However, a failing power supply can often be the cause of problems you might not expect like random lockups, spontaneous reboots, and even some serious error messages.
Ask any computer repair professional and he or she will probably tell you that the power supply is the most common piece of hardware to fail in a computer.
In my experience, the power supply is very often the first thing to fail as a computer ages.
Both methods are equally effective ways of testing a power supply so which one you choose is completely up to you.
Here's some more information on how to test your power supply with each of these methods and some help deciding which method is best for you:
Advantages of a manual PSU test:
- The only tools needed are a screwdriver and a multimeter, both of which you likely already have. If you don't own a multimeter, you can usually find a basic one at any major retailer for around $20 USD or you can find one online if you don't mind waiting a few days.
- Assuming you have a multimeter and screwdriver, you can test your power supply right now following the directions above.
Disadvantages of a manual PSU test:
- It's manual! It is going to take a little work on your part to thoroughly test your power supply.
- Testing a PSU manually can be dangerous if you're not very, very careful. See my warning at the bottom of the page for more information.
Note: The instructions linked to above are specific to the Coolmax PS-228 ATX Power Supply Tester but the general idea applies to nearly any tester you choose to purchase.
Advantages of using a power supply tester:
- It's automatic! Power supply testers were invented because manual tests are manual and introduce human error. The results of a PSU test with a power supply tester unit is more conclusive.
- Testing a power supply with a power supply tester is a safer than testing one manually. A power supply tester lets you stay a bit more removed from the electricity than with a multimeter test.
Find and Buy a Power Supply Tester
Disadvantages of using a power supply tester:
- Chances are you don't have a power supply tester so you'll have to buy one. Depending on your choice of tester, you're probably looking to spend from around $10 to $40 USD.
- Again, you probably don't have a power supply tester, meaning that you'll have to order one and wait until it shows up before you'll be able to test your power supply. That could mean that you live with a major computer problem longer than you'd like.
Extremely Important: Take great, great care when testing a power supply, especially if you've chosen to test it manually. Both methods above involve working with a high voltage power supply while it's plugged in. If you're not extremely careful you could electrocute yourself and/or damage your computer. I don't mention this to frighten you - testing a power supply is a common troubleshooting step and can be done safely if you exercise common sense and follow directions exactly. Just please be careful when doing so.
Did your power supply fail a test?
Replace the power supply. That's right, just replace it, even if it's partially working.
It is never a safe idea to fix one yourself. If you insist on having your PSU repaired rather than replaced then please seek the assistance of a professional repair person.
Having Problems Testing a Power Supply?
Need some help interpreting a result from your power supply test? Let a community of computer support enthusiasts help out! Post in the PC Support Forum about what kinds of problems you're having testing your power supply and we'll try to help out.