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Computer help: Does this sound like my PSU is going bad?


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#1
TheAntiEggroll

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Ill give as much information as I can. I have a Dell 530 Desktop Quad core with 2 extra gigs of ram I added by myself as well as an 8800 GT I added.

I turned it off for the first time in a good week or 2 and when I tried to turn it back on it would try and the fans would jerk and continue to do so but it would never get full power.

I took out 2 of the ram sticks, turned it back on an it worked fine. Then I put both back in turned it on and it worked fine again. Well after 2 days I shut it off again and had the same problem when I attempted to turn it on.

Again after I took 2 of the sticks out it turned on, this time though it would not turn on with either or both of the sticks in. I tried every combination possible but the only way I could get it to turn is with both ram sticks out.

PS this computers obviously a few years old and had everything "aftermarket" since the day I got it and ran flawlessly since that time until now.

Thanks in advance for help

:)
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#2
Digerati

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It does sound like the PSU is giving problems. Does it run fine with just the new RAM? Or only the old?
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#3
TheAntiEggroll

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It does sound like the PSU is giving problems. Does it run fine with just the new RAM? Or only the old?

There are 4 sticks total all of which have been in the system for 2+ years without issue. The only combination I havent tried is putting either of the 2 sticks I pulled into the slots where the other 2 sticks are.

One other thing that just crossed my mind is maybe a bad ram slot? The likely hood of both sticks going bad at the same time is pretty slim Id imagine and I have not yet tried skipping the third slot and just putting a stick in the 4th.
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#4
Digerati

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Ah, I thought you were saying the extra 2Gb were new.

You could certainly have a bad slot, though they don't normally just go bad, but it can happen. They can also get dirty, but with the amount of swapping you have done, the contacts should be scrapped pretty clean.

You are right that two sticks going at once would be unlikely. But if you motherboard supports dual channel memory, it will be disabled in that pair with only one stick. Worth testing though. Just be careful to unplug the PSU from the wall and touch bare metal before reaching in to discharge any static in your body.

You might also test your RAM. You can test RAM using one of the following programs. Both require you to create and boot to a bootable floppy disk or CD to run the diagnostics. Allow the diagnostics to run for several passes or even overnight. You should have no reported errors.

Windows Memory Diagnostic - see the easy to follow instructions under Quick Start Information,
or
MemTest86+ (for more advanced users) - an excellent how-to guide is available here,
or
Windows 7 users can use the built in Windows Memory Diagnostics Tool.


If your PSU is near capacity, having the 4th in may be putting it right at the edge.
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#5
TheAntiEggroll

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If your PSU is near capacity, having the 4th in may be putting it right at the edge.

My PSU is certainly near or at capacity.

Like I said the systems run perfect for 2+ years without any hardware changes. Im assuming its possible for PSUs to fail slowly or just degrade over time to cause something like this?

Like I tried to explain before the computer continually stutters when I try to power it on but never actually turns on and common sense tells me that sounds like a power issue.
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#6
Digerati

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Yes to all of the above. Concerning PSUs degrading over time, that is the reason to adjust for "capacitor aging", as noted in my canned text below for sizing and selecting new PSUs:

Use the eXtreme PSU Calculator Lite to determine your minimum power supply unit (PSU) requirements. Plug in all the hardware you think you might have in 2 or 3 years (extra drives, bigger or 2nd video card, more RAM, etc.). Be sure to read and heed the notes at the bottom of the page. I recommend setting Capacitor Aging to 30%, and if you participate in distributive computing projects (e.g. BOINC or Folding@Home) or extreme 3D animated gaming, I recommend setting both TDP and system load to 100%. These steps ensure the supply has adequate head room for stress free (and perhaps quieter) operation, and future hardware demands. Research your video card and pay particular attention to the power supply requirements for your card listed on your video card maker's website. If not listed, check a comparable card (same graphics engine and RAM) from a different maker. The key specifications, in order of importance are:

  • Current (amperage or amps) on the +12V rail,
  • Efficiency,
  • Total wattage.
Don’t try to save a few dollars by getting a cheap supply! Digital electronics, including CPUs, RAM, and today's advanced graphics cards, need clean, stable power. A good, well chosen supply will provide years of service and upgrade wiggle room. Look for power supply brands listed under the "Good" column of PC Mechanic's PSU Reference List. Note that some case retailers “toss in” a generic or inadequate PSU just to make the case sale. Be prepared to “toss out” that supply for a good one with sufficient power.

