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Hey guys, common problem, still no solution for me...

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September 18, 2009 10:14:03 AM

Hey guys :hello: 

So my problem seems to be all to common, yet I have have found no solution in the countless threads I've read, which is why I'm posting this. [I had clicked to ask a quick question on the side, but nothing happened, so I hope this isn't a repeat post]

My problem follows:
Okay so I am running an entirely new build. I got all new parts except my 250gb Sata HDD, which I grabbed from my old build.

The reason I went with a new build in the first place is because my psu died on me about a month or two ago, and after replacing it with a new one (see current build below) my computer failed to boot at all. I thought I had received a DOA PSU from Newegg, but had it tested and it was fine. I assumed my mobo had gone the way of the birds during winter and decided since my system was already over 4 years old (the build was only about 2 years old, but I used less expensive older parts) I would go ahead and build new.

**I had recently reformatted my hard drive to eliminate a particularly nasty virus, but had done nothing else to it for about 3 or 4 months**

My current build is as follows:
-Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550 Yorkfield 2.83GHz LGA 775 95W Quad-Core Processor Model BX80569Q9550
-G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F2-8500CL5D-4GBPK
-Sony Optiarc DVD Burner with LightScribe Black SATA Model AD-7241S-0B LightScribe Support
-GIGABYTE GA-EP45-UD3P LGA 775 Intel P45 ATX Intel Motherboard
-EVGA 512-P3-N871-AR GeForce 9800 GTX 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card
-Antec EarthWatts EA650 650W Continuous Power ATX12V Ver.2.2 / EPS12V version 2.91 SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC "compatible with Core i7" Power Supply
-Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD2500KS 250GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Hard Drive

My initial problem was the PC getting only to the mobo logo and then rebooting over and over, so after countless trial-and-error I removed one RAM stick and it booted up fine (figures).

Now, however, it boots, but is not finding my Sata hdd anywhere. :pfff:  My good friend is a computer techie and helped me with my build, and even he is at a loss as to why it cannot read the hdd. We have tried multiple combinations of optical and hdd connections to the mobo, and each time it finds the optical just fine. We tried running the repair utility with my Windows XP disk, but it cannot run because it says no hdd is present. I can hear the hdd boot with the system, so I know it is getting power, and I have looked through many guides, even on Tom's and tried all kinds of settings in my CMOS but again to no avail. My friend is bringing over his hdd tomorrow to see if my pc recognizes his hdd or not.

It's just so frustrating to think you've figured out why your pc won't boot and then nothing all over again... argh!!! :fou: 

Any help would be really appreciated.

***I have tried the following in my BIOS and Peripherals:
Auto-detecting Primary/Secondary devices
Setting boot priority
Changing Sata to IDE / AHCI
Disabling/re-enabling Sata
(I followed a helpful guide on Tom's which led me to my CMOS and the above actions, but nothing worked)

***I have tried the following inside my build:
Unplugging cables
Checking power line to HDD (I was using Sata power but switched to the other power cable from my PSU in case that was the cause. It wasn't.)
Moving which Sata inputs went to which device (My optical was found in both the Master and slave positions, my HDD was found in neither)
Switching out Sata cables in case the cable was bad


Again my friend is bringing his over tomorrow, so I am hoping that the worst-case-scenario is that I need to buy a new HDD.

When my pc boots, it reads all my components fine (minus 1 stick of RAM, but XP can only read 3GB anyway) just gives me a disk boot error when it tries to find my HDD and tells me to insert my system disk. As stated above, when I do this it tells me no drive is found and to make sure it's powered on and functioning.

I hope I have been detailed enough. If you need more information please let me know because I am at a total loss, and to be honest, I am tired of using my parent's pc for all my work!!! :cry: 
a b G Storage
September 18, 2009 12:14:25 PM

In your BIOS, you probably want your HDD set to "Legacy IDE." It sounds like your HDD may have croaked. Attaching another HDD will let you know.
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September 19, 2009 6:22:06 AM

It sounds like you've tried switching out everything except the drive itself. I'm guessing that's the problem.

It's probably not a bad idea to leave the old drive behind anyway since your old build had a virus so bad you had to replace the entire computer. That drive may be holding those same lines of dark programming code somewhere waiting to meltdown your new build once the drive is connected and spinning. If you do manage to get it working, your going to want to wipe the drive with all ones or zeroes before it's allowed to come into contact with another virgin drive or any important data.
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Related resources
a b G Storage
September 19, 2009 6:40:38 AM

moderata said:

When my pc boots, it reads all my components fine (minus 1 stick of RAM, but XP can only read 3GB anyway) just gives me a disk boot error when it tries to find my HDD and tells me to insert my system disk. As stated above, when I do this it tells me no drive is found and to make sure it's powered on and functioning.

