Efficiency, Differential Temperature and NoiseEfficiency
The overall efficiency of a power supply is very important. The less waste heat generated the better! Efficiency is defined by the power output divided by the power input and is usually expressed as a percentage. If a PSU were a 100% efficient (which none are) 900 watts of AC power going in would result in 900 watts of DC power coming out (with no waste heat to dissipate). In the real world there are always inefficiencies and power is lost in the form of heat during the conversion process.
Newer revisions to the ATX12V Power Supply Design Guide V 2.2 have continued to increase the efficiency recommendations for PC switching mode power supplies and now lists both required and recommended minimum efficiencies.
I measured the AC power input to the Antec HCG-900 PSU with the Extech power analyzer while the total DC load was found by adding all the individual +3.3V, +5V, +12V, -12V and +5VSB loads together.
The overall efficiency of the Antec HCG-900 power supply is very good for an 80 Plus Bronze certified PSU. The efficiency appears to peak around 400W and remains consistently above 82% throughout most of the curve (≥20% load). The only area where our test sample appeared to struggle a little was at 100% load while operating on 115 VAC at elevated temperatures. Our tests are conducted under simulated real world operating conditions, which include operating temperatures well above the 25°C that the 80Plus Organization uses for their testing. Higher operating temperatures typically result in lower efficiency so this is normal and expected.
80 Plus Program
There is a growing awareness among users, PC manufacturers and electric utilities regarding the money and natural resources that could be saved by adopting higher efficiency PC power supplies. One group that is spearheading this movement is the 80 Plus Program, which is supported by the electric utilities industry. You can learn more about their efforts to promote power supplies with better than 80% efficiency by visiting the 80 Plus Program website.
Note 1: Power Factor ≥0.90 (50% to 100% Load)
Note 2: Tests conducted at room temperature (25°C)
Spending a little more money up front to purchase a high efficiency power supply may very well pay for itself over the lifetime of the PC, especially when you are using this much power… 🙂
Differential Temperature and Noise Levels
To simulate real world operation the Antec HCG-900 power supply was mounted in a modified mid tower case during testing. Some of the warm exhaust air from the PSU under test is recirculated back into the case, which allows the internal case air temperature to increase with load, just like it would in a real PC.
The differential temperature across the power supply was calculated by subtracting the internal case air temperature (T in) from the temperature of the warm exhaust air flowing out the back of the power supply (T out).
Thermocouples were placed at the air inlet and exhaust outlet. The ambient room air temperature was 23ºC (74ºF) +/- 0.5ºC during testing.
T out = temperature of air exhausting from power supply
T in = temperature of air entering power supply
Delta T = T out – T in
Sound pressure level readings were taken 3’ away from the rear of the case in an otherwise quiet room. The ambient noise level was ~28 dBA.
Below 450W output and 30°C inlet air temperature, the HCG is very quiet but as the load increases, the cooling fan speeds up to where it becomes noticeable at the higher loads.
Note: I was not able to take SPL readings at full load due to all the programmable DC load cooling fans running.