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my power supply overheated and burned I think, HELP!

by electtech / April 3, 2006 10:21 AM PDT

I'm running a custom made pc by a friend of mine runnig aAthalon and I recently added more memory, making it 700 mg. It has a 30 g HD and dvd burner, cd burner, floppy drive. I don't really know too much about computers, I'm a novice, though good at taking things apart and putting them back together. I installed the cd burner myself and everything seemed to work fine for a while.

2 days ago, I smelled a burning smell, and it turned out it came from the power supply. I opened up the system to look at the PSU and it looks like part of it is darked (charred). I'm assuming I need a new power supply. Can anyone make a suggestion as to why this happened and what kind of PSU I can get in the future to avoid this from happening again? Is it ok to buy one on ebay like this one "Blue OKIA 600w Dual Fan ATX Silent Power Supply *NEW*"? HELP!

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by ahoyfromtroy / April 3, 2006 10:32 AM PDT


i am also somewhat of a noob aswell but as far as i know there are only two reasons for that 1. Your computer needs more power than your PSU can suppy it seems likly seeing as just added parts a couple of days ago or 2. your computer is overheating and you either need to replace the fan or maybe tghe comp isnt getting enough air circulation because none of your wires are tied back and just left hanging or you computer has been overclocked meaning that the performance is being pushed past the factory setting and creating to much heat.
hope that helps


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by electtech / April 3, 2006 10:39 AM PDT
In reply to: PSU

It's possible that it's from the cd RW being installed, though adding one component seems like it wouldn't be such a big deal. The wires are tied back. What did yoiu mean about the fan? Do you mean the fan inside the PSU, wouldn't that mean I have to replace the entire PSU anyway? Thanks for your quick reply.

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by John.Wilkinson / April 3, 2006 11:19 AM PDT
In reply to: PSU

It's possible that the PSU was overtaxed, possibly already near or at its max before adding the new hardware, but it shouldn't overheat to the point it catches fire. Of course I'm not familiar with PowerONE, so it may be a lousy PSU to begin with. Another possibility would be a power surge...do you have/use a surge protector? Other questions I'd have would be where did it look like it was charred, were there any storms or power issues around the time it happened, how old is the PSU, and how long had the computer been on?

Now, hopefully the PSU was the only think damaged. Hopefully. To find out, first look for visible damage to anything else, particularly the motherboard. If everything looks fine, get a new PSU and try it out. Which one you get is up to you, but make sure it's at least 450W (your old was 350W) and preferably a good name brand. I wouldn't trust one off Ebay myself, as it could simply cause more problems, so I'd turn to something like newegg.com. There you'll find a variety of PSUs available, complete with user reviews. (Click here) Also, make sure you use a surge protector for your computer and everything connected to it. Make sure that surge protector also covers your internet connection, whether it be DSL or cable, as a surge could care less how it gets in.

Hope this helps,

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geez I would have freaked it caught fire!
by electtech / April 3, 2006 11:29 AM PDT
In reply to: Possibilities...

The PSU didn't catch fire, it just has a darked burn spot on it where one of the coils is. As far as I know, there wasn't a surge, I have the desk top and monitor on a surge protector/backup battery. I do not have the modem or router on a surge protector though, nor do I have the little set of speakers on a surge protector.

The motherboard looks fine, I don't see any visible issues. The entire system was put together only 8 months ago by a trusty friend. The computer had been on a lot, several days in a row. But as far as I know, that shouldn't affect the PSU should it?

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by electtech / April 3, 2006 10:36 AM PDT

p.s. the one PSU that overheated and burned is a powerONE model GM350wp max peak power 385 to 420 w .
Is this a crappy PSU, and maybe that's why it overheated?

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by ahoyfromtroy / April 3, 2006 11:22 AM PDT
In reply to: p.s.

hi again

No there is nothing wrong with your psu i think its a computer overheating problem if so then that is just the first part to go. if the problem isnt fixed then other parts will start to overheat. Im pretty sure that if the computer needs more power the the PSU can supply the machine just shuts down. Like i say i dont no much about computers thats just my best guess. It's best just to wait for a response from one of hte moderators. Hope that helps.


