Jump to content


 


Register a free account to unlock additional features at BleepingComputer.com
Welcome to BleepingComputer, a free community where people like yourself come together to discuss and learn how to use their computers. Using the site is easy and fun. As a guest, you can browse and view the various discussions in the forums, but can not create a new topic or reply to an existing one unless you are logged in. Other benefits of registering an account are subscribing to topics and forums, creating a blog, and having no ads shown anywhere on the site.


Click here to Register a free account now! or read our Welcome Guide to learn how to use this site.

Photo

Theory about Psu (power supply) failures in new computers


  • Please log in to reply
15 replies to this topic

#1 belthagor

belthagor

  • Members
  • 29 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Local time:09:24 AM

Posted 03 March 2016 - 02:26 PM

My first computer lasted 9 years, with a 500 watt power supply, but afterwards whenever I have brought a computer, they all had a psu failure after only about 2 years, with around the same wattage power block, I discussed this with friends, and most have had the same problem....

 

One of them recommended that I use a much stronger power supply, because with new computers, all of the hardware is faster, and logically would make your psu work harder. If you use something like a 1200 watt, it wouldn't have to work as hard. This can't fry a computer, because it only takes the required amount of energy out of the Psu, for example 50/1200, depending on what you are doing.

 

I thought I would ask how many of you have lost a computer (or multiple ones) to power supply failure.

 

If it has happened to you, and you don't mind saying, did you use your PC for something that takes up a lot of resources like gaming, or video editing? Did you leave it on for long periods of time?

 

I am not completely sure, so don't take my advice, lets just discuss.



BC AdBot (Login to Remove)

 


#2 the_patriot11

the_patriot11

    High Tech Redneck


  • BC Advisor
  • 6,763 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Wyoming USA
  • Local time:07:24 AM

Posted 04 March 2016 - 12:22 AM

Very rarely do I lose a computer to a PSU, but it happens. Typical causes of early PSU Failures are :  buying cheaper, low end power supplies. Overtasking it (buying a PSU thats not up to the task), overheating, and extremely dusty or humid environment.

 

Things to use to avoid those, use a Wattage calculator to figure out what wattage PSU you need for your system. Make sure your PSU has the wattage and amerage to handle your system. You dont need a 1200 watt PSU to run a 400 watt system, though when I build a system, I tend to take the maximum wattage my system needs while running at 100% and I will usually add about 150 watts to that, just to be safe and to make room for future hardware additions. On top of that, the less the PSU has to work, the cooler it will last.

 

I also ensure that the PSU is a good, high quality unit. The two things I tell people to never skimp on when building a system is their power supply and the motherboard. you want to skimp on something, buy lower end ram or a video card, but fork out the extra cash for the nicer PSU. I like having multiple +12v rails and being fully modular, though a solid single rail system will do just as fine.

 

I also put cooling as a factor, I prefer cases with a bottom mounted PSU, and if your in a highly dusty environment, it wouldnt hurt to put dust covers over all of your fans and clean out your case and PSU with a can of compressed air on a regular basis. If your in a humid environment, try to keep your computer up off the floor for sure, and in the driest area of your home, perhaps invest in a dehumidifier. And try not to keep in in a room where your temps hit extremes, especially if its way hot.

 

In my primary system, ive been using the same coolermaster 750 watt PSU for probably 6-7 years now without a single hiccup. Its gone through 2 cases, 2 motherboards, 2 CPUs, and has had graphics upgrades at least 3 times, and keeps on ticking. A good solid PSU, especially when well cared for, is worth its weight in gold and will last forever. A cheap PSU, not so much. You really do get what you pay for with PSUs.


picard5.jpg

 

Primary system: Motherboard: ASUS M4A89GTD PRO/USB3, Processor: AMD Phenom II x4 945, Memory: 16 gigs of Patriot G2 DDR3 1600, Video: AMD Sapphire Nitro R9 380, Storage: 1 WD 500 gig HD, 1 Hitachi 500 gig HD, and Power supply: Coolermaster 750 watt, OS: Windows 10 64 bit. 

