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Underpowered?

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April 2, 2006 6:05:03 PM

I recently upgraded my video card from a AIW Radeon 8500DV to an AIW X800XT. Now every once in a while my system will randomly and momentarily lock up- display and mouse freeze and i get a popping sound comming from the speakers. It lasts about 5 seconds and when it unlocks, my CD drives spool up if theres a disk in and the HD's go access crazy for a few seconds, but then everything appears normal.

I have no clue what the cause could be besides my power supply being underpowered, especially since it started happing after i upgraded my video card.

Could these lockups be a sign of an underpowered PSU?

Heres my system specs:
300 Watt thermaltake PSU
Gigabyte P4 Titan 667 Ultra mobo (845 PE chipset)
2.4B GHz Northwood, no OC
512MB x 2 PC2700 RAM
AIW X800 (AGP 8X)
Geforce 2 MX400 PCI
SB Audigy ZS
Promise Ultra 133 TX2 PCI IDE controller
Firewire card
DVD-ROM
CD-RW
2x80GB Diamond Max 9 in raid 0
160GB Samsung Spinpoint (im adding a 250GB this week)
Enermax backlit fan controller
Kingwin 5.25" all in one liquid cooler w/ secondary radiator
4 80mm fans, 2 lighted

Im led to beleive my PSU is just too small for everything and all the online calculators ive tried suggest ~400 watt minimum.

Thanks
Brad

More about : underpowered

April 2, 2006 6:20:57 PM

That PSU could be one reason - upgrade to at least 450W to 500W.
April 2, 2006 6:49:12 PM

yah even if its not underpowered ur really close to the limit si yah

maybe a new PSU?

Antec TP 550? or Thermaltake 600w?
Related resources
a c 158 ) Power supply
April 3, 2006 1:22:23 PM

Is there a common theme to when it locks like that: running intensive applications, gaming, etc.. Are you running the water-cooling off the PSU, too? Did you connect the extra power dongle to the new vid card?

If nothing else changed, then it does sound like it could be a power issue. Good inexpensive options: Fortron 450W or Fortron 400W - I'd go with the 450W for $50.
Anonymous
a b ) Power supply
April 3, 2006 6:35:16 PM

There are no designed in mechanisms for a PC to elegantly recover from a low power situation like is happenning to you. In other words it will crash the app, lock up, or reset the comp not just stall out until power conditions becme more favorable.

If the symptoms you had described happened once after a power surge then I might think it was possible, but the fact that the thing keeps repeating the same symptom leads me to think it is related to something other than a low power condition.

In other words I am not buying the symptoms you described being caused by low power.

To me it sounds like the same IDE bus contention that many years ago pissed me off during one of my games so bad that I upgraded to SCSI HDD's and CD players. That doesn't however explain why it only showed up after installing the new graphics card.....hhhmmmmmm
April 3, 2006 8:41:22 PM

ehh, not to me... I just do not dig the smart power series... seem to prefer the better quality line of TruePower series instead.
April 3, 2006 9:05:21 PM

actually this is a good deall
Antec SmartPower 2.0 500w for $68.99 (newegg)
April 3, 2006 10:30:55 PM

Yes that is not a bad price...
Still...........
I would choose This TP 480 for $79 as it is rated at input wattage of 600 watts, verses the smart power is rated as input wattage of 500 watts.

What that tells me is the Antec True Power 480 watt has more raw/reserve power than the Antec Smart Power 500 watt.

If the SmartPower can only take in 500 watts, at 70% efficiency, it's max output could only be tops 350 watts of power... but it is rated at 500 watts!
BS specs if you ask me, typical of lower quality lines of components exaggerating.

But the TruePower 480 inputs 600 watts at 70% efficiency means it truly is a 480 watt PSU....
KWIM
April 8, 2006 3:55:11 AM

It does sound like the power supply, but it could also be driver issues. Check out Tom's Hardware Guide's review on the AIW X800XT, it finds a way to get around the stalling issue by disabling buffering and forcing sound through the analog cable.
April 26, 2006 1:11:29 AM

Definitely underpowered. You are running way too much for a 300w supply. I'd say the "at least 400w" answer is pretty close, but i'd be more comfortable with 500+.

