Are you tired of reading reviews of high output power supply units? It's true that 99% of personal computers out there do not require something capable of outputting more than 500-550 Watts, and even that may be overkill for quite a few people. Even though high output units are often the most interesting in terms of the technologies being used and their potential audience is very demanding, we understand that the bulk of any company's revenue comes from the low-budget and mainstream units.

Today we have something different for you, as we are going to look at the Silverstone Nightjar 520W power supply, a PSU with a moderate power output but a very distinct feature: it's completely fanless. Fanless PSUs are not a new idea, with models appearing as early as the 90's, but the early models still had to rely on massive heatsinks, usually in conjunction with heatpipes -- sometimes even using their entire body as a heatsink as well. This obviously gave them a fair share of disadvantages and increased their cost significantly. The Silverstone Nightjar 520W retails for about $139.99 including shipping (after rebate), a steep price for a 520W unit, even for an 80Plus Platinum certified model. The price is obviously due in large part to its fanless nature. Does it perform well enough to justify such a price? We will find out in this review.

Power specifications (Rated @ 40 °C)
AC INPUT 100 - 240 VAC, 50 - 60 Hz
RAIL +3.3V +5V +12V +5Vsb -12V
MAX OUTPUT 20A 20A 43A 2.5A 0.5A
100W 516W 12.5W 6W

Packaging and bundle

We received the NightJar NJ520 inside a standard cardboard box with a somewhat understated and straightforward aesthetic design, with the unit's major features printed on the front side of the box in English and on the rear side of the box in nine other languages. Inside the box, the PSU is protected by polyethylene foam pieces.

Alongside with the unit, the user will also receive a black and white manual, an AC power cable, a few cable straps, and five high quality Velcro cable ties.

The NJ520 is a fully modular power supply. Its cables come supplied inside a dual nylon pouch and they are all black. Silverstone went with ribbon-like, "flat" cables, with the exception of the 24-pin ATX cable, which is comprised of only black wires covered by black sleeving.

The SilverStone Nightjar NJ520 PSU
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  • houkoholic - Wednesday, July 9, 2014 - link

    The usual good silent case with the right padding are also big. My last two silent cases were the famed Antec P180/182. Sure they were silent but they were nearly full tower size huge, I simply have no need for so much space in my current lifestyle when all I need in my build that isn't already on the motherboard is nothing more than a SSD, a single data storage HDD and one GPU.

    Recently I build a small micro-ITX build using the Antec ISK600 case, the shell of that case is just thin aluminium with no sound proofing unlike the P180s. So I put in a fanless PSU in there, threw out the Intel cooler for a Noctua tower cooler which runs a 120mm fan, the included case fan was good enough to be near silent thus my only component which makes any sort of whirling noise now is the the GPU stock cooler. In the end my build is silent and its footprint is small enough that I can put it on a bookshelf right next to my ears yet it is powerful enough for gaming. My total fan count in the build is 3 instead of 4, and one less fan is still one less component to worry about contributing to noise.
  • houkoholic - Wednesday, July 9, 2014 - link

    One less part contributing to the noise can still factor in. Any fan could be victum to dust and wear which causes it to start making noise (happened to me a few times with PSU). If I have to pay for the privelage such that I don't have to clean my PSU fan as well, so be it, and that already has a point for its existence - and I suspect that there are enough people out there thinking the same to justify the existence of such products.
  • dishayu - Wednesday, July 9, 2014 - link

    This will go really well with my reference design R9 290. :D
  • sheh - Wednesday, July 9, 2014 - link

    Thanks for the review!

    A request: Can you start testing PSUs at specific load (or draw) wattages instead of percentages, and go lower than 50W? Percentages arne't very meaningful by themselves, and watts can be compared directly. And watt-wise, modern computers under light load take less than 50W. Much less, actually. So 20% of this PSU might be what a modern computer draws at maximum CPU load.
  • mapesdhs - Wednesday, July 9, 2014 - link

    I agree, I think my gateway uses about 30W or so.

  • E.Fyll - Wednesday, July 9, 2014 - link

    Actually no, because that is beyond the testing guidelines. 20% is the minimum acceptable testing limit for switching PSU power quality tests. It would also be meaningless to test a 1000 Watt unit at 50 Watt; that only implies that this unit should not have been there in the first place.

    Switching PSUs are inherently not capable of efficient operation at very low loads. It is worse to have a far too powerful PSU rather than a heavily loaded PSU.
  • torp - Thursday, July 10, 2014 - link

    Testing guidelines be damned. A modern desktop idles at 40 W or less. I don't care what the specifications say, I want to know the efficiency in real world conditions. It's not like you can buy sub 500 W PSUs any more... with the lone exception of Seasonic's G360... if still available.
  • sheh - Thursday, July 10, 2014 - link

    400-450W are rather common, and maybe some <400W as well. But I think what's more pertinent is that span of loads in modern computers is larger than it used to be. CPUs and graphics cards have better dynamic power management and are more efficient in general, but you also have graphics cards with extreme power draws under load, and sometimes multiple cards in one system.
  • sheh - Thursday, July 10, 2014 - link

    Isn't the 20% thing just an old decision by Ecos Consulting? I guess even a modern tri-SLI system will use <100W on light desktop load.
  • versesuvius - Thursday, July 10, 2014 - link

    Underclocking is the word. It is also a good idea. A true enthusiast's wonderful scheme. Want a stable, reliable, quite system? Pay as much as is possible and then underclock, cpu, gpu, ram. For power supply this model has done it for you already out of the box. Better yet, buy a 1600 watt unit, which almost always uses no fan above 600 watts and you are even better set.

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