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If you're looking for a modern PSU at a great price..
by VAPCMD / April 3, 2006 11:17 AM PDT
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is cb right?
by electtech / April 3, 2006 12:26 PM PDT

connor brown wrote that there may be other issues involved here. It may be that my PSU is just a cheap unit, and not well made, but what other issues could have made the PSU overheat. I play Gallactic Battlegrounds on this system too and it is an intensive game I think. But Do PSUs just go down on their own or is there something else I need to be watching out for or replacing so this doesn't happen again?

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Advice to be avoided
by VAPCMD / April 3, 2006 1:01 PM PDT
In reply to: is cb right?

After CB said "No there is nothing wrong with your psu i think its a computer overheating problem if so then that is just the first part to go." ...it was time to hit NEXT.

Perhaps you should check back with the system builder and ask about getting the PS replaced under warranty.
Any PS worth it's salt has got at least a 1 year warranty and believe the Antec I suggested has a 3 year warranty...it stipulates that at NEWEGG.COM

Let us know how it works.


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by ramarc / April 3, 2006 1:13 PM PDT
In reply to: Advice to be avoided

CC and cUSA both carry antec power supplies so hopefully you can find one locally and save shipping costs.

Don't ever cheap out on a power supply. I'm not saying to spend $150 on a 650W monster, but don't believe that $25 flea market special says it will deliver 500W. Cheap power supplies cause more problems than any other component in a PC.

If you've got a midrange PC, a 300-350W PS for $50 is reasonable. A 3ghz PC with a good video card needs a 400W that should cost around $65-$75 retail/delivered. If you're getting a "great deal", better than these prices, you're getting ripped off.

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you've convinced me
by electtech / April 3, 2006 1:29 PM PDT
In reply to: agreed

I've got to say, I'm generally a total cheap ***. I hate spending more than I need to on a computer system, but I have to admit that I hate it even more when I have to replace cheap parts. SOOOOOO I'm going to go with a $50-70 PSU instead of going with my "cheap" instincts and getting a $30 somewhere with no warranty. If I'm going to get Battlefront, will I need a more expensive 500-600w PSU? It's a pretty intensive game.

Thank you.

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Stable, reliable, dependable is what in a PS..not cheap
by VAPCMD / April 3, 2006 2:59 PM PDT
In reply to: you've convinced me

Based on the limited info provided...(you didn't indicate exactly which CPU or video card you system had, it makes a difference) the PS suggested will handle everything in your current your current and more with ease. Now...if you were talking about a 500-600W PS for $20-30, then I'd worry. Interestingly enough... you can almost always judge power supply quality by weight.... the junk 500W PS is very light ... the better quality 500W is much heavier .. the ANTEC SP500 weighs in at 5lbs.

It's on sale this week at COMPUSA so best not to dally.

Let us know how it works.

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Solution for your power supply problem....
by bfohwrd / April 3, 2006 11:31 PM PDT

The possible problem for your power supply overheating and burning may be that the PSU's cooling fan must have got damaged earlier due to which, the Power supply must have got overheated. Another reason could be faulty power coming through your mains or the spike-buster. Plz be sure to check your mains for proper earthing, and lastly but surely you should change your power supply unit with a new one available in the market. Also, plz be absolutely sure that you get the power supply of the same wattage as the earlier power supply so as to avoid any further complications with your system.

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so, don't get one with a bigger wattage?
by electtech / April 4, 2006 9:37 AM PDT

I was planning on getting that PSU one person suggested with 500w. That would be bigger than the wattage on my currently desktop (which burned). I thought it was suggested that maybe the wattage was not enough for my system, and thus if I'm going to buy a new PSU, I should get a new one that is bigger and better. Is that not the case?

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As indicated...500W PS is 'probably' larger than needed now
by VAPCMD / April 4, 2006 3:18 PM PDT

but having a higher wattage PS just gives you extra or reserve capacity for more hardware, now or later. With a 500W you could add a higher performance CPU, more powerful video card, more hard drives, more optical drives, more fans, etc., It's a quality unit that you could transfer to another PC if you decide to upgrade. I run my PCs 24/7 and let the monitor go ito the sleep mode after 15 minutes.

