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Burning Smell from PC

Last response: in Components
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March 20, 2012 11:54:27 PM

Today I turned on my PC then walked to the other room while it booted, and when I returned I smelt something burning and the PC was off. I then proceeded to try and turn on the PC a few times, with no success. Each time, the mobo lights lit up and the fans began to spin, but then everything cut off after 2-3 seconds. I waited 15 minutes and tried and again and everything seems to be working now. Any suggestions? Is something, like the PSU, on the verge of failing?

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a b ) Power supply
March 21, 2012 12:18:05 AM

Hi :) 

Its PROBABLY the PSU...turn off the machine and smell the back of the PSU...if its got a nasty electrical burnt smell..then its the PSU... :( 

If so ...DO NOT RUN THE COMPUTER until its changed or you could easily burn out the motherboard. cpu, ram etc etc...

All the best Brett :) 
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March 21, 2012 1:19:32 AM

I really cannot determine if that is where the smell is originating. Anyway to test the PSU?
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a c 158 ) Power supply
March 21, 2012 10:38:45 AM

If you're getting a quick shutdown, then the paperclip trick may not be a good indicator, but it is one way to test the PSU:
1. Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0OKmIuNtmI
2. Guide: http://aphnetworks.com/lounge/turn_on_psu_without_mothe...

I have a Rosewill PSU tester that I use in addition to the paperclip trick: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Nice thing about the tester is that it gives voltages for 3.3, 5 and 12V rails and automatically indicates if the PSU is out of spec (+- 10% from rated voltage). I wouldn't try booting again until you can test the PSU with at least one of these methods.
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March 21, 2012 10:45:15 AM

swing.


it doesnt boot anyway so. unplug pc. touch bare metal


then unplug everything plugged into it


then unscrew the psu, remove it. then give it a snif

that should be the problem




if thats what happend i recomend taking it to a computer/repair shop and ask them nicely to check it.


they have insurance and something that was damaged may damage any replacement parts you put in.



the cpu should be ok but i would still get it checked by a proffesional
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March 21, 2012 11:24:23 AM

Unplug it and ground yourself ASAP. After you have a metal piece or static strap or w/e set up then open up you case then unplug all connectors from and take out your motherboard and put it on a non-conductive surface like an anti-static mat or even cardboard box (I would recommend to do a google check of the surface you are putting it on to be safe). remove the PSU and check first for visible damage to the actual unit, then look for frayed cables, and find a likely cause. After you are done self-diagnosing your PSU, take the whole thing to a repair shop and tell them what happened, any damage that you found, and your suspected problem; they should check and tell you what is wrong ( be sure to also get your motherboard, CPU, RAM, and graphics cards checked up for damage too). Whatever you do, do NOT try to turn on your damaged computer or anything plugged into the same outlet as it was until you get the computer checked up, I would also highly recommend getting an electrician to check up the outlet it was plugged into to make sure it is safe to put it back into the same place.
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March 21, 2012 11:41:16 AM

Any reason why it would boot, but then after waiting it did boot and everything seemed to work find? Please not, per everyones reccomendations, I will not be turning it on again.
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March 21, 2012 11:51:56 AM

swingking03 said:
Any reason why it would boot, but then after waiting it did boot and everything seemed to work find? Please not, per everyones reccomendations, I will not be turning it on again.

What I would assume is that the PSU is damaged either the unit or a cable somewhere, in a way that it gets to or near post and then stops. In that case I would also check up your drives or maybe in the middle of boot into BIOS it crashed/whatever is wrong went wrong, and now the bios flash is corrupted.
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March 21, 2012 12:02:19 PM

rishiswaz said:
What I would assume is that the PSU is damaged either the unit or a cable somewhere, in a way that it gets to or near post and then stops. In that case I would also check up your drives or maybe in the middle of boot into BIOS it crashed/whatever is wrong went wrong, and now the bios flash is corrupted.


Any way to check is the bios is corrupted? How would I check the drives if I am not booting the PC?
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a c 158 ) Power supply
March 21, 2012 1:20:58 PM

swingking03 said:
Any way to check is the bios is corrupted? How would I check the drives if I am not booting the PC?

