What's the worst that could happen?
July 16, 2006 9:38 PM   Subscribe

My power supply is whining, but I'm okay with that. Do I really need to buy a new one?

So, it seems that I've got the same problem that this gentlemen had. That is, my power supply is emitting a high pitched whine.

Here's the thing, though... I think I can live with it. I wear headphones all the time, and they block out sound fairly well. Also, I don't have any cash for a new (worthwhile) power supply right now. So there's that, too.

All in all, I think I'd be okay with just leaving it alone. Intrinsically, though, the "pretend it doesn't exist" solution seems like a poor decision on my part. What might happen when it does eventually fail? Fire? Explosion? Alien invasion? I'm kind of imagining that it will just stop working one day. "Alas!" it will cry out, and then proceed to die a quiet, dignified death. I can live with that outcome.

To summarize: I know that I'll have to eventually replace this thing, but is it okay to leave it until it dies?
posted by Drunken_munky to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)
If you're confident enough to know what not to touch (the caps)...

I've added a little bit of *light* mineral oil (dip the tip of a pin in the oil, transfer to motor) to noisy fans (after peeling back a sticker - there's usually a hole), and have had the noise go away = fan continues to work.

Noisy fans = fans that are going to fail.

Failed fans = high temps = damaged components.

Replacement is your safest route, adding some lube is your second.

Ignore at your own risk - $10 fan replacement or $100 motherboard + possible RAM + possible CPU replacement?
posted by porpoise at 9:45 PM on July 16, 2006

Opps, sorry. I should have mentioned that it's definitely not the fan. As surmised by the clever mefites (I will term them collectively as "Professor Science") in that other thread, I'm pretty sure it's either the inductor or a failing capacitor.

I fear explosions.
posted by Drunken_munky at 9:51 PM on July 16, 2006

Agreed that it is probably a noisy fan in the power supply. Shouldn't be a problem unless the noise stops, meaning the fan stops turning. On one of my systems where that occurred, the power supply failed, but caused no further damage to the system. The purpose of this fan is to cool the power supply primarily, although it does aid in system cooling.
posted by Manjusri at 9:52 PM on July 16, 2006

You may find that it does die a quiet death. You may equally find that it decides to go out with as much as it can take with it and nuke your motherboard, or simply catch fire.

The last time I had a power supply make the high-pitched whine of death I replaced it post-haste because that's cheaper and easier than replacing everything.

posted by Dipsomaniac at 10:01 PM on July 16, 2006

A failing power supply is a dangerous thing for the rest of your computer. When they go, they can and do take out every other component in the machine... they can toast EVERYTHING, and I've seen it happen. It can also do nothing at all beyond failing. There's no way to tell ahead of time.

You can get reasonably good ones for $50 or so. If you delay that purchase, you may simply have to buy the $50 power supply later. You may also have to buy a $1000 computer. In exchange for no money now, you run the risk of a high expense later, which seems like a bad choice unless cash is just incredibly tight. You're not really saving the money, you're just delaying the expense.

There's little chance of actual physical danger, but I'd suggest leaving the computer off when you're not using it.
posted by Malor at 10:07 PM on July 16, 2006

Also, I don't have any cash for a new (worthwhile) power supply right now.

Just get a 20$ cheapie from, say, newegg.
If you're like most people (including myself, I might add,) and just using the power supply which came with your $60 case, you're going to be hard pressed to find a less worthwhile one than the one you're already using, anyway.
posted by blenderfish at 11:53 PM on July 16, 2006

definitely not worth the risk and trouble, spend $20-$30 and be done with it
posted by BillyG at 6:59 AM on July 17, 2006

Or, y'know, spend $50 on a *NICE* Antec, which will weigh twice as much as a cheapie (cause *that's* a great evaluation tool :-), and probably last 3 times as long and make things run better...
posted by baylink at 7:14 AM on July 17, 2006

Cheap power supplies are the ones that almost always explode the entire computer when they fail.

More expensive, higher quality power supplies are the ones that rarely explode the entire computer when they fail.

IMHO, it's worth the extra $20 or $30. But I've seen/smelled the damage cheap supplies cause... :-)
posted by shepd at 7:35 AM on July 17, 2006

Do replace your power supply (esp it's the caps) - they can be a fire hazard.
posted by porpoise at 8:31 AM on July 17, 2006

Nice link, porpoise.

Additionally, don't forget about The Great Electrolytic Capacitor Scare of 2003 [referreed self-link]
posted by baylink at 8:43 AM on July 17, 2006

So, bad idea, huh? I was afraid of that.

If you're like most people...

I am, unfortunately, a hardware geek. The cost is more like $110 (cdn). Bleh. I literally only have enough money left for food and booze this month... now I guess it's just enough for booze (hah, I made a funny).

Oh, well. Sobriety never hurt anybody. Thanks for the advice, guys.
posted by Drunken_munky at 10:11 AM on July 17, 2006

You're in TO, Drunken_munky. $110? Look harder! May I suggest Canada Computers?
posted by shepd at 10:43 AM on July 17, 2006

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