If you look at good quality PSs available in the 350-450 PS....you're going to pay $40-$60. I recommended the ANTEC SP500 because it's from a quality mfg available now at a major retailer for a net cost of $50.

Here's some info on Power Supplies and Power Supply calculators if you really want to know more.





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by electtech / April 6, 2006 2:22 PM PDT

I changed out my PSU with a brand spanking new one by Antec, 500w. It seems to runnning fine now, no damage it seems to my other computer parts, as I'm able to see everything ok, and my tools are working fine.

I did have to switch out my 19" screen though... When my PSU first burnt, I thought it was the monitor, because 1 minute after I smelled the burning, the monitor went offline, like it went black, but the indicator light was orange instead of green. Now it won't even turn on, so I swapped it out with an older monitor, and it's working with no issues.

Any ideas as to why my other (bigger) monitor isn't working all of a sudden? It won't turn on, even though, when I go to plug in the power cord, there's a spark, as it it is trying to get juice to work. And any ideas for a fix without having to chuck the whole thing?

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Congratulations on your PS purchase and
by VAPCMD / April 7, 2006 11:22 AM PDT
In reply to: OK SOOOOOOO

on getting your system back up and running.

But the info about the simultaneous problem with the monitor concerns me. Would it be safe to say your system wasn't protected by a good surge surpressor or a UPS ?


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I can't remember which was which
by electtech / April 7, 2006 7:39 PM PDT

I have a Cyberpower 800 AVR backup battery/surge protector that I use for this system. Now I was fiddling around with my system and I had either the monitor plugged in to the protector, or the desktop plugged up to it. I know one of them was, but now I can't remember which one.

Now the monitor and the HD is plugged up to it. Think I had a power surge or something?

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No way to tell for sure now ... it may have been a
by VAPCMD / April 8, 2006 12:44 AM PDT

combination of a component failure say on the PS and power surge on the monitor. Based on what you said...that sounds possible considering no further damage to the PC when the PS failed and the UPS is still functioning properly. No matter what, it's always frustrating when components fail to function with or without any apparent symptoms.

When possible it pays to test the configuration to be sure it's working as intended...especially when it comes to UPSs. In other words you've got to actually turn off the power to the circuit, use the UPS 'test' button or uplug the UPS entirely to be sure your system will remain functioning during an aniticipated or unanticipated power outage.

BTW, congrats on having the UPS... they're not cheap by any means but when you measure their cost against what they often prevent from happening in terms of time or $$...they're a bargain.

Since we're talking good computing practices, what would happen if your hard drive failed mechanically ?
How long would it take to restore your system to the current configuration ..the OS, the drivers, the APPs, SW updates, preferences, etc. ?


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can you explain how to test the UPS?
by electtech / April 9, 2006 4:08 AM PDT

I'm not understanding the details of testing the configuration of the UPS so as to not get into this position again with a surge.

I'm very happy I was able to install the UPS with no apparent issues. I think I got all the wires right, the first try, thinking I might have to re-do it a couple of time.

Anyway, now I'm a bit scared about what you said. I usually back up my data on CDs, but I haven't thought very hard about my current configuration. I guess I figure that since it's a fairly new system and there's not a whole bunch of data on it.... what do you suggest? I know I'd be very upset if I had to reconfigure everything, it would probably take at least 2 - 3 days!

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UPS Test and System Backup
by VAPCMD / April 9, 2006 11:07 AM PDT

Many UPSs have TEST buttons which temporarily cut off power to the UPS leaving anything plugged into the connected to it dependent on the battery backup for power to continue operating. Assuming you've connected
your CPU and monitor to the UPS, they should continue running after you've pressed the 'test button'. If it's not connected correctly, the CPU and or the monitor will simply stop running. You could essentially do the same thing as the 'test button' by plugging the UPS into a switched socket..one where the power goes on or off when you turn the power switch on the wall....again everything should continue running with the UPS on when you turn the wall switch off. Another way to test it would be to connect a surge protector between the wall socket and the UPS...the test would then be just turning the surge surpressor off while the CPU and monitor were running to see if it keeps running.

