Inside be quiet!

26.11.2014
A first look behind the scenes

In this INSIDE be quiet! article, we want to provide you with some insights into the company behind the be quiet! brand: What do we do? Who do we do it for? And what quality standards do we insist on?

At be quiet! we develop and market products for the power supplies and cooling of personal computer systems as well as PC cases. They are products that ensure desktop PCs are reliable, stable and, of course, run very quietly. We set high quality standards for our working practices and the products that result from it.

Our main target group comprises users who expect a lot from the functionality and quality of our hardware. They always want the best product available in each price class. Such high expectations pose us huge challenges, because ultimately be quiet! products are installed in millions of diverse system configurations and we must continually safeguard they meet the specific demands of them all.

 

Of course, these are challenges we rise to every day, and with great enthusiasm. Our aim is to always find an ideal solution, one that satisfies all the following requirements:

  1. The performance demands of the application
  2. The wishes of the customer
  3. The statutory requirements and safety standards

The theme for this issue of INSIDE be quiet! is how we succeed in offering our customers the best overall package for each price class. We shall explain this to you using an example of a be quiet! power supply under development, what steps are needed and how these are performed.

Our power supplies undergo a number of processes during their development phase. These include conception, realization, noise minimization and quality management.

Our motivation to develop a power supply series arises primarily from component integrators and customers. For example, should the demands on power supplies, connectors or even the regulations change, it prompts us to address these and form a new series.

 

Conception

The first task is to define the target group for a new power supply series. The demands of the classic office PC user are frequently quite different to those of gamers and PC enthusiasts.

Next we ask ourselves what the target group’s typical operating conditions and applications are. Will the system potentially be used in an office, workshop, residential or other surroundings? Will it mainly be installed in office computers or in media centers, gaming PCs and similar?

From market research and customer feedback we determine what demands target users have for the power supply series. Examples of the questions we seek answers for include:

  • Is cable management needed?
  • How long must the cables be?
  • What efficiency rating must the power supply achieve?
  • What technical characteristics and features must the power supply possess?
  • What are customers prepared to pay for the series, to keep the price attractive?

Of course, statutory requirements and the demands of chip and component manufacturers must always be fulfilled. For that reason, we take account of both the existing and imminent demands of Intel®, NVIDIA, AMD™ as well as our other partners.


Realization

First of all, as a manufacturer of power supplies, it is important to maintain an overview of all the possibilities of production. One possibility is to develop and produce the power supply completely by ourselves. A second possibility is to select from the preconfigured models of our manufacturing partners and with minor modifications sell them under our brand name. However, a clear disadvantage of this is a lack of direct control over quality and the product as a whole.

We always prefer a third possibility for producing be quiet! power supplies: We design power supplies in close cooperation with manufacturing partners, defining our own specifications. The new power supply is specially fabricated by our suppliers to meet these specifications.

From experience, such a development process takes over a year to reach fruition. During this period we constantly check whether the demands have changed and if necessary adjust the specifications. Of course, we also make use of the know-how of our suppliers.

Since we manage every step in the product development ourselves, we are able to ensure consistent implementation of our demands on quality of workmanship, quality of materials, safety and compliance with regulations. In this way we make sure that potential improvements are realized at all stages of the development.

 

Noise minimization

A major focus throughout development – as our brand name promises – is the minimal volume and noise spectrum of our power supplies. Three factors that decisively influence the noise level are:

  1. The quality of the cooling fan:
    electrical, magnetic and mechanical noise from the fan
  2. The “inner workings” of the power supply:
    airflow noise (flow/turbulence) electrical noise (winding hum, transformer oscillations)
  3. Mechanical properties of the power supply:
    mechanical noise (positioning, mounting of the fan), vibration of housing components, transfer of vibration to the PC housing

A reduction of airflow and electrical noise is achieved by improvements to the structural layout of components and the targeted use of optimized parts. The mechanical properties of the power supply can be optimized at very early stages in the development. As a result we eliminate many sources of noise in advance and so have no need to cater for them later on.

In order to fulfill our demands on the power supply, we often install a fan we developed ourselves. Above all, this must be quiet, durable and match the cooling needs of the power supply.


Quality management

We quickly learned during the early days of be quiet! that the customary quality assurance and management performed by many suppliers fell far short of our expectations. For this reason, we have introduced our own comprehensive additional tests and measurement methods at every supplier.

At all times during production our own employees perform quality testing at our supplier’s factory on the spot. In addition, each batch delivered undergoes further quality checks when it arrives in Germany. All stages of quality control are therefore defined, monitored and checked by us.

However, by itself quality control of new goods does not suffice to assure and constantly improve the quality of our power supplies. That is why we analyze routinely any defective power supplies sent to us by customers. We investigate whether the problem reported with the returned power supply is confirmed by our testing technology. In conjunction with customer feedback, we continuously work on improvements for our power supplies. In order to perform comprehensive testing we have three Chroma automated testing machines, which reliably check the physical parameters of our power supplies. Diverse test equipment also supports us in localizing noise and compatibility problems.

Naturally this step costs us much time and effort, but it does contribute substantially towards our achievement of the lowest rate of returns in the industry. Our quality assurance concept also includes regular training for our employees and that we take feedback from our customers seriously. The fact that our headquarters are located in Germany means we are close to customers and so responsive. That is also why we react quickly whenever there is a need for a new power supply.


With all the insights and experience gathered from product development and quality management, we are still constantly learning and would enjoy further inspiration from you. We are always pleased to receive constructive feedback and technical questions.

We will introduce the individual test methods and quality management procedures in the next articles. Furthermore, in future articles we will explain our development process and quality management for specific products more precisely.

If you have any questions or suggestions about INSIDE be quiet! please send them to us using the contact form.