Antec EarthWatts EA 380D Green 380W

 

Antec has been around for nearly a quarter of a century, making them one of the grandfathers of the modern computer industry. Well known for their cases and power supplies, we've looked at the EarthWatts line a couple of times in years past. Antec has updated the EarthWatts line with their new Green models, sporting a dark green exterior and more environmentally friendly packaging—including the removal of the power cord, since most users already have a surplus.

Unlike so many other power supplies, it's nice to see a sensibly rated unit for a change. 380W is still plenty even for a midrange system, and with optimal efficiency generally coming at 50% load this is a power supply that should run closer to its "sweet spot" when idle as well as under load. There's still enough power on top to run a Core i7 or Phenom X6 processor and a discrete GPU, but you'll want to stick with graphics cards that only require a single PCIe power connection to err on the side of caution.

The EA-380D like any decent modern power supply also carries an 80 Plus certification, this time for the Bronze level. That means the PSU should run at 82% efficiency with a load of 20% (76W), reaching 85% efficiency or more at a load of 50% (180W), and still maintain 82% efficiency at the maximum 380W rated load. This is nothing ground-breaking in late 2010, but it does fit perfectly with moderate systems that can idle at under 100W. Just how green is the new EarthWatts? Let's find out as we explore some of the other features.

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  • Lunyone - Saturday, October 02, 2010 - link

    I use a lot of PSU's in this range. Most budget gaming rigs that I've built over the years have been around this size of PSU (power wise that is). If your not OC'ing and you don't have some really demanding (power-wise), than this kind of PSU will work just fine.

    I have a system with a x1800xt GPU and dual core AMD CPU on it. It has been running fine on a lower wattage PSU (Antec Smart Power 350w) and I've had NO issues whatsoever with it. Yeah I might be running it closer to it's limits when doing heavy gaming, but it has been a solid and steady PSU.

    I also have another system being powered with a predecessor to this one (Antec 380w Earthwatts) and it has been just fine too. This level of PSU is plenty for a office PC or even decent HTPC's too. Even the budget to mid-range gaming system will be fine too. It all depends on your load and if your going to OC a lot or a little.
    Reply
  • mpowell - Saturday, October 02, 2010 - link

    Just replaced a Truepower 380 watt which is just 2 months under 6 years old. One thing I noticed as it began to slowly go downhill was the thermostatically controlled fan got slower and slower. Then it began to not turn on, first only for a short time but the period steadily increased until it died.

    One standout comparison between this power supply and just about everything else I've seen is it has always run at a much higher internal temperature. Just placing your hand in the exhaust stream of the fan was telling.

    Now to be fair, I generally don't see power supplies go more than about 5 years - so this one dying at its age is probably acceptable. However, the heat that this thing operated at leads me to question whether I want to buy another Antec.

    It is certainly difficult to judge from a technical spec review whether any given product will last a long time. It could look real pretty when new, and die 2 years later. I want to know how to identify the unit which will be expected to last 5, or more, years. Not an easy or straightforward task.
    Reply
  • Iketh - Saturday, October 02, 2010 - link

    you'll want to check your air routing in your case and make sure most of the hot air isn't exiting through the P/S... I ran an antec 500w true power for 4 years and the exhaust barely turned a mild warm under gaming... i then sold the system with it still going strong, but I had a 120mm exhaust taking care of the cpu heat

    I did a couple of tests reducing the 120mm exhaust speed and if brought too low, the P/S exhaust got incredibly hot because it began picking up cpu heat
    Reply
  • iamezza - Sunday, October 03, 2010 - link

    I've been looking for ages for good quality PSUs that aren't rated for 600+Watts.
    I don't think most people realise how little power the average PC uses, even gaming rigs, until you get a Kill-A-Watt style power meter and see for yourself.

    My rig has an overclocked Q9550, ATI 4850, 4GB DDR2, 4 x 7200rpm HDDs, 1 SSD, 2 x DVDRW, Discrete sound card, 3 x 200mm fans, 2 x 140mm fans

    It never goes above 280W at the wall, assuming a generous 85% efficiency that is under 240W that the PSU is putting out.
    Reply
  • ckryan - Sunday, October 03, 2010 - link

    Good on Antec, I have a 380w Antec power supply from 7 years ago that still works great. It is difficult to find decent power supplies that aren't over 600 or 700 watts. Also, I want to know that if I put a power supply in somebody's computer that it will last and not toast their gear. Its good to know Antec is still building decent power supplies for every day computers. I might need a higher wattage unit for my gear, but its good to know that if my Mom needs a new power supply I know where to go. I recently purchased a 500w modular design for my own system. I wonder if that old Antec will still be working when my new one dies.

