After launching the X-Series, its first 80 PLUS Gold power supplies in September 2009, Seasonic announced a whole range at Computex, going from 400 to 1200 watts. The least powerful versions, the 400 to 460 watt supplies, are both fanless, which is a first among 80 PLUS Gold power supplies. Promising on paper, will the quality of these power supplies be confirmed in practice?
80 PLUS Gold
The 80 PLUS certification has been around for a few years now. From being a minority certification, it has now become a “must have” for any power supply aspiring to half decent quality levels. To gain the 80 PLUS logo, a power supply must have been certified by an independent organisation, which checks yield at 20%, 50% and 100% load as well as its PFC (Power Factor Correction), which must be higher than 0.9 at 100% load which implies active correction. To recap, the yield (energy efficiency) is the ratio between the power delivered to the machine and that consumed by the network. A power supply that draws 400 watts to deliver 300 watts has an energy efficiency of 75%, or 100 watts electrical energy wasted.
The 80 PLUS programme offers 5 levels of certification:
The basic level of certification, 80 PLUS, is the best known and the others unfortunately are making less market headway. It has to be said that the naming system could well be clearer and we would prefer to see the 80 PLUS Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum be renamed as 82 PLUS, 85 PLUS, 87 PLUS and 89 PLUS. For over a year now, 80 PLUS Gold power supplies have been becoming much more common. They are of course more costly, with the electronic circuitry inside more complex so as to achieve this level of certification and volumes still fairly low. With time, these prices should fall.
What sort of energy economy do you achieve with such yields? If you start with a fairly robust configuration that draws 150 watts at idle and 350 watts in load, on the basis of 12-hours use per day, half of which is in load, you would consume 3.75 kWh each day with a yield of 80% and 3.33 kWh at 90%. At €0.1125 the unit, the difference over a year (based on 300 days usage) would be €14.175. Nor should the lesser environmental impact be ignored, but this is of course harder to evaluate because in terms of power supply selection, you also need to take into account the impact of the manufacture of the new power supply, and in the case of a new PC, the difference between the manufacture of a complex power supply and a simpler one.