Antec HCP-850 Platinum PSU Review Introduction

Antec has been an old and well-known player in the power supply market. The company currently offers a very wide range of products, trying to satisfy all users and budgets. We have tested a few of their products in the past, such as the gamer-oriented HCG-520M and the highly efficient EA-650 Platinum. For those not easily satisfied, Antec decided to combine the modular design and aggressive appearance of their HCG series with the extremely high efficiency of their EA series; thus, the High Current Pro series was born, a line of products offering, for a hefty price tag, the highest possible performance and the largest possible number of features, to those users who are not satisfied with anything but the very best.

Antec HCP-850 80Plus Platinum PSU

Today we will be having a close look at the 850W version of the High Current Pro series, the HCP-850. The HCP-850 is a modular power supply with a very long list of features and a seven year long warranty. As all of the High Current Pro products, the HCP-850 also comes with an 80Plus Platinum certification, the highest currently available on a retail product (note: recently, a higher level has been specified for the 220/230V AC markets, the 80Plus Titanium; however no retail product can be found carrying it at this point of time). The downside is that the HCP-850 currently retails for $198.48 + shipping, making it one of the most expensive 850W units available and nearly twice as expensive as mainstream 800-900W products, even those coming from another high-performance series of Antec. Does the HCP-850 really worth the hefty price tag? We will find out in this review.

Antec Logo Fan Guard

Manufacturer’s features

 

+3.3V

+5V

+12V1

+12V2

+12V3

+12V4

-12V

+5Vsb

MIN

0A

0A

0A

0A

0A

0A

0A

0A

MAX

25A

25A

40A

40A

40A

40A

0.5A

3A

Total

130W

850W

6W

15W

850W

 

Unboxing the HCP-850 Platinum

 The box

Antec supplies the HCP-850 in a very serious-looking, large cardboard box. Most of the front side of the box is dominated by a silvery (i.e. platinum) color, without any colorful shapes or even a picture of the power supply. The most basic features of the HCP-850 can also be seen around the edges of the box.

The box (rear)

The company has printed a features list of the power supply at the rear side of the box, in six languages. The logos of the certifications that the HCP-850 has can also be seen at the top right corner of this side of the box.

Bundled items

Inside the box, we only found a few black mounting screws, an A/C power cable and two high quality cable straps with the company logo printed on them alongside with this unit. The company also supplies a bag full of the unit's modular cables. The unit itself also comes supplied in a cloth-alike bag, which can be reused.

Modular cables

As this is a fully modular power supply, every cable can be detached, even the 24-pin ATX cable. Although that would not make any sense in a system with a single PSU, the OC Link interface allows two HCP Platinum power supplies to work in parallel, which would render the second ATX connector useless. The cables are using standard color-coded wires and a simple black sleeving is covering them. It is interesting to note that one of the PCI Express cables is "enhanced", allowing each of the two connectors to be fed from different 12V lines, whereas the other four cables feed both of their PCI Express connectors from the same 12V line.

External Design

Antec HCP-850 80Plus Platinum PSU

The chassis of the HCP-850 is quite a bit long, measuring 192mm deep without any cables attached, which could become a problem in cases with small PSU compartments. The company sprayed the entire chassis with a matte black color. Aesthetically, there are few improvements over a basic rectangular design, the most notable being the use of an octagonal fan grill and the embossed company logo on the sides of the unit.

Side stickers

A long, black sticker with the company and series logos can be found on either side of this power supply. Antec also embossed their logo at the lowermost right corner of the chassis sides. Two company logos printed on the same side are one too many, we believe.

Electrical specifications sticker

The sticker with the electrical specifications and certifications of the HCP-850 can be found at the top side of the chassis. Right beneath it, there is a sticker with the revision and serial number of the power supply.