If you or a buddy has a PSU that is sufficient for your rig, then you can try to boot with that PSU. I wouldn't reset BIOS via jumpers or removing the battery unless I was pretty sure that the BIOS was corrupted. The first thing that you need to do is test the suspect PSU...the rest can't be tested until you get a good PSU (yours if it tests good or another).
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March 21, 2012 1:33:21 PM

The PSU is a 550w Antex that is about 6-7 years old. I'm am leaning towards getting a new one based on its age and everyones thoughts that it is a PSU problem. I guess that will be my way of checking with a different PSU.
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a c 158 ) Power supply
March 21, 2012 1:36:44 PM

The paperclip trick is easy to do and can help you figure out if it's the PSU or something else in your PC...
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March 21, 2012 1:49:46 PM

I may be missing something here, but what will the paperclip trick tell me that I dont already know. I was able to get it to power up and stay on for an hour after the problem first appeared.
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a c 158 ) Power supply
March 21, 2012 2:14:39 PM

Missed that in your OP....if it boots good now, then it would likely pass the paperclip test. It could be a PSU that's starting to fail, but it could be a failing mobo or dust accumulation shorting out. I hate intermittent faults...
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March 21, 2012 2:19:30 PM

Yeah, tell me about it. I can't decide if I need to spend some cash on a new PSU just in case so it doesn't cause other problems, or if everything is all good now.
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March 21, 2012 3:21:46 PM

Have you checked to see if the PSU fan spins? It could cause the system to overheat and shut down. Some power supplies will then start up after it cools down enough.
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Best solution

March 21, 2012 4:22:46 PM

Replace the power supply and install hwmonitor from cpuid.com. If it is an Intel motherboard you should be able to install Intel Desktop Utilities. These will provide accurate voltages provided by the power supply. The power good signal is probably nearly out of range.
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March 22, 2012 12:40:06 PM

I went ahead and ordered a new PSU just to be safe. Thanks for all the help!
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March 22, 2012 12:40:41 PM

Best answer selected by swingking03.
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March 27, 2012 3:35:45 AM

Had a similar thing happen tonight. very faint burning smell...possibly form the PSU but not 100% sure.

I shut it off immediately, grounded myself, unplugged all drives, as I thought that perhaps a drive power cable was shorted, (has occurred to me previously in another rig) or perhaps some dust got somewhere it shouldn't have when I had cleaned out dust buildup from the inside of my PSU. Thing is that I had it running afterwards for a short time and it was fine. then I tried again after dinner and, burning smell. Runs fine now.

Other question. need info. I do have another PSU but the voltages are off.

my current PSU is a Dainty A300 ATX with voltages of +3.3v, +5v, +12v, -12v, -5v and +5vsb

the other PSU I have is a Orion HP400D with voltages of +3.3v, +5v, +12v1, +12v2, -12v and +5sb.

I'd liek to swap for the other PSU but the voltages don't match up and I was told by one shop that was no issue, and another not to do the swap as I could fry the pc. Help?
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March 27, 2012 3:31:42 PM


bucksavage:
Some graphics cards will have a slight smell and upgrading to another might be a good idea. Residue could be present or a very slight leak or inadequate cooling could cause it.

The Orion must have two rails but power supplies should be fully backward compatible. I don't know if the BIOS is involved in load balancing but an updated BIOS would be a good idea.
The general problem is in swapping old power supplies. The change may cause it to fail. If the exact voltages of the lines are nearly out of spec then the risk is greater. The power surge at startup is the greatest risk and the only safeguards are the power good signal or a meter. Any significant change in an old system could cause PS and/or component failure.
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April 1, 2012 8:58:02 AM

GearUp said:
bucksavage:
I don't know if the BIOS is involved in load balancing but an updated BIOS would be a good idea.
The general problem is in swapping old power supplies. The change may cause it to fail. If the exact voltages of the lines are nearly out of spec then the risk is greater. The power surge at startup is the greatest risk and the only safeguards are the power good signal or a meter.

BIOS does do load regulation and upgrading your PSU doesn't have to be exact specs, I could have 2 12V rails on my new one whereas I had 1 12V rail on my old one, the power surge would be greater if you have upgraded it. Unless you are using molex instead of newer PCIe then upgrading should not be a problem, If you are using molex there are adapters that will allow you to turn the output PCIe to molex. And as long as you first start your PSU connected to a meter thus avoiding the power surge you will be fine.
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April 1, 2012 4:46:24 PM

Thanks for confirming the BIOS involvement.
A relevant article on capacitor is found on Wikipedia although the following doesn't draw much from it. While age would generally lead to lower efficiency and less current or voltage (12V +/-0.5) produced, it could also lead to greater current draw from the wall. The risk should be greater at startup for the power supply itself but it can be difficult to predict some parasitic effects. Restoration of function in a tube system for example (?) may require leaving one old tube remaining. Properly checking the circuits there is a more viable option than the highly engineered electronics today. Sealed lead acid auto batteries can experience irregular performance due to salt formation and dissolution. Electrolytic capacitors have vents for pressure relief that would produce an odor. Although Seasonic provides ambient humidity ranges for its supplies, the units it makes for Antec lack such a specification. Whether there is an actual difference or simply informative is unknown. Even for my modest needs I prefer PSs that will provide sufficient power on the rails. I don’t see needing a 750 watt PS however. Enermax should find better firms to handle its rebates but they are better than the land-fill quality of others.
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