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Old 02-24-11, 12:56 AM   #15
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Yes, from the symptom of DVD cannot open (manually press eject button), it is most likely PSU problem or could be PSU connectors loose.

to 100% confirmed whether the power supply is sufficient, is to use a digital voltmeter to check all the PSU output voltages especially +12V & +5V during maximum usage.

If you don't have the meter, use HWMonitor from CPUID, but a toy instead of instrument.

From my experience, mostly, if PSU faulty, it can be easily repaired, i mean do it my self.

When I choose a PSU for my new build, i don't look at Watts, I look for individual continuous ampere (A) especially on the +12V DC rail.
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Old 02-24-11, 01:40 AM   #16
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Continuous power(watts), continuous voltage, or continuous amperage (current), you can't have one without the other.

Something else that DOES matter though, is a smooth steady current, continuous voltage with no variation. That is the difference between a quality power supply and an inferior one. A jagged or unstable DC output (or wattage, or current, they are NOT independent of each other), will wear out the components of your PC faster than one that is steady and can cause all kinds of performance issues. The more the variation, the faster the parts will fail.

If youir parents' computer has an unstable power supply, it could indeed cause all kinds of problems, but it still sounded like a memory issue, which could be caused by the feed from the P.S. as well as ram failure itself. The burned smell that you discribed could have been caused by not completely seating the ram chip when you switched them, or by replacing DDR with DDR 2 or Vice-versa (yes it CAN be done). If you did this, then you may have damaged the motherboard, and it almost certainly would burn the ram (Thus the smell).

At this point you can buy a PS tester and check the power supply or go ahead and take it to a professional, preferably one that you know to be honest. I would suggest the latter. Hope this helps.

Good luck.

Charlie

Last edited by SSRCharlieB; 02-24-11 at 03:34 AM.
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Old 02-24-11, 06:39 AM   #17
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Quote: Originally Posted by SSRCharlieB View Post
Continuous power(watts), continuous voltage, or continuous amperage (current), you can't have one without the other.

Something else that DOES matter though, is a smooth steady current, continuous voltage with no variation. That is the difference between a quality power supply and an inferior one. A jagged or unstable DC output (or wattage, or current, they are NOT independent of each other), will wear out the components of your PC faster than one that is steady and can cause all kinds of performance issues. The more the variation, the faster the parts will fail.
IMHO, W=VI, it is the I (Ampere) that affect the final watts (W), if the PSU components (for high ampere, it need high wattage switching transistors, big switching transformer and big capacitors) cannot sustains the amount of continuous current, hence the voltage (VDC) gets pull down right from the secondary winding of the switching transformer, then finally less VxI = less wattage.
Yes, the ripple is VERY important if we want to go further detail, I can confirm whether if it is a good PSU with Tektronix dualtrace oscilloscopes and Fluke multimeters if I want to, so far I don't go that far for consumer product.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
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Old 02-25-11, 01:39 PM   #18
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Update for the interested parties ---

Spoke with the place we brought it to, they said they found a bad ram stick, so I purchases some new ram and installed it myself (they wanted $150 to do that), plugged everything in and it was no better than what it was when we brought it to them, so I brought it back to them for further testing

I'm liking the power supply idea more and more, and mentioned the idea to them when I brought it back
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Old 02-25-11, 08:09 PM   #19
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Quote:
take it to a professional, preferably one that you know to be honest
ANYONE who wants $150 to replace a Ram chip IS NOT honest.

Go get your machine and take it to someone else.

You can buy a decent power supply tester for $20-30 that will test for stability as well as voltage.

Anybody that wants to work on their own computer needs one.

It (the PS) should be the first thing you check when you have a computer problem, but you obviously didn't have one, so I didn't suggest it.

Charlie

Last edited by SSRCharlieB; 02-25-11 at 08:22 PM.
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Old 02-25-11, 09:24 PM   #20
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Quote: Originally Posted by SSRCharlieB View Post
Continuous power(watts), continuous voltage, or continuous amperage (current), you can't have one without the other.

Something else that DOES matter though, is a smooth steady current, continuous voltage with no variation. That is the difference between a quality power supply and an inferior one. A jagged or unstable DC output (or wattage, or current, they are NOT independent of each other), will wear out the components of your PC faster than one that is steady and can cause all kinds of performance issues. The more the variation, the faster the parts will fail.

If youir parents' computer has an unstable power supply, it could indeed cause all kinds of problems, but it still sounded like a memory issue, which could be caused by the feed from the P.S. as well as ram failure itself. The burned smell that you discribed could have been caused by not completely seating the ram chip when you switched them, or by replacing DDR with DDR 2 or Vice-versa (yes it CAN be done). If you did this, then you may have damaged the motherboard, and it almost certainly would burn the ram (Thus the smell).

At this point you can buy a PS tester and check the power supply or go ahead and take it to a professional, preferably one that you know to be honest. I would suggest the latter. Hope this helps.

Good luck.

Charlie
+10000000
Simply put, your Motherboard has a tolerance. IF your power supply variabts to much it will just shut down.
At best, you will get random and irritating shut downs.
At worst, you'll fry off every component in your system one-by-one.

As usual, excellent advice Charlie!
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Old 02-25-11, 11:48 PM   #21
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On the topic of power supply testers, what sort of features do you look for in a good tester? I've seen PSU testers in the sub-$5 range that I'm betting are only voltmeters, but I'm not sure what actually to look for in a good one.
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Old 02-26-11, 07:53 AM   #22
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IMHO, don't waste your money on PSU testers. Only instrument can accurately measure a device (such as PSU) performance, a simple good instrument itself can match the price of top brand high end consumer grade PSU, such as good quality handheld multimeter, and this is not enough for PSU full test.

