80 Plus Gold power supplies are the sweet spot for most rigs, as they offer higher-quality components and better warranties than affordable 80 Plus Bronze units. However, 80 Plus Bronze units are perfectly fine if you’re on an ultra-tight budget, as long as you buy proven units with good electrical performance.
Skimping on your gaming PC’s power supply is never a good idea, but how much do you gain by buying an 80 Plus Gold power supply over a more affordable 80 Plus Bronze unit? Is a higher-end PSU worth the extra cost, especially for those on a tighter budget? Let’s compare Bronze vs. Gold power supplies to see what’s what.
What Is 80 Plus?
80 Plus is a voluntary certification that outlines how efficient a power supply is. For power supplies, efficiency refers to how much electricity a PSU has to draw from the wall to generate the power your rig nieeds. The more efficient the PSU, the less electricity it needs to draw to supply your rig.
There are six tiers of 80 Plus rating. From lowest (least efficient) to highest (most efficient), they are:
- 80 Plus
- 80 Plus Bronze
- 80 Plus Silver
- 80 Plus Gold
- 80 Plus Platinum
- 80 Plus Titanium
Each 80 Plus tier requires a PSU to hit a minimum efficiency level at various power loads. Criteria are slightly stricter at 220 volts than 115 volts, but the numbers are roughly the same. Here’s how the tiers stack up, based on 20% loads:
|Tier||Efficiency @ 115 volts||Efficiency @ 220 volts|
|80 Plus Bronze||82%||85%|
|80 Plus Silver||85%||87%|
|80 Plus Gold||87%||90%|
|80 Plus Platinum||90%||92%|
|80 Plus Titanium||92% with PFC ≥ 0.95||94% with PFC ≥ 0.95|
80 Plus ratings are a useful measure of a power supply’s efficiency and quality, but you shouldn’t rely on them exclusively. Since the testing is voluntary, it’s entirely possible for a company to spoof results by sending extra-high-quality units for testing or downgrading retail units.
So you should always check PSU reviews before buying to make sure the power supply you’re interested in lives up to the branding.
Bronze vs. Gold PSU Differences
As the efficiency chart shows, there’s about a five percent difference in power supply efficiency between the two tiers. But let’s compare a budget-friendly Bronze-rated power supply (Gigabyte P550B) against a Gold-rated PSU (MSI MPG A650GF) to see how they stack up in simulated real-world conditions.
The Gigabyte unit is a budget 80 Plus Bronze PSU, only barely achieving 80 Plus Bronze with an 83.02% average efficiency in Tom’s Hardware testing. In contrast, the MSI unit sits at the higher end of 80 Plus Gold, managing 89.30% average efficiency in the same tests.
Let’s assume a static 350-watt gaming load on both PSUs. In this idealized scenario, the Gigabyte will draw 421 watts (350 ÷ 0.83) from the wall when gaming, while the MSI will draw 393 (350 ÷ 0.89) watts. So your extra $25 gets you a 28-watt reduction in power draw and an extra 100 watts of headroom to play with.
Note that we’re only performing a very rough calculation here, simply dividing the required power by the efficiency percentage. This gives us an idea of how much power the PSU will draw from the wall but doesn’t take into account other factors, such as varying loads and power factor correction. So don’t treat this as gospel on how to save on your power bill!
Whether the 28-watt reduction in power draw is worth the extra price of the MSI is entirely up to you. However, efficiency isn’t the only factor you should consider when choosing between 80 Plus Bronze vs. Gold power supplies.
For one, 80 Plus Gold power supplies generally have higher-quality components and thus will perform better in crucial areas such as load regulation, ripple suppression, and transient response. Of course, you’ll want to read reviews to confirm this, but a decently built 80 Plus Gold PSU will most likely outperform an 80 Plus Bronze PSU in all the crucial metrics.
Most 80 Plus Gold PSUs are also fully modular, while many Bronze PSUs will have fixed cables (or are semi-modular at best). Fully modular cables aren’t essential, but they’re a nice quality-of-life feature that can greatly help with cable management. Check out our guide to modular power supplies for an in-depth comparison between the two.
There’s also the fact that a Gold-rated PSU will almost always come with a longer warranty than a Bronze power supply. The MSI MPG A650GF, for example, comes with a 10-year warranty, while the Gigabyte P550B only has a 3-year guarantee. While you may not care too much about warranty, a seven-year longer warranty is worth the extra $25 you’ll pay for the MSI.
Of course, you can get higher-end Bronze PSUs with five-year warranties and much better efficiency. The issue is that once you start spending that much, you may as well stretch a bit more and get a higher-quality 80 Plus Gold PSU.
Take the Corsair CX750M, for example. it’s a great Bronze-rated PSU with a five-year warranty, but you can get a much higher-quality XPG Core Reactor 750 with a 10-year warranty for anywhere between $20 to $40 more. In this situation, we’d take the XPG any day of the week unless we really needed to save money.
But, again, it’s worth repeating that you should always read reviews when you’re considering a PSU, no matter the efficiency rating. You can get 80 Plus Bronze PSUs that rival 80 Plus Gold PSUs in performance or end up with 80 Plus Gold PSUs that barely even quality for Bronze.
80 Plus Gold power supplies are more efficient than 80 Plus Bronze power supplies and are the sweet spot for most rigs, in our opinion. While the power draw savings are OK, there’s a lot more to it than just getting a more efficient power supply. For one, 80 Plus Gold PSUs will have five-year warranties at a minimum, while you’re more likely only to see three-year warranties on Bronze units.
Then there are all the other factors that come with higher-quality internals, such as better electrical performance and potentially lower noise output on 80 Plus Gold power supplies. If you can stretch to an 80 Plus Gold PSU without compromising the rest of your system, go for it. It’ll be worth it. If not, a well-reviewed 80 Plus Bronze PSU will still be fine.
Of course, 80 Plus ratings aren’t the only specs you need to consider when buying a power supply. Check out our guide to choosing a power supply for the low-down on all the important performance metrics and features.