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Thread: Motherboard killing power supplies?




  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Default Motherboard killing power supplies?

    Synopsis: Extreme4 Gen 3 computer with frying power supplies.

    Situation: Built my computer here in Beijing about 7 months ago with a Zalman ZM600-HP power supply which I purchased in the USA. About a month ago, the computer shut down and wouldnít start up again. I popped open the case, tested connections, hit the power switch on the motherboard and-

    *FIRE* (literally)! About 1 cm of hot wire in the power cord rapidly disassociated its molecules through a fairly tiny hole burned through the outer insulation, the jet of flame just inches away from my probably highly flammable IKEA couch. Of course the breakers tripped again, leaving me in the dark. Whether the problem started there or just made itself known there is something I donít have the equipment to determine. Testing the ZM600 outside the computer proved that it was dead, though, and I feared the entire system was fried.

    Surprisingly, in spite of being upfront with everything that happened, Zalman China agreed to replace the power supply under warranty (they donít need to honor the warranty on a unit bought in another country), though with a ZM500-HP since the ZM600-HP was out of stock. I would have to wait a week to get it with the turnaround of sending my supply back, but I was a bit geeked that they did that for me.

    Went out the next day and picked up a Buffalo PE600WJD power supply (the English buffalotech.com website doesnít even show they sell non-notebook power supplies, so it is a China-only device apparently). With a few prayers to different deities and the blood of a chicken sprinkled around liberally (note- no actual deities or chickens were harmed in this test), I plugged it in and, to my surprise, the system booted up cleanly. Unfortunately, the Buffalo 12V line is too short to allow for installing in my bottom mount case, so I left the computer sitting out while I used it for a week waiting for the new Zalman to arrive.

    When the Zalman arrived, I decided to upgrade the CPU mount to a screwed on base (I had originally used the push pins because I got lazy), installed an OCZ Agility3 120 GB SSD, and just do some general cleaning. Restored to the SSD from a full system image I had fortuitously made the night before the fire, let the system run prime95 overnight (never exceeded 58dC), and thought I was one lucky SOB for dodging what could have been an expensive bullet (computer hardware other than CPUs and hard drives is surprisingly expensive in the country where it is almost all freaking made).

    Then yesterday happened. Less than two weeks after installing the brand new Zalman, the computer shut down while I was browsing the internet, house breaker tripped again, but fortunately no fire from the much higher quality power supply cable I had replaced the old one with. Pulled the computer, opened it up, tried the same trick I did before with removing power to see if the power supply would attempt to start up, but nothing. Pulled the power supply, put it to a tester, DOA. Got out the Buffalo, plugged it in, system started up, ran through the codes and booted just fine! WTF???

    So here my question:
    Which is more likely, that I have had two quality power supplies go bad all on their own, one spectacularly due to some unknown problem over time and the second an infant mortality issue (maybe Zalman isnít the quality I believed it was?), or that the mobo is somehow killing my power supplies and needs to be replaced?
    Any ideas other than TL;DR?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    profJim's Avatar
    profJim is online now Chief Munchkin + moderator
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    Default Re: Motherboard killing power supplies?

    Two blown power supplies in a row = really bad luck or a possible problem with the quality of the electrical service.
    Possible fixes:
    • Buy a high quality psu.
    • Buy a quality uninterruptible power supply (UPS) that will condition and regulate the power to your psu and system.
    Check out Uninterruptible power supply - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia for more information.
    I use both with my systems.

    Seasonic power supplies are my first choice.
    Seasonic makes power supplies for some models of Antec, Corsair, XFX and some other vendors.

    Power supplies made by SuperFlower (e.g. Kingwin) have had excellent reviews for the past year or two.
    Enermax and NZXT power supplies are often highly rated.
    Check out the best psu review sites to see which models pass their rigorous stress test procedures, such as JonnyGuru, HardOCP, Pcper, HardwareSecrets and TechPowerUp.

    I don't recall reading any reviews that concluded that Zalman tested models were near the upper end of the quality scale.
    Q9650 @ 4.10GHz [9x456MHz]
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    4x2GB OCZ Reaper PC2-8500 1094MHz @5-5-5-15
    MSI N460GTX Hawk Talon Attack (1GB) video card <---- SLI ---->
    Seasonic SS-660XP2 80 Plus Platinum psu (660w)
    WD Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB (data)
    Samsung 840 Pro 256GB SSD (boot)
    SLI @ 16/4 works when running HyperSLI
    Cooler Master 120XL Seidon push/pull AIO cpu water cooling
    Cooler Master HAF XB computer case (RC-902XB-KKN1)
    Asus VH242H 24" monitor [1920x1080]
    MSI N460GTX Hawk (1GB) video card
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    win7 x64 sp1 Home Premium
    HT|Omega Claro plus+ sound card
    CyberPower CP1500PFCLCD UPS
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    Seasonic X650 80+ gold psu (650w) ~~ Xigmatek Balder HDT 1283 cpu cooler ~~ Cooler Master CM 690 case (RC-690-KKN1-GP)
    Samsung 830 128GB SSD MZ-7PC128B/WW (boot) ~~ WD Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB (data) ~~ ZM-MFC2 fan controller
    HT|Omega Striker 7.1 sound card ~~ Asus VH242H monitor [1920x1080] ~~ Logitech Z-5500 Digital 5.1 Speakers
    win7 x64 sp1 Home Premium ~~ CyberPower CP1500PFCLCD U.P.S
    .


