by Oleg Artamonov
06/24/2008 | 03:50 PM
Recently we’ve published a roundup of six system cases from Antec, ranging from the tiny NSK1380 to the colossal P182 and Nine Hundred. That article brought us some feedback. Particularly, we were asked how advanced a configuration could be assembled in the compact cases. Yes, it is all clear about the Nine Hundred which can easily accommodate a 1000K PSU but what about the NSK1380? Can its 350W PSU power up a serious graphics card? Will it be working at its limit or perhaps won’t cope at all?
To give an exhaustive answer to this question I carried out a test of power consumption of the configuration I use in my tests. Namely:
I performed the measurement by means of a Gigabyte Odin GT GE-S550A-D1 power supply. This PSU features a system of monitoring of the currents and voltages, and a USB interface into the bargain. I connected the latter to a nearby PC and launched the Power Tuner tool on it. Thanks to this program I could keep track of the power consumption of my testbed continuously, right from the moment I turned it on. The Odin GT is sufficiently accurate, especially at high loads. Of course, I could arrange a set of shunts and measure the currents in a more honest way but it would improve the precision but slightly (within 10-20W) while making the whole test much more difficult to perform.
I’d like to give you my opinion about two myths, by the way.
Myth One: increasing the number of fans or USB devices raises the PSU load greatly. As a matter of fact, you can just look at the consumption of both to see this is untrue. USB is limited to 2.5W (a current of 500mA at a voltage of 5V) while a regular fan consumes no more than 3-4W. You’ll need some two dozen fans to beat the consumption of a single graphics card!
Well, if your system is on the verge of becoming unstable (due to lack of power or low quality of the PSU), even one fan may be enough to get it beyond that verge. But in this case you should think about the adequacy of the PSU at large rather than about the power consumption of your fans. A stable system, which has a reasonable reserve of power, just cannot be affected by USB devices and fans.
Myth Two: a PC with a large number of hard disks needs a lot of power to start up. In fact, a modern HDD has modest power requirements, about 12-15W under load. The spinning-up of its platters at system start-up requires far less power than a modern graphics card is consuming in 3D mode. In fact, it is in games which simultaneously load both the graphics card and the CPU (these are the two main consumers in modern PCs) that your system may feel a lack of power. If your system with a 400W PSU refuses to start up when you add a fifth or sixth hard disk, you should blame the quality of the PSU rather than its wattage.
So, I performed the test in four modes: 1) Idle, 2) full load on both CPU cores by means of Prime95, 3) full load on all the four HDDs by means of IOMeter, and 4) 3DMark06, the most interesting mode from a practical point of view. In every mode I noted the highest peak of power consumption.
The table below shows the power consumption of my configuration from the PSU (not from the wall outlet, so you don’t have to take the PSU efficiency into account).
As you can see, a system with an advanced CPU, a top-end graphics card, and four fast HDDs has a peak power consumption of only 210W! Well, I was not surprised at the results at all as we had previously measured the consumption of individual CPUs, graphics cards and hard disk drives in our reviews, but the overall consumption numbers make it all even clearer.
Most customers have overestimated notions about the power requirements of their PCs. I won’t discuss that further. I will just mark the points corresponding to these values in the cross-load diagrams of the tested PSUs.
Click the following link for a description of our testing methodology, the equipment we use, and a brief explanation of what the specified and tested parameters of power supplies mean. The article is called X-bit Labs Presents: Power Supply Unit Testing Methodology In-Depth. If you feel overwhelmed with the numbers and terms this article abounds in, check out an appropriate section of the mentioned article for an explanation.
This PSU is shipped together with the Antec NSK1380 system case. The super-compact dimensions of the case couldn’t but affect this power supply.
The AR-350 is manufactured by Seasonic.
Having an odd L-shaped outline, the AR-350 resembles PSUs for microBTX system cases but it is just an outward semblance. MicroBTX power supplies have completely different dimensions and designs. The protrusion in the AR-350 was made only to accommodate a 120mm fan.
In the assembled system case the fan is pressed against the back panel to exhaust the hot air.
