Most sources come certified 80 PLUS. And we see different labels and standards. What is the 80 PLUS phase?
Launched in 2004, the 80 PLUS program is a voluntary certification program, in the sense that no one obliges source producers to certify their products. The name comes from the fact that 80% is the minimum level of efficiency that a source must meet at 20% load, 50% load and 100% load. Also with a power factor of at least 0.9 at maximum load.
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First of all, what does efficiency mean?
In short: Suppose our source delivers 350W to the system. But from the socket, it actually draws 410W. This means that at that level of load it has an efficiency of 0.85, ie 85% (350/410). The 60W that get lost on the road, only produce heat and that’s it.
The more efficient the source , the less heat it produces and the less energy it consumes. We are especially interested in the part related to heat, because it can affect the lifespan of the source and internal components. On top of that, a modern cold source produces even less noise – by changing the fan speed or turning it off completely where appropriate.
How many types of 80 PLUS are there?
I must mention that only the Titanium certification has the 4th level of load at which it must have a high efficiency. Specifically, for a source to be Titanium certified, it must have a good efficiency and at 10% load. A somewhat important aspect, due to the fact that manufacturers can ‘set’ the sources so as to still achieve the efficiency required for certification only at the levels at which they are tested.
The most popular and recommended standard is 80 GOLD. It offers a decent balance between cost and efficiency. Platinum or titanium certified sources can come in at very high prices and… in most scenarios it doesn’t make sense to spend that much on one source. If you have a system that works for a long time and possibly with critical operations, it is worth investing in Gold. Otherwise, Gold will do its job especially since not only certification matters.
Types of certifications 80 PLUS. From the least efficient to the most efficient.
Why doesn’t just certification matter?
Nothing is perfect, and like many such programs, the 80 PLUS certification program has small flaws. Here are some potential issues:
The test methodology allows manufacturers to send ‘golden’ samples. That is, those models from a number of sources that are known to work well. It can practically be cheated. You have 2 identical sources but due to the variations in the production process one is better – that is the golden sample. And if you send that source for verification, obviously it will not even represent 100% correctly the efficiency of the finished product that can reach the consumer.
There is not much mention of the equipment performed in the tests.
You can’t say that they can’t have false packaging with the 80 PLUS logo. That is, sources that have nothing to do with efficiency are marketed as certified.
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So you need an 80 PLUS certified source
That’s why you want a source as efficient as your budget allows, preferably 80 PLUS Gold :
- less heat;
- less noise;
- lower energy consumption;
- your components are safe;
At the same time, due to the small flaws in the certification, you should turn to serious producers and preferably with a good history. A well-known manufacturer doesn’t do much with tricks… you should look for a review of the desired source model before you buy it.
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