Something is killing my power supplies

Archived from groups: alt.comp.hardware.pc-homebuilt (More info?)

I wonder if anyone can give me some tips to help trace a problem I am
having.

I recently upgraded my self-built system by changing the motherboard,
memory and video card. I had previously upgraded the hard drive and
various other bits and pieces.

At first everything worked fine, but after a couple of weeks the
entire system died. Checks revealed that the PSU had died. I carefully
checked everything in the system for short circuits, bad connections,
etc, etc, but all was fine. The computer shop I used suggested that
the new components had possibly placed too much demand on an old and
low-powered PSU.

I then bought a good quality 400W PSU, checked everything out, and it
all worked without any problems. I reassembled the system, and it
still worked without any problems.

After about two months, I left the computer running overnight going
through various utilities. By morning... dead again.

I am baffled by this. If it was a short circuit, the PSU would have
died immediately (wouldn't it???).

I don't think the problem lies with the HDD, CD-ROM, modem, etc, as
these all worked fine with the old motherboard for a long time.

So the culprit must be (I assume):

- the motherboard
- the PSU
- the new video card
- the memory

Does anyone have any ideas about what sort of problem would cause a
power supply to blow after two months of trouble free operation? I
don't want this problem to recur, and I don't particularly want to
have to replace all the components, either.

Any suggestions either as to the cause of the problem, or as to how I
might try and track it down would be appreciated.

Many thanks.

Graham D
11 answers Last reply
More about something killing power supplies
  1. Archived from groups: alt.comp.hardware.pc-homebuilt (More info?)

    Have you considered voltage spikes from your house supply? Try one of
    those spike protector gizmos.
    Cheers
    Al
  2. Archived from groups: alt.comp.hardware.pc-homebuilt (More info?)

    "Graham D" <gsd25@hotmail.com> wrote in message
    news:e4844492.0405090645.4a99c4c6@posting.google.com...
    > I wonder if anyone can give me some tips to help trace a problem I am
    > having.
    >
    > I recently upgraded my self-built system by changing the motherboard,
    > memory and video card. I had previously upgraded the hard drive and
    > various other bits and pieces.
    >
    > At first everything worked fine, but after a couple of weeks the
    > entire system died. Checks revealed that the PSU had died. I carefully
    > checked everything in the system for short circuits, bad connections,
    > etc, etc, but all was fine. The computer shop I used suggested that
    > the new components had possibly placed too much demand on an old and
    > low-powered PSU.
    >
    > I then bought a good quality 400W PSU, checked everything out, and it
    > all worked without any problems. I reassembled the system, and it
    > still worked without any problems.
    >
    > After about two months, I left the computer running overnight going
    > through various utilities. By morning... dead again.
    >
    > I am baffled by this. If it was a short circuit, the PSU would have
    > died immediately (wouldn't it???).
    >
    > I don't think the problem lies with the HDD, CD-ROM, modem, etc, as
    > these all worked fine with the old motherboard for a long time.
    >
    > So the culprit must be (I assume):
    >
    > - the motherboard
    > - the PSU
    > - the new video card
    > - the memory
    >
    > Does anyone have any ideas about what sort of problem would cause a
    > power supply to blow after two months of trouble free operation? I
    > don't want this problem to recur, and I don't particularly want to
    > have to replace all the components, either.
    >
    > Any suggestions either as to the cause of the problem, or as to how I
    > might try and track it down would be appreciated.
    >
    > Many thanks.
    >
    > Graham D

    What is the "good quality PSU" that you replaced the original with? For that
    matter, what was the original? My first instinct is that the replacement
    simply died a natural death in that it ran for "about two months" but I
    guess there could be other reasons. For example you say that you "left the
    computer running overnight" explaining when the problem occurred but my
    question would be "is this the only time that it has run overnight?". I
    suppose that there could be some hideous things going on with your mains
    power that is striking only when the system is switched on in the early
    morning hours although I'd expect other electrical equipment to show
    problems if this were the case.

