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Why does my computer smell like burning plastic while playing a graphicly powerf

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Anonymous
June 15, 2012 8:50:03 AM

I built my system 6 months ago and recently installed a GPU (XFX AMD HD Radeon 6970) And when I play a game like GTA IV or more powerful I noticed after about half an hour I smell a burning plastic smell the GPU is not over heating as I go into the catalyst software and it says its only running 50 (the website claims it could run at 100 and not cause damage) And I want to know where the smell is coming from so I can fix the problem and play the games my system was built for
June 15, 2012 9:55:26 AM

Something's obviously hotter than it should be - can you check the temps of your other components?

While I don't think your graphics card should be *melting* at 50, that's really hotter than you should be aiming for. Is that a 50 idle or a 50 in game? What's your cooling system like?
June 15, 2012 10:14:01 AM

50c at idle is a bit hot but it depends on the ambient temp in the room, 50c at load is nothing to even be concerned about, basically you are fine either way. If it get near 85c+ under load id be concerned. It is not running hot.
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June 15, 2012 10:38:18 AM

vrumor said:
It is not running hot.


Maybe the graphics card isn't running hot, but surely something is! Burning plastic smell definitely indicates a problem somewhere! Thinking about it, maybe the best way to find out what's wrong is to open your case up and see what's melted?
June 15, 2012 10:45:03 AM

It may be somewhere else, but you were telling him 50c is something to be concerned about with the temp of his graphics card. It is not. Since you covered the other stuff I didnt comment on that. But telling someone a 50c temp on his GPU whether its at idle or load is a concern is not correct.
June 15, 2012 10:49:33 AM

Fair point, I was trying to say it's not perfect - and if it's running 50 at idle it might be indicative of a cooling issue, but you're right that it wouldn't cause a problem like he's describing by itself, I should have made that clear.
June 15, 2012 11:07:21 AM

Download HWMonitor
June 15, 2012 11:24:07 AM

it could be your power supply or one of the molex connectors are melting from a short..i would check the power plug on the video card to see if the plug is melting.
June 15, 2012 11:31:53 AM

What is the brand and model (not just wattage) of your PSU? For example, if it's an Apevia, melting under load is not uncommon (read the old Jonnyguru reviews of some of their units). Logisys, Diablotek, Sunbeam, and several others could be expected to perform similarly.
June 15, 2012 12:56:43 PM

Usually those kinds of smells come from the power supply but if a wire or cable is resting against a hot component (video card or CPU heatsink) it may cause the smell. Check for random wires in your build.
June 15, 2012 2:30:16 PM

I can't tell you what you should do but I can tell you what I would do.

As a historian I can tell you that often indicators (gauges, ect..) are wrong. Sometimes to the deaths of people. If my nose smelled something burning from my computer case, I would shut it down and take everything apart until I found evidence of something going wrong. The great thing about smells is that they are generated from a state change and are usually accompanied discoloration or even disfigurement. Look for signs of melting or discoloration every where on the components of you case. If you have to take the power supply apart, I hope you know how to do that. If you don't try to get a YouTube video on how to do that.

Be carefull,

Jim
June 15, 2012 7:20:47 PM

DO NOT FOLLOW VOODOOKING'S ADVICE!!!! NEVER DISASSEMBLE A POWER SUPPLY! I agree with seeing if you can find where the smell is coming from, but the capacitors in a power supply carry enough voltage to give you a very good zap if not seriously injure you or kill. I know when I used to work on eMacs that had CRT monitors, we were supposed to have someone nearby in case we would get shocked on one, as crt monitors, and I think power supplies are similar, can kill you. Reason is there are capacitors in those things that carry voltage, and they store voltage even when the computer is not on.

There are guys that will take apart power supplies to replace fans, if that is what you want to do, have fun. But if you power supply is going bad, replace it. Download hardware monitor, run it before you run the game, then play the game. Nice thing about hwmonitor, it will tell you the max temp your card/cpu reached. Could be perhaps you are smelling thermal paste on the card or your CPU baking in. But when you start smelling that, see if you can pinpoint where it's coming from.

