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Upgrading Power Supply Dell T3400 Workstation 875W

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April 21, 2009 2:21:10 AM


Hello.

I am brand new here, and new to modifying cases, so I hope I do this correctly.

I need to get into heavy-duty video editing (HD, compositing, graphics, etc). My Dell Precision 380 workstation died, and Dell replaced it with a new T3400, with a 525W PSU (thanks, Dell!). It has the two PCI-X16 slots I need, but the 525W PSU is not going to cut it.

I contacted Dell, and they told me that 'rumor has it' that sometimes people shoehorn the Dell GM869 PSU at 875 Watts into a T3400 chassis. If I could do that, then I can continue to use this system without replacing. They recommended the Dell GM869 PSU, and also a YN945 cable.

Has anyone ever done this substitution? And are there any known issues?

I imagine that with my two new PCI X-16 cards, I will also want an additional case evacuator fan, just to keep things cool.

Proposed system configuration is:
Dell T3400 chassis with GM869 PSU at 875 Watts
Intel Q9650 CoreDuo Quad at 3.0 GHz
8GB Crucial low-latency DDR2 RAM
4 GB Windows ReadyBoost Ram in rear USB port
C:\ is two 250 GB Western Digital Caviar 7200 RPM drives in RAID 0 (backs up externally)
D:\ is two 1TB Seagate Barracuda 7200 RPM drives in RAID 0 (backs up externally)
DVD burner
Blu-Ray combo burner
BFG GTX260 Video card
Matrox RT.X2 Video Accelerator (18 Watts)
UPS is APC Back-Ups XS 1500
Windows Vista Ultimate x64

I know there are much faster/better systems out there, but if I can extend the life on this machine with the two PCI X16 cards, then I do not have to replace the system.

Thank you very much for your help.

Norman

April 21, 2009 4:58:01 AM

Have you considered third-party power supplies, like CORSAIRs? Your PC seems to be standard ATX, so it probably can accept non-Dell PSUs.
April 21, 2009 7:32:48 AM

Hi Manic.

>>Your PC seems to be standard ATX, so it probably can accept non-Dell PSUs.

That is a really good suggestion. I contacted Dell, and they said my PSU measurements are:
3.25" x 6" x 5.5".
I suppose I will need to pop the case and measure them myself come morning, but right now it is late.

The Corsair measurements are different:
•TX850W Dimension: 5.9"(W) x 3.4"(H) X 6.3"(L);”
•TX750W Dimension: 5.9"(W) x 3.4"(H) X 6.3"(L);
•TX650W Dimension: 5.9"(W) x 3.4"(H) X 5.9"(L);

The Thermaltake measurements are:
Dimension 6.3 x 5.9 x 3.4 inch (L)x(W)x(H)
160 x 150 x 86 mm (L)x(W)x(H).

So I will pop the case come morning, but for now it looks like the dimensions are different.

Thank you,

Norman
Related resources
a b ) Power supply
April 21, 2009 12:16:55 PM

Hmm....

By looking at it:

http://forums.anandtech.com/messageview.aspx?catid=51&t...

Look like the Corsair PSUs MAY fit, but it's going to be a tight fit. Also note OP you can run the GTX260 with a Corsair 550VX, or a PC Power & Cooling 610. These PSUs may have the smaller/right size.

Another option would be to get a decent good and quite cheap case like a Antec 300
($60; http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ) and move your stuff on to it.
April 22, 2009 1:59:07 AM

Thank you for your help.

I found a Dell 875W PSU on Ebay for $50.00. The picture of the case looked identical, from what I could see, so I think I'm going to give that a try before I get too fancy on this particular chassis.

But I am starting to get the impression that building a PC is just a matter of picking the right components, and then bolting them into the right case. Is that correct?

Thank you for your help.

Norman
a b ) Power supply
April 22, 2009 5:06:24 PM

Your system should work just fine with the 525W PSU.
April 22, 2009 6:32:09 PM

>>Your system should work just fine with the 525W PSU.

Thanks, Animal. But are you sure?

My system will be:
Dell T3400 chassis
Q9650 CoreDuo Quad at 3.0GHz
4 each HDD's in Raid 0 (2 WD Caviars for C;\, 2 Seagate Barracudas for D:\)
8 GB Crucial low-latency RAM
4 GB Windows ReadyBoost RAM (in back USB slot)
GTX 260 Video card
Matrox RT.X2 (supposedly only 18 Watts...but we'll see)
DVD burner
Blu-Ray burner
eSata card
Firewire card

The hump is that when one goes to render video, everything runs all at once, for many hours.