    More information is always better. Good PSU reviews are hard to come by. Keep it up.
    Reply
  • ssj3gohan - Sunday, October 03, 2010 - link

    As more people in this thread point out, this is not a 'nice little power supply' - it's got a really high rating. For 99% of the people, this power supply still is very much overrated. You do link to an article that shows an i7 or Phenom II X6 system to idle under 100W, but the reality is - most systems built today don't break 100W full-load.

    Of all computers I built in the last 3 years, I recorded the power consumption and none broke 75W load. These are all IGP computers but look at the market share of these things; IGPs are probably 90%+ of the graphics processors. For all these computers, a picoPSU 150W with a 90W adapter would be enough.

    And I'm not talking about anemic hardware either. The core i3 has been mentioned before, and if you have a motherboard that actually supports the lower voltages that both core 2 and core i-generation processors sport, the DC power consumption of a core i3 530 or Pentium dual-core E5200-system in idle can very well be about 20W, and about 40-45W under load. If you'd want a matching power supply here, you'd need a 100W PSU.

    I think these smaller PSUs do have a market although it's of course psychologically hard to say 100W is better than 400W - more is better, right? More headroom, stuff like that. Besides - the reason that lower rated PSUs don't really exist (outside AC adapter bricks) is that they would carry a disproportionate price tag. Where you can get a 330W PSU for 36$, a 100W version would probably be 25$. Maybe, if they want to cater the truly green pc builder, they even need to price it higher to allow for more efficient topologies. I'm talking virtual chokes (=PFC with smaller, less lossy components but more silicon), synchronous rectification (the single biggest efficiency boost in these devices) and multilayer PCBs allowing for more efficient layout.
    Reply
  • londiste - Sunday, October 03, 2010 - link

    efficiency is not really comparable to the top power supplies coming out these days.
    plus, it's somewhat noisy for a psu this size.
    Reply
  • radium69 - Sunday, October 03, 2010 - link

    Hey anand,
    Thanks for the in depth review of this power supply!
    I find it nice to see you guys doing the midrange aswell.

    Overkill isn't nessicarily good. Currently have a Q6600 (@3.0ghz) 4gb ddr2 800, and a geforce 8800GTS and idling on 150W. This is all powered by a OCZ 700W which for me is overkill.

    Power supply's like these in these time become attractive for a lot of people. So I think it is a good move for them. Besides, a lot of people can run their PC setups flawlessly with this powersupply.

    Just my 2cents :)
    Reply
  • Montrey - Sunday, October 03, 2010 - link

    Funny, I bought this PSU 2 days ago, after checking here to see if it was reviewed. Glad to see I made a good choice, since I based it on NewEgg reviews. I'm going to put it in a fileserver that will pull double duty as a HTPC for a little while.

    Also, if anyone is looking for a deal, this PSU is 45+3 shipped at NewEgg right now, they also have a combo deal where you can get it and an Antec 300 case for 85+6 shipped, a 20 dollar discount. Not bad at all if you want a fileserver, or just aren't into the design of modern gaming cases.
    Reply
  • kallogan - Sunday, October 03, 2010 - link

    In my sugo sg05 with the stock 80+ 300W PSU (great psu btw), i can run a core i3 530@4ghz coupled with a HD 5850/GTX460 ( i tried both gpus) and stay under 220W at full load. So yeah 300W is enough for a quality PSU provided that you stick with dual cores. 350W for quad cores plus powerful gpus.

    But what's the point of buying a so-called quality 350W or 400W PSU if it's at the same price than 500W or more still very good PSUs...Less power for the same or sometimes higher price to gain 2% efficiency. Not to mention that "He who can do more can do less" so better buy a 500W quality psu than an overpriced extra-quality 350W. Should be quieter for a given load.

    In addition, i have a 380w earthwatts antec PSU and while it's damn expensive, it has only a 80mm fan and it's louder than 120mm fan discount PSUs.
    Reply

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