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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  • JimmiG - Sunday, October 3, 2010 - link

    Very refreshing to see a quality PSU in this segment. The wattage race is really getting out of hand. If someone posts about system crashes or poor performance, and has anything less than a 750W PSU, people instantly tell the person to upgrade the PSU. A week later, the original poster returns, saying the shiny new 1200W PSU did not solve the problems, and the original 550W PSU was more than enough for a 65W dual core CPU and a 100W GPU... Reply
  • Setsunayaki - Sunday, October 3, 2010 - link

    True Story,

    I helped a company a year back switch their internal computers to 10w - sub10w systems for basic things...such as email, work and writing up documentations and analyzing to improving business growth. A 400w supply truly means that I am using 25 - 30w more power on basics...

    As far as HD goes, there are laptops which run 720P (though 1080P is the desired resolution) which draw a lot lower amounts of power....

    This is why I frown on things like this....like when someone tells me I should buy ATI to save power on graphics to be able to do basic things, I simply wonder..."Why don't enough people who run on basic things buy basic laptops or sub-10w systems?"

    The sub-10w systems based on nano-ITX boards also allow a LOT of space to be saved...specially since you wont have tons of towers floating around. I received an email a few weeks ago when they were moving to a new building they managed to put in two boxes, 100 nano iTX systems for their employees to transfer to their new building. As for monitors, that was another story....
    Reply
  • mck22 - Sunday, October 3, 2010 - link

    I have owned one of these since March and it has functioned without incident.

    I bought it in a hurry after I found that the cables on the other, more powerful PS I had purchased for a new build for my wife's use were too short to reach the MB's in the Antec 300 case that she had approved of for its cosmetics.

    None of the other PS's I had laying around would reach either, so I assumed that an Antec would work. I bought the cheapest available since I had already exceeded my original budget. I have no regrets, which is the best compliment I can make for a PS.
    Reply
  • ehume - Sunday, October 3, 2010 - link

    This is not a very quiet psu. Or, I should say its predecessor the EA 380 has a noisy fan, especially with a little dust on it. Maybe it unbalances the fan. But even with the dust gone it makes too much noise. In a room full of computers, it is the EA 380 we all hear, and it is not a pleasant sound..

    Larger fans move more air more quietly than this one does. This was absolutely the last psu I will get that has an 80mm fan.
    Reply
  • Christoph Katzer - Sunday, October 3, 2010 - link

    Hi,

    The noise would have had nothing to do with the size of the fan. You'll wonder when you stress a power supply to its limits the fan will always turn louder which is good and necessary for cooling. It always depends on the bearing type in fact. There might have been something wrong with the fan which can unfortunately happen, but a blank statement 80mm fans are bad is very wrong. They are able to cool the PSU internals much more efficient for example. The air goes straight through without being rerouted.

    Christoph
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Tuesday, October 5, 2010 - link

    I have used several of the older EarthWatts 300-380W PSUs for builds in our lab, in all of them the fans have been essentially silent. Reply
  • METALMORPHASIS - Sunday, October 3, 2010 - link

    Antec makes great power supplies. I have 4 of them, and all are going strong after 5 years. Reply
  • theagentsmith - Monday, October 4, 2010 - link

    A few years ago I read about how much PSU efficiency can be useful both to save on electricity and the environment, so I began looking for a 80plus certified units that didn't cost an arm and a leg.
    I found this very EA380W which had stellar reviews, the right size and a reasonable price of about 50 euros.
    If they made a 250-300W 80plus model I would have chosen it, because most system doesn't exceed 150W in full load
    Reply
  • recidivist - Thursday, October 7, 2010 - link

    From p7: "Antec is using an ADDA-fan (AD0812H5-A70GL), which has a ball bearing and a power consumption of 0.25A"

    The pic of the fan label clearly shows AD0812HS-A70GL. H=High Speed. S=Sleeve Bearing. Fan RPM is thermistor controlled.
    Reply
  • Morbid666 - Thursday, October 7, 2010 - link

    I've already built about 8 systems for my clients with this PSU (mostly office workstations). for its cheap price you get antec quality, plenty of connectors, all sorts of protection & its whisper quiet. i would reccomend this product to anyone building a reliable cost efficient workstation. Reply

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