What does 80 Plus, Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Titanium mean for power supply efficiency? The ultimate guide is here.
It’s not exactly the first thing you’ll think of when assembling a new gaming PC, but it is nonetheless an extremely important component.
In addition to the overall wattage, the degree of modularity that it offers, and the connectors that come with it, one of the most prominent (and more marketable) features of a PSU today would be its efficiency rating.
But what is an efficiency rating, which one should you aim for, and does a high-efficiency power supply even make sense?
We’ll answer all of that in this article, so read on!
What Is A PSU Efficiency Rating?
A power supply unit’s job is self-explanatory – it supplies power to all of the PC’s components. And while the wattage describes the overall amount of power that a PSU can provide, its efficiency rating indicates how much of the power that it draws from the outlet is actually delivered to the components.
That is to say, if a cheap power supply that is only 50% efficient has to deliver 100 watts of power to a component, it would have to draw twice as much power –200 watts — and all of the excess power would be lost as heat.
But even PSUs that are only 50% efficient aren’t something that you need to worry about, as even the cheapest models that are available from reliable manufacturers today are in the 70%-80% efficiency range, while the most efficient models can easily exceed 90% efficiency.
Regarding more efficient PSUs, you’ll notice that they come with a neat little “80 Plus” logo on the box. What does that mean?
According to its name, the 80 Plus certification program was introduced in 2004 and signifies that a PSU has been tested and certified to be at least 80% efficient at different loads, which means it uses less power and generates less heat compared to a non-certified PSU.
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Additional ratings have been introduced over the years, each named after a different metal: Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Titanium. Each successive “tier” is more efficient than the last, but at a higher price.
Do You Need An Efficient PSU And Is It Worth It?
Having a more efficient power supply definitely sounds appealing, especially if you’re part of the eco-conscious crowd. Are the more efficient power supplies worth the extra cost? How much money can they actually help you save?
The higher the efficiency rating, the more expensive the power supply is. It’s difficult to generalize on the exact prices given that there are hundreds upon hundreds of 80 Plus-certified PSUs out there, but the price premium becomes more apparent as you climb the ladder.
A standard 80 Plus or 80 Plus Bronze 600W power supply might cost less than a non-certified one, but a 600W Platinum or Titanium PSU could easily cost more than twice as much.
It depends on what it’s powering whether a more efficient PSU is worth it in terms of how much power it will save.
If we were to compare an 80% and a 90% efficient 600W power supply that are both powering regular gaming PCs, the more efficient power supply would offer negligible power savings that may not even cover the price premium of the PSU.
If you’re putting together a power-hungry machine that will be on for long hours or around the clock, an 80 Plus Platinum or Titanium PSU may indeed save you a lot of money, but they’re simply not worth the investment for a regular gaming machine.
Despite this, if you want to conserve power, you should simply let the PC go to sleep or turn it off when not in use.
Are There Other Benefits To Getting An Efficient PSU?
What are the advantages of going with a slightly more expensive 80 Plus-certified PSU instead of a non-certified one, if power savings are not a factor?
Well, as mentioned previously, an efficient PSU doesn’t just save energy – it also generates less heat. As a result, the PSU will last longer since it won’t wear out as fast as a generic non-certified PSU.
Therefore, compared to the more expensive 80 Plus PSUs, an 80 Plus or 80 Plus Bronze PSU is most likely worth the relatively minor price increase. A low-quality power supply could fry your components one day, after all.