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PSU Expert Aris Mpitziopoulos Responds to Gigabyte's Exploding PSU Problem

Gigabyte GP-P850GM
(Image credit: Gigabyte)

Gigabyte recently issued a recall for some of its power supplies. In response to Gigabyte's statement about the company's explosive power supplies, Dr. Aris Mpitziopoulos has shared his insights on why the GP-P850GM and GP-P750GM are dying prematurely. Mpitziopoulos is a respected veteran in the industry and the power supply reviewer at Tom's Hardware.

Mpitziopoulos had first-hand experience with Gigabyte's GP-P750GM power supply when it exploded during his evaluation of the unit last year. Despite his efforts to share his discoveries with Gigabyte, the company claimed that it couldn't reproduce the issue, and the problem was seemingly swept under the rug. 

However, the accumulative feedback from GP-P850GM and GP-P750GM owners revealed that the units either arrived defective out of the box or failed unexpectedly. Mind you, these are seemingly average users that use their systems like you and me and not reviewers pushing the power supplies to their maximum capacity.

It appears there's still a tendency for the GP-P850GM and GP-P750GM to explode when you least expect it. The units are fire hazards and could at the very least kill other hardware inside your system.

Arguably, the most prudent decision would be to issue a complete product recall or exchange the affected models for one of the same capacities from the Aorus product line, which have proven to be very solid units. Instead, Gigabyte is offering a voluntary recall, and only if the power supply is from a certain batch of serial numbers.

Although Gigabyte believes that adjusting the OPP (over-power protection) threshold is the solution to the problem, Mpitziopoulos says that the problem is in the overall design of these PSUs. 

Gigabyte issued a press release as part of its recall, and below you can find Dr. Aris Mpitziopoulos' response to the company's communications:

GBT: takes reports of this manner extremely seriously and therefore would like to address the reported potential issues as follows…

Aris response: I reported the issues I faced with the GP-P750GM power supply in late October 2020, before I post[ed] its review on TechPowerUp and the video review on the Hardware Busters YT channel, and GBT responded that its engineers tested five units and found no problems. They didn’t ask for my bad sample back for failure analysis, which is the typical procedure, and they didn’t offer a second sample to continue the review. I have kept all of my correspondence with GBT’s respective team, in case there is any doubt.

GBT: The OPP safety feature is designed to shut down the unit when the power load exceeds the wattage the unit was designed to operate within. The OPP was set to 120% to 150%, 1020W~1300W for GP-P850GM, and 900W~1125W for the GP-P750GM.

Aris response: OPP is to protect the PSU from failures. That said, GBT’s engineers should have configured it accordingly. Some platforms with top-notch and tolerant to stress components can have higher OPP settings than other lower-end platforms. It is up to the manufacturer to correctly set OPP to effectively protect the power supply under all conditions and the system that the PSU feeds with power. Lastly, OPP with a 30% range is too high. GBT should ask for a lower range.

GBT: We were made aware by third parties of concerns regarding potential issues of the GP-P850GM and GP-P750GM tripping at high wattages when tested via DC Electronic Load equipment for extended lengths of time repeatedly close to the 120% to 150% OPP trigger point. This level of extended testing could severely reduce the lifespan of the product and components of the GP-P850GM and GP-P750GM.

Aris response: First of all, there was no prolonged testing period under overloads since most samples died within a few minutes of testing as Steve (Gamer's Nexus) mentions in his video. In my case, the GP-P750GM sample that I tested shut down during a short period of OPP evaluation and exploded once I tried to start it again to continue testing, with no load on its rails. Even if extended testing at high loads was the case, the engineers should use lower OPP triggering points from the moment they are well aware that the platform can handle higher than normal loads. Finally, reducing the lifespan is an entirely different story from exploding parts, which clearly shows a problem with the OPP setting, which GBT believes is the culprit.

GBT: GIGABYTE has made adjustments and lowered the OPP on GP-P850GM and GP-P750GM…. from 120% ~ 150% to 110% ~ 120% 

Aris response: GBT noticed, after our findings, that the platforms cannot withstand a 120%-150% OPP rating and decided to lower it. The problem is that 110%-120% OPP is impossible with analog controllers, which use resistors to adjust OPP. These resistors drift with temperature. In other words, their resistance changes according to the operating conditions, so it is impossible to achieve such a small OPP range under both cold and hot conditions. The only way to achieve a tightly set OPP is through digital circuits, an MCU. Finally, GBT doesn’t mention the operating conditions under which the new OPP settings apply.

GBT: GIGABYTE would like to stress the potential issues that were reported, only seemed to occur after very long time periods of extreme load testing via DC Electronic load equipment and would not be typical of any real world usage.

Aris response: Gamer's Nexus’ samples died in a matter of minutes, and my sample died after a short period of OPP evaluation. Moreover, a quick look at the user reports (Newegg, forums, etc.) shows that most of these PSUs died under normal conditions. With so many failures reported on Newegg reviews, it cannot just be a coincidence.

