Many PSUs have an 80 PLUS rating, ranging from Bronze through Titanium. This rating tells you how efficient the power supply should be at converting power from your wall outlet into power that your PC can use.
All 80 PLUS rated PSUs are rated to run at—you guessed it—at least 80% efficiency. The higher the rating, the more efficient it will be, but even the lowest rated 80 PLUS PSU will be at least 80% efficient.
Your PSU’s efficiency affects how much energy it uses, and therefore how much money your PC will cost to power. Deciding between Bronze, Gold, Platinum, and Titanium 80 PLUS ratings, then, is largely an economical decision.
What is PSU Efficiency?
AC energy is what comes from your wall outlet, and DC energy is what your PC uses. Power supplies convert AC to DC energy, and they can do this with varying levels of efficiency.
The more efficient your PSU is, the more of the AC energy that it draws will end up as DC energy to power your PC. If it’s inefficient, it will lose more of this power as heat during its conversion from AC to DC energy.
For example, if your 1,000W power supply is 80% efficient, then if it’s at full load and is providing 1,000W power to your PC, it will draw 1,250W of AC power from your wall outlet (1,000 is 80% of 1,250). But if it’s 90% efficient, it will only draw 1,111W of AC power from your wall outlet to give your PC the same 1,000W of DC power (1,000 is 90% of 1,111).
Contrary to what many think, it’s not true that an 80% efficient 1,000W PSU can only give your PC 800W of DC power at maximum load, losing 200W as heat. Instead, it can give your PC a full 1,000W of DC power under max load, but will draw more AC power than this from your wall outlet which is lost as heat.
So, the more efficient your PSU is, the less AC power it will draw from the wall to give your PC the same amount of DC power. This means that it should consume less power than an inefficient PSU, in theory saving you money.
What is a Power Supply Efficiency Rating?
A power supply’s 80 PLUS rating tells you how efficient it is at converting AC to DC energy. If a PSU is 80 PLUS rated, it has been certified by an independent lab to be at least 80% efficient. At least 80% of the power that any 80 PLUS PSU draws from the wall will be turned into power for your computer, and a maximum of 20% will be lost as heat.
Originally, there was only one 80 PLUS rating, which certified that a PSU was at least 80% efficient at 20%, 50%, and 100% loads.
Now, however, there are many different 80 PLUS ratings, from 80 PLUS all the way up to 80 PLUS Titanium. The higher the rating, the more efficient the PSU should be at 20%, 50%, and 100% loads—but even 80 PLUS Bronze rated PSUs should be at least 80% efficient.
While a PSU’s efficiency rating can be important, it has little correlation with its overall quality, so you should consider more than just a PSU’s efficiency rating. There are many different factors affecting how to choose a power supply, and efficiency is only one of them.
80 PLUS Ratings Comparison
Here is how efficient PSUs should be at each different 80 PLUS rating in both the US (115V) and the EU (230V):
|10% Load—115 (230V)||20% Load—115V (230V)||50% Load—115V (230V)||100% Load—115V (230V)|
|80 PLUS||N/A||80% (82%)||80% (85%)||80% (82%)|
|80 PLUS Bronze||N/A||82% (85%)||85% (88%)||82% (85%)|
|80 PLUS Silver||N/A||85% (87%)||88% (90%)||85% (87%)|
|80 PLUS Gold||N/A||87% (90%)||90% (92%)||87% (89%)|
|80 PLUS Platinum||N/A||90% (92%)||92% (94%)||89% (90%)|
|80 PLUS Titanium||90%||92% (94%)||94% (96%)||90% (94%)|
Note that each 80 PLUS rating has a different efficiency level for 115V, which is the standard wall outlet voltage in the US, and 230V, which is the standard in Europe. This is because power supplies are more efficient when drawing from a more powerful source. The 80 PLUS ratings reflect this, with the same ratings being more efficient at 230V than at 115V.
Also note that there is an 80 PLUS Silver rating, which does not feature in this article. This is because 80 PLUS Silver PSUs aren’t too common, as manufacturers instead tend to produce and market Bronze or Gold rated power supplies at the lower end and middle of their ranges.
There are also standard 80 PLUS rated power supplies, but, again, most gamers opt for an 80 PLUS Bronze PSU at minimum.
Finally, notice that 80 PLUS Titanium rated PSUs should guarantee 90% efficiency at 10% load. All other 80 PLUS rated PSUs only begin their efficiency guarantees at 20% load.
