What Is the Difference Between Bronze and Gold-Rated PSUs?
When building a PC, the power supply (PSU) is one of the least exciting components you can buy for it. It doesn’t achieve anything amazing like a new processor, graphics card, or RAM can offer you; in fact, all it does is keep all the exciting bits powered on.
However, if you stick your nose into the realm of power supplies, you’ll find they come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and makes. And one thing you’ll see across the major brands is that they often have special «ratings» on them, ranging from bronze to titanium. But what are the differences between, say, a bronze vs. a gold PSU, and which should you get?
What Are Power Supply Ratings?
Image Credit: hodim/Shutterstock.com
You’ll see a power supply rating somewhere on the PSU’s box or somewhere on the unit itself. All of them sport the text «80 Plus» but come in different styles and colors.
At the lowest end of the bracket is a plain «80 Plus» sticker with no additional text. The next level up from that is Bronze, followed by Silver, Gold, Platinum, and then Titanium at the very top.
What Does «80 Plus» Mean?
The «80 Plus» text does have some significance as to what the PSU can do, but to understand where it fits, we have to break down how a PSU works. A PSU supplies power to the computer, and more expensive PSUs will supply more power.
Every component in your PC has a maximum energy rating. When you plan out a PC’s construction, you have to add up all these maximums and then purchase a power supply with a rating higher than that.
For instance, if your PC draws 520 watts when everything is firing at maximum, you can get a 600 watt PSU to cover the demand and ensure your PC doesn’t suffer from power cuts.
Related: The 5 Best Online Power Supply Calculators
But here’s the thing about PSUs. It’s easy to assume that a 600-watt power supply will draw a maximum of 600 watts from your plug socket.
The truth is, it’ll actually draw more than that because PSU’s aren’t 100% efficient. Some of the energy it’ll consume will end up as waste heat, so it needs to draw more than 600 to keep your PC running at maximum output.
However, inefficient PSUs really suck for consumers. If a PSU chucks out a lot of energy as heat, users will find themselves with a higher-than-expected energy bill, and all they’ll have to show for it is a hot PSU. On the other hand, making a device truly 100% efficient is extremely hard (if not impossible), so manufacturers require some leeway when it comes to making PSUs.
The solution? Set up an independent body that accepts models from PSU manufacturers and tests them for efficiency. Then, if the PSU manages to hit 80% efficiency or higher, give it a seal that shows that off. And have different levels of seal for better efficiency rates.
And that’s exactly where we are today. CLEAResult now measures PSU efficiency and awards those that achieve over 80% efficiency with a special seal. And that’s what «80 Plus» means.
Related: Why Power Supply Unit Efficiency Matters in PC Gaming
What Does Each Efficiency Grade Mean?
So now we know that every PSU with this little sticker on it has an efficiency of at least 80%, and you can expect this from every grade. However, as you might expect, higher grades mean higher levels of efficiency.
Things get a little complicated at this point, but thankfully CLEAResult has a table showing off what’s required for each level:
Image Credit: CLEAResult
From this image, you can get a good idea as to what each certification level will give you. For instance, when you get a PSU that hits the base «80 Plus» rating, you’ll be getting something that has around 80-85% efficiency depending on the voltage and the load you’re putting on it.
At the absolute top of the leaderboard is platinum. It gets pretty close to 100%, hovering around the 90-96% mark. However, as you can see, even the absolute best level of efficiency cannot hit perfect rates.
And when it comes to bronze vs. gold power supplies, the difference isn’t too drastic. A gold PSU will net you 5% more efficiency than a bronze one.
Are Higher Rated PSUs Made With Better Components?
It’s easy to assume that the higher rating a PSU has, the better components it has. After all, a higher-rated PSU should use higher-quality components for better efficiency. Therefore, they should last longer and suffer fewer catastrophic events than lower-rated ones.
In reality, this is somewhat true; however, it’s not a hard and fast rule. Just because one PSU has a higher award than another, that doesn’t mean it’s automatically better in every way. And that goes double if you’re comparing two PSUs from different brands. A gold-rated PSU from one brand may not have as reputable reviews as a bronze-rated PSU from another.
