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Problem with PSU? Random Freezing


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#1
phatjo911

phatjo911

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Hi, sometimes my computer just randomly freezes, whether it be 1 minute after start up or 1 hour.

I've built this computer 2 years ago, worked fine until about 3 months ago... I have a feeling it's the PSU, because sometimes when it freezes and I try to restart it doesn't. Then if I unplug the PSU and then plug back in, start, it works.

What's wrong?
Is my PSU just a POS/old? It's been working fine for 1 yr 10 months...

Thanks!
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#2
Digerati

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Could be the PSU, might be something else. Hard to tell with intermittent problems. Could be heat too, or failing RAM, or something else going. But starting at the beginning is the best place and that is to ensure you have good power going in. Below is my canned text on testing PSUs, but again, with this being intermittent, testing may not reveal anything. I would swap in a known good PSU for awhile and see what happens.

***

To properly and conclusively test a power supply unit (PSU), it must be tested under various realistic "loads" then analyzed for excessive [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ripple_(electrical)""]ripple[/url] and other anomalies. This is done by a qualified technician using an oscilloscope or power analyzer - sophisticated (and expensive) electronic test equipment requiring special training to operate, and a basic knowledge of electronics theory to understand the results. Therefore, conclusively testing a power supply is done in properly equipped electronic repair facilities.

Fortunately, there are other options that are almost as good. I keep a FrozenCPU Ultimate PSU Tester in my tool bag when I am "in the field" and don't have a good spare power supply to swap in. While not a certain test, they are better than nothing. The advantage of this model is that it has an LCD readout of the voltage. With an actual voltage readout, you have a better chance of detecting a "failing" PSU, or one barely within specified ATX Form Factor Standard tolerances. Lesser models use LEDs to indicate the voltage is just within some "range". These are less informative, considerably cheaper, but still useful for detecting PSUs that have already "failed". Newegg has several testers to choose from. All these testers contain a "dummy load" to fool the PSU into thinking it is connected to a motherboard, and therefore allows the PSU to power on, if able, without being attached to a motherboard - great for testing fans, but again, it is not a true load or suitable for conclusive testing.

As mentioned, swapping in a known good supply is a tried and trued method of troubleshooting used for centuries, even by pros. Remove the "suspect" part and replace with a "known good" part and see if the problem goes away.

I do not recommend using a multimeter to test power supplies. To do it properly, that is, under a realistic load, the voltages on all the pins must be measured while the PSU is attached to the motherboard and the computer powered on. This requires poking (with some considerable force) two hard and sharp, highly conductive meter probes into the main power connector, deep in the heart of the computer. One tiny slip can destroy the motherboard, and everything plugged into it. It is not worth the risk considering most multimeters, like plug-in testers, do not measure, or reveal any unwanted and potentially disruptive AC components to the DC voltages.

And remember, anything that plugs into the wall can kill. Do not open the power supply's case unless you are a qualified electronics technician. There are NO user serviceable parts inside a power supply.
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#3
phatjo911

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Is it alright if I open up the big cover on the psu and clear some dust from there? My antec 900 pulls in a buttload of dust
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#4
Digerati

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Is it alright if I open up the big cover on the psu


And remember, anything that plugs into the wall can kill. Do not open the power supply's case unless you are a qualified electronics technician. There are NO user serviceable parts inside a power supply.


You can remove the side panel from the computer case and clean out the computer interior. You can clean out a PSU just by blasting through the vents.
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