Antec Signature 650W Power SupplyNov 4th, 2008 | By Anthony
Antec Signature 650W Power Supply
: 11/4/08 – 05:59:33 AM
: Power Supplies
Page 1 : Introduction
Without a doubt, Antec does not need an introduction. The presence of Antec in the computer hardware industry is almost inescapable. One could barely look anywhere in the computer industry without in some way bumping into one of their products, whether it is cases, cooling products, and well, of course power supplies.
Here at Overclockers Online, we have had a chance to test drive almost each and every major series of power supply Antec offers, and to date, they have yet to disappoint. Today, on our test bed is the brand new Antec Signature series power supply. The Signature series combines the best of the best, and accordingly, it is Antec's new flagship line of power supplies. By combing high quality components, a radical new layout and design, the Signature series of power supplies have gained 80 PLUS Bronze certification, meaning a sustained 82% efficiency.
Antec has spared little when it comes to praise for their new Signature line, and you can bet on it that our expectations are set high today, so without further ado, let's take a closer look.
Page 2 : Features and Specifications
Here is what Antec has to say about the new Signature 650W power supply:
82 percent efficiency, Japanese components, and five years of warranty, not bad at all!
For a modest 650W unit, 516W dedicated to the 12V rail is quite impressive!
Page 3 : Package and Contents
Antec's signature line of power supplies is perhaps the most unique, and well packed power supply we have ever seen!
From the outside it may not look like much, but just you wait.
Sure, it may not exactly speak much of the product; besides ensuring potential customers, the contents of the box is indeed a power supply, and output specifications, but in a very subtle way the box looks good. Without lightning bolts or loud graphics, this box grabs your attention.
I haven't seen so much effort put into packing a power supply since the Xclio Stable Power 850W!.
The compartment for the power supply itself is safely sandwiched between the two outer halves of the box.
So, enough with the boxes, let's see what we have here.
Inside, we have our standard run: power supply, cables, screws, documentation and AC cord.
The unit itself is minimally designed, a smooth matte black finish, black sleeving with accent red with leads finished with black Molex connectors. While fairly basic and without frills, it is undeniably a good looking unit.
Having a look at the side profile, it is on the larger side in terms of power supplies, but it should have no trouble fitting into any standardized computer case.
Towards the rear, the unit is cooled by a single 80mm PWM fan. For those of you with a keen eye for power supplies, we are dealing with a clamshell styled unit today, that's right, a Delta made unit. Thankfully, the fan isn't made by Delta, as the last thing we would need is liftoff.
Instead, we have a Nidec fan.
The clamshell style layout of the Signature series of power supplies is great for two reasons: better use of space allowing for better (read: beefier) components, and better airflow.
Let's start with the primary side.
The Signature series has garnered quite a bit of praise for its meticulous attention to detail with assembly and component layout – urban planners should take note here. It is a shame such beauty is hidden away under that 'warranty void if removed' sticker, but then again, perhaps not everyone gets this excited over power supplies.
Antec is really aiming high here; inside, we have an assortment of capacitors, two large ones – a 450W 270uF from Rubycon and a 450V 220uF from Nippon Chemicon. We also have a few smaller auxiliary capacitors from Nichicon.
The Signature series has taken quite a few bold steps away from conventionally designed power supplies. For starters, it has no 5V or 3.3V transformers, only a single 12V transformer. It is worth noting as well, the 12V transformer is mounted on its side, for airflow. From the 12V transformer, the 5V and 3.3V rails are generated through DC to DC voltage regulator modules.
The secondary side is filled with Nippon Chemicon capacitors; Antec really means business with this one.
Page 4 : Testing Setup
Quite unlike any other PC component, properly evaluating a power supply involves much, much more than running a battery of tests or sitting down in front of a shooter for a few hours armed with a pen and a pad of paper. Although, we have the utmost appreciation for a few headshots coupled with explosions, power supply reviews call for much more. The general mantra for testing power supplies tends to fall somewhere in the ranges of loading the power supply up to the top, and letting it suffer. We here at Overclockers Online are inclined to agree. Accordingly, our testing methods have evolved to allow for more sophisticated and accurate testing.
