Silent Running: Two Fanless Power Supplies And A Quiet One, Tested

SilverStone SST-ST50NF

At first glance, SilverStone's SST-ST50NF looks like a gigantic heat sink. Basically, that’s what it is. The top consists of aluminum cooling fins. And its hefty weight, close to eight pounds, offers some indication of this power supply's purpose: achieve maximum cooling performance without a fan. In other words, the SilverStone SST-ST50NF (called the Nightjar after the nocturnal bird) is a fanless power supply like Seasonic's X-460. Unlike the X-460, though, Silverstone's offering is only 80 PLUS Bronze-certified, leading us to assume that it'll dissipate more heat as a result of lower efficiency. This explains why SilverStone turns its entire enclosure into a giant heat considerable expense, we're guessing.

Unsurprisingly, the 80 PLUS Bronze-certified SilverStone power supply's liberal use of aluminum makes it cost significantly more than Seasonic's X-460. It's as much as $70 more when you compare the lowest prices for each online, taking the SilverStone unit's total to $200.

For that price, you get the highest total wattage of the three power supply's we're comparing. But note that its +12 V rail is limited to the same 38 A current as Seasonic's offering. And, in spite of a hefty price, the SST-ST50NF doesn't employ modular cabling. All of its leads are soldered directly to the PCB. Some folks consider this good (one less failure point) and others prefer modular connectors for their benefit to cable management. The cables are sleeved at least, though they're are too short by several inches. This detracts from an otherwise attractive-looking unit. Fortunately, you get plenty of cables and connectors.

The SilverStone PSU's specs are almost identical to the Seasonic unit's, both armed with a single 38 A, +12 V rail multiplying out to 456 W. SilverStone sets itself apart with a total continuous output of 500 W, whereas Seasonic is only rated for 460 W.

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SilverStone SST-ST50NF
AC Input110-240 V, 50-60 Hz
DC Output+3.3 V+5 V+12 V (#1)+12 V (#3)+12 V (#3)+12 V (#4)-12 V+5 Vsb
18 A18 A38 ARow 2 - Cell 3 Row 2 - Cell 4 Row 2 - Cell 5 0.5 A2.5 A
Individual OutputRow 3 - Cell 1 Row 3 - Cell 2 32 ARow 3 - Cell 4 Row 3 - Cell 5 6 W12.5 W
Rail UtilizationSysSysCPU And VGA
Combined Output120 W456 W
Total Continuous Output500 W
Peak Output550 W
  • amuffin
    Seasonic, me gusta :)
  • zeratul600
    Why does americans are so picky about the noise rate??? i never stop to think about that! it has never become an obstacle to enjoy my pc experience
  • the1kingbob
    Fan noise has never bothered me much, which maybe why I own two 4870s... one of which has a jet plane I mean reference cooler on it..... sadly my wife doesn't care much for the noise, which lead me to buy her wireless headphones :)

    I think it is quite neat that they have fanless option. I would never take the risk, but if I did I would chose seasonic, my 750W has done me well.
  • s3anister
    zeratul600Why does americans are so picky about the noise rate??? i never stop to think about that! it has never become an obstacle to enjoy my pc experienceLast time I checked, Americans aren't the only ones who enjoy a silent computing experience...
  • amuffin
    zeratul600Why does americans are so picky about the noise rate??? i never stop to think about that! it has never become an obstacle to enjoy my pc experienceMany companies that are focused on silence such as Noctua and beQuiet! are not "American."
  • Deemo13
    I didn't know they made fanless power beans.
  • uruquiora
    Seasonic for the win :)
  • mesab66
    ZERTUL600......FOR THE VAST MAJORITY OF FOLKS, PERSISTANT/RELENTLESS NOISE QUICKLY BECOMES VERY ANNOYING!!..........give 100 folk a choice of 2 pc rooms - one near silent and one, noisy as hell. Riddle me many go for the quiet room?
    --> argument over.
  • mitko
    A year ago I built a water cooled system with an i7 2600k and 2 x Radeon 6990. The whole point of the water cooling was to make things extra quiet, which it did, except for the power supply. I tried two different Corsair AX1200 units before switching to a Nexus RX1100. The power supply is still BY FAR the noisiest component in the computer. Does anyone have a suggestion how to reduce the noise? I could not find any currently manufactured water cooled PSUs. Do you think it is possible to use 2 low-noise PSUs to power components on the same motherboard? Any other ideas are also welcome. I need at least a 1100W PSU, as I've actually measured the power consumption to be 1067W at 100% CPU and GPU load.

    For the record I am not an American and I don't live in the US :)
  • belardo
    In a quality modern PSU... can anyone really hear the PSUs?

    I've been buying Corsair and even $45 Thermaltake 500... and I cannot hear them... with the cover open. The problems with FANLESS PSUs and GPUs is that they become heat-sinks... sure they are quiet, but everything around them gets warm. You need to blow the hot air out.

    Going from a fanless GPU to something with a huge fan (H.I.S. brand) - the fans barely makes noise and use a rear exhaust and I can run the system fans at a lower speed.

    Mitko: get soundproofing material, apply to inside of case. Put case on floor.

    My case is on the desk, a foot or so away from me... its no louder than the A/C vent blowing air in the room.