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
POST A COMMENT

64 Comments

View All Comments

  • decto - Monday, October 11, 2010 - link

    I've used and installed many of the older EA 380 units which are also 80+ rated and now a couple of these.

    You can power a lot with them, a 3Ghz Q6600 and power sucking Radeon HD2900 or how about Q6600 and 8800GTS G92 512MB SLI. Both ran fine for regular extended gaming sessions.

    I currently have one in an X2 5000 home server with a nvidia 7025 itx mainboard. Consumption is around 40W at idle so a quick calculation later (77% net @ 38W) and It's £7 ukp ($11 usd) per year of waste electricity for 24 / 7 / 365 operation.

    While pico PSU and mini itx can be more efficent, the cost of the hardware negates the energy savings over a typical system lifetime.

    As per a previous post, it would be good to see an article for low power systems <50W and <100W as more of us are using a purpose built 'efficient' home server or media centre and the data to make environmental and TCO based buying decisions is very hard to find.

    Congratulation on the real world review.

    More please.
    Reply
  • Spazweasel - Thursday, October 14, 2010 - link

    Using the power supply calculator at http://extreme.outervision.com/PSUEngine with a typical moderate gaming build:

    Clarkdale i5 650 with a modest overclock (3.6ghz, 1.33v vcore)
    4gb DDR3 RAM (2x 2gb)
    GTX 460 1gb (single card)
    1 SATA hard drive
    1 DVD-RW
    Using on-board audio
    1 additional 120mm cooling fan
    25% additional capacitor aging factor

    Their recommended power supply? 392 watts.

    Yeah. This power supply for a moderate gaming rig is JUST FINE. If you're running a high-end system, sure, get that 750w unit. But recognize that even among gamers, that's hardly the typical build. And really, this "alpha nerd" BS where people get sneered at because they're not running water-cooled +50% overclocks with quad-SLI video subsystems... we can do without that. Nice system, sure, but the degree to which someone gets to look down their nose at someone else isn't tied to FSB speed.
    Reply
  • Matias - Wednesday, December 7, 2011 - link

    For the record, this Antec Earthwatts 380D PSU is enough to power my overclocked i5 2500K, EVGA GTX 460 1Gb FPB, SSD, HDD, DVD-ROM and PCI soundcard. Runs Skyrim just fine.
    The video card requires 24A and this PSU gives up to 25A per rail before the OCP protecion kicks in.
    Sure, no headroom whatsoever, but these current draws are already worst case cenario, so I guess there is no need for headroom.
    Reply
  • mrawesome421 - Friday, May 17, 2013 - link

    I don't know what I am more impressed with. This PSU or this review. Really, terrific job here.

    Great unit too. I use this to run my old XP box and its quite, reliable and I actually like the green paint job. I would totally buy this thing again for a future HTPC build. In fact, I know I will.

    Great review man. Thanks.
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now