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SilverStone ST30SF & ST45SF SFX PSU Review

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Introduction and Features

Introduction

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SilverStone has been busy this year expanding their power supply lineup. With a continued focus on smaller physical size and support for enthusiasts in the small form factor arena, SilverStone now offers seven power supplies in the SFX Series, ranging in output capacity from 300W to 700W. Earlier this year we looked at the SX700-LPT, which sits at high end of the SFX Series. In this review we are going to look at the two entry level models, the new ST30SF (V2.0) and the ST45SF (V3.0).

Both of the SilverStone SFX power supplies were designed for mainstream use in small form factor cases but they can also be used in place of a standard ATX power supply (in small enclosures) with the included adapter bracket. As entry level units they forgo some features like modular cables, Platinum or Gold efficiency certification, and fan-less operation. However, in addition to their compact size, the ST30SF and ST45SF incorporate a quiet 92mm fan (instead of the 80mm fans used in previous models), fixed cables, and come with 80 Plus Bronze efficiency certification.

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SilverStone ST30SF & ST45SF PSU Key Features:

•    Small Form Factor (SFX) design (63x125x100mm HxWxD)
•    300W or 450W continuous power output rated for 24/7 operation
•    Very quiet with 92mm cooling fan
•    80 Plus Bronze certified for high efficiency
•    Powerful single +12V rail operation
•    Fixed cables
•    Active power factor correction
•    MSRP: ST30SF - $$49.99 USD
•    MSRP: ST45SF - $69.99 USD
•    3-Year warranty

Please continue reading our review of the SilverStone SFX PSUs!!!

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The SilverStone ST30SF and ST45SF power supplies appear virtually identical from the outside. The only difference being the name plate label and one extra 6+2pin PCI-E cable/connector on the ST45SF.

Here is what SilverStone has to say about these two power supplies:

SilverStone has released a reference power supply design for the masses in the ST30SF, a 300W SFX unit designed with high affordability and great performance. It has 80 Plus Bronze efficiency and a silent running fan for class leading efficiency and low noise.

SilverStone engineers continue their push for advancement in both HTPC and SFF categories by releasing a true upgrade-worthy small form factor power supply, the ST45SF. Despite its small size, the ST45SF has features that one would expect from an elite ATX power supply such as 80 Plus Bronze level of efficiency, temperature controlled fan, and reliability for 24/7 operation. Enthusiast oriented features are also present with single +12V rail and 8-pin/6-pin PCI-E connectors to fully support [advanced] GPU systems.

To enable users to easily take advantage of these excellent SFX power supplies, an adapter is included to convert the ST30SF or ST45SF to mount in any ATX case in addition to ones that fit only SFX. For SFF users, the ST30SF and ST45SF are excellent, well-rounded power supplies for any DIY desktop computer.

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November 17, 2016 | 09:09 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I disagree with the negative comment on rerating of the operating temp.

Anyone trying to run high power apps in a small enclosure that is typical of a SFX power supply installation "is doing it wrong". For small enclosures where SFX power supplies are used, the associated motherboard is typically mini-ITX. Anyone trying to run high power apps on a mini-ITX board "is doing it wrong". I won't comment on the "fringe users" that attempt to operate high end, heat-producing monster video cards on mini-ITX mobos strapped to a ridiculously overpriced (and maybe even overclocked) CPU in the absolute smallest case they can find just so they can brag about playing the lastest game at the absolute highest resolution possible in a multi-screen setup (with the largets screens possible, of course).

A major problem with "small form factor anything" is moving heat away from the heat-producing elements. The pictures of internals of these power supplies clearly show that these units are "packed" internally. Physical objects block or otherwise restrict airflow making cooling difficult, unless that device is mated to a high volume fan, but then "noise" can become a problem.

Now move this challenge (small size & heat) to a mini-ITX mobo. Pack any "high end" mini-ITX mobo, and there are just a few of those around, with a high power CPU and the problem changes to mounting an adequate CPU heatsink/fan due to component clearances. Since a lot of high power CPUs have extensive I/O options, the end user may even be trading off a lot of capability for small space. Said another way, if a high power CPU has lots of PCIe lanes, and most of those CPUs can power a pair of PCIe x16 Gen2 or even Gen3 slots, how does one access all of those lanes on a mini-ITX mobo? See my point about tradeoffs?

Now combine SFX power supplies and mini-ITX mobos into those small "cube like" cases. The problem of removing heat from the inside of the case becomes a problem of getting enough airflow across all of the heat-producing elements inside the case. If the intent is to build a relatively quiet PC, heat will build up because the high powered fans needed to move the heat away will not be used because they are too noisy. Such a small case could have "mesh" sides all over the place to help with airflow, but then case rigidity (not to mention appearance) could suffer. Again, there are tradeoffs due to size.

