It would seem that a PC component as important as the power supply would’ve had a better naming scheme, but as it turns out, the names for PSU are quite vague. Hence, ultimately leading to more questions than answers.
Not all PSUs are created equal, and getting the right PSU for your PC ensures that it runs smoothly without any hiccups. A slight disruption or voltage drop can cause damage not only to the PSU but to the entire PC. So that you don’t end up frying your PC, you will need to know the nitty-gritty characteristics of the different PSUs.
Today, we will compare the two most popular options – gold and platinum PSU. So, without further ado, let’s pin these two PSUs head-to-head and see which one is better for your PC.
|The PSU names like Gold and Platinum derive from the 80 Plus certification system, a benchmark set by CLEAResult, an independent energy efficiency certification organization. The certification is split into six tiers: white, bronze, silver, gold, platinum, and titanium.
|The PSU rating is based on two factors: wattage and efficiency. Wattage represents the maximum power draw of the PSU, while efficiency measures how much of the drawn power is effectively used and how much is lost as heat.
|Gold vs. Platinum PSU
|The primary difference between a Gold and Platinum PSU is the operating efficiency and heat generation. Platinum PSUs are more efficient, draw less power, produce less heat, and usually come with better internal components. However, they are more expensive than Gold PSUs.
|A Gold PSU has an efficiency of 87% at 20% load, 90% at 50% load, and 87% at 100% load. In contrast, a Platinum PSU has an efficiency of 90% at 20% load, 92% at 50% load, and 89% at 100% load. Thus, a Platinum PSU is generally more efficient.
|On average, a decent 80 Plus Gold 750 W PSU costs $120, while an 80 Plus Platinum 750W PSU costs upwards of $180.
|Due to their better build and durable internal components, Platinum PSUs score higher on the future-proofing scale and can be used over multiple PC builds.
|Platinum PSUs often come with additional features like RGB lighting, kill switch, LCD display, etc., which might not be available in Gold PSUs.
|A Gold PSU is adequate for users with a limited budget and non-intensive PC use. Platinum PSUs are recommended for servers or mining rigs running 24/7 or for users who value reliability, future-proofing, and additional features.
How does the PSU gold and platinum naming scheme work?
As the world is moving towards green energy, there is less and less room for energy losses. To meet the growing energy needs, efficiency standards are becoming more strict by the day. The PC power supply is also bound to some specific efficiency requirements. These requirements were introduced by CLEAResult, an independent testing and certification organization for energy efficiency.
The CLEAResult requirements are treated as a benchmark and set the basis for the 80 Plus certification. This 80 Plus certification is split into six different tiers based on which PSUs are evaluated, those being: white, bronze, silver, gold, platinum, and titanium.
If a PSU fulfills the requirement of a particular tier, then it is granted accreditation. For instance, if a power supply fulfills all the requirements of the gold tier, then it is given the 80 Plus Gold certification. This is where the gold and platinum PSU name comes from.
How does the PSU rating system work?
The rating system which is based on the CLEAResult requirements, factors in the two most essential factors of a PSU, those being.
The wattage (W) represents the maximum power draw of the PSU from the wall socket. Every PSU comes with a clear label showing its wattage (W). More often than not, when buying a PSU, the first thing that people look for is the wattage of the PSU.
A PSU is not drawing the peak power from the wall at all times. In real-world situations, the power supply does not draw the peak power at all times because the load of the PSU changes as different applications and games are used on the computer.
For instance, let’s assume a computer comes with a 550W PSU. When an idling computer demands very low power. So, to cater to the computer’s needs, the power draw of the PSU will be around the 150-180W mark. Similarly, when watching videos and browsing the web, the power requirement of the computer will be higher than idling but not that much, so the PSU will draw around 200-250W.
However, when gaming, the computer will require all the power it can get. So, in this situation, the load on the power supply will be maximum, and it may draw up to 550W from the wall.
Note: The (W) figures are just an assumption and are there to educate you on the basic working of a PSU. In reality, a power draw of a PSU is dynamic and changes all the time. However, the basic principles of power draw still apply.
The second most important metric of the rating system is the efficiency. The PSU converts the AC 115 V from the wall into DC 12 V or, if you are on the other side of the pond, 230 V into 24 V. This conversion is not 100% efficient, and some of the electrical energy is lost as heat.
Heat is not good for the PC components, and the energy losses can result in higher bills. Therefore, most manufacturers strive to make their PSUs as efficient as possible. The 80 Plus rating system measures the efficiency of the PSU at 20%, 50%, and 100% load.
Every PSU has to be at least 80% efficient, and this is where the term 80 Plus comes from. However, as we progress through the tiers from white to titanium, PSUs get more and more efficient than the baseline 80% figure.
Now that you know how to interpret the main characteristics of a PSU, let’s dive into the comparison between a gold and platinum PSU.
Gold vs Platinum PSU
The primary difference between a gold and a platinum PSU is the operating efficiency. From the CLEAResult testing chart, it can be seen that a gold PSU has an efficiency of 87% at 20% load, 90% at 50% load, and 87% at 100% load, respectively.
On the contrary, a platinum PSU has an efficiency of 90% at 20% load, 92% at 50% load, and 89% at 100% load. Comparing the two, we can see that the platinum PSU is 2.3% more efficient than the gold PSU on the whole.