I'm thinkin' that would put quite a strain on a 525W Dell PSU.

Norman

a b ) Power supply
April 22, 2009 11:00:36 PM

theAnimal said:
Your system should work just fine with the 525W PSU.

That's a MAYBE. It depends on how many amps are in the +12 rail. Knowing Dell it's about 18-20 amps MAX.
April 22, 2009 11:44:00 PM


>>That's a MAYBE. It depends on how many amps are in the +12 rail. Knowing Dell it's about 18-20 amps MAX.

I cannot really mess around with maybe. When I go to render and burn it will be a lot of work sunk, and I do not want to lose it.

Hey Shadow, it sounds like you know a lot more about all this stuff than I do.
A vendor sent me some pictures (which I cannot figure out how to upload here), and both the 525W PSU and the 875W PSU both spec out at 18 amps on the 12 volt side (I'm not sure what a 'rail' is. And why would two different wattages have the same ampere rating?????)

From what I can tell in the picture, the 875W PSU is the same height and width, but slightly longer than the 525W PSU, which is perfect. The vendor said it should bolt right up. The only thing is that I am not sure if the 875W PSU uses the same 24 pin connector, or if the wires are permanently attached to the harness, but the wires on the 875 look like they are permanently connected, so I probably won't know until it gets here whether or not I need any adaptors or extra connectors.

I am thinking that all of my parts should be in the start of next week, so I can post you on whether everything bolts up.

What is a 12V rail? Is it a power line within the mobo itself?

Thanks.

Norman

a b ) Power supply
April 23, 2009 5:24:28 AM

A rail is a power line within the PSU. With current systems the 12V rail(s) is the most important since most components use it.

How many 12V rails does the 525W PSU have?
a c 243 ) Power supply
April 23, 2009 11:03:54 AM

theAnimal said:


How many 12V rails does the 525W PSU have?

3 x 18a , 41a combined ouput.
a b ) Power supply
April 23, 2009 1:00:25 PM

^That (in theory) should be enough amps to power what OP needs.
a b ) Power supply
April 23, 2009 5:40:52 PM

That's plenty of power.
April 23, 2009 5:46:31 PM

Shadow703793 said:
^That (in theory) should be enough amps to power what OP needs.


Thank you. I really appreciate your help.

I am very thankful to have a new system, but I am a little confused as to why Dell would field a system with two PCI X-16 Gen 2.0 slots, but with only a 525W PSU, when some of the new PCI X-16 cards draw so much power nowadays? Then I was even more perplexed when I went to the Asus site, and saw that their power supply calculator recommended a minimum of 700-750W to run my configuration when I go to render video.

http://support.asus.com/PowerSupplyCalculator/PSCalcula...

With today's high-powered PCI X-16 cards, why would Dell offer a machine with potentially not enough power to support the two PCI X-16 slots it has on its motherboard (i.e., why am I having to scrounge for a new PSU)?

>>Another option would be to get a decent good and quite cheap case like a Antec 300
($60; http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] ntec%20300 ) and move your stuff on to it.

I appreciate your suggestion of possible migration, Shadow, and it is making me think long and hard. I am not sure if this is the right place to ask, but I have approximately two years left on this particular warranty. Right now I am thinking about what I will do when I eventually have the money to replace. It is giving me the 'make or buy' quandary.

In addition to replacing my box, Dell Gold Technical Support has been really good to me. For that reason, when I eventually replace, I am considering purchasing a T7500 Workstation in a base configuration, but with the biggest PSU they have, and then trimming it out myself (because Dell wants a small fortune for their accessories). However, I am also seriously considering HP, and also seriously considering ordering the parts I want, and then building my own machine.

Is this the right place to ask for comments on the layout of the Dell T3400 chassis (photo above), specifically with regards to air cooling? Not really knowing anything, it seems to me like Dell has done a pretty good job of designing the thing. They have a huge heat sink sitting directly behind a fan, and while the T3400 chassis itself is kind of small, if I got a T7500 with a tower case (or whatever model they are offering two years from now) I would think that there would be enough room for the air to circulate.