Look at the problem this way:

"high power, small size, low noise, low operating temps - pick any 2"

So I fail to see the value in knocking a manufacturer for derating the operating temps of it's SFX products to something more inline with "common sense" and "reasonable for typical applications".

Now, the warranty "knock" seems reasonable in view of the general trend in the industry towards longer warranties on power supplies, but again, consider the platform. SFX is a small chassis compared to typical ATX power supplies, so heat buildup may still be an issue here, unless a noisy high airflow fan is used (but then other mechanical engineering issues related to airflow have to be considered), and heat degrades the lifetime of any quality part no matter who makes it.

Also consider the MSRP prices cited in the article itself. At those prices, expecting a longer warranty seems unreasonable nowadays. Longer warranties typically translate to higher product prices because manufacturers will spend more on longer warranty products, both to produce them and to support them through their warranty lifecycles.

So, while I find Lee's power supplies reviews to be balanced and informative, I think his negative comments in this review are an attempt to "stir up a tempest inside a teapot".

November 18, 2016 | 04:11 AM - Posted by Curtis Smith (not verified)

Talk about stirring up a tempest inside a teapot! Your rant about people who max out their mini ITX motherboards is over the top. First of all no one is "doing it wrong" except you. Some of us "fringe users" successfully run "high end" mini ITX motherboards inside of those "cube like" cases without problem "even overclocked". In fact I have been doing it daily for about three years now using the ST45SF power supply without a single component failure. You do it with water cooling and three Cougar Vortex hydro-dynamic bearing fans. High power, small size, low noise, low operating temps - pick all 4! See my point about trade-offs? Oh and I also have 2 8GB GSkill TridentX overclocked DIMMS, 2 4TB WD enterprise 3.5 HDs in RAID-0 (8TB), two Samsung 256GB SSDs, a Swiftech MCP35X water pump, a Black Ice Xtreme 120mm x 38mm radiator, and room for a double slot mini ITX GPU, all running off a high performance ASUS Maximus VI Impact mini ITX motherboard, inside a version 1.0 NCase M1 chassis. At full load for one hour my chassis, mobo, and quad core CPU temps remain under 40C, and at idle are under 32C and totally silent. With modern parts it would be even better. I don't see your "trade offs due to size" argument, or your "appearance" argument for that matter. You just don't know how to do it yet.

November 18, 2016 | 06:46 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Ironically, making a case smaller makes it EASIER to get fresh air to components (and hot air out). You don't even need a battery of case fans lie you do with a 42L ATX Overcompensator: with good design, the fans on individual components are placed right next to the case intakes, so they will pull in their own fresh air directly.

November 19, 2016 | 08:46 AM - Posted by Qrash

The previous two comments have small form factor (SFF) builds figured out.

Stop spouting your theories about SFF builds and comment on the power supplies being reviewed.

November 20, 2016 | 08:33 AM - Posted by Jann5s

TL;DR

November 21, 2016 | 10:58 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

SJW

November 21, 2016 | 12:36 PM - Posted by Jeremy Hellstrom

SFX Joule worrier?

November 23, 2016 | 07:50 AM - Posted by Jon L (not verified)

As someone who has done everything you're moaning about - what's your issue?

I have a very nice, very quiet HTPC/gaming PC rigged up that's entirely water-cooled and using one of the older SFX PSUs from Silverstone. Granted it's very hard to max the PSU even under load with limited component space, but the PSU fan is inaudible or quieter than the already quiet radiator fans.

I think "ease of building" is the main concern - getting everything in neatly was a nightmare, but entirely possible in the FTZ01.

However, at this wattage, most high end users will go for the 500 or 600W versions, so while your gripes miss the mark in general, in this specific case I'd say they're fair.

January 19, 2017 | 03:26 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

POWER RATING:
I actually found the 40/50degC rating confusing.
http://www.silverstonetek.com/product.php?pid=253

WHY is the home unit rated at a lower temperature if the NAS unit would run longer and be more prone to wear out?

Is that the DERATING concern?

Does the derating concern apply or is there some confusion between the NAS and HOME units?

Version 2 is the NAS unit.
Version 3 is the HOME unit.

"450W continuous power output at 50℃ temperature rated for 24/7 operation (V2.0)

450W continuous power output at 40℃ temperature rated for 24/7 operation (V3.0)"

Other:
The site next to the FAN PROFILES also says the SAME thing for both units ("perfect for quiet home or office use") which doesn't quite make sense since it says above that V3 is quieter and meant for HOME with V2 meant for NAS/IPC.

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