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Power supply?

I have had a series of random problems with my computer over the months, and I have posted problems where the suggestion was to get a bigger power supply, I am getting a 400watt power supply within the next week and I just wanted to know what kind of problems can a insufficient power supply cause?

Currently I am running :
Pentium 4 2.4g
1G Kingston ram
200G Maxtor HD
Dynex 8x DVD+-RW
Radeon 9800 Pro
Sound Blaster Live 24bit
Windows ME

More specifically I have been having problems like battlefield 1942 crashes and other games running slower since the graphics card upgrade.  Also since I upgraded my sound card at about the same time the new card is for some reason unable to play music simultaniously while I play games, while my previous sound card a sound blaster PCI512 was able to with no problems.  Could these types of things be attributed to insufficient power?  And what else could an inadequate power supply cause?
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mattmikasa
Asked:
mattmikasa
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5 Solutions
 
J-A-LCommented:
If you have a 300Watt power supply right now... it's most likely (theoretically) enough to power what you have.
It's really a matter of the quality of power supply and the voltages it can provide under load.. in which case a good quality 300W or 400W power supply would bring piece of mind.  If you games are still crashing after you install a new power supply... and you have the most curent software drivers and OS updates... I would consider trying a different video card

Jeff
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kwapawCommented:
Are you overclocking your CPU or graphics card? You may be getting these crashes in case you are.

If not, I suggest upgrading the your Radeon's drivers. The ATI drivers are fine, although I would recommend Omega's optimized drivers for good game performance.
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kwapawCommented:
I do believe that you already have enough power for that kind of a system and there's no need to upgrade PSUs.
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nobusCommented:
you can calculate the power needed here :

http://www.jscustompcs.com/power_supply/      

However, i would start testing bits and parts, to resolve the other problems you have. Here somethings to test :
Ram use memtest86+  from    http://www.memtest.org/      
Disc : run a scandisc for errors, or use maxtor's utility :  http://www.maxtor.com/en/support/products/index.htm
overall  test  BurninTest :   http://www.passmark.com/download/index.htm

you can also check the event log for error indications.
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crazijoeCommented:
One thing you must relize is, since your are running WinME, your OS can only address 512MB of memory. Anything more is just sitting there. You might want to try a more stable OS like Win2K.
As a rule of thumb for efficiency, long-life, and less heat, you want your actual power consumption to fall between 30-70% of the PSU’s rating.
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markchambers1960Commented:
Could the new cards be producing more heat inside the case leading to stability problems through some components getting too hot? Heat doesn't just affect the processor, some cheap memory can be affected as well or even components on the motherboard.
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mattmikasaAuthor Commented:
I am not overclocking anything, my drivers are the latest possible, and I leave my case open so it doesnt get as hot as it would with a closed case, the memory is kingston and from what I hear a good brand, I have recently run scandisks, defrag regularly, and I remove spy/adware and run a minimal number of background applications.  And are the omega drivers relatively stable?  I have heard of some drivers being tuned for gaming, but like other things that are highly tuned they can perform poorly under different situations.  I do have a 300w power supply right now, could power have anything to do with my sound problem too?  It plays funny when I use other high load programs like games, like my winamp is playing in super fast forward, playing the entire song but in 2 sec it plays a 3 min song.  I have put the battlefield problem in a post before, and been told that my powersupply may be partly to blame because of the graphics card I have and now that I have added even more hardware that requires more power I may be exceeding my limits according to the other post.  I'll give the omegas a shot though.  Thanks for the help so far.
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nobusCommented:
if you suspect power problems, calculate it like i said in my previous post.
if you run Adaware and spybot, with the latest updates, you should be fine; here the links if you do not have them, and the link for 2 other good ones : HijackThis and online scan by Housecall :

     Spybot :        http://www.download.com/3000-8022-10122137.html
     adaware :      http://www.lavasoftusa.com/
http://housecall.trendmicro.com/                                                                      online scan for trojans
http://www.ravantivirus.com/scan/                                                                        virus scan
http://www.spychecker.com/program/hijackthis.html                                            download
http://www.hijackthis.de/index.php?langselect=english                                         check the log

