Antec Signature 850W Reviewpaulktreg -
Category: Power Supplies
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More and more consumer electronics manufacturers are striving ever harder to improve the energy efficiency of their products in a bid to convince us that their product is the one to buy. This is, in my opinion, a very welcome trend and nowhere is it more evident than in the personal computer power supply market. Energy prices are rising all the time and I don't think the average PC user out there really appreciates, or even gives too much thought, to how much their high performance gaming rig is costing to run (for example a high end PC @ 400W = 0.4kWh at $0.10/KWh; for four hours/day = $58.40/year and 24/7 = $350.40/year). Individually, this doesn't seem like much, but if you are running several rigs the costs soon mount up. If every PC user ensured they had an energy efficient power supply installed, the combined energy savings would be significant. The 80 Plus program has helped standardise measurement of power supply efficiency and encourage sales of more efficient units. Let's have a look at the Antec Signature 850W with a claimed 80 Plus Bronze certification. (82%-85%-82% efficiency at 20%-50%-100% load).
Antec, founded in 1986, is a leading supplier of computer accessories for gaming, PC upgrades and the do-it-yourself market. Antec's offerings include a large range of PC cases, power supplies and cooling solutions. The semi-modular Signature 850W, also available as a 650W variant, is Antec's highest powered premium line power supply.
The first thing I noticed about the packaging of the Antec Signature is the card sleeve covering the "shoe box" type packaging. It looks fantastic but I feel it lacks the basic information provided by other manufacturers. The sleeve is fixed to the packaging by two clear plastic stickers and is not something you would remove before purchase. You get the Signature logo on the front panel and a specifications label on the underside, but no features. How is the buyer supposed to know what the power supply offers? This power supply is primarily aimed at the enthusiast's market and perhaps Antec can be forgiven for this omission because most people, me included, would do some research before spending this much money.
Removal of the sleeve reveals the plain black and yellow themed box with the Antec logo on the black lid. The bottom of the box is the same as the lid so that a thin yellow stripe is visible all around. Inside, the first thing you see is a windowed black card insert that keeps the user manual in place.
Remove the back insert, user manual and test certificate, more on this later, and the power supply is neatly stored in a foam compartment which can be easily lifted out to reveal the main chord and modular cables neatly packed in plastic bags.
The power supply is protected with a simple cellophane wrap and the cables neatly held together with ties. You will see from the photographs that this power supply is not fully modular and comes complete with enough basic connectors to complete the build process without the addition of the modular connectors. Some power supplies are fully modular but I have to ask, why? All computers require the motherboard 20/24 pin and an auxillary power connector or two, so why make these modular? The full set of hard wired connectors consists of the 20/24 pin motherboard connector, one 4-pin and one 8-pin auxillary power connector, three 4-pin Molex + FDD power connectors, three SATA power connectors and two 6/8-pin PCI-E connectors. If you want to install extra drives or even two Geforce 9800 GX2 in SLI (for which this power supply is Nvidia certified), then the modular cables will be needed. I feel this is a sensible approach, why introduce extra plugs and sockets when they're not needed?
Included with the Antec Signature 850W is a test report telling us that 80 Plus, Full Load Line Regulation, Short Circuit, Over Voltage and Over Current tests have all been successful and stamped pass by T. Xiang. Why not save him, or her, the effort of "pass stamping" and get it printed as they are hardly going to release one with a big red FAILED!
The Antec Signature 850W is very well packaged and should easily withstand the ordeal of going through any of the world's postal systems. Next we will have a closer look at the power supply, inside and out.