The mains connector is located right on the NSK1380 case. The PSU connects to it with three clamps – you can see them in the foreground of the photo above.
The intake vent holes are in the back part of the PSU. The cables are there, too.
Oddly enough, the protruding “pocket” for the 120mm fan is completely blank. It means the bottom part of the fan does no useful work although it might cool the hot near-CPU space of the NSK1380 if there was another vent grid in the side of the PSU.
The PSU is very compact, even cramped, on the inside. Funnily, its component layout resembles full-size Seasonic PSUs at a reduced scale.
The PSU features active PFC and joint voltage regulation.
The AR-350 is cooled with an Adda AD1212MB-A73GL fan (a rated speed of 2500rpm). This photo shows again that the “pocket” that has been made in the PSU case in order to accommodate a 120mm fan lacks any holes.
The PSU has a max output power of 350W. It can yield 300W (25A) across its +12V power rail which is split into two “virtual” output lines.
You can see the following cables and connectors here:
The cables are tied together with nylon straps.
Of course, the small length of the cables is not a drawback for this PSU because the AR-350 is optimized for a specific system case. The cables prove to be just long enough to connect every component in the NSK1380. The lack of a graphics card connector is the only downside as you have to use an adapter. This can be explained, though. As we noted in our review of the system case, it can accommodate either three HDDs and a compact graphics card or two HDDs and a full-size graphics card. Considering the small dimensions of the system case, it is logical for the PSU to have only Molex connectors that are used for both configurations directly or via an adapter.
There were no problems when the PSU was working under full load for a long while.
The cross-load characteristics are normal enough for a PSU with joint voltage regulation. I can’t see any serious problems here. The +5V voltage sags under high load but even my “reference” configuration with four HDDs and a full-size mainboard (you can’t fit neither into the NSK1380 due to obvious reasons) cannot sag this voltage more than 3%. Of course, the system is perfectly stable. The diagram shows that the PSU has a large reserve of power in both Prime95 and 3DMark06 modes.
This again reminds me of the exaggerated notions of some PC enthusiasts about the amount of power a PC needs. I am quite sure I would be advised to buy a 500W or higher PSU for my testbed configuration if I asked for an opinion at hardware forums. However, I have a solid reserve of power on the 350W PSU. It is more than enough for normal operation even considering the inevitable degradation of PSU characteristics with time.
The output voltage ripple is normal at full load, the ideal calm being occasionally disturbed by individual spikes.
The fan speed is nearly constant at loads below 250W. Then it begins to grow up linearly. As a result, the PSU is almost silent when the PC is idle and quiet when the PC is under load.
The graph above was recorded when the PSU was working in the open air. I had had some apprehensions that the acceleration point would move leftwards in the cramped and rather hot NSK1380 system case. Fortunately, I was wrong. The speed of the PSU fan was not higher than 950rpm when idle and 1100rpm under 3DMark06 when I assembled a nearly-maximum configuration in the NSK1380 including two WD Raptors, 4GB of memory, a Radeon HD 3870 and a 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo (65nm).
The PSU shows good efficiency: 85% at the maximum and over 80% through almost the entire range of loads. The power factor is typical for a PSU with active power factor correction.
Thus, the Antec AR-350 is a good mainstream power supply featuring good electrical parameters and quiet operation. As you know from our earlier review, the super-compact Antec NSK1380 system case this PSU is meant for can accommodate rather advanced gaming configurations. And now you can be sure that such a configuration will have more than enough of power.
The name of this PSU series suggests that it is environment-friendly. In other words, these PSUs boast high efficiency to save energy straightforwardly and have active PFC to save it indirectly. I took this PSU out of an Antec NSK3480 system case. Its real manufacturer is Seasonic.
The PSU has an ordinary gray steel housing and one 80mm fan. It has the standard dimensions and mounting holes of an ATX power supply. Nothing shows that it is shipped with a specific system case.
The internal design resembles FSP Group’s GLN and HLN series units you may be familiar with by our reviews. The power elements are distributed on three, not two, separate heatsinks. The heatsinks are made from thin aluminum and have but small ribbing. High-efficiency PSUs don’t need huge heatsinks as FSP Group’s PSUs have proved already.
