Is Platinum really worth spending the money on or is 80PLUS Bronze, Silver or Gold good enough? Low energy consumption and efficiency is important to us but, within a reasonable cost. If I'm not going to get a return on the electric bill to cover the extra cost of say a platinum then, I'm not so sure it's worth it.
Here's a video explaining the cost savings on your electric bill by using the 80 PLUS Gold Power Supply Efficiency but, it's over two years old now and only discusses 80 PLUS Gold. It does not cover or compare bronze, silver or platinum.
I am curious to find out which is the very best value for the money while taking the electric bill over time into consideration? Can Tom's Hardware do such a test?
It really depends on what units you are looking at how long it will take to pay off, some units also barely miss the next level up so they may be a better value. Overall, each higher level is about 2 percentage points more efficient than the one below it at 20/50/100.
Here is some quick math for you, lets suppose you have a 500 W power supply, a system that pulls 250 W at full load, and is on 8 hour a day running at full load all the time(unrealistic but makes for much easier math), that puts your PSU at 50% load so its going to be at peak efficiency.
Power drawn from the wall:
Basic - 312.5 W
Bronze - 304.9 W
Silver - 294.1 W
Gold - 277.8 W
Platinum - 271.7 W
That means that over basic you save 7.6 W/h with bronze, 18.4 W/h with silver, 34.7 W/h with gold, and 40.8 W/h with platinum. With 8 hours a day at full load that comes out to be 1.82 kWh, 4.42 kWh, 8.33 kWh, and 9.79 kWh saved per month with bronze, silver, gold, and platinum respectively. If you pay 15 cents per kWh that means that over the course of 1 year having a platinum rated PSU over basic saves you about $17.62 so it could take quite a while to pay for the difference with energy savings alone, but in general silver rated units and up are much better quality than basic rated units.
Its worth getting a bronze star certified power supply simply because they are certified to be able to supply the current that they are rated at. It is only worth getting a silver gold or platinum supply depending on how long the computer is going to be powered on for. If for example the computer is going to be on 24/7 at full load then it would pay to get a platinum supply because of the energy costs over the life of the computer, but if you only have the computer on for a few hours a day then get a bronze one.
Higher rated power supplies are typically built to a higher standard, thus will generally have tighter voltage levels, quieter fans, have a slower capacitor degradation, and generally last you longer. This is on top of saving some $$ in the long run. Its perfectly realistic to expect a reputable gold level PSU to last you 7+ years (especially if it had a larger capacity than you needed originally).
Currently Gold is where the value is at, platinum versions cost too much premium to make them worth while. Silver versions are very rare, but those would be good too. The minimum anyone should shoot for nowadays is bronze, and nowadays bronze no longer grantees a good PSU that will last unfortunately.
I have seasonic platinum 520W and i can tell you that this is by far BEST Power supply i ever had!
its totaly noise free - fanless
it has modular cables - so i dont need extra cables running around inside my computer = less obstacles for airflow and less mess in general.
it provides my 520W of power - more than enough!
solid capacitor - good quality components!
and its very efficient - save $$$ in electric bill!
it cost me in my country around 170$ but i think its worth the money.
by the way, fanless PSUs have additional benefit - no more dust and noise from fans and no fans to power with electricity - the best