GBT: GIGABYTE GP-P850GM and GP-P750GM PSU’s included industry standard power protection designs OCP, OTP, OVP, OPP, UVP, and SCP. 

Safety certification from various countries to ensure safe and stable operation of your system.

Aris response: From the moment these units have a CE certification, I would love to check the corresponding CE reports including protection features evaluation. To the best of my knowledge, no safety certification evaluates the PSU’s protection features.

GBT: Despite the fact that both before & after OPP adjustment versions are reliable for real world usage

Aris response : Many users that bought these products have a different opinion and experience. Also, OPP is not there for us reviewers only, but it should protect the PSU under all conditions. Otherwise, there is no point in having this protection feature when it doesn’t save the PSU. And also, who and what defines real-world usage? For me, typical use can be having my PC idle most of the time while other users play games most of the time, stressing the entire system. Other users can run tests with Furmark and Prime95 at the same time. My point is, real-world usage varies from user to user.

GBT: Serial Number below can apply for Return and Exchange service

Aris response: GBT had made OPP changes to some production batches, but didn’t inform the people that bought units with high OPP about this or even give them the chance to replace their units, just to be on the safe side. They applied a silent fix, and this means that they were troubled enough to do it.

Conclusion: This is not just a badly set OPP, since many units died under moderate loads and within short periods. I strongly believe that this is just a bad design, the FETs are not driven correctly, and although in quick pre-checks and normal conditions, the PSU can be ok, there are cases (not only under stress) where they fail. The timing of the FETs is not correct, and this is due to a lousy gate driver or a lousy implementation. Of course, I cannot be dead sure without any samples, older and newer generations, in my hands to test and break apart for failure analysis.

This article explains the problem I described above in detail.

  • 2Be_or_Not2Be
    Congrats to Aris for calling out these poor, shoddy products released by Gigabyte! Props also to Gamers Nexus for highlighting them as well. It's a shame that it took some lurid headlines ("Exploding PSU" was a favorite of mine) to finally get Gigabyte to issue a recall.

    I wish mfgs would just focus on quality and stop replacing quality parts w/cheaper parts (sadly, too many examples here). If you have to wait for the quality component to come back into stock, it's okay - you don't need to produce an inferior product. Especially when the market you're in is already saturated.
    Reply
  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    And stuff like this is why I will -only- buy SeaSonic PSUs given a choice, and will only consider Enermax and Superflower if SeaSonic isn't available, even though they are #2 and #3 in top quality .

    The PSU is the heart of the machine (literally), it's not a place where you want to cut corners or have even a question of quality and safety.

    And yes, I learned that lesson the hard way years ago...
    Reply
  • hasten
    2Be_or_Not2Be said:
    Congrats to Aris for calling out these poor, shoddy products released by Gigabyte! Props also to Gamers Nexus for highlighting them as well. It's a shame that it took some lurid headlines ("Exploding PSU" was a favorite of mine) to finally get Gigabyte to issue a recall.

    I wish mfgs would just focus on quality and stop replacing quality parts w/cheaper parts (sadly, too many examples here). If you have to wait for the quality component to come back into stock, it's okay - you don't need to produce an inferior product. Especially when the market you're in is already saturated.
    Unfortunately managerial and financial accounting provide simple formulas that calculate the (tolerable) defect rate that will generate the highest profit based on materials provisioned. So in engineering the goal is to generate a product at the lowest cost, while meeting the standards of performance needed for (whatever) certifications to base their msrp and accept the returns which are covered by allowance. Much more goes into it but you get jest.

    When profit drives ALL C-level decisions you get Gigabyte and the above very thorough calculations. The reviews across their product lines are often, "it works great, if it works." I've had both a 3070 and 80 Gaming OC and thought both were junk in comparison to all other nvidia brands. Heck, the 70 gaming oc performed notably worse than an xc black in all the benchmarks I ran - "even" with the big ol gigabyte bios PL and the SC's nothing (not even a backplate, cmon EVGA).

    That said, I do have an aorus master z490 i bought for a great price off a gentlemen who got newegg shuffled and the second one is great. The first was DOA.
    Reply
  • Math Geek
    what GB fails to understand is that something like this will haunt them for a long time to come.

    average users here and in many other places on the web won't fully understand the issue or what units it applies to. instead they will only recall that GB psu's WILL EXPLODE and every model should be avoided forever.

    we see it all the time with advice here from folks who don't truly know. but when they say it, others believe it for a long time and pass on the "advice" over and over.

    they need to step up, mass recall and save themselves from years of folks saying to avoid any and all GB units. frankly i won't even bother to correct folks with this one since GB is so obviously avoiding the issue and asking for this result :)
    Reply
  • Spielwurfel
    Gigabyte should be ashamed of such poor response and what I consider a clear attempt to downplay a serious issue with their products. I has a bad experience with Gigabyte motherboards, annoiances with one of their graphics card and now seeing their position to this whole situation made me want to stay even further away from their products.

