In the past couple of years, we've seen Antec make a massive migration to Seasonic built power supplies. Starting with the NeoHE, then the True Power Trio and now the "EarthWatts" product line.
The EarthWatts product is Antec's attempt to address the specific needs of those looking for the most efficient power supply available. The EarthWatts is 80 Plus certified; meaning that it has 80% or better efficiency at 20%, 50% and 100% of the power supply's total capability. A typical upshot to a power supply that is more efficient is that, because less power is wasted as heat, slower, quieter fans can be used to cool the power supply unit.
Today, I'm having a go at the EarthWatts EA-500, which is the 500W version of the EarthWatts. The EarthWatts is also available in a 380W and 430W.
The box is decorated with a high gloss photo of a desert. I get the whole "desert = earth" thing, but I also associate deserts with heat. Heat is something I don't associate with high efficiency.
Antec comes right out with the specifications by putting the above chart right on the side of the box. Here we can see what the rails are rated at, minimum load requirements, specified regulation and maximum ripple and noise specification.
In respect to the regulation and ripple and noise numbers, the numbers listed are the maximum allowed by the ATX12V specification. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the EarthWatts probably has considerably better actual specifications than the maximum allowed by the ATX12V specification.
The back of the box tells us that this PSU meets ATX12V 2.2 specifications, has full range input voltage capability, has active power factor correction, is quiet, has dual +12V rails, a PCI-e connector (my unit actually had two) and four SATA connectors. The "80 Plus" logo is also predominately displayed on both the front and back of the box.
Opening the box reveals nothing too spectacular. We see the gray housing down there, protected by two pieces of recycled cardboard strapped together with a piece of construction paper. There's a single page manual, a power cord and a set of four mounting screws also in the box.
The finish of the EarthWatts is old school, dull gray. The only thing that sets this apart from the 180W power supply in your eight year old Dell is the word "Antec" stamped into the side. As you may be able to see in the above photo, the "lack of bling" continues with the DC output cables as all but the main ATX cable are not sleeved.
The "old school" feel of this unit doesn't stop at the finish and DC output cables, but also includes the 80MM cooling fan. Recently, we've seen a number of "quiet" power supplies come out with 120MM or larger fans. So why go with an 80MM? Well, typically a 120MM can move more air than an 80MM fan with lower RPM's and thus lower noise. But with the way a power supply NEEDS the air to move through it, a large fan mounted on the bottom may not cool all of the components if spinning at a lower RPM. An 80MM fan mounted on the rear of the unit can move more air throughout the entire unit because air is pulled straight through from the front to the back of the unit. So potentially, an 80MM fan can be quieter than a 120MM or larger if it spins at a much lower RPM than the 120MM would have to. But to do this successfully, the design of the vents in the housing, position of the fan and layout of components has to be just right.
In the above photo, we can see the label on the side echoing the same specs we found on the side of the box. We also have an 80 Plus logo here on the housing. Antec's really planning on getting their money's worth out of the 80 Plus licensing fee!
Above I've zoomed into the label a bit. Below is the above label converted into a more conventional power supply output layout....
Antec EarthWatts EA-500 500W
Max Combined Watts
Here are some better shots of the DC output cables. As you can see, only the main ATX 20+4-pin cable is sleeved. The rest are just zip-tied together.
Unlike the 380W and 430W version of the EarthWatts, the 500W has two PCI-e connectors instead of one, and has an EPS12V connector as well as the 4-pin ATX12V. The 380W and 430W only have one PCI-e and a 4-pin ATX12V.
Below is a more complete run down of the cables and their connectors....
Type of connector:
2 x 2 12V connectors
2 x 3 PCIe
8-pin Xeon/EPS connector
6-pin Xeon/AUX connector
5.25" Drive connectors
3.5" Drive connectors
SATA Drive power connectors
Fan only connectors (thermostatically controlled 12V only)
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