Media Center: Motherboard: Gigabyte mp61p-S3, Processor: AMD Athlon 64 x2 6000+, Memory: 6 gigs Patriot DDR2 800, Video: Gigabyte GeForce GT730, Storage: 500 gig Hitachi, PSU: Seasonic M1211 620W full modular, OS: Windows 10.

If I don't reply within 24 hours of your reply, feel free to send me a pm.


#3 Ram4x4

Ram4x4

  • Members
  • 228 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Pennsylvania
  • Local time:09:24 AM

Posted 04 March 2016 - 05:58 AM

What Patriot said.

 

Plus, faster components have no direct correlation to the amount of power needed.  Just because a CPU has a higher clock rate, for example, doesn't mean it needs more power.  Die size is one determining factor and that's why CPU manufacturers work to shrink the process...to get more processing power without increased energy requirements (and heat).  Look at NVidia and AMD video cards as another example.  Similar performing cards from each company will have different power requirements, so another factor besides die size is the chip architecture. 

 

The biggest factor affecting PSU longevity has more to do with the design and quality of the PSU components than anything else.  Also, the capacity of the power supply will determine it as well.  Running a PSU that just barely meets requirements won't last as long as one with some overhead.  Think of it like having a smaller engine in your car...the engine can certainly move the car at the speed limit, but if it has to run hard and at higher RPM constantly it won't' last as long as one with more power that just cruises easily.  With that said, you don't need a 1200 watt PSU to run a 400 watt system.  A 600-650 watt would do just as well and still have plenty of overhead for some future expansion.  Extreme amounts of overhead doesn't necessarily mean increased longevity.  One of the hardest environments for a PSU is when you first power up the system.  The voltage in-rush through the components produces the most stress and is typically when a PSU will "pop". 

 

I have lost a computer to a failed PSU only once in all the years of building and using PC's.  When the PSU failed it took out the motherboard, HDD, RAM, CPU and video card.  I assume the failure was some sort of short in the PSU that zapped everything with a massive voltage and current spike.  On the other hand, I've had a couple cheaper PSU's die without affecting anything else.  It depends on which component(s) fail and how.

 

Another factor with the cheapo PSU's besides cheap components and poor design is they have a tendency to way over rate the output.  Technically, they aren't outright lying about it, but the methods they use to derive that output don't necessarily correlate to the way the end user needs it.  You can see this less than honest type of rating frequently when looking at equipment or devices that use electric motors.  Look at the HP rating of say, a  shop vac for example.  You'll see ridiculous claims of 5 or 6HP on some models.  The reality is, those little 120v motors are nowhere near 5 or 6 HP output.  We can show this through the basic math:  Watts = Amps x Volts.  HP=Watts x 0.00134, so in order to output 6 HP on 120v house current, that thing would have to be pulling almost 37.5 amps!  That exceeds most standard 20 amp house circuits buy a factor of almost 2 and would require some pretty hefty gauge wiring to carry that kind of amperage.  So, how can they say that motor is 6 HP?  Simple, they cheat.  When you stall an electric motor the amperage draw ramps up significantly, so these manufacturers will stall test the little motor and measure the amperage draw in that state and claim the HP rating based on the amperage it is trying to draw while stalled.  The lie is in the fact that in a stalled state, there is no HP since HP is a calculated measure of the ability to do work.  In other words, there has to be motion because without motion there is no work.  Cheap PSU's have a rating that is based on tests that measure a momentary surge of output that doesn't simply fry the PSU.  It has nothing to do with it's actual, sustained output capability, which is the measure an end user needs to see. 

 

You can also get a rough idea if the power supply actually outputs its rating by its physical weight.  Certainly not an exact measurement, but the higher the true output is, the heavier the PSU will be due to the size and weight of the components (primarily transformers) if it is truly built to output that power.  If you compare a cheap 500w PSU to a good quality one, you will absolutely notice the good one is a fair bit heavier. 

 

One other area you will see these various, less than honest ratings is with audio equipment, especially amplifiers.  Many of the crappy, low-end junk manufacturers make all sorts of wild claims about wattage output that is less than true.  Unfortunately, what you see there is the manufacturers playing on ignorance in 2 ways.  Many people assume more amplifier wattage equals louder sound and they use the less than honest methods of measuring the output.  There's a reason good quality high output amplifiers are expensive, large and heavy.


