting its first fanless PSU."
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The problem comes now in trying to sell people a seemingly 'anaemic' power supply, despite the fact that for many PCs - even when overclocked - a 400W or 460W model is likely enough. On the 460W model that will follow on from the initial 400W, there are even two 8-pin PCI-Express connectors, so we take this as a strong statement of compatibility to relatively powerful gaming graphics cards.
If that's not enough though, Seasonic also told us that it plans to update the current X-650W and X-750W as 660W and 760W units with improved performance and reliability, before following on with an 850W, 1kW and 1.2kW units as well. That's all within the next five months. Later in 2010 we'll see some budget 80Plus Bronze series units that are also fully modular, so if you can't afford the Seasonic Gold standard price tag, at least you can go fully modular.
Competing with popular sub-500W models such as Corsair's very keenly priced CX series will be extremely difficult though. Normally this is the budget market that demands value prices - something that hasn't been in Seasonic's retail manual.
Unfortunately it still isn't as the 400W fanless doesn't come cheap: expect to pay an eye watering US$139.99! (It makes us wonder what kind of price the 1.2kW will ship at!)
Seasonic justifies this by comparing it to other fanless PSUs such as the Silverstone NightJar 400W that currently retails retails for €122.70 and the 400W SilentMaxx 560 (€117.50), however Seasonic claims running these others at full load requires some additional case airflow where its own units don't.
That said, the company doesn't expect this to be a high volume part, and it's targeting HTPCs that requires absolute silence and not much power, as the avenue for its new fanless models. Seasonic also pointed out that schools, offices and hospitals also benefit from silent PCs too - because people are either trying to teach, work or sleep without being disturbed by a background hum. Still, those places often all have tight budgets and usually opt for the $299 Dell machine than consider $140 of that just on a PSU.
Finally, we asked now that the company had gone fanless - what was left in PSU development? To which, Seasonic surprisingly stated that there are actually "very many options ahead." The company is looking into redundant PSUs and is also concentrating on its OEM business, telling us to keep an eye on the market for "very interesting OEM projects that will hit the market in 2011 and 2012, which may lead the PC power supply in a new direction."