Disclaimer: Aris Mpitziopoulos is Tom’s Hardware’s PSU reviewer. He developed the Cybeneticscertification methodologies 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.
For over a decade, the 80 PLUS program played alone in the PSU certifications field. That changed when Cybenetics revealed the ETA and LAMBDA programs to introduce new PSU efficiency and noise certification standards. Cybenetics has certified close to 80 PSUs in the short time since, and the company recently devised a certification that aims to reveal the units most suitable for powering cryptocurrency mining systems.
Ethereum and Zcash have made crypto-mining popular again, and many people are using their systems to mine those “coins.” Even highly specialized (and super expensive) ASICs use normal desktop or server PSUs, so it’s important to pick the right one, given that a mining rig will put a heavy burden on the PSU. The unit’s output noise isn’t the first priority, naturally, so efficiency and reliability come first. On top of that, given that the PSU will have to operate at very high loads for very long periods, the cooling fan must rotate at high speeds to remove heat from inside the unit and prolong the of sensitive-to-heat components like electrolytic caps.
Cybenetics clearly states that the purpose of its mining-ready certification isn’t to torture test the candidate PSUs. Besides being practically impossible for a large number of units, this can also deliver inaccurate results, because the conditions cannot remain stable for all samples for such prolonged test periods. After all, during the ETA certification, which is essential for a mining-ready unit, the sample is highly stressed under very high operating temperatures and with loads that exceed its nominal capacity. Moreover, all protections are evualated in every ETA certification, although this is not currently depicted on the PSU’s evaluation report.
All candidate units for the Cybenetics Mining Ready certification will be fully broken apart and closely examined to see if they are equipped with the components required to survive highly stressful conditions in the long term. For example, a PSU with a bulk cap rated at 85°C will have a significantly shorter lifetime compared to a PSU with a 105°C rated bulk cap under hard operating conditions. The same applies to the filtering capacitors on the secondary side. A PSU that uses low quality filtering capacitors with 1-3,000 hours lifetime under 105°C won’t last as long as a PSU that uses 6-10,000 hours caps rated at the same temperature. Another important factor is the cooling fan, because if the fan breaks down the PSU will most likely follow immediately, especially if it doesn’t have over temperature protection.
In order for Cybenetics to provide a Mining Ready certification, the PSU needs to meet the requirements listed below.
- 750W or higher capacity.
- ETA-B and higher efficiency certification.
- Lower than 50mV ripple at +12V under full load at increased operating temperatures (>45°C).
- Quality Fan (sleeve-bearing and rifle-bearing fans are automatically excluded).
- Two EPS connectors.
- At least four 6+2 pin PCIe connectors on dedicated cables. In case a cable hosts two PCIe connectors, it needs to have 16AWG gauges up to the first connector for the six out of the eight pins at least. For PSUs with over 1kW capacity the number of minimum PCIe connectors is eight and for PSUs with over 1.4kW capacity the minimum is ten.
- At least four 4-pin Molex connectors on more than two cables in 1kW and stronger PSUs and six 4-pin Molex connectors in three cables for 1.4kW and higher wattage PSUs.
- All peripheral cables should use 18AWG wires minimum.
- AC power cord with up to 14AWG wires and C19 coupler for 1.4kW and stronger PSUs. For all the rest 16AWG is required.
- The essential protection features (SCP, OPP), including Over Temperature Protection.
- Over 18ms hold-up time and an accurate power OK signal.
- Complete EMI filtering stage (minimum components: 4x Y caps, 2x X caps, two CM chokes, an MOV) along with inrush current protection (thermistor and bypass relay).
- Impeccable build quality including quality MOSFETs and high quality bulk and filtering capacitors (105°C and the majority of filtering caps on the secondary side much have higher than 4,000 hours lifetime). The extended use of polymer caps on the secondary side is preferred.