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Upgrading psu

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September 9, 2010 2:41:04 PM

Hello,
Just purchased a GTS250 graphics card after conferring with others here at Toms, and online sales at compusa. I was led to believe that my XPS400 2.8 processor, with a 375w psu would handle this card. Last night I installed it. It ran great for about 40 minutes, then the screen went blank. After restarting, it did the same thing after another 40 minutes or so. Called Galaxy tech support, and they said that I needed a 450w min psu for that card, and upgrading would solve the problem.
If I was able to run for 40 minutes, I assume that the card was getting enough power to run, so what is causing the problem? Overheating of the card or cpu? Something else? If upgrading the psu will solve this, can anyone tell me if I can upgrade to 450w - 500w psu without any problems on this computer?
Any help or advise is appreciated.

More about : upgrading psu

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a b ) Power supply
a c 224 U Graphics card
September 9, 2010 3:06:12 PM

As the PSU gets hot, it gets less efficient and this leads to power loss (overly simplified explanation). That is why you are experiencing the problem.

Since you are using a Dell system, you may have some issues (maybe not) adding an aftermarket PSU to your case. Dell systems often use non-standard cut-outs in their case designs. I have a Dell Precision that needed a new PSU, for example, that would not accomodate a "regular" PSU. The cutout simply interfered with the installation.

That being said, you could go over to a website like txcesssurplus.com and find a Dell PSU that is stronger than the one you have now. Get a PSU from either another XPS or an Optiplex and you should be fine.

You could also go with a more traditional after-market PSU, but be prepared to modify your PSU cut-out to accomodate.

BTW, you do need more wattage to use your new GPU. That is your only solution.

Good luck!
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a b ) Power supply
a b U Graphics card
September 9, 2010 3:10:42 PM

Did it shut down when the video card was under stress, or when it was idle?

It could be a heat issue. To test that, open the side of the case, and blow a box fan at it. If it's heat, that will stop it from shutting down.

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a b ) Power supply
a c 224 U Graphics card
September 9, 2010 3:26:55 PM

aford10 said:
Did it shut down when the video card was under stress, or when it was idle?

It could be a heat issue. To test that, open the side of the case, and blow a box fan at it. If it's heat, that will stop it from shutting down.

This is good advice. The XPS400 (I helped a lady in my office with one of these) is actually pretty well designed from an airflow perspective, but they do build up dust bunnies pretty badly. Make sure your system is clean when you pop the cover off.

Regardless, the PSU, if maxed out all the time, is going to get hot and less effective. Good luck!
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September 9, 2010 3:52:36 PM

aford10 said:
Did it shut down when the video card was under stress, or when it was idle?

It could be a heat issue. To test that, open the side of the case, and blow a box fan at it. If it's heat, that will stop it from shutting down.


Yes, tried the card out on City of Heros, and as I said it work fine for awhile, then just went blank. I took the cover off the unit and felt the card, it did not seem hot at all. Within a few minutes I restarted the computer and it worked fine. I down loaded the latest drivers to make sure they were updated, then went back into CoH and played that for awhile before it went blank again. Is there any chance that I could be damaging anything in the computer if I use it the way it is untill I get the problem solved?
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September 9, 2010 3:55:27 PM

COLGeek said:
This is good advice. The XPS400 (I helped a lady in my office with one of these) is actually pretty well designed from an airflow perspective, but they do build up dust bunnies pretty badly. Make sure your system is clean when you pop the cover off.

Regardless, the PSU, if maxed out all the time, is going to get hot and less effective. Good luck!


I actually cleaned out all those dust bunnies out before I installed the card. If it is just a heat issue, what are the solutions?
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a b ) Power supply
a c 224 U Graphics card
September 9, 2010 4:01:39 PM

It isn't the video card getting hot that is causing your problem, it is the PSU. Yes, you can damage the system with inadequate power. You could damage the GPU, in particular, and your OS install (as well as other nasty things).

I assume all was well with your previous configuration. I recommend you revert back to that while you sort out your PSU options.
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a b ) Power supply
a c 224 U Graphics card
September 9, 2010 4:05:24 PM

One more thing I forgot to mention, Dell is notorious for putting underwhelming (under powered) PSUs in systems. The PSUs they often use were designed to meet the minimum configuration that the system requires at the time it was built with a baseline of hardware components selected by Dell.