Re backup...I personally favor using a second hard drive to store complete backup images of the main drive. Then if the main hard drive dies...I can install a replacement and restore everything from the backup images on the 2nd hard drive. To say the least...it has served me and many many others well. Restoring my entire C: drive (partition) with the OS and all apps takes less than 15 minutes.

Any questions....drop me a note.


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I was confusing UPS with PSU
by electtech / April 10, 2006 3:56 AM PDT

I re-read the posts and realized I was confusing battery back up/surge protector with the power supply. Anyway, thanks on your remarks.

I did test the UPS and it works fine, I have only my monitor and desktop system plugged into it, so as not to over tax it if there is power failure. I learned it the hard way when I was working on something really important a couple of months ago, and boom, the power goes out for 10 blocks, and I'm left with no saved data. It was terrible. So I went out and bought two, and I'm just itching to break out a big wide smile when the power goes out again and my nice big battery is doing its job so I can get everything saved.

Is it difficult to install a backup hard drive? What do I need to do to ensure I do it right? This system I have now is partitioned into two drives. One for all the system files, etc, and one where I save my movies, songs, pics, etc.

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by VAPCMD / April 10, 2006 2:40 PM PDT

UPSs can be confusing because some have sockets that are protected from surges only but won't sustain devices when the power goes out. For example I have an APC Backup-UPS XS 1500 with 8 sockets...2 are surge only (protected) and the other 6 sockets are both surge and power protected. You just have to check the product directions and labeling on the UPS itself or otherwise you might be surprised (and disappointed) when the power goes out. And after you've worked on enough PCs and read the product manuals...you will undoubtedly encounter directions that simply don't match the product they came with.

With regard to installing a second hard drive...you've experienced power outages, power supply failures and you've come thru both with flying colors. You bought the surge protector to protect the system and UPS to prevent data loss from unanticipated outages. And when the PS died...you asked, you listened and took the right action. Sooooo.... knowing that you can read, install your own PS and that there are directions EVERYWHERE on installing HDDs...I'd have no doubt whatsoever that you could install a another hard drive internally if you wanted to. Mfgs also have step-by-step info on installing hard drives and if you Google it...you'll have a lifetime of reading on 'how to install a hard drive' And then there's always us here at CNET if you run into a snag.

If you decide to get another HDD...keep you eye on Techbargains.com....they highlight deals on PC stuff including HDDs every week...and if you're willing to do the rebate thing...they're down right cheap. Just keep in mind the mfg warranties vary. Some are 1 year, most are 3 years and some are 5 year (all Seagate drives..retail or OEM).



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by Tien-Avenger / April 9, 2006 12:31 PM PDT

You said you play Galactic Empires.

Maybe you whooped your computer so bad it decided to get even and burnt it self out. Computers are getting faster and faster and more and more smarter these days and tend to get out of line.

What you need to do is slap that system of yours and remind it who's the boss. Give it a nice back hand slap dont forget to put some knuckles into it to get the power blow.

Stop babying it too or else it's gonna turn out to be a wuss computer. take it to the gym and let it get some strength

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and this means... what?
by electtech / April 10, 2006 3:45 AM PDT
In reply to: Maybe....

I increased the memory, and bought a new, heavy, power supply for it. What else should I do to show it who's boss?

I play Galactic Battlegrounds on it, and soon will need help with installing new video chip to be able to play another graphics intensive Star Wars game.

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next step
by Tien-Avenger / April 10, 2006 11:53 AM PDT

It really means nothing i just wrote it up cause I was bored and thought maybe someone could get a good laugh reading it

the new parts you bought to replace the old ones can be carried over if you choose to do a full hardware overhaul. like you said your next step should be to upgrade or swap out video cards (not chip, card). Depending on what interface your motherboard takes (AGP 4x/8x, PCI Express 16x).

Well that's the next logical step vice full hardware overhaul and rebuild. If i were you i'd back up everything and format and reinstall everything after the video card is installed just so everything wears in alright. not necessary but i'd recommend it.

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