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How to test a power supply?

Yesterday my computer just completely shut off while playing a game. When I try to turn it back on lights on the motherboard flash and the fans spin for a moment, then go dead again. If I immediately try to turn it back on again, it does nothing. If I wait a while after that and try again, it does the same turning back on for just a moment and then stopping thing. Does this behavior suggest the problem is with the power supply?

I tried testing it with a multimeter and everything from the power supply disconnected (with the green and black wires shorted with a paper clip), and the voltages were all at the correct level. I understand that the power supply can still fail when everything is plugged in, but I can't find detailed instructions on how to test it this way. The power supply won't stay on long enough for me to test when I try to turn the computer on. Would it be risky to use the paper clip while all the power cords are plugged in? I am better off just buying another power supply and hoping it works, or at this point is it more likely a problem with another component?

Much thanks for any advice.

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marked as duplicate by Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007, Josip Medved, 8088, Canadian Luke, Simon Sheehan Jan 1 '13 at 5:50

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

    
possible duplicate of How to test a power supply? also see How can I diagnose a faulty power supply? –  Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Dec 31 '12 at 22:49

1 Answer 1

Generally if a power supply is failing on me I would just purchase another one. This is the core component to your computer and having it fail can be a catastrophe. I like to ensure that I buy a trusted brand of power supply unit to ensure that it will last over time. However, without additional information on what your wattage your power supply is or what brand, I can only assume.

Possible cause: Your power supply unit is underpowered for your computer - Get a rough idea of the wattage required here

Also, note that this may not be an issue with your power supply unit. Take the time to inspect your motherboard and other components. Work through a process of elimination. Take everything, but what is required to start the computer and then test. Then add components one by one until you find a failure.

With the power supply unit you could try one from another computer or try your power supply in someone else (WARNING: if the power supply is faulty it may damage another computer).

Basically you just want to ensure that the problem is indeed the power supply unit. The last thing you want to do is buy another power supply only to find that it was your motherboard.

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I checked with that calculator and I appear to have enough wattage. Also it's worked for a year up until now. My older computer has a power supply that is way underpowered, so I don't know if that's any good for testing. I'm not sure how to test the motherboard without power. –  Steve Dec 31 '12 at 23:00
    
That makes it difficult then. Could you edit your first post to include your complete computer specifications? –  Sam Dec 31 '12 at 23:19

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