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New PSU emits sustained crackling during intensive graphics.

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Last response: in Components
May 6, 2014 7:19:55 PM

Any thoughts on what I should do about this?

I just built a new computer.

My new PSU (Corsair HX850) emits a sustained electrical crackling sound, much like frying meat on a skillet, whenever my graphics card (GTX 780 ti) is rendering something graphically intensive.

I've tried a PSU from my older computer that is lower wattage, and somewhat iffy, in this new computer, and the old PSU is much quieter.

The new PSU is still under the 30 day return window.

2 clips of crackling sounds from the new PSU:
Crackling starts at 5 sec in on both clips.
The mic is about an inch from the back of the PSU.

Spectrograms of the two recordings.
(Please let me know if the images are too large. I can replace them with Imgur links.)

Long clip:

Short clip:

OS: Win 7 - x64 Pro (SP1)
CPU: i7 4930K - Intel Ivy Bridge
Mobo: x97 deluxe - ASUS
Mem: 16 GB DDR3
PSU: Corsair HX850 (850 W)
Gfx: GTX 780 ti - Gigabyte (needs 600 W)

More details:
The PSU seems to sound normal as long as I'm NOT running a graphically intense program.

Having only just built the computer, the main graphically intensive things I've tried out include Arma 3, and nVidia's "A New Dawn" demo. Both run very smoothly. Arma 3 runs just fine with all settings maxed and render distance set to insane.

The sounds starts and stops at exactly the same time I un-pause and pause the rendering in Arma 3.

I'm kind of familiar with coil whine, and this sounds much louder and more like high frequency electrical arcing. Also unlike coil whine, when looking around in-game at places that require more or less work by the graphics card (e.g. Horizon vs Ground), the sound characteristics of the crackling do not seem to change very much, if at all.

What I've tried:
I tried plugging the computer into 4 different electrical outlets, from multiple rooms, which I think are on separate breakers, though I'm not sure.
Result: No change.

I've tried disconnecting the gfx card from the two dedicated PCIe cables, and instead connecting it to the PSU using two of the modular cables that plug into the extra PCIe sockets in the back of the PSU.
Result: Almost no change, but the crackling sounded very slightly more metallic.

I tried swapping my current PSU (850 W) out, and installing the PSU from my older computer (750 W).
Result: There is a very faint buzzing/crackling sound, but much sparser, coming from the old PSU, and much more in line with a normal noise level for a PSU.

With the old PSU, I tried plugging the computer into 2 different electrical outlets.
Result: Same very faint buzzing/crackling sound, coming from the old PSU, regardless of the electrical outlet.

My old PSU:
I was a bit reluctant to try my old PSU in the new computer because my last computer died after some strange behavior, and I wasn't entirely sure if the old PSU had been involved.

My old PSU did make a crackling noise from time to time in my old computer, occasionally starting up and lasting for hours before disappearing. I don't remember the sound correlating with use of the gfx card, but I wasn't looking for it at the time, so who knows.

When I started hearing the sound in my old computer, I thought it might be a loose wire or something that would start clipping the fan from time to time. Though I could never find any such wire when I inspected it.

I'd never heard that sound come from any other PSU, and it sounded metallic, so I assumed it was some kind of physical rattling. I now strongly suspect that the sound my old PSU was making was a tamer version of the same crackling I'm hearing from the new PSU. That's why I tried the different electrical outlets that I mentioned earlier, as I was worried that if both PSUs seemed to have made that sound, then it might be an electrical outlet wiring issue.

Final thoughts:
* Firstly, if you made it this far, thanks for reading/listening all the way through this post. Or at least skimming it. :) 

* Is this normal or even safe for an 850 W PSU?

* If I return it, given the build I described earlier, does anyone have a recommendation for a replacement?

* Should I be regular scared or super scared?

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Best solution

a c 5956 ) Power supply
May 6, 2014 7:26:18 PM

I would quit running that power supply , before something goes really wrong , that's not normal for a high quality supply.
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a b ) Power supply
May 6, 2014 7:34:34 PM

I second SRs opinion. Though you could try RMAing it if you wanted. The noise reminds me of when a piece of hair gets stuck in a powerful fan motor more so than electrical arcing but send it back / RMA / refund /etc just don't trust/use that PSU anymore than absolutely necessary.
May 6, 2014 7:37:30 PM

Wow that was fast. :D 

One might even guess faster than mach 3.

Thanks for the reply good SR. :) 

Wow, mouse24 you beat me to the reply. :) 
Thanks for the input.

Yeah, I was thinking that things were not as they should be.

It's hard to hear in the recording but it sounds much more electrical and almost wet, as weird as that is to say, in person.
a c 5956 ) Power supply
May 6, 2014 7:38:26 PM

Shut your system down till you get a new supply just to be safe.
May 6, 2014 7:44:27 PM

Good advice, thanks.

I'll lockheed your warning.
a c 5956 ) Power supply
May 7, 2014 5:55:04 PM

Love the humor LOL