But, i like to suggest using a better OS like win2000 or XP which are more stable and your system can handle them easily

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markchambers1960Commented:
I would agree with previous comments that an upgrade to XP SP2 would be a good move after fitting the new power supply. It does sound like driver problems but all you can really do in the circumstances is to proceed with caution and eliminate one possible factor at a time. If you still have your old sound and video cards try replacing one of them at a time and running them for a while and see if the problem goes away. I have come across perfectly good hardware with perfectly good drivers not working when combined with other perfectly good hardware and drivers, it's just that particular combination where there is a problem, the way that the XP kernel works tends to make this less likely to happen than under ME.
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kwapawCommented:
I would echo the suggestions made. Consider the upgrade to XP. Its stability has already been proven, and with the hardware that you have, I do wonder why you're still sticking to ME. It's quite an investment, but it's worth it.
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WatzmanCommented:

The quality of the supply can be as important as the rating.  I'd take a good 350 watt over a cheap 450 watt any day.

If the power supply can't supply the steady-state requirements, it's over-current protection will usually shut it down.  The more common scenario is that it can meet the steady state requirements, but can't meet instantaneous peak requirements, which are of very short duration (microseconds or less).  This will cause seemingly random crashes and lockups.  It won't cause many of the other problems that you are describing, however.

I'd definitely upgrade to XP.  If you have stuff that won't run under XP, I'd do a dual-boot installation of 98SE (not ME, which is the worst OS that Microsoft has ever put out), and XP.
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mattmikasaAuthor Commented:
I appreciate the suggestions, but the last time I used XP it left a bad taste in my mouth, which is why I went back to ME.  I had XP when it first came out and got a virus for it I think a record 2 min after starting up my computer and running XP for the 2nd time.  The 1st time was the reboot to start XP for the first time after installing.  So has XP been improved, or are there different versions that I have to consider when purchasing XP?  I have a copy of XP that I currently own I just have been afraid to use it because of my first experiences with it, tried twice and got a ton of virus problems very fast, and they spread like wild fire because I ran virus protections and they come back from 1 file which can't be shut down without windows being shutdown and XP does not have dos anymore so it left me frustrated and I lost faith in XP.  Also the numerous applications XP runs in the background has me skeptical about how good it is because as I look at different programs, they have a different set of recommended system specs for XP vs any other OS, XP is always higher in requirements.  Although the more I read what you all write, the more I want to give XP another try, as long as the one I currently have is an upgrade, which I think it is.
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WatzmanCommented:

XP as you were using it then was no more or less secure than 98 or ME.  But XP as it exists today is FAR more secure than either, but still not sufficiently secure that you don't need additional AV and spyware apps.  If a computer without a firewall (ME has none built-in; XP with SP2 now does) is merely connected to the internet via a broadband connection, and is not even used at all, to do anything, it will be compromised, on average, within about 20 minutes.

XP has been dramatically improved, but it was as good when you tried it as ME was (or is).  However, if you are doing an XP install with an old version (pre SP2) you need to download Service Pack 2 and install it BEFORE you connect to the internet for the 1st time.  You also need to install AV software, and the very first thing that you do when you connect should be to run windows update and also update the AV software.



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publicCommented:
WinME should never be installed on a PC that is actually used. Even Microsoft advises that.

As for  virus protection, always use a NAT router to connect to the internet. You may have been hit by Blaster or Slammer worm, which infected MS WinNTs without any user action, when they were directly connected to the Net.

If you measure your PC with a Wattmeter, it will likely read under 200W. 400W supply rating usually means it can supply 200W for an extended period.

The slow speed could be due to a driver, spyware infestation, wrong PC configuration settings, etc rather than a power supply.
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mattmikasaAuthor Commented:
Thanks for all the help guys/girls,  I think I've learned enough about my situation to make a sound judgement.  That judgement in case you are wondering is a combination of most suggestions.  I ended up installing XP which I already owned, I updated immediatly and such, and the power supply should be coming in sometime soon.  This is also a fresh format that I'm writing from so I don't know if it will be better, but it certainly couldn't hurt.  Thanks again.
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