Disclaimer: Aris Mpitziopoulos is Tom's Hardware's PSU reviewer. He developed the certification methodologies described below apart from his role on Tom's Hardware. He is the Chief Testing Engineer of Cybenetics. Neither Tom's Hardware nor its parent company, Purch Media, are financially involved with Cybenetics. Aris does not perform the actual certifications for Cybenetics.
Without a doubt, the de facto certification program for PSUs these days is 80 PLUS. Although it managed to make the majority of users (and companies) realize the importance of efficiency in power supply units (PSUs), it's still far from perfect, as we pointed out in this article.
In a nutshell, the major downsides of the 80 PLUS program are the following:
- Limited number of measurements
- Very low ambient temperature during testing
- No vampire power and 5VSB measurements
- No control over fake efficiency badges
- No mention of the equipment used
- No control over the samples that are certified and the ones that are finally released
All of the above must be addressed, and indeed we can't help but wonder why nobody else has tried to offer something different and actually make it work, especially considering the 80 PLUS' dominance in the PSU field. It's certainly not ideal to have a single company dealing with PSU efficiency, because there's absolutely no competition, and in a way, one company controls the whole market.
Cybenetics was formed with one purpose in mind: to introduce new efficiency and noise certification standards for PSUs.
As compared to the currently available program, the voluntary certification program offered by Cybenetics aims to add greater accuracy to efficiency testing, address all above issues, and at the same time provide an authentic verification of the PSU’s operational noise level. Cybenetics also offers PSU beta testing and evaluation reports that can lead to significant time and money savings in the process of increasing the quality and the performance of the tested products. It is common knowledge to any engineer (experienced or not) that you cannot make a perfect product, especially a PSU where so many things can go sideways, without a serious amount of beta testing before it goes on mass production.
The Cybenetics test procedure has been developed through many years of PSU evaluation experience.The methodologies in place have been forged after numerous hours of testing and experimentation to obtain accuracy and reliability. Finally, the equipment that the company uses is state-of-the-art and it is clearly shown in every evaluation report, as anyone would expect from a proper report.
|ETA Level||AVG Efficiency||PF||5VSB Efficiency||Vampire Power|
|A+||94% to 97%||>=0.985||>79%||<0.10W|
|A||91% to 94%||>=0.98||>77%||<0.15W|
|B||98% to 91%||>=0.97||>75%||<0.20W|
|C||85% to 88%||>=0.96||>73%||<0.23W|
|D||82% to 88%||>=0.95||>71%||<0.25W|
Cybenetics introduces a new efficiency rating called ETA, after the Greek letter “Η,” which is based on a sophisticated methodology that takes into account numerous factors. Contrary to 80 PLUS that tests at only three or four different load points, the ETA program incorporates load combinations using a unique, custom-made application to account for the efficiency results of thousands of different load combinations, through a proprietary application. This process allows Cybenetics to use a single value rating to represent the PSU’s true overall efficiency. Moreover, and very importantly, Power Factor, Vampire Power, and the +5VSB rail’s efficiency are also taken into consideration in the final rating.
|5VSB Power Consumption||System AC Wall Power Consumption||Efficiency|
|<=0.225W||< 0.5W to meet 2013 ErP Lot 6 requirement (100V~240V)||>45%|
|<=0.45W||< 1W to meet 2010 ErP Lot 6 requirement (100V~240V)||>45%|
|<=2.75W||< 5W to meet 2014 ErP Lot 3 requirement (100V~240V)||>55%|
All tested PSUs must be compliant with the ErP Lot 6 2010/2013 and ErP lot 3 2014 directives and also meet all requirements mentioned in the (EU) No 617/2013 regulation:
- 85% efficiency at 50% of rated output power
- 82% efficiency at 20% and 100% of rated output power
- Power Factor = 0.9 at 100% of rated output power
|A++||< 20 dB(A)|
|A+||20 dB(A) to 25 dB(A)|
|A||25 dB(A) to 30 dB(A)|
|B||30 dB(A) to 35 dB(A)|
|C||35 dB(A) to 40 dB(A)|
|D||40 dB(A) to 45 dB(A)|
|E||> 45 dB(A)|
Cybenetics also provides a noise certification called LAMBDA. Utilizing an advanced methodology and a highly sophisticated controlling/monitoring program, the power supply’s noise readings are recorded throughout its entire operational range. Those readings are subsequently converted to sound pressure levels (SPL), averaged, and converted back to dB(A) again. At this time, to the best of our knowledge, there is no such noise certification program available for IT products. Our purpose in the future is to expand this program to other hardware components, as well.
The ETA certification comprises five levels (A+, A, B, C, and D), whereas LAMBDA consists of seven levels (A++, A+, A, B, C, D, and E). Each manufacturer or brand can choose to use either the corresponding certification badges depicting the level alone, or a more comprehensive badge that includes the actual overall efficiency or noise rating. In addition, each badge will be tied to the specific product through a short-URL and a QR code, which will be printed on the badge. This will allow users to easily find a PSU’s evaluation report certified by Cybenetics.
In addition to the normal test results, the evaluation reports also include a number of other test results (eg, efficiency and load regulation at 10%-110% load, ripple performance, hold-up time, etc.), which will provide useful information not only to everyday users but also to experts and PSU reviewers who do not have the proper equipment and software to apply our methodology. For both certification programs, 115VAC are mainly used; however, the ETA program also includes a number of tests using 230 VAC to check compliance with various EU regulations.
You can find more information about Cybenetics and the ETA and LAMBDA certification programs, at www.cybenetics.com. Within a three month period, close to 40 PSU models from various brands have been certified and listed in Cybenetics’ database, which also includes a graphic charts option (per manufacturer).
Tom's Hardware utilizes Cybenetics' fully equipped lab for all PSU reviews, and the test methodology is also compatible with the ETA and LAMBDA programs.