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Antec Earthwatts Platinum 650W PSU Review

Additional technical assistance: Peter McFarland and Jeremy Price.

Correctly testing power supplies is a complex procedure and KitGuru have configured a test bench which can deliver up to a 2,000 watt DC load. Due to public requests we have changed our temperature settings recently – previously we rated with ambient temperatures at 25C, we have increased ambient temperatures by 10c (to 35c) in our environment to greater reflect warmer internal chassis conditions.

We use combinations of the following hardware:
• SunMoon SM-268
• CSI3710A Programmable DC load (+3.3V and +5V outputs)
• CSI3711A Programmable DC load (+12V1, +12V2, +12V3, and +12V4)
• Extech Power Analyzer
• Extech MultiMaster MM570 digital multimeter
• SkyTronic DSL 2 Digital Sound Level Meter (6-130dBa)
• Digital oscilloscope (20M S/s with 12 Bit ADC)
• Variable Autotransformer, 1.4 KVA

We are combining 12V output into a single result.

DC Output Load Regulation

Combined

DC Load

+3.3V
+5V
+12V
+5VSB
-12V
A
V
A
V
A
V
A
V
A V
152W
2.05
3.33
2.04
5.02
10.12
12.23
0.50
5.03
0.20
-12.03
270W
3.01
3.30
3.03
4.98
19.14
12.19
0.50
5.01
0.30
-12.00
400W
4.03
3.27
5.03
4.95
29.17
12.05
1.00
4.98
0.30
-11.97
523W
6.05
3.22
7.01
4.92
38.19
11.97
1.50
4.96
0.30
-11.91
652W
8.07
3.17
9.02
4.90
48.00
11.89
2.50
4.93
0.30
-11.86

Voltage regulation isn’t the greatest across the +12V output, although it didn’t cause any problems in real world terms. +3.3V also dipped lower than we would have liked to see under full load, dropping to 3.17V.

Not quite what we had hoped for, before the testing started.

Antec Earthwatts Platinum 650W Maximum Load
704.7W

The power supply would shut down at 704.7W, gracefully. The protection circuitry worked well.

Next we want to try Cross Loading. This basically means loads which are not balanced. If a PC for instance needs 500W on the +12V outputs but something like 30W via the combined 3.3V and +5V outputs then the voltage regulation can fluctuate badly.

Cross Load Testing +3.3V +5V +12V -12V +5VSB
A V A V A V A V A V
590W 1.0 3.32 1.0 5.01 48.0 11.88 0.2 -12.05 0.50 5.00
145W 12.0 3.18 15.0 4.91 2.0 12.19 0.2 -12.03 0.50 4.99

The Cross Load results are far from class leading, although it held within safe parameters. The +12V rail dropped from 12.19 to 11.88 when hit with 48A.

We then used an oscilloscope to measure AC ripple and noise present on the DC outputs. We set the oscilloscope time base to check for AC ripple at both high and low ends of the spectrum. ATX12V V2.2 specification for DC output ripple and noise is defined in the ATX 12V power supply design guide.

ATX12V Ver 2.2 Noise/Ripple Tolerance
Output
Ripple (mV p-p)
+3.3V
50
+5V
50
+12V1
120
+12V2
120
-12V
120
+5VSB
50

Obviously when measuring AC noise and ripple on the DC outputs the cleaner (less recorded) means we have a better end result. We measured this AC signal amplitude to see how closely the unit complied with the ATX standard.

AC Ripple (mV p-p)
DC Load +3.3V +5V +12V 5VSB
152W 10 15 20 15
270W 15 15 25 15
400W 15 20 35 20
523W 15 25 50 20
652W 20 30 60 25

Ripple suppression won’t be winning any awards, however all output falls well within rated tolerance levels. The +12V output peaks at 60mV when placed under full load.

Efficiency (%)
152W
85.34
270W
90.61
400W
93.82
523W
92.23
652W
90.45

Efficiency is exceptionally strong, peaking just under 94 percent when placed under 50 percent load. At full load this drops to just over 90 percent efficiency.

We take the issue of noise very seriously at KitGuru and this is why we have built a special home brew system as a reference point when we test noise levels of various components. Why do this? Well this means we can eliminate secondary noise pollution in the test room and concentrate on components we are testing. It also brings us slightly closer to industry standards, such as DIN 45635.

Today to test the Power Supply we have taken it into our acoustics room environment and have set our SkyTronic DSL 2 Digital Sound Level Meter (6-130dBa) one meter away from the unit. We have no other fans running so we can effectively measure just the noise from the unit itself.

As this can be a little confusing for people, here are various dBa ratings in with real world situations to help describe the various levels.

KitGuru noise guide
10dBA – Normal Breathing/Rustling Leaves
20-25dBA – Whisper
30dBA – High Quality Computer fan
40dBA – A Bubbling Brook, or a Refridgerator
50dBA – Normal Conversation
60dBA – Laughter
70dBA – Vacuum Cleaner or Hairdryer
80dBA – City Traffic or a Garbage Disposal
90dBA – Motorcycle or Lawnmower
100dBA – MP3 Player at maximum output
110dBA – Orchestra
120dBA – Front row rock concert/Jet Engine
130dBA – Threshold of Pain
140dBA – Military Jet takeoff/Gunshot (close range)
160dBA – Instant Perforation of eardrum

Noise (dBA)
152W
28.0
270W
29.4
400W
30.3
523W
32.8
652W 34.3

The fan in the power supply is quiet until it reaches the last 20% of power output. The fan spins up to cope with the rising ambient temperatures. Even at full load however it is reasonably quiet.

Temperature (c)
Intake
Exhaust
152W
36
39
270W
37
40
400W
38
44
523W
42
48
652W
45
56

The internal temperatures are very impressive, rising to an 11c above ambient threshold when placed under full load.

Maximum load
Efficiency
704.7W
88.4

Pushing the PSU above its rated limits generates an ultimate efficiency level of around 88.4%. This is not a viable ‘real world’ situation, but its interesting nonetheless.

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