Edited by Ram4x4, 04 March 2016 - 09:21 PM.


#4 the_patriot11

the_patriot11

    High Tech Redneck


  • BC Advisor
  • 6,763 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Wyoming USA
  • Local time:07:24 AM

Posted 04 March 2016 - 02:47 PM

your right ram, especially in how manufacturers label their products. A lot of lower end manufacturers label their PSU based on the peak load, not the continual load, so a 500 watt is their max load-but the reality is they can only hold that for a short amount of time before frying, while the continual load will likely be around 400 watts. Most your your big name PSUs will label their PSU based on the continual load, or what wattage it can handle continually. For example, my coolermaster 750 watt I listed earlier, that is the continual wattage, I can maintain 750 watts all day long. The peak power on it is around 950 watts, but it can only maintain that for a extremely short amount of time before frying. 


picard5.jpg

 

Primary system: Motherboard: ASUS M4A89GTD PRO/USB3, Processor: AMD Phenom II x4 945, Memory: 16 gigs of Patriot G2 DDR3 1600, Video: AMD Sapphire Nitro R9 380, Storage: 1 WD 500 gig HD, 1 Hitachi 500 gig HD, and Power supply: Coolermaster 750 watt, OS: Windows 10 64 bit. 

Media Center: Motherboard: Gigabyte mp61p-S3, Processor: AMD Athlon 64 x2 6000+, Memory: 6 gigs Patriot DDR2 800, Video: Gigabyte GeForce GT730, Storage: 500 gig Hitachi, PSU: Seasonic M1211 620W full modular, OS: Windows 10.

If I don't reply within 24 hours of your reply, feel free to send me a pm.


#5 mjd420nova

mjd420nova

  • Members
  • 1,851 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Gender:Male
  • Local time:06:24 AM

Posted 04 March 2016 - 03:49 PM

I have a habit of over powering my builds, that is, install a larger than needed power supply.  This helps with two things,  one-able to be reused in the next build, handle upgrades and two-lets everything runs cooler when the PS doesn't have to work very hard.  Failures in many user built units are cut to the bare minimum, thus the PS  has to work hard under half throttle and things heat up pretty quick.  Thermal runaway is common and usually results a unit that starts and runs fine and then reboots or dies completely, needing a reset (unplug) to get the PS working again. 



#6 RolandJS

RolandJS

  • Members
  • 4,533 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Austin TX metro area
  • Local time:08:24 AM

Posted 04 March 2016 - 04:29 PM

I have two Acer laptops, approximately 4 years apart.  Thanks to youse all -- I will be taking your advice on the frontend by really asking some hard questions regarding available power supplies for future laptops, and, for my desktop.


"Take care of thy backups and thy restores shall take care of thee."  -- Ben Franklin revisited.

http://collegecafe.fr.yuku.com/forums/45/Computer-Technologies/

Backup, backup, backup! -- Lady Fitzgerald (w7forums)

Clone or Image often! Backup... -- RockE (WSL)


#7 Ram4x4

Ram4x4

  • Members
  • 228 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Pennsylvania
  • Local time:09:24 AM

Posted 04 March 2016 - 09:32 PM

Laptop power supplies (power bricks as some call them) are not offered in broad ranges of wattages for any given laptop model.  Typically you might have two wattage ratings available.  The lower rated supply is usually smaller physically so appeals to those who travel a lot, while the higher output one will be larger and useful at home or with a docking station.  Since these are sealed supplies (no cooling fans or venting) the only real criteria for selection is to ensure the plug fits your model of laptop and decide if you want a physically smaller and lighter power supply or the larger, heavier higher output one.  Keep in mind, usually the lower output supply only allows you to operate your laptop, or charge its battery, but not both simultaneously.  To have the laptop powered on for use AND charge the battery at the same time, you typically need the higher output power brick.



#8 RolandJS

RolandJS

  • Members
  • 4,533 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Austin TX metro area
  • Local time:08:24 AM

Posted 05 March 2016 - 07:47 AM

  RAM4x4, are there markings on my Acer brick that would tell me which one I have?  I think both Acers have the larger bricks, however, how would I "confirm" via the markings?  Reason for asking:  the thread starter title indicates power supply failures in newer computers. Perhaps, anyone considering a new or used laptop can look up markings and determine which power supply one will be "inheriting."  And likewise for desktops.  [True enough, my PSUs charge my laptops while my laptops are in use, however, when one is considering purchasing new or used, that history of experience will not exist for the buyer.]