I also would question what power supply you are running. Novice builders sometimes make mistakes of going too cheap on their power supply. Which if the power supply goes out, you can take out your entire system with it.
June 15, 2012 8:07:00 PM

Ohiou grad -

Calm down. Take a deep breath. Everything will be OK. many of us on here have taken apart powersupplies and know what we are doing. that is why I told him to do more research like going to Youtube and getting the videos ect. Here's the quote "If you have to take the power supply apart, I hope you know how to do that. If you don't try to get a YouTube video on how to do that.
"

Also, Go back to college and learn something from english class. You had to take at least 4 of them right? Your reading comprehension skills are horrible. All i was saying is what I would do. The OP as to decide for himself what he would do.
June 16, 2012 12:44:09 AM

I think what he was saying is that no matter who takes a PSU apart, its dangerous. I wouldnt take one apart and ive been working on, building and repairing PCs for almsot 20 years.
June 16, 2012 8:52:02 AM

Ok, first of all my reading comprehension skills are fine. English was actually always one of my easiest subjects, so do not insult me. Second, I have a 4 year college degree for IT. Third, I've worked in this field professionally for nearly 5 years since college, but been doing it as a hobby for much longer. I'm 31, my first pc was when I was 17, first computer was a commodore 64, and before I went to college, I was upgrading and building pc's.

Fourthly. No offense, but taking apart a power supply is not a very smart idea at all. If you know anything about electricity and capacitors, you know that those capacitors carry enough voltage to potentially kill a person, or injure. If you want to take your life in your hands, that's your business. More power to you. Myself, I would not take my life in my hands, especially not over a 50 dollar computer part. In fact I was just working on a pc the other day, the user complained it would not turn on. I plugged it in and turned it on to test it, soon as I did, I saw sparks and heard a sound like a .22 going off, one of the capacitors on the board had blown.

Regardless, the whole crack about many of us have taken apart power supplies. I would say maybe some, but most probably leave them alone. The manufacturers can't put on the label "do not open, no serviceable components inside" for no reason.

Voodoo, you may be a very good tech, and I can respect that, you may very well be a better technician than me, I've worked on laptops, desktops, servers, etc, but one thing I always learned was two things you never took apart were CRT's and power supplies. There are just things better left, and those are the two things I was taught you don't mess with.
June 16, 2012 9:07:48 AM

^ +1 Youd be a fool to try and take apart a PSU or CRT. And to advise someone to do so is irresponsible and quite plainly put, stupid.
June 16, 2012 9:25:41 AM

I agree that wasn't brilliant advice.
June 16, 2012 3:27:40 PM

While I agree with all of your criticism of VoodooKing's advice, that criticism could be at a much lower intensity. Opening up a PSU to look for blown caps, or replace a dead fan, typically does not even expose any [dangerous] leads or circuit traces. No one suggested taking out the circuit board, poking at it with a tool, or performing a HardwareSecrets-style dissection. The advice may have needed better cautions and a little more detail to be properly safe, but was not as bad as you are suggesting.
For context, I'm 52, started messing around with electricity by 4; and more "dangerous" stuff by my teens.
June 16, 2012 3:59:51 PM

Be that as it may, when you give someone who has no experience, or very little, the impression that it isnt dangerous and not even say "Hey it could seriously injure or kill you if you do it wrong, just watch this YouTube video" that is the worst advice ive heard in a long time. Ill never trust myself or any hardware I own to some dumbass on YouTube.
June 16, 2012 4:13:53 PM

One can never rule out the possibility that the "dumbass on YouTube" is a retired EE professor who never quite got teaching out of his system. But yeah, there are a lot of blooper reels out there too. Stronger warning language was needed, but the advice itself was not terrible. I've opened up a few PSUs (one to replace a fan, one a brand new POS out of a case just for laughs, another to make sure the fan was plugged in). Looking back on it, at no time was I "taking my life in my hands."
June 16, 2012 4:18:09 PM