As you can expect from Seasonic, the quality of assembly is immaculate. The circuit design is quite modern: active PFC and joint voltage regulation.
The PSU is cooled with an Adda AD0812HS-A70GL fan (80x80x25mm, 3010rpm). I mention the rated speed of the fan but its actual speed in the PSU varies depending on the temperature as you’ll see below.
The PSU has two “virtual” +12V output lines it can yield a total of 324W (27A) across it. It is equipped with the following cables and connectors:
The wires are tied up with nylon straps into braids. Wires from different braids are entangled near the PSU. You shouldn’t be surprised at the cable length and the non-standard positions of some connectors. This PSU comes with the Antec NSK3480 system case and is optimized for it, which is good. A standard PSU with a standard selection of cables may provoke some problems if you are assembling a system in such a small space.
The PSU passed the full-load test (at 380W) easily.
Together with an APC SmartUPS SC 620 this power supply worked at loads up to 343W (from the mains) and 335W (from the battery). The UPS switched to the battery without problems.
The output voltage ripple is within the normal limits at full load.
The cross-load diagram looks good. The +5 voltage sags somewhat while the +12V voltage increases when there is a high load on the +5V rail. However, even the configuration with four WD Raptor drives I performed my tests with and whose power consumption I measured precisely consumes but little power from the +5V rail. In every test mode (marked with crosses in the cross-load diagram) the PSU’s voltages are within the “green zone”. And you can also see that the PSU has a double reserve of power for my “reference” configuration.
The PSU fan works at a constant speed until a load of 250W and then accelerates. The PSU is very quiet. It is in fact inaudible at low loads. You can only hear it at loads higher than 300W but my configuration doesn’t reach that level notwithstanding the advanced graphics card and CPU.
I perform the fan speed measurements when the PSU is taken out of the system case, i.e. at room temperature. As a rule, the temperature of the incoming air is going to be somewhat higher in a closed system case and the PSU fan begins to accelerate at a lower load. This rule doesn’t apply to the NSK3480, though. This system case has a partition that separates it into two volumes and the air around the PSU is not heated up by the CPU or the graphics card.
The efficiency is 85-86% across a wide range of loads, which is a good result. I perform the test in a 220V power grid but the PSU can work easily (without a manual switch) in a 110V grid as well thanks to its active PFC. Its efficiency is going to be 2-3% lower in a 110V power grid.
So, I can see no fault with the EarthWatts EA-380. It is stable and quiet. And it offers enough wattage and connectors to build as advanced a gaming configuration in the microATX system case it comes with as microATX mainboards permit.
The Antec Basiq series currently includes two models with wattage ratings of 350 and 500W. It is an entry-level series in Antec’s product line-up.
Interestingly, the BP500U is the only Antec in this review that is not manufactured by Seasonic. Its manufacturer is FSP Group.
As opposed to the two previous models, the BP500U comes apart of a system case in a neat black-and-red retail box.
The PSU resembles the above-described EarthWatts externally but it has a punched-out rather than wire grid above the fan. The vent holes are positioned differently, too.
There are internal similarities, too. The PSU is based on the FSP500-60GLN model and resembles the EarthWatts with its component layout: three heatsinks with load-bearing elements, active PFC, and joint voltage regulation.
A typical trait of FSP products, the heatsinks are flat, without a single rib. The BP500U has two of them. Many hardware reviewers were shocked at seeing them at first, but the explanation is simple. These PSUs were so efficient that such modest bars of heatsinks were quite enough for cooling.
On the other hand, Seasonic PSUs are highly efficient too, but have more intricate heatsinks. Are FSP products noisier? Or maybe Seasonic provides redundant cooling just in case? Let’s see.
The PSU is cooled with an Adda AD0812US-A70GL fan (80x80x25mm, 3700rpm).
The combined load capacity of the +12V rail is not declared but it equals the sum of the two “virtual” output lines it is split into. So, this PSU can yield 36A (432W) across its +12V power rail.
