Cybenetics Offers New PSU Efficiency Certification

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Onus

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This is a very nice, positive step forward. The only thing "missing," which would be impractical if not impossible to add, are scores related to durability; a PSU could still test very well, but due to inferior capacitors, "wear out" under real-world conditions in six months.
This program, if adopted by enough people, could essentially do away with the PSU-shaped objects now on the market, exposing them as the junk they are.
 

grimfox

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I agree ONUS but it's hard for any agency to run long term reliability testing. It falls into that "Cost prohibitive" category. The other item that neither body addresses is the golden sample issue. Ideally a tech news agency like Tom's or a collective of reporting agencies would get together and run a involuntary rating program that could do long term testing and pull from the market rather than relying on the manufacturers to provide them samples which could be hand picked.
 
Overall, I like the sound of this, though there are a couple things I could see as being potential issues that might discourage widespread adoption. One would be that using an A, B, C, D, E type scale brings with it people's view of other things using that scale. In most school systems, an E would be considered a failure, and a D would be close to failure. A company might not want to put a badge on their product that carries with it the connotation that it isn't up to standards.

What the ETA scoring system might imply as being a "near failure", the 80 Plus system might consider as having a "bronze" certification or better. People think of "bronze" as a good thing. In the Olympics, getting a bronze medal means you're the third-best in the world. Everyone on the podium is a "winner", and likewise all certification levels in the 80 Plus program sound like awards, that you would want to have on your box. The same can't be said for all the certifications in the ETA program, despite them being more meaningful. Even though a manufacturer might score an "ETA D" on their product, they might stick with only advertising the "80 Plus Bronze" rating they got from the other certification company, despite the ETA rating technically being "better".

Also, the Lambda ratings are a great addition, and it would be nice to see them used on other products, but I feel the badges look much too similar to those for the ETA ratings, which could lead to some confusion. You can't tell at a glance whether a badge is advertising the product's efficiency, or its sound level. The word "ETA" or "LAMBDA" is only meaningful to someone already familiar with the rating systems, and the tiny power plug or sound wave icon is so small that it's practically unnoticeable. Having a tag like "EFFICIENCY" or "SOUND LEVEL" printed directly below the existing badge design might help to avoid some confusion.

I do think the rating system sounds great though, and providing a URL to a detailed database entry with informative graphs is a nice touch.
 

bit_user

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I'm just curious about the name. It's not something I'd associate with PSUs, at all. Is Cybernetics trying to anticipate the day they eventually certify cybernetic implants?
 

turkey3_scratch

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That would be a really bad idea in my opinion because it'd be based on subjective stuff. You can't discriminate by brand, and also you can't just look at capacitors and predict when the thing is going to die. In the majority of power supplies the fan will die before the capacitors, and the environment in which the caps are in is just as important if not more than the type of capacitor itself (and their placement in the unit and the temps in certain regions on the inside). There are just way too many factors for this to be a viable option. Any rating system has to stick with measurable stuff, because a single PSU reviewer can only look at the macro or big picture of a power supply but on the inside there is so much stuff with engineers and design that can affect the lifespan.



All great points. I have thought of your first one before, and I agree. Companies may be happy with a "Bronze" PSU or 80+. but I can't see any company putting D or E or even C on their PSU.
 

bit_user

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So, they won't.

Anyway, I was thinking about the Lambda rating. I'd expect & accept more noise from higher-powered PSU, particularly at higher load levels. It'd be nice if the noise scale were somehow indexed to account for this.
 

My first impression was that the C might be a bit iffy as well, but once I got down to the badge diagrams, I felt the designs looked "positive" enough, like medals, that the C rating didn't carry with it much of a negative connotation. It's possible to think of C as an "average" or "meets requirements" rating. The D still makes me kind of cringe though, as something rated D typically doesn't meet expectations. Considering that the PSUs that only managed ETA C ratings are all "80 Plus Gold" certified so far, I imagine there will be plenty of "Gold" and "Silver" PSUs in the ETA D bracket. And while, sure, they don't have to use the rating if they don't want, that would be unfortunate, since the rating is technically still something that's good, and it should arguably be considered as a selling-point if a PSU makes the list at all, seeing as it's more exclusive than the 80 Plus program.