Anything Antec is a pretty safe bet. Cheers!
April 26, 2006 2:05:41 AM

I think you would be safe picking up a bigger/better PSU. How many amps are on your +12v rail on your current PSU? I think a minimum PSU requirement for the X800 cards are around 350~400 Watts. But remember, watts don't mean everything, make sure your PSU has plenty of amperages on the +12v rail, preferably something around 20+ Amps on each +12v rail. Many newer PSU's now come with dual +12v rails. What kind of budget do you have to spend on a PSU? $60-$75 will get you a pretty good, name brand, PSU. If you are a little tight on cash right now the FSP Group (Fortron Source) AX450-PN 450 Watt PSU will definately be sufficient. I hear many great things about FSP Group for the price, even newegg reviews show it. This PSU has a 20+4 pin setup, which is native to both 20 pin motherboards, and 24 pin motherboards. This is pretty much future proof, I'm not very familiar with Intel systems, so I'm not sure if your current motherboard uses the 20 pin configuration. It features x2 SATA cables, as well as a PCI-Express cable. It uses dual +12v rails, and each rail has 18 Amps, for a total of 36 Amps, which will be able to power all of your peripherals without a problem. It only costs $50.99, that's as good as you get for a price like that. Here is the link to newegg:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

Good luck.
April 26, 2006 2:12:55 AM

if you suspect your psu is underpowered, try to disconnect everything in your computer and run it with essencial components, like 1 stick of mem, 1 video card and 1 hd

disconnect optical drives, extra hd's, fans, etc, etc.

you better do that before buying a new psu, coz if it's not the psu you'll waste your money
April 26, 2006 2:26:39 AM

He really won;t be wasting his money if you chooses the right PSU. The one that I suggested to him can be used in future builds, and his current PSU is really, pretty low, so it would be safer for him, and his components to buy a new one. $50 isn't too bad nowadays, unless you drive a gas hog of a vehicle, a teen with no/ little allowance, or jobless.
April 26, 2006 2:31:27 AM

dont you think it's better test it before buying in any case?
if it's not a psu problem, will you pay him the money he spend?
April 26, 2006 3:01:58 AM

He could run all of that if it was an efficient PSU. I have 2 GTX's and an Opty 165 OC'ed to 2.5-2.6 ghz and it only draws 285 from the wall during game play. My system also includes 2 74gb Raptors 2 250gb Seagates, 1 250gb maxtor(the other one died) 2 otpical drives, SB X-FI..... you get the picture.... 285 from the wall during games, and max of about 330 from the wall when I synthetically load both the CPU and GPU's to max..... so multiply that buy about 70-75% and you are looking at around 250watts max usage.... so... his system should be under 200 watts. And that being said, if his PSU operates at 66% efficiency, which I am sure it is more, it would run his setup. Taking everything I just said into consideration, if you were to buy a PSU.... go with a good 480W.... the Neo Power is the one i am using and it is great, I have also used a true power, and it was great.... I would go with 450-500..... you will almost never need more than that.
a b ) Power supply
April 26, 2006 6:48:12 AM

Yes, you have an underpowered PSU. Replace it with something more powerful. I recommend a Seasonic S12 series PSU. The 430 should fit your needs for a single GPU. If you intend on running Crossfire in the future then get the 500 or 600 unit. They are slightly more expensive than some other PSUs, but they are reliable.

Whatever PSU you decided to buy try and find some hardware reviews on it before you actually buy it. Don't just rely on user opinions. For example do a Google search on "Seasonic S12 430 review" or "Seasonic S12 500 review". Links to SilentPCReview.com or PCStats.com should come up.

The Radeon X1800XT is a major step up from your old 8500. I'm not sure what the max power consumption on the 8500 is (40 watts?), but the X1800XT consumes up to 103 watts. That's more than your CPU under 100% load.
a b ) Power supply
April 26, 2006 7:15:11 AM

Take a look at the following 300 watt PSU:

Coolmax CX-300: 300 watt Power Supply

Scroll Down until you see Output:

+3.3@20A,+5V@20A,+12V1@8A,+12V2@14A,-12V@0.8A,+5VSB@2A

What that's telling you is the maximum wattage available on that particular rail (volts x amps). If you mulitply everything out and add it all up you will note that the total is greater than 430 watts.

Does that mean this 300w PSU and provide you with over 430w of power? No that's impossible. Either that or we just discovered a source of "free energy". As I stated above, that is the maximum wattage the PSU can provide on that particular rail.

The most important rail is the 12v rail, note there are two of them, 12v1@8A and 12v2@14A. Add these two together and on the 12v rail this PSU can provide up to 22 amps or 264 watts. That would be the rated watts but that doesn't mean it will actually deliver 264 watts.

How to find out if a PSU is lying about it's power output? You gotta read hardware reviews. I don't trust the output of this particular PSU it seems a bit optimistic for a 300w PSU to be able to output 264w on the 12v rail.

Why is the 12v rail so important for the modern PSU? The following are just a few components that draws power from this rail:

GPU
CPU
Motherboard
Hard drives (some PSU split this load on both 12v and 5v rails from what I've read.)
Fans
April 26, 2006 1:32:02 PM

Quote:
My system also includes 2 74gb Raptors 2 250gb Seagates, 1 250gb maxtor(the other one died) 2 otpical drives, SB X-FI..... you get the picture.... 285 from the wall during games, and max of about 330 from the wall when I synthetically load both the CPU and GPU's to max..... so multiply that buy about 70-75% and you are looking at around 250watts max usage.... so... his system should be under 200 watts.


