Power Supply Ratings: Explained

80 Plus: Power Supply (PSU) Ratings Explained

Let’s face it — the Power Supply Unit (PSU) is undoubtedly the most unexciting PC component to research and shop for when building a new gaming PC or workstation. It doesn’t make your games run faster and adds no aesthetic value to your gaming rig. However, it is the most crucial component of your build. The power supply is responsible for delivering power to all your PC components. Should it fail, it will likely take your entire PC with it. Thus, buying a high-quality power supply with a good efficiency rating is crucial. Most seasoned builders will advise you to go for a PSU with an “80 Plus” sticker on it, and rightly so. But what is 80 Plus certification? Is it merely a fancy sticker, or is there something more to it? Let’s find out.

You may have noticed several power supplies with the 80 Plus branding followed by suffixes like Bronze, Silver, Gold, and more. In this article, let’s understand what these designations mean. 

What Is the 80 Plus Rating in PSU?

80 Plus has been around since 2004. It was initiated as a voluntary certification program to nudge the industry toward designing more power-efficient PSUs. To earn the certification, PSUs must have over 80% efficiency at 20%, 50%, and 100% load (hence, the name 80 Plus) with a power factor of 0.9 or better at 100% load.

In 2007, Energy Star launched its Computer Specification 4.0, which included the 80 Plus power supply efficiency level requirement for desktop computers. Thus, the 80 Plus certification program became the standard and is still used today.

PSU Efficiency and 80 Plus Ratings

A power supply takes AC power from the wall socket and converts it into DC voltage, which your PC components then use to operate. However, the PSU can’t convert all the energy from the wall into DC voltage; some is lost as heat.

An 80 Plus certified power supply will have an 80% power to 20% heat ratio at 20%, 50%, and 100% load with a power factor of at least 0.90 at full load. A high-quality power supply with good efficiency will waste less energy, thus, going easy on your electricity bill. It will also be better at providing more stable power to your PC components.

That said, here are the six tiers of power supply ratings:

  • 80 Plus
  • 80 Plus Bronze
  • 80 Plus Silver
  • 80 Plus Gold
  • 80 Plus Platinum
  • 80 Plus Titanium

We have explained each power supply rating here, starting with the standard (white) 80 Plus rating and going all the way up to the most efficient 80 Plus Titanium rating for PSUs. So, let’s understand the efficiency of each rating and which power supply you should get:

1. 80 Plus

80 Plus: Power Supply (PSU) Ratings Explained

Power supplies sporting a plain white 80 Plus sticker offer the bare minimum efficiency required under the 80 Plus certification program. They offer 80% efficiency under 20%, 50%, and 100% loads. While they are adequate for home PCs (and even some light/ casual gaming PCs), opting for a higher-tier PSU will serve you better.

That said, there aren’t many 80 Plus White PSUs in the market today. Even if you were to find one, I would recommend picking up an 80 Plus Bronze unit, as they are objectively better and don’t cost a lot more. 

2. 80 Plus Bronze

80 Plus: Power Supply (PSU) Ratings Explained

The 80 Plus Bronze units are perhaps the most popular PSU option among budget gamers. They are abundantly available and offer decent efficiency. Choose a high-quality PSU from a reputable manufacturer, and it won’t burn a hole in your PC either (hehe).

80 Plus Bronze PSUs offer 82% efficiency at 20% load, 85% efficiency at 50% load, and 82% efficiency at 100% load. They are solid options if you are on a budget. Anything less is not recommended. 

3. 80 Plus Silver

80 Plus: Power Supply (PSU) Ratings Explained

The Silver units are a slight step up from the Bronze units. However, they are not very common. Most PSU manufacturers steer either toward the Bronze or Gold units. However, if you ever find a good deal on an 80 Plus Silver PSU, take it up. They offer 85%, 88%, and 85% efficiencies at 20%, 50%, and 100% loads, respectively. 

4. 80 Plus Gold

80 Plus: Power Supply (PSU) Ratings Explained

If you want the most efficiency-per-dollar, 80 Plus Gold power supply units are the way to go. They are a more premium option; best suited for mid-range to high-end PCs and are often higher quality than their predecessors in the 80 Plus lineup.

