80 Plus Platinum power supplies are more efficient, but the real-world difference may not be significant enough to outweigh the extra cost. Most users will be fine with an 80 Plus Gold power supply unit, although there’s nothing wrong with an 80 Plus Platinum one if you can afford it.
Buying a power supply isn’t just about getting the right wattage for your needs. While that’s undoubtedly the most essential spec, ensuring you get one with a suitable 80 Plus efficiency rating is also essential. So to help you make the right choice, let’s compare 80 Plus Platinum vs. Gold power supplies to see which will suit you better.
What Is 80 Plus?
80 Plus is a voluntary certification that indicates how efficient a power supply is. PSU manufacturers send their power supplies to CLEAResult, the company that runs the tests, which then put the products through a series of tests and awards power supply efficiency ratings.
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
In the context of a power supply, efficiency refers to how much energy a PSU has to draw from the wall to generate a certain amount of power. The more efficient the PSU, the less power it needs to draw from the wall to supply your rig.
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 it is at 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|
However, note that 80 Plus isn’t the be-all-end-all of power supply specs. Its voluntary nature means that companies can spoof the results by sending extra-high-quality units for testing or downgrading retail units. So it’s always important to check PSU reviews before buying to ensure that the PSU you’re interested in lives up to the 80 Plus logo on the packaging.
Ideally, you want the most efficient power supply you can afford, as it usually entails better components and overall build quality. But is it worth going above and beyond for a higher-efficiency PSU? Let’s find out.
Platinum vs. Gold PSU Differences
As the efficiency chart shows, there isn’t a huge difference between the two efficiency tiers. Let’s compare a high-quality platinum-rated PSU (the MSI MEG Ai1000P) against a proven gold-rated PSU (FSP Hydro G Pro 1000 W).
Tom’s Hardware tested the FSP and recorded an average efficiency rating of 88.56% at 115 volts. They also tested the MSI and recorded 90.03% efficiency on average. Now let’s do some quick math to see how big the difference is regarding efficiency and electricity draw.
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 can’t consider factors such as efficiency changing depending on power draw or aspects such as power factor correction. So treat this as an idealized example rather than a guide on how much you could save on your power bill!
With that said, let’s assume a static 550-watt gaming load on both 1000-watt PSUs. The FSP will draw 625 watts (550 ÷ 0.88) from the wall, while the MSI will draw 611 (550 ÷ 0.9) watts. The MSI is the more efficient power supply for sure, but is the 14-watt difference worth $100 extra? That’s up to you.
However, efficiency isn’t the only difference to consider when comparing a Gold vs. Platinum power supply. Platinum power supplies are usually higher-quality units with better components, which translates to 10-year warranties at a minimum. On the other hand, some Gold-rated power supplies make do with five-to-seven-year warranties instead.
That said, you can find several 80 Plus Gold PSUs with 10-year warranties (like our FSP), so this isn’t necessarily a huge issue. If warranty length is crucial, shop around for a Gold unit with a 10-year warranty. You don’t have to get a Platinum power supply just for the extra guarantee.
Other variables, such as electrical performance (load regulation, ripple suppression), should be better on 80 Plus Platinum PSUs. Still, the issue is whether the improvements are significant enough over 80 Plus Gold PSUs to justify the extra money. As always, read reviews when comparing a Platinum vs. Gold power supply to see what other benefits the Platinum PSU may bring.
80 Plus Platinum power supply units are more efficient than 80 Plus Gold units. That’s not up for debate. However, the increased cost may not always be worth the power savings. Unless you live somewhere with absolutely brutal electricity rates, the minor power consumption differences between the two energy efficiency tiers likely won’t justify the extra cost of the Platinum unit in the short to medium term.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with buying a Platinum PSU. If you can afford one without compromising the rest of your build, go for it; you will get a better PSU overall. However, most users should be fine with a Gold-rated power supply, especially if you get a well-reviewed example with proven performance and efficiency.
There’s a lot more to power supplies than just their 80 Plus rating, though. Head over to our guide to choosing a power supply for the low-down on all the important specs and features.