Is trimming out a base case from Dell or HP a good option, considering you can get five-year tech support plans? Or is it better to build your own machine, and then deal with the tech support headaches? I do not plan to do any overclocking, and I think I will stick with air cooling. My only plan is to add peripherals and software, and then use it till the hard drives fall apart.

Thank you very much for your help.

Norman
April 23, 2009 5:48:44 PM

theAnimal said:
That's plenty of power.


Hey Animal.

So you are saying I really don't need the 875W PSU, even when running everything all at once?

Thank you,

Norman
April 23, 2009 7:14:11 PM

>>Is this the right place to ask for comments on the layout of the Dell T3400 chassis (photo above), specifically with regards to air cooling? Not really knowing anything, it seems to me like Dell has done a pretty good job of designing the thing.

Hmm. OK, I did a little shopping on Tiger Direct for cases, and now I can see that there are much better cases for cooling out there. Sorry to have asked a question out of such ignorance.

But Shadow, Animal, DellUser1 and others: is the jury in, that the 525W PSU is really all the power I will ever need with this configuration, even when running everything all at once for extended periods of time? Or is a 525W rating from Dell still marginal?

Thank you,

Norman
a b ) Power supply
April 24, 2009 2:07:07 AM

Your CPU is under 100W, GTX260 is just over 100W. There is nothing else in your system that will use a significant amount of power. You'll be fine.
April 24, 2009 3:38:38 AM

^ Agreed, even if you take into account all your hard drives running at the same time. 875W is simply too much, and will help you rack up quite an electricity bill.
April 24, 2009 4:04:38 AM

theAnimal said:
Your CPU is under 100W, GTX260 is just over 100W. There is nothing else in your system that will use a significant amount of power. You'll be fine.


OK. Cool. Thank you. But may I please ask another question?

>>Another option would be to get a decent good and quite cheap case like a Antec 300
($60; http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] ntec%20300 ) and move your stuff on to it.

I keep thinking about that. Would it make my machine last longer if I had a high airflow case, like this one:

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...

Is that a good idea? How much would it help? Or should I just sit put with what I've got, and maybe get a high-airflow case for the next one?

Thank you,

Norman
April 24, 2009 5:52:36 AM

I'm looking at all of these cases on Tiger Direct and NewEgg, and it seems that the layout is backwards from my T3400.

In the T3400, with the side panel off, the intake fan is on the left, and the output (back of unit) is on the right. With the Tiger Direct and the NewEgg cases, it seems the exact opposite (staring at the mobo, the intake fan on the right, and the back of the unit is on the left).

If I migrate cases, will my mobo fit?

Is there any way to significantly cool down this case, apart from leaving the side panel off (and dusting it out once a month)?

And why would it be cooler to mount the PSU at the bottom of the case?

Thank you for your help.

Norman
April 24, 2009 6:49:36 AM

OK guys, thank you for all of your help. But now you have got me thinking about cooling.

With no small children and no animals in the house, would you operate with the side-panel off? Or would you put some simple mesh screen on there to increase airflow, and call it good? Or would you specifically not do that?

Thank you,

Norman
a c 243 ) Power supply
April 24, 2009 11:56:57 AM

Just add an 80 mm fan to the back grill.
a b ) Power supply
April 24, 2009 3:48:54 PM

r_manic said:
875W is simply too much, and will help you rack up quite an electricity bill.


The electricity bill will be nearly the same, since only the power needed will be drawn from the wall. The difference will depend on the efficiency of the 2 PSUs at identical load.
April 24, 2009 6:23:42 PM

>>Just add an 80 mm fan to the back grill.

Dell User: Nice idea. I went to NewEgg, and Noctua makes a super quiet 92mm fan that looks like it will fit perfect. I will try to install it when it gets here, and then I will monitor the heat in the case with SpeedFan.

On another note, the GTX 260 just came in this morning. I had no idea that card would be that big. I thought my double-height 8600 GT was large...but this thing is monstrous. It is a full length card, twice as long as the 8600 GT, and just as tall, but solid. It looks like there is only about 3/16ths" clearance between the air intake and the shroud that covers the CPU heat sink above it. I do not think that will seriously obstruct air intake for the GTX 260, but I am thinking it will cut off all airflow for the three PCI cards that sit beneath it. I'm not liking that.

Again, like I say, I will monitor the GPU temperatures via SpeedFan, and if it runs too hot I will either take the side panel cover off during use, or else I will try to rig something up with mesh to allow the air to flow freely, while keeping any light-seeking bugs out of the case.

