Family Encyclopedia >> Electronics

80 Plus Power Supply Features and What They Mean

System 80 Plus is used to rate computer power supplies (PSUs) on their reliability and efficiency. If you don't understand the system, you'll have to be lucky to avoid spending too much money or having too little power. The 80 Plus diet rating system is simple and only requires a quick review to internalize.

More than 80 certification levels

The 80 Plus system is configured to evaluate the efficiency of power supplies. Every power supply certified to the 80 Plus standard is at least 80% efficient at 20, 50, and 100% load, hence the name. In addition to the minimum efficiency of 80%, they must exhibit a power factor of at least 0.9 at 50% load.

Power factor is another measure of efficiency that captures the ratio of power entering the power supply to power exiting the power supply. Additional test categories, such as a 10% load test for Titanium-class power supplies, have been added since the standard's inception.

The system was originally created in 2004 with only three categories:Gold, Silver and Bronze. Today, thanks to improvements made by manufacturers and a desire to differentiate between high-end products, we also have Platinum and Titanium at the high end, as well as a standard reference (sometimes called "White" or "Transparent" by OEMs) to indicate a minimum level of certification.

You can see most, if not all, of the 80 Plus Certified OEMs on the standard's website, along with some basic testing methodology documentation.

Which one should I buy?

For PC builders with a passion for more situations, an 80 Plus Silver or 80 Plus Gold power supply is sufficient. To disagree? Let's see why in the comments!

A real answer to this question depends on two things:how much do you care about noise and how much do you care about spending a ton of money? More efficient PSUs produce less heat, which helps them stay quiet and turn off their fans when not needed. You pay for this feature, however, the price increases rapidly as you move up the efficiency ladder.

There are also the issues of raw efficiency and carbon footprint:the difference in power consumption can be noticeable on your electricity bill, depending on how you use your computer. But, for most machines, the practical difference is less than you would like.

As the price increases, you'll also gain access to other features, such as modular connectors, improved cable wraps, and better warranties. These are all great reasons to spend more money on a product, and they can help justify spending $200+ on power supplies. Just be aware that the performance difference might not be as obvious as you'd hope between the most premium power supply at half the price.