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My power supply exploded!

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June 20, 2008 2:38:27 PM

My power supply exploded - a giant spark came out of the back, followed by smoke and I had to get it replaced.

It's a Corsair HX520W and my computer is well under the maximum power usage it permits.

It was likely a blown capacitor or an insect in the works - a surge is unlikely as I use a surge protector.

I'm just interested, assuming my new power supply is in perfect working order, if there's anything I can do to prevent this from ever happening again.

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June 20, 2008 2:54:54 PM

put a mosquito net over the window? (you say you have surge protection...)
June 20, 2008 3:04:33 PM

Sounds like a fluke to me. The HX series is built by Seasonic so it's of good quality. I don't think it was anything that you did. You might have just gotten a unit with a bad capacitor or like you said a bug crawled/flew in (that would be funny).
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June 20, 2008 3:12:28 PM

You can use a UPS to help prevent a repeat of what happened. Even though you have a surge protector, there may have been a consistent over supply of current that wouldn't trip a surge protector, but would cause the PSU to overheat and die. I do know that the current from the local power supply in my area tends to fluctuate a lot, but usually runs on the high side, thus I run a UPS for my computer to keep things stable.

But realistically, this may have just been a freak accident. PSUs do die from time to time, even the best ones that are made. You might try checking the current from the wall socket, but if its within normal limits, well, sometimes bad things just happen. And yes, if it really was an insect in the works, a bit of netting will prevent that from happening again, though I'd think of such a thing as a freak accident that's unlikely to repeat itself.
June 20, 2008 3:19:26 PM

sailers problems are similar to mine, no guage gets it, but a ups does sure as heck save alot. Just two evenings ago, I hear a rumble of thunder upon waking, peaked through the blinds to see my city street go dark as I looked.. and the pc kept going.
There is something in the outside power however that can change alot and ups nor powers supplies have no concern... there is still something missing from thier "stuff".

But, I would blame the psu in your case. that is a big no no matter what the excuse is. A good psu just simply dies. sparks flying is localization, and that ought to be a illegal.
June 20, 2008 3:40:54 PM

sailer said:
You can use a UPS to help prevent a repeat of what happened. Even though you have a surge protector, there may have been a consistent over supply of current that wouldn't trip a surge protector, but would cause the PSU to overheat and die. I do know that the current from the local power supply in my area tends to fluctuate a lot, but usually runs on the high side, thus I run a UPS for my computer to keep things stable.

But realistically, this may have just been a freak accident. PSUs do die from time to time, even the best ones that are made. You might try checking the current from the wall socket, but if its within normal limits, well, sometimes bad things just happen. And yes, if it really was an insect in the works, a bit of netting will prevent that from happening again, though I'd think of such a thing as a freak accident that's unlikely to repeat itself.



Sailer this is wrong as the current from the power company dose not fluctuate. You voltage may and this would cause the current to go up and down a little bit. But current is watts (amount of power used) divided by the voltage or I(current)=Power (watts)/Voltage. you are right in saying that a UPS would help with this as it would keep the voltage stable but power supplies are made to work on usuall 95 v to 240 v or some where in this range. So how much help this would actually give is debateable. but it helps more than surge protectors. To be honest surge protectors do not help much. As the cheap and medium priced ones do not filter the voltage spikes out very well. Due to the way they are built.
June 20, 2008 3:48:01 PM

WOOT! party!!

wow, how did that happen :o 
June 20, 2008 4:05:13 PM

can you please post some pic? please?
June 20, 2008 4:22:02 PM

PCnut said:
Sailer this is wrong as the current from the power company dose not fluctuate. You voltage may and this would cause the current to go up and down a little bit. But current is watts (amount of power used) divided by the voltage or I(current)=Power (watts)/Voltage. you are right in saying that a UPS would help with this as it would keep the voltage stable but power supplies are made to work on usuall 95 v to 240 v or some where in this range. So how much help this would actually give is debateable. but it helps more than surge protectors. To be honest surge protectors do not help much. As the cheap and medium priced ones do not filter the voltage spikes out very well. Due to the way they are built.


Admittedly, I may not have been as precise as I should have when I said the current fluctuates where I live. I live in Nevada, except for when I'm out on a boat, and the power from the wall goes up or down a lot, that is, the voltage varies a lot, thus the current varies. So I probably should have said that the voltage varies a lot as it comes from the wall socket where I live and the UPS moderates the voltage to a steady rate. Total power loss is frequent enough that my UPS sometimes kicks in several times a day. Then other times it goes for days just sitting there and doing nothing except taking up space.

