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February 23, 2017

Power Supply Goes Pop!

Filed under: Main — Tags: , — admin @ 12:01 am

It seems like just a few months ago, I replaced a power supply in my son’s PC. And just the other day, the power supply killed itself.

PC power supplies don’t die subtly, but on the plus side they don’t take down the rest of the computer as collateral damage. I know this fact from experience, so I’m always happy to replace a computer’s power supply.

I wasn’t home when disaster struck; Simon phoned me during a meeting, but didn’t leave a message. When I called to ask what’s up, he said that his computer just stopped working. He tried unplugging it and checking the connections, but the system wouldn’t turn on.

When I arrived home, I checked the power cords and power supply coming in from the wall. We opened the case and I noticed that the power supply fan wasn’t on. So we needed to replace it. Simon related that when the system stopped, he heard a loud pop. That’s generally how power supplies die — and such details would have helped me diagnose the problem sooner.

The computer dealer wanted $100 for a replacement 500W power supply, but my son didn’t want to take it into the shop. They’re good folks, but the turnaround time lingers and Simon’s computer games were waiting to be played! So we phoned up a Big Box retailer and they had a 520W ATX replacement in stock.

I would have preferred a higher-wattage power supply. The main reason these robust beasts fail is that they’re underpowered. The original power supply was 350W, which is why I replaced it with a 500W unit. If that power supply failed because it was underpowered, then I’d prefer a 600W or 750W replacement.

Because the Big Box retailer had only a 520W unit, we chose that. And it was only $50, plus it was on the way to Café Rio and we both wanted Mexican food for dinner.

Back home, and after tacos, we removed the old unit (disassembled in Figure 1), mentally noting the various connections. The PC is rather standard, so it featured the two motherboard connectors, one each for the optical drive and hard drive, plus a connection for the display adapter. The new unit featured an abundance of connectors, including some legacy connectors. It installed in seconds. The system turned on. Ta-Da!

Figure 1. Yeah, I broke the rules and voided the warranty to look inside the power supply. The failure was due to the fuse, illustrated above. It’s non-replaceable, so the unit is dead.

As with any power supply incident, the PC was fine. All the data was present and no other internal components were damaged when the power supply blew.

My only concern moving forward is that the unit might still be underpowered. If so, I’ll get a higher-wattage replacement should that day arrive.

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