You can see this effect on the PSU tier list on Gamingscan. At the time of writing, gold-rated PSUs and higher dominate tier 1…but still, one silver-rated one manages to sneak in. And in tier 2, a few bronze-rated PSUs sneak in amongst the gold-rated ones.
As such, if you want a quality PSU you can rely on, it’s best to go for a well-reviewed brand rather than the efficiency rating. Take a look at the tier list we linked earlier and check to see which ones to look out for, and which to avoid.
A Bronze vs. Gold-Rated PSU: Which Is Best for You?
So, when you’re buying a PSU, is it okay to settle for a bronze, or should you really be gunning for gold?
Before we hop in, let’s take a look at the prices between bronze and gold PSUs. PC Part Picker lists the average bronze-ranked PSU at just under $50, while a gold one will set you back just under $100. That’s double the price to ensure your PSU has the gold standard!
Related: 6 Things to Know When Buying a Power Supply Unit (PSU)
So, is the gold tier worth the extra cash? As we covered earlier, a gold PSU will save some energy… but only 5% more than a bronze one. That does add up if you’re planning to have your PC turned on for hours on end, but if you’re only using it sporadically, you may find you’ll save more money in the long run with a bronze model.
Also, while it’s true that gold-rated PSUs are generally better-reviewed than bronze ones, it’s not a definitive measure of quality. Of course, if you want a high-quality PSU, you’ll likely be shopping around the tier 1 section of the list we linked above, and that contains a lot of gold-rated models and no bronze ones.
However, that doesn’t mean that all bronze PSUs sit at the bottom of the tier list, either. If you want a high-quality PSU for less, you can do some smart shopping and find a bronze-tier PSU that punches above its weight. For example, the tier list rates the bronze Corsair CX series as a tier 2 PSU, and you can pick one up for around $50.
As such, whether you want to get a bronze or a gold-rated PSU is up to you, your intended PC use, and your budget. However, if you take one thing away from this article, it’s this; always buy brands over efficiency ratings. Never blind-buy a PSU and check reviews and tier lists for the best results.
Want to Go for Gold? Check the Brand
The PSU efficiency rating system can be complex, but once you’ve gotten the basics down, you can easily determine the differences between a bronze vs. a gold power supply and which is best for you. And, most importantly, check the brand before buying.
Gold vs Bronze Rated Power Supplies
By Bill Wilson August 21, 2022
3 minutes read
Picking out and installing a power supply for a gaming PC isn’t really a difficult task. The first thing you do is make out a rough estimate of how much power you actually need for your system. The general rule is to have a bit of headroom and get a power supply just a tad bit higher than your needs. This is purely for future-proofing purposes. But you might have seen different badges on various power supplies. These usually have labels such as 80+ with some sort of naming afterward for certification. The most common are 80+, 80+ bronze, gold, and silver.
But what do all of these badges and certifications mean? And should it be a real concern for the average consumer? That’s what we’re going to be discussing today. This brief guide will explain the differences in PSU ratings and which one you actually need.
What is 80+ Certification?
First, let’s clear up some confusion. A consumer-grade power supply that fully delivers the rated efficiency all the time simply doesn’t exist. This is to conserve power when the system is at idle. Assume you have a 400W power supply and it actually draws 475W of power from the wall. This means that the remaining 75W aren’t utilized and are simply converted into heat. So its efficiency is 475W/400W. This equals out to 80% efficiency.
