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The PC Power Supply Guide for the Masses

  1. Introduction
  2. PSU Abbreviations and Glossary
  3. Connectors used in a PC Power Supply
  4. PSU cables: Non-Modular, Modular and the middle-ground!
  5. Power Supply Labels
  6. Power Supply Form-Factor- ATX12V
  7. Power Supply Form-Factor- SFX12V
  8. Basic requirements of a power supply
  9. Facts about 80 Plus Certification
  10. Protection Circuits and Features
  11. List of Power Supplies, OEM and Review Links
  12. Common PC Power Supply Myths
  13. Resource Links and References
  14. View All


Power Supplies have a certification process, but unlike certifications that are required by certain countries/ continents, this is is more of a voluntary process. A company called Ecova checks the efficiency of a power supply and gives them a certification that identifies a certain efficiency standard.

  • 80plus_standardPrintPrintPrintPrintPrint

  • PrintPrintPrint    PrintPrint

  • 80plus_silverIndustrial80plus_goldIndustrial80plus_platinumIndustrial

  • 80plus_standard230EVU80plus_bronze230EVU80plus_silver230EVU80plus_gold230EVU80plus_platinum230EVU  80plus_titanium230EVU

At first, it started with Bronze, Silver and Gold. Now that 80Plus certification is deemed necessary for ‘easy marketing’, a lot of brands went ahead. At some point, platinum was added, and then came titanium standard which is added to point out excellent efficiency with stellar components tested at seemingly unrealistic conditions. Titanium is the only test certification that tests efficiency at 10% load.

Note that different countries follow certain AC Voltage. For example, United States uses 115 V and India follows 230 v. Most power supplies can be used in countries as it has a variant of 110 v to 230 v. The only time I observed power supply that can be run at a specific AC voltage is for country specific, like Corsair’s China and India specific VS Series that run in countries between 220 v and 240 V.

80Plus tests efficiency with four load settings- 10%, 20%, 50% and 100 with two AC variants.

115V 230V
load 10% 20% 50% 100% 10% 20% 50% 100%
80 Plus NA 80% 80% 80% NA NA NA NA
Bronze NA 82% 85% 82% NA 81% 85% 81%
Silver NA 85% 88% 85% NA 85% 89% 85%
Gold NA 87% 90% 87% NA 88% 92% 88%
Platinum NA 90% 92% 89% NA 90% 94% 91%
Titanium 90% 92% 94% 90% 90% 94% 96% 91%

For 115 v tests, there are a total of 6 certification levels and 230v have 5. There are separate certification for industrial applications (open frame, rack mount, embedded, etc. ) and 230v EU certification.

This is important because there are brands (even the respectable ones) that use their reputation to sneak in a sale. In the case of Corsair VS series, to complete with substandard power supplies a lot of components were used that would not be used usually. If you notice, there is no 80 Plus certification, and it can’t get the ‘standard’ 80Plus certification because that is reserved for 115 V.

Similarly, certain brands are known to use 80Plus certification that their OEMs have achieved for their retail models. 80Plus insists that such brands should get the product evaluated for certification because it is a different brand and may have certain changes. Most OEMs (especially the well-reputed makers) won’t cross a standard of manufacturers, which is pretty okay. Some, however, are not. Reviewers usually find out the OEMs of the power supplies pretty easily, or at better yet- confirm the quality and grade of the components used, including the workmanship like PCB soldering.

The water gets more muddy now. There are some who claim that their power supplies are 80% efficient without the badge. Some power supplies are efficient and companies don’t submit a unit to get an 80 Plus badge as the company charges a fee (probably for both tested and using the certification for marketing purposes). Some don’t do all that. Some use logo designs that are awfully close to 80Plus labelling. If there are no reliable power supply reviews for those units, it’s best to avoid the headache. Otherwise, Ecova has a section that lists the power supplies and the badges their unit have achieved.

It should also be noted that companies make many revisions with existing models. Some point it out along with their power supply names, like “V2“, “V3” or “I“, “II“, “II Pro“. Some are improvements, some are not. Some change their OEMs but don’t mention that to separate themselves from the older models- a classic case of switch-and-bait. It goes without saying that every rev versions should be individually tested.

There is also one more oversight by 80Plus certification. These power supplies are tested and certified at room temperatures. Even if they do hold a certain sign to keep a user away from inefficient and more substandard power supply, this certification shouldn’t be regarded as the best way to choose power supplies blindly. As pointed out previously, in closed case conditions, temperatures rise. Ideally, 40 degrees Celsius is the norm, but 50 degrees is best. One will never know how good the components will hold at such conditions unless it’s tested in this setting.

There are times where manufacturers test and rate them at 40 or 50 degrees Celsius on their own, but It is ALWAYS recommended that one should refer to power supplies reviews that test power supplies properly maintaining operational temperatures of 40 or 50. All information and component overview, including the revision of the power supply (via pictures) is pointed out and disclosed in public.

2 comments

  1. Koolest ripper guide to What is and what is not on SMPS!
    Thanks for adding those SMPS suggestions! 🙂

  2. Much appreciated!

    I plan on putting more guides per component so that many people from newbies to regular users can understand “what is” and “what is not” for many components to help them make better purchase decisions! This way, we can guide even the newest of end users to understand whenever they read our reviews!

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