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What is the method for determining whether the power source needs replacement?

Posted on 2016-10-08
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Last Modified: 2016-11-22
Dell Inspiron 660s W7 Home Premium Svc. pk. 1,  64 Bit. Used, OS was replaced. Runs fine for awhile then, at random, will power off and immediately restart. sometimes it will go a day  or two with no issue, then off/on after 5 minutes of use, last week it did the off/on 4 times 14 minutes apart. 1 month ago it would flash error black screen, but would not respond, just looped. Got it to safe-mode and booted normally. It now boots normally after on/off, but there does not seem to be any specific cause for the issue. Thank you.
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Question by:William Gates
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garycase earned 252 total points
ID: 41835405
Sounds like it's either overheating or has a defective power supply => not the only possibilities, but the most likely.

I'd install a temperature monitor and see what it shows => there are many free ones ... CoreTemp, RealTemp, HWMonitor, etc.    RealTemp should be fine for your system:  https://www.techpowerup.com/downloads/2089/real-temp-3-70/mirrors

If the CPU temps are okay, then I'd replace the power supply.
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by:Dr. Klahn
Dr. Klahn earned 62 total points
ID: 41835413
Agree with garycase.  Thermal is the first thing to check.

Intermittent issues in a power supply are best checked by swapping in a new one.  Putting a supply on a tester and waiting for a failure does not simulate the up-and-down loading of a real motherboard running an operating system.
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by:rindi
rindi earned 62 total points
ID: 41835415
First make sure you have disabled auto-reboot after a system crash, and also make sure you have set crash dump to create small memory dumps, and not full dumps. The next time it crashes chances are you get a BSOD, and not just a reboot. If you get a BSOD, then allow it to BSOD another 2 times. Then zip the minidump files that have been created, and attach them with your comment here so we can analyze them.

If you don't get a BSOD, then as above mentioned, it could be overheating. Remove the heatsink from the CPU, thoroughly clean both surfaces, then add a very small drop of fresh thermal transfer paste, then firmly and properly reattach the heatsink. Also make sure the fans all run smoothly and everything is dust free.

A simple test for the PSU is to take off it's cover (make sure it isn't connected to the mains), and then take a look at the electrolytic capacitors. If they show signs of bulging, cracking, or leaking, you either need to change them, or replace the PSU.
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by:nobus
nobus earned 62 total points
ID: 41835569
it can be anything - also bad motherboard
normally -you use the elimination process to find the culprit, so start exchanging parts, or devices
test also without external devices connected
if you have any minidumps - post the latest
you can also look in eventviewer for errors
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by:Merete
Merete earned 62 total points
ID: 41836934
I'd also check the power supply unit for dust buildup on the fan and inside this in itself can also cause unexpected shutdowns. Reseat the ram check the cpu fan etc
Dust is problem.
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Expert Comment

by:William Fulks
ID: 41837584
You can get a cheap PSU tester for like 10 bucks off Newegg and test it. Just depends on the type of power supply you have.

I'd also give the motherboard a look for any blown capacitors. I've seen PC's with motherboards on the way out start doing that random reboot thing.
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by:rindi
ID: 41837597
I looked at images of the board used in that PC, and it only uses solid electrolyte capacitors, those don't crack, bulge or leak like the normal electrolytic caps do. Hence I didn't mention looking for them on the mainboard, but rather only for the PSU...
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by:William Fulks
ID: 41837606
Rindi, I also looked up that board and found that is uses both types of capacitors.
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Author Comment

by:William Gates
ID: 41837826
Thanks to all for the suggestions. Will let you know how things progress.
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by:rindi
ID: 41858172
William-Gates, please give us some feedback
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Author Comment

by:William Gates
ID: 41869556
Finally found time to pull PCU, remove cover and inspect. There was some dust but no bulging/leaking/cracking noted. I cleaned the dust/re-assembled.When I plugged it in I heard that 'sizzle-pop", like an old tube type fuse blowing. The green light at chassis back is glowing, but nothing happens when I press the power button. Looks like a new PCU would be the logical and neccessary next step. Thank you all for your comments and insights. I will update you after new PCU is installed.
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by:Merete
ID: 41869578
And we never heard from William again.
Thanks fr the update William sorry to hear it is PCU.
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by:nobus
ID: 41869655
you can Always open the PSU and check for burnt marks, or blown fuses
also look at the capacitors there!
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by:rindi
ID: 41894753
Something must have gone wrong here, as an Asker's solution shouldn't be awarded points. Anyway, garycase was the first to suggest the Powersupply, so he should get the points.
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Author Comment

by:William Gates
ID: 41895296
Gary and Rindi are correct. I should not be awarded points for posting a comment to my own question. Update. Locating a new PSU was both time consuming and a waste of time. Dell acts like they don't know what it is when I search using the Dell Part #, and after hours of searching Amazon/Newegg/etc., when I did find the replacement, (close to $100 with shipping), I had to step back and look at the big picture. During my search I noticed how reasonable prices have become for refurbished pc's. That, along with the feeling that other problems could be present beyond the bad PCU, made it a no-brainer, and now I have spare parts if needed. Many thanks to all of you, my experience comes from years working in construction, should you ever have a question in that realm I will do my best to help. Thank you.
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Author Closing Comment

by:William Gates
ID: 41895364
Thank you
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by:Merete
ID: 41895511
Thanks William, I actually had no say when I used the EE email "Help Needed to close this question" It seems to be a new feature with EE that has received a lot of opinions, when you use the auto close and accept the author comment they apparently feel if it has an answer you deserve the points.\
Guess what just this morning I was working on my PC and my case fan spun out like crazy then the tower turned off and noway I could get it to turn on again, Figured the Case fan had died, did some drill downs unplugging things  removing different hardware as it turned out my PSU died, apparently a power surge in it's moment of death can happen.
Luckily I still have 3 years left of the warranty,
 I have a spare system to use..
Scorptec will courier ( fly up another for me) great service since they over 4 thousand klm away
Antec 850W High Current Gamer Modular Power Supply, 80 PLUS Bronze, 135mm Quite Fan, 4x PCI-E, 9x SATA, 6x Molex, 1x Floppy, High Current +12V Rail(s)
http://www.scorptec.com.au/product/Power-Supplies/ATX/49833-HCG-850M
Then my 4 terrabyte storge USB HDD made some funny squeels now I know where that sound came from I thought it was the case fan, so am now moving 3 terrabyte of files.
That is only 5 months old so another warranty lucky me .
Cheers
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