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Motherboard killing power supplies?

    Quote Originally Posted by profJim View Post
    Two blown power supplies in a row = really bad luck or a possible problem with the quality of the electrical service.
    Possible fixes:
    • Buy a high quality psu.
    • Buy a quality uninterruptible power supply (UPS) that will condition and regulate the power to your psu and system.

    Check out Uninterruptible power supply - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia for more information.
    I use both with my systems.

    Thanks, yes, I am well acquainted with UPS units, and in the USA I won't use my computers without one (I have been happy with both APC and Cyberpower). I would be that way in China, too, except the only known name in UPSs here is APC and they don't sell anything other than a stepped sinewave unit that I can find. Stepped sinewave doesn't seem to be ideal for active PFC power supplies (it is a bigger issue for 220V than it is for 110V), so I have avoided buying one to this point and mostly been working with my fingers figuratively crossed. Still, yes, I started doing my homework to see if I can find a 240v UPS here in China with something nicer than a stepped sinewave. Hopefully my next power supply will be a happier experience as a result.

  4. #4
    profJim's Avatar
    profJim is online now Chief Munchkin + moderator
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    Default Re: Motherboard killing power supplies?

    It looks like Japan has the nearest CyberPower UPS distributor (CyberPower Systems, select your country).
    Stepped sine wave ups models often have problems with some but not all power supplies when there is a power outage. The last time I checked, Cyberpower did not offer inexpensive non-stepped sine wave models in Europe and Australia that would be fully compatible with all power supplies. In the U.S. they offer "PFC" models that are about 10% more expensive than their "AVR" models, where the AVR models might have issues with some power supply brands and their PFC models will not have these compatibility issues.

    My older APC ups models with "modified stepped sinewave" (650VA and 750VA) have no problems with my Seasonic made power supplies; Antec EA500, Antec TP-750 New, and Seasonic X650.

    **edit**
    The Australian distributor now lists the CyperPower CP1300EPFCLCD PFC model with 1300VA / 780W ratings. The CP1500EPFCLCD model is also available.
    Last edited by profJim; 04-12-2012 at 08:13 PM. Reason: more info
    Q9650 @ 4.10GHz [9x456MHz]
    P35-DS4 [rev: 2.0] ~ Bios: F14
    4x2GB OCZ Reaper PC2-8500 1094MHz @5-5-5-15
    MSI N460GTX Hawk Talon Attack (1GB) video card <---- SLI ---->
    Seasonic SS-660XP2 80 Plus Platinum psu (660w)
    WD Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB (data)
    Samsung 840 Pro 256GB SSD (boot)
    SLI @ 16/4 works when running HyperSLI
    Cooler Master 120XL Seidon push/pull AIO cpu water cooling
    Cooler Master HAF XB computer case (RC-902XB-KKN1)
    Asus VH242H 24" monitor [1920x1080]
    MSI N460GTX Hawk (1GB) video card
    Logitech Z-5500 Digital 5.1 Speakers
    win7 x64 sp1 Home Premium
    HT|Omega Claro plus+ sound card
    CyberPower CP1500PFCLCD UPS
    E6300 (R0) @ 3.504GHz [8x438MHz] ~~ P35-DS3L [rev: 1.0] ~ Bios: F9 ~~ 4x2GB Kingston HyperX T1 PC2-8500, 876MHz @4-4-4-10
    Seasonic X650 80+ gold psu (650w) ~~ Xigmatek Balder HDT 1283 cpu cooler ~~ Cooler Master CM 690 case (RC-690-KKN1-GP)
    Samsung 830 128GB SSD MZ-7PC128B/WW (boot) ~~ WD Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB (data) ~~ ZM-MFC2 fan controller
    HT|Omega Striker 7.1 sound card ~~ Asus VH242H monitor [1920x1080] ~~ Logitech Z-5500 Digital 5.1 Speakers
    win7 x64 sp1 Home Premium ~~ CyberPower CP1500PFCLCD U.P.S
    .


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