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How to tell if a power supply is compatible with my motherboard

Posted on 2016-08-28
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Last Modified: 2016-09-14
Hi All Expert,

Good Day.

I have a friend pc who's unable to startup, and when he press on the power button, there is even no sound or power, thus I suspect is the power supply, therefore I have an idea of using other old pc power supply but how can tell if a power supply is compatible to motherboard? Or other hardware that will also cause pc to unbootable and without having any sound? Appreciate if any expert can advise me on.

Thanks!
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Question by:xchiazyx
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LVL 27

Expert Comment

by:Dr. Klahn
ID: 41773728
Easiest and safest way to check a power supply is with a power supply tester box.  If you don't have one, remove the supply or take the entire system to a local PC shop and ask them to test the supply.  Many locally owned shops will do this for free if you ask politely, but don't expect a major chain store (you know the one) to do it.

This prevents a possible unhappy result when connecting a probably-good power supply to a possibly-bad motherboard to test the supply.
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rindi earned 250 total points
ID: 41773742
First you need to check the mainboard's model and check about it's details on the manufacturer's website. It will tell you what are the minimum requirements for the PSU. Normally if it has the same connections available as your PSU it should work. But it may require a minimum number of Watts. If there is an add-on Video card, those often also need extra power connections directly from the Powersupply, and also they require a minimum of Watts. So you need to first make sure your replacement PSU can provide enough wattage for the system.

Many, particularly Small form factor PC's for example from Dell or HP use PSU's which you can't replace with another standard PSU, as they have different measurements and just won't fit into the case.
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by:dbrunton
dbrunton earned 250 total points
ID: 41773966
>>  Many, particularly Small form factor PC's for example from Dell or HP use PSU's which you can't replace with another standard PSU, as they have different measurements and just won't fit into the case.

It is not only the different measurements but they (sometimes) wire the plug connector differently to the standard ATX wiring scheme.

Now as for testing the older PC.  Disconnect all internal drives (hard disk, CDROM drive, floppy etc).  Disconnect all external devices (USB, parallel port, NIC etc).  Remove all addin cards (graphics (especially), NIC etc).  Try a reboot.  If it works then one of your devices is faulty.

If it doesn't then you can try the older PSU in the box (all items above still disconnected).  Assuming the wiring  schemes of the plugs are similar (note my comments in the paragraph above) then you can plug the PSU in and try it.  Note the older PSU should probably have about a 300 watt rating and be known to be working.
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LVL 88

Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 41773986
There might have been very few models a long time ago that had different wiring, but today's models have normal wiring. Besides that, those that dis have different wiring, also had different plugs which normal people can't connect to the mainboard without a great deal of force, which would break everything anyway.
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Expert Comment

by:CompProbSolv
ID: 41774159
@rindi:
I have run into a number of Dell computers that had standard-looking connectors but nonstandard wiring.  I've been unsuccessful at replacing them with standard power supplies.  Nothing damaged, they just don't work.

There are clear differences on the wire colors on those Dells vs. standard supplies.
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by:nobus
ID: 41774308
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LVL 23

Expert Comment

by:Danny Child
ID: 41789524
The other component that would tend to cause that kind of failure is the motherboard itself.  

It possibly could be the power switch too, but you can trace that cable back to the motherboard, unplug it to reveal the 2 pins, and then momentarily connect them with a small screwdriver to simulate a button press.  However, a bit unlikely.

You may also want to try a different mains cable or socket... ;-]

If you could post the make and model of the PC in question, that would help us narrow it down too.
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