Antec TruePower 380W and TruePower 550W
Antec is well known for their full line of PC cases which we've previously reviewed. The nice thing about buying an Antec case is that you get an Antec power supply inside, which is one of the reasons I find myself recommending Antec's cases over and over again, especially for consumers who may not be savvy enough to pick out a good power supply on their own. Far too often I see swank aluminum cases at local shops decked out with all sorts of eye candy, packed with generic, no-name power supplies that frankly, I just don't trust on high-performance systems.
We actually have a couple of Antec's latest line of TruePower power supplies in house for this comparison, one comes in at 380W, and the other at 550W. Having two power supply models from the same manufacturer with differing wattage ratings will give us an opportunity to more directly compare wattage overall, since the Antec power supplies both share a common TruePower feature set.
Antec's TruePower power supplies look, well, much like other power supplies. In addition to the standard rear 80mm exhaust fan, Antec sticks a second 90mm fan on what ends up being the bottom of the power supply. For whatever reason, the two fans are different colors, but you'll have to peer beyond the fan grill to notice the difference.
Here's a shot from the rear. You can see some additional venting on parts of the power supply that get decent airflow within the case, and you can see just how much space that 90mm fan takes up on a power supply of this size.
Power supplies generally offer temperature-controlled fans these days, but Antec claims its Low Noise Technology is better than the rest and results in lower operating noise levels than the competition. We'll test that claim later on.
TruePower power supplies also have two special MOLEX connectors designed to work only with case fans. These additional connectors give the power supply control over the speed of your case fans, which will go up and down in line with what the power supply's own fans are doing.
Antec doesn't allow users to adjust fan speeds, so everything is controlled by the power supply's thermal sensors. Power supply temperature isn't necessarily an indicator of overall case temperature, so you might not want case fans positioned around something like your hard drives relying on the power supply to control their speed.
Believe it or not, I have not one, but two older Antec power supplies that don't have their own power switches. Not having that switch can sometimes really be a pain, and I'm glad to see that Antec has one included on its TruePower series. I can't tell you how many times I've had to yank the cord on my other Antec power supplies because I crashed a system on a testbed that didn't have a normal power switch hooked up in the first place. Of course, not having a switch in the first place is my fault, but it's nice to know that Antec's new power supplies have my back now.
Despite their differing voltage ratings, the 380W and 550W TruePower units have the same number of MOLEX connectors and offer the same amount of cable reach for each. There's nothing wrong with that, so long as there's enough of each.
Finally, we have Antec's sheathed motherboard power cord, which can reach power connectors a full 22 inches away from the power supply itself. The length is nice, and should be adequate for most case and motherboard setups. The sheathing itself is pretty slick, and the ends are nicely secured with heat shrink tubing, which puts a nice finishing touch on the whole package. Sheathing loose cables can really clean up internal cabling, which in turn can help out with air flow inside a case. A case's internals also look a lot nicer with clean cable sheathing, if you're into that sort of thing. If you're trying to color-coordinate, at least the black sheath will hide the rainbow of wires that makes up a standard motherboard power supply cable.