Power Supplies Tips

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Does your PSU have a strong enough fan?

Power Makes it Hot

The computer power supply can cause a lot of heat, yet it can also provide the best defense against it. Since just about everything else in the computer generates heat too, a strong fan is essential. Power supplies will have built-in fans that are meant to cool the inside of the computer case to stop components from overheating.

Older PSUs have standard box fans, while newer models might have an open design that produces more airflow. When shopping around for a PSU make sure to look for one with a higher power fan. A fan that can vary speeds based on the internal temperature of the computer is ideal.

A stronger fan in your power supply will also produce more noise than a slower one. This may not be noticeable, depending on the material your case was built from and if you use rubber alternatives to the standard metal screws inside. If it is noticeable there are other noise-dampening alternatives available, though a little noise is better than your system heating up like a frying pan and sizzling out on you.

   
Is your laptop battery life too short?

Real Battery Life

Ever wonder why you never seem to get the same battery life out of your laptop battery you were told you would? You are not the only one, and here are some reasons why.

Most people do not realize that they can overcharge their computer batteries. Diminished battery life can be the result of leaving the computer plugged into the power supply too much. Computer batteries should be allowed to drain down and then be charged back up at least a couple times a week. Do not leave them plugged in all the time. If you do not plan on using the computer for an extended period of time, leave the computer plugged into the wall but take the battery out.

Graphics cards are also a source of diminished battery capacity. These cards use a lot of power. Many laptops have the option of disabling the graphics card when it does not need to be used. Doing so will conserve power.

If you use your laptop to watch DVDs you should check to see if the computer has A/V Mode. This mode turns the DVD player and screen on without starting your operating system, using much less power.

If you follow these steps you will get the battery life you were promised instead of feeling like you were cheated.

   
Are you unsure how to install a new power supply in your computer?

Installing a Power Supply

Not sure how to install a power supply? When completing the installation in your desktop computer, you want to limit the number of steps needed. A good way to start once you open up your case is to make a diagram or take a picture before you do anything else. This way if there are any questions as to where something went or how it was connected you have something to reference.

Make sure to ground yourself and open the case, then remove the screws holding the old power supply in place. Keep the screws separated for each component you detach the power from, so you know which ones go with a specific device when putting everything back together.

Carefully disconnect the power from the motherboard and any drives and fans. Now you can remove the old power supply and replace it with the new one. Line up the screw holes, secure the new power source in place and reconnect everything else just as they were before.

Now you just need to double check all the connections and plug the power supply into your surge protector. Turn your computer on, and if everything works as it should, finish up by putting the case back together. You are good to go.

   
What is a power supply?

Power parts

The computer power supply contains other parts to keep it from having power problems. It is built with a fan. This to prevent overheating during start up or usage. Some power supplies like the Diablo 550-Watt PSU also include built-in voltage overload protection. Keep in mind a power supply is like any other part of a computer. Make sure it works well with other parts like the processor and the circuit board or your computer might not work at all.

   
What is a power supply?

Beware of the dust bunnies

Just ‘cause the power supply is located within your computer doesn't mean it's impervious to dirt from the outside. Microscopic dust particles find there way into everything. A build up of dust could cause system overheating. The best cure -- compressed air. Every so often, spray the air on your power supply through the space in the intake fan. Instead of the external fan. This will send dust out of your case. Not suck it right back in.

   
What is a power supply?

Power protection

Blackouts strike without warning. Erasing power and sometimes your computer files. To prevent this from happening invest in a UPS (uninterrupted power supply) battery like the APC Smart UPS. This battery will protect your computer from shutting down when there are electrical interruptions or outages. Today's UPS Batteries connect through the serial port and can provide information about battery life as well.

   
What is a power supply?

Power of sleep

Chances are you will not be leaving your hair dryer on for 6 hours at a time. And you probably won't be using the toaster for a straight 12 hours. However, when it comes to computers, leaving ‘em on for hours and hours is sort of the norm. The best way to make sure your power supply doesn't fizzle out from overuse is to use the sleep mode. It is a mode that reduces the computer power when it is left untouched for a while. To jar the computer back into active mode usually all you need to do is touch the keyboard or the mouse. Most computers do have this mode. However, if yours does not there is software that can fix that problem.

   
Have you tested your power supply before connecting it?

Does Your PSU Pass the Test?

Sometimes you do not find out if your power supply is working to its capacity until it is too late. When you are in the middle of running an important application and everything suddenly crashes, you are wondering why. If only you had known that the PSU was not outputting sufficient power to keep everything going.

This can be avoided with a simple and inexpensive purchase. For $15 you can get a power supply tester that will test all the connections on your power supply that would go to your computer. If there is a faulty connection or it is not properly outputting power you will know before it becomes a problem for you.

It is a good idea to use this power supply tester before connecting anything in a computer you are building or upgrading. Regular tests can detect minor problems before they turn into major ones. Then you can take corrective action early and get the problem fixed.

   
Did you make sure your new PSU will work with your computer?

If the Shoe Fits ...

Just like everything else when building a desktop computer, you always need to make sure your power supply is compatible with the rest of your system. Check to see that the form factor matches that of your motherboard and computer case. Most likely they will be ATX, but it is better to be on the safe side.

If you have a mini case you do not want a PSU that is too big. A small case with a large PSU does not leave enough room for proper ventilation, which could lead to your system overheating and crashing.

You also want to make sure that your new power supply has all the proper connections to interface with your motherboard, drives and other components. Once you have purchased and installed your new power supply, make sure to always have it plugged into a surge protector. Plugging directly into a wall outlet puts your computer at unnecessary risk.

   
Afraid of spending a little more on a power supply?

Don't Go Cheap on Power

Computer power supplies are more important than most people realize. Some might think that it is nothing more than plugging the computer into the wall outlet and you are good to go. There is a lot more to it, though.

The power supply unit (PSU) provides the power to every component in your system. A low quality PSU can send insufficient or unstable currents to your components. If the manufacturer cut some corners on the PSU it could also generate dangerous amount of heat inside your computer case.

A poor PSU can put your motherboard, processor and a number of other devices at risk. Also, if the PSU is not able to put out the power required by your system, you will not get anywhere near the top performance your machine is capable of.

Your power supply is very important because the rest of your computer simply cannot function without it. The safest thing to do is spend a little extra on a quality PSU from a respected manufacturer.

   
What is a power supply?

Power for the PC

The PC power supply of the computer is the component that converts the electricity into energy the computer can use. This energy is measured in watts. Today's powerful computers don't need as much power as you think. The typical computer uses 200-300 watts. The typical coffee maker can use up to 1200. Even still, to prevent electrical damage from occurring during an electrical shortage it's probably best to connect your computer to a surge protector power strip.

   
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