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Thread: An unusual case of a faulty PSU

  1. #1
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    Default An unusual case of a faulty PSU

    Few days ago, someone came to me with a problem of overclock not being stable though the system runs fine on stock.

    So I went ahead and plugged his system to my UPS to power it on.

    Test System Spec:

    I5 760
    GTX 760
    1 HDD
    2 DDR3 stick

    I immediately noticed that my UPS FAN instantly escalated to a much higher rpm and then again slowing down after 1 or 2 second and the cycle was continuous.

    The PSU in question is seasonic PSU 500watt unit. Cant recall the exact model#. Will update the model# later. Probably a S12 II unit

    So, I looked at the LCD screen of the UPS and I could see the load level was jumping from 40% to 100%.
    Which means something is really wrong though the PSU is able to run the system just fine even with mild overclock.

    Replugged the system to run directly from the wall socket.

    At this point I already became well convinced that the PFC circuit is doing something really weird.

    The voltage output on all rails were well within the limit. This is a common test done by typical users.

    For further investigation, I opted to go for a input draw measurement. So sliced up power cord and hooked up my clamp meter just to see whats the actual input draw is.


    it turns out the input draw was insanely fluctuating from 1.6 to 2.5A while the system was running idle.

    ( my system draws around .5 to .7A max)

    at 2.5A With a PFC of 0.96, 228 line voltage idle power draw was 547 watt!! lowest 350watt!!! (massive fluctuation)

    fired up GTA 5 and the draw was bouncing in between 3.93 to 4.17A. @ 4.17A

    (in my system with GTX 780 I cant even draw 2 amps)

    (The used meter is a True RMS AC/DC Clamp meter) With a PFC of 0.96 (desco website power quality), 228v line voltage the peak draw in watt aka real power found to be 912watt!!

    As for OC not being stable is because the PSU is already drawing probably the maximum amount of power and couldn't draw further to support the extra power draw from the OC. Besides at this condition the ripple range is out of spec is a safe assumption given the fluctuation in input draw.

    The poor guy has been using this PSu for last 1.8 years while replacing his multiplug very frequently and was skeptical about his electricity bill.

    Lesson to be learned:

    Do opt for in depth test

    -If you frequently need to change multiplug, or feels hot.
    -Burnt Power cable
    -Browninsh Power cable pin
    -Burned PSU power socket in the back
    -If Your circuit breaker frequently drops.
    -If Your UPS pretty much immediately cuts out after power out and cant support the system even after restarting the system.
    -If you are skeptical about your electricity bill
    -Don't ignore the above symptom Just because you have a reputed PSU. This can very much happen to any PSU regardless of brands/models.

    Select a correctly sized circuit breaker.

    * Over sized circuit breaker is almost as bad as having no circuit breaker at all.
    Oversized CB will only trip when there is a short circuit.

    ( calculate your maximum power draw in watt and then divide it by 220 and then add extra 20%. you will get a figure in AMP)

    *PFC is assumed as unity for sake of simplicity.

    For example 600 watt draw/ 220 + 20% = 3.27A. Go to market and buy a circuit breaker that has a rating close to 3.27A or greater but not more than 3.5A So the next time if circuit breaker drops you know your PSU is drawing unusual amount of power. Assuming you haven't add any additional component/s.
    Last edited by minitt; June 6th, 2015 at 17:34.

  2. #2
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    Default

    1.8 years and he finally comes for an assessment? I say the guy needs help

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trave160 View Post
    1.8 years and he finally comes for an assessment? I say the guy needs help
    actually its a bit tough for avg user to be skeptical since the system runs just fine.

    for him kecho khurte shap ber hober moto obstha hoise actually.
    Last edited by minitt; June 6th, 2015 at 17:36.

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    Lol well he can trim down the electricity by getting a new PSU or fixing the regulators issue if he can get it serviced

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trave160 View Post
    Lol well he can trim down the electricity by getting a new PSU or fixing the regulators issue if he can get it serviced
    PSU having this sort of issue shouldn't be repaired. I didn't even bother opening up the unit. Asked him to dump it and buy a new one.

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    this is what happens when people don't buy UPS. this sort of situations could be easily avoidable with just a 4-5.5k ups unit. but, people are so 中中ing retard now-a-days.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Speed View Post
    this is what happens when people don't buy UPS. this sort of situations could be easily avoidable with just a 4-5.5k ups unit. but, people are so 中中ing retard now-a-days.
    well that could be one the of many reasons.

