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Thread: Is it risky to replace my PC's power supply by myself?

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    Wasting Light Hicks's Avatar
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    Default Is it risky to replace my PC's power supply by myself?

    I've thought about doing this for about a year off-and-on.

    When I got this PC about 16 months ago, it was mainly for school/work, and it's not really a gaming machine because of it's poor graphics card.

    These days I'm a console gamer again, but I used to be a PC gamer years back, and due to this machine having a pretty good processor and RAM, I quickly got the itch to upgrade, but never did for a variety of reasons.

    The only reason that remains is what's keeping me hesitant now: The power supply is only about 300W. To add a good mid to high end graphics card, I would need something closer to 450-600W to have plenty of juice.

    I'm not really here to hammer out exactly how much W I need, but simply this:

    1) How hard is it to replace the power supply?

    In past computers, I've done-it-myself to replace processor fans, harddrives, ram, graphics or other cards, but never the power supply. I'm assuming that due to my other experiences, I shouldn't have much trouble, but then again I've never done it so I wanted to hear from someone who has.

    2) Will Vista or other hardware (than the power supply) in the tower freak out with the boost in power, or will it be smooth? Any horror stories or cautionary tales I should hear in that regard?

    That was my other unknown. I didn't know if, for God knows what reason, upping the W's would make Vista bulk or other hardware pieces screw up.

    Everything I know says it shouldn't do anything bad at all, but again, never done it, don't really know.

    Thanks in advance.

    I'd eventually like to do this if I'm convinced I can do it myself and without risking the PC. I can't afford to have this PC stop working because my current job involves typing up depositions. That's why I'm playing it extra safe.

    Given the fact that I have a (now outdated, but still) quad-core intel processor (@ 2.4Ghz) and 3GB or RAM, I'm confident I could get some good gaming out of a nice graphics card.

    If the feedback I get sounds good and reassuring, the final hurle will simply be my willingness to spend.

  2. #2
    Edge of Reason GO!!!!!'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Is it risky to replace my PC's power supply by myself?

    Not sure about the specs and stuff, but from my experience it's easier then changing a CPU, I swop my power supplys now and then because they get noisey and it annoys me...

    I'd check the box for specific watts n ra ra, but I have found it easy when I have done it..

    Just a matter of making sure the Power Supply connector matches the MoBo, open the case unclick it from the mobo and all ya drives and then remove and replace...

    Don't hold me to it, but the actual physical part is easy, the technical part, well thats more for the Watt Gurus..


    Ya Think Ya Used Enough Dynamite there Butch...


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    The New Gold Swagger travmil's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is it risky to replace my PC's power supply by myself?

    One thing, if your PC happens to be a Dell, you can only use a Dell power supply. I have changed a power supply on two different machines and it's not a big deal.

  4. #4
    Wasting Light Hicks's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is it risky to replace my PC's power supply by myself?

    This one is an HP.

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    Default Re: Is it risky to replace my PC's power supply by myself?

    An older HP at work used to run an instrument had a power supply fail. I got a new one, called an IT person, and she thought she could do it quickly. It was a little more complicated than she expected, but in an hour it was up and running. I think she had to look up an online manual because the connections were different than she expected.

  6. #6
    Jimmy did what Jimmy did Bball's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is it risky to replace my PC's power supply by myself?

    As long as the PS isn't proprietary you'll have no problem. Just go slow to make sure you don't miss a screw or wire. It should be obvious what you need to unplug and it also should be fairly idiot proof for connecting.

    You asked: 2) Will Vista or other hardware (than the power supply) in the tower freak out with the boost in power, or will it be smooth? Any horror stories or cautionary tales I should hear in that regard?

    It doesn't work that way. Think of it as beers in the fridge. If you only have a 6 pack in the fridge then you can only go to the fridge 6 times before you run out of 'juice'. If you have 24 beers in the fridge you can drink all 6 and keep going back for more until you use all 24.

