What is “80 Plus” certification on a power supply?


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If you’ve been looking at PSUs recently because you’re building a PC from scratch, you may have seen the words “80 Plus” somewhere in the description. While 80 Plus certification isn’t often discussed, it’s an important part of building a good PC.

The 80 Plus Story

Originally started in 2004 by Ecos Consulting, but now run by CLEAResult, the 80 Plus certification is a completely voluntary certification that any manufacturer can work towards to show the efficiency of their power supply. In fact, 80% of ’80 plus’ comes from having a power supply that operates at 80% efficiency when drawing different levels of power from the outlet.

While this is a bit tricky, the bottom line is that PSUs don’t always draw the rated power out of the box, especially when not being used for anything heavy like gaming or productivity work. Also, PSUs tend to be more efficient closer to their power rating, so a 500W PSU providing 400W will often be more efficient than a 500W PSU providing 100W of power.

The question then remains of what efficiency is.

Assuming 80% efficiency, in the example above, when a power supply provides 400W of power, it actually draws 500W from the outlet. That means a full 100W will be wasted and create heat, which can be a big problem. The extra heat not only affects the performance of the PC due to internal heat, but it also costs you money for all the power that is not doing anything.

Ultimately, that’s what 80-plus Certification is trying to provide: assurance to the customer that the efficiency claimed by the manufacturer is accurate.

The different 80 Plus certifications

While the original certification, the 80 Plus Basic, only required 80% efficiency at 20% load, 50% load, and 100% load, as technology has advanced and needs have changed, five new certifications:

  • 80 Plus Bronze
  • 80 plus silver
  • 80 plus gold
  • 80 plus platinum
  • 80 plus titanium

Beyond that, the certifications were also subdivided into 115 Volt Internal Non-Redundant, 230 V Internal Redundant, and 230 V EU Internal Non-Redundant. These three subdivisions allow manufacturers to target different markets in the US. ., the EU and anywhere these specific voltages exist.

All of that is to say that the certification is a bit too complicated to show in text, so we’ve got the handy tables below to show you the efficiency required at different levels. For example, if a manufacturer wants to certify its 115V power supply with 80 plus gold, it will need to show an energy efficiency of 87% at 20% load, an efficiency of 90% at 50% load, and a 87% to 100%. % of load.

As such, if you’re shopping for a new power supply, you can refer to these charts and find out how efficient it is based on its 80 Plus certification. That in turn will let you know the kind of cost savings you’re getting.

For the 115V internal non-redundant, the efficiency requirements look like this:

10% load 20% of the load 50% load 100% load
80 Plus Basic 80% 80% 80%
80 Plus Bronze 82% 85% 82%
80 plus silver 85% 88% 85%
80 plus gold 87% 90% 87%
80 plus platinum 90% Ninety-two% 89%
80 plus titanium 90% Ninety-two% 94% 90%

For non-redundant internal 230 V EU, it looks like this:

10% load 20% of the load 50% load 100% load
80 Plus Basic 82% 85% 82%
80 Plus Bronze 85% 88% 85%
80 plus silver 87% 90% 87%
80 plus gold 90% Ninety-two% 89%
80 plus platinum Ninety-two% 94% 90%
80 plus titanium 90% 94% 96% 94%

Generally speaking, these are the two subdivisions most people will be dealing with at the consumer level, so you don’t need to worry about the 230V internal redundant standard, which is made specifically for servers and data centers.

What 80 Plus certification should I get?

The truth is, the further you go down the certification list, the more expensive the power supply becomes, so ultimately this very much depends on your budget and whether you think it’s worth the extra cost.

That said, most people should try to aim for 80 Plus Bronze, if only because it shows an effort on the part of the manufacturer to meet a strict standard. This is especially true if you’re looking for a mid-tier PSU in the 300-500W range, although 80 Plus Silver would be much better. Starting in the 500W-800w range, you’re not likely to see anything below 80 Plus Silver anyway. And most of the PSUs at the higher end of that group tend to be 80 Plus Gold, which makes sense, given the composite scale of waste for inefficiency.

Above 800W and around 1200W, you want to go for 80 Plus Gold as a minimum. The higher the wattage, the more value a higher certification gives you, and the more sense it makes to spend that extra money. In fact, you’ll probably find that many 1200W+ PSUs already come with 80 Plus Platinum or Titanium by default.