When you install Windows, the installer will find all of your drives. But when you boot, Windows looks for the drive in the first physical location, unless you change the boot location in the BIOS. You have two groups of boot settings in the BIOS. The first one selects the boot device - HD, CD, or FD. The second set of settings tells the system exactly where the boot drive is.

I suspect that this is your problem. Check to see if the boot HD is plugged into the SATA port labeled SATA2_0. If not, plug it in there.

If that doesn't work, I suspect that your drive is bad.

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September 19, 2009 7:05:27 AM

just for snickers and grins lol try this. you are going to have to reinstall your operating system because of the new configuration i am sure you know, during the initial portion of that process when the screen prompts for the f6 to load scsi drivers in windos xp or if you are running vista at the screen that shows the installed drives click the load drivers icon and install your sata drivers from your motherboards driver cd. you will need to have them on a floppy or depending on your setup maybe a flash drive to install these drivers properly. ps in xp it can pnly be done with a floppy. that will usually make a hidden sata drive visable to the operating system and allow you to complete your installation.
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September 19, 2009 2:53:59 PM

Thanks for the replies, guys!

Okay so I tested my friend's HDD and his detected but had some boot issues on my pc. We weren't sure why Ubuntu couldn't even load up but we at least knew that my HDD was dead. So it did in fact turn out to be my HDD.
Picked up a new one at BestBuy (it was actually cheaper than Newegg, gasp! :o  ) last night and got it installed.

Had one minor issue, but it only happened once so I ignored it.

Until it started happening over and over and over.

I got XP installed, got my settings all set and ready to go. Shut down my pc for the night.
This morning I went to turn on my new machine and it kicked on, I got a black screen with a bunch of strange characters appearing and disappearing. So I shut down (holding power button) and rebooted. Got a message saying Windows XP was missing a critical file and to hit Enter to restart, so I did. My pc restarted, then shut down. Then it powered on again, then off. Wash, rinse, repeat.

It did this to me the night I posted this thread initially, but as I said it only happened once so I ignored it.

Now I can't even get my pc to turn on, and the one time it booted normally I tried to boot from my CD-ROM to use the repair console. It gave me the prompt that it was booting from the CD-ROM and to hit enter or what-have-you to continue. I did, and it then proceeded to tell me that Windows had been improperly shut down and if I wanted to boot in Safe Mode. I'm thinking, "No you p.o.s. I want to boot from the CD, not the HDD!" So I click Safe Mode, and get BSOD then it reboots. I try to boot from CD again, no avail, restarts and then begins the on-off cycle again.

I'm beginning to suspect I might have a faulty PSU, Mobo, or CPU.

I will take my PSU up to Altex to get it tested (thank God it is a bottom-mount case, easy removal ftw! :sol:  )

Will post the results of the test later when I get home from work.

I am really suspecting the mobo though because of that strange screen I got where it was black with all different characters on it in different spaces. There were even greek characters on the screen. Really weird.

Any suggestions?

Thanks,
Matt

*edit: fixed typo
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September 19, 2009 4:14:19 PM

Update on situation.
I tried to boot it five more times, during the first boot attempt it gave me a POST error and asked if I wanted to use the last effective settings. The next two ended with BSOD. The final two booted fine so I am wondering if the repeated on/off had anything to do with the system errors I was encountering.

What do you guys think?
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a b G Storage
September 19, 2009 4:22:56 PM

Memory. Check to make sure the voltage is correct, have you done that?
Another common problem with 1066 memory, it may require more voltage than the boards standard setting.
If it is at the correct voltage, you may have a bad stick.

You cannot just take a drive with an OS on it and put in another system and expect it to boot.
All the drivers, settings, EVERYTHING in the OS has been setup for another system........however it did confirm your old drive was bad.
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September 20, 2009 4:24:34 PM

Jit, I will check out the voltage, thanks for the tip!

Also, the last couple times I have booted it has run fine.
One startup it stalled at the DMI file in POST.

I will check the voltage settings and see if they're correct.
It could also be the outlet I have my pc plugged into.
My surge protector sometimes kicks off and back on, like it loses it's power and there's a history of stupidity from that outlet, so I will also move my SP and PC to a different outlet.
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a b G Storage
September 20, 2009 4:32:57 PM

Sounds like you have faulty memory run a bootable memory test program.
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September 21, 2009 5:31:30 AM

pjmelect said:
Sounds like you have faulty memory run a bootable memory test program.


pjmelect,

Thanks for the tip! Where might I find one that is reliable?

