Time for "90 Plus" power supplies finally arrives

 The world of power supplies is quite a confusing one, especially after the debut of the "80 Plus" certification. According to the standard’s body, http://www.80plus.org/ , 80 Plus is combined between Bronze, Silver and Gold certifications, with gold being over 90% efficient at 50% load and a minimum of 88% efficiency at full load.

During last months’ CeBIT show in Han(g)over, Germany – the company stated that their upcoming products will feature 80 Plus Gold certificate for some products. A couple of weeks later, we received news that the upcoming 1kW Z-Series received its 80 Plus Gold certificate, claiming that their new power supply will feature 88.23% at 20% load, 90.93% at 50% load and 89.20% at 100% load. Putting it in layman’s terms, this power supply will output 892W at 100% load, or equal amount of juice than some 1100 and 1200W power supplies with lower efficiency ratings. Of course, every power supply should be able to deliver its rated current at already mentioned efficiency, but we’ll address that in an update below.

Truth to be told, it is very impressive to see the Z550 and Z650 delivering 480W & 580W of juice inside the computer. Given our information about the power consumption, these numbers are impressive indeed – you could easily power a Core i7 rig with GTX295 with no issues on a 650W PSU, or clock a Phenom II to 3.5 GHz and run it in pair with two 4890 cards.

UPDATE, 05-04-09 13:48 UTC – We were contacted by  "wutske" from Madshrimps.be forum, who commented on the news story. Our take is simple – in terms of power supplies, various manufacturers offer various claims and yield various performance. We do understand power supplies, unfortunately for us – from the good and from the worst side.

While editing this story, I deleted a paragraph that went on to explain our experiences with PSUs, such as a last-months issue with a audio workstation system that pulled less than 450W from the wall socket, yet it was unable to get a stable run with seven different PSUs, including several from the manufacturer in question. Not a single PSU had less than 850W of power and a price of less than 180 EUR.

The machine was consisted out of C2QX6700, 4GB DDR2-800 RAM, several Universal Audio cards, nVidia GeForce 9600GSO and four WD Black 500GB drives in RAID5 array. Simple, right? Well, it wasn’t. The problem was the 3.3/5V rail that didn’t give out enough juice for the hard drives. Who’d knew that OCZ’s previous PSU, the 1kW version – won’t be enough for the system? At the end, Thermaltake’s 900W offered enough juice on the 3.3V/5V to power the SATA drives.

But just like you should never load a hard drive below 15% free space, there is unfortunately, no way that you can get stable long-run operation with a 1000W power draw. You’re free to call us conservative, but when a 700W-pulling system works for two years with two OCZ PP&C CrossFire 750W PSUs, we call that a success. When a 720W power drawing system causes OCZ’s PP&C 860 ESA PSU to go kaboom, then we do not call it a success.

PSUs from various manufacturers, including the manufacturer and the brand mentioned here, we will not put a conclusion on capabilities of a device from a press release, that coming from Airbus SAS, Ferrari, Virgin Galactic or Intel, AMD, and ultimately, the company in question. We’ve worked with OCZ for years, and these guys are capable of producing some truly brilliant products, but seeing is believing. When this PSU comes to our lab and performs stable under dynamic 1kW load, we’ll say – nice.