Rear Side

Predictably, as the HCP-850 Platinum is a fully modular power supply with a high output, the rear side of the chassis is littered with the connectors for the many modular cables. The company has printed a very simple legend, which indicates how the 12V lines are being distributed. The Molex/SATA cable connectors and the motherboard connector are all being fed from the 12V1 line, with the other three lines being reserved for CPU and PCI Express cables only. The OC Link connector can also be seen, which allows two High Current Pro Platinum units to work together and in parallel; however, we fail to see who would actually need 1700W+ worth of power for a commercial PC.

Front Side

The front side of the HCP-850 Platinum power supply is entirely perforated, allowing the warm air produced by the operation of the PSU to exit the case. Antec placed a simple on/off switch next to the A/C cable plug and (yet another) sticker with the company logo printed on it.

A look inside the HCP-850 Platinum

 The cooling fan

The cooling fan inside the HCP-850 Platinum is supplied by Delta, a very well-known manufacturer of cooling fans, the products of which are usually too expensive to be found inside most power supplies. The AFM1312M 135mm fan has a dual ball bearing and a maximum speed of 2800RPM.

Inside the HCP-850 Platinum unit

One of the most reputable power supply OEMs, Delta Electronics, is the company behind the production of the High Current Pro 850W Platinum. Although the chassis of the HCP-850 is quite long, every last cm inside it is being used, with the end result being remarkably tidy considering the number of components. The quality of the assembly is textbook, without a single flaw to be found about the soldering job or structure of the power supply.

The filtering and rectifying stages

The filtering stage begins at the back of the A/C receptacle, with two Y capacitors and one X capacitor soldered directly on the terminals, and then continues onto the main PCB, with another four Y capacitors, one X capacitor, two chokes and a MOV.

Primary side

The main rectifier of the power supply has its own dedicated heatsink, right after the transient filter assembly. Next to it, the passive components of the APFC stage can be seen; a large PFC choke and two 390uF/450V capacitors from Nippon Chemi-Con. The active components of the APFC stage are on their own dedicated heatsink near the edge of the PCB. Four inversion transistors have been installed on a larger heatsink next to the massive transformer, forming a full-bridge configuration. The transformer itself is a little special, as it does voltage regulation on its own through transistors embedded inside the body.

Secondary side

A vertical PCB holds the secondary stage conversion transistors, with a heatsink bolted to it. Three series of solid state capacitors are being used for initial ripple filtering. The electrolytic and solid state capacitors of the secondary side are all supplied by Nippon Chemi-Con.

Vertical PCBs

The DC to DC conversion circuits have been installed directly onto the vertical PCB, which also holds the cable connectors. Additional ripple filtering takes place here, per voltage line, right before the output. Two thick metallic bars bridge the main PCB and the vertical PCB, which, in comparison with simple cables, have notably lower power losses under high currents.

Test setup

The load

 

In order to be able to effectively and efficiently test any computer power supply unit, we developed and constructed our own proprietary testing station. Our testing station consists of a number of power resistors and small capacitors, which in turn are connected to a RS485 electronic relay array which allow our load to be controlled through computer software alone.

USB interface and connection panel

When accuracy and speed are of critical importance, a simple multimeter or voltage meter is not sufficient for the task. To ensure the quality of our testing, an USB laboratory interface is being used to continuously monitor and record the readings of all voltage lines simultaneously. For ripple measurements, an oscilloscope is necessary and we chose the USB Instruments Stingray, the most widely used oscilloscope amongst low voltage PSU engineers and testers.

Measurement instruments

For accurate testing and repeatable results, a stable power input is also required. Thus, we are providing power to our test samples through a 3kVA VARIAC which allows us to control the input voltage of our test samples and also perform efficiency tests under both 110V AC and 230V AC input. A Lutron DW-6091 is also being used, monitoring the input voltage, real and apparent power, power factor and amperage.

The software

A power supply testing procedure would not be complete without thermal and acoustics tests. For our acoustics tests we are using a SL-5868P digital sound level meter, placed 1 meter away from the unit (DIN standard). Two PT100 sensors and their respective displays are being used to monitor the ambient temperature and the exhaust temperature of the unit.