I understand that, but would you give that advice to someone you dont know, have no idea what his technical background is and think it was a good idea? Honestly? It says right on the PSU that there is no serviceable parts inside. I didnt watch the video but someone else on this said they did and wasnt impressed with it. Better safe than sorry always when dealing with hardware and especially stuff like a PSU. Not a rant on you, just on dumb advice.
June 16, 2012 4:22:02 PM

Onus said:
One can never rule out the possibility that the "dumbass on YouTube" is a retired EE professor who never quite got teaching out of his system. But yeah, there are a lot of blooper reels out there too. Stronger warning language was needed, but the advice itself was not terrible. I've opened up a few PSUs (one to replace a fan, one a brand new POS out of a case just for laughs, another to make sure the fan was plugged in). Looking back on it, at no time was I "taking my life in my hands."

That's not how stuff works on the internet. I'm surprised you're still alive if that's the code you follow. Obviously you need to question everything on the internet, not think "hmm, this person could be an expert." :lol:  yeah, right.
June 16, 2012 4:39:59 PM

vrumor said:
I understand that, but would you give that advice to someone you dont know, have no idea what his technical background is and think it was a good idea? Honestly? It says right on the PSU that there is no serviceable parts inside. I didnt watch the video but someone else on this said they did and wasnt impressed with it. Better safe than sorry always when dealing with hardware and especially stuff like a PSU. Not a rant on you, just on dumb advice.

I would have made sure to include much more careful warnings. I would not want the person's safety dependent on what he might find on YouTube. As FinneousPJ said:
FinneousPJ said:
That's not how stuff works on the internet. I'm surprised you're still alive if that's the code you follow. Obviously you need to question everything on the internet, not think "hmm, this person could be an expert." :lol:  yeah, right.

No, the code I follow is "think for myself." I don't make assumptions about the information I'll find. There's a lot of [dangerous] junk out there, but there are also a lot of solid "how-to" type videos.
If I were guiding someone on general stuff (like building a PC), I might say "check for videos on YouTube." If I were giving advice on something dangerous, I would cite specific links, say why, and note what cautionary details other videos might be missing.

June 16, 2012 4:44:30 PM

Guys relax. I've never seen a response on Tom's like this. It's not like I told the OP to go out in a lighting storm barefoot and stick a crowbar though his power supply then wave it around in the air.

Ths is what I said: "I can't tell you what you should do but I can tell you what I would do." This stament here takes into account that I do not know the OP. I have no idea what this person knows about electronics. They have to be capable of making their own descions. OK? Everyone got that part?

The next part that is germain to our discussin is: "If you have to take the power supply apart, I hope you know how to do that. If you don't try to get a YouTube video on how to do that." This means that taking apart a power supply is not someonthing that a novice should try. At this point of the post the OP needs to realize that maybe the words "IF!!!" You got that? "IF!" and then "I hope you know how to do that." mean that the OP needs to make an important descision on wheather he/she is capable of doing such an act as opening a power supply.

Finally I used the words: "Be carefull"

If these words aren't enough caution then too bad. I refuse to go overboard writing paragraphs about how someone needs to be careful because college grads can't get the message. Learn to read.
June 16, 2012 4:46:24 PM

How can you assume people are college grads? I'm confused.
June 16, 2012 4:58:30 PM

Onus said:
I would have made sure to include much more careful warnings. I would not want the person's safety dependent on what he might find on YouTube. As FinneousPJ said:

No, the code I follow is "think for myself." I don't make assumptions about the information I'll find. There's a lot of [dangerous] junk out there, but there are also a lot of solid "how-to" type videos.
If I were guiding someone on general stuff (like building a PC), I might say "check for videos on YouTube." If I were giving advice on something dangerous, I would cite specific links, say why, and note what cautionary details other videos might be missing.

Cool.
June 16, 2012 5:56:24 PM

FinneousPJ said:
How can you assume people are college grads? I'm confused.