"Take care of thy backups and thy restores shall take care of thee."  -- Ben Franklin revisited.

http://collegecafe.fr.yuku.com/forums/45/Computer-Technologies/

Backup, backup, backup! -- Lady Fitzgerald (w7forums)

Clone or Image often! Backup... -- RockE (WSL)


#9 Ram4x4

Ram4x4

  • Members
  • 228 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Pennsylvania
  • Local time:09:24 AM

Posted 05 March 2016 - 10:00 AM

There should be a model number on the power bricks, or at least some numbers.  You can google them and find out what you have.

 

There are 3rd party makers of laptop power bricks too and they come in "universal" models with several interchangeable plugs so they will work with a variety of laptop brands and models.  Some even have a USB plug on them so you can charge your phone while running the laptop, etc.

 

I personally have an iGO universal 90 watt with the USB plug.  It's fairly compact for a 90 watt brick and the USB charger is convenient.

 

90-100 watts are the higher output bricks.  The lower output ones are usually 65 watts.



#10 Bill_Bright

Bill_Bright

  • Members
  • 63 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Nebraska, USA
  • Local time:08:24 AM

Posted 05 March 2016 - 11:06 AM

One of them recommended that I use a much stronger power supply, because with new computers, all of the hardware is faster, and logically would make your psu work harder.

Yeah, that is flawed logic. While true, today's hardware is much faster, it is also much more efficient. So the fact of the matter is, we typically don't need as big a power supply as we used to. There are exceptions, of course. If you have a monster graphics card and play serious 3D animated games, then you might need a bigger supply. But all-in-all, PSUs work less these days for the same amount of work being done, not more.
 
And note this better efficiency is across the board. CPUs, RAM, motherboards, and drives are all more efficient. I note I just finished a new build and bought two new Samsung 24" LCD monitors for it. According the power meter on my UPS, each monitor is using 26W. The 22" monitors they replaced used 43W. This is due much in part because the new larger monitors are LED backlit while the old use less efficient CCFL bulbs and inverters. And the full load (computer plus monitors) while I type this (admittedly, not a demanding task) is just 119W compared to ~160W with the old computer (and this computer is more powerful). In fact, if folks used a Kill-o-watt meter (or decent UPS with a LCD or software monitor), they would likely be surprised how little power their computers draw.
 
I personally have not seen an increase in power supply problems - but then as a self-builder, I only buy quality supplies. I live under the philosophy that everything in my computer depends on quality stable power. When advising others, I like to ask, "would you buy a brand new Porsche and then fill it up with no-name gas at the corner Tobacco and Bait Hut? Or you would you put quality, name-brand fuel in it?" A car engine can miss a beat and keep running. Not so with high-speed digital electronics.
 
I agree to use a PSU calculator. While all of them tend to be a bit over-zealous in their estimates (none want you to buy too small for your needs) IMO, the eXtreme Power Supply Calculator is more conservative and accurate. To ensure you have enough headroom and wiggle room for future upgrades, you can always increase the CPU Utilization to 100% and Computer Utilization to 16 or 24 hours per day. One thing really nice about this PSU calculator is it also includes a recommended UPS rating and IMO, all computers should be on a "good" UPS with AVR too. And for sure, buy an 80-PLUS certified PSU to ensure a relatively "flat" efficiency response across a full range of loads. I generally recommend getting "Gold" certified. They cost a little more up front, but make up for it over the life of the supply.


kIbxonF.gif Bill (AFE7Ret)
Freedom is NOT Free!
fl3leAE.gifWindows and Devices for IT, 2007 - 2018
Heat is the bane of all electronics!
───────────────────────


#11 Smsec

Smsec

  • Members
  • 133 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Gender:Male
  • Local time:08:24 AM

Posted 05 March 2016 - 12:11 PM

Also consider a quality surge suppressor. The cheap strip ones don't hold up over time as the metal oxide varistor can weaken over time or even fail after a powerful surge. I prefer the battery backups as they usually have some kind of indicator of failure. Some of the strips made by APC will stop powering the attached devices if it's no longer able to protect them.