Complete test setup during trial run

Testing results (Regulation & Ripple)

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v3

v5

v12

 

Unsurprisingly, the electrical performance of the Antec High Current Pro Platinum 850W power supply is remarkable. The voltage regulation is very good, being stronger on the 12V line (about 1.6% difference) and weaker on the 3.3V/5V lines (about 2.4% difference). Ripple suppression however is incredible, especially considering the high output of the power supply, with our instruments measuring a ripple of just 18mV on the 12V line under maximum load.

Testing results (Efficiency, Noise & Thermal)

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The HCP-850 has an 80Plus Platinum certification, so we were not surprised by the outstanding efficiency figures. When powered by a 230V AC outlet, the efficiency of the HCP-850 reaches up to 94.1% under 50% load, while it stays above 91% across the entire load range. It would be noteworthy to mention that the vast majority of 80Plus Bronze and Silver certified power supplies will not even reach the minimum efficiency of the HCP-850 at all.

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Due to its extremely high efficiency, the HCP-850 Platinum wastes very little energy as heat. Despite the high power output of the unit, the HCP-850 barely warms up the air when lightly loaded and the largest temperature delta is just 6.2 °C at maximum load.

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Antec appears to have programmed a very aggressive thermal control pattern. Even if the efficiency of the HCP-850 is outstanding, the power supply will strive to maintain very low operating temperatures. As such, the HCP-850 is entirely silent when moderately loaded but the speed of the fan will increase sharply if the load exceeds 70% of the unit’s capacity, turning the HCP-850 loud if heavily loaded for prolonged periods of time.

Antec HCP-850 Platinum PSU Review Conclusion

The performance of the HCP-850 Platinum is exceptional in almost every way. The ripple suppression is outstanding, it runs very cool and the electrical efficiency is stunning by today’s standards. The cooling scheme is a bit aggressive, making the HCP-850 loud when heavily loaded, yet we cannot really complain about that as it enhances the thermal performance of the unit; besides, very few people care if the power supply is a tad noisy when heavily loaded, as the most likely task to achieve that is while gaming with a very powerful system and therefore the user is unlikely to hear anything but the game’s audio.

Quality-wise, there is little that we can say about the HCP-850 Platinum. Delta has always been a very serious OEM and their top designs have always been the reference of how a quality product has to be made. There were no flaws about the assembly or design quality of the HCP-850 Platinum that we could find, not even a single weak soldering joint. Finally, the choice of components is excellent as well, with all parts coming from well-known and proven manufacturers.

Interior of the Antec HCP-850, DELTA OEM

Aesthetically, the design of the HCP-850 is simplistic and very subtle. Antec clearly took measures to enhance the visual appeal of the power supply but without overdoing it. The visual enhancements are limited to side stickers, small engraved logos and a good paintjob; no fancy colors, no special cables and no lighting. This may be a good or bad thing, depending on the potential buyer.

With the High Current Pro Platinum series, it is clear that Antec aimed to design products for the most demanding of enthusiasts, who would ask for the best possible quality and performance with little consideration of the price. The HCP-850 Platinum certainly qualifies as such a product, as the overall performance of the power supply truly is outstanding; yet, the retail price of $198.48 + shipping is overly high for most user groups to even consider, as most would opt to buy “just” an 80Plus Bronze power supply of equivalent performance for nearly half that price.

Antec HCP-850 80Plus Platinum PSU

Legit bottom line: Antec’s currently best 850W power supply, the HCP-850 Platinum, has left us with mixed feelings. It surprised us with its excellent overall performance and fantastic quality, then disenchanted us with the very high retail price. If you are the kind of user who is seeking the very best, then the HCP-850 Platinum is certainly worthy of your attention. If however value plays any significant part in your choice, it will certainly not be an appealing deal.