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    A question popped up in my head. Where was the PSU dumping the extra power it was drawing? I should become very hot if it was drawing so much extra power. On the other hand, if it wasn't actually drawing any extra power then it means that the PFC and Bulk capacitor was shot, and the high current draws were from the PWM pulses of the DC-DC flyback converter. In that case, burning out multiplugs and power cords sounds feasible, but extra electricity bill isn't. Also, you cannot see the current spikes from PWM with RMS multimeter as they are at around 10khz range.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Swapnil View Post
    A question popped up in my head. Where was the PSU dumping the extra power it was drawing? I should become very hot if it was drawing so much extra power. On the other hand, if it wasn't actually drawing any extra power then it means that the PFC and Bulk capacitor was shot, and the high current draws were from the PWM pulses of the DC-DC flyback converter. In that case, burning out multiplugs and power cords sounds feasible, but extra electricity bill isn't. Also, you cannot see the current spikes from PWM with RMS multimeter as they are at around 10khz range.
    That PSU is suppose to draw around less than 120 watt at idle but instead it was drawing 547 watt(hi) to 350watt (lo). And you still think its not enough to cause high electricity bill? the pc stays on most of the night during downloads.

    Go through my post again. The readings were fluctuating from 1.6 to 2.5A during idle. Whereas in my case my system consistently stayed between 0.5A to 0.7A

    Although i couldn't capture the true magnitude of the actual spike but its a easy guess in this case.

    But I am still puzzled as to why the PSU still runs fine?

    Good observation about where was the PSU dumping the extra power it was drawing!!
    it must be getting hot probably since the energy has to be converted to something. But I didn't even wanted to test the setup for long time for obvious reason.
    Last edited by minitt; June 8th, 2015 at 00:05.

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    Quote Originally Posted by minitt View Post
    That PSU is suppose to draw around less than 120 watt at idle but instead it was drawing 547 watt(hi) to 350watt (lo). And you still think its not enough to cause high electricity bill? the pc stays on most of the night during downloads.

    Go through my post again. The readings were fluctuating from 1.6 to 2.5A during idle. Whereas in my case my system consistently stayed between 0.5A to 0.7A

    Although i couldn't capture the true magnitude of the actual spike but its a easy guess in this case.

    But I am still puzzled as to why the PSU still runs fine?

    Good observation about where was the PSU dumping the extra power it was drawing!!
    it must be getting hot probably since the energy has to be converted to something. But I didn't even wanted to test the setup for long time for obvious reason.
    Yes if it was getting hot then it was really drawing that power. But if it was not, then it's different. Both your UPS's wattage meter and your multiemeter uses current readings to measure power. And if the pulses are really high speed, chances are the meters were only showing the peaks. Only way to measure true wattage there would be a good oscilloscope. But in any case, the PSU is faulty and should be thrown out, that is 100% sure.

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    @Swapnil if my understanding is correct, A True RMS meter can capture both Sine wave and non sinewave or distorted sinewave or simulated/approximated sinewave

    The readings are taken outside of the PSU at the AC 220V power cord so, the readings are in Sine wave at 60hz. I am not sure what you meant by the high speed pulse.

    Since im dealing with sinewave even a non true rms clamp meter would have given a fairly accurate reading.
    Last edited by minitt; June 8th, 2015 at 01:55.

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    Quote Originally Posted by minitt View Post
    @Swapnil if my understanding is correct, A True RMS meter can capture both Sine wave and non sinewave or distorted sinewave or simulated/approximated sinewave

    The readings are taken outside of the PSU at the AC 220V power cord so, the readings are in Sine wave at 60hz. I am not sure what you meant by the high speed pulse.

    Since im dealing with sinewave even a non true rms clamp meter would have given a fairly accurate reading.
    I'm talking about 10khz short pulses of high current. Every cycle would be 100μs long, and in that 100μs, maybe only 10-20μs the psu would draw 1.6-2.5A. the other 80-90μs the current would be much lower. And for 50Hz AC, there would be 200 cycles of this in one AC cycle. As far as I know, in case of this type of short pulses the tiny capacitor used inside the analog to digital converters of the multimeter doesn't get discharged enough to show the current drops, and shows the peak reading as continuous reading. All I'm saying is, this might be one scenario for this type of symptoms. And it can be caused if the input bulk capacitor is faulty, as the PWM pulses of the flyback converter would then directly draw current from AC cord instead of the bulk capacitor.

