Can We Trust the 80 Plus Certification?

Rebranded Power Supplies Aren’t Retested

While there are several PC power supply brands on the market, there are only a few real manufacturers (also known as OEM, Original Equipment Manufacturer). Companies willing to have their own line of power supplies may use several different paths to achieve that. The most expensive way is to hire the OEM to manufacture an exclusive product, a power supply model that no other brand will have access to. And the most inexpensive way is to get a stock power supply from the OEM and simply add a different label and box, and this power supply may be sold by the OEM to other companies as well (and we end up with two or more identical power supplies being sold by different companies). This last option is what we are calling a “rebranded” power supply.

Ecos Consulting offers a big discount when a company wants to get an 80 Plus certification for a rebranded power supply (instead of paying full price, they pay only 20% of the cost). They can reduce the price so much because they simply don’t test the new power supply. Since the power supply submitted for certification is a clone of another power supply already tested, and since identical power supplies will get the same results, Ecos Consulting simply doesn’t retest rebranded power supplies. So the discounted certification fee is in fact a fee for allowing the company to use the 80 Plus logo on the product and associated promotional material, and to generate a “new” test report that is an identical copy of the report of the original power supply, changing the product and company names, and adding a picture of the rebranded power supply.

For a real example, consider the High Power HP-600-G14S, which is the original model for the OCZ ModXStream Pro 600 W, NesteQ E2CS X-Strike (XS-600), Xilence XP600, Suza TD-6002A, and GPPower Target Power TP-600. By clicking on these links you will see that all these reports are identical, as all these power supplies are identical.

One trick Ecos Consulting explained us lies in the “ECOS ID #” field of the report. You will note that all these six reports use the same ID number (636). The reports that have a “.1” after this number indicate a clone power supply, while the number without this marking indicates the original power supply. This is, in fact, a powerful trick to discover the real manufacturer of a power supply and all power supplies that are “clone” of a given unit.

According to Ecos Consulting, this is done in order to keep the 80 Plus certification costs low, allowing more companies to get the 80 Plus certification. Also, the OEM most deliver an affidavit saying that both power supplies are internally identical, and the clone power supply must be sold with the same wattage as the original power supply. Of course this procedure immediately raises the eyebrows of people that like a good conspiracy theory, as some people think that brands can fool Ecos Consulting by sending power supplies that are not identical to the model they are claiming to be the original one. We really don’t know if this happens or not, but we think it is very unlikely, since they have to sign the affidavit, which is more than enough for a massive law suit.

Because cloned units are not actually tested, some brands think that, just because they got a unit that is a clone of another power supply with 80 Plus certification, they can use the 80 Plus logo on the power supply and related promotional material for free. This is not the case. Even though the rebranded power supply isn’t actually tested, a licensing fee must be paid to Ecos Consulting (and the affidavit delivered) in order to allow the company to legally use the 80 Plus logo. We’ve seen several power supplies on the market using illegal 80 Plus logo and claims, as we exposed in our Power Supplies with Fake 80 Plus Badges tutorial.

Author: Gabriel Torres

Gabriel Torres is a Brazilian best-selling ICT expert, with 24 books published. He started his online career in 1996, when he launched Clube do Hardware, which is one of the oldest and largest websites about technology in Brazil. He created Hardware Secrets in 1999 to expand his knowledge outside his home country.

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