Conclusion: No Need for 1.21 KW of Power!

There's certainly an emphasis on reducing power use and costs these days, with some governments pushing legislation to penalize companies that don't at least give some attention to the environment. Antec has worked hard to promote the image of a "green" and environmentally friendly PSU with their updated EarthWatts line—even going so far as to put green in the name and give it a dark green paint job!—but at the end of the day it's the product quality that determines whether something is worth buying. How well does the EarthWatts Green actually do when it comes down to real world metrics with no marketing fluff? Thankfully, Antec acquits itself well and produces an inexpensive yet well-built and efficient PSU.

While the marketing department might tout such benefits as the lack of a power cord and 80 Plus certification, let's be honest: removing the power cord probably did more for the company's bottom line than the environment, and 80 Plus certifications are everywhere. Still, there's nothing wrong with avoiding yet another power cord in the storage bin, and 80 Plus Bronze certification in a 380W PSU is a rarity. The fact of the matter is that many PCs don't have high-end CPUs and GPUs that need boatloads of power, but if you shop around for quality 300W PSUs for such systems, your choices become very limited.

We did a quick search on Newegg for 350W-400W PSUs like the EarthWatts Green to see what we could find. At present, there are eleven such PSUs: three "Standard" 80 Plus, seven Bronze PSUs like the Antec, and one Gold. While you might be tempted to go for the gold, so to speak, the Seasonic X Series SS-400FL comes in with a brutally high cost of $139. For that much money, you can buy three Antec EarthWatts Green PSUs (and still have $5 left for lunch after shipping)! The three 80 Plus Bronze PSUs in this range priced lower than the EarthWatts come from Raidmax, Xigmatek, and Sigma; two of those companies (Raidmax and Sigma) don't exactly have the best reputation in the quality department, and we're more than willing to pay a bit extra for the Antec EarthWatts.

What you get for your $45 is a good PSU for entry-level and midrange systems that won't be heavily overclocked or run multiple GPUs—you can still do a fair amount of overclocking if you're so inclined, though that flies in the face of being green I dare say. The cable lengths are suitable for mid-tower and smaller cases, there are sufficient connectors for the target market, and overall build quality, voltage regulation, and efficiency are very good.

There's been a distinct lack of focus on the "normal" PSU market over the past few years, with more and more companies going for the high margin 700W and higher market. Antec's back-to-basics approach with the EarthWatts line is appreciated, and the price and availability is a great value for what you get. For those that want something reasonable instead of chasing ORB and overclocking records, the Antec EarthWatts EA-380D is a great little PSU that's worth your dollar, and we're presenting it with our Bronze Editor's Choice award. You can buy power supplies that are more efficient, higher capacity, quieter, or cheaper, but there are tradeoffs with any one of those. The EA-380D strikes a nice balance and won't break the bank while meeting your power needs.

Ripple & Noise
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  • fausto412 - Saturday, October 2, 2010 - link

    let me put it this way.

    it's $45. I've seen their True Power line at 550 Watts on sale for a few bucks more. the features i would get for spending an extra 10 and the extra capacity would just void me wanting to use this.

    but i did forget about the HTPC crowd. still waiting to try it but in the USA HTPC won't take off as long as you can't just decrypt cable/fios/direct tv with your tuner card which i hear may be in the works. still waiting for it.
  • fredgiblet - Sunday, October 3, 2010 - link

    Except you'll probably never use that extra capacity, meaning that you'll have lower efficiency for no reason, costing you much more over the life of the PSU.

    Additionally there's more than just HTPCs, home servers are usually on all the time and they usually lack high-end CPUs and video cards, I plan to build a torrenting machine that will hopefully draw VERY little power as it will only serve to torrent and have websites open when I'm gaming, there are lots of people for whom programming is their life who don't even have (or need) high-end processors. Realistically we're past the point where the advances in speed really help the average computer user, these days a low to mid range dual-core and an SSD are all the upgrades that most people actually benefit from. If I was asked to build a new computer for any of my relatives I can't think of a single one who I would end up building a computer that draws more than 400W, and I myself will probably never have more than one computer that does either (if even that) it's simply not necessary.
  • Samus - Sunday, October 3, 2010 - link

    HTPC not taking off? You've got to be joking. Practically everybody I know has a computer hooked up to their TV, if not just for streaming netflix, it's good for web browsing, youtube, hulu, itunes, etc. Then you have the more savvy users that have 1TB+ video libraries. Windows Media Center was a joke, yes, and using the PC to watch TV is a joke, yes, but those are just about the only TWO things wrong with the HTPC.
  • fausto412 - Sunday, October 3, 2010 - link

    for what i want my HTPC to do....we are not there yet. it's not replacing my cable box or my tivo box yet and it can't do video on demand with the cable company. when it handles those 3...i'll get rid of both and build an htpc.
  • martyrant - Sunday, October 3, 2010 - link

    First, did you just say HTPCs haven't taken off in the USA? Really, man? Where have you been for like, what, the last 8 years?

    Second, did you really just say HTPCs haven't taken off in the USA? Alright, alright.

    Third, I got it on sale for $25 to replace a dead one in my girlfriend's HTPC/gaming rig (you heard it, HTPC in the USA!).

    Her specs (she plays the sims and watches TV on it, she has my old monitor which is pretty nice):

    AMD Athlon II X3 435 (unlocked to 4 fine)
    OCZ AMD Black Edition 4GB
    MSI R4850-512M Radeon HD 4850 512MB
    2xWD 640GB
    Lite-On DVD/CD combo
  • fausto412 - Sunday, October 3, 2010 - link

    is that htpc able to do everything the cable box does right now? tivo?

    i've looked into it and i have a more hassle free experience with my tivo and my cable box as the technology stands in the USA.

    until htpc's can do video on demand and decrypt video without going thru hoops they won't take over, maybe you and your 3 to 5 geek buddies have htpc's but i don't know anyone. guess i need more geek friends.
  • AstroGuardian - Sunday, October 3, 2010 - link

    You are so boring dude... Come on!
  • Iketh - Saturday, October 2, 2010 - link

    i was dying for a small P/S review because I'm about to build my first HTPC. This came right on time, thanks a bunch!
  • crucibelle - Sunday, October 3, 2010 - link

    I could use one of these, no problem.
  • jensend - Sunday, October 3, 2010 - link

    A top-of-the-line i7 rig with a Geforce 460 or a Radeon 5850 fits comfortably in a 380W envelope. I'm guessing the reason you don't know that is because you "won't even read" Anandtech's actual power consumption tests. The only people who actually need more than this are people with SLI/Crossfire rigs or GF 470/480 cards. And they make up only a tiny fraction of the people reading Anandtech. Many people aren't even gamers, in which case a 200W PSU would be plenty with modern CPUs.

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