**Update** I tried to install Ubuntu on my system because I was still having issues during my startups. It began the process fine but I walked downstairs and got pulled into SportsCenter (damn football season!!!!!) My friend who tested his HDD on my system came by and we watched TV for a while then I said I wanted to go check on the Ubuntu install.

All I saw was my screen full of error code lines.
And they were changing.

He immediately told me that it's either my mobo or my RAM at this point.
So I will switch out the RAM sticks and see if the other one works.

I will also run one of those memory test programs that pjmelect suggested.

Oh and jit, the voltage I believe is correct, it is set at 1.800 and is set to turn off if it falls to 0.900
From what I gathered online, this is standard for 1066 RAM.

Does this seem to be the right setting in your opinion?

Thanks again for all the help on this, guys. It is really frustrating when everything seems to be clicking and then one problem leads to another which leads to another... gah! :fou: 
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September 21, 2009 9:14:41 AM

Maybe you tried all of these :p , make sure the psu gets nice clean power, try connecting to a different socket via a surge protector or even better a UPS. Power fluctuations show up as weird problems IMHO, also these fluctuations cause premature failure of PSUs, mobos, memory, and hard drives.
Check and replace the memory, mobo, hdd, and finally connectors/cables ... :( 
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a b G Storage
September 21, 2009 12:13:35 PM

Try memtest86 which is available as a free download at the memtest.com web site.
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a b G Storage
September 21, 2009 1:10:46 PM

A lot of 1066 RAM wants higher voltage, and will run at DDR2-800 speed (and higher timings) on only 1.8V.
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September 21, 2009 2:23:10 PM

So will changing the voltage to my RAM essentially mean OCing it?

Also, how do I go about doing it?
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a b G Storage
September 21, 2009 2:30:52 PM

Read the manual for your BIOS. You'll need to set the voltage, and probably the timing manually. And yes, it is an OC, but it is one the factory essentially guarantees will work (on mobos that support it).
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September 21, 2009 3:18:59 PM

yeah I will do that.

Also, helpful link fo rme here: http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/263329-30-keep-memory...

TH of course, haha!

So I should set my voltage to 2.1V from the 1.8V it's currently running at, but do I change the cutoff value? Right now it's set to shut off the RAM if the voltage drops to .9V (half of 1.8V) should I adjust it to cut-off if it drops to 1.1V?
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September 22, 2009 9:16:22 AM

Ok, so I set my RAM voltage to the 2.1 recommended for 1066.
However today my PC was doing more fo that on/off crud again, this time it did it repeatedly over a 3 hour period, at different times throughout.


I switched it to a different outlet, and the same thing was still happening.

After it finally stopped turning on and off, I got it to boot from my Ubuntu setup disk. I figured I would run the MemTest86 that comes with Ubuntu.
It ran, the screen turned blue, the MemTest86 screen came up, and then my pc restarted. I tried it again, and it yielded the same result. My pc then began the on/off cycle yet again. I am prepared to RMA my CPU, RAM, and mobo in the event I cannot find a direct source for the issue. My PSU I am testing tomorrow to see if it's the reason my pc keeps turning on/off. If it checks out okay then I know it's my mobo or cpu acting up.

I will switch the RAM sticks tomorrow to see if I got a bad stick of RAM, but there have been a couple times (actually about 5 or 6 now) that my pc has successfully booted with no issues at all.

So I know it is something acting up in my hardware.

Will post the results of the PSU test later this morning.
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September 22, 2009 3:11:13 PM

moderata said:

So I know it is something acting up in my hardware.
Will post the results of the PSU test later this morning.

Using everything you have posted, nothing is on a list that is 'definitively good'. Everything remains on the list of 'unknown'. Nothing is on a list of 'suspected bad' or 'definitively bad'. In short, you have accomplished nothing. Mostly because you kept swapping parts. To have definitive answers, you swap or disconnect nothing. And you have numbers. You have no numbers.

Start with basics. Until you can say this subsystem is definitively good, then all other tests are not informative. This makes 'a different power cord' and so many other 'speculations' completely unnecessary.

What is the voltage on the purple wire from power supply to where it connects to the motherboard? Obviously, the wire can be measured inside the nylon connector. It should measure about 5 VDC. What are the voltages on the green and gray wires both before and when the power switch is pressed. And what are voltages on any one of the red, orange, and yellow wires when the system powered and reboots?

When you provide those numbers, then the next post will have no more 'it could be this or could be that' nonsense. You don't know why which is why. But those numbers report things you did not even consider.