Simply put, more efficient PSUs generate less heat and waste less power. If a PSU gives 80% efficiency at 20% load, 50% load, or 100% load then it probably has an 80+ certification. You should definitely lookout for this certification if you’re looking to install the PSU into a new system.
|1||Corsair RM750x||Best 750W PSU||12,465 Reviews
|2||Thermaltake Toughpower Grand 1200W||Best High End PSU||403 Reviews
|3||CoolerMaster MasterWatt 750W||The Utilitarian||2,418 Reviews
|4||Fractal Design Ion+ 860W Platinum||Best PSU for Multiple GPUs||266 Reviews
|5||EVGA 500B Bronze||Best Cheap PSU||1,331 Reviews
|Power Supply||Corsair RM750x|
|Award||Best 750W PSU|
|Power Supply||Thermaltake Toughpower Grand 1200W|
|Award||Best High End PSU|
|Power Supply||CoolerMaster MasterWatt 750W|
|Power Supply||Fractal Design Ion+ 860W Platinum|
|Award||Best PSU for Multiple GPUs|
|Power Supply||EVGA 500B Bronze|
|Award||Best Cheap PSU|
Last Update on 2023-01-06 at 22:44 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Gold vs Bronze Rated Power Supplies
All 80+ certified PSUs deliver 80% efficiency at a specified load (mentioned above). But there are a few more variations to this. Another thing to note is 80+ PSUs also have further brandings such as 80+ bronze, silver, gold, titanium, and platinum. The difference between all of these is some possess a higher efficiency at 20%, 50%, and 100% load. The most common ones we see manufacturers pushing out are 80+ bronze and 80+ gold.
Bronze Rated PSUs
80+ Bronze power supplies are more than enough for the average consumer. These PSUs provide a consistent 80% efficiency at 20%, 50%, and 100%. Which means if the system is gradually put under load, a bronze rated power supply will always stay at 80% efficiency.
80+ Bronze rated PSUs have been one of the most popular power supplies for consumer grade builds. They are usually very affordable and have a long lifetime. They are still pretty reliable (at least for mainstream PCs). So if you’re not all that excited about splurging on a power supply, 80+ bronze will most likely be enough.
Gold Rated PSUs
Image: Rosewill. com
80+ Gold power supplies are marketed at the premium end of the market. Honestly, this is more than most people will ever need. Going higher than this just doesn’t make sense for a lot of people. Taking a look at the specs should tell you why. At 20% load, they deliver 87% efficiency. At 50% load, they deliver 90% efficiency. Finally, at 100% load, they can go up to 87% efficiency.
Besides being obviously more reliable, they perform noticeably better than bronze-rated PSUs. Another interesting thing to note is that 80+ Gold PSUs often have the best price/performance ratio. So if you can fork out a bit more cash, it’s a nice investment. You’ll have peace of mind with your system for many years to come.
Hopefully, you’re now aware of the differences between PSU ratings. To put it briefly, if you’re on a tight budget, 80+ Bronze is still pretty good. However, 80+ Gold is definitely more reliable and a better investment overall for futureproofing. There are still a lot of things that go into figuring out a power supply. Such as the fan used, build quality, and overall reliability. The difference between them is important and it’s always a good idea to get a superior-rated power supply if possible. However, if you’re interested in buying a new PSU for your gaming computer then fret not, as we’ve already posted an expert guide of the best power supplies you can get in 2019.
80 PLUS certificate for power supplies: types and specifications
Buying a power supply for your PC is very relevant, as you not only need to choose one that gives you the power you need to power your entire computer, but also that it has sufficient efficiency when it comes to converting energy into electrical energy. 80 PLUS certifications help us know how well the power supply we have installed in our desktop PC works.
- What is a certificate 80 PLUS
- PFC or Correction of power factor
- Certificate characteristics 80 PLUS
- Problems with this certificate
- Certificates 80
- 80 PLUS certificate
- Things we need to consider
- Is this certificate reliable?
What is the 80 PLUS certification
This is the certification that different manufacturers of Power Supply Units (PSUs) have agreed to comply with in the manufacture of these products they manufacture. This helps the end user know both the specifications and the efficiency level of the source in converting all the electrical energy to power the computer.
Let’s not forget that the power supply converts AC power from the outlet to DC, but there is energy loss. The name 80 PLUS comes from the fact that these are power supplies with minimum efficiency 80% , so the rest of the energy (20%) is wasted as heat. This means that if an 80 PLUS certified power supply is rated at 1000W, it must provide at least 800W.
Note: We must take into account that all the heat generated by any component (SSD, CPU, graphics, etc.) is energy converted into heat, which is considered wasted. No material or component without heat loss.
