Power Supply Problems

I'm having a bit of trouble with my power supply.

First, here's my system:

OS: Windows XP SP2/Ubuntu 8.10
Processor: AMD Athlon X2 5200+ AM2
Motherboard: Gigabyte M57SLI-S4
Hard Drives: 160GB SATA, 320GB SATA
Optical: CDRW and DVDRW
Video Cards: 2 Gigabyte Geforce 8600GT's (SLI)
Case Fans: 5 total
Power Supply: 600 watt

Problem:
When playing Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, I was noticing alot of stuttering during the game, but otherwise everything ran fine. I decided to install another nVidia Geforce 8600GT to reduce the stuttering. I know that two 8600GT's in SLI isn't going to be equal to an 8800GTX or anything, but all I wanted to accomplish was to reduce the stuttering in Oblivion, which I'm happy to announce that upgrading to SLI totally fixed. Since playing Oblivion better was my only goal, the SLI upgrade totally solved all graphics issues.

However, after an hour of playing, ever since upgrading to SLI, I noticed a foul hot smell coming from my PC.

I've been troubleshooting it for well over a week, and I determined that it's likely my power supply, it probably doesn't have enough power to run both cards. I tested my processor temperature while playing (I have a REALLY good cooling set up with clever placement of five system fans) and the processor never goes above 104F. The ambient temperature inside the case is 77F. (Sometimes the ambient temperature reaches 80F, though its rare). The video cards are also not overheating. I've also ran quite a few stress tests, which my machine each passed.

The foul smell comes ONLY when playing Oblivion. Coincidentally, it's the only PC game I have set up to utilize SLI. I've not had this problem before the SLI upgrade.

So, obviously a power supply upgrade is in order. In the meantime, I was wondering if there is a way that I can tell exactly how much of my 600watt power supply is being used while playing Oblivion, preferably a software program to monitor it.

What I want to do, while I wait to save up the money for a better power supply, is disconnect a few fans and one of my cd drives to see if that gives the power supply enough freedom to handle my SLI. That's where a software tool would come into play.

Does anyone have any advice for me, to make my system safe to use for the time being? I'll probably have to disconnect some hardware to give my power supply some room to function.

Edit: I really only care about Oblivion when it comes to PC gaming, all of the other PC games I care about all run perfectly fine without SLI so I never bothered to configure SLI for them.
11 answers Last reply
More about power supply problems
  1. I know of no software that monitors your total system power draw. Although if anyone does know of one, i'd be interested as well.

    I recommend Corsair or any other top tier PSU for your upgrade.
  2. Thanks for the reply.

    I'm wondering if removing components will help.

    I also realized that the second PCI-E port is right above a PCI port where I have a sound card installed, and I noticed that the second video card as a result is scary close to touching the sound card. I'm beginning to wonder if that may be my problem so I removed the sound card and I'm about to find out of I don't have that smell no more. Here's hoping I don't blow up my computer while testing it!
  3. Nope, that wasn't the problem. I thought 600watt was enough for my machine, could it just be defective?
  4. The PS total wattage doesn't matter for modern computers. Rather, what matters is the +12V amperage available. The CPU and video cards are the big +12V power hogs, although the hard drives and some other components also use +12V.
    What is likely happening in your case is that your PS is low quality and getting overstressed under the load of two graphics cards in SLI. Higher-quality power supplies should fail in a more graceful way than burning/melting themselves, which is what that smell is. I would *immediately* stop using SLI mode until you can install a higher-quality PS; otherwise, fire or a catastrophic PS failure that could damage your MB, CPU, etc, is a real possibility.
  5. This is an amazing PS at a decent price: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817703005

    If you need to save money, this is cheaper and still quite good: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817341010
  6. No.
  7. The first one you posted looks in my range, how do I know that it will handle my dual 8600GT's?
  8. Because:
    1) It's made by PC Power & Cooling.
    2) It's got a bazillion +12V amps.
    3) It's SLI-certified.
  9. Thank you Mondoman, I am going to get that one then. I can't wait to have it in my system and be able to play Oblivion again.

    If you have it, how good is the cooling on it? The ONLY good thing about the one I have now is the cooling.
  10. I find that higher-quality, high-efficiency PS's (e.g. "80+") actually don't cool the system as well. Since the PS is quite efficient, it doesn't get as hot, and so the (usually temp-controlled) PS fan doesn't turn on as much. Thus, paradoxically, you need to be more careful that your case fans are doing a proper job for case ventilation.
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