PSU knowledge

80 Plus: What the PSU certification stands for

The 80 Plus certification is an important mean of promotion for power supply units. PC Games Hardware explains what 80 Plus stands for and which certifications are available.
The 80 Plus certification is an important mean of promotion for power supply units.
The 80 Plus certification is an important mean of promotion for power supply units. [Source: view picture gallery]
In recent times energy efficiency and Green IT become more and more important and many customers pay a lot of attention to the quality of the computer components. The 80 Plus program, which has been initiated by the company EPRI Solutions, reveals which devices offer an energy efficiency of at least 80 percent at 20, 50 and 100 percent workload. But it should be noted that the workload tests don't exactly match the ATX specifications and are run on the American national grid. There for the results cannot be directly applied to other grid systems.

By now the concept was upgraded and the Bronze, Silver and Gold certificates have been introduced for better efficiency classification. Power supply units with an 80 Plus Gold certification offer very high energy efficiency, but at the moment there are only a few such devices available on the markets - and even Silver products are very expensive already.

Furthermore one has to bear in mind, that between a Gold certified and a Silver certified PSU the difference of the saved energy is quite small only. If both levels are compared the difference of efficiency has an amount of only two percent.

To explain the efficiency we have the following example: Let's assume a system requires 200 watt to run. So if the PSU has an efficiency of 80 percent the system would take 20 percent more energy from the power grid - 240 watt. If the power supply would have an efficiency of 90 percent, only 220 watt would be required. So the high purchase price of more than 100 Euros only results in energy saving of 20 watt - the less efficient PSU costs about half as much only.

So the efficiency has to be taken with care and other aspects should be taken into account when buying a new power supply unit for the computer. In a case of doubt it is the better choice to take a 80 Plus Bronze certificated PSU instead of buying an overpriced device. Only enthusiasts with the appropriate budget should think about the better certification.

The table below shows the required efficiency results for the individual workloads. Those have to be met for the 80 Plus certifications.

For more information see the official 80 Plus homepage.

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Author: Andreas Link (Aug 14, 2009)

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