I recently got a new GPU for my HTPC which required a replacement power supply as the old one wasn’t suitable for powering a GPU with an 8 pin PCIe power cable. The HTPC is in use for an average of around 6 hours per day and with electricity at 15p/kWh any reduction in power at the wall works out at 33p a year per Watt. This isn’t a big saving, but if consumption is reduced by several watts the saving can add up.
Regular “80 plus” (aka 80 plus white) PSUs are typically available for around £30 with the cheapest 80 plus gold PSUs starting at £50. Whilst the choice to go with a gold rated PSU isn’t exclusively financial, the potential saving is worth considering. It is also worth considering that a gold PSU that is less wasteful will generate less heat which will mean less fan noise is needed which is also important in a HTPC. There are higher ratings available (Titanium and Platinum) but those products are prohibitively expensive, and also don’t tend to be available on lower power units. A typical HTPC doesn’t need anything like 800W+ and as the 80 plus ratings only allow lower efficiency at the extremes of the operating range an 80plus platinum 800W unit at 100W draw may actually be less efficient than a 400W gold unit.
Assuming an average power consumption of around 120W and a 400W power supply at 230V a gold rated unit would have to achieve at least 90% efficiency, whereas an 80plus white unit would have to achieve 82%. At these values the white-rated unit will consume just over 146W at the wall, whilst the gold unit will consume just over 133W, a saving of 13W, or £4 per year. At this rate the gold-rated unit will pay for itself within 5 years. It will also pay for itself faster if the PC is used more often, or the PC pulls more power, or if electricity prices go up. Any PSU with a 5 year warranty would appear to be a good investment on financial grounds alone, and even more so when lower noise is taken into account.
In terms of finding a reasonably price gold-rated unit, in the past I bought a 300W “HuntKey Jumper” but this is no longer available. Several retailers do have the Seasonic 350w GT on sale for around £50. Whilst the specifications don’t mention it the pictures clearly show a 6+2 pin PCIe power connector as well as a 4+4 pin CPU power connector which make it suitable for all current hardware.
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