The Antec website claims that two +12V lines (one of which is connected only to the 4-pin ATX12V connector) ensure stable power for the CPU that does not depend on the consumption of the other components. As I have repeatedly noted in my reviews, this is untrue. There is but one 12V power rail inside the PSU. It is split into two lines at the output in order to make the PSU safer for the user. Thus, there is no talking about the two lines being independent. Except for the tiny difference due to the voltage drop on the wires and connectors, the voltages of the 12V1 and 12V2 lines are almost identical. If one sags, the other sags, too.
The PSU is equipped with the following cables and connectors:
The wires are tied up with nylon straps into braids. Wires from different braids are entangled near the PSU case.
Together with an APC SmartUPS SC 620 this PSU worked at loads up to 340W (from the mains) and 320W (from the battery). The pair was not stable when working on the battery: the UPS would shut down after 10-20 seconds under a slightest overload. I didn’t observe such problems with this series of FSP products before.
The PSU worked normally at its full load of 500W.
The output voltage ripple is low, far below the allowable limits on the +3.3V and +12V rails. There is almost no ripple at all on the +5V rail.
The cross-load characteristics are normal for this series of FSP power supplies and somewhat inferior to the opposing products: the +5V and +3.3V rails sag quickly as the load grows up and the PSU does not make it to the full declared load for these rails, which is 152W.
On the other hand, this is an insignificant drawback for modern PCs. As you can see, my “reference” configuration hits the “green zone” again. In other words, the voltages deflect less than 3% in the four test modes, from idle to 3DMark06.
Alas, the PSU is not silent. Its fan starts up at over 2000rpm and accelerates proportionally to the load. It is always audible and becomes the noisiest in the system at a load of 200W because the present generation of graphics cards (both Radeon HD 3870 and GeForce 8800 GTS/512) is rather quiet while good CPU coolers are quite a common thing these days. So, Seasonic seems to be wise in using somewhat larger heatsinks in its PSUs.
The PSU set no records in terms of efficiency, yet its efficiency factor is always above 80%.
Unfortunately, the Basiq BP500U is indeed a basic product among the PSUs selling under the Antec brand. Having good electrical parameters, it shows drawbacks the other models in this review are free from, namely high noise and certain instability when working with my UPS. Users may be interested in the junior, 350W, version of the Basiq if it is cheap enough. The senior, 500W, version may only be necessary for top-end configurations. But if you have an advanced configuration, you may want to add some more money and buy a more expensive and better PSU instead.
Expensive PSUs are abundant in Antec’s product line-up. If you think that the above-described EarthWatts EA-380 is insufficient for your needs, you can consider its 500W counterpart called EarthWatts EA-500.
The PSU comes in a cardboard box of Antec’s standard design.
It is no different from the 380W version on the outside: the same gray case without exceptional features and the same cooling system.
There are but few differences inside. It is the same layout with three heatsinks. The ratings of some components have grown up somewhat, though.
From a practical point of view, it is interesting that the heatsinks are the same size. It is a common opinion among PC users that a high-wattage PSU is quieter than a low-wattage PSU under the same load. Well, I can see no reason yet why the EA-500 and EA-380 should be different in terms of noisiness.
The PSU is cooled with an Adda AD0812HS-A70GL – the same fan as is employed in the EarthWatts EA-380.
The PSU has two “virtual” +12V output lines with a load capacity of 17A on each. The combined load capacity is 34A, which is somewhat lower than in the Basiq 500.
The EarthWatts EA-500 offers the following cables and connectors:
A nylon pipe is put on the mainboard cable. The other cables are just tied with straps. The selection of connectors is good. There are two cables with SATA plugs so that you could connect your DVD drive and HDDs without adapters, and there are two cables for graphics cards.
Together with an APC SmartUPS SC 620 this power supply worked at loads up to 347W (from the mains) and 335W (from the battery).
The EarthWatts EA-500 passed the full load test successfully.
The output voltage ripple is within the permissible limits at maximum load. There are spikes at the moments of switching of the PSU’s power transistors but these won’t do you any harm.
