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What Are Power Supply Efficiency Ratings?

What Are Power Supply Efficiency Ratings?

The power supply is often the last thing on our minds. when we're building a UPC and this goes for pros and noobs alike, you pick all the other components and then you see which power supply fits the build. The only difference is that experienced PC builders don't undermine the importance of the PSU. 
Sure, it's often the last thing that gets picked, but they make sure to pick the best PSU available for each build.

Now, there are a lot of things you need to keep in mind when shopping for a new PSU. Obviously, there's the overall wattage, but the degree of modularity, the included connectors, and power efficiency are also important specs that shouldn't be overlooked. We've already covered the other PSU specs and other articles.

So, today I'd like to focus on power efficiency ratings. As things stand, this is one of the most marketable specs when it comes to power supplies. But what exactly does it do? And more importantly, is it worth getting a power supply with a high-efficiency rating? We're about to find out.



What are PSU efficiency ratings?


A power supplies job is rather simple. It draws power from the wall and distributes it to all the PC components that need it. However, the well-displayed wattage of a power supply denotes how much power the PSU can supply to other components. It doesn't tell you how much power it draws from the outlet.

No power supply operates at 100% power efficiency, where it draws just the right amount of electricity needed to power the other PC components. Instead, some of that power is lost. This power that gets drawn from the outlet but doesn't make it to the other PC components is converted into heat.

So Let's say we have a power supply that runs at 50 % efficiency, and Let's say that it has to deliver 100 Watts of power to a component. This power supply would actually have to draw 200 Watts of power from the outlet, as the only 50 % of that would make it to the component. All the excess power would be lost in the form of heat radiated by the unit.

Of course, there no power supplies that are this inefficient. That would be outrageous. Honestly, we just wanted a nice round number to illustrate this point. Clearly, the cheapest models made by reputable manufacturers all run somewhere between and 70/80 % efficiency, but the most efficient and most expensive ones can easily go beyond 90 % efficiency.

What Are Power Supply Efficiency Ratings?

This is where the 80 plus efficiency rating comes in. The 80 plus certification program was introduced back in 2004. As the name implies, the units set to hold this certificate are guaranteed to be at least 80 % efficient at different loads. Over the years, five additional tiers of ratings were added to distinguish between the varying levels of efficiency in ascending order.

These are the bronze, silver, gold, platinum, and titanium ratings. Each one is more efficient than the last, but also more expensive. So now that we know what power efficiency is and how the plus certification works. We have to ask ourselves, Is it worth getting an efficient PSU?



Do I need an efficient PSU and is it worth it?


Before we go any further we want to make a few things Crystal clear. Having a highly efficient power supply is never a bad thing. There are no downsides to this compared to just using a regular unrated power supply. This is also a more eco-friendly option, but purchasing an efficient PSU is another matter entirely.

The 80 plus certificates carry with them a price premium. These premiums get heat here as the price efficiency gets higher and 80 plus bronze PSU may cost only a couple of Bucks more than an unrated power supply with the same wattage. But platinum or titanium PSU can easily cost more than twice as much as the bronze PSU of the same wattage.

So, the question now is whether or not all the extra money you put in is making a tangible difference. Basically, can the more efficient power supplies save you enough on your electrical bill to at least pay for themselves? As with most PC-related things, the answer here is that it depends. In this case, it depends on what you're using the PC for.

If you have a gaming PC, then the answer is no. If we were to compare an 80 % efficient and a 90 % efficient 600 Watt power supply, both of which are powering a regular gaming PC, the more efficient PSU would offer negligible savings. In fact, it's quite unlikely that it would save you enough money in electricity bills to cover the price margin over the entire course of that PC's lifetime.

However, if your PC is running some heavy-duty software around the clock, then an 80 plus platinum or titanium PC can save you quite a lot of money. Still, while the price is important, it isn't everything. This is another benefit of higher efficiency power supplies that easily gets overlooked when we Zoom in on savings and electricity bills and that's heat radiation.

As I've said, the more efficient the power supply is, the less heat it will generate. After all, heat is only generated because power supplies aren't 100 % efficient. I, as you may have guessed, not having to work in scorching environments can do wonders for PSU's longevity. I've said it before, and I'll say it again.

A faulty Ram stick can ruin your gaming experience, but it won't ruin the rest of your PC. A faulty power supply can Fry all of your expensive hardware, so investing a little bit extra to ensure this doesn't happen is always worth it. With all of that said, we recommend 80 plus power-efficient power supplies to all gamers, but we don't think there's any need to aim for platinum or titanium in my custom PC builds.

I've only used gold-rated PSUs for most high-end machines. In other words, an 80 plus certificate can go a long way, but most gamers can stick to bronze and silver models without any worries whatsoever.


Conclusion

No power supply is perfectly efficient. An 80 plus rating is used to ensure that the PSU in question is guaranteed to be at least 80 % efficient. I recommend 80 plus-rated PSU to all gamers, but there's no need to get more expensive ones, and an 80 plus bronze or silver rating will ensure your PSU is efficient enough without breaking the bank. In any case, I hope you found this article helpful. You can let me know if you have by sharing it with friends and leaving a comment.

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