    Congratulations to everyone from the media for providing such good and well informative content.
    Reply
  • escksu
    My POV has always been to buy PSUs thats made by reputable OEMs. The brand doesnt matter, its the OEM that matters.

    Those gigabyte psu are made by oem i have never heard of. So, i wont even bother. I would only get those made by the likes of seasonic, superflower, delta, flextronics.

    Btw, i am not a fan of cwt (most corsair psus are made by them, except flagship AXi). They are decent but those 4 i mentioend are better.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    Current measurement shunts are available with thermal coefficients under 100ppm, so you can definitely achieve analog current limits with better than 1% accuracy across the operating temperature range if you are willing to pay for it.
    Reply
  • pjmelect
    The problem is that 110%-120% OPP is impossible with analog controllers, which use resistors to adjust OPP. These resistors drift with temperature.

    As an electronic engineer I would disagree with this statement, it should be possible to set the current limit to within 1% using resistors over the operating temperature range, and you do not need to use very expensive resistors to do it.
    Reply
  • Fubarr
    2Be_or_Not2Be said:
    Congrats to Aris for calling out these poor, shoddy products released by Gigabyte! Props also to Gamers Nexus for highlighting them as well. It's a shame that it took some lurid headlines ("Exploding PSU" was a favorite of mine) to finally get Gigabyte to issue a recall.

    I wish mfgs would just focus on quality and stop replacing quality parts w/cheaper parts (sadly, too many examples here). If you have to wait for the quality component to come back into stock, it's okay - you don't need to produce an inferior product. Especially when the market you're in is already saturated.
    Yeah, except it’s a limited voluntary recall with a bunch of stipulations attached, when it should probably be a mandatory recall with stop-use guidance. I agree with Aris, they have a fundamental design flaw, most likely they are missing appropriate resistance from gate to source and/or have mismatched components, leading to unpredictable switching behavior, which is why the PSU, in his instance, popped right after he was load testing. Meaning on power down followed by power up, there was some kind of drain to source occurring, or mismatched timing, which caused the driver IC to switch to the wrong state and, subsequently, the fireworks of exploding fets occurred.

    None of this is reliant on overload stress testing, it could be a number of different power events and environmental factors that could lead to this condition, e.g. machine hang followed by rapid power on/off cycle, load cycling of components, issues on the AC input side (fluctuations in AC voltage), could all be part of exciting the problem in the PSU. What shouldn’t happen is the exploding part - not ever.

    Significant reported incidents of things exploding isn’t indicative of a manufacturing defect, it’s a strong indicator of a design defect, because the design should prevent this. This is why violently exploding PSU’s almost never happen. Even the cheapest old Antec ketchup & mustard PSU’s (which used to fail pretty darn regularly) generally failed in a safe manner (e.g. non explosively). Steve’s tear-down and comparison of different components, being used across different examples of these PSU’s, would indicate that this isn’t a specific part issue that’s relegated to a specific production run. I’m going to guess that Gigabyte finally tested a few units from a specific run, got a failure result, and decided to recall from that run (because, legally, if they did otherwise, then they’d really be in hot water upon discovery - and believe me, subpoena’s are coming for them eventually).

    So again, Aris is most likely right: Gigabyte is facing a fundamental design-flaw with this line of PSU’s, due to having gone with an inexperienced contract vendor that appears to have since disappeared. Gigabyte, being fully unprepared to deal with this problem (due to not having proper crisis handling know-how), is going about this all wrong. They continue to obfuscate the issue with claims that the testing regimen was the cause of exploding PSU’s, that they’re fine under normal conditions, and they effectively are trying to blame misuse (and customers) as the cause.

    Why? Because they suspect they have an increasingly serious liability problem and they’d have to backtrack significantly, thus now increasing their liability. Whereas, if they’d just worked earlier to get ahead of this issue, starting with examining Aris’s sample, they’d have been acting responsibly, thus decreasing their exposure (e.g. the Johnson & Johnson Tylenol model).

    Ultimately, they need to pull the product from the market, issue a full-line recall and stop-use guidance, before one of these things starts a serious fire. This is going to be expensive for them, as it appears they have no contract OEM with which to share or shunt costs, since the actual manufacturer appears to have gone out of business. But Gigabyte is a two billion dollar company, and if they wish to remain as such, they need to suck it up and start dealing with this problem properly.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    Fubarr said:
    I agree with Aris, they have a fundamental design flaw, most likely they are missing appropriate resistance from gate to source and/or have mismatched components, leading to unpredictable switching behavior, which is why the PSU, in his instance, popped right after he was load testing.
    With the HN video showing at least two of their PSUs with "APFC failure" stickers on them, I'm going to guess there was a design flaw in the APFC boost circuit that causes it to exceed the FETs' SOA and ends with a spectacular failure.
    Reply