The cross-load characteristics aren’t very neat. The +12V voltage grows up when there is a high load on the +5V rail while the +5V voltage itself sags then. Anyway, none of the three voltages deflects more than 3% from the nominal value with my reference PC configuration (its four operation modes are marked with the crosses). This proves again that the wattage ratings of current PSUs far exceed the actual requirements of modern PCs.
The fan management system differs but little from the one of the EA-380. The fan speed remains constant at 1250rpm until a load of 200W and then grows up linearly. The fan is audible at loads over 250-300W. At lower loads it is very quiet.
The efficiency is about 85% through a wide range of loads. It lowers to 82% at near-maximum loads.
Thus, the EarthWatts EA-500 is good electrically (its cross-load characteristics are not perfect but proved to be just fine for my reference configuration) and quiet. But should you prefer it to the other models? As you can see, it is not superior to the cheaper EA-380 in anything except for the maximum allowable load. Do you really need that much power? A serious gaming system with a Core 2 Duo E6850, a Radeon HD 3870 graphics card, and four HDDs won’t utilize even half the capacity of a 500W PSU!
I already tested the Antec NeoPower NeoHE 550 in an earlier review. It was revision A4 then. For today’s test I’ve got an A5 revision sample. By the way, you can learn the revision number of Antec’s PSUs by looking at the small white barcode sticker near the main label.
This PSU was installed into an Antec Sonata Plus system case. Seasonic is its actual manufacturer.
The PSU has exactly the same housing as the EarthWatts series products although it doesn’t look as such. The EarthWatts PSUs have a steel-gray coloring while the NeoHE is painted dark.
The EarthWatts and the NeoHE are completely different inside, though. They differ not only in the component layout but also in functionality: the NeoHE features dedicated voltage regulation.
The latter thing can be seen in the photograph: there are three, not two, chokes on toroidal cores near the right heatsink. An ordinary PSU has two chokes, one of which is used in the +3.3V voltage regulator and the other in the common regulator of the +5V and +12V voltages. That’s why the latter two voltages depend greatly on each other’s load. You can often see it in the cross-load diagrams: the voltage on the +12V rail increases when there is a high load on the +5V rail although the +12V load remains the same. The NeoHE has dedicated regulators (saturated-core chokes) for both +5V and +12V voltages, making all the three voltages virtually independent from each other.
The detachable cables are yet another special feature of the NeoHE. There are five connectors for them at the back of the case. The connectors are universal; you can attach any cable to any of them. On the other hand, there is only one pin for +12V in the cable for graphics cards which need this voltage only because the other pins are +5V and +3.3V necessary for hard disk drives.
The PSU is cooled with an Adda AD0812HB-A71GL fan (80x80x25mm, 3010rpm).
The PSU label says that 550 watts is the continuous output power at an air temperature up to 50°C. ATX Power Supply Design Guide recommends the manufacturers to specify the output power in this format but some of them do not follow this recommendation and specify the output power at an air temperature of 25°C for example. The PSU has three “virtual” +12V output lines with a combined current of 42A.
The NeoPower NeoHE 550 offers the following cables and connectors:
Included with the PSU are:
Together with an APC SmartUPS SC 620 the power supply worked at loads up to 340W (from the mains) and 325W (from the battery).
The PSU easily passed the full-load test (at 550W).
The output voltage ripple is within the permissible limits at full load.
The cross-load diagram looks good just as you can expect from a PSU with dedicated voltage regulation. The +5V and +3.3V voltages sag under high loads on the respective power rails but never leave the permissible limits. As for our “reference” PC, the voltages deflect no more than 2% on it.
You may wonder what is the purpose of the dedicated voltage regulation if the voltages do not deflect by more than 2% with other PSUs in a real PC. Well, such regulation is indeed not vital for most applications. However, it guarantees that the PSU’s output voltages are within the permissible limits across all the range of loads. This helps you avoid potential problems with certain configurations that consume too much power or have a non-standard distribution of power load.
The fan doesn’t even reach a speed of 1000rpm at loads below 200W. The PSU is simply silent then. From that point on, the fan speed is increasing proportionally to load but the fan only becomes noisy at loads above 350W.
