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SilverStone Nightjar ST50NF 500W Fanless Power Supply Review

Introduction and Features

SilverStone was one of the first PC power supply manufacturers to design and market a fanless power supply for silent operation. While many of their competitor’s fanless products have come and gone, SilverStone continues to build on their reputation and later last year released the SST-ST50NF 500W fanless power supply, which is the latest addition to the Nightjar series. We are a little late to the party in reviewing the ST50NF but after talking with the good folks at SilverStone it appears the wait was worth it as they have continued to tweak the design in recent months to improve AC ripple suppression on the DC outputs.

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Here is what SilverStone has to say about the Nightjar 500W fanless power supply: The fanless Nightjar series power supplies are long favorites for professionals and enthusiasts alike that require noiseless power solution with no moving parts. With increasing power demands required from modern computers, SilverStone engineers have once again created another fanless power supply with leading output level in ST50NF. With 500W of continuous rating, near 80Plus Silver efficiency, ±3% voltage regulation, single +12V rail, multiple PCI-E connectors, and full host of safety features, the ST50NF is a great choice for mission-critical systems that need to operate in noiseless or dusty environments.

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SilverStone Nightjar 500W Fanless PSU Key Features:

• Fanless thermal solution,0 dBA Acoustics
• 500W continuous power output
• 80 PLUS Bronze certified with84%~88% efficiency at 20%~100% load
• Compliance with ATX 12V v2.3 and EPS 12V Specifications
• Strict ±3% voltage regulation
• PCI-E 8-pin and PCI-E 6-pin connectors
• Powerfull class-leading single +12V rail (38A)
• Aluminum construction
• Server-level components
• Universal AC input (100~250V) with Active PFC

Editor’s Note: Fanless PC power supplies occupy a niche market and are targeted towards users who want a silent power supply for use in noise-sensitive areas or who need a power supply that can survive in a dusty/dirty environment that might choke and kill a conventional fan cooled PSU. Fanless power supplies rely on convection cooling and still require airflow in and around the power supply chassis to carry away the waste heat. So while the power supply itself may not have a fan, the computer enclosure must still have some means of creating airflow to keep the CPU, GPU and PSU cool. The last thing you want to do is put a fanless PSU in a closed enclosure without any fans or airflow!

Continue reading our review of the SilverStone 500W Fanless PSU!

Testing Methodology

Establishing an accurate load is critical to testing and evaluating a PC power supply. PCPerspective’s power supply test bench can place a precise 2,000 watt DC load on the PSU under test. Each power supply is tested under controlled, real-world conditions up to its maximum rated load (at 40ºC), using both 115 VAC and 240 VAC line voltage. Our current suite of tests includes:

• DC Load Regulation
• DC Line Regulation
• DC Cross-load (unbalanced load)
• AC Ripple and Noise
• Power Factor
• Efficiency
• Differential Temperature
• Noise

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The SilverStone Nightjar 500W Fanless power supply was evaluated on both features and performance. A full range of equipment was used to test the power supply under controlled load conditions.

• (2) CSI3710A Programmable DC load (+3.3V and +5V outputs)
• (4) CSI3711A Programmable DC load (+12V1, +12V2, +12V3, and +12V4)
• (2) 200W Precision resistor load bank (+12V5 and +12V6)
• Switchable precision resistor load bank (-12V and +5VSB)
• Extech MultiMaster MM570 digital multimeter (Accuracy ±0.02%)
• Extech 380803 Power Analyzer (Accuracy ±0.5% of full scale)
• DS1M12 "StingRay" digital oscilloscope (20M S/s with 12 Bit ADC)
• Powerstat Variable Autotransformer, 1.4 KVA, 0-140 VAC
• Extech Model 407738 digital sound level meter (Accuracy ±1.5 dB)
• Custom PC60 enclosure to simulate real-world operating conditions
 

May 1, 2012 | 01:09 PM - Posted by Rusty (not verified)

Could you use this setup and turn it into a watercooled unit by adding some heat pipes or something?

May 1, 2012 | 04:32 PM - Posted by biblicabeebli

The answer to your question is "Yes, probably?" but the question itself misses the point _entirely_.

IT IS A FANLESS POWER SUPPLY! It is designed to cool itself Without Additional Cooling!

May 1, 2012 | 06:04 PM - Posted by Rusty (not verified)

"Requires forced airflow (case fans) to operate at max output"

May 2, 2012 | 02:42 PM - Posted by biblicabeebli

I think you were trying to make the following point??:
Most power supplies do not have the beefy heat sinks this fanless model has. The application of water blocks etc. would normally be a complete pain, but here we have big, flat chunks of metal to play with, making it bunches of easier.

May 1, 2012 | 08:38 PM - Posted by Lee Garbutt aka...

Yes, you "could" but why even go that route...  If you don't need fanless then just get a good PSU with a quiet fan.

To watercool the ST50NF, you could cut sections of copper tubing and press them into the PSU's large finned heatsink.  Connect the tubes in parallel and add them into your PC's watercooling loop.  Or take a couple old CPU/GPU waterblocks and bolt onto the PSU's heatsink (after drilling and tapping). 

 

May 2, 2012 | 06:21 AM - Posted by rrr (not verified)

Awful value. You can get Seasonic X-460 or Kingwin Stryker/SuperFlower Golden Silent 500W, both of which are:

-modular
-more efficient
-have better ripple suppresion than this unit.

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