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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  • PeteRoy - Monday, May 12, 2008 - link

    Power supplies might be a very critical component in the system but they are also the most boring component.

    I thought power supplies reviews are only found in unpopular computer websites.
    Reply
  • hansmuff - Friday, May 09, 2008 - link

    "Looking at performance, we saw voltage drops on the lower voltage rails as well as on the 12V rails. All of the rails perform well within specs but a drop of up to 5% is not small."

    "The Signature series definitely left its mark today with very good performance"

    Huh? If I dish out that much money for a power supply, I will not even consider one that drops 5%. And how can that be called "very good performance"?
    This PSU has some good characteristics, but my take-away from your review is "don't bother with this until (1) the voltage drop problem is verified to be fixed and (2) it drops not voltages, but $100 off it's price".
    Reply
  • mindless1 - Tuesday, May 13, 2008 - link

    There is no reason to reject a power supply for 5% drop. Specs exist for a reason, that the powered components MUST also perform properly within the spec.

    What do you feel you gain with a PSU that has a hypothetically perfect 0% drop? Absolutely nothing. The drop is even less significant today with fewer and fewer parts directly powered by 12, 5, or 3.3V rails. Instead most now have buck conversion inbetween that can accept far more than 10%, letalone 5% deviation.

    I do agree the price is a little excessive, although if someone is spending enough to actually need a PSU best at 400W+ output level, they have spent quite a lot on the rest of their system as well. Many overclocked non-SLI gaming systems stay far below 300W consumption.
    Reply
  • deathwalker - Friday, May 09, 2008 - link

    This review certainly goes against the tide when it come to my experience with Antec over the last 10 yrs. My experience has led me to the feeling that when I bought a Antec product the results was generally that it was overpriced and it under performed. Reply
  • mongoosesRawesome - Wednesday, May 07, 2008 - link

    This seems completely overkill except for maybe triple SLI setups - which are also overkill.

    A good 500W PSU or even less should be plenty even for even mid/high end setups.

    Efficiency is all well and good, but if people end up buying large PSU's which aren't efficient at the lower wattage's it's all just for show.
    Reply
  • eetnoyer - Wednesday, May 07, 2008 - link

    power supply reviews for less than 5% of people who will ever need them (eg. care)? I would venture to guess that the number of users that are in the market to build a nice HTPC and are looking for a quiet low output power supply is greater than the number of ubersuperultramaxgodofgear power supply users. Reply
  • MrOblivious - Thursday, May 08, 2008 - link

    Because no one cares. Seriously. It is the same reason why you see people looking at, reviewing, and talking about a Porsche when less than 5% of people will buy one. People don't read about random run of the mill power supplies so it makes no sense to produce reviews people won't read for the website or the brands themselves. Sorry. Reply
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, May 08, 2008 - link

    People might read about the Porsche for fun, but they check Consumer Reports when they are trying to decide between an Accord and a Taurus. In this case I'd guess even fewer people care about the high-end power supply than the high-end car - a power supply isn't that exciting until it powers something else you have.

    The bigger reason is that the companies that send power supplies for review tend to send their biggest and "best".
    Reply
  • MrOblivious - Thursday, May 08, 2008 - link

    Those assumptions would be incorrect. I literally have companies begging me to take lower powered products in for review all the time and from the page counts people DO NOT read the lower powered offerings. It really is quite simple. Reply
  • strikeback03 - Friday, May 09, 2008 - link

    Well, I suppose Johan could be lying when he states that the companies only prefer to send him big units. And I suppose the companies could be sending people to the comments here to ask in every review of big power supplies for reviews of smaller units. Reply

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