On CSI is the expression, "Follow the evidence". Posted is how you follow the evidence. Currently your every action has been wild speculation with the usual 'no definitive answers'. Even your power supply is still completely suspect. Best solution starts by disconnecting nothing.

While waiting for the reply, search for the disk drive manufacturer's diagnostics. Again, do not swap parts since that only confused you and will undermine the 'follow the evidence' procedure. Before starting, even put all voltages back to what they were originally. None of that provided any useful information.

And finally, did you know a defective power supply can boot and run a computer? And a perfectly good supply can be defective in an otherwise perfectly good computer. If your friend knew this, then he would also know why swapping parts can lead to confusion. Is a very poor diagnostics procedure. Can result in working systems with defective parts. The first reason why you are so confused - your analysis provided no numbers. Therefore it was not possible to ‘follow the evidence’.
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September 23, 2009 3:40:22 PM

Okay my PSU checked out okay. Had it checked out at Altex and they said there's no problem with my PSu, but based on what I told them of what was going on, their tech believed it was an issue with my RAM.

So I have RMA'd the RAM back to Newegg and will see what happens when I get the new sticks installed.
Thanks for all the help guys.

Hopefully this solves my issue, but if it doesn't, I'll post a new thread here.
Have a good one!

Matt
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September 23, 2009 10:10:07 PM

Quote:
Had it checked out at Altex and they said there's no problem with my PSu, but based on what I told them of what was going on, their tech believed it was an issue with my RAM.

Based upon what you have posted, I the same symptoms can also define a problem with maybe 10 other items. His belief is a perfect example of wild speculation.

How did he test the power supply. If he said it is OK and did not say why, well, that is why we fix things ourselves - to learn basic concepts such as "if he did not say why, then his conclusion is at best suspect".

Did you know a defective power supply can boot and run a computer? And a perfectly good supply can be defective in an otherwise perfectly good computer. If the supply was tested removed from the computer, then he could not properly test it. If he tested it with a power supply tester, then a completely defective supply can test good. Power supply testers are used by techs without electrical training.

Again, your power system is more than just a power supply. Without numbers (as defined earlier) then the power supply can be completely defective (even if the supply was good). In your previous system, that Newegg supply could have been perfectly good - another power 'system' component was defective. With meter numbers long ago, the few who actually know this stuff may have identified the only failed component in the very next post. No exaggeration. Not stated blunt enough because you hare ignoring it.

Is your power supply good? No numbers. No definition of how the tech tested it. Therefore nothing here that says the supply is either good or bad. The supply is still unknown. To no longer speculate (replacing parts on wild speculation is called shotgunning - which is what you are doing with RAM) means getting numbers and diagnostics. Seeing the failure before replacing anything. That means numbers from the entire power supply system (nothing disconnected). That means diagnostics from the disk drive manufacturer. That means Memtst86 (using proper diagnostic procedures). If Memtst86 sees no failure, then RAM goes from 'unknown' to 'definitively good'.

Otherwise just buy all new parts for the computer and keep replacing them one at a time until something works - shotgunning. That is what you are doing. Why not just buy everything now rather than painfully do it one at a time? I am being blunt because what you most need to know, instead, you are ignoring. From what you have posted the Altex tech does not konw if the suppy is good. Your replies are only as good as the information you prove - which is why the next post does not immediately identify the suspect.


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September 23, 2009 10:57:05 PM

He tested the PSU while it was in my system. What he did exactly I do not know, but they have never steered me wrong in the past. I tried to run Memtest86 but it kept rebooting my system, not performing the diagnostic, and with the strange on/off situation I thought it best to have my PSU looked at. I know they hook it up and turn on the PC to take readouts as well as test connectors on it.

I did not ignore your post, I am not sure how to get specific voltage readouts for these things.
Basically, I can put computers together, but I suck at troubleshooting (this experience is helping me understand more the complex technical side of what I'm doing).

Everywhere I have checked online and people with similar symptoms in their PCs have found the problem to be with their RAM.

My old PSU was definitely bad. It was making whirring noises and popping. That's a bad PSU, which is why I replaced it with a newer, more powerful one. It was also the PSU that came with my original Antec case. It did the job, but I was limited on what I could hook up since it was a 400W PSU. My new PSU is a 650W, so I have more breathing room for additions to my PC.

I agree with you that I need definitive answers, but right now my PC isn't giving me any. The constant rebooting keeps me from running anything, so I am trying to get my system stable enough to do this. All my system settings were done according to the manual based on my setup (with the exception of the RAM, which I changed myself to the proper voltage for 1066).