The dilemma here is: how to test a power supply without a computer system, but emulate a computer system? It is important to not forget that as much as we try to part from throwing a power supply into a computer system and watching how it performs, ultimately, what we are distancing ourselves from is precisely what we are trying to replicate. Simply, the ideal testing platform would be indistinguishable from a computer system, but graced with the accuracies of an adjustable load. However, since we do not have access to state of the art testing equipment, or the funds to purchase such equipment, we have built a custom load tester. While it does not offer adjustments in the thousandths of a decimal place, it does offer enough flexibility to test current day power supplies and beyond.
Using thick high quality 16AWG wires throughout and equally high quality connectors and switches, we have sought to minimize resistance in the lines while maintaining flexibility. All it takes is a flip of a switch to turn a desired resistor on or off.
A proper electronic load is a start, but we are going to be a bit more ambitious. A keystone piece of our testing mythology is the heat box. A system drawing 800W from a power supply produces quite a bit of heat, and to be testing such a power supply in an ambient environment is not only inconsistent with in-system applications but unrealistic and misleading. Our hotbox consists of nothing more than a case graciously donated to us from Silverstone. Recycling heat produced from the load tester using a series of controlled fans and a duct, we can control operational temperatures and push a power supply to its limits, or over.
Using the heat and load, we will run a battery of five tests: three cold and two hot tests. The three cold tests consist of 50% load, 80% load and finally full load. Naturally, we will escalate the strain on the unit by adding heat in the hot tests. The final two tests are 80% load and full load at approximately 50°C or more.
While the purpose and effects of 'burn in' are debated, doing so causes no harm. Prior to any testing, all units are run for a maximum period of one week without load. At best, this will stabilize the unit; at worst it takes a few hours off the unit's total life span.
In our tests, we will do our best to adhere to ATX specifications including cross loading and criteria for testing. The presentations of our results are designed for ease of interpretation and conciseness.
So, without any further delay, let us get started!
Page 5 : Testing
The aim of the cold test is to reflect ideal operational conditions where heat from the computer system is independent from the power supply. Still though, the term cold test would be misleading as things do get quite hot!
If these numbers do not mean anything, I don't know what does then. Green across the board. Everything was rock solid and except for the 3.3V rail in Test 1, everything is within 1% of specifications. Next, time for the heat.
While there was a bit of movement in the voltage readings, everything was
very much within
specifications. To date, we have only seen one unit which has achieved such results, and that is the Signature 650W.
Having a look at the Signature 650W at full load on a bar graph, we can see how little heat effects the Signature 650W.
In terms of size, the Signature 650W is slightly longer than the conventional ATX power supply, however, it should have no trouble fitting into most cases, including our small form factor Silverstone case / hotbox.
Page 6 : Conclusion
Antec has brought to the market a number of great power supplies; the NeoPower, EarthWatts, TruePower, including the TruePower Quattro, and now, the Signature series. The Signature series marks the first, of what I hope to be many more Delta based Antec power supplies. From what we have seen here today, it would definitely not be a bad mix.
Ringing in at nearly $200 dollars, the Signature 650W commands quite a hefty price point, especially for a 650W unit, but you better believe it is worth every penny. While the term solid is thrown around fairly loosely when describing power supplies, the Signature 650W is in every way, solid-solid: bolted-into-the-ground type solid.
In terms of performance, we have not seen anything quite like it; it held exceptionally well in all tests, and it was quiet. By the fourth and fifth tests, the fan speed did pick up, but was still by anyone's most discerning critique, still quiet. The unit also came with quite a number of nice perks: a beautiful finish, matching Molex connectors, lots of connectors, and sleeved wires. While for some computer systems nowadays, a 650W power supply truly may not be enough, but rest assured, Antec has that covered; the Signature series power supply is also available in a 850W variant.
- Excellent performance
- Fully sleeved
Overclockers Online would like to thank Antec for providing a review sample of the Signature 650W for review and Silverstone Technologies for providing the chassis for use in our load tester.