The computer’s power supply is one of the most overlooked components. However, come to think of it, the power supply is the one supplying power to all of the computer’s components. Some people would just buy a power supply that has a high output without considering its quality. Yes, it should be okay to have a high-wattage PSU, but for many PC users, especially gamers and enthusiasts, the most important aspect of a power supply is its efficiency.
Let’s talk about efficiency for a minute. It is the actual wattage that it provides or outputs to the components, compared to the total input wattage it uses from the outlet overall. It’s not that complicated. Let me give you a simple example. Let’s say you have a 600-watt power supply that is 75% efficient. If your PC’s overall power requirement is 300 watts, the power supply has to have an output of 300 watts, right? However, it actually has an input of 400 watts from the outlet.
So of the 400 watts, only 300 watts is actually used for the components. Hence, 300w / 400w = 0.75 or 75% efficient. What happens to the 100 watts then? It is wasted energy, dissipated as heat. So as you can see, the higher the efficiency of the power supply is, the lesser the wasted energy would be. And remember, keeping your computer components as cool as possible will result in longer life for those components. Aside from keeping your components cool, less energy wasted and longer life span for your PC parts, this should result in energy savings.
How would you know if a power supply is efficient? There is what we call the 80 Plus certification, which means that if a power supply is 80 Plus certified, it is at least 80% efficient regardless of load. There are also levels of 80 Plus certification such as 80 Plus Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum and Titanium. Taken in that order, the 80 Plus Titanium power supplies have the highest average across-the-board efficiency ratings at 90% and the Bronze power supplies have the lowest at 82%.
How will this translate into energy savings? Let me give you a more detailed example. Let’s say you have a generic power supply that is 70% efficient. You then decided to replace it with an 80 Plus Gold power supply that is 87% efficient. Let’s assume that the computer’s power requirement is 400 watts. The old power supply takes 533.33 watts from the outlet since it’s only 70% efficient. That’s 400w / 0.75 = 533.33w. Therefore, 133.33 watts is wasted.
Now, if you then use the 80 Plus Gold power supply on that same computer, 400w / 0.87 = 459.77w. Only 59.77 watts is wasted. You actually saved 73.56 watts, which is around 55.17% savings. In the long run, you will be able to offset the extra cost of the more efficient power supply. But remember, power supplies differ in brand, make, model, quality and so on. Even though they are 80 Plus certified, some of them may be lower than their 80 Plus-rating specifications. On the other hand, non-80 Plus power supplies could also reach 80% efficiency.
So having an efficient power supply will net you a lot of benefits: it saves you electricity; it’s most likely a mid-range to high-end power supply that has durable and reliable parts; and it dissipate less heat, improving the efficiency, not only of your power supply, but the rest of the components inside the computer as well. Yes, it may be expensive to buy power supplies with very high efficiencies, but in the long run, the savings and benefits more than justify the cost.
80 PLUS Certified Power Supplies and Manufacturers – Ecova Plug Load Solutions