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Cause of Sudden Burning Smell and Game CTDs?

Last response: in Components
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February 18, 2013 6:02:33 PM

Two months ago I installed a new 550W PSU in addition to a GTX 560. Everything worked fine until about two weeks ago, when a sickly electrical burning smell emanated from my computer in the general area of both the card and the power supply. The smell was faint unless a game was running, when it would become more intense. Examining my computer, I found nothing visibly amiss. The GPU never went above 70°C, would run games at 60° on average, and didn't show any signs of failure like visual artifacts.

The smell died down over the last few days and is now gone, but now games will crash when they get mildly demanding. The GPU now never makes it above 50° before the game crashes.

System Specs:
Rosewill Capstone 550W Modular PSU (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817182262)
Asus GTX 560 DCII OC (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814121446)
4GB DDR3 1333 SDRAM x4
AMD Athlon II x4 630
Win 7 x64

550W is probably the minimum for my system, but it should be able to- and did for awhile- power everything. The maximum power consumption of the card alone is 230W, according to tests by card reviewers, and the PSU I replaced was 250W, which worked fine for the system without the card.

Why has this happened? Has the PSU burned out, losing its ability to work at a high load; is the card damaged; or is it something else? I guess I should send either new component in for repair or replacement, but I'm not sure which is the problem and if it's even broken.

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a c 152 ) Power supply
February 18, 2013 7:08:48 PM

Not being there to see and smell the evidence, I would guess it was the card that cooked. Not the PSU. Remove the card and put your nose up close and see if you can detect that smell. The GTX 560 demands 150W max. Maybe a tad more since yours is O/C'd.
http://www.hwcompare.com/10966/geforce-gtx-560/
That relates to less than 13A on the +12V rail(s). Your PSU is of good quality and has a 45.5A +12V rail. More than enough for your GPU, 95W CPU, etc.
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February 18, 2013 8:22:04 PM

That's a little reassuring in terms of the PSU, but I got the 230W max consumption (rounded up) from reviews like http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/ASUS/GeForce_GTX_560_TOP_Direct_Cu_II/25.html and
http://www.geeks3d.com/20110517/asus-geforce-gtx-560-directcu-ii-top-1gb-review-test/6/, which says

"225W is rather far from the TDP of 160W. It’s normal. The TDP is not the max power consumption of the card (it’s rather the power draw under gaming situation) and ASUS’s GTX 560 is factory-overclocked. Then a GTX 560 with an overclocked GPU stressed by FurMark can exceed without problem 210 watts."
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a c 152 ) Power supply
February 18, 2013 8:38:08 PM

yes, interesting. But I believe the key to understanding the very high wattage results of 200+W is in the disclaimer they state in the article:
Maximum: Furmark Stability Test at 1280x1024, 0xAA. This results in a very high non-game power consumption that can typically be reached only with stress testing applications. Card left running stress test until power draw converged to a stable value. On cards with power limiting systems we will disable the power limiting system or configure it to the highest available setting - if possible. We will also use the highest single reading from a Furmark run which is obtained by measuring faster than when the power limit can kick in.

But even at 230W (which I doubt you would ever reach gaming), the +12V rail would only be required to provide 19A of current. Have you taken the card out and checked if the smell still lingered on it?
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February 18, 2013 11:34:31 PM

I can't believe I didn't notice this before- the extra 4 pins on the 24-pin ATX connector had come loose. Everything seems more stable now. The smell is still gone, as far as I can tell, and I couldn't localize it, but I'm concerned about what it was. Would my card have been damaged from running without the power from those 4 pins?
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a c 152 ) Power supply
February 18, 2013 11:39:38 PM

aralin said:
I can't believe I didn't notice this before- the extra 4 pins on the 24-pin ATX connector had come loose. Everything seems more stable now. The smell is still gone, as far as I can tell, and I couldn't localize it, but I'm concerned about what it was. Would my card have been damaged from running without the power from those 4 pins?

As long as you had your PCIe cable(s) feeding the card, I would not think so. The extra 4 pins on the 24 pin MB connector are extra power for the +12V, +5V and +3V circuits. The card would be the last item to suffer from loss of any of those voltages I would think. But the card could have had a component fail on it independent of the loose 24 pin connectors.
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February 19, 2013 4:43:20 PM

Yes, while the problem seems definitely lessened, I'm not sure whether it's entirely solved. I keep vaguely smelling toast...
However, I think it's safe enough to suspect failure on the part of my graphics card and not my power supply if crashes and such continue. Thanks for the help, clutchc!
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February 19, 2013 4:44:38 PM

Best answer selected by aralin.
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