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I was playing minecraft an hour ago and all of a sudden the power supply to my laptop stops. I checked the adapter and found it really hot and kinda burning smell was coming from it.

What could have possibly got burnt? Might it be still recoverable or should I send it for replacement?

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closed as not a real question by Xavierjazz, Breakthrough, Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007, ChrisF, 8088 Dec 18 '12 at 19:42

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You should not use the item in question. It is either broken, failing, or perfectly fine. In either case it overheating is not by design. –  Ramhound Dec 18 '12 at 18:41
    
@Ramhound It's quite possible the power supply is a bit undersized by design to keep the price down. It's entirely possible the OP could buy a new PS and experience the same problem. –  Nicole Hamilton Dec 18 '12 at 18:53
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Depends on your definition of "recoverable" and your level of comfort working with the electronic internals of high-voltage AC/DC adapters. Strictly from a safety standpoint, however: send it in for a new one, and do not use the adapter in the mean time. It's quite likely they will simply send you a new replacement instead. –  Breakthrough Dec 18 '12 at 18:58

3 Answers 3

Wall wart and brick power supplies are not generally worth repairing. Even if you could find a repair service, buying a new one will likely be cheaper.

Whether you need a new power supply is a different question. Insulation smells when it overheats. If this was (as it sounds like may be possible) merely because of an extended period of heavy load, then it may still be fine. It would be a different story if the smell was more than "kinda burning" or if there was more evidence of an actual short (e.g., popping sounds, sparks, bulges in the case, flames coming out), not just a possible thermal cutoff.

My suggestion would be to see how it does after it's cooled down. Does it work at all? Does it begin overheating right away? Does it start smelling again? If it seems to be working, I personally would continue using it but take care to watch it and avoid overly long sessions pounding your graphics processor (which is probably what generated the load).

If you're very conservative and don't mind the cost, then of course you could simply buy a new power supply. But I suspect there's a possibility that if you do the same thing with a new PS that you may well encounter the same result. It's quite possible the PS is undersized to keep the cost down.

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I've had Dell bricks latch up and overheat like that. They seem to have a thermal shutdown. One in particular did the overheat once about 3 years ago, smelled and hasn't done it since. I always make sure that All power bricks are on a fire proof surface since that experience in deference to them being extremely expensive cheap electronics. Even the official ones. –  Fiasco Labs Dec 18 '12 at 18:51

What got overheated? Capacitors, an inductor or transformer and several active components. Epoxy has a distinctive acrid smell. The life has been shortened if it still works. If it's non-functional after this stint, throw it as far as you can toss it and get a new one.

Minecraft basically has shown that the CPU and GPU running at high loading for several hours is probably beyond the capacity of the brick. 60-90W instead of the 250W you probably need.

Buying a higher wattage charger doesn't mean that the power port components in the laptop will be able to handle the extra current. You might consider buying a separate computer for gaming if you're into graphically intensive stuff.

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Also worth considering, where was the power brick for the time you were playing Minecraft? Perhaps you're in bed and the brick was under the covers - this is going to get it hotter than usual. If you end up with the same adapter, just be conscious to keep it out in the open and preferably on something flat and hard. –  deed02392 Dec 18 '12 at 21:03
    
Definitely a good consideration. Don't restrict airflow around these things and don't bury them in a heap of flammables. –  Fiasco Labs Dec 19 '12 at 0:28

I would not use anything that got burnt.....get a new one ASAP. Electrical fires are not something to fool around with.

Besides a failing power supply could short out items in your laptop.

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Upvoted Nicole's answer for providing useful information, but this is really the "correct" answer when dealing with any mains-connected device experiencing power issues. –  EKW Dec 18 '12 at 18:48
    
I won't downvote this, but I do disagree with this advice. It's always very easy to get very freespending with other people's money. A new brick might be a $70 proposition and that can be a lot of money for a lot of people. Does the OP really need to spend that? Modern high-quality power supplies have thermal cutoffs designed to shut them down when they get too hot but before any serious damage is done. They may smell a bit but they aren't failing and will be fine after they've cooled down. If it were me, I'd consider that before reflexively shelling out a possibly unnecessary $70. –  Nicole Hamilton Dec 18 '12 at 19:28
    
Remember what the question stated...."all of a sudden my laptop stops....really hot and kinda burning smell...". Sounds to me like the Adapter is broken but had been working fine and was not overly hot for awhile (i.e. not new). –  mdpc Dec 18 '12 at 19:32
    
@mdpc That's not inconsistent with the thermal cutoff point. It will certainly be hot and you might smell insulation overheating. That's not the same as failing. If set properly, the cutoff would happen before there's serious damage. –  Nicole Hamilton Dec 18 '12 at 19:34
    
@Nicole, in this particular instance, I guess I we both have some disagreement here interestingly enough..... –  mdpc Dec 18 '12 at 19:37

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