But here's the thing. By your own quote, you can max out at 330w from the wall. Doesn't that alone tell you that you should at least have a 350, if not a 400w PSU? I don't know about you, but i'd like to allow for a PSU to peak and not have any undervoltage issues.

Yes, I know that the rated wattage on a PSU is usually only allowing for brief peaks. I'm guessing that's where you're getting your 70-75% calculation. Isn't that a dangerous game to play? Don't you think there's a reason that PSUs are rated the way they are?

Is that $15-20 savings worth the possibility of possible problems down the road when 1: consistent undervoltage causes problems to your hardware or 2: the actual power output from the PSU drops (as it will over time) enough to start having undervoltage symptoms?

I can't describe how many times i've seen systems very similar to the one described by the original poster come in to my shop with problems like he's describing. I would be extremely surprised if the problem wasn't related to the PSU. The bottom line is, a 300w MAX RATED PSU is probably not going to cut it with all the hardware he's got in that box. Yes, it may run, yes it may boot, but there is absolutely NO benefit to using a "just good enough" PSU.

Again, my recommendation would be to run at the VERY least a 400w, well-reviewed and tested quality PSU with a good reputation... but optimally at least a 480w to be safe. On that, you hit it on the head with your ultimate recommendation.
April 26, 2006 2:04:40 PM

No questions, its the PSU, especially with those extra drives. The X800XT (I have one as well) eats up a lot of power and requires a second connection just to work. You will need at least 500 watts of clean power (I'd recommend 550w just in case), just be sure to buy a good PSU. Antec, Thermaltake, Sparkle, Fortron, Seasonic, PC Power & Cooling ($$$) and I've got to throw in Hiper as well, they are all quality brands that should survive years of abuse. Don't buy anything cheap if you value your hardware, a $30 clearance special might seem worthwhile, but when it blows out your $300 video card, you won't be smiling. You are also risking a blowout at your present config, because the 300w isn't really pushing 300watts, at 70% efficiency, its more like 210watts.

Good luck.
April 26, 2006 2:05:03 PM

If you really want to go by rated output look at the label, not Newegg's spec list. Power supplies share some components across several rails so that as one rail approaches its maximum rated output the other rails must be reduced.
April 26, 2006 2:36:56 PM

With a high-quality power supply like Fortron Source he could carry that load with a 400W unit, and have room to spare for a CPU/Motherboard upgrade.
April 28, 2006 1:46:10 AM

Well, i've got it straitened out. I didnt upgrade the PSU and im running with all my drives and all seems to be ok, though i will probably upgrade it soon or else wire in a second PSU that i have laying around to power the drives.

Someone mentioned an IDE problem and i think that might actually be what it was. Heres what i did:

I put the new hard drive in anyways and started it up. Everything seemed fine, the drive showed up when the TXT2 flashed its screen during startup but as soon as windows started booting, i got the blue screen that says the computer has been shut down to protect it... yada yada yada.

I messed with it for a while and didnt get anywhere- couldn't even get windows to reinstall- setup wouldn't load both the MB Promise raid drivers and the TXT2 drivers.

So after a "few" choice words, i unhooked everything and gutted the system of all the drives and IDE cables (my case was getting pretty messy inside and needed to be cleaned up anyways). The only reason i was using the Promise TXT2 controller at all was i had a LS120 floppy drive which requires a standard IDE connection, not a floppy connector so that was eating my Pri IDE on the MB so i ran the extra hard drives and cd drives through the TXT2 (primary hard drives go through the integrated IDE RAID). So i ditched the TXT2 and the LS120, put in a std floppy drive (which i probably dont need anyways) and ran the HD's and CD's through the Pri and Sec IDE channels on the MB.

Well, now everything runs better than it has in a while. So it would seem the PSU wasnt the main culprit, although it is small for all my stuff.

Thanks everyone for your thoughts.
April 28, 2006 2:29:58 AM

By no means am I suggesting using just enough to get by..... never would do that.... and what I am saying about my system is.... it draws around max 330 from the wall..... that being said... my system is acutally only using around 250 watts.... not that I would recommend a 300watt psu, or even 350psu... granted a 350 would probably work... just cutting it close. I would not want to go under 400. All I was really saying is that he may want to trouble shoot before he just automatically assumes it is a faulty psu.... but if it were my system, I would want to have a 400-500w psu. Just saying that psu, assuming it is efficient... should be able to run that system. But of course, it could be the culprit.
April 28, 2006 4:57:32 AM

Wow...I have stalling, stuttering, and system hangs using this crazyassed chipset reference board...I wonder if ditching my Zip100 would help...
April 28, 2006 1:25:44 PM

Might be worth a try. Remove anything you dont really need and see what happens. I still dont get how removing my Promise controller helped- maybe there was a resorce conflict or something. USB flash drives are dirt cheap and 100 times faster than ZIP, so id say ditch the old thing.
April 28, 2006 3:18:11 PM

Yeh, I just keep old drives around for reading OTHER PEOPLE'S media...
!