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Possible power related problems.

  1. May 27, 2008 #1
    Hey everyone,

    My computer is starting to have weird problems and I think it may be power related.

    I recently moved into a new house and the current seems much more unstable than at my old house. Maybe all the construction in my area isn't helping either....
    Often, when my other family members are opening lights and appliances, my speakers pop, lights dim for a ms, etc... So I'm assuming my PC equipment must be feeling those disturbances also.

    Some problems:
    -Generally unstable wifi connection; (was better during winter)
    -OEM drivers for my video card and sound card frequently crash even after multiple XP re-installs. (I'm using 3rd party drivers now.)
    -Computer seems generally slower...

    Can these problems be related to unstable current?

    Do you think it would be worth investing in a UPS? Will a quality surge protector be enough? I'd like the cleanest possible power going to my PC and speakers for audio quality.

    Other solutions I have considered: are old age (It was O.C.'d 2 winters ago) or an inadequate power supply.

    I can post specs if you need.

    Many thanks in advance! :smile:
  2. jcsd
  3. May 29, 2008 #2
    How's your computer connected to the power outlet? Are you using a reliable surge protector? If not, do so asap.

    As for your wifi connection. What wifi NIC and router are you using?
    Driver issue. Are you using the latest ones from the manufacturer's websites?
    Computer slowness. Have you defragged and reduced amount of startup process on your computer?

    What OS are you using, at this point i assume it's Windows? Over clocking it with an inadequate PSU might lead to future instability, power wise. Is this a custom built rig? And are you using the PSU that came with the case? If yes, then replace it with a reliable brand, i say Enermax, Antec, or PC power & Cooling.
  4. May 31, 2008 #3
    Thanks for your reply vincent.

    It's connected to a basic, cheap power bar with surge protection.

    Moved the router and it's ok now.

    Yes it is custom built.
    Swapped out the PSU for a 350W Enermax a while back because the old one randomly died.

    I think I may be pushing my PSU actually... The online calculators all tell me different numbers. Maybe you can judge?

    PSU: 350W Enermax PSU
    M/B: MSI k7n2-d
    CPU: AMD 2800+ (Barton Core) stock speed.
    RAM: 2x512M Kingston DDR running as DIMM.
    VID Card: ATI All-in-Wonder 9800 Pro
    Sound: Audigy2 ZS
    IDE: DVD+-RW, 80GB HDD, 120GB HDD, 320GB HDD
    Wifi: D-Link WDA-1320
  5. Jun 2, 2008 #4

    Holy **** 4 Drives, a 9800 Pro, and a sound card is pushing it on a 350 watter. I'd upgrade to around 400-425 watts. If you're doing any gaming on that card, then you can be straining it a bit.

    How many fans and case lights are you running?
  6. Jun 2, 2008 #5
    Ouch... Well like I pointed out, one of the sites tells me 277W is good, another said 347W and the other one said 400 something.

    I've got 2 LED 80mm, 1 normal 80mm beside my vid card, a 120mm fan. My power supply has two "high performance" 80mm fans.

    Multimeter readings give me: 3.34V-3.35V, 5.05V stable, 12.20V stable; which is within spec, but the system wasn't on full load during the readings. Do you know where I can obtain information on the current draw of all my devices to calculate amperage needs?

    Will try unplugging one of the HDDs (because it only contains unused ext3 paritions), the floppy drive and a few fans. I have my case running no side panel + the LEDs and noise annoy me when I'm sleeping. Will report afterwards.

    I don't want to invest any more money into this machine than is absolutely necessary. It suits my needs perfectly.
    [rant]Unlike Windows XP :cry:. I'm too impatient and unpredictable a PC user to constantly reboot.[/rant]

    -Is my basic power bar/surge protector trustworthy?
    -Do you think a UPS can have a significant effect on sound quality, interference, or on the life of PC components?
  7. Jun 2, 2008 #6
    A good friend of was having the same interference type issues you're having. We ended up coming to the conclusion that his PC tower was sitting too close to the wall and was picking up A/C interference. Whenever he turned his inside garage lights on, or his AC unit would kick on, his speakers would buzz, monitor would flicker and windows would slow to a crawl. We moved the tower and he bought a good surge protector... problem solved. I advised him get a protector anyway.

    If you believe that the current is unstable anyway, I would invest in a quality surge protector as vincentm stated. A UPS would be VERY nice to have if you can afford it, but it's not necessary. A quality surge protector is a good compromise.
  8. Jun 3, 2008 #7
    The wattage does not matter so much, as a lot of cheap power supplies are going to list peak wattage instead of continuous. If you are going to upgrade the power supply, try something from a solid manufacturer like BFG, Thermaltake, or another brand. I would always suggest hooking up expensive workstations and desktop computers to a UPS, because it will provide a clean, constant source of power. Undercurrents can damage a power supply (and possibly computer components) as easily as surges. Surge protectors will only usually protect you from strong spikes; they are better than nothing, but no alternative to a UPS.
  9. Jun 3, 2008 #8
    x2. Cheap PSUs more often than not, have a horrible power drop when load goes up. If by calculations alone you're anywhere near the rated wattage, it's probably experiencing a lack of sufficient power. Definitely stick with a namebrand PS; BFG, Corsair, Thermaltake, Antek, Enermax, ect.
  10. Jun 4, 2008 #9
    Most newer quality built PSU's have dual 12v rails( A must have imho), unlike the default ones that come with custom cases :yuck:, i take the advice of the web based calculators but up the recommended wattage by at least 25.

    ie; 425watts recommended

    I purchase 450.
  11. Jun 5, 2008 #10
    OK... So after unplugging one the 120GB HDD and two case fans my system seems more stable after some testing. Audio drivers no longer crash, I get higher, more stable FPS in games and the boot and OS loading times seems faster. The latter could also be due to placebo or due to the removal of the HDD.

    Thanks for the advice guys :cool:
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