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    Not sure if u r refering to in rush current sounds like so in that case ill need a meter that can record a certain time frame with peak as well as subsequent amp draw then see the rms ac reading where osciloscope is required.

    but Short pulses of high current draw is NOT the case here rather its a prolonged high current draw. See even the lowest reading is abnormaly high.

    Even if ur doubt is true the peak is captured by the clamp meter is still ok for my scenario. Since i do wana know the max draw.


    so, in that case clamp meter can give a good approximation and provide enuf data to confirm that psu is faulty.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Do share ur assumption as to why the psu runs fine?
    Last edited by minitt; June 8th, 2015 at 13:58.

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    can this psu problem figure out in bios ???

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yasinonic View Post
    can this psu problem figure out in bios ???
    No u can't see the problem in bios . 12v reading is useless in this type of problem.. Even a digital multimeter will show a nice reading.

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    Quote Originally Posted by minitt View Post
    Not sure if u r refering to in rush current sounds like so in that case ill need a meter that can record a certain time frame with peak as well as subsequent amp draw where osciloscope is required.

    but Short pulses of high current draw is NOT the case here rather its a prolonged high current draw. See even the lowest reading is abnormaly high.

    so, in that case clamp meter can give a good approximation and provide enuf data to confirm that psu is faulty.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Do share ur assumption as to why the psu runs fine?
    I'm not talking about inrush current. I'm talking about a limitation in the Analogue to Digital converter's working principle involving the sample and hold circuit. And that thing only came into my mind because if the PSU was generating minimum 350 (or maybe 350-120=230) watts of waste heat continuously then it would cook part of itself fairly easily. It would be like running bitcoin miners on R9 290 with heatsinks removed.

    Well, now for absolutely no valid reason I've drawn this awesome graph in microsoft paint to explain what I was trying to say:

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	adc.png 
Views:	2 
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ID:	36423

    Here, 10μs long red sections are the length of each PWM pulse of the flyback converter, which causes the current draw. The blue sections are then the zero or low current draw section when PWM pulse is off in the flyback converter. "t" is here the minimum hold time of the meter's ADC. Well, it seems like I've forgot to add in the sampling time there, and I won't be editing the graph now, just assume it is shorter than hold time, but long enough to include more than one PWM pulses which will put the hold capacitor inside the ADC to the pulse's maximum value. Now, what's happening here is, the actual current is, say, 2 amp for 10% of the "t" and 0 amp for 90% of the "t". But the ADC will assume that it was 2 amp for whole duration of "t". That means, the actual power draw would be the red area in the graph, but your multimeter/ups would show it to be red+blue area of the graph. And this blue part is the missing heat I'm talking about. Note that the 10% and 10μs is if I assume the PWM is running on 10% duty cycle, but it would vary on PSU load. And the sampling time will not always overlap in same way with the pulses, so it might show variations in current draw without the actual load changing on the PSU.

    Finally, I'm not saying that this is happening in this particular case, I'm just talking about what came into my mind after reading the description.

    And about the psu working fine, it should work fine on the output side even with this problem. It's just drawing short pulses of high current directly and unfiltered from the mains. The filtering here was the task of the Bulk capacitor which I assumed is faulty. Also, maybe the electric resistance of the mains line that was introduced in absence of the bulk capacitor may have caused some extra noise in the flyback converter's 12v output. But in non overclocked load that might have been filtered out by output phase filters and motherboard filters. That might explain why the PC was stable on stock but unstable when OCed.

  17. #17
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    Ill try to open up the psu once he buys a new one. Lets see what else i can find.
    Last edited by minitt; June 8th, 2015 at 15:51.

  18. #18
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    That price range thats why, on that margin of course I wouldn't think of it If per say I didn't know the true benefits of using one. But then again what can you get from 3.5k? 850VA seems nice

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Speed View Post
    this is what happens when people don't buy UPS. this sort of situations could be easily avoidable with just a 4-5.5k ups unit. but, people are so 中中ing retard now-a-days.

    That price range thats why, on that margin of course I wouldn't think of it If per say I didn't know the true benefits of using one. But then again what can you get from 3.5k? 850VA seems nice

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