So, as you may have already understood from the explanation, according to the 80 PLUS certification, various power supply manufacturers refer to their power supplies as having efficiency equal to or greater than 80%.
Company 80 PLUS certified in 2004. , without any additions to the name in its most classic version of all, offering the aforementioned 80% efficiency. Subsequently, this level of certification was renamed 80 PLUS White. It was in 2008 when the 80 PLUS Bronze, 80 PLUS Silver and 80 PLUS Gold certifications were added. In 20092012 PLUS Platinum was added to 80 PLUS Titanium in 2012.
Since then, no new levels have been created and the manufacturers of their power supplies have been certified.
PFC or Power Factor Correction
One of the things to know about 80 PLUS certified power supplies is the potential factor . This is achieved by the fact that, on the one hand, the measured real power supplied by the power supply to be divided by full power , which is obtained by multiplying volts by amps.
Power supplies typically have a power factor of 0. 7 or 0.75 . Some have a so-called power factor correction that increases the number to 0.9. Well, 80 PLUS certified power supplies use PFC to achieve greater efficiency when converting AC to DC.
Please note that the power supply is analog electronic circuit and usually uses a capacitor to work with DC voltage. Such a capacitor may undergo a phase change when converting one type of current to another, which can lead to a decrease in power factor. So PFC is still an additional circuit responsible for correcting such losses.
Certification features 80 PLUS
Manufacturers must pay to certify their power supplies . This fee, it should be noted, is quite an important amount. At the same time, the source is subjected to certain load tests, during which its efficiency is measured at various load levels and, according to the results, it is assigned one or another 80 PLUS mark, which determines its minimum efficiency.
Below you can see a screenshot of the Antec PSU certification. You can see how voltages are measured in different channels , as well as input and output power (and efficiency is calculated using them) in situations of 20%, 50% and 100% load (more recently, efficiency at 10% load is also measured). You can see in the example that this source needs 1382 watts of input to produce 1202 watts output, giving an efficiency of 87% at 100% load. nine0005
These tests are quite rigorous and reliable, they effectively determine the efficiency of the power supply and therefore determine the characteristics of the certificates as such.
Example Antec SG-1200 Power Supply Certification Report
Issues with this certificate
The certification mark serves to clearly communicate the quality of the product to the user in a simple way . This would be similar to other certifications such as the energy efficiency of home appliances. But this 80 PLUS certificate has several important drawbacks. nine0005
Unrealistic parameters and tests
This certificate was originally interesting, but with the development of computer hardware, it becomes obsolete . Ratings are only measured at 20%, 50% and 100% loads, in addition to 10% loads for 80 PLUS Titanium certification. What happens between these load levels is not covered by the certificate.
Another disadvantage is that all tests are performed at standard temperature 23 °C. nine0004 The temperature mentioned is considered typical for a gaming computer. Source placement, case type, and usage can change the base temperature inside the computer. In addition, we must take into account the ambient temperature, as in summer in many parts of Spain the temperature can easily exceed 30 °C.
Another issue with this certificate is the operating voltage used in the tests. Tests are carried out on Voltage 115V , this is the voltage used in the US and other countries. In Spain, and in Europe, the voltage is 230V. What is being done is extrapolating the results, which is not the best method. nine0005
As you can see, the tests carried out are unrealistic.
Unreliability and Fake Certifications 80 PLUS
Unfortunately, we do not offer a list of certified power supplies. This means that we must trust the manufacturers of power supplies. Manufacturers such as Corsair, Antec, FSP, Cooler Master, Gigabyte, ASUS and other well-known ones are reliable. But there may be more «exotic» manufacturers who should not be trusted. nine0005
Fairly obvious case Chinese power supply manufacturer. which represents one of these labels. The reality is that it is likely that the Chinese manufacturer will certify their power supply. This doesn’t mean they don’t exist or that the fonts they offer are inherently bad, it could be a good product.
