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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  • GeorgeH - Sunday, October 3, 2010 - link

    "jensend" is absolutely correct. I'm sick and tired of trying to correct people that think they need a 600W PSU for their i5-750 + GTX 460 build. I'd say 90%+ of builds (yes, including your ever so awesome gaming machine) would be more than fine using this PSU.

    Unfortunately, finding reliable sources to link to can be difficult - and who is more reliable than Anandtech? How about a short "How Much PSU Do You Really Need?" article using modern hardware, done Anandtech style?
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, October 3, 2010 - link

    My own gaming system:

    12GB RAM
    2 x HD 5850
    Two 120GB SSDs
    1TB HDD
    500W Enermax Pro87+ PSU

    Power draw idle: ~125W
    Power draw load: ~350W

    Note that that is total system power draw at the outlet, so accounting for efficiency it looks like the whole system is maxing out at around 300W power output from the PSU. I'd still be hesitant to try to run such a system off a 380W PSU, because I like my safety margin, but a 500W PSU works admirably.
  • cruisin3style - Sunday, October 3, 2010 - link

    One key to understanding things in life is not to think of how you cannot use something or how something doesn't apply to you, it is to think beyond yourself and how something might apply to others.

    I have not 1 but 2 Antec 380W psus (1 of which is this same version, the other an older one). I can say from experience that not only are they reliable but can handle pretty much anything you plan to do with them that doesn't require a serious graphics card.
  • Allio - Sunday, October 3, 2010 - link

    Hi. I read Anandtech and already own this exact PSU (bought it about six months ago to go in my HTPC). Wish this review had been up before I bought it, but better late than never. Nice to see my decision vindicated somewhat... I've been very happy with it.

    Personally I am far, far, FAR more interested in a review of a PSU like this than of some $250 gold plated 1000W monster. Not only does this Antec capably power my HTPC, it'd also power my quad-core gaming rig without breaking a sweat. People grossly overestimate the amount of power their computers use.
  • JGabriel - Monday, October 4, 2010 - link

    Allio: "Personally I am far, far, FAR more interested in a review of a PSU like this than of some $250 gold plated 1000W monster."

    Seconded. I hope Anandtech keeps publishing technical reviews of mid-range and lower end power supplies, especially inexpensive power efficient models.

    As JarredWalton notes above, a 380 watt PSU can power a pretty high end machine. Even at Anandtech, I'd guess something like 85% of the readers don't need anything better. In the general population, whom lots of us make recommendations for, that number is more like 99.5%.

  • Touche - Sunday, October 3, 2010 - link

    Your comment is quite a WTF. For HTPCs, non gamers AND for 99% of gamers this PSU is more than enough. It seems you haven't read much of anything on Anandtech.
  • just4U - Sunday, October 3, 2010 - link

    I have to agree that for the most part we overestimate our power needs. As a side note this 380W PSU is a likely candidate for some of their case/psu combo's so it could be generating interest for that as well.

    I've had some problems with Antec of late though .. (I build 40+ computers a year) so overall this review is lukewarm for me.
  • lyeoh - Sunday, October 3, 2010 - link

    Not everyone is like you. I bet most here don't need high power PSUs.

    In the old days even "normal" people were getting 400W power supplies because the P4s sucked (many had a TDP of 130W).

    Nowadays many PCs only use 100-200W. Using a >=500W power supply would be less efficient since most power supplies are less efficient at low loads or very high loads.

    My main desktop plays most of my games fine and I only have a 9800GT. Low fps for Crysis, but hey its Crysis ;).

    And my home server uses only 100W. So I'd be happy to buy a cheap/affordable, efficient and reliable 380W power supply for my next PC.
  • mosu - Sunday, October 3, 2010 - link

    I do have one system with moderate power draw and one system with a little more power draw(900) but it makes no point to surf with this one.sorry, no crickets!
  • Concillian - Sunday, October 3, 2010 - link

    I have 3 systems with 380W supplies. Overclocked i5 with overclocked 5770, overclocked i3 with overclocked 4850 and a fileserver.

    If you aren't playing games at 100 FPS on a 30" display you can get by with a pretty minimal power supply. I really appreciate some attention to the normal person.

    Why do we want a 500-700W supply when none of my systems use more than 250W, and that's only when I'm running Furmark and purposefully trying to max out power usage. 380W has plenty of headroom just about anyone using their machine for things other than just raw benchmarks.

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