Time to pull these pages together into a summary page...
I judge power supplies in four categories: performance, functionality, appearance and value. Each category has a different weight to the equation of the final score. Performance makes up 40% of the final score, functionality makes up 20% of the score, appearance takes up 10% of the score and value makes up 30% of the score.
Naturally, you're welcome to consider the total score when making your own assessment of this power supply, but certainly if "looks" do not matter to you, then you may not take into consideration the appearance score. The same is true about the value score if money is no object for you.
So let's start with judging the performance...
I, for one, am surprisingly impressed. The voltage regulation on the +12V was beyond excellent. The efficiency was great. The unit has active PFC and seemed to be impervious to heat and, despite using an 80MM fan, was nearly silent.
That said, the +5V, although no longer as an important rail as it used to be, did not show good regulation and overall the unit does not put out much power. Yes, it's a 500W... but use the Enhance or Silverstone 80 Plus 500W units for comparison... They have 432W on the combined 12V rails. This Antec only has 408W on the 12V rails!
So my score for the Antec EarthWatts EA-500 is 9.5.
For functionality, I look at the number of connectors, length of cables, and other features that make the PSU easier to use or install. The size of the unit is nice and compact, the cables are nice and long, and there are enough connectors for most people. Too bad the cables aren't sleeved and certainly the unit doesn't have any features that make it stand out like modular connectors a "Total Watt Viewer", adjustable voltage POTs or a fan controller (not that it needs it.)
For functionality, I'm scoring this 500W with an 8.
Now to judge the appearance. There's not much going on here. As I mentioned, the cables aren't sleeved. The color is drab. I'm afriad the aesthetics give this power supply a 6 in this department.
Finally, we're going to talk about the value of this power supply. You're certainly not paying for any additional bling here, but the performance is very good. In the long run, this power supply will also save you money on your electric bill and it's by far one of the quietest units I've ever used. I Froogled this unit and it's widely available for under $90. That's fantastic for those looking for a power supply that's efficient and quiet, assuming this 500W has enough power for your rig.
So for value, the Antec EA-500 scores a 10.
Multiply, add and add again and we have a total score of 9.
So there we have it. The Antec EarthWatts EA-500 500W power supply doesn't put out as much power as a lot of the power supplies we've been seeing lately, but it does put out enough for any one video card no matter how high end, and I would venture to say that it could easily support a pair of Nvidia 7x or ATI x1900 cards. It doesn't look like much, but it's quiet, efficient and has a very stable +12V output and you won't need a load shark to get the funds together to buy one.
Very stable +12V.
Nothing really "bad" about this unit unless you're going to hold it's looks against it.
Not a whole lot of power on the +12V. Trumped by other 500W power supplies on the market.
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