Upgrading to devices that require more power than the original config can cause the same problems you are experiencing. I have seen this many times before and I am sure if you were to dig through the Tom's forums you would find tons of evidence to back me up.
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a b ) Power supply
a b U Graphics card
September 9, 2010 4:05:37 PM

If it's a heat issue, you'll need better cooling. This can be done a number of ways. You can add a case fan, PCI slot fan, HD fans...etc.

The box fan is important. Just removing the side of the case may not decrease heat enough.

The PSU should also be a main suspect at this point. As COLGeek pointed out, the wattage is pretty low. What's most important, is how many amps it's supplying on the 12v rail(s). Though, there's a big difference in a good and bad 375w PSU.

If it's heat, yes, it can shorten the life of your hardware. It may also fragment the data on your hard drive. It's possible, but you most likely won't notice any damage at this point.
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September 9, 2010 4:32:14 PM

Dell suggested a dedicated psu, Vision Tek, 450w. But at $110.00 that seems like alot for a $65.00 card.
If I were to disconnect the power to other commponents like a disk drive, would that give me enough power to run the card? Just to check to see if it is the psu. ?
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September 9, 2010 4:59:07 PM

Do I need to woory about anything else besides removing screws and wires? Are there any switches, drivers, widgets, or ????? that I need to be aware of when swapping this out? I basically right handed and have 2 left hands when it comes to stuff like this.
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a b ) Power supply
a c 224 U Graphics card
September 9, 2010 5:11:46 PM

If you are referring to installing the aux power supply, you won't be swapping anything out. You keep your current PSU along with these devices. No drivers, software, etc. These are all mounted in a spare 5.25 bay (like where your CD/DVD drive is located).

If you go to Newegg, there will be manufacturer/product links for each device. There you should be able to download the product manuals to see what you will have to do to install the device.

Good luck!
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September 12, 2010 1:46:38 PM

Need more help. I replaced the 375w psu with a 500w unit that had all the specs that they said I needed. I am still having the same issue. Maybe I should have said before thatis seems to happen when playing an on line game. I d0 not have a problem when the computer is on but running anything. Anyways, I still don't kow what the problem is. Any help?
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a b ) Power supply
a b U Graphics card
September 12, 2010 1:51:42 PM

what 500 did you get?
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a b ) Power supply
a b U Graphics card
September 12, 2010 4:26:36 PM

What brand 500W unit did you buy ?? -- If it was a generic low end model then it may be even worse than the 375W unit you already had -- A lot of no name companies overrate their PSU's by doing testing in refrigerated rooms where the PSU will output higher wattage than under real world usage ! (never buy a cheap no name brand unit unless you do some research to ensure that brand is reliable and rated properly - that is what review sites are around for)
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September 12, 2010 11:46:12 PM

There weren't alot of 500w psu to choose from. I went with an Ultra LS500, mostly because it met cards requirement, and partlly because it was in my price range. It seems to have a decent warranty too. Let me know if this was a mistake.
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a b ) Power supply
a c 224 U Graphics card
September 13, 2010 12:35:22 AM

Well, it isn't the worst PSU I have seen, but it isn't the best by a long shot.

So, when playing a game your system fails, but works fine otherwise. Specifically, what game are we talking about?
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September 13, 2010 6:34:55 PM

COLGeek said:
Well, it isn't the worst PSU I have seen, but it isn't the best by a long shot.

So, when playing a game your system fails, but works fine otherwise. Specifically, what game are we talking about?


The game is Ctiy of Hereos, and also had problems with Lord of the Rings, both online games. And it didn't seem that the system failed, just the screen turning blank.
Yesterday I exchanged the card, and so far it has been working ok. It will be tested some more tonight, and hopefully this can be put to bed.
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a b ) Power supply
a c 224 U Graphics card
September 13, 2010 7:10:22 PM

Sure hope so for your sake. I assume you exchanged the GPU. It is possible that the first one was defective to start with, or from the PSU issues. Doesn't matter now. Good luck!!!
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a b ) Power supply
a b U Graphics card
September 13, 2010 9:26:51 PM

dampat said:
The game is Ctiy of Hereos, and also had problems with Lord of the Rings, both online games. And it didn't seem that the system failed, just the screen turning blank.
Yesterday I exchanged the card, and so far it has been working ok. It will be tested some more tonight, and hopefully this can be put to bed.


Did you get the same kind of video card?

Hope it works out for you!
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September 13, 2010 10:23:07 PM

Yes I got the same card. So far so good.
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September 14, 2010 10:25:40 PM

Best answer selected by dampat.
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a b ) Power supply
a c 271 U Graphics card
September 15, 2010 4:35:22 AM

This topic has been closed by Mousemonkey
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