The power supply is the lifeblood of any PC build. Supplies and regulates network power to all your hardware parts. Having the right power supply will give you the peace of mind that your system will always have enough capacity to run safely and stably.
When it comes to buying a power supply, the most common question arises: which is better? Power supplies are not created equal, and they all come with different power and efficiency ratings. This guide will help you make the most informed decision about which power supply is best for you, as the answer is not as simple as getting the most expensive model available.
Gold power supplies are widely accepted to offer the best price-for-performance value proposition, but this may not be the case for you.
What do the PSU ratings mean?
A power supply can be classified by one of two things: energy efficiency and maximum power output. Both of these ratings determine how well a given PSU model will work to efficiently power the other parts of your PC.
- Energy efficiency: This means what percentage of the wall power or voltage is usable by your PC’s power supply and system. The energy efficiency of the power supply comes in classifications of bronze, silver, gold, platinum and titanium.
- Power: Wattage is a simple measurement that gives you the maximum amount of power output that a given PSU can transfer to its components.
In other words, an 80% efficient power supply will have less total output than a 90% efficient power supply, as long as both have the same wattage settings. So, if both power supplies have a maximum power of 500 watts, the 90% power supply could consume less power than the 80% power supply to provide the same power.
PSU ratings also have to do with the quality of its internal parts. Higher rated PSUs generally have higher quality capacitors, materials, and components that increase their efficiency and longevity. It’s not a much discussed topic, but to achieve the highest efficiency ratings (platinum or titanium), manufacturers can only use the best available components in their class.
Build quality also tends to be better. Still, in the end, it comes down to how the specific manufacturer executes their quality control before shipping their product to global markets.
What is a Gold and Platinum rated power supply?
A gold rated power supply Are there any power supplies rated to run at least 87% efficient at 100% power load? Gold PSUs come with a yellow color certification on the sides and on the packaging.
A platinum rated power supply Are there any power supplies rated to run at least 89% efficient at 100% power load? Platinum power supplies come with a light gray certification on the sides and on the packaging.
A Gold and Platinum rated power supply are incredibly high quality PC parts that will give you years of reliability and stable power delivery, improving the longevity of your other hardware parts and preventing power surges and spikes. Compared to unrated or white rated PSUs, Gold and Platinum PSUs are far ahead in terms of quality and performance.
The only constant difference is that the Platinum PSU is slightly more efficient than a Gold PSU. Keep in mind that while Platinum power supplies are objectively superior in terms of performance, quality and reliability depend on the manufacturer.
You can never know what parts the manufacturer uses; you can only look at the user reviews for a given power supply and judge its overall performance and quality in real life.
Advantages of a Gold Rated Power Supply
Here are some of the benefits of a Gold-rated power supply:
- Best price for performance: This is the main reason why gold PSUs are the most recommended. For the average user, investing in a Gold-rated power supply means you can future-proof your system, especially with the additional wattage headroom a Gold-rated power supply offers compared to lower ratings.
- Greater availability: Gold power supplies have a larger market share and therefore manufacturers prioritize their production. Gold-rated PSUs are much more likely to be available in stores and online stores.
- More than enough for most mid to high end PC builds: Even if you have the best GPU, CPU, RAM, motherboard, and other parts in its class, a Gold-rated PSU is more than enough (as long as its wattage covers the extra power draw) to reliably power your system. .
- Entry point for fully modular power supplies: At the gold rating, you can expect manufacturers to offer fully modular and customizable power cords and options. Most low-end PSUs don’t allow you to swap out different cables and come with just a non-detachable cable bundle.
Advantages of a Platinum Rated Power Supply
Here are some of the benefits of a platinum-rated power supply:
- Better warranty options: Platinum rated power supplies generally come with more extended warranty options as they also charge a premium for their extra performance.
- Greater efficiency: This is the most obvious benefit of a Platinum power supply. Suppose your system uses more than 500 Watts on load. In that case, even a small percentage difference will result in noticeably higher efficiency.
- Generally more reliable: Platinum PSUs will deliver more consistent power consumption at different levels regardless of whether your CPU/GPU is idle or near full load. This will also reduce wear on hardware components and extend their life cycles.
- Reduces annual electricity bills: Efficiency means less energy consumption for the same amount of energy. This is especially crucial if you run things like GPU mining rigs where electricity bills directly impact your profit margins. Suppose your PC works for most of your day, or you run a business with multiple PCs. In that case, energy efficiency and energy savings are something to keep in mind.
- Can work in cooler temperatures: Cooler temperatures mean less energy is lost as heat and internal components wear slower than normal. This also very much depends on the overall airflow of your PC case and the temperature of your environment.
- Better cable management: They usually come with more features and cable modularity. When you pay a premium for a product, you can expect other areas to upgrade compared to other lower rated products on the market. Platinum PSUs generally come with more cable configuration options giving you better cable management capabilities.
- You can offer additional features: These added extras are things like integrated temperature displays, user interface displays for wattage and current power consumption, proprietary tuning software, and even RGB lighting.
How to calculate the power of your power supply?
Before you even begin to consider Gold vs Platinum, first find out your system’s maximum power draw at full load. There are numerous power calculators online where you can input the exact components of your PC and see how many total watts they require.
Then get a power supply that is at least 80% certified efficient and give it at least 20% wattage surge. So if your total power consumption is 350, don’t choose a power supply with 400 watts; instead choose at least one that is 450-500.
What is the right power supply rating for you?
Platinum power supplies are for PC enthusiasts or energy-efficient users who only require top-of-the-line hardware parts that require additional modularity, features, customization, and performance.
How do I know when my power supply is ready to be replaced?
Having a faulty power supply can mask many common PC errors and symptoms. We have a dedicated article here on troubleshooting and detecting a faulty power supply.
Should I avoid any particular PSU?
Some batches of PSUs are known to explode, die, or malfunction. Always research and check user ratings from mass sellers for stability and performance.
Let’s say a product has a low average user rating. In that case, it’s usually best to avoid it unless you want to waste time returning and shipping a replacement or waiting for the bank to process a refund dispute.