This means that we must be very careful when buying a power supply. One must go to established manufacturers and be skeptical of power supplies with very low prices, as they may not match. nine0005
According to ATX Specification , efficiency at 5VSB voltage must be measured . The 80 PLUS certification skips this voltage and does not test it. This tension is important.
The certificate currently takes into account voltages +12 V, 5 V and 3.3 V. In addition, takes into account voltage -12 V . Note that this last voltage is considered out of place in the ATX specifications. The reason is that no modern component uses this voltage -12 V .
The system is off or in standby mode
Even with the computer is off and the power switch is off, there is still flow. The consumption mentioned is parasitic or ghostly, it is very small but continues to exist. Most of this power is wasted in the 5VSB circuit.
Company EU , since 2010 has ErP Lot 6 directive on electronic products that consume energy. Standby power consumption (in the cases highlighted above) has been set to less than 1W. Currently, it is reduced to 0.5 W.
There is also ErP Lot 3 directive that sets parameters for computers and servers. It is forced to draw less than 5W when the load is equal to or less than 2.75W on the 5VSB circuit.
This parameter is not limited in this certificate.
The shortcomings of these 80 PLUS certificates
Company The problem with the 80 PLUS certificates is nothing more than the fact that low consumption levels are not taken into account to meet each of them. What do we mean by this? Well, while load levels are low, such as when the PC is turned off or at rest, manufacturers don’t need to maintain a high level of efficiency.
This means that if the required PC load level is low, we may find that the efficiency of the power supply not only does not meet the specified 80 PLUS certification level, but may also be below 80%. Of course, low power devices use their own power supplies rated for much lower power levels. nine0005
- Too few measurements to classify a power supply in one of its categories
- The technique allows manufacturers to present products with gold as a more efficient conductor than copper.
- Measurement temperature, which has little to do with a computer at home
- ErP Lot 6 and ErP Lot 3 standards issued by the European Union are not taken into account.
- 5VSB mode efficiency ignored
- Total ignorance of the tools used for testing
- No index of certified sources, which many people use to add this badge to their power supply without passing the test.
- If the manufacturer changes something in the power supply, the power supply is not re-evaluated.
Types of certificates 80 PLUS
At first glance, the differences between different certificates may seem very small, but the power supply circuit level reaches higher and higher levels of complexity in order to gain a little efficiency. Thus, the power supplies with the most advanced certifications and therefore the most expensive. nine0005
The fact that the power supply is more efficient allows us to save on our energy bills because the electric company does not make us pay every month for the amount of energy we use, but rather for what we get from our electrical outlets. home or office, so choosing a good power supply with extended 80 PLUS certification becomes money. saving time.
Another advantage is the fact that higher efficiency sources produce less noise, since by dissipating less power in heat, they cause the fan to turn on less frequently. nine0261
How to choose the right 80 PLUS certification
What the certification does give us information on how efficient our power supply is. The larger the label, the better the power supply, at least in theory. It is always interesting to choose a PSU with one of these certifications, preferably 80 PLUS Bronze or higher.
Due to the recent political tensions between the US and China , power supplies have risen in price noticeably. This makes accessing certifications like 80 PLUS Gold or higher quite prohibitive. But whenever we can, it’s convenient to pay for a certified source and from a trusted and verifiable manufacturer. nine0005
For the average user, the 80 PLUS Bronze certification is more than sufficient, as it guarantees the (theoretically) good performance of the . If we have hardware with mid or high end components, or our PC will be used for video editing and the like, we might be interested in a higher certification. This is no longer just efficiency, but the protection of the components we have installed.
The problem, as we have already noted, is the certification itself. nine0003 There is no strict certification control and the tests carried out are not the most suitable.
In addition, we can find non-certified power supplies on the market. OEM hardware or clone computers usually come with very cheap, uncertified PSUs. Are you saying they are bad? Not necessarily, since the 80 PLUS certificate is not entirely reliable, but relatively low quality is normal for them.
Things we need to consider
Please note that does not apply as such in in Spain and in the EU. The 80 PLUS White or 80 PLUS dry efficiency certification is the lowest certification a power supply can receive, yet still meets the standard for over 80% energy efficiency under load conditions. 20%, 50% and 100%, with a power factor of 0.9 or higher.
