Power supplies (PSUs) — those mundane blocks of metal for the power cord — are not the most popular or glitzy computer component. However, they are a very crucial part of any system. They buffer against power surges (though not a replacement for surge protectors), evenly and steadily feed components—such as the CPU, RAM, and hard drive—with electricity, and play a part in cooling most desktop computers.
When looking to purchase a power supply, a couple of factors are involved. The prime factor is the raw wattage it can provide; most PSUs can provide at least 300w, while the high-end ones provide 1000 watts, some even reaching the 1500w mark. If watts are the “raw power” specification of PSUs, amps and +12V rails are the “handling” and “control” of them. The number of amps per rail and the number of rails are two key points to look at. Powerful components require steady supplies of high-amperage electricity. Now knowing what a good power supply is, a comparison of two is in order.
Antec TruePower New TP-550
The Antec TruePower New TP-550 ($89) is a 550 watt and four rails at 20 amps power supply. It comes with a power cable, four screws, and a user manual. The cable sleeving is rather cheaply done, but it is better than nothing. It is cooled with a ball-bearing 120mm fan. The internals are superb, with Japanese capacitors (a key element to steady power), plenty of shielding, and good soldering quality.
Because of the high-quality components, the performance of this PSU is stellar. It has very little wavering in electric supply, even at high or slight over loads. The various rails provide power controlled and steadily; allowing for safe high-performance. This PSU is high-quality, in every sense of the word. Though, it does come with a bit higher price tag than the next competitor.
The OCZ Fatal1ty ($70) is also 550 watts and has two rails at 25 amps. It comes with the usual users manual, power cord, and mounting screws. The power supply has cable management, and the modular cables are placed in a separate bag—a nice touch. It is cooled with 135mm red-LED lit fan. Compared to the Antec, this PSU comes with iffy soldering quality, less shielding and standard capacitors.
Because of the “normal” quality components, this PSU does not fare as well as the Antec in standard tests of steady power supply. The noise level is higher, and efficiency not as good. It is still a good PSU, just not as good.
When directly compared, the Antec PSU is definitely the better built PSU, but that comes at a premium. If you are looking for a good, “blue-collar” style PSU the OCZ will suffice well, just so long as you do not plan to overload it. If you need to run multiple GPUs or want to significantly overclock your processor, stick with the Antec. You will need the extra reliability when things get tight.