SilverStone NIGHTJAR 520W Fanless Power Supply

It’s not too often that I get a fanless unit in to review, but that’s exactly what I have on my plate for today. Silverstone’s brought me their newest member of the Nightjar family, the NJ520. It’s time to put the load tester to work.

SUPPLIED BY: SilverStone
PROD LINK: NIGHTJAR Fanless Product Page
PRICE: $149.99 @ NewEgg
Price is at the time of testing!

I sometimes feel like sighing and doing a facepalm whenever a fanless power supply comes to my lab. I’ll tell you why: it’s because the ATX form factor was never designed with passive units in mind. Think about it – back in the day, most cases had a fanned power supply in a little box up top, with the fan used to cool the whole system. You had a warm CPU directly below it, and a slab of sheet metal directly above it. What’s a fanless power supply supposed to do with that? Point it downwards, and all the heat in the case rises into the power supply circuit board. Point it upwards, and all the heat goes to the top of the case and sits there, and the power supply still gets roasted. No, I often think, it’s better to have a semi-fanless unit than a unit lacking one altogether.

Fortunately, the industry has found a way to make fanless happen reliably. Over time, we had improvements in case design. The power supply was moved to the bottom of the case, where the power supply is the first to get cooling whether it has a fan or not. But the biggest helper in the game was the massive improvements to efficiency we’ve had lately.

Today’s fanless review unit comes from Silverstone and is certified 80 Plus Platinum. With only one certification level above it, this unit promises to be so efficient that it barely adds its own heat to whatever case you throw it into. You’d still be well advised to positively pressurize your case to give the unit some airflow (and keep it from roasting your video cards above it), but at this level of efficiency, it’s starting to not be as big a deal as it once was.

Let’s get this review started.

Like many power supplies I look at, this one has some marketing to deal with. Here it is now. Wait… designed for 80 Plus Bronze? Somebody forgot to proofread. That’s a big slip-up… Bronze is three certification levels down from where this power supply is supposed to be.

Ultimate fanless power supply, eh? We’ll be the judge of that, won’t we? Seasonic has a pretty good one, too. But that picture on the box kind of looks like a Seasonic built unit, too. Come to think of it, if that is a Seasonic, it might be the first time Silverstone’s ever buddied up with them.

Wait, silver? The one on the box looks white. I’m confrazzled. Ah, good, we have an operating temperature spec to forty degrees. And a peak output number, for some reason, which I’m going to just come out and say right now is not the best way to market a fanless unit. These things are already missing a fan… you don’t want to start playing the “how much can it really handle” game unless you want a higher RMA rate.

Time to open the box and unpack. Good – Silverstone’s over-documented another unit. Seriously, about the only thing I ever find missing from Silverstone’s documentation is what the lead engineer ate for breakfast the day he designed the unit.

Yeah. It’s a Seasonic built unit – I can tell already from that modular cable bag. Which is full of modular cables. Also present in the box was a user guide, a spec manual, a bag of goodies, a power cord, and a power supply in a cloth bag.

As usual, the spec manual is ridiculously complete. It also contradicts the operating temp given on the box, claiming instead we can get full power at 45 degrees. Ok, then, I’ll just go for the higher number. Not that I expect to have much of a choice in the hot box… even with all fans running, I expect we’ll be over forty without a fan in the power supply to assist.

Here’s the user guide, also very well done.

The goody bag contains some screws, some velcro cable ties, and some zip ties.