Silverstone Nightjar ST45NF: 450W Fanless Power Supply

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Dec 28, 2008 by Mike Chin

Product
Nightjar ST45NF 450W computer power supply
Manufacturer
Silverstone Technology
Street Price
US$175~199

The Silverstone ST30NF power supply is one of the most enduring power products in silent computing. We reviewed a sample all the way back in September 2004, and found it then to be the most capable fanless PSU reviewed to date: "The features alone are impressive enough, but more importantly, real performance was exemplary throughout bench and in-system testing." Amazingly, nearly five years later, this model continues to be in production. It is still the model most often mentioned when anyone inquires about a fanless PSU in the SPCR forums. In fact, one of them is powering the new silent PC that processes the digital audio measurements and recordings from SPCR's anechoic chamber.

The ST45NF is a higher power version of this popular fanless power supply and this 450W model has at least one significant improvement over the original 300W model: It is certified 80 Plus Bronze, which means its efficiency is at least 82% for all loads from 20% upward. The ST30NF, in contrast, is not 80 Plus approved at all, which means even 80% efficiency is not assured. (In our 2004 testing, the ST30NF efficiency ranged 76%~81% at 65W~250W.) Why this pair of fanless PSUs is called Nightjar is a mystery... although the entry in Wikipedia about this European bird may be a hint:

During the day it lies silent upon the ground, often on a heap of stones, concealed by its plumage; it is difficult to detect, looking like a bit of lichen-covered twig or a fragment of bark. With eyes almost closed it watches through tiny slits, rising suddenly, sometimes with a croak of alarm, but usually silently, when almost stepped on.

FEATURES, SPECIFICATIONS

Silverstone has focused mostly on the performance-oriented sector of the market with its power supply lines, of which there are many. For company which began and still has a primary identity as an aluminum case specialist, Silverstone offers a huge range of power supply models, made for them by several different manufacturers. The ST30NF and ST45NF are both made by Etasis Electronics.


A silver cardboard retail box proclaims Zero dBA in red.


The contents include the PSU, paper manual and spec sheet, two AC cord for different regions, plastic and velcro cable ties, plus screws and thumbscrews for mounting. A bracket for additional support on the back of the PSU is also provided (for those cases which allow this).

Silverstone ST45NF FEATURE HIGHLIGHTS (from the web product page)
FEATURE & BRIEF Our comment
Support ATX 12V 2.3 & EPS 12V The former is the desktop standard; the latter is more for workstations but also provides guidelines on power for dual-graphics cards.
Fan-less thermal solution, 0 dBA acoustics
Its primary raison d'être.
450W continuous power output rated with 500W peak Silverstone says it is "constructed with server-level components and downgraded from 600W to 450W." In other words, if it was fan cooled, it would be a server PSU rated at 600W. Note that this spec is with 230VAC input; it's downgraded to 400W/450W with lower AC voltage.
Status indicator LEDs Mostly so you know when it's on and running, in the absence of a spinning, noise-making fan.
Single PCI-E 8pin, dual PCI-E 6pin support High-end VGA Expected for any retail PSU rated at 450W these days.
Efficiency greater than 80% This probably needs an update: 80 Plus Bronze means 82% efficiency at 20% load on up.
Safety: UL/CUL, TUV, CE, FCC Class B Good.
Protection from short circuits (SCP), under voltages (UVP), over voltages (OVP), over power (OPP), over current (OCP) and no load. The more the merrier.
Universal Input, Active PFC Like just about every PSU on the market.
MTBF: 100,000 hrs at full load, 25°C ambient.
Very good.
Warranty? This info absent!
Weight: 2.8 kg
Size: W150 x L160 x H86 mm
It is slightly longer than nominal size but very heavy.

Note that there's no claims about multiple 12V lines, which is generally a good thing. The details of the power rating deserve a little more attention, because it is not normal for a PSU to have different ratings for different AC input voltages. Silverstone goes so far as to list two complete output spec tables, one for 180VAC~264VAC and another for 110VAC~180VAC. This oddity will be discussed in detail in the test analysis section.



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