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Author Topic: Power supply blew. Need some advice.  (Read 3454 times)
GrannyGeek
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« on: July 16, 2010, 06:47:47 pm »

We're rearranging the furniture in our house and today I switched desks in my home office. I was plugging in the Athlon 64 computer to check on its position on the new desk and when I pushed the plug into the outlet, there was a flash in the power supply followed by the smell of something burned. Needless to say, at the very least the power supply was toast (almost literally!).

I looked inside the computer and didn't see any other obvious damage. The computer was not turned on when I plugged it in. Now I have to make some decisions. (I really didn't want to be faced with something like this at this time, which is critically busy here.)

I guess the first thing I should do is take the power supply from my other desktop and plug it into the blown computer to see if the computer runs. If it doesn't, I'll conclude that other components were damaged. I'm nervous about doing this because I can't be sure what caused the power supply to blow and there is some possibility that the other computer's supply could go, too, when I try it on the dead computer. I think this is a small possibility given that the power supply blew at the moment I was plugging it in. But if both power supplies blow, I'll be left with just my old laptop until I replace the power supply.

If the damage extends beyond the power supply, I have to decide what way to go. Buy a new computer? Buy a motherboard, CPU, and RAM? I first considered a barebones kit but I have a perfectly good case, so that doesn't make sense. I also have a very nice 1600x1200 LCD monitor and would prefer a computer without a monitor if I go that way.

Are current motherboards likely to be Linux compatible? Any other advice?
--GrannyGeek
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MikeCindi
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« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2010, 09:45:37 pm »

As a friend always told me, "The life of electronics is in the smoke."

The plan of using the other power supply is how I would proceed too. I would get a surge protected outlet (or even on an UPS if that is available) to plug into though which should reduce your risks of be short two power supplies.

The place where I buy power supplies, if that is all you need, is called 3B Tech (3btech.net). I have found their prices to be the best and shipping is free and reasonably fast (3-4 business days to Oklahoma).

If you have to rebuild the machine the questions will be: what are you looking for (aside from good linux compatibilty), how fast do you need it, and how much do you want to spend. If you've got a 7-10 days or so to be selective and can use some of the components from the old machine (HD, RAM, DVD/CD and any PCI cards you may use) and if you are happy with onboard GPUs then I would get on NewEgg's mailing list. I just built a machine case and all for ~$220 (AMD triple core 2.9GHz processor, 6Gb RAM, 750Gb SATA HD, ATI HD 4550 graphics card (had HD 4350 onboard), etc. All of this came from taking about 10 days to watch for special pricing. The power supply was from 3B Tech though.

The mobo is made by Gigabyte and has worked well with VL 6 series up to SOHO b3. I've loaded light, standard, and KDE classic and had no issues. I've also used a few live CDs (Parted Magic and Ultimate Boot CD) and had no detection issues (64 bit and 32 bit).

HTH,
Mike
« Last Edit: July 16, 2010, 09:48:35 pm by MikeCindi » Logged

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GrannyGeek
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« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2010, 12:05:36 pm »

Thanks for this very helpful information. I decided to put off testing with the other computer's power supply until Tuesday or Wednesday. We are having a family gathering on Monday with all our children, their spouses, and grandchildren and I don't want to be in the midst of a big project. With the furniture and boxes of stuff for sorting that we got from my late mother's house our place looks like a warehouse. No matter if the weather is nice, as we'll be outdoors. But they're predicting thunderstorms and if we have to do it all inside...a grim thought!

Anyway, I checked out 3B Tech and unfortunately they don't have the brands and models I'm looking for. I never skimp on power supplies and I also insist on a *quiet* PSU and I'm looking at some SeaSonic, Enermax, and Zalman models right now. I must say that the quiet models are pretty pricey! There's one I'd like but at $140, I doubt I'll get that one. It's probably worth every penny but a less expensive model should also be okay. I'm aiming for 500 to 650 watts. That would give me the freedom to get just about any video card that would meet my needs.

If I have to get a motherboard as well, Gigabyte will be near the top of the list. I know they have a good reputation.

As for why the old power supply blew, I'm wondering if it could be weather-related. It's been extremely hot and humid here for at least a couple of weeks. That computer hasn't been turned on during the hot spell and I wonder if there might have been some condensation in the PSU. I lost a PSU a few years' ago during a hot spell. No flash or burning that time. The computer just didn't turn on one day and there were no lights, nothing was getting power, and the PSU flunked the power supply test I found at PC Power and Cooling.
--GrannyGeek
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Happily running VL 7 Gold on  a Sempron LE-1300 desktop (2.3 GHz), 4 G RAM,  GeForce 6150 SE onboard graphics and on an HP Pavilion dv7 i7, 6 gigs, Intel 2nd Generation Integrated Graphics Controller
Pita
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Posts: 1311


« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2010, 05:22:10 pm »

As far as I know those power supplies last only so long before they burn-out.
I had it more than ones and it never did any damage to the rest of the computer.
I usually have one in reserve laying around so I can quickly replace it. Looking
at the computer stores they are well stocked with power supplies which must
have a reason. Smiley. Cost here between 10 and 20 dollares.
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M0E-lnx
Administrator
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Posts: 3185



« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2010, 09:00:25 am »

I would start with the power supply as well. I've replaced a number od them over the yerars and never had any damage extend any further than the psu. But, I agree, sounds like a good excuse to start building a kool machine. Smiley
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GrannyGeek
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« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2010, 06:33:19 pm »

Thanks to all  of you for your suggestions. I didn't reply sooner because I hadn't had time to switch to the power supply from the other desktop and so, had nothing new to report.

Today I did the switch and I'm very happy to report that the computer started right up and everything I tried worked. Both hard drives were readable. So getting a new power supply should get things working again on the Athlon 64 X2.

Now I have to decide which power supply to get and order it. Should be here by next week at the latest and then I'll be back in business.

By the way, I found the receipt for the blown supply. It was a good Enermax and was 8 years old. I didn't realize how old it was. So I guess it was entitled to "retire." I should also say that in 23 years of computer ownership, I have had just two power supplies fail, of which this was one.

If you don't hear from me on this again, it means everything worked as expected.
--GrannyGeek
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Registered Linux User #397786

Happily running VL 7 Gold on  a Sempron LE-1300 desktop (2.3 GHz), 4 G RAM,  GeForce 6150 SE onboard graphics and on an HP Pavilion dv7 i7, 6 gigs, Intel 2nd Generation Integrated Graphics Controller
haywire
Vectorian
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Posts: 507


« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2010, 03:38:11 am »

The power supply... I get "broken" or dead computers given to me all the time. The power supply is very often the problem.
Luckily its an easy fix and inexpensive part. I also keep a few around just in case one blows.
Glad your problems were an easy fix.

Steven
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