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Is 80 PLUS Broken? How To Make It A More Trustworthy Certification

Fake Certification Badges

It unfortunately seems like the 80 PLUS program doesn't have the time, authority, or motivation to deal with fake certification badges. That is to say there are PSUs out there with certifications that didn't actually earn them. If each of the program's badges had a unique identifier (like a QR code or short hyperlink) linking it back to a specific PSU model, it'd be a lot harder for manufacturers to use fake certifications. However, 80 PLUS only provides a generic badge. We simply cannot understand why this is happening. Instead, interested parties have to search the 80 PLUS database in order to figure out if a PSU is really certified.

Here's something else that bothers us. When an OEM certifies a platform with 80 PLUS, brands that use the same platform don't have to provide evaluation samples to 80 PLUS, even if they make changes affecting efficiency. This means that only the original platform was really tested, and if the 80 PLUS customer wants, it can skip the full evaluation and get a certification badge by only paying a fractional fee (our sources mention it's half the price of a certification). That's wrong, in our opinion. Every new PSU should be fully evaluated, even if its original platform was tested in the past. After all, we've seen plenty of changes to original platforms resulting in different efficiency readings. Since 80 PLUS hires external labs to do the testing, we're guessing it can skip that part and take the profit it'd normally make anyway.

How we are so sure that 80 PLUS uses external labs for its certifications? Take a look at an evaluation report. Near the bottom of the page, you'll notice the verbiage: "These tests were conducted by a third party independent testing firm on behalf of the 80 PLUS Program."

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Aris Mpitziopoulos
Aris Mpitziopoulos is a Contributing Editor at Tom's Hardware US, covering PSUs.