Power supplies give those massive video cards, over clocked processors, and copious amounts of RAM in your system the life-juice they need to run. All that power routing through your system is handled by the PSU first, and like all electronics there is the question of its efficiency.
The 80 PLUS Certification system is a protocol for testing electronics’ efficiency under load. Those which maintain at least 80% efficiency at 20%, 50%, and 100% load qualify for the base 80 PLUS certification, with Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum ratings for those which preform even better. So a 600 watt power supply running at 50% efficiency at full load would draw 1200 watts, the extra being burned off as heat energy. One running at 80% efficiency would draw only 750w, meaning much lower power usage for your PC, so you can see why this would be important.
Normally higher end ratings such as 80 PLUS Gold or Platinum are saved for larger power supplies, such as those in excess of 750w. But Antec’s new EarthWatts Platinum series brings 80 PLUS Platinum certification to a lower-wattage range of PSUs. The EarthWatts Platinum series is currently available in 450w, 550w, and 650w versions for more mild gaming rigs (though a 650W could easily handle a high end single-GPU system).
This is good for your wallet because higher efficiency means a lower electrical bill for you, and less resource usage for mother earth. Unfortunately, even the difference from the lowest 80 PLUS Certification to the highest is only a 10% efficiency increase, so dont expect a massive savings. Also, unfortunately, Antec choose not to make the power supplies module, something which shouldn’t even be allowed these days.
The EarthWatts Platinum series of PSUs are “available in the US on Newegg, Central Computers, Buy.com, and Provantage and in Canada on NCIX and Canada Computers.” Like most computer components, it can be had from NewEgg.com for a few dollars under the MSRP.