80 PLUS Bronze vs Gold
Most PC gamers will want an 80 PLUS Bronze or Gold rated PSU, as they are very efficient without incurring the greater cost of a Platinum or Titanium PSU.
A 600W 80 PLUS Bronze PSU could consume 41W more power than a 600W 80 PLUS Gold PSU in the US when at full load.
If you’re only considering efficiency then opting for a Gold rated PSU over a Bronze rated one is a no-brainer, because it will save more energy and therefore save money in the long run.
But 41W isn’t a big power consumption difference, so unless a Bronze and Gold PSU are equivalently priced it might make more sense to stick with Bronze. If the Gold PSU costs more, it will likely take a long time for 41W of power savings to make up the extra initial cost.
80 PLUS Gold vs Platinum
While most gamers will be content with an 80 PLUS Bronze or Gold PSU, some might opt for an even more efficient Platinum one. With energy costs continuing to rise, more gamers might begin opting for these premium PSUs in the coming months.
A 600W 80 PLUS Gold PSU could consume about 16W more power than a 600W 80 PLUS Platinum power supply in the US when at full load.
This difference is minimal, and it would likely take a very long time for the money saved on energy to make up for the extra cost of the Platinum PSU over the Gold one. This is why 80 PLUS Gold PSUs are often the sweet spot for price-performance, because Platinum (and Titanium) power supplies often cost more than they make up for in energy savings over many years.
If an 80 PLUS Platinum PSU costs about the same as an 80 PLUS Gold one, then it’s worth considering, providing there are no other differences in quality. Otherwise, a Gold rated PSU will likely be better value.
80 PLUS Platinum vs Titanium
If you’ve decided energy efficiency is very important to you (perhaps for environmental reasons), then you’ll probably consider the more expensive but efficient 80 PLUS Platinum and Titanium rated PSUs. These power supplies can be expensive, but they should offer close to peak energy efficiency.
A 600W 80 PLUS Platinum PSU could consume about 7W more power than a 600W 80 PLUS Titanium power supply in the US when at full load.
But, while there’s only 1% difference in minimum efficiency between Platinum and Titanium rated PSUs at full load in the US, at 20% and 50% loads there’s a 2% difference.
It’s also noteworthy that 80 PLUS Titanium PSUs are the only ones with a certified and guaranteed minimum efficiency at 10% load. This means they’ll likely have 90% efficiency even while the PC is idling. But, of course, any energy saved at idle loads will be miniscule, because barely any energy is being consumed at such loads.
If you can find an 80 PLUS Titanium PSU for about the same price as a Platinum one, then its slight energy saving might be worth it.
But Titanium PSUs are often much more expensive than Platinum ones, putting them far beyond a reasonable price-performance ratio, and far beyond the possibility of making up for their initial price tag with future energy savings.
If PSU efficiency is very important to you, and if money is no concern, then an 80 PLUS Titanium power supply is as good as you can get. But if you want near-peak efficiency while retaining a budget, an 80 PLUS Platinum PSU will probably be a better bet.
Summary: Which 80 PLUS Power Supply Efficiency Rating do you Need?
A PSU’s 80 PLUS efficiency rating tells us how much power it should take from your outlet to deliver to your PC. The more efficient it is, the less power it will consume to power all your components under different loads.
For most gamers, an 80 PLUS Bronze or Gold rated power supply should hit the price-performance ratio just right. It should give excellent efficiency without incurring a sizeable initial cost that will be difficult to make up for in its energy savings.
If energy efficiency is important to you, however, then you might consider an 80 PLUS Platinum or Titanium rated PSU. But while these are slightly more power efficient than Bronze and Gold PSUs, the energy savings that you’ll gain from them will likely not make up for their higher price tag for many years.
This is especially true for 80 PLUS Titanium PSUs, which are usually significantly more expensive than lower rated ones. You should probably only consider a Titanium power supply if money is of little concern and energy efficiency is very important to you.
When deciding on a PSU, you should also remember that a PSU’s efficiency doesn’t necessary correlate with its quality. A less efficient PSU might be of much better quality than a more efficient one.
If two competing power supplies seem to be of similar quality, then it makes sense to opt for the more efficient one. But don’t make efficiency the only factor you consider. There are PSU tier lists online that can help you decide between different power supplies, and you can consider these lists alongside different PSUs’ 80 PLUS efficiency ratings.