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Is my power supply bad, or my graphics card?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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September 18, 2012 9:38:35 PM

I have been getting lock-ups for the last couple months on occasion which have ramped up in frequency to multiple times a day. Its not a blue screen, its a black screen, then eventually the PC restarts itself, sometimes failing to boot into windows. It will get to the "Starting windows" then turn black, but I can hear the audio, just cant see anything.

The event viewer shows it as a nvidia driver crash. I use the latest driver, and have tried older ones as well, same thing. Sometimes I can go days though without a problem.

The things that make me think it could be the power supply are as follows:

First off I'm running 2X GTX 480's in SLI off a HEC Xpower 800W PSU. Been doing this for about a year. The problem progressively got worse over time. Sometimes when I boot it hangs at the Bios screen and locks up. MY keyboard wont light up sometimes, and certain fans wont turn on sometimes when I boot. I once had to keep rebooting 7 times to get it to get past the BIOS screen. Also sometimes when I put it to sleep the keyboard lights remain on, or the lights inside the case remain on. Sometimes it will turn itself on!

Now I know 800W is right on the edge for SLI 480's, but it was working fine for a bit. Is my power supply dying, or is it just not powerful enough for my system? Is it nothing to do with the PSU and on the video card due to the "driver crash" errors reported in the event viewer? Any help would be greatly appreciated :) 

Specs:

CPU: I7950
GPUS: 2x NVIDIA GTX 480's
RAM: 8 gig DDR3 1333mhz 555 21
MOBO: GA-X58A-UD3R GIGABYTE Motherboard
OS: W7 64 bit
a b Î Nvidia
a c 126 ) Power supply
a c 236 U Graphics card
September 18, 2012 11:01:56 PM

I suspect the psu.
This list suggests a 900w psu for sliGTX480 cards:
http://www.realhardtechx.com/index_archivos/Page362.htm

The only HEC unit I see on this list is a tier 5 unit(not recommended) It may not be yours.

http://www.eggxpert.com/forums/thread/323050.aspx

Over time, a psu can deteriorate, particularly if it is not of good quality.

Replacing it with a top quality unit like this PC P&C silencer950w($130 after rebate) might be a good idea.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
a b Î Nvidia
a b ) Power supply
a c 189 U Graphics card
September 18, 2012 11:03:14 PM

That isn't that bad power supply for that computer. It would be nicer if it was 80+ certified but still.

Try each card indivitually.

EDIT: For some reason, I thought it said 460, not 480.

I would suspect by the description of your problem that the power supply is not enough for your cards.
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September 18, 2012 11:09:29 PM

The problem is so random that testing each card individually would be a time consuming process. Ive gone weeks without an issue, its only recent that its happening more frequently.

Its also recently that I ran my computer with the case open observing things such as fans not turning on during boot, and other problems related to the PSU.

@ GEOFELT

THank you for the extensive reply. Do you think I should go for an even higher 1000-1100 high end PSU? I will feel comfortable spending up to 225.00 for a new PSU if you have any other suggestions :) 
a b U Graphics card
September 18, 2012 11:22:13 PM

Xyos said:
I have been getting lock-ups for the last couple months on occasion which have ramped up in frequency to multiple times a day. Its not a blue screen, its a black screen, then eventually the PC restarts itself, sometimes failing to boot into windows. It will get to the "Starting windows" then turn black, but I can hear the audio, just cant see anything.

The event viewer shows it as a nvidia driver crash. I use the latest driver, and have tried older ones as well, same thing. Sometimes I can go days though without a problem.

The things that make me think it could be the power supply are as follows:

First off I'm running 2X GTX 480's in SLI off a HEC Xpower 800W PSU. Been doing this for about a year. The problem progressively got worse over time. Sometimes when I boot it hangs at the Bios screen and locks up. MY keyboard wont light up sometimes, and certain fans wont turn on sometimes when I boot. I once had to keep rebooting 7 times to get it to get past the BIOS screen. Also sometimes when I put it to sleep the keyboard lights remain on, or the lights inside the case remain on. Sometimes it will turn itself on!

Now I know 800W is right on the edge for SLI 480's, but it was working fine for a bit. Is my power supply dying, or is it just not powerful enough for my system? Is it nothing to do with the PSU and on the video card due to the "driver crash" errors reported in the event viewer? Any help would be greatly appreciated :) 

Specs:

CPU: I7950
GPUS: 2x NVIDIA GTX 480's
RAM: 8 gig DDR3 1333mhz 555 21
MOBO: GA-X58A-UD3R GIGABYTE Motherboard
OS: W7 64 bit


Most likely the PSU, because Nvidia recomends 600w just for ONE card. Do the math, I'd say 400w per card, a 1000w powersupply would be needed. 480's are huge power hogs and you probably brought that 800w to its knees.
a b Î Nvidia
a c 126 ) Power supply
a c 236 U Graphics card
September 18, 2012 11:46:56 PM

Xyos said:
The problem is so random that testing each card individually would be a time consuming process. Ive gone weeks without an issue, its only recent that its happening more frequently.

Its also recently that I ran my computer with the case open observing things such as fans not turning on during boot, and other problems related to the PSU.

@ GEOFELT

THank you for the extensive reply. Do you think I should go for an even higher 1000-1100 high end PSU? I will feel comfortable spending up to 225.00 for a new PSU if you have any other suggestions :) 


No. It is true that a psu will only use the power it needs, regardless of the maximum rating.
But, if it is vastly overpowered, it will loaf and be inefficient.
As you now know, each generation of graphics cards and cpu's will take less power to run.
The important thing is to buy only a quality psu. It will deliver all of it's advertised power continuously, and more at peak. It will do so at 50c, inside case temperature, not at 20c which cheap psu's will advertise.
In addition to PC P&C, Seasonic, Antec, XFX, and Corsair make quality units.
For top quality, you can't beat the Seasonic X series units. The X-850 would also do the job:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Best solution

a b Î Nvidia
a c 126 ) Power supply
a c 236 U Graphics card
September 19, 2012 3:18:08 AM
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Xyos said:
Thank you Geofelt for the great feedback! The one you linked has great reviews, but I'm just afraid it might not be enough for the 480's. I was looking at this PSU, do you think its overkill?

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


No, 850W is about right for sli GTX480.

I don't know which one you are referring to; I mentioned two. The Seasonic X850 delivers the same 70A as the ^ Corsair.
The PC P&C 950 silencer delivers more @83a.
Any of them would do the job.

I think I would use the PC P&C 950w unit I linked to earlier.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
It is a bit cheaper($130 after rebate, vs. $175)
I see little value in gold or platinum rated unless you are installing it in a small case with poor airflow.
The more efficient gold rating will keep the temperatures lower, and the fan will hardly turn.
September 19, 2012 9:20:02 AM

Thanks again Geofelt really helpful :) 
September 19, 2012 9:20:04 AM

Best answer selected by Xyos.
!