I understand what you're saying but again I am not tech savvy. I just know what connectors go where and if it doesn't POST or boot correctly, I can troubleshoot to a certain degree.

I may be shotgunning, and it may be wild speculation that my RAM is the culprit, but as I continue on, more and more fingers began pointing to either my mobo or the RAM, with the RAM becoming more suspect as time went on. Even the first four or so replies to my thread were people on here suggesting it was an issue with my RAM.

In 5-7 days I'll have the new RAM and hopefully it will solve my problem. If it doesn't, I look forward to your help with the numbers I need.
I will honestly seek you out on here and ask how to find these numbers, especially if it will give me the exact answer I'm needing.

For now though, all I can do is wait.

Thanks for your time in posting westom, and again thanks to everyone else.
I'll let you know what happens when I get my system together again.
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September 24, 2009 3:15:44 AM

moderata said:
I did not ignore your post, I am not sure how to get specific voltage readouts for these things.
Basically, I can put computers together, but I suck at troubleshooting (this experience is helping me understand more the complex technical side of what I'm doing).

The #1 reason for fixing things is to learn. This same process is how one learns to solve other problems through life. For example, same process in 2002 made obvious that Saddam's WMDs were myth? Exact same thought process also called "Follow the evidence".

How to get voltage numbers: Set the meter to 20 VDC. Touch probes to the each colored wire. Read number. That's it; that simple. So why so much fear?

RAM and about ten other items can also create your symptoms. Those symptoms point to more than half of your computer. Your PC will only provide definitive answers if you learn how to hear it. That means starting with a meter.

Swapping parts (shotgunning) reports little that is useful. And teaches you nothing. For example, did you know your computer also has a power supply controller? What do you think causes computers to power off or reboot? How many on the internet mentioned that suspect?

How to get tech savvy? First appreciate an obvious majority who did not know anything but shotgunning. That would be a first lesson learned. Instead, get a meter that is sold in Wal-mart (less than $18), Sears, Radio Shack, Lowes, or any store that also sells hammers - because a 4.5 digit multimeter is that 'complex'. Provide numbers to learn how your computer could have reported in minutes something definitive. Then also learn what your computer actually does. Appreciate what they really mean by, "Follow the evidence."

You need not even wait. Do it now. It takes but a minute to read those numbers - and learn from the experience.

Did this get your attention? What controls power and what reboots a computer? The power supply controller. What is defined by those numbers? The power supply controller.

One final point. You said Memtst86 crashes. Swap memory cards. If Memtst86 still crashes, then RAM is not a prime suspect. Did those many others mention that test? Doubtful. Reality is not because a majority says it is so. Reality is when the reasons why are also provided. Another lesson learned by following good diagnostic process.
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a b G Storage
September 24, 2009 9:44:55 AM

Memtest was indeed mentioned, near the beginning of this thread.
Using a meter to test a PSU is worthless. Www.hardwaresecrets.com probably has the best explanation as to why. Other sites that test PSUs properly, and also explain their methodology, are jonnyguru.com and hardocp.com. Their methods are well beyond what a typical computer / electronics shop is capable of doing, since they involve test equipment costing tens of thousands of dollars. In the absence of such equipment, part swapping, done methodically and purposefully, is often the only reasonable way for a typical person or shop to identify faulty parts, and that almost never to the component level.
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September 24, 2009 4:02:12 PM

Onus said:
Using a meter to test a PSU is worthless. Www.hardwaresecrets.com probably has the best explanation as to why. Other sites that test PSUs properly, and also explain their methodology, are jonnyguru.com and hardocp.com. Their methods are well beyond what a typical computer / electronics shop is capable of doing,

So you designed power supplies using those thousands of dollars of equipment? I did. We measured numerous parameters that are irrelevant here. Which expensive equipment did we use to see what the OP must see? Only a 3.5 digit multimeter. Those $thousands were for viewing other things.

A meter provides numbers that reports more than just a power supply. Even hardwaresecrets.com touches on some of those reasons - even recommends buying and using a digital meter for other computer purposes. Somehow, those other recommendations were forgotten.

Something was read somewhere. Another example of *knowing* but could not even say why. A mistake often found when good diagnostic methods were not learned. Without 'reasons why' means the declaration is best ignored - is only hearsay. Take voltage readings so that one who even designed power supplies (who also owns that $thousands in test equipment) can provide a useful reply.

Power supply controller: what powers on or restarts a computer. A meter is the only way (without thousands of dollars of equipment) to learn what that controller (and other components) are doing. (Power supply is only one component of a power 'system'.)
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