Does anyone make mesh or grill metal, in case I want to sawzall the meat out of the side panel cover, and replace it with something that will allow the air to exchange freely?

>>The electricity bill will be nearly the same, since only the power needed will be drawn from the wall. The difference will depend on the efficiency of the 2 PSUs at identical load.

Animal: I think all things being equal, I will probably try to install the 825W PSU. My only real concern at this point is that the 525W connects via a 24-pin connector, whereas it looks like the 875W is hard-wired. Since both models come from Dell, I think it will probably just be a simple deal of tracing the wires, and swapping them out one-for-one. It should be easy, but I won't know until the PSU gets here, probably early next week.

But I did find some stats on the GTX 260:

Idle/2D power mode: approx. 25W
Blu-ray DVD playback mode: approx. 35W
Full 3D performance mode: varies - worst case TDP 182W for GTX 260
HybridPower mode: effectively 0W

So it looks like the worst case power consumption for the GTX 260 under heavy load is 182 Watts.

Thank you all for your help.

Norman
a b ) Power supply
April 24, 2009 8:12:46 PM

nazareneisrael said:
But I did find some stats on the GTX 260:

Idle/2D power mode: approx. 25W
Blu-ray DVD playback mode: approx. 35W
Full 3D performance mode: varies - worst case TDP 182W for GTX 260
HybridPower mode: effectively 0W

So it looks like the worst case power consumption for the GTX 260 under heavy load is 182 Watts.


The worst case tested number I've seen is 166W for the 65nm version; the 55nm uses considerably less power.
a c 243 ) Power supply
April 24, 2009 8:43:00 PM

nazareneisrael said:
I do not think that will seriously obstruct air intake for the GTX 260, but I am thinking it will cut off all airflow for the three PCI cards that sit beneath it.

Does anyone make mesh or grill metal, in case I want to sawzall the meat out of the side panel cover, and replace it with something that will allow the air to exchange freely?


The lower case fan provides plenty of air for the expansion cards.

You can get Modders Mesh here;
http://www.mnpctech.com/casemodstore.html

April 24, 2009 9:38:19 PM

>>The worst case tested number I've seen is 166W for the 65nm version; the 55nm uses considerably less power.

That is very good to know. If I cannot figure the 875W thing out, I will just put the 525W unit back in, and not sweat it (unless it shuts down). Thanks, Animal.



>>The lower case fan provides plenty of air for the expansion cards. You can get Modders Mesh here; http://www.mnpctech.com/casemodstore.html


Thanks, DellUser.

OK, the only thing I am concerned about is that the GTX 260 comes within 3/16ths" of the CPU heat sink shroud, and it is so big and wide that it pretty much cuts the case in half. Also, it looks like it will pump heat downward. So basically the GTX is going to pump a lot of hot air in the lower half of the case, and it will have nowhere to go except to fry my D:\ array; so I've got to get some kind of serious ventilation going in the bottom half of my case.

The mesh looks like it would probably be pretty sharp once cut. I suppose I could install a vent on the side panel of the case, down by the bottom back corner:

http://www.mnpctech.com/VGAVent.html

Would the 120mm fan reliably push all of the hot air out of the vent?

Or might it be even better to install a couple of superquiet 40mm fans in the same location (down by the back rear corner of the case door) and push all of the hot air out, just to make sure that the GTX and D:\ stay cool?

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Thank you very much for your help.

Norman
April 24, 2009 9:57:44 PM

>>Or might it be even better to install a couple of superquiet 40mm fans in the same location (down by the back rear corner of the case door) and push all of the hot air out, just to make sure that the GTX and D:\ stay cool?


Or rather, suck out all of the hot air that the 120mm fan is pushing into the lower PCI slots....
April 27, 2009 2:30:02 PM

OK, I think I've got it.

I am adding a 92mm fan to the back of the case to assist in pulling hot air out of the case, to get a good 'wind-tunnel' effect.

Then I have to cut two holes in the door of the case in the lower right hand corner, and install two 40mm fans to pull hot air out of the bottom of the case, to evacuate what gets pushed in by the lower intake fan (120mm?), so that heat does not get trapped beneath the GPU. It is a steel case, but it should not be too bad. I already have a hole-saw and some drill bits.