    Typically if some component in the system was malfunctioning badly enough to
    destroy a PSU there would be telltale signs like exploding obviously flamed
    out components and nasty smells left behind so I seriously doubt that some
    component like your memory is at fault. A possibility is that the mounting
    points on your MB could be mislocated and be shorting out under odd
    circumstances but this seems less likely because such a short is usually
    pretty obvious since it can commonly be provoked by simply pressing on and
    flexing the MB while the system is powered up.

    In your situation I'd simply buy a new power supply from a top-line
    manufacturer and go on as if nothing had happened. There are some relevant
    PSU reviews at http://www6.tomshardware.com/howto/20040122/index.html .
    Their tests reveal that there is a vast span of quality and rating honesty
    among the main manufacturers.
    --
    John McGaw
    [Knoxville, TN, USA]
    http://johnmcgaw.com
  3. Archived from groups: alt.comp.hardware.pc-homebuilt (More info?)

    OK, one old power supply died (common), and then one newish one died. (not
    so common, but not unheard of)

    I think you're just having bad luck. I don't think there is anything about
    your hardware that is killing power supplies. Try a Seasonic or Fortron
    brand power supply next. If THAT dies in a few months, I might change my
    mind. But right now, I think two power supplies dead in a few months is
    just bad luck. -Dave
  4. Archived from groups: alt.comp.hardware.pc-homebuilt (More info?)

    "AlanW" <awoods@postmaster.co.uk> wrote in message
    news:4c3b0a7.0405090925.753479f8@posting.google.com...
    > Have you considered voltage spikes from your house supply? Try
    one of
    > those spike protector gizmos.
    > Cheers
    > Al

    Screw that idea; most of them are only good for "one hit" .

    Go with a good UPS (Uninteruptable Power Supply)

    I don't put a machine online without it in this house . I work for a
    power utiliity--- not the one who supplies my 'juice' at home
    unfortunately ....

    I've got 4 of them; adding a couple more. It's cheap for me; I'm a
    tech and know where to buy good batteries cheap.
  5. Archived from groups: alt.comp.hardware.pc-homebuilt (More info?)

    Many so-called "400 watt" power supplies that are not high quality brands
    put out no where near 400 watts into real world loads. You didn't describe
    what components you have hooked up to the power supply in your computer,
    but its possible that you are still straining the power supply and thus
    burning it out. And as a recommendation I would highly suggest an Antec
    power supply.

    --
    DaveW


    "Graham D" <gsd25@hotmail.com> wrote in message
    news:e4844492.0405090645.4a99c4c6@posting.google.com...
    > I wonder if anyone can give me some tips to help trace a problem I am
    > having.
    >
    > I recently upgraded my self-built system by changing the motherboard,
    > memory and video card. I had previously upgraded the hard drive and
    > various other bits and pieces.
    >
    > At first everything worked fine, but after a couple of weeks the
    > entire system died. Checks revealed that the PSU had died. I carefully
    > checked everything in the system for short circuits, bad connections,
    > etc, etc, but all was fine. The computer shop I used suggested that
    > the new components had possibly placed too much demand on an old and
    > low-powered PSU.
    >
    > I then bought a good quality 400W PSU, checked everything out, and it
    > all worked without any problems. I reassembled the system, and it
    > still worked without any problems.
    >
    > After about two months, I left the computer running overnight going
    > through various utilities. By morning... dead again.
    >
    > I am baffled by this. If it was a short circuit, the PSU would have
    > died immediately (wouldn't it???).
    >
    > I don't think the problem lies with the HDD, CD-ROM, modem, etc, as
    > these all worked fine with the old motherboard for a long time.
    >
    > So the culprit must be (I assume):
    >
    > - the motherboard
    > - the PSU
    > - the new video card
    > - the memory
    >
    > Does anyone have any ideas about what sort of problem would cause a
    > power supply to blow after two months of trouble free operation? I
    > don't want this problem to recur, and I don't particularly want to
    > have to replace all the components, either.
    >
    > Any suggestions either as to the cause of the problem, or as to how I
    > might try and track it down would be appreciated.
    >
    > Many thanks.
    >
    > Graham D
  6. Archived from groups: alt.comp.hardware.pc-homebuilt (More info?)

