psu-efficiency-ratings

PSU Efficiency Ratings Explained: What is an 80 Plus Rating?

What is efficiency rating in power supply, and does it matter?

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If you’ve recently invested in one of the best power supply units for your new PC build, you may want to know what makes it so great. PSU efficiency ratings are quite straightforward to understand should you know what to look for, but new PC builders can overlook power supply efficiency ratings and go for pure wattage – assuming that higher equals better. 

We explain here why power supply efficiency rating is so important, how to find the 80 Plus rating of your PSU, and how to determine what the best PSU is for your next PC build!

80 Plus Ratings: Explained

Every PSU company rates its power supply units based on the 80 Plus certification program. This tests the PSU efficiency based on three general workloads and ranks the model on whether it is 80% or more efficient at those power levels. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), who first coined the 80 Plus metrics, currently use five different ratings:

80 Plus

The original standard for efficiency first launched in 2004, with Seasonic being the first manufacturer to attain an 80 Plus-rated PSU. These days, however, this is a very low bar to pass for PSUs, so it’s rare to see a modern PSU with a standard rating.

80 Plus Bronze

Bronze-rated PSUs are the most common mainstream choice of PSU, a rating often found on low-range or budget power supplies. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they are poor-quality, however. These power supplies operate at 82% efficiency under 20% load, 85% efficiency at 50% load, and 82% efficiency at 100% load. Considering their generally low cost, this level of efficiency is more than adequate!

80 Plus Silver

80 Plus Silver-rated power supplies aren’t popular, owing to the fact that 80 Plus Silver PSUs are similar in their pricing to Gold PSUs, only less effective. They operate at efficiencies of 85% at 20% load, 88% efficiency at 50% load, and 85% efficiency at 100% load. These days, a Silver-rated PSU is never really worth the cost, as even some of the smallest power supplies on the market are Gold-rated.

80 Plus Gold

80 Plus Gold PSUs are, of course, the gold standard of power supply. These PSUs operate at 87% efficiency on a 20% and 100% load, and 90% efficiency on a 50% load. The top manufacturers such as Corsair make nearly all of their power supplies Gold-rated for the best value-for-money for customers.

80 Plus Platinum

Platinum-rated power supplies can be costly upfront, but worth the investment. Especially for high-wattage power supply units, a Platinum rating ensures that higher power draws aren’t wasted. As for their efficiency, these supplies operate at 92% efficiency on a 20% and 50% load, and oddly at an 89% efficiency on a 100% load. That statistical quirk aside, these are some of the best PSUs that money can buy.

80 Plus Titanium

If you want the best efficiency from your PC, however, invest in a Titanium-rated PSU. For Titanium 80 Plus ratings, the three standard workload tests become four; and these power supplies operate at an efficiency of 90% on a 10% load, 92% on a 20% load, 94% on a 50% load, and 90% on a 100% load. For optimum efficiency, most modern Titanium PSUs also come with ATX 3.0, to utterly minimize wasted wattage. Featuring the best quality components, these power supply choices are sure to last!

How to Tell Which PSU is Best for Your PC

There are a number of factors that determine which PSU is best for your PC build, but the first and foremost factor is the required wattage of your build. All of your components will have a power draw listed which you can tally up with ease using a PSU calculator and record your minimum required wattage. Manufacturers will often also specify a minimum PSU for their particular component: for example, the AMD RX 7700 XT draws 245W of power, and has a recommended PSU of no less than 750W. That means that you should invest in one of the best 750W PSUs, or upgrade to a higher-tier PSU for the best performance.

As for 80 Plus Ratings, we don’t recommend using any less than a Gold-rated unit. Silver or Bronze PSUs tend to be cheaper in terms of upfront cost, but the long-term energy waste can be costly. Overall, 80 Plus Gold-rated power supply provides the best value, but if you can afford the initial cost a Platinum or Titanium PSU will guarantee longevity and efficiency!

Does PSU Rating Matter? The Importance of PSU Ratings Explained

Regardless of how much specific power your specific PC draws on, it will be draining energy constantly when in use. If that power isn’t used effectively, it can lead to needlessly high energy bills. And with PCs often being expensive to begin with, it is worth investing extra in a top-quality PSU for long-term savings.

That said, it is hard to get wrong with modern manufacturing standards: even budget PSUs tend to have Gold 80 Plus ratings, and lower-wattage models are becoming cheaper to obtain as the industry continues to evolve and grow with more powerful PSUs. It is still worth checking the rating sticker on a new PSU, however, just to be safe!

FAQs

Are ATX 3.0 PSUs worth it?

Yes: For the latest generation of power efficiency, choose an ATX 3.0 PSU. These units have the fastest and most efficient power transfer components, to ensure the best power output to your PC.

Is it bad to have a high-wattage PSU?

Whilst there aren’t any downsides to having more wattage than you need, it’s important to strike a balance. A 1600W PSU will power your 750W PC without issue, but will be more expensive and unnecessary for such a build. Generally, we recommend a few hundred watts’ of extra power to allow yourself headroom for future upgrades.

In Summary

We hope this helps you pick out your next PSU with more confidence! As a general rule-of-thumb, don’t go below a Gold-rated PSU for the best value PSU!

If you’re ready to buy, check out one of our many guides on the top-rated PSUs for different build requirements, such as the best PSUs for 850W PC builds for optimum power supply at a great price!

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