Last weekend my video card decided to say "Goodbye, cruel world" and died on me. With a replacement card in the mail, I am currently still unsure as to why the card died. This post isn't about the card though, its about my power supply. Since I started learning computer hardware about six years ago I have remained woefully uninformed in the realm of power supplies, voltages, and amperes. However, my video card died for one of three reasons: Overheating, defective hardware, or inadequate/failing power source. I can test the first two on my own, but when it comes to ensuring that my power supply is not the culprit, I turn to you, Tom's Hardware forums.
My current system specs are a mishmash of hardware that has been upgraded one at a time over the years:
AMD Athlon X2 3200+
ASUS A8N32 SLI Deluxe mobo
3 gigs OCZ RAM (2x1gig, 2x512)
250 HDD @ 7200 RPM
(DEAD) eVGA 8800 GTS 320MB
(In the mail) eVGA GTX 275 896MB
Broadway Com Corp/Okia 600Watt PSU
The PSU itself is a few years old, and I can't find a specific model number on it to link you to a product page, but I pulled this off the PSU itself:
Model: Okia-600 (600W max)
I have a vague understanding of what these numbers mean, but I don't know if they are good or not. For the specific rails, are higher or lower amp numbers better? Do these raw numbers make the PSU a capable unit for my gaming needs, or have I been using inadequate hardware (possibly killing my video card because of it)?
Now, I assume that step one for troubleshooting a power supply is to check the rails with a voltmeter. I have yet to find my voltmeter, but once I do I'll test the lines and report back in this thread if necessary.
I also want to ask if there is any way to determine the specific power demands of my PC's individual parts, as well as total consumption for the system itself. I am especially interested in software that can do this in real time.
TLDR: My video card is dead; I need to know why. It may have been my PSU, therefore:
Is my PSU adequate?
How to find out if the PSU is failing/on the way out?
Your Okia power supply is rather cheap; it works, but I wouldn't risk it on a new high end video card such as the 275. These are the brands of ps I recommend: antec, enermax, corsair, seasonic, ocz, and pc power and cooling. Corsair has the higher single 12v rating. Look for 50 amps or higher on a single rail, or add up all the 12v rails on multiple rail power supplies.
Cheap power supplies are worthless. Their wattage rating is either the peak wattage that the power supply can handle for a few seconds or the combined power from all the rails and not just the 12v which is what matters. Even the cheap ones that do not fall into these categories suffer from extremely quick capacitor aging and high voltage fluctuation which can fry parts in and of itself.
Stick to good PSUs, if you need suggestions just list a price range.
The reason your video card died is very likely because of your cheap power supply, a power supply that push only 24a on the +12v rail is NOT a 600w power supply, but more like a 300w-400w power supply and it has all the bad characteristics of cheap power supplies.
Dump the PSU. Even assuming that it is good PSU, output distribution is all wrong. Anything over 20 amps on the 5 volt output is wasted capacity. The heavy 5 volt rail is a carryover from the old days when CPU's and GPU's were powered from 5 volts. The 3.3 volt output powers RAM and parts of a SATA controller board. Based on measurement I took, 2 GB of RAM pulls about 3 amps at 3.3 volts.
A modern 600 watt PSU should put out about 45 amps at 12 volts. Of the brands that o1die listed, I would rank Corsair, Seasonic, and PC P&C first; Antec and Enermax second; and OCZ third in that group. Among all the brands that newegg carries, I'd place them all in the upper quarter. Some might argue that Enermax should be moved up, but this is my opinion.
One overlooked PSU spec is "full rated power at 50 C." That's a hard specification to meet. If it's not given, assume 25 C. Solid state electronics produce less power as they heat. There's a very good chance that the internal temps of an inexpensive may reach 40 C or 50 C. That means that the output of a 600 watt power supply at room temperature may drop to 450 watts when it heats to 40 - 50 C.