SilverStone Nightjar ST50NF Power Supply Review

SilverStone is back on our test bench today with a fully silent and fanless 500 watt computer power supply that is making some very impressive "Silver" efficiency claims. Beyond that, terms like "noiseless," "dusty environments," and "mission-critical" are thrown around. Now to figure out what a "Nightjar" is.

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Overview

The first thing we are going to look at with the SilverStone Nightjar ST50NF is the packaging, accessories, and documentation. While normally none of these items are a make or break item for a power supply the packaging quite often contains a lot of information about the product we are purchasing. The inclusion of an owner’s manual that provides actual information about our product is also of great help. Accessories are almost unnecessary with a power supply as the unit is self contained, unless it is modular, but there cases where a manufacturer can include useful accessories to make installation, routing and use more efficient.

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The packaging for the SilverStone ST50NF is larger than we would expect from a 500W unit and it is oh so silver. The front of the packaging is dominated by the Nightjar 500W ZerodBA text telling us that we have an "industrial-class fanless power supply" not a nocturnal ground nesting bird (wouldn't that have been entertaining). The front of package also contains two bulleted columns of advertising including things such as "Powerful Class-leading Single +12v rail", "Aluminum Construction", "Server-Level Components" and "Strict 3% Voltage Regulation". Additionally, we see an 80Plus Bronze badge which when we flip over to the 80Plus website we fail to see. Rather, we find the ST50NF was certified by ECOS for 80Plus Silver. When asked about this SilverStone stated the following:

Since we couldn’t guarantee that all production units would hit 80 PLUS Silver due to variances we decided to leave it at Bronze instead.

That sounds fair enough to us and since SilverStone is only advertising this unit as being 80Plus Bronze certified that is the certification level we are going to use later on in our review today. Moving on, the rear of the packaging of the ST50NF is devoid of useful information, but the sides contain the power label (reproduced below), connector count (reproduced below), and the fact that the unit is rated at 45C (but this comes with the caveat that we are only supposed to see that at 230V AC input). What is absolutely horrible to see is that the warranty for this unit is nowhere to be found on the packaging or the manual. When we do track it down (on the website here) it becomes obvious why this is not advertised:

Length of warranty on all other power supplies that are less than 550W is 1 year. The warranty period will be determined by serial number if sales receipt is not available.

(Editor's Note: Silverstone has contacted us and explained that it supports this unit with a 3 year warranty as explained here on its website. The warranty information is NOT included in Silverstone's packaging.)

Yeah, I would be hiding such a poor warranty on such an expensive power supply too.

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The power information for the SilverStone ST50NF is similar to what we saw from our most recent fanless power supply, the Kingwin Stryker 500W, but has some significant differences. To start with, the SilverStone ST50NF has a total 12v capacity of 38A or ~91% of the unit's total output whereas the Stryker 500W has a 12v capacity of 41.5A if needed. Turning the tables on the Stryker, the ST50NF has a maximum combined rating on the minor rails of 120W (20W more than the Stryker) but each rail has an individual limit of 18A compared to the Stryker’s 20A. This is coupled with 6 Molex, 6 SATA, one 6-pin PCI-Express and one modified 8-pin PCI-Express connectors. This represents a reduction of two PCI-Express connectors compared to the Stryker and an increase of one Molex connector. While functional for most applications that would use a fanless power supply (HTPC comes to mind), the reduction in PCI-Express connectors here certainly will limit this unit's wider appeal.

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Once we open the unit’s packaging, we find that the box includes the unit, power cord, mounting screws, Velcro ties, and user manuals. As was the case with the recent SilverStone ST1500, the warranty length is not listed in the ST50NF’s manual. For that you have to go to the SilverStone website here. It would be really nice for SilverStone to consistently have this information provided in its manual along with the pinout guide, power label, and the very complete electrical specifications that we typically (as well as today) see from them. Perhaps next time, perhaps next time. Or maybe not since I said that last time.