The guy who over reacted to me telling the OP what I would do. His name is OhioU grad.
June 17, 2012 8:33:03 AM

voodooking said:
The guy who over reacted to me telling the OP what I would do. His name is OhioU grad.




I probably should not have overreacted, but basically, point was you should not open PSU's or CRT's, at least not without training. Maybe I'm old school also. My first computer was a commodore 64 when I was 5, which has been a while. I'm 31 now, been working with PC's doing general use, upgrades, builds, and later tech work since 17 or 18, and that was something you never did. I've worked on Servers, laptops, desktops, etc, went to school for 4 years for IT, and I personally would not feel 100% comfortable opening a PSU, so I can't recommend novice users doing that. I used to have to work on eMacs and we'd have to discharge CRT's, not my favorite thing, but it was part of my job. But suggesting a possibly novice user to dissamble a PSU just seems unwise in my opinion. Personally, I would just replace the power supply if needed, even on my own system, if the op feels comfortable, that's his/her business, but I wouldn't, and can't suggest the op to either. I apologize for overreacting.
June 17, 2012 8:46:20 AM

Oh Em Gee. Its a visual inspection, anyone can open a PSU for a VISUAL INSPECTION, as that only requires removing 4 screws(generally) and then LOOKING.

TL;DR, Inspect the inside of your computer until you find something melted. Then fix it, or get a new one, or re-route it or w/e. Pics will help us help you, when you find it.

/holding pattern for OP response.
June 17, 2012 9:55:50 PM

Apparently by dad once smashed a TV, one of those old CRT ones, dont know why, was working or something, anyhow he told me that it blow up.
June 18, 2012 6:41:51 AM

I upgraded my PC recently and found that I had left several protective plastic strips on my GPU when I installed it. Apparently, EVGA believes that they need to protect every smooth surface on their GTX 470 SuperClocked GPUs. I didn't even know there were protective strips on the card until I pulled the card in preparation for MB/CPU upgrade. After a year or two of life inside my box, the little protective plastic strips started to peel up along the edges.

Now I have an upgraded PC with a new CPU/Motherboard/RAM/Blu-ray burner, and an old GPU that looks good as new!

Moral of the story? Might want to check and see if there are any plastic strips that you didn't remove while installing your GPU. These GPUs get super-hot (my GTX 470 idles at 70C because Nvidia never figured out how to limit power to the GPU in a dual-monitor setup), so it makes sense that a stray bit of plastic could be coming in contact with a hot heatsink.
November 12, 2012 11:55:25 AM

ohiou_grad_06 said:
Ok, first of all my reading comprehension skills are fine. English was actually always one of my easiest subjects, so do not insult me. Second, I have a 4 year college degree for IT. Third, I've worked in this field professionally for nearly 5 years since college, but been doing it as a hobby for much longer. I'm 31, my first pc was when I was 17, first computer was a commodore 64, and before I went to college, I was upgrading and building pc's.

Fourthly. No offense, but taking apart a power supply is not a very smart idea at all. If you know anything about electricity and capacitors, you know that those capacitors carry enough voltage to potentially kill a person, or injure. If you want to take your life in your hands, that's your business. More power to you. Myself, I would not take my life in my hands, especially not over a 50 dollar computer part. In fact I was just working on a pc the other day, the user complained it would not turn on. I plugged it in and turned it on to test it, soon as I did, I saw sparks and heard a sound like a .22 going off, one of the capacitors on the board had blown.

Regardless, the whole crack about many of us have taken apart power supplies. I would say maybe some, but most probably leave them alone. The manufacturers can't put on the label "do not open, no serviceable components inside" for no reason.

Voodoo, you may be a very good tech, and I can respect that, you may very well be a better technician than me, I've worked on laptops, desktops, servers, etc, but one thing I always learned was two things you never took apart were CRT's and power supplies. There are just things better left, and those are the two things I was taught you don't mess with.


Uhm, the voltage is not the one who can kill a person. It is the amount of ampere that will travel in the human body across your heart.
!