I think that simply renaming a few of the brackets would help, if such an option were still possible at this point. A and A+ could remain as they are, B could become B+, C could become B, and D could become C+. So, you would have something like C+, B, B+, A, A+. And maybe even one more 80-82% efficiency tier could be added as a C, to be a sort of stricter counterpart to the original 80+ rating. Or just leave the + off the 82-85% tier, and call it ETA C. Either way, this would do away with any ratings that might be perceived as being "bad". Rather, not making the list at all should be seen as bad, to encourage PSU manufacturers to take part in the program, and perhaps make the rating as much of a standard as 80 Plus is today.
 

Virtual_Singularity

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Great article, excellent points regarding the overdue implementation of neglected areas in PSU testing methodology. I wish Cybenetics the very best & hope to see their voluntary certification program soon become as ubiquitous as 80 Plus's. The initiative to offer a more comprehensive certification program to help consumers make better decisions, & potentially help manufacturers develop better products to bring to market, is a meaningful step forward. Kudos to Cybenetics.
 

Xyne__

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I'd like to have better certificate, but one average value across all load levels makes it worse. Modern PC builds have typically 3 modes of operation: idle, light (office, browse, music) and high (games). So the idea of 80plus with 20, 50 and 100% is only outdated but not wrong. Since modern PCs have far higher extremes and a lot of headroom on top, idle is more around 15-30W aka 2-5% load and high is more like 70% on a typical PSU.

So I would propose making a certificate around those 3 ranges, giving an average value for 0-15%, 30-50% and 70-100%
 


I just thought I'd add that the company is called Cybenetics, not cybernetics. It's like cybernetics spelled wrong. You can tell the 'r' got knocked out of there, because the 'e' is crooked. : D
 

Xyne__

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Far too many tiers, make a certificate with 2 tiers: a 'good' PSU and a 'excellent' PSU (name it ETA and ETA+), this way a badge really means something for the users and you can always add better tiers in the future.

Imagine a PSU for a modern PC: like 25W Idle, 60W desktop and 400W gaming load (even 175W GPU-Boards spike up to 300W alone).
So a 'good' PSU would be 500W with eff >90% and noise <40db at all those levels. 'excellent' would be eff >95% and noise <30db.
Users don't care about the average, when idle it should be efficient because at those levels the PSU is the major single power consumer and at full gaming load it should be quiet. All other things should be reasonable good enough like PFC >0.97, vampire power <0.2W. Since modern PC builds don't use 3.3V and 5V rails any more those should be tested for leaking power when no load applied, but omitted in eff testing.
 

To be fair, their badges do provide links to a report listing more detailed information, including a nice graph that depicts efficiency at any possible load-level within the PSU's capacity, so you can get a good view of what the efficiency would be like in a system at idle, or under various levels of load. Providing separate numbers for various load levels might make the results a bit less straightforward to interpret at a glance, and if someone wants more details, they can find more in the report anyway.

Another problem with using ranges like you suggested, is that those ranges would vary depending on the max wattage of the PSU. That 0-15% range would only cover 0-45 watts on a 300 watt PSU, but it would cover 0-180 watts on a 1200 watt PSU. There also tends to be a large drop in efficiency at low loads, so the efficiency at 5% will likely be very different from the efficiency at 10%, so a result covering such a range might still be of limited usefulness. And there probably wouldn't be as significant of a difference between 30-50% load and 70-100% load in most cases, so the single average would likely cover those well enough.

In any case, a PSU manufacturer looking to increase its standing in this system might be encouraged to ensure the best efficiency possible at all ranges, to prevent certain ranges from bringing down their average. Under 80 Plus, on the other hand, the manufacturer doesn't need to care much about efficiency at idle wattage levels, since they don't directly impact their standing in any way.

I do agree that perhaps more weight could be added to how much idle efficiency affects the overall score though. The higher capacity a PSU is, the less that idle wattage range matters for its score, since it makes up a lower percentage of its total capacity. As an example, in the database, one 1500 watt PSU is rated "ETA A" despite it only offering 70-75% efficiency at 50 watts. Another 650 watt "ETA A" PSU, on the other hand, offers around 90% efficiency at 50 watts. Considering that most home systems and workstations are likely to spend much of their time around that load level, it does seem like that range should have more weight in determining a PSU's overall score. Perhaps there could be a requirement to maintain certain average efficiency levels within a typical "idle" wattage range, such as 25-75 watts, or maybe 0-100 watts, for example. That could better represent the kind of efficiency one might expect while using their computer for more common tasks, like office apps, web browsing, watching video and so on, or when just leaving the computer idling between uses.
 
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