    R. Asby Dragon wrote:
    > "AlanW" <awoods@postmaster.co.uk> wrote in message
    > news:4c3b0a7.0405090925.753479f8@posting.google.com...
    >
    >>Have you considered voltage spikes from your house supply? Try
    >
    > one of
    >
    >>those spike protector gizmos.
    >>Cheers
    >>Al
    >
    >
    > Screw that idea; most of them are only good for "one hit" .
    >
    > Go with a good UPS (Uninteruptable Power Supply)
    >
    > I don't put a machine online without it in this house . I work for a
    > power utiliity--- not the one who supplies my 'juice' at home
    > unfortunately ....
    >
    > I've got 4 of them; adding a couple more. It's cheap for me; I'm a
    > tech and know where to buy good batteries cheap.
    >
    >
    In Florida, I run 9 UPS boxen, 7 for computer systems, and one each for
    the two dvd's, 2 TV's, 2 video game consoles...

    Our power spikes in the AM and PM, from the switch-over of the mains to
    get more feeds for the load, (plus, no upgrades of the 'plant' since
    1974), just repairs. Our power runs in a somewhat serial direction,
    North to South, with little of the feed structure of the rest of America.

    I got damn tired of blown PSU's!
  7. Archived from groups: alt.comp.hardware.pc-homebuilt (More info?)

    Thank you for the prompt and helpful responses to my query. Back to
    the supplier it is...

    Graham D
  8. Archived from groups: alt.comp.hardware.pc-homebuilt (More info?)

    Patrick <pberry26@yahoo.com> wrote:

    >
    >Our power spikes in the AM and PM, from the switch-over of the mains to
    >get more feeds for the load, (plus, no upgrades of the 'plant' since
    >1974), just repairs. Our power runs in a somewhat serial direction,
    >North to South, with little of the feed structure of the rest of America.
    >
    >I got damn tired of blown PSU's!

    I thought only California was that bad in the USA ? Years in the UK since I
    even experienced a blackout and I have never had a blown PSU in 20 years
    (plenty of failed fans as normal)

    Is there anywhere is the States with good reliable Power ?

    Andy
  9. Archived from groups: alt.comp.hardware.pc-homebuilt (More info?)

    "Andy@nospam.co.uk" <me@privacy.net> wrote in message
    news:vr7u90dqupq5rm0lp3rahnsfn30s817i7n@4ax.com...
    > Patrick <pberry26@yahoo.com> wrote:
    >
    > >
    > >Our power spikes in the AM and PM, from the switch-over of the mains to
    > >get more feeds for the load, (plus, no upgrades of the 'plant' since
    > >1974), just repairs. Our power runs in a somewhat serial direction,
    > >North to South, with little of the feed structure of the rest of America.
    > >
    > >I got damn tired of blown PSU's!
    >
    > I thought only California was that bad in the USA ? Years in the UK since
    I
    > even experienced a blackout and I have never had a blown PSU in 20 years
    > (plenty of failed fans as normal)
    >
    > Is there anywhere is the States with good reliable Power ?
    >
    > Andy

    Here in Pennsylvania on the east cost it's pretty good. In general, the
    whole is east cost is pretty good electricity wise, as long as you overlook
    the whole New York thing that happened a little bit ago...

    MC
  10. Archived from groups: alt.comp.hardware.pc-homebuilt (More info?)

    Any power supply that is minimally acceptable will provide a
    long list of numerical specifications. Power supplies that
    sell on cost - that forget to include essential functions -
    also will not provide specs. Why get caught with a written
    lie? A short example of specs that any decent power supply
    manufacturer will provide (and there should be this many specs
    plus more):
    Specification compliance: ATX 2.03 & ATX12V v1.1
    Acoustics noise 25.8dBA typical at 70w, 30cm
    Short circuit protection on all outputs
    Over voltage protection
    Over power protection
    100% hi-pot test
    100% burn in, high temperature cycled on/off
    PFC harmonics compliance: EN61000-3-2 + A1 + A2
    EMI/RFI compliance: CE, CISPR22 & FCC part 15 class B
    Safety compliance: VDE, TUV, D, N, S, Fi, UL, C-UL & CB
    Hold up time, full load: 16ms. typical
    Efficiency; 100-120VAC and full range: >65%
    Dielectric withstand, input to frame/ground: 1800VAC, 1sec.
    Dielectric withstand, input to output: 1800VAC, 1sec.
    Ripple/noise: 1%
    MTBF, full load @ 25°C amb.: >100k hrs