Less efficiency means that to achieve the Wattage (W) labeled on the PSU, a gold power supply has to draw more power from the wall than the platinum PSU. For example, a 550 W Gold PSU draws 621.5 W from the wall because, due to 87% efficiency, 13% of power is lost.
On the other hand, a 550W platinum PSU draws 610 W from the wall, as only 11% energy is lost compared to 13% energy lost in a gold PSU.
Heat is the kryptonite of PC. If the PSU gets too hot, it can only damage itself but also other PC components as well. A platinum PSU, due to its higher efficiency, produces less heat compared to a gold PSU. The higher efficiency means that less electrical energy is converted into heat. So, for a PC case with limited airflow and cooling, a gold PSU could spell disaster.
A PSU is made of a string of multiple electrical components, including multiple circuits, capacitors, resistors, etc. Not all PSUs are made equal, and due to the nature of the PSU, the platinum PSU comes with better internal components than the gold PSU.
This ensures that the platinum PSU is less likely to experience any hiccups when supplying power to the PC components, resulting in a smooth and trouble-free PC. The gold PSU is not bad, and for the most part, it is also likely to not cause any trouble. However, having the reassuring of high-quality internal components in a platinum PSU cannot go unnoticed.
With energy costs rising and bills becoming astronomically high, energy cost is a major factor to consider when choosing between gold and platinum PSU. The platinum PSU due to being more efficient and drawing less power from the wall than the same Watt (W) gold PSU, consumes less electricity cost.
That being said, the savings in the bill just due to the PSU is quite marginal. Therefore, it will be a while till you recoup the cost of buying a platinum PSU over a gold PSU.
The cost difference between a platinum and gold PSU is quite significant, enough to make one think if it is worth paying more for a platinum PSU. On average, a decent 80 Plus Gold 750 W costs $120, while an 80 Plus Platinum 750W PSU costs upwards of $180. With that price difference, it is possible to buy an 8 GB RAM stick or a 512 GB SSD, for that matter.
The PSU is perhaps the embodiment of a hardware component that does not become outdated with time. The current PSU has been unchanged for over a decade and will continue to remain the same. Therefore, the PSU is one component of the PC that can be used over and over again.
On the future-proofing scale, the platinum PSU fares much better than the gold PSU because it is built better and has internal components that last. So, it is much more likely that the same platinum PSU will accompany you through multiple PC builds.
To justify the extra cost of a platinum PSU over a gold PSU, manufacturers have to give salient features such as RGB lighting, kill switch, LCD display, and more. Some of these features may be gimmicks, but the rest are quite useful to have. Gold PSUs don’t get these features, which makes the platinum PSUs appear more exclusive and premium.
When should you buy a Gold PSU?
If you have a limited budget and the PC you want to use the PSU with doesn’t contain high-end hardware, then using a gold PSU is totally fine. 80 Plus gold PSUs have come a long way, and most of the modern ones are capable of supporting PCs without any fuss. Just make sure to get a gold PSU from a reputable brand. My favorite ones are the Corsair RMX and the EVGA Supernova G6 series PSUs.
When should you buy a Platinum PSU?
If you plan on building a PC that runs 24/7, like a server or a mining rig, then a platinum PSU makes more sense. It will run more efficiently, therefore, reducing energy costs. A platinum PSU is also a viable option for a PC that has limited cooling or is placed in an enclosed space because it generates less heat. Hence, it is more likely to run into problems of overheating.
However, if you are a normal user and want a PSU that can last, then you can also consider the platinum PSU over the gold PSU as it has better reliability, future-proofing, and more features to play with. The one platinum PSU I am quite fond of using in my computer builds is the be quiet! Straight Power 11.
Computer PSUs have gotten very good. A modern gold-rated PSU will be enough for most mainstream users. However, for more power-intensive needs like running a server or a mining rig, the gold PSU won’t be adequate, and you would want a heavy-duty platinum PSU.
For an everyday user whose PC needs mainly consist of browsing, watching videos, remote work and learning, or gaming, don’t overthink it and get a gold-rated PSU.
Do I need a Platinum PSU for gaming?
No, you don’t necessarily need a Platinum PSU for gaming. A Gold-rated PSU is typically sufficient for most gaming systems. However, if you want greater efficiency, less heat, and better future-proofing, a Platinum PSU might be a good investment.
Which PSU is best for gaming?
The best PSU for gaming depends on your specific needs, but generally, a reliable Gold-rated PSU from a reputable brand such as the Corsair RMX or the EVGA Supernova G6 series is a good choice.
Is a Gold-rated PSU good enough?
Yes, a Gold-rated PSU is often good enough for most PC builds, including gaming systems. They offer a good balance of efficiency, power, and cost.
Do Platinum PSUs last longer?
Platinum PSUs tend to have better quality internal components, which can contribute to a longer lifespan and better durability over time. However, the actual lifespan also depends on usage conditions and care.
Do I need a Gold or Platinum PSU?
The choice between a Gold or Platinum PSU depends on your specific needs. A Gold PSU is generally adequate for most users. A Platinum PSU, being more efficient and generating less heat, can be beneficial for systems running 24/7, in a hot environment, or for users who desire better future-proofing and additional features.