    The new PS will work the same way. It'll have extra power just waiting for your computer to ask for it. When it does need more power, it's there. It's not going to be sending extra power to your existing components. It'll give them exactly what they ask for now. Instead of thinking of the power supply as SENDING power (to components), think of it as the computer components PULLING power from the PS. They only pull what they need and as long as your PS can supply what they need, everything is fine.

    That said, there is nothing to be gained with a new power supply if everything is working fine right now and you aren't adding any power hungry peripherals.

    -Bball
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    Denim Chicken duke dynamite's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is it risky to replace my PC's power supply by myself?

    HP's power supplies are not difficult to replace. Please be sure to get a compatible power supply. I've changed out TONS of them in recent years at my previous job and they are pretty much self-explainatory.

    If you need any help, let me know.

  8. #8
    Wasting Light Hicks's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is it risky to replace my PC's power supply by myself?

    Propriety? I bought it at Best Buy. Don't think that's an issue.....

    duke, what do I need to do to ensure it's compatible?

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    Old school Dab or new Dab's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is it risky to replace my PC's power supply by myself?

    When it comes to power supplies, don't be tempted by a cheapie brand, go for a known brand, such as Antec, Enhance or Enermax. Generally, a heavy power supply is better than one that is light. The weight is a sign of reliability. Oh wait, that last sentence is from Snatch, but it's true. If you check the weight of power supplies, usually the more expensive ones will cost more than lighter ones.

    Reduce the chance of zapping your system by using an electrostatic strap (or by grabbing the case to discharge any static electricity before you poke around the motherboard,) and you should be able to swap power supplies in and out of your computer all day long without harming it.


    You'll have one big plug that plugs into your motherboard, probably at least one more smaller (usually 4 port) that also plugs into the motherboard. Note those and keep track of where your fans are plugging in, and you'll be OK. Plugging in the hard drives and CD/DVD drives is usually pretty obvious.

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    Denim Chicken duke dynamite's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is it risky to replace my PC's power supply by myself?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hicks View Post
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    Propriety? I bought it at Best Buy. Don't think that's an issue.....

    duke, what do I need to do to ensure it's compatible?
    Contact HP with the model number of your PC, and ask what kind of PS is compatible with it. (And that may be the easiest way if the brand/info of the power supply is not listed on the side of the PS enclosure.)

    Your motherboard may only be able to handle a certain wattage, too.

  11. #11
    Wasting Light Hicks's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is it risky to replace my PC's power supply by myself?

    Oo. Hadn't thought about motherboard compatibility.

    Thanks for the tips, Dabney

  12. #12
    Jimmy did what Jimmy did Bball's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is it risky to replace my PC's power supply by myself?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hicks View Post
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    Propriety? I bought it at Best Buy. Don't think that's an issue.....

    duke, what do I need to do to ensure it's compatible?
    Some manufacturers use power supplies that won't necessarily interchange with after market PS's. I think someone has already mentioned Dell. That's one of the reasons I always build my own machines so that I don't have to wonder if this or that piece will work/fit in my case/computer.

    But you should be able to Google the model of your computer and "power supply" and find out if there's any issues with compatibility. Or just Google "HP" in general and "Power Supply".

    I'm not as confident as Dukie that a call to HP would get you the right answer. I'd be afraid their answer would be skewed towards selling you something of their's (at twice the street price) or them giving you the easy answer of 'no' instead of actually knowing the answer or bouncing you up the tech foodchain.
    Nuntius was right. I was wrong. Frank Vogel has retained his job.

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  13. #13
    Jimmy did what Jimmy did Bball's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is it risky to replace my PC's power supply by myself?

    Quote Originally Posted by duke dynamite View Post
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    Your motherboard may only be able to handle a certain wattage, too.
    I don't understand this statement?

    -Bball
    Nuntius was right. I was wrong. Frank Vogel has retained his job.

