SilverStone ST30NF Fanless ATX12V PSU

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Sept 4, 2004 by Mike Chin

*POSTSCRIPT added Oct. 22, 2005*

*POSTSCRIPT #2 added Jan. 11, 2007*

Product
SilverStone ST30NF
250W/300W ATX12V v1.3 Fanless Power Supply
Manufacturer
SilverStone
MSRP
~US$159; street price is probably lower

SilverStone's forte is in stylish aluminum cases, but like most brands in the PC business, they've branched out into several related areas, including CPU coolers, case accessories, fans, and power supplies. This last category of products has seen a high number of new players in the last year or two. There used to be only a dozen or so PSU brands for years; now, brands associated with memory, cases, heatsinks, or motherboards -- just about every kind of brand! -- sport new lines of PSUs. Naturally, very few, if any, of these new PSU are actually made by the companies whose brand they sport. They are made by a handful of manufacturers, mostly in China, who happily churn out OEM PSUs on demand in accordance with whatever the client company specifies.

Such is probably the case with SilverStone's several PSU lines, but it's difficult to be sure with the SilverStone ST30NF. This fanless PSU features a great deal of aluminum extrusion in its design, and given the company's expertise and resources in aluminum fabrication, it is just possible that the ST30NF is the result of a cooperative effort between SilverStone and a PSU maker.

Whatever its origins, the SilverStone ST30NF makes a strong first impression. Its high >6lb weight, sleek silver lines and the logo embossed into a side panel -- all these create a sense of quality and rugged substance. The appearance, weight and feel certainly raised my expectations.

BASICS

The ST30NF comes well packed in a large box (for a PSU) with a power cord, an L-bracket and screws for securing the unit to the top panel (when mounting holes are available in the case) and a very impressive 24-page manual with detailed use and troubleshooting instructions along with full specifications of the product.



Despite its obvious desirability for silent computing, I have yet to find a fanless PSU that does not require special care in use to avoid overheating. I've come to the conclusion that this is not really a fault of the fanless PSUs, per se, but of the ATX case standard which (in a tower case) places the PSU at the top rear of the case where it is the recipient of all the rising heat in the PC. The fact remains that this is the environment for which a fanless PSU has to be designed to work within.

The ST30NF has a feature that addresses the heat issue: It features a warning LED that changes color from green to red when the PSU gets too hot. The LED is inconveniently loaded on the back panel where it is unlikely to be looked at by most users except when there is already something wrong. But perhaps that's enough. It is reassuring to me that this feature is there. It is a sign of practical, realistic thinking. To me, it means the designers have thought about heat seriously: Even if the unit is well-designed to cool itself fanlessly, the designers are aware that they have no control over how it is used, so provide the user a means of gauging when the conditions for the PSU are not optimal.

FEATURE HIGHLIGHTS

This information is culled from the very comprehensive manual.

FEATURE & BRIEF COMMENT
ATX12V V1.3 Intel PSU Guide compliance
One standard behind, latest is 2.03; does not support PCI Express.
Extruded Aluminum Casing with Heatpipes for good heat dissipation
Most fanless PSUs have lots of heatsinks, but this one is more stylish and a bit heavier than most.
No-Noise Fanless Design (0 dB) Nice; the reason this PSU is under review, of course.
Dual LEDs for Power Status and Temperature Status Unique and potentially very positive.
MTBF >100,000 Hours at 25°C, full load; 3 years warranty
Both are very good, but how you'd keep the temp at 25°C while running the PSU at full load is a mystery.
Universal AC Power Input (100-240VAC)
Nice, but maybe more useful for inventory control than for users: PC users don't travel between different AC zones w/their ATX PCs.
Active PFC for improved energy efficiency and reduced current load on AC delivery systems.
Definitely a plus. ALL PSUs should have APFC, especially higher power units.
Protections against Overvoltage, Short-Circuit, Over-current, Over-power, and Over-temperature
Pretty complete!
Safety / EMI Approvals: UL, cUL, CB, TUV certification / CE, FCC class B and CISPR class B
Generally, the more the better.

SPECIFICATIONS

As mentioned previously, the ST30NF accepts 100-240VAC without any manual switching. But the rated power output is higher with 200~240VAC compared to 100~120VAC, and the manual actually provides two separate tables for output specifications. For Canadian and U.S. users, then, this PSU is a 250W unit.

Interestingly, the product web page claims that the ST30NF can deliver "abundant reserves of power... [with] a peak rating of up to 400W+." This is not reflected anywhere in the technical specifications.

SilverStone ST30NF Output with 200-240VAC Input
DC Line
+3.3V
+5V
+12V
-12V
+5Vsb
Max Output
23A
25A
18A
0.7A
1.5A
Ripple & Noise
±50 mV
±50 mV
±120 mV
±120 mV
±50 mV
Min Load
0.8A
1A
0.5A
0
0
Max Power
180W (3.3V + 5V combined)
-
8.4W
7.5W
-
35A (5V + 12V combined)
300W

*

SilverStone ST30NF Output with 100-120 VAC Input
DC Line
+3.3V
+5V
+12V
-12V
+5Vsb
Max Output
20A
21A
17A
0.7A
1.5A
Ripple & Noise
±50 mV
±50 mV
±120 mV
±120 mV
±50 mV
Min Load
0.8A
1A
0.5A
0
0
Max Power
140W (3.3V + 5V combined)
-
8.4W
7.5W
-
30A (5V + 12V combined)
250W

*

Other SilverStone ST30NF Specifications
Ambient Operating Conditions* 0~25°C; 90% maximum relative humidity
Power Efficiency 70% (min) at full load
Temperature Status LED
Indicates surface Temp of PSU housing
Red: High > 55°C
Green: Low < 55°C
Power Status LED
Indicates PSU working status
Amber: Stand by
Green: Power ON
Red: Power Fault
* The operating temperature range is very low; however, test results indicate otherwise, as does the Temp Status LED, which does not light red till 55°C is reached at the PSU housing.



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