Introduction

We saw the Signature series for the first time at CES 2008 in Antec's suite, and some of the details caught our attention. We were shown a dual-layered power supply with a PWM controlled fan and a DC-to-DC conversion for the lower voltage rails such as 3.3V and 5V. A few weeks ago, Antec sent us a message saying that we would be getting the first unit of this power supply to test. Hot off the production line, it finally arrived this week.

Antec is perhaps better known for their cases, which have some very nice acoustic and design concepts and are built for midrange to high-end enthusiasts. With the Signature series, Antec wants to leave its mark on the PSU market and enhance their reputation for quality power. Antec took a long time to develop this power supply and it will form, with the TruePower Quattro series, the arrowhead of Antec's line-up of power supplies. There are currently 650W and 850W versions in this series, and we will review the larger one today. The 650W version will also be of interest to the market as 650W units are mostly used for the midrange PCs that dominate the market in terms of volume.


As stated by Antec we will find voltage regulator modules (VRM) inside this power supply that are DC-to-DC converters. This means we will only get the 12V from the transformer and the lower voltage rails are generated by the VRM. Advantages as stated by Antec are short transient response times within the power supply. Furthermore, Antec includes a PWM controlled fan that has the advantage of being able to run at only 10-15% of its normal rated top speed. We will see later that this results in very low fan speeds and therefore low acoustic noises. According to Antec, all of the capacitors are of Japanese make, which is an indication of high quality and performance. The Antec Signature series received the 80plus Bronze certification which means we can expect very high efficiency from these units.


The label shows 25A on the 3.3V and 5V rails, which will be fine with modern systems. The max combined power of these two rails is 160W. There are four 12V rails, two rated at 22A and two with 25A on tap. We take it that the last two rails are specifically there for the graphics cards as the spec sheet says something about a maximum usage of 300W from each card. The combined power of all the 12V rails together is 65A, which equals 780W of power. The UL number gives us Antec as the manufacturer, but we later found another UL number hidden inside the power supply that indicates the real manufacturer of the PCBs.

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  • MrOblivious - Friday, May 09, 2008 - link

    You aren't going to get me to say that, but I will say he must be working in a different environment with different people than what we since Corsair, Seasonic, Enermax, SilverStone, etc have all asked/sent units of lower output to be reviewed. In fact, we have so many requests stacked up on those units that we can not take them all because we can not provide any kind of realistic time table to turn them around for them.

    Don't get me wrong I am all for doing them, but what happens when you throw a party and no one shows up? That is what happens when you do low powered units. Anecdotes of people requesting them can do nothing to change that fact that they get read by fewer people as we see from the page hits which does NO ONE any good as we don't provide the compelling content users want nor the coverage the brand is looking for.

    So to answer your question, why target higher powered units? Its because that is what people want to read about.
    Reply
  • Christoph Katzer - Friday, May 09, 2008 - link

    Agreed on that. I had several lower rated units before but after showing such a bad performance one manufacturer even refused to send any more of that kind. I do have several FSP models coming soon with 300, 400 and 600 watts. I will also be reviewing OEM models from Seasonic and FSP.

    As much as I would like to test really cheap models I am just stuck with the fact that I am not located in the U.S. and there is simply nobody who would send me all that stuff. I am also interested in seeing what these unit can offer like we have seen at jonnyguru a few month ago. It's just testing for fun since there is nobody really interested in the results. They all blow up when loaded with programmable loads which is the only fun we could offer with such a review.

    I will anyway try to have more units from the lower and medium range in the future but there will be again a few higher models since I still have several 850-1000W units here...
    Reply
  • Bozo Galora - Wednesday, May 07, 2008 - link

    Note to all PSU marketing dep'ts:
    the day when people will buy a psu with a rats nest of cables puking out the back is slowly but surely fading away

    the graphs are some of the worst in recent reviews.
    that they would send this thing out as an exclusive first look unit for testing on AT (on a chroma no less) is itself a bit scary

    of course, as always, we will soon see an update to the review in a week or two that will report "the voltage drop prob has been fixed - was just a bad run of a certain component"
    Reply
  • Stele - Friday, May 09, 2008 - link

    To an extent I agree with you. Nevertheless, there are pros and cons to modular power supplies. The most obvious con is the fact that modular power supplies introduce one more connection between the PSU's PCB and the connectors at the other end - with all the attendant issues that these have compared to non-modular power supplies, especially increased manufacturing costs and connection resistance, as well as connector reliability issues (a loose connection carrying 200VA is very bad news).

    Having said that, it is possible to greatly minimise the impact of such effects; the best thing manufacturers could do is to design and employ robust and rugged connectors with large conductor contact areas - plenty of connector manufacturers with plenty of experience in mission-critical and/or industrial-grade applications out there.

    However, that means even higher costs. This would be no big deal in a world where money was no object, but in reality, in order to compete at a given price point this may lead to corners being cut where it really matters - the stuff inside the PSU, and the resulting performance, life expectancy and stability. Those that don't cut the corners end up having brickbats thrown at their naturally high prices.

    Of course there're PSUs that are modular yet offer good performance without asking for your firstborn, but those aren't the overwhelming majority.
    Personally, if I had to choose for a given price range, I'd take better performance/reliability over modular cables anyday.
    Reply
  • harbin - Wednesday, May 07, 2008 - link

    I've been using the NeoPower series first entered the market. Quiet, solid PSU. Love it to date. Still runs my o/ced Q6600 happily. Reply
  • InternetGeek - Wednesday, May 07, 2008 - link

    I think you guys have it backwards about why antec is better known. Antec is better known for their PSU rather than their cases. ThermalTake is better known for their cases rather than their PSUs.

    In any case, an excellent PSU.
    Reply
  • cg0def - Thursday, May 08, 2008 - link

    Both Tt and Antec were making cases before they started making PSUs. Only Antec was making cases long before Tt and the Antec cases used to be synonymous with high quality. I'm not sure that is the case anymore since they are terribly overpriced and many of their models still used steel sheets for the construction.
    Anyway what I was saying is that Antec IS famous for their cases and NOT the PSUs and it is only in recent years that they have started making splendid PSUs and slightly shifted their focus. Oh and Tt actually became famous for their coolers ( CPU mostly ) and then extended their product line. There used to be a day when Tt heatsinks were the best you can get ...
    Reply
  • granulated - Wednesday, May 07, 2008 - link

    LOL.. Some, if not all, of the high end Antec PSU's are actually made by Seasonics ! Reply
  • SilthDraeth - Wednesday, May 07, 2008 - link

    LOL

    Give the man a cookie.
    Reply
  • feelingshorter - Wednesday, May 07, 2008 - link

    Perhaps thats a matter of opinion, but i heard about antec cases first before hearing about their PSU. A lot of people (including me at one point), did not understand the importance of a good PSU, thinking any PSU will do fine. So unless your a person that does research on it specifically, you won't know just by chance. Whereas their cases...well they have a lot of cool cases and friends amongst each other will send links through instant messaging saying "look at this cool case from Antec" more often than messages saying "look at this extremely stable PSU". Reply

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