I also think I will try to run with the 525W PSU...and then if it shuts down, then I can try shoehorning the 875W PSU into the thing.

Thank you all for your help.

Norman
April 28, 2009 3:30:30 AM

Are you sure you want to do that? Even if your components would automatically shut down to protect themselves, I wouldn't even let them reach that state. Especially if electricity is involved!
April 28, 2009 5:06:46 AM

>>Are you sure you want to do that? Even if your components would automatically shut down to protect themselves, I wouldn't even let them reach that state. Especially if electricity is involved!


Thanks, Manic.

You think I should try to install the 875W PSU?

Norman
April 29, 2009 2:04:25 AM

Well, you can always check the PSU calculator just to be sure! :D  Can't you get something in between 525 and 875? Like perhaps 650? 875 watts might be a bit too much for your setup after all...
April 29, 2009 2:33:34 AM

The 875W PSU came in today, and I tried installing it. The socket is obstructed by the case. If I go to use that PSU, then I have to modify the case (and I'd rather not).

OCZ makes a replacement Dell PSU that is supposed to be a 'true' 500W. However, they want $85.00, and I don't know how many watts it would give as compared to a Dell 525W PSU.

http://www.pcpower.com/products/power_supplies/dell/

Before I do all that, I thought I would use my watt meter, and see how much current the system is drawing as it is. I checked online, and other people are using GTX 260's with the 525W PSU, without any problems. I do not know with how many hdd's and DVD burners they have running all at the same time, but I have not heard any outraged cries of "Why does Dell sell the T3400 with only a 525W PSU!?!?!?"

Some of the other experienced posters here seem to believe the 525W should be sufficient, and so I think I should check using a watt meter before I do anything else.

Is there some test I can use to max the system out, to see how much power it draws?

Also, is there any way to bump the speed of a BFG GTX 260 without overclocking the card?

On a separate note, I installed DellUser1's 92mm fan in the back of the case, and pulled the blockout in front of the C:\ array, so there should be a nice wind tunnel effect at least in the upper half of the case.

Norman




a c 243 ) Power supply
April 29, 2009 11:41:50 AM

The only thing that makes the PCP&C " Dell compatible " is it's lack of a switch, other than that it is the same as any other standard ATX psu, and it wouldn't be an upgrade.
April 29, 2009 12:48:08 PM

>>Is there some test I can use to max the system out, to see how much power it draws?

>>Also, is there any way to bump the speed of a BFG GTX 260 without overclocking the card?

Typo. I guess I meant to ask if there was any way to bump the speed of the GTX air cooling fan, without overclocking the card.

Also, is there some easy system 'stress test' I can use, without having to create and then render a whole video project?

Also, DellUser1, do I see that your system has a 550W PSU, and you also use a GTX 260? And do you know how many watts your system draws? (I just want to be sure.)

Thank you,

Norman
a c 243 ) Power supply
April 29, 2009 12:59:49 PM

When stressing with Orthos and Furmark my systems peak power use is around 300 watts according to the software that came with my psu, that's with no video overclock, with the gpu overclock shown in my sig peak hits 355w.
Average consumption when gaming is around 250w, again with no video overclock.
You can use EVGA's Precision overclocking tool to increase the fan speed on the video card.
May 4, 2009 10:17:56 PM

Hi DellUser.

I downloaded PassMark, and gave it a whirl with my Wattmeter. The highest I saw was 285W.

If it can handle PassMark and not get above 285W, I don't think I will be OK.

Thanks for the tip with the fan in the back. That's great.

Also, I got a spare side door. Rather than cut all of those 40mm fans into it (and deal with 40mm fan noise), I think I will cut six big windowframes into it, and then glue bug screen into place. That should make it halfway 'open air', and still keep the bugs out.

It sits up off of the floor, so I do not believe it will get bumped.

Thank you for your help.

Norman
March 13, 2012 8:58:07 PM

Sorry to bring up an old post but I recently purchased a used T3400 off eBay and came across this thread when researching replacing the power supply. Thought I would post my experience in case someone else needs help in the future.

Yes a standard aftermarket ATX power supply will fit in the T3400. What you need to pay attention to the most is the location of the power cord and switch on the back of the power supply. Because of the shroud on the case you need one with the plug and switch in as far as possible from the edges of the power supply. Other than that it's a pretty simple swap. One thing to note is that the Dell power supply is taller than a standard atx so there is now a gap in the back of the case.





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