Most PSUs have an efficiency rating of around 70%. This means for every 100 watts of power a PSU draws from the wall, only 70 watts is delivered to the motherboard, with the rest wasted in the form of heat. The best supplies are 85 to 90% efficient, and as expected, cost more. I strongly recommend you pick a quality supply with an efficiency rating equal to or greater than 80%. Look for [url="http://<a%20href="http://www.80plus.org/manu/psu/psu_join.aspx"%20target="_blank">http://www.80plus.or...spx</a>"]80 Plus - EnergyStar Compliant[/url] labels.

Too big of a PSU hurts nothing but your budget. Your computer will draw from the PSU only what it needs, not what the PSU is capable of delivering. If a computer needs 300 watts it will draw 300 watts regardless if the PSU is a 350W, 650W, or 1000W PSU. In turn, the PSU, regardless its size will draw from the wall only what it needs to support the computer. In this example, it will draw 300 watts, plus another 45 – 90 watts, depending on the PSU’s inefficiency.

As noted, the eXtreme Calculator determines the minimum requirements. If the calculator (with the changes I suggested) recommends a 400 watt minimum, a quality 400W supply will serve you just fine. But a quality 550W – 600W supply will have, among other things, larger heat sinks to dissipate potentially more heat. It might have a larger fan too. The 400W supply will run most of the time closer to capacity, while the larger supply will be loafing along, rarely breaking a sweat. To help the smaller heat sinks get rid of the wasted 80 watts (20% of 400) of heat, the fan in the 400W supply may need to run full speed, while the fan in the larger supply, with bigger sinks just loafs along too – but in near silence.

Don't forget to budget for a good UPS with AVR (automatic voltage regulation). Surge and spike protectors are inadequate.


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#7
TheAntiEggroll

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Thankyou for the excellent piece of reading


I ordered this today for $22 shipped. Before you hate read the reviews. Thanks again for all the help

http://www.newegg.co...N82E16817139008

Ill let you know if the PSU fixes it.
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#8
Digerati

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Well, that's a great price and I really like Corsair PSUs - I just hope 400W meets your needs. I looked up the 8800GT and a couple versions I found say 400W is the minimum required. You did not say which model you have. Some come with 256Mb of RAM, some with 512Mb, and a couple makers have 1Gb 8800GTs. With your RAM maxed out with 4 sticks, you did not leave you much room for future expansion. Using the 512Mb version, 4 sticks of RAM, 2 HDs, 1 DVD, 2 x 120mm fans, and the adjustments I suggested above, the calculator comes up with a minimum of 384W and recommends 434W. I think you are fine now, but if you decide to upgrade your graphics card or add more hardware some time down the road, you may need to upgrade the PSU again. Note I did not factor in any attached USB devices (keyboard and mouse don't count) or additional cards. And it is not likely you will be running at 100% load full time either so don't panic. I might not be so confident with that if you purchased some off-the-wall brand, but Corsairs are good.
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#9
TheAntiEggroll

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Well, that's a great price and I really like Corsair PSUs - I just hope 400W meets your needs. I looked up the 8800GT and a couple versions I found say 400W is the minimum required. You did not say which model you have. Some come with 256Mb of RAM, some with 512Mb, and a couple makers have 1Gb 8800GTs. With your RAM maxed out with 4 sticks, you did not leave you much room for future expansion. Using the 512Mb version, 4 sticks of RAM, 2 HDs, 1 DVD, 2 x 120mm fans, and the adjustments I suggested above, the calculator comes up with a minimum of 384W and recommends 434W. I think you are fine now, but if you decide to upgrade your graphics card or add more hardware some time down the road, you may need to upgrade the PSU again. Note I did not factor in any attached USB devices (keyboard and mouse don't count) or additional cards. And it is not likely you will be running at 100% load full time either so don't panic. I might not be so confident with that if you purchased some off-the-wall brand, but Corsairs are good.

Im not super literate when it comes to all these things but from what I read its a very good 400watt power supply much better than a lot of higher wattage worse built ones. I plan on upgrading to a 5770 GPU but I read the power requirements are almost identical to my 8800 GT. My 350 watts lasted me this long. If I get another 2+ years out of it Im sure Ill be ready to upgrade by then. Thanks again for all your help again Ill let you know if the power supply was the issue.
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#10
Digerati

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It is a good supply. And when I plug that 5770 into the calculator, I get about 5W less so you should be good to go.
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#11
TheAntiEggroll

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It is a good supply. And when I plug that 5770 into the calculator, I get about 5W less so you should be good to go.

What an awesome forum you guys provide. This was the only place I actually got responses I felt I could trust.
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#12
Digerati

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What an awesome forum you guys provide. This was the only place I actually got responses I felt I could trust.

And it is warm fuzzies like that that makes volunteering here worth it! At least for me. Thanks!
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