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15 dead power supplies wtf?

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  • Prebuilt
  • Power Supplies
  • Graphics Cards
  • Systems
Last response: in Systems
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November 19, 2012 4:31:40 PM

For the last 7 years several power supplies have been failing on my system. Even the first one lasted about 3 months. The longest one lasted about 3 years. Which is why at first I was blaming the PSUs. Most last 3-12 months, sometimes 1 month. Lately it's usually been every 3 months. I have tried all the reputable brands, 400-600 watts, $30-$130, 2+ different surge protectors, have lived in 3 different locations, have had 3 different cases, swapped the video card, reinstalled windows multiple times and tried different hard drives. The system I had before this one (7 years ago) had one bargain basement brand power supply for its entire life and I used it in two of the same locations, with and without surge protectors. It didn't really cross my mind to protect the power on my previous system because it never had any issues

Every time I get frequent blue screens of death, especially under load but it can happen any time. That's what led me to replace the video card I thought games were doing it. When it failed again I reinstalled windows and swapped hard drives to no avail. Every time the blue screen message is different but IRQ errors and video driver failures are the most common. Every time a replacement PSU fixed the problem. On the new video card it freezes instead of blue screening. The most recent time I replaced the video card and PSU at the same time and it lasted about 3 months before the freezing began. But swapping back to the old video card led to blue screening again.

The only components I haven't replaced are the motherboard, CPU and RAM. Even the peripherals, monitor, case and cables are different. I performed a RAM test a long time ago so I'm buying a new motherboard+CPU combo soon and hoping that will fix it. But I have no idea. Wtf is going on?

It's an Abit Fatal1ty motherboard with an intel dual core E2140 I think. I've measured total power consumption at the outlet to be 120-170 watts (idle-load) including the ~15 watts of monitor and speakers. RAM is Corsair 2x1 GB 4-4-4-12 800 MHz DDR, CM2X1024-6400C4D. Possibly related or unrelated were randomly failing USB ports after high load. That no longer happens. And the sound port randomly disconnecting and connecting prompting a popup from the audio driver software. Still persists, resolved it by removing audio management software but while still keeping the driver.

More about : dead power supplies wtf

a c 157 ) Power supply
a c 303 U Graphics card
November 19, 2012 4:47:13 PM

Strange.

My guess among your choices would be the motherboard. That is what is directly connected to the psu.

Could it be the surge protector?
I might abandon the surge protector in favor of a UPS. A UPS will condition the power and even out any spikes or dips.
Look to APC for a quality unit.

Since you will be changing out the motherboard, cpu, and probably ram also, I suspect you will fix the problem.

For your reference, here is one list of PSU's ordered by quality tiers.
http://www.eggxpert.com/forums/thread/323050.aspx
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a b ) Power supply
a b U Graphics card
November 19, 2012 4:49:26 PM

What psu do you have now? Run memtest x86 to check the ram. irq blue screen leads me to think it's the ram.
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a b U Graphics card
November 19, 2012 5:05:13 PM

To me it seems like you have been replacing power supplies for no reason, and that the issue is something else. How have you determined the PSU to be failed?
or does replacing the PSU solve the problem for a while, then it starts failing again some months later?

To me it seems like your Mobo or memory. I believe the mobo regulates 3.3V supplied by the PSU down to what is needed for the memory and CPU, but since they are the last remnants of your old PC, I wouldn't hesitate to just replace them all if you can.

It may also be that your RAM voltages/timings simply aren't configured correctly, and manually setting them to the proper values could help.
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November 19, 2012 5:06:05 PM

The replacement PSU fixes it every time, then it works great for X months. When it isn't working it's obvious because the computer will crash in about 15 minutes every time. IIRC BIOS defaults the RAM to 5-5-5-15 and neither 4-4-4-12 nor 5-5-5-15 changes anything. Did a thorough RAM test a while back, and tried using 1 stick at a time too.

On the plus side my next computer will have 1 or 2 backups for every component there is, making troubleshooting a lot easier.
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November 19, 2012 5:16:13 PM

I concur with @geofelt on the MB being suspect. The CPU wouldn't lose the connection with the sound port and USB host devices; that's a MB problem.

Most MBs have power quality detection circuitry that will cause them to reset if the power goes "not ok" for some number of milliseconds. The result isn't a dropped USB device or sound port, but rather a cold shutdown or reboot. The 4- or 8-pin CPU power connector might not be part of that circuitry so it's possible you could have a power rail current problem... but the MB is much more likely given your stated use of high-Q PSUs in at least some cases.

Here are some other things to look at:
- Is your system overclocked at all? You might try underclocking it to see if that helps, just as a diagnostic tool.
- Look on the MB for leaky or visibly heat-damaged components, in particular capacitors. If you see any, it's _definitely_ time to replace the board.
- If your surge suppressor _is_ a UPS, make sure it's not a square-wave. I used an Ultra 22031 (2000VA / 1500W) with a PFC PSU, and the UPS was not compatible with the PSU because the square wave output isn't compatible with PFC supplies.
- If you're running a 64-bit O/S, make sure you don't have any 32-bit stuff on there that's mucking up the works. I had a TV card from the MCE 2005 era (Win XP) that wasn't 64-bit. I could install drivers and it appeared to work, but I got random crashes at times until I took it out.
- Some Fatal1ty boards from ASrock come with Ramdisk software. I tried that for a while but it too caused random instabilities (strange, since the code is pretty internet-prevalent). Once removed, everything worked like a charm.
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November 19, 2012 6:35:15 PM

Any suggestions for a reliable replacement mobo + CPU? I'm looking at these:
http://www.ebay.com/sch/Motherboard-CPU-Combos-/131511/...
Mini ATX case, PCIE 2 video card, 3 SATA + 1 IDE drives.

Preferably a better CPU than my Intel E2140 Dual Core (2.2 GHz IIRC) because I think my CPU is my slowest component on my current system. My video card was half my original budget. But reliability matters more than performance.
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a c 157 ) Power supply
a c 303 U Graphics card
November 19, 2012 7:16:57 PM

ericgrau said:
Any suggestions for a reliable replacement mobo + CPU? I'm looking at these:
http://www.ebay.com/sch/Motherboard-CPU-Combos-/131511/...
Mini ATX case, PCIE 2 video card, 3 SATA + 1 IDE drives.

Preferably a better CPU than my Intel E2140 Dual Core (2.2 GHz IIRC) because I think my CPU is my slowest component on my current system. My video card was half my original budget. But reliability matters more than performance.


If you want reliability, I would not be looking at older/obsolete used parts on E-bay.

Your E2140 was good in it's time with a passmark rating of 904.
By comparison, a current gen ivy bridge G2120 is 3093
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Add a inexpensive H61 motherboard for $50
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

and 8gb of DDR3-1333 ram for $40 .

The included integrated graphics has about the power of a $50 discrete video card which is entirely suitable for anything but fast action gaming.

Market your old working partts on e-bay, and your upgrade may cost you little.
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