Seasonic Goes Green: The Eco Power 300

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Jan 2, 2008 by Devon Cooke

Seasonic Eco Power 300
300W SFX12V 80-Plus Power Supply
(Also compatible with ATX12V 2.01)

Green tech has taken off. In recent months, SPCR has reviewed a Green drive, a Green monitor, a Green laptop, and more than one Green power supply. We also launched our sister site, Eco PC Review, which focusses specifically on Green computing. Despite all this attention, few of these so-called Green products have done more than tweak power consumption and rewrite the product's PR to tout its Greenness. But, as our sister site Eco PC Review discovered, there is far more to environmentally-friendly computing than knocking the power consumption down by a couple watts.

As it stands today, it would be a stretch to call even a solar-powered laptop Green because the vast majority of a laptop's energy footprint is expended in the manufacturing process, not everyday operation. The same applies to just about every piece of consumer electronics on the market. Europe's RoHS initiative, which, among other things, banned the use of lead in electronics, will arguably do much more for the environment than the far-better publicized 80-Plus program. In fact, insofar as the 80-Plus program stimulates the sale of new power supplies as replacements for older, working power supplies, it is responsible for a certain amount of environmental damage itself.

Barring a major change in the way electronics are manufactured, we're never going to see a truly Green power supply, but that doesn't mean some manufacturers aren't making an effort to clean up their acts. The latest to the market is Seasonic with the Eco Power 300. Seasonic has a long history of building highly efficient power supplies, so they will need to do something special to set the Eco Power apart from their regular models.

Simple, unbleached cardboard packaging.

The Eco Power starts with RoHS compliance (required) and 80-Plus certification (standard for Seasonic), but this is the bare minimum we'd expect of an ecologically-friendly power supply. For that matter, we expect these features of just about any power supply, not just Green ones.

The most obviously Green feature is apparent without even opening the box because it is the box itself. In contrast to the usual brightly colored retail packaging, the Eco Power comes in a plainish brown cardboard carton printed with monochrome black ink in a style reminiscent of Thermalright's packaging. The only splash of color is a label that advertises a five year warranty. Seasonic's words on the matter do a good job of highlighting how far the electronics industry has to go: "Innovative use of 100% recycled cardboard has eliminated all packaging plastics, placing Eco Power 300 at the forefront of green electronic design." Cardboard packaging seems indeed to be the forefront of green electronic design, so clearly there is work to be done!

Nevertheless, every little bit helps, and we're not about to knock their effort. Recycled cardboard is widely available, though it can be difficult to verify just how much post-consumer waste is actually present. Seasonic also notes that the ink is non-toxic, though it's not clear whether this also means environmentally-friendly. We were almost able to verify the lack of plastic — there was no sign of the usual plastic bags or bubble wrap around the power supply; however, a pair of small ziplock baggie containing the mounting screws proved that ditching plastic entirely is harder than it seems. (Come to think of it, "ditching plastic" seems like an unfortunate choice of words — we'd rather keep the plastic out of the ditch entirely.)

Things stay simple and unbleached inside as well...

...with no sign of the usual plastic padding.

The contents of the package are fairly minimal, though not quite bare-PSU-minimal. A small, single-sheet warranty card is included, plus "extras" including an AC power cable and adapters for floppy and PCIe connectors, as well as mounting screws and an SFX to ATX adapter plate that allows the oddly-shaped SFX-power supply to be installed in standard ATX cases. With the exception of the warranty card and the PCIe adapter (high power graphics cards have no place in a Green PC), all of these are necessary for regular operation of the power supply. The PCIe adapter is probably a compromise, given how difficult it is to sell a power supply without one.

Several adapters for wide compatibility.

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