Author: Frank Stroupe
Power supply efficiency, if you haven’t noticed, is the only interesting issue in power supplies today. As recently as a few years ago, the only things noticed by most enthusiasts were brand, wattage, weight, whether or not the PSU was modular, or how many +12v rails it had. Most people just worried about cost. Efficiency was noted in a power supply’s specs, but usually not paid attention to by anyone not actually into electricity. And there was nothing interesting about a power supply with 60%-72% efficiency, the range that nearly all power supplies fell into anyway.
So what does PSU efficiency mean? The job of a power supply is to convert 117 volt AC power (240 VAC in Europe) from the wall socket to 12 volt/5 volt/3.3 volt DC power used by your computer’s components. A necessary byproduct of this conversion is heat, hence the heatsinks and fan(s) contained within the PSU case to keep heat away from the PSU’s components. The greater a PSU’s efficiency, the more AC power that is actually converted to DC power, and the less heat generated by the conversion, and vice versa.
What are the benefits of an efficient PSU versus an inefficient one? The most obvious is less heat generated by the PSU, which can heat up your entire rig. An efficient PSU doesn’t work as hard, so its life is normally longer than a less efficient one. And since it isn’t working as hard, it isn’t stressing the other components of your rig, which adds to their lives too. To me, the biggest benefit is that since more power is converted to DC with an efficient PSU, you can use a smaller wattage high-efficiency power supply to do the same job. Without going into great detail, in other words without going into the extremely boring math, a rig requiring a typical 72% efficiency 850 watt power supply could run just fine with an 85% efficient 700 watt PSU.
And then there is the green effect. An inefficient computer wastes a significant amount of electricity over its lifetime. Multiply that by how many PCs there are in the US. I have no idea how many that is, but between homes and businesses surely it is over 250 million, so how much extra energy is generated by power plants just to make up for that wasted power? Imagine how much more work the HVAC units in a large office building with hundreds of PCs do every day trying to cool the heat generated by those inefficient power supplies.
Enter the 80Plus Program. Funded by several American utility companies, the 80Plus program is working with power supply manufacturers selling their products in the US to make them more efficient, with a goal of all computer power supplies being a minimum of 80% efficient. The power supplies are tested by an independent third party testing facility, for efficiency at 20%, 50%, and 100% loads. There are five 80Plus ratings given to power supplies: 80Plus (80%/80%/80%), Bronze (82%/85%/82%), Silver (85%/88%/85%), Gold (87%/90%/87%), and Platinum (90%/92%/89%). Just to show you how hard it is to get the higher efficiency badges, there have been only 2 Platinum certified power supplies to date, and 236 Gold certifications… they have been testing power supplies for over six years and out of literally thousands of power supplies tested have only come up with 238 power supplies that get 90% or better efficiency at 50% load.
Our friends at Sparkle Computer, manufacturer of some of the best non-reference geForce graphics cards in the industry, has recently gone into the power supply business, and have released their Gold Class series of power supplies. All of these PSUs are modular and 80Plus Gold certified. Today I will be looking at Sparkle Computer’s Gold Class 850 watt power supply, which is not only 80Plus Gold and modular, it sports a full five +12v rails. Read on to check out the Sparkle Computer Gold Class 850!
UPC No: 843636004048
Series: Gold Class Series
Intel Specification: ATX12V / EPS12V
Energy Efficiency: 80Plus Gold
Fan: 139mm Fan
Fan Type: Double Ball Bearing
+12V Rails: 5
PF Correction: Active, 0.99PF Typical
Operating Temperature: 0~50C, 100% Continuous power @50%
Operating Humidity: 20~80%
Protection Features: OPP / OVP/ UVP/ SCP
EMC: Triple AC + Dual DC EMC Filtering stage
AC Input Range: Full Range: 100~240VAC
Input Current: 10-6A
Line Regulation all DC Rails: ± 5%
Load Regulation all DC Rails: ± 5%
Total Power: 850W
Dimensions: 175mm X 150mm X 86mm
Safety Approvals: CCC/TUV/UL/CB/CE/FCC
Hazardous Materials: WEEE/ROHS
-24P Mainboard Connector X 1
-4+4P CPU +12V Connector X 1
-6+2P PCI-E Connector X 4
-SATA Connector X 9 (Max)
-4P Molex Connector X 9 (Max)
-4P FDD Connector X 3 (Max)
-80 Plus Gold Certified
-Double Ball Bearing Fan
- All connector AU coating to keep Ultra high efficiency
-Full Thermal Control with super silent fan
-12V peak at 80A
-Temperature control design mode
-Active PFC design
-Keep PSU fan running for 5-10 seconds after shut down to dissipate the remaining system heat and prolonging system lifetime.
-Ultra-quiet 13.9cm Fan with intelligent RPM control guarantees cool performance and silent operation.
-99.9% 12V Power
-SYNC Transformer Array
-Double main electrolytic capacitors
-DC to DC circuitry design with solid capacitors
-Forward Safe Guard Circuitry Design
-Dual Layer main PCB 1.6mm thickness
-Quintuple 12V Rails
-100A MOSFET 12V Rectifiers
-20k µF low ESR secondary 105℃ electrolytic capacitors
-Triple AC EMC Filtering stage
-Dual capacitors design to protect system safety when sudden shut down
The Sparkle Computer Gold Class is packaged in an attractive and substantial box. Features and specifications, along with a copy of the specs label are on the box.
Inside, the power supply is well protected by thick foam. It is enclosed in a bag made of a thick cloth that was known as “crushed velvet” when I was a kid. I’m not sure if it is still known as that.