#12 Ram4x4

Ram4x4

  • Members
  • 228 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Pennsylvania
  • Local time:09:24 AM

Posted 05 March 2016 - 01:43 PM

An UPS definitely is a better solution than a surge protector in general (unless you pay for a really good surge protector).  One thing to be aware of with an UPS if you expect it to keep your PC powered on if the power goes out, make sure the PSU in your PC can handle a "stepped sine wave" power source.  The output from an UPS is not a pure sine wave, rather it is stepped, so if you were to view it on an oscillascope the wave would have stepped "jaggies" that approximates a sine wave.  Think of it like pixelation. 

 

Not all PSU's will work well with these stepped wave outputs, even some of the better brands/models.  Much also depends on the "quality" of the stepped output from the UPS.  Better brands and models have a "higher resolution" output wave. 

 

My current 520w Antec PSU, while a quality unit that has lasted me many years and several builds, will not work with the output of my UPS.  It's not a cheapo UPS, but not top-of-the-line either.  So, either the PSU needs a higher resolution wave and I need a better UPS, or I need a better PSU that will work with the UPS I currently have.



#13 belthagor

belthagor
  • Topic Starter

  • Members
  • 29 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Local time:09:24 AM

Posted 05 March 2016 - 03:45 PM

You guys are all making really good points, and I thought I would add some info...

 

My computer (the one that lasted 8 years) was from the same company as the next one that I purchased, I'm not going to say which, because that would be advertising, however it was one of the larger ones.

 

The third I brought was from a different supplier, and like the second, it also had a psu failure.

 

Before all of that I used the old computers, (most of which have a white colored chasis,) and doing something like defragmenting your hard drive, or downloading some free game, around only 80 mb, took an entire day. Many people I know including myself, simply left their computers on all night, for those kinds of tasks... and my Psu never failed.

 

Maybe the newer computer's Psu are not meant to work for such a long time regardless on if what you are doing needs a very good cpu, graphics card and memory?



#14 mjd420nova

mjd420nova

  • Members
  • 1,851 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Gender:Male
  • Local time:06:24 AM

Posted 05 March 2016 - 04:06 PM

Those older but venerable units, were a bit over built.  I still have a running IBM AT unit that has been running non-stop for 12 years.  The down time has been one day in 20 years for an OS upgrade.  I went from PC DOS 5.0 to DRDOS 7.0  in  2004.  The power supply is very quiet and roomy, allowing for good ventilation.  PS failures are the easiest to diagnose with an accurate meter and enough digits to see any changes during operation.  So many different mfgrs of third party bricks that I wonder how many people have burn spots on their carpet from overheated and overrated units.  Dell laptops have their own version that has two voltages and an internal board to handle the charging circuit and the connector/switch.  Very prone to getting jammed, shorting the output and melting itself, even setting its cable on fire.  Too much juice to not have some protection.  Surge protection has many approaches, UPS units offer dropout coverage and will stop a surge.  These devices are meant to destroy themselves to protect the equipment connected to it.  This is also a ONE TIME thing, once it has been "struck" , it has no more protection or   no more connection to the power source.



#15 QQQQ

QQQQ

  • Members
  • 387 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Gender:Male
  • Local time:08:24 AM

Posted 06 March 2016 - 11:18 AM

My first build was using the cheapest parts I could get. I upgraded my video card to a more expensive and more powerful one and after 30 minutes of Unreal Tournament (years ago) I heard a bang and the computer shut off. Saw smoke coming from the power supply so I was pretty sure it was shot. Went to my friends PC shop and spent like 80 bucks on 500 watt power supply and the first thing I noticed was how heavy it was compared to the cheapie that just blew on me. Got lucky and only the power supply was blown and I never had another issue with that pc until I eventually retired it for a new build.

My lesson learned was to never skimp on certain parts like the power supply, motherboard, video card, monitor, and RAM. You can get away with the other components to a degree but these parts should be of good to great quality depending on your budget. My second to last build lasted me 6 years before I built the rig I am on now, ran Windows XP, Vista, and then 7 on that rig and I bet it will still run if I re assembled it. (reused my old case for new build)






0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users