Compared with the above-described EarthWatts, the NeoPower is better as its fan speed and noise level are lower at every load.
The efficiency is 85-86%, lowering towards the maximum load. It is never lower than 82%, though.
Thus, the NeoPower 550 is a high-quality power supply with stable voltages and a very quiet fan (although PSUs with small 80mm fans are not usually regarded as quiet). The EarthWatts is inferior to the NeoPower in both voltage stability and quietness. My NeoPower was taken out of an Antec Sonata Plus system case, so this is a lucky combination of a superb system case with an excellent power supply.
This model owes its name to its three +12V output lines. But running a little ahead, these lines are “virtual” again. There is nothing unique about them. For example, the above-discussed NeoHE 550 has three +12V output lines, too.
The PSU comes in a black-and-orange cardboard box.
Excepting the nonstandard AR-350, the TruePower Trio is the first model in this review to have a 120mm fan. Such PSUs are traditionally regarded as quiet (although the marketing departments of many manufacturers are already busy touting 140mm fans) but you’ve seen above that a PSU with an 80mm fan can be silent, too. Will the Trio be better in this respect?
Although the UL certificate number on the PSU label belongs to Antec, the actual manufacturer of this PSU cannot be mistaken. The characteristic component layout, shape of the heatsinks and component marking betray Seasonic.
Moreover, the TruePower Tri coincides with the NeoHE in its circuit design, not only in parameters and functionality. It’s got the same PCB and the same components. The different shape of the heatsinks may confuse you at first, but a closer inspection confirms that the two models are in fact identical.
The PSU is cooled with an Adda AD1212HB-A73GL fan (120x120x25mm, 2200rpm).
Interestingly, the TruePower Trio and the NeoHE have different specified currents. The difference is small, though. The TruePower Trio offers an additional 4A across the +5V rail (modern PCs consume but little power from this rail anyway) and an additional 0.5A from the standby source.
The more significant difference is that the Trio has non-detachable cables. It is equipped with the following cables and connectors:
There is everything necessary in this selection of cables.
Together with an APC SmartUPS SC 620 this power supply worked at loads up to 340W (from the mains) and 330W (from the battery).
The PSU passed the full-load test (at 550W) without problems.
The output voltage ripple is within the norm at full load.
The cross-load diagram is as good as with the NeoHE I’ve discussed above: the +12V voltage is ideal while the other two are stable enough. None of the three main voltages deflects more than 4% from the nominal value, the permissible deflection being 5%. With our reference configuration the voltages deflect no more than 2%.
I can note again that this PSU offers two times the amount of power an advanced gaming PC with one graphics card needs.
What about noise? Will the 120mm fan be better than 80mm fans?
The TruePower Trio is silent at loads below 200W as the fan speed is but slightly higher than 700rpm. Then the fan accelerates quickly as the load grows up, reaching 1200rpm at 350W which is quite a high speed for a 120mm fan. If the rest of the PC components are quiet, you’ll hear both the impeller and the hiss of the airflow that’s passing through the PSU. For comparison, the fan of the Seasonic S12 SS-500HT, which is considered an example of a quiet PSU, has a speed of less than 1000rpm at such a load.
Comparing the TruePower Trio with the NeoPower 550 again, they are similar in terms of noisiness notwithstanding their different fans. Both are silent at loads below 200W and quiet at higher loads. Both only become loud at very high loads.
The efficiency is about 85% in a wide range, lowering somewhat at near-maximum loads.
The TruePower Trio TP3-550 is overall very similar to the above-discussed NeoHE 550. Both models are based on the same platform, differ but slightly in their specified and real electrical characteristics, and produce about the same amount of noise. So, you should choose between them basing on the preferable cooling system (which suits your system case better) and whether you need detachable cables. Such cables are handy if you’ve got a small system case because they don’t clutter its interior.
This review concludes with one more NeoPower series product which is rather unusual for Antec. This company obviously puts functionality and characteristics above exterior design. The NeoPower 650 Blue is the only product from Antec to have a highlighted fan. By the way, you should not confuse it with the NeoHE 650 model that doesn’t have the suffix Blue. The highlighting is not the only difference between these two models.