At the same time, the power supply marked 80 PLUS White guarantees an efficiency of at least 80% when operating at a voltage of 115 V, and an efficiency of 82% at 20% load, 85% at 50% load, and 82% to 100% charge when running on 230V. (the one we use in Europe).
Speaking of Europe and its regulations, for several years it was required that all electrical products have certain minimum efficiency values. They are slightly lower than those claimed in Certification 80 PLUS Bronze which comes right after 80 PLUS White. This means that many fountains that have this certification cannot be sold in Europe because they do not meet the minimum efficiency requirements, while if you see fountains with an 80 PLUS white seal and are sold, it is because they meet European standard and which are therefore quite close to 80 PLUS Bronze rather than White. nine0005
In any case, this is a question that you should be careful about, because you can find some models that are sold without complying with the European regulation because they were already on store shelves before it came into force.
Just because 80 PLUS White is the lowest of the 80 PLUS certifications (below Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum and Titanium) doesn’t necessarily mean the PSU is bad, it just isn’t one of the most efficient on the market, but it will always be above power supplies that don’t have certification, especially OEMs where you can find some performance and efficiency power supplies that have to power them from each other because of how bad they are. nine0005
For this reason, a power supply marked 80 PLUS White is usually synonymous with , a reliable power supply with fairly decent performance from the , albeit at a much lower than average price tag. In other words, these are usually sources with good reliability and performance. at affordable prices so they’re not bad at all.
Yes, of course, there are a number of higher efficiency power supplies on the market, but not necessarily higher performance, as there are many other factors to consider when determining whether a power supply is good or not. Certification above 80 PLUS White
Is this certificate reliable?
The short answer is no, and it’s unreliable for a number of reasons. To begin with, the manufacturer sends two PSUs to the enterprise and they are used for testing, but the result is only a reference, which means that not all of the manufacturer’s PSUs pass the test. ; In other words, only two devices pass the test and the remaining units produced (of which there will easily be thousands of units) fail, assuming that since they are produced in the same way, they will produce the same values. nine0005
Reality is different; Obviously, if a source is made in exactly the same process as another, it is normal that it gives the same result, but the problem is that environmental conditions can change, as well as internal components used, batches of material, etc. As an example, suppose a manufacturer uses a particular copper supplier to produce its source components, but eventually switches to a different supplier that makes it cheaper. nine0005
Obviously copper copper, but depending on the supplier may have certain properties or other and change the final performance of the power supply. This is just an example with copper, but it can be applied to other components such as transformers, capacitors, and other internal components, and even though things have changed in the source, they will still carry the same 80 PLUS certification stamp. which originally received this family. nine0005
This example we gave you is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of 80 PLUS compaction. Nowadays, as we said in the introduction, most users take it as a synonym for quality, and it was so at the beginning, but now it is nothing more than a bonus that manufacturers have to pay as part of their marketing program. And it lies in the fact that if any manufacturer today put on the market a power supply that does not have an 80 PLUS certification mark, then it is likely that few users would risk buying it, no matter how good it may be, because they won’t believe it .
Any manufacturer who wants their power supply to print 80 PLUS has to pay a number of fees which are not exactly cheap and which make the cost of the product quite high. For example, there is a $5,000 fee to register for the certification program, and then you must pay an additional $6,000 for each of the individual models you wish to be certified for. So, for example, if a manufacturer launches a source family consisting of 500W, 600W, 700W, 800W, and 1000W models, you will have to pay a total of $30,000 plus an additional $5,000 if you were not previously enrolled in the program. program. nine0005
An additional factor to consider: rebranding. As you know, there are manufacturers that make power supplies for third parties, for example, Channel Well (CWT) which manufactures sources for DeepCool or Corsair. CWT will pay your fees to obtain the appropriate 80 PLUS certification, but third parties will only have to pay $90,003 $3,500 to get a seal on their sources, even if they have made changes to them, changes that are often only aesthetic but also sometimes include internal changes.