I agree that surge protectors by themselves are not worth a lot. Its the old thing that you get what you pay for. If a bad surge comes through, you'll be lucky if the surge protector melts down and quits letting any current through. Otherwise, the surge protector can fuse and pass the whole spike through and whatever is plugged into it gets the full treatment. In the past, I one time lost a computer, a TV, and a VCR due to a massive surge. The power company explained that a transformer had blown and everybody got bad news that night.
June 20, 2008 4:38:38 PM

did you overclock a phenom. when i put a phenom in my msi k9a2 mobo and OCd it it blew two PS. one was a cheap 630 watt raidmax and another was a cheap chinese 500 watt freeby. useing a ultra 750 watt no prob
June 20, 2008 6:51:39 PM

I wasn't overclocking or anything fancy, all I did was turn the power on, and then attempted to turn my computer on.

Fortunately, it seems all other parts of my computer were unaffected.

I don't have any pictures as I don't have the PSU any more, but it didn't look much different, it just smelt strongly of smoke and wouldn't turn on any more.
June 20, 2008 7:04:06 PM

haha, i had a PSU go on me once....

it was squeeky lol
June 20, 2008 7:09:53 PM

My 6 years old Enermax did the same 2 weeks ago. I turned on the computer and SPARK! Not much smoke, but it definitely smelled burned. Apparently, the rest of the computer didn't suffer.

I guess 6 years isn't that bad. I beat the hell out of it after all (with long 3D rendering). But now Enermax got off from my list of top PSU manufacturer. PC P&C and Zippy replaced it.
June 21, 2008 5:02:06 AM

um, how old is your corsair??

i had same problem as you too,
when i got my graphics card, i shopped for new psu too, i know rosewill was tier 4 , but it had great reviews, 5stars, from more than 200people. and 550W for 60 bucks.
so i decided to buy,

i dont use my computer alot, because im not crazy on pc gaming,,,
after 3months, i turned on my psu switch and turned on my computer,
i heard a high pitch noise, and smelt burn wires. at that moment, i regreted. so it took my motherboard, i had p5.
i contacted rosewill customer survice, and they refund my psu, and they gave me new gigabyte P35 DS3L took a month...

I WONDER WHY ROSEWILL PSUs HAVE 4,5 STARS!!

I have 450vx, i love it, very quiet. stable.
June 21, 2008 7:06:21 AM

It was almost brand new; it had been running fine for about 3 months.
June 21, 2008 6:52:26 PM

The PSU was most likely defective when you purchased it, since you admitted that it is not being taxed anywhere near the maximum load then I will assume the inevitable death of the PSU was delayed. It could have been a power surge as has been said, but I find it odd that a Corsair PSU died from it and yet you have said the surge protector looks fine. I'm betting you got unlucky and ended up with a dying PSU to begin with. However, I would test and make sure there are not any anomalies in the power ratings coming from the wall. Good luck and I hope this wont happen again.
June 22, 2008 4:36:10 AM

kbits said:
My 6 years old Enermax did the same 2 weeks ago. I turned on the computer and SPARK! Not much smoke, but it definitely smelled burned. Apparently, the rest of the computer didn't suffer.

I guess 6 years isn't that bad. I beat the hell out of it after all (with long 3D rendering). But now Enermax got off from my list of top PSU manufacturer. PC P&C and Zippy replaced it.


It gave you 6 years of good service and you think that's a reason to take it off of your list? 6 years is an eternity in the computer industry. PSU's blow up all of the time - my brother has a P4 (prescott), 7800GT and loads of other case fans, etc...the 450 watt that came with the case gave us a nice show when it shot a couple of sparks, puffed out some smoke and squeaked a few times. :) 

A UPS might help a little bit, but the high and low voltages at which they intervene are pretty separated, but as another poster said the power supplies (at least ones with PFC) are designed to work over a range of voltages.
June 24, 2008 4:12:42 PM

nitrous9200 said:
It gave you 6 years of good service and you think that's a reason to take it off of your list? 6 years is an eternity in the computer industry. PSU's blow up all of the time - my brother has a P4 (prescott), 7800GT and loads of other case fans, etc...the 450 watt that came with the case gave us a nice show when it shot a couple of sparks, puffed out some smoke and squeaked a few times. :) 

A UPS might help a little bit, but the high and low voltages at which they intervene are pretty separated, but as another poster said the power supplies (at least ones with PFC) are designed to work over a range of voltages.


Yes thats a reason. I'm not saying Enermax aren't good, I'm saying they're not anymore on my list of top manufacturer. Like I said, 6 years ain't bad considering the use, but at the end, it failed on me. With all the good PSU company out there, it is enough for me to try something else.

A PSU that would shot a couple of sparks, puffed out some smoke and squeaked a few times like yours would go on another kind of list :) .
June 24, 2008 4:24:59 PM

Its always nice to see sparks. At least you know where the problem is.

I arrived home from a 3 days weekend and my living room had that smell we all know. Was working 100%. Tonight ill check what is burned.

Bof, i don't know what would be worse. Mobo, PSU or VGA. I guess its one of it.
!