I had my power supply experience a catastrophic failure (distinctive crack and electrical discharge noise, electrical burning smell) not long ago. It had been in use for over two years before failing (all components are roughly that age except the mobo; that was replaced with an RMA about 6 months ago after a failure).

Assuming it was just a PSU failure, after getting and installing a replacement, I went about stress testing to ensure the new PSU worked. It did - for about an hour. The same failure experience - I managed to see visible sparking from within the PSU this time. I was monitoring my internal temperatures and they seemed appropriate.

I made the mistake of using the same power cable rather than the new cable for the PSU, but in other testing that cable seems to be alright. I did take a 400W+ PSU and hook up the motherboard, CPU, and a hard drive and let it run for a few minutes - no failure there, but it's a significantly fewer number of components, and no load.

What other actions can I take to debug the potential issue with my build?



The RAM has since changed to 8GB of Ripjaws DDR3, but I am unsure of the model.

  • You should post your build.
    – MDMoore313
    Jun 11, 2013 at 20:03
  • @pnuts - Someone's cracked the PSU and it's more than just a fuse, there were some very damaged components. Jun 11, 2013 at 21:04
  • @MDMoore313 Added. Jun 11, 2013 at 21:19
  • Since its cracked open - might help to see what parts are damaged - are they ICs or capasitors? A bad cable and a power spike COULD do this
    – Journeyman Geek
    Jun 12, 2013 at 0:24

1 Answer 1


You didn't say how big your replacement PSU was, but from experience and your build I have to say that

1) It's likely the power supply just died, they do that occasionally (die prematurely, that is)

2)Your video card is a tremendous power drain. It requires a 500w power supply just to function. While it likely may not draw the entire 500w, that is something to keep an eye on. If it does draw the entire 500, you want to take the time to calculate the rest of your wattage requirements from your build and see if 680 is sufficient. Operating a power supply close to it's max will also shorten its lifespan.

I or you will probably never know what truly happened to your beloved power supply, but at least know a possible reason, and can take preventative measures in the future.

  • The fact that both power supplies died the same way means I doubt the first possibility, and the second is possible but unlikely - that 500W is a recommeded PSU size, not what the card actually pulls. It pulls more like 230W - see bit-tech.net/hardware/graphics/2010/10/22/…. Jun 13, 2013 at 20:25
  • That's still pretty intense for a video card, when you factor in that your processor drains 125W peak without any other peripherals that's already 70% of your power supplies max. That may not sound like a lot, but that doesn't include the actual motherboard, hard drives, dvd burner, and any usb devices you plug in.
    – MDMoore313
    Jun 14, 2013 at 12:08

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