PC Power Supply Efficiency Ratings

You would think choosing a power supply unit (PSU) would be an easy part of a PC build, but it is not as simple as you might think. There are a lot of brands on the market that are a mixed variety of name, quality, energy consumption, and cost. Beyond the price, brands and reliability that there are to choose from, there are also efficiency ratings to consider. PSU manufacturers are now adding an 80 Plus rating to the details about their computer power supply rating, so the decision of which one to buy can be thorough, yet more complicated.

The system to rate a computer’s PSU efficiency is called the 80 Plus. This rating system is based on both the reliability and efficiency of the power supply unit. The system was instituted over a decade ago to help people understand the differently classed PSU’s, making purchase options clearer.

The 80 Plus system is fairly easy to understand without a lot of technical detail.  Here is a breakdown of the system so you can recognize the different certification levels that are included for PSU’s.

The 6 PC Power Supply Efficiency Ratings

  • 80 Plus (80+ White)
  • 80 Plus Bronze
  • 80 Plus Silver
  • 80 Plus Gold
  • 80 Plus Platinum
  • 80 Plus Titanium

These are the 6 ratings that define the 80 Plus system and set the standards for PSUs. The first level is 80 Plus.This is also labelled as 80+ white. It is the lowest level of reliability and efficiency and then the ratings go up from there ending at the highest, Titanium. The lowest level of white is one that is rarely seen as PSU’s with this reliability and efficiency are not high enough for most customers. If you are looking for a higher quality PSU, then often you will be looking for one that is rated with a gold and above certification. It will be of higher quality, more reliable, but also more expensive than a silver or bronze rated one.

Source: canva.com

Most PSU manufacturers have steered away from the 80 Plus Silver as it does not seem to be a standard that is purchased often. People tend to go with the bronze or gold depending on what they were looking for. The distinctions between bronze and silver or silver and gold categories were not significant, so the cheaper Bronze or the more expensive Gold worked well and negated the need for a middle rating.

The market changed once again when the Titanium level of ranking came on to the market, thus dropping the Platinum sales down. However, if you want a good quality PCU at a gold or platinum level, it is less expensive now as many are opting for the titanium with a 10% rated load leaving the others in lower demand. If you don’t need the ultimate in rating, then it works out well for those with a reduced budget.

What is 80 Plus in a PC Power Supply Efficiency Rating?

So, while all these names make sense when it comes to grading a PSU, what does the 80 Plus system really tell you when you are trying to make a decision on a purchase? The 80 Plus system means that each PSU that uses this rating system will put out at least 80% power efficiency when it is at 20, 50 and 100% load. The PSU rating also has to show a power factor of no less than 0.9% when at a 50% load. This power factor is a way to track or measure efficiency. It will capture the ratio of power that goes into the PSU in contrast to the power that is transferred out to the build.

Explaining Efficiency

Percentages and technical explanations aren’t always simple so a practical explanation can help in understanding the 80 Plus rating. If a PSU is pulling in (drawing) 375 watts of power from a wall outlet and sends 300 watts of that power to your computer, then the efficiency of that PSU is determined to be 80%. It is calculated simply by doing the math. 300 divided by 375 comes out to .80 which is 80%. This shows the 80% efficiency rating.

Understanding Which Power Supply to Purchase

There is never a black or white answer when it comes to purchasing a PSU for your computer. It is going to depend on what you are going to be using the PC for. The decision should be based on use, desired quietness, the size of the budget, and how safe the PC needs to be.

If you choose a power supply that has a higher efficiency rating, they will produce less heat. If they produce less heat, then they tend to make less noise because the fan runs at a reduced amount of time meaning the computer will run at a quieter level. The other factor is going to be cost. If you head into the titanium range, then the cost is going to go up substantially. If you don’t need that extra level, then you can save some money overall.

The safety level is a third factor that should play into your purchase decision. This however does not mean that bronze is somehow unsafe. It simply means that it is not as safe as the levels ranked above it. There are still standards to be met when it comes to safety factors even at the white level.

Final Thoughts

For many, PSU’s won’t play an integral part when it comes to their computer purchases but for others, it is a significant issue. Understanding how power supply units are rated can help in making the final decision when combined with a budget, quality and brand. Researching all these things and knowing the rating you need will help determine which PSU is the one that meets your specific needs. It is important to go with your specific requirements rather than simply based on someone else’s suggestion. You may not need the same rating as someone else so choosing for your specific need can save you money.

Source of featured image: canva.com