Hello fine Overclock.net readers,
Today I bring you something special, something unique, two products, which I feel deserve to be shown in great detail to the world.
I’ve recently dived nose first into a niche known to PC enthusiast as SFF. SFF stands for Small Form Factor, which by Intel definition are computer cases that have a volume less than (approximately) 19L. On the Overclock.net thread (link here), there are various cases listed which all fall into specific Intel defined SFF categories and there’s even a whole forum dedicated to this called SmallFormFactor.net
(not affiliated to Overclock.net in any way), which I visit frequently to further improve my knowledge and understanding of this fascinating niche.
Now what is SFF all about? It’s about small power supplies, ITX form factor, cramming an i7, 16GB of RAM and a high end GPU in as small of a footprint as possible, to summarize it’s using space efficiently.
Antec ISK600 with i5 4690K, GTX 970, CPU watercooling, three SSDs and ATX power supply.
That’s enough with my casual digressing. Companies have improved the options we have in this market in recent years, with SilverStone pushing other manufacturer’s to bring more to the SFF market. What did this have for effect? There are tons of options now for SFX PSUs, cases which natively SFX power supplies and caters to PC enthusiasts, great ITX motherboards in almost all platforms, new form factors (looking at your STX) and low volume cases.
A lot of low volume “mainstream” cases have surfaced in recent years, if you look for example at the Fractal Design Node 202, it’s a popular choice for a SFF case since it can support full size GPUs as well as SFX PSU and ITX system combo, this case is about 10L, SilverStone offers the RVZ01 case, which with a similar layout supplies the same market.
I told you at the start I wanted to detail to you two products, so which two products do I want to talk to you about today? Well, let’s start with the SilverStone. They have, yet again, pushed to create something new. A passive power supply, in SFX format with is fully enclosed. The SilverStone NightJar NJ450-SXL power supply is a 450 watt, 80+ Platinum @ 40°C power supply with fully modular capabilities. Now, fanless power supplies aren’t anything new with the likes of Seasonic that have a good handful of models, but for the SFX market, it was unheard of, …, until now.
First, before we get started, I’ll explain briefly how a power supply works in order for you to better grasp why this is such a great feat. A power supply takes an AC voltage from your wall and converts it to various DC voltages that are required by computer to work, mainly 12V, which, multiplied by the amperage it can supply, gives the watts the power supply can output in that voltage. The 80+ ratings is a rating on how efficiently the power supply can take this AC voltage and change it to a DC voltage. The more efficient a power supply is, the less energy is needed to make this happen, energy needed to generate this change of voltage is directly related to the heat it creates. If you take a 1000W power supply, using 1000W of its potential power, with an efficiency of 90%, it means that it will be pulling 1000/90% from the wall, the difference of this value, which for this example would be 1111W of 120V AC (for us North Americans) from the wall to output 1000W in 12V DC, so it will generate 111 Watts that must be dissipated by the power supply. If it would be only 80% efficient, this number rises to 250 Watts of heat to be dissipated by the power supply.**
**I also urge you to not only look at this measure when choosing a power supply, visit a reputable review website that does all power testing for power supplies and there are TONS of variables for internal power supply quality.
A fanless power supply, to dissipate this heat, needs to be able to do it unassisted, relying entirely on natural air convection, which is why it needs to be as efficient as possible, to produce the least amount of heat by converting voltages. Lower efficiency is just not suited for doing this task. It’s also a reason, why we see more and more “hybrid” designs, power supplies that have the fan turned off at lower load but turn on only when being pushed harder, this has existed in ATX form factor power supplies for quite a while now.
Now, SFX, a power supply with HALF the volume of an ATX power supply, in 450W made fanless, is epic. It’s still the only one available with this capability. One less moving part means one less potential failure and fully enclosed means less noise, less maintenance (since it’s enclosed, it won’t even accumulate any dust) and it’s fully modular connectors make sure you use only the necessary cables to save on space.
Now, this unit is heavy compared to a same wattage SFX power supply, but that is to be expected as the casing is essentially an entire aluminum extruded heatsink (in 4 pieces), which enables it to be passive.
Now, where would one want to use such a power supply? Possibilities are endless, but I specifically asked SilverStone for this power supply for one reason, which brings me to my second product, The First, a case by MonsterLabo, a fully passive case SFF sized case, which supports ITX motherboards, long GPUs, ATX or SFX power supplies and plenty of storage options, while remaining entirely passive. This means that there won’t be ANY moving parts inside your case; this means that your build will be completely silent.
At 16L this case fits into the Intel defined SFF definition, MonsterLabo have designed this case to have a heatsink that takes up about half of the cases volume and engineering to create a much needed natural convection.
I will be reviewing this case in the coming months, so I wanted to create an entire passive environment for testing, in both ATX (with a Seasonic Prime Ultra 850W Titanium with its hybrid technology) and SFX (with the Silverstone Nightjar 450W NJ450-SXL).
How much will I be able to cram into this case? How will the power supplies work passively with this case? Still a lot of unanswered questions that will be answered in some future content!
With all that talk, I bet you’re wondering what this power supply looks like, well here, it is, in all its beauty, I present to you, the SilverStone NightJar 450W 80+ Platinum enclosed Passive power supply, for The First, you’ll just have to sit tight and wait until I get my hands on it!
Products mentioned pages in order of mention
Fractal Design - Node 202
SilverStone - RVZ01
Silverstone - NJ450-SXL
MonsterLabo - The First
Seasonic - Prime Ultra 850W Titanium