The PSU is manufactured by Seasonic.
I’ve got a boxed version of the PSU.
The NeoPower Blue is a special product in the NeoPower series as it is the only one to be cooled by a 120mm rather than 80mm fan.
The highlighting is quite original: the LEDs are built not into the fan but into the PSU heatsinks. When the PSU is installed into a system case, these LEDs cast three beams of light down to the mainboard and CPU cooler.
Like the other NeoPower series products, the NeoHE 650 Blue has detachable cables. There are five universal connectors for them at the back panel.
The internal design resembles the TruePower Trio rather than other NeoPower models. It’s all right because, as I wrote above, both series are based on the same platform. The heatsinks of the NeoHE 650Blue are just optimized for a 120mm fan.
It’s easy to see the highlighting LEDs which are fastened in the holes of the heatsink ribs. By the way, both heatsinks of the PSU are identical. One is just turned by 180 degrees relative to the other.
The PSU is cooled with an Adda AD1212HB-A71GL fan (120x120x25mm, 2200rpm). The impeller is made from translucent plastic to look better when highlighted by the LEDs. A small part of the fan is covered with a plastic film that drives the air towards the back part of the PSU.
The PSU’s max output power is declared to be 650W at an air temperature of 50°C just as the industry standard requires. The +12V rail, split into three “virtual” lines, can yield a combined current of 52A.
The PSU is equipped with the following cables and connectors:
Included with the PSU are:
The cables of the NeoHE 650 Blue imply that this PSU is intended for systems with advanced graphics cards: one graphics card cable is non-detachable. Well, my measurements show that a 650W PSU should be just fine even for a system with two graphics cards. If you’ve got only one, a lower-wattage PSU would be a more reasonable choice.
Together with an APC SmartUPS SC 620 the power supply worked at loads up to 370W (from both the mains and the battery). It also passed the full-load test easily.
The output voltage ripple is within the permissible limits at full load.
Like the previous two models, the NeoHE 650 Blue features dedicated voltage regulation and its cross-load diagram looks good. You can note that the voltages on the +5V and +3.3V rails sag by 4-5% when these rails are under high load but my “reference” configuration with four HDDs is far from the red zone. As a matter of fact, this PSU offers a triple reserve of power for my reference configuration including a Core 2 Duo E6850, one Radeon HD 3870 graphics card, and four WD Raptor hard disks!
The PSU is actually silent at loads below 200W as the fan is rotating at a speed of only 600rpm. After that, the speed is growing up proportionally to the load, reaching 1200rpm at about 380W.
Comparing the NeoHE 650 Blue with the NeoHE 550 and TruePower Trio 550, the 650W model is somewhat better in terms of noisiness, yet most users won’t even notice it. On the whole, this PSU is no record-breaker in quietness, yet is very, very good in practice especially as it is silent at low loads, i.e. when the PC is idle and the fans on the CPU and graphics card slow down to minimum speed.
The efficiency is as high as 86%, lowering at very high loads. The power factor is very good, too. It almost equals 1. The quality of the PFC device was obvious from the excellent result the PSU showed in the UPS compatibility test.
So, the Antec NeoPower NeoHE 650 Blue is undoubtedly a very good product with superb electrical and acoustic parameters, with detachable cables and blue highlighting of the fan which may come in handy for owners of the Antec Nine Hundred system case, for example. But with all that praise about this 650W PSU I can’t but tell you once again that this output power may only be adequate for a configuration with two top-end graphics cards and an advanced CPU. Purchasing it for a weaker configuration wouldn’t make sense because there is no practical benefit from having such a huge reserve of power in a system with one graphics card.
It’s easy to make a conclusion to this roundup. It goes like this: Antec power supplies are good!
To be specific, the 7 models, including the nonstandard AR-350, all have good electrical parameters, low level of noise, and an adequate selection of cables and connectors. I haven’t found a serious flaw in any of them. The Basiq 500 may look rather unassuming compared with the other models, but it belongs to the most inexpensive series after all.