    Demonstrated here is why power supplies fail. They don't
    fail due to too much load. Load only kills supplies that
    don't even claim to provide these specification - a failure
    directly traceable to the human. BTW, many if not most clone
    computer power supplies (including one seen in CompUSA) don't
    even claim to meet these specs. With so many 'expert'
    computer assemblers in America that don't even have basic
    electrical knowledge (who make decisions only on price), then
    N America has become a fertile market for dumping inferior
    supplies. That is more often why power supplies fail. The
    'bean counter' mentality who calls himself computer literate.

    A power supply damaged by load is a failure directly
    traceable to that technically naive 'bean counter' human who
    bought the supply. Minimally acceptable power supplies are
    not damaged by load.

    DaveW wrote:
    > Many so-called "400 watt" power supplies that are not high
    > quality brands put out no where near 400 watts into real world
    > loads. You didn't describe what components you have hooked up
    > to the power supply in your computer, but its possible that you
    > are still straining the power supply and thus burning it out.
    > And as a recommendation I would highly suggest an Antec
    > power supply.
  11. Archived from groups: alt.comp.hardware.pc-homebuilt (More info?)

    Any protectors that is good for one hit did not even protect
    during that hit. Grossly undersized protectors sell to so
    many technically ignorant by undersizing the protector. Power
    supplies (must) have internal protection. Protection so good
    that a small spike cannot damage a computer supply BUT will
    damage the grossly undersized protector. Then the naive say
    the protector sacrificed itself to protect from a destructive
    surge. Myths promoted.

    The effective protector costs about $1 per protected
    appliance. That plug-in protector or the UPS (which has the
    same protector circuit as a power strip) cost what - $15, $50,
    or $70 per protected appliance. That is tens of times more
    money for something that does not even claim to protect
    protection from the type of surge that typically damages.
    Read their numerical spec. They don't even discuss the
    different type of surges nor really make any numerical claim
    of protection. They only say enough for the technically naive
    to *assume* protection from all types of surges exists.

    Need effective protection? The primary protector is
    provided by the utility. But you may need to inspect it:
    http://www.tvtower.com/fpl.html
    And rules for earthing:
    http://www.tvtower.com/grounding_and_bonding.html

    The secondary protector is installed by the homeowner
    because we still don't build new homes as if the transistor
    exists. Its called a 'whole house' protector and is also
    defined by its connection to a single point earth ground:
    "RJ-11 line protection?" on 31 Dec 2003 in pdx.computing at
    http://tinyurl.com/2hl53 and
    "Opinions on Surge Protectors?" on 7 Jul 2003 in the
    newsgroup alt.certification.a-plus at
    http://tinyurl.com/l3m9

    Any protector that is minimally effective remains fully
    functional after the direct lightning strike. But most
    important is what a protector does. Those plug-in protectors
    and UPSes do not even provide a numerical specification that
    says they provide effective protection. Look at their specs.
    But one need not even read to see why they are not effective.
    Where is the dedicated 'less than 10 foot' connection to
    central earth ground? No earth ground means no effective
    protection. Earthing is why 'whole house' protectors have
    been so effective since before WWII. The protector is only as
    effective as its earth ground.


    "R. Asby Dragon" wrote:
    > "AlanW" <awoods@postmaster.co.uk> wrote in message
    > news:4c3b0a7.0405090925.753479f8@posting.google.com...
    >> Have you considered voltage spikes from your house supply? Try
    >> one of those spike protector gizmos.
    > > Cheers
    > > Al
    >
    > Screw that idea; most of them are only good for "one hit" .
    >
    > Go with a good UPS (Uninteruptable Power Supply)
    >
    > I don't put a machine online without it in this house . I work for
    > a power utiliity--- not the one who supplies my 'juice' at home
    > unfortunately ....
    >
    > I've got 4 of them; adding a couple more. It's cheap for me; I'm
    > a tech and know where to buy good batteries cheap.
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