    ------

    "A player who makes a team great is more valuable than a great player. Losing yourself in the group, for the good of the group, thatís teamwork."

    -John Wooden

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    year of the black rainbow obnoxiousmodesty's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is it risky to replace my PC's power supply by myself?

    I swapped out my power supply in my Gateway just a few weeks ago after my old one (the one shipped with my PC at purchase in 2002) gave out. That power supply was 160 watts; the one I replaced it with is a 430 watt Antec. Two weeks later and all is well. That's the second PS I've replaced, the other was in my mom's computer a few years back. It's a simple process, just be sure to know what plug goes where when you're doing the replacement.
    Take me out to the black, tell 'em I ain't coming back. Burn the land and boil the sea, you can't take the sky from me.

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    Denim Chicken duke dynamite's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is it risky to replace my PC's power supply by myself?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bball View Post
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    I don't understand this statement?

    -Bball
    Some motherboards and processors are designed to take as little power as possible to run (low-end machines).

  16. #16
    Wasting Light Hicks's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is it risky to replace my PC's power supply by myself?

    I doubt mine would be a low-end. This was a package designed around HD media and the like (just not gaming).

  17. #17
    Jimmy did what Jimmy did Bball's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is it risky to replace my PC's power supply by myself?

    Quote Originally Posted by duke dynamite View Post
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    Some motherboards and processors are designed to take as little power as possible to run (low-end machines).
    I still don't follow you. The mobo doesn't know how much power the PS is capable of supplying. It (mobo) just sucks up what it needs and as long as the PS has it available all is well. A power supply can be a billion watts and it wouldn't matter. The PS doesn't flood the mobo and components with watts, it's just capable of supplying it if the components need it. The components draw what they need and the PS supplies it until it hits it's max and then things start choking because they can't get the power they need.

    Voltage is another issue and works the way you seem to be implying for watts except that there won't be any computer PS's available that supply anything other than the proper voltages (since it's standard stuff in PC's). But if someone was to build their own PS it can supply as many watts as their heart (and wallet) desires but it can only supply 12V and 5V for the components. You can't change those to 27V and 10V for example. But 160W, 200W, 500w, 1kW... doesn't matter as long as it is capable of supplying more than your components (when added together) are capable of drawing.

    That's the key: The PS must be able to supply all the watts your components can draw (and a little extra for headroom...and future expansion). After that it's just wasted money to have a larger (wattage) PS but it's not going to hurt anything.

    If you hooked up a large PS to a small mobo and had problems, the problem wasn't that the PS was too many watts. That is impossible. One of the two things was just flaky. You can double check me on this but I know I'm right.

    -Bball
    Nuntius was right. I was wrong. Frank Vogel has retained his job.

    ------

    "A player who makes a team great is more valuable than a great player. Losing yourself in the group, for the good of the group, thatís teamwork."

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  18. #18
    Jimmy did what Jimmy did Bball's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is it risky to replace my PC's power supply by myself?

    Power Supply Fundamentals
    HOW MUCH POWER IS ENOUGH?
    http://www.silentpcreview.com/article28-page3.html
    Nuntius was right. I was wrong. Frank Vogel has retained his job.

    ------

    "A player who makes a team great is more valuable than a great player. Losing yourself in the group, for the good of the group, thatís teamwork."

    -John Wooden

  19. #19
    Jimmy did what Jimmy did Bball's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is it risky to replace my PC's power supply by myself?