They offer 87% efficiency at 20% and 100% loads and 90% efficiency at 50% loads. They are very reliable PSUs, given that you buy a unit from a reputed manufacturer and not some guy who assembles PSUs in his garage. The 80 Plus Gold rating is also where you start seeing fully modular PSUs, which offer more customizability and easier cable management. 

5. 80 Plus Platinum

80 Plus: Power Supply (PSU) Ratings Explained

Most folks don’t need a Platinum-rated power supply unit. These are generally more suited for industrial systems or data centers. However, if you want to grab an 80 Plus Platinum PSU for your gaming PC or workstation, by all means, go ahead.

You will get excellent efficiency, i.e. 90% efficiency at 20% load, 92% at 50% load, and 89% at 100% load. While the PSU may cost you more at purchase, you will undoubtedly save some money on your electricity bill in the long run. 

6. 80 Plus Titanium

80 Plus: Power Supply (PSU) Ratings Explained

Titanium units are designed for the industrial space (servers and data centers) where systems run 24/7 and efficiency equals money saved. They’re top-tier PSUs with 90% efficiency at 10% load, 92% efficiency at 20% load, 94% efficiency at 50% load, and 90% efficiency at 100% load. However, I won’t recommend purchasing one for your gaming PC because of two reasons:

  1. They are complete overkill for a home gaming system, and
  2. They might cost you as much, if not more, than the rest of your PC build.

80 Plus PSU Rating: Load & Efficiency Comparison

For those who simply wish to check out the efficiency ratings of the different PSU rating tiers, we have compiled them in a near chart here:

PSU Rating10% Load20% Load50% Load100% Load
80 Plus (White)80%80%80%
80 Plus Bronze82%85%82%
80 Plus Silver85%88%85%
80 Plus Gold87%90%87%
80 Plus Platinum90%92%89%
80 Plus Titanium90%92%94%90%
115 Volts Input

PSU 80 Plus Certification: Drawbacks

While 80 Plus is the most popular certification program, it’s not perfect. The methodology allows PSU manufacturers to submit cherry-picked units that they know work well for testing. The retail units of the same PSU may not perform as well or may be downright faulty.

Secondly, the 80 Plus program doesn’t test power consumption on standby and does not take the efficiency of the 5VSB rail into account. The standard also does not clarify the testing equipment used. However, with no other prominent certification programs present, the 80 Plus PSU rating system is the best bet (at least for now).

I hope this guide helps you understand the 80 Plus rating system and pick an appropriate power supply for your PC. And if you already have, don’t forget to read our guide on how to install a Power Supply (PSU) in your PC. It will come in handy.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the highest 80 Plus rating?

80 Plus Titanium is the highest 80 Plus rating for a power supply unit (PSU). At 115V AC input, these units provide 90% efficiency at 10% load, 92% efficiency at 20% load, 94% efficiency at 50% load, and 90% efficiency at 100% load.

What PSU rating should I get?

Firstly, you should always look for the 80 Plus rating sticker on the PSU you are buying. As for the PSU rating you should get, an 80 Plus Gold-rated PSU is the most bang for the buck in terms of efficiency and power delivery. However, if you are building a budget gaming PC, you can also opt for an 80 Plus Bronze PSU, which might not be as efficient, but is reliable and gets the job done.

Is 80 Plus PSU good enough?

Yes, completely. Most gamers today buy an 80 Plus Gold PSU (or even an 80 Plus Bronze unit) as it is not only very efficient but also doesn’t require you to spend a fortune. 80 Plus Gold power supplies offer the best efficiency-per-dollar among power supplies.

Is 80 Plus titanium better than platinum?

If we are talking about efficiency, then the answer is yes. An 80 Plus Titanium power supply is better than 80 Plus Platinum, but do remember that it also costs a lot more. However, if you’re confused between a Platinum and Titanium PSU, we recommend you buy yourself an 80 Plus Platinum power supply as it’s equally efficient and doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg.

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