On choosing a good PSU, rely on reputable brand and review, never listen to any PSU test review that did not show oscilloscope ripple test graph. Further, huge price difference between a low cost oscilloscope and high end oscilloscope. Absopulse is a professional power supply maker, my experience with them was 0 failure on nearly 1000 units of industrial grade PSU, sadly they don't make consumer grade PSU.
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Old 02-26-11, 05:34 PM   #23
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IMO, power supplies are one of the most overrated items in a PC.

I find it funny sometimes when people will say they need a 1000W PSU for a computer that can run perfectly fine on 350W-400W.
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Old 02-26-11, 07:20 PM   #24
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"IMHO, don't waste your money on PSU testers. Only instrument can accurately measure a device (such as PSU) performance"

That is BAD advice. A power supply tester is NOT a waste of money. It is a necessary tool for any computer technician. If the average member of this community stuck a multimeter in their PC and started taking measurements, they would fry it in less than 60 seconds.

I have been a computer tech since the late 70's. I have not needed a multimeter to analyze a computer in over a year, and I repair 5 or more computers during an average week at my shop.

They don't need a multimeter, they don't need an ocsilloscope, they don't need a spectrum analyzer, they don't need a DC parametric semiconductor tester. These guys aren't doing research for graduate school. What they need is SIMPLE help on how to repair their PC's. Nobody here is trying to build a ballistic missile. They don't need thousands of dollars worth of equipment to analyze every parameter of their computer.

All they need to know is...

(1) "Are all of the voltages there and within tolerances? (2) Is the output stable?

If the answer is "No" to either of those questions, then the power supply needs to be replaced. If the answer is "Yes" to both, then the PSU is fine. SIMPLE.

I use a "Platin ATX Power Tester" for this. It cost me about 28 dollars, as I recall. If you want to work on computers you need a PSU tester. If Bill Gates tells you that you don't, then Bill is wrong, not me.

For a bit more money, you can get a tester with LED readouts. One of the nicer ones is the Cables Unlimited Deluxe ATX V2 24 Pin Power Supply Tester for $43.99 at "TigerDirect.com". Nice LED readout, and it is very accurate.

Charlie

Last edited by SSRCharlieB; 02-27-11 at 07:37 AM.
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Old 02-27-11, 04:35 PM   #25
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So are you trying to tell me I don't need a new probe for my oscilloscope Charlie??

And I'm trying to diagnose a possible PSU problem at the moment, and I was going to pull the CRO out of storage and try to find the instructions since I haven't used it in 15 years. I used to use one every day in my job, but forget how.

One thing about using my $400 multimeter, it's not testing the voltages under load, unless I plug it in while the system is powered up, which I don't recommend, it's so easy to slip and short out connections and blow things up.

I must admit, the plug in PSU tester I purchased is so much quicker and easier.

Seriously folks, if you're messing around with hardware at all, invest in a reasonable quality PSU tester for under $50. You won't regret it, and if you are regularly fault finding computers, it will save you so much time and confusion.

Great advice Charlie!
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Old 02-27-11, 06:12 PM   #26
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Update --

After bringing it back to the same place, they came back with the installed ram wasn't properly installed, and the reason that the DVD drive wasn't working was one of the connecting cables was loose.

The CD drive does now open and close, and seems to boot up normally, however there's a new problem.

I first noticed it as a problem with Avast on their computer starting it's services. I trying removing and reinstalling it to reset whatever was wrong. When trying to register the free license I got the following error "The AAVM subsystem detected a RPC error"
I was able to get AVG Free to install correctly after removing Avast and being unable to get Microsoft Security Essentials to install correctly.

I got a clearer picture when I tried reinstalling the software for the multifunction printer that my parents have. After the CD ran for a few seconds, it had informed me that "Plug & Play" has been disabled.

I went into the "Device Manager" to find no list of anything at all.

I tried restarting Plug and play in "Services" and it gave me an error and was told it wouldn't start. (Error 2) I saw listing for RPC also in service and was able to switch those to automatic.

I'd love to take a sledgehammer to this thing.
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Old 02-27-11, 08:04 PM   #27
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"A power supply tester is NOT a waste of money. It is a necessary tool for any computer technician."
100% agreed for computer technician, it is for quick finding whether a PSU is at fault, for business, time=money.

Probably I am in different school of thoughts.
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Old 02-27-11, 11:12 PM   #28
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Quote: Originally Posted by tongks View Post
"A power supply tester is NOT a waste of money. It is a necessary tool for any computer technician."
100% agreed for computer technician, it is for quick finding whether a PSU is at fault, for business, time=money.

Probably I am in different school of thoughts.
I should have added, "and anyone who wants to do their own computer repairs." That's what I mean, nothing personal, this is just simple, quick repair for average computer users in most cases. Back when a computer cost three or four thousand dollars it was different. But now you would be spending a thousand dollars to fix a 50 dollar part. Doesn't make sense, and don't forget the point I made earlier, these guys (and girls) are NOT engineers or even technicians.

You give good advice, for EE students or techies. You sound like a first-class engineer, you might possibly even qualify as a "scientist" from some of the info you have posted, but the people you are trying to help here aren't necessarily knowledgeable about what they want to do. You have to remember that when you try to help them. Their knowledge of electronics is, more often than not, limited or perhaps even non-existant. Try to keep it on a level that your Mother-in-law would understand if you were writing a letter to her about how to fix her computer..

Charlie

Last edited by SSRCharlieB; 03-03-11 at 08:21 AM. Reason: more
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