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Airwolf
Premium
join:2001-10-30
Windsor, ON
Reviews:
·Cogeco Cable

My 5 year old PSU okay for a video card upgrade?

I have probably asked this last year or something like that, so bare with me as I'm really just concerned with how much power I might need for future upgrades. I have a 5 year old Seasonic PSU, M12 500W to be exact. It's been through several upgrades and the oldest component in my computer. It has served me well with no issues through the 5 years, however I'm starting to feel maybe it's time to upgrade. I'm looking to upgrade my video card and add in another SSD but I'm a little nervous I'll be pushing the PSU more harder to the point of getting issues and leading to a PSU failure quicker.

Only indication of total system wattage is a reading off my UPS, but I know that isn't exactly accurate. About 305W running BF3.

I was going to get a digital psu tester, but would rather spend the money on a new psu.

Anyway, so here's a breakdown of what I have now.

Asus M4A87TD-EVO motherboard
AMD X4 965 3.4GHz cpu
XFX XXX HD6850 video card
two G.Skill Ripjaws 4GB ram
OCZ Vertex 3 120GB ssd
WD Black 640GB hdd
Auzentech Forte sound card
Samsung DVD-RW drive
Noctua NH-D14 heatsink/fan
Noctua 120mm, 140mm, 80mm fans for case
it's an old case

USB mouse and keyboard, the once in a blue moon external hard drive i'll be plugging in

Not going to be overclocking.

So am I paranoid to think that my PSU is in need of a upgrade if I decide to upgrade the video card and add in another SSD?

Perhaps the 7850/7870 or the 8000 series whenever they come out.

I really don't want to have to upgrade the PSU if I don't have to.

Thank you for your time.


KoRnGtL15
Premium
join:2007-01-04
Grants Pass, OR

5 year old psu and upgrading to a mid/high video card. I would certainly be replacing it before doing the upgrade. They do lose juice and efficiency over time. Especially when it is 5 years old.


Aranarth

join:2011-11-04
Stanwood, MI
Reviews:
·Frontier Communi..
·WildBlue
reply to Airwolf

Using anandtech's bench tool and comparing a Radeon 6850 to a 7870 shows about a 10% increase on loaded power usage with a better than 50% improvement in graphics speed.

You will be just fine.

Even though it is true that powersupplies do wear out and loose efficiency and max power output such a small difference in power draw is not going to be that bad. In fact with the new video card being that much more efficient, if you are going to be running with the same graphics settings as before your total power usage will go down not up.

Your total power usage is still going to be about 300 350 watts max significantly less than the max the power supply can provide.



FizzyMyNizzy

join:2004-05-29
New York, NY
kudos:1
reply to Airwolf

It should work.. But since you said you had it for 5 years... I'm a bit worry.



pnjunction
Teksavvy Extreme
Premium
join:2008-01-24
Toronto, ON
kudos:1
reply to Airwolf

If it were a low-quality cheap PSU I might be worried about aging (it's the caps that age and cheap units use cheap/underspec'd caps), but afaik Seasonic is a quality brand so it should be fine as long as the load isn't excessive.



MacGyver
Don't Waste Your Energy
Premium,ExMod 2003-05
join:2001-10-14
Canada
kudos:2
Reviews:
·TekSavvy DSL
·voip.ms
reply to Airwolf

I have a UPS with a built-in energy meter, as well as a Kill-A-Watt plug in meter. Both indicate the max power draw for my i5 loaded PC with a GTX460 peaks at about 210W during heavy gaming.


Aranarth

join:2011-11-04
Stanwood, MI
Reviews:
·Frontier Communi..
·WildBlue


You will be just fine...

You have not be running the psu anywhere near the max power draw and that is was causes the psu to run hot and that in turn is what destroys the caps.

You will be just fine.

Sometime in the next 5 years the psu probably will fail but by then you will be on to a whole new machine anyway.

If you really are worried about the psu go ahead and get a new one for about $100 in the same or similar size.

Hardocp has a variety of good PSU reviews where they really stress a psu. Go with any of the models that score silver or better. Corsair has been making some nice psu's for a while now.



signmeuptoo
Bless you Howie
Premium
join:2001-11-22
NanoParticle
kudos:5
Reviews:
·Comcast
reply to Airwolf

Reasons for replacing a SMPS include opting for what is called 80+ certification, which is simply increased efficiency, and they are rated from bronze to silver to gold to platinum. Efficiency is, simply put, how much electricity is still available after the unit converts 110 Volts of ALTERNATING Current (or 220 VAC for that matter) into a flat line DIRECT Current (there are a few different voltages that they all produce such as 3.3, 5, and 12 VDC primarily). Because all electronics turns SOME electricity into heat and such a 50% efficient 500 watt power supply would effectivly only supply 250 watts of usable electricity. Of course, things get slightly more complicated with electicity, but that is very close to literally the difference.

Here is a breakdown of the different versions: »en.wikipedia.org/wiki/80_Plus

But it can take up to months for the difference in efficiency to pan out on an electrical bill. However, with greater efficiency comes cooler running, so your air conditioning sees a lighter load too.

Other things that people look for in a new unit:

Low Ripple/electrical noise (when converting AC to DC, how good is the filtering circuitry such that less unwanted signal comes through. Low Ripple means longer lasting motherboards and drives. It can be very important, but sadly, too few people know about this issue and fewer shop based on it for an issue. Suffice it to say, review sites are your friend, meaning google is your best pal.

DC voltage stability and reduced load to voltage drop delta. As you load down a unit, the supplied DC voltage changes, it drops lower. Good units suffer this much less because they have better regulation circuitry.

Better cooling (heatsinks, fans, airflow design).

Other considerations.

Now: your current unit is a really good unit. I wouldn't replace it right offhand unless you were opting for equal quality and better design/features as described above.
--
Join Teams Helix and Discovery. Rest in Peace, Leonard David Smith, my best friend, you are missed badly! Rest in peace, Pop, glad our last years were good. Please pray for Colin, he has ependymoma, a brain cancer, donate to a children's Hospital.



Airwolf
Premium
join:2001-10-30
Windsor, ON
Reviews:
·Cogeco Cable
reply to Airwolf

Thanks for the replies. It really assured me that I did invest into a quality psu. I did pay quite a bit for it at the time.

Should I still get a digital psu tester to monitor it over the next few years or just assume I'll need a new one at that time I'm looking to do a major upgrade?



signmeuptoo
Bless you Howie
Premium
join:2001-11-22
NanoParticle
kudos:5
Reviews:
·Comcast

Those low cost 25 dollar power supply "testers" don't actually test a SMPS, because they can't apply a large, dynamic load on to the unit, nor can they read like an oscilloscope to see if there is ripple and such. They are only good for knowing if the voltages are close to where they should be on a very very light load. A multimeter and a little reading up and you can get better results, but for a quick and dirty reading, if you get one of those gadgets that has a LCD display that shows voltages, that will work for at least some idea of the condition.
--
Join Teams Helix and Discovery. Rest in Peace, Leonard David Smith, my best friend, you are missed badly! Rest in peace, Pop, glad our last years were good. Please pray for Colin, he has ependymoma, a brain cancer, donate to a children's Hospital.