February 15th, 2011

Antec Earthwatts 500w

Antec Earthwatts 500w

Introduction

Unless you subscribe to the theory of a second ice age, you’ll know that humans are slowly warming our planet up due to CO2 output. While computers – probably – play a small part in this global change, there is still an impact. Step in 80+ power supplies which promise above 80% efficiency throughout their output wattage range (20%, 50% and 100%). Today I have two such units, both rated @ 500w but from two different manufacturers.

About Antec

The year was 1986. Starbucks had only a few stores. Don Johnson was actually cool. The average PC had less memory than today’s cellphones. And in Fremont, California, a little company named Antec was born. Antec’s first employees never imagined that their upstart firm would rise to the very top of the high-performance computer components industry. But rise it did. And rather swiftly, too.

We’re headquartered in Fremont, California, with additional offices in the Netherlands, Europe. We’ve also established distribution partnerships throughout Australia and Southeast Asia. So you’ll find Antec products in over 25 countries. But no matter how large we grow, we’ll never forget our mission: to give you the power you need to create the computer you really want. That’s the Antec way. That’s the Power of You.

Specs – Antec Earthwatts

Do your part for the environment with EarthWatts power supplies. The earth is our most valuable resource and protecting and preserving it for future generations is of utmost importance. EarthWatts is available in three highly efficient models—380 Watt, 430 Watt, and 500 Watt—and are all 80 PLUS® certified, the newest standard in power supply efficiency. And that means that using EarthWatts will save you money on your electrical bill. Fully equipped with universal input, EarthWatts automatically works on any power grid in the world. And the built-in Active PFC makes EarthWatts the ideal way to reduce electrical waste and protect the environment.

  • 80mm low noise cooling fan
  • Dual 12V outputs: 12V2 for Motherboard and peripherals; 12V1 for processor
  • Industrial-grade protection circuitry prevents damage resulting from short circuits, power overloads, over voltage, and under voltage
  • 80 PLUS® certified
  • 4 SATA connectors
  • PCI-E connector: one for 380W and 430W, two for 500W
  • Safety approvals: UL, CUL, FCC, TÜV, CE, CB, C-tick, CCC
  • Universal input
  • Active Power Factor Correction (PFC)
  • PF value up to 99%
  • AQ3 Antec Quality three-year parts and labor warranty
  • Dimensions: 8.5cm (H) x 15cm (W) x 14cm (D)
  • Weight: 1.77kg

The green-off

Antec Earthwatts 500w

The Antec box, keeping with its name, is coloured in shades of brown with the front picture with the unit sunbathing on some CGI sand dune. Antec have gone for a little bit more conservative, professional feel.

Antec Earthwatts 500w

The Earthwatt’s is a bland grey looking unit, much like an OEM PSU rather than a retail product. Normally in a power supply you’ll find a large 120mm fan, this dwarfs the Earthwatt’s single rear 80mm fan, with the only eye catching part being the small ‘Antec’ logo on it.

Antec Earthwatts 500w

As this PSU isn’t the modular type, you’ll get a bunch of cables, a little bag of screws, a power lead and an instruction manual.

The Antec has two PCI-e connectors each on their own cable which makes cable management a little bit more difficult. It has 4 SATA plugs on two cables, and 3 molex’s on another two with a single FDD connector tacked on the end.

The Earthwatt’s is fully compliant with ATX 12v 2.2 standard guaranteeing its functionality with older, current and newer systems. The lack of the latest 8-pin PCI-e connector is a bit of a let down but over this power supply will run most systems. It has the usual 20+4pin ATX plug which will happily run the latest rig or an older P4 setup.

The Antec only sleeves the huge 20+4pin cable with a funky black sleeve with a twist of red and leaves the rest of the wires bare.

Antec Earthwatts 500w

The Antec gives you a separate 8pin connector and the standard 4 pin one. This gives you more compatibility with you computer thus far (if you have some out-there motherboard) which is nice to see.

Antec Earthwatts 500w

Looking at the back of the Antec you’ll find it has a solid back with a 80mm hole cut out providing the fan room to breath. The inside back of the power supply is grilled to allow hot air from your PC case to be flushed out the back. While a 120mm fan would be quieter, the Antec Earthwatt’s does say that the PSU is part of their Quiet Computing product range.

Antec Earthwatts 500w

The Antec Earthwatts is RoHS meaning that you won’t be killing your woodland animals when you come to dispose of the PSU.

Installation

As with any non-modular power supply, installation is going to be a pain. Once installed it didn’t look all that great and blended in with the rest of the case rather than making a style statement.

Antec Earthwatts 500w

Testing

To test the power supply I used the same tests to keep all the results fair and accurate. I ran the tests twice and recorded both results and if they were different I retested.

Using a Conroe based system:

Core 2 Duo E6600 @ 2.7ghz
Asus P5W DH Deluxe
OCZ 2gb Special Ops PC6400 @ 900mhz

I set the power supply to feed the system whilst it was running full screen RTHDRIBL (stress GFX card) and folding@home with Stress Prime on both cores. This was set running for an hour and the mean voltages was recorded. The results were all checked using a multimeter to ensure motherboard inaccuracies weren’t an issue.

The Antec Earthwatts was put head to head with the equally powerful and efficient Akasa Greenpower which you can read here.

After the load portion of the test, the computer was left to idle for another hour and the mean voltages were taken. Below are the results:

Antec Earthwatts 500w
Antec Earthwatts 500w

Both power supplies performed fantastically. The Akasa Greenpower proved to be the more stable and the more accurate as far as voltages go. The load test didn’t even begin to phase the unit and it stuck with its idle voltages. The 3.3v rail is better than the Antec but we are talking 0.04v. The 5v rail can’t be faulted at 4.99v but the 12v rail is a little high @ 12.32v.

The Antec however varied slightly in the 5v stage with a difference of 0.03v between idle and load. The 3.3v rail isn’t as accurate as the Akasa but still WAY within ATX spec. The 12v rail is better than the Akasa and just as stable.

While testing I did a little human noise measuring. The Antec lives up to its ‘Quiet Computing’ logo and its barely audible over normal case noise.

Conclusion

With the Akasa coming in at £10 more expensive than the Antec, you can see where the money was spent. A little better paint job, a larger fan and sleeved cables. The Antec feels and looks like a cut down model. That said, who stares at the power supply when they can have an SLI setup that these are capable of handling?

Not only do they pack a punch in regards to energy, but their efficiency should drive down the overal cost of ownership. Good to the environment, good to your wallet.

The Antec is a perfectly good unit that provides you with stable rails and adequate connectivity (although I’m missing that FDD plug). If you have an extra tenner lying around, grab the Akasa. A cool black paint job, performs marginally better, sleeved cables and quick-release plugs cement this as the winner out of two top-class power supplies.

Pros Cons
Great rails Looks OEM
Efficiency Not modular
Dual PCI-e connectors

I’d like to thank Antec for providing us with the power supply.

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