    Quote Originally Posted by duke dynamite View Post
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    Some motherboards and processors are designed to take as little power as possible to run (low-end machines).
    With a switching PS you need to have a minimum load for stable operation but a barebones system of any type should be able to meet that minimum. Even the cooling fan can be enough.
    -----------
    http://www.rason.org/Projects/swregdes/swregdes.htm

    A snippet from:
    Switching Regulator Basics
    By Mike Martell
    N1HFX

    Because of the unique nature of switching regulators, very special design considerations are required. Because the switching system operates in the 50 to 100 kHz region and has an almost square waveform, it is rich in harmonics way up into the HF and even the VHF/UHF region. Special filtering is required, along with shielding, minimized lead lengths and all sorts of toroidal filters on leads going outside the case. The switching regulator also has a minimum load requirement, which is determined by the inductor value. Without the minimum load, the regulator will generate excessive noise and harmonics and could even damage itself. (This is why it is not a good idea to turn on a computer switching power supply without some type of load connected.) To meet this requirement, many designers use a cooling fan and or a minimum load which switches out when no longer needed.

    Fortunately, recent switching regulator IC's address most of these design problems quite well. Because of lowered component costs as well as a better understanding of switching regulator technology, we are starting to see even more switching power supplies replacing traditionally linear only applications. It is no doubt that we will see fewer linear power supplies being used in the future.
    Nuntius was right. I was wrong. Frank Vogel has retained his job.

    ------

    "A player who makes a team great is more valuable than a great player. Losing yourself in the group, for the good of the group, thatís teamwork."

    -John Wooden

  20. #20
    White and Nerdy Anthem's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is it risky to replace my PC's power supply by myself?

    So how did it go?
    Welcome to Pacers Digest! New around here? Here are three tips for making the forum a great place to talk about Pacers basketball.

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    Enjoy your time at PD!

  21. #21
    Wasting Light Hicks's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is it risky to replace my PC's power supply by myself?

    It's been placed on hold for the moment. Part of my job needs this PC to be working, and I can't risk it, even a little bit, right now.

    If/when I get a new laptop for work at home and about, then I will move all the important stuff there, and then I will feel free to give this a shot.

  22. #22
    White and Nerdy Anthem's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is it risky to replace my PC's power supply by myself?

    It's super easy.
    Welcome to Pacers Digest! New around here? Here are three tips for making the forum a great place to talk about Pacers basketball.

    • Log in. Even if you want to read instead of post, it's helpful because it lets you:
    • Change your signature options. You can hide all signatures by choosing "Settings" (top right) then "General Settings" (middle left) and unchecking the box "Show Signatures" (in the "Thread Display Options" area).
    • Create an ignore list. I know it may seem unneighborly. But you're here to talk about the Pacers, not argue with someone who's just looking for an argument. Most of the regular users on here make use (at least occasionally) of the "Ignore" feature. Just go to "Settings" -> "Edit Ignore List" and add the names.

    Enjoy your time at PD!

  23. #23
    Wasting Light Hicks's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is it risky to replace my PC's power supply by myself?

    I took the financial plunge today. 750w supply, new-ish (not used, just not cutting edge anymore) graphics card that will be much better than the piece of #@%) that came with this HP m8120n , and some additional RAM for good measure.

    Should be on my porch Friday.

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    Denim Chicken duke dynamite's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is it risky to replace my PC's power supply by myself?

    Nicely done.

  25. #25
    Wasting Light Hicks's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is it risky to replace my PC's power supply by myself?

    Well, I did it.

    Took longer than I expected, and multiple times it seemed like I was stuck, but in the end I've successfully removed the old and installed the new in regards to some RAM, a graphics card, and the power supply.

    The new PS is slightly longer than the old one, and this isn't the biggest PC case in the world, so this was a tight fit. So tight I thought for a moment I couldn't get it all to fit properly.

    This was NOT a fun case to work inside of, I'll tell you that. Just barely got everything where it needed to go without breaking everything. Had to remove other pieces all over the place just to GET to everywhere I needed to go (and even then, just enough to actually make this work).

    Now everything is up and working fine, thankfully!

    The only downer is this power supply I got gets moderately loud when it's running strong (not now when I'm just using the 'net, but during a video game with good graphics). The other power supply may have been weak (300 or 350W), but it sure was whisper quiet. I'll miss that, but I do love how my PC performs now. It went from being very handicapped to being impressive for being almost 1.5+ years old.

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