×
Search TQA Weekly
×
Log into your TQA Weekly

Determining If The Power Supply Is Defective

How to deal with a potential powersupply issue, before it becomes a problem.

A detailed explanation of what a powersupply does, how it can fail, how to test for failure, hardware suggestions and commentary.

Episode #1-21 released on February 20, 2011

Power supplies are the most important part of your computer, just like food and water to living beings. Without a source of electricity, your computer is nothing more than a large, heavy paperweight. Now, any technician worth his or her weight in gold will tell you the same thing as me, power supplies are the most commonly replaced piece in a computer because they fail the most often.

So the best way to fix a computer is to presume that the powersupply has failed because it is now so easy to verify, but I am only refering to standard computers. This may not work on Dell, HP, Compaq, etc... computers because of their utter lack of respect for standards. They want you to be forced to buy hardware only from them, and you have to, once you have bought a pc from them. If you have a computer from a mass production company like those I just stated, please call Tech Support. If you actually bought a professionally built computer from a computer store, I will help you with a few tricks on how to determine if your computer's power supply is defective.

First, if you try to turn on your pc, and nothing happens, and there is current in the wall outlet, you may have a dead power supply. Verify this by two means. One, bypass the power switch of your pc, and use a small flat screw driver, then for a brief second, short the two power pins to turn on your pc. If it turns on, then its the power switch that's no good, otherwise, your power supply is dead.

Second, if there is no power activity in your computer, and it smells ike burnt lead and plastic, its usually a sign that the powersupply has shorted. Disconnect all hardware, replace the powersupply, and be prepared to test each device to see if it all still works.

Third, if your power supply is making high pitch noises, or is vibrating, turn off your computer, replace your power supply.

You may also use a multimeter or a dedicated power supply tester. My suggestion is the dedicated power supply tester as it is by far less confusing than having to look up what all the connections are supposed to read. Let's not forget someone is bound to slam against the wall if they get electricuted. A note, if your not grounded, its extremely hard to get electricuted, but you can damage your computer with static transfer. Always discharge any charge you may have by using a static bracelet, or by holding the metal part of the computer is discharge into the ground the static collected in your body.

Powersupply testers start at only $20 and they are always useful to own. Go to your local computer store, or to the link in our show notes and purchase one for yourself. They will indicate anything like high voltage, low voltage, or dead powersupplies, and there is virtually no learning curve implied in these devices, they are plug and test technology. Using a multimeter requires a lot more effort and you must know what to test for. They both cost about the same.

Suggestions and comments on buying powersupplies. I've gone through my fair share of power supplies, and I'm replacing them regardlessly every two years, my suggestions including buy a professional powersupplies. Professional powersupplies cost more, but have a big fans, heat sinks, capacitors, etc... They are more reliable with better warranty coverage. My personal suggestion would be gaming pro modular power supplies from Thermaltake, OCZ or Corsair, as they build the best powersupplies, ram, computer cooling equipment, etc... on the market. They are reliable, and if anything fails, they backup all their warranty promises. Do not use cheap powersupplies. They may be lighter and cheaper in price, but they are not as hardy, and if your power outlet is faulty, you run the potential of blowing out your powersupply and / or the whole computer.

And, as a final suggestion, buy yourself a Uninterrutable power supply, or UPS, instead of a surge power. The battery in these powerbars protect your powersupply, and ultimately your whole computer from sudden drops, or spikes in electricity.

Host : Steve Smith | Music : Steve Smith | Editor : Steve Smith | Producer : Zed Axis Productions

Sources & Resources