How To Test A Power Supply

Your computer’s power supply is the single most important component in the case. But it’s also the most boring, so when it comes time to skimp on costs, the power supply is often a generic or budget brand. Sometimes this is okay. But often the power supply acts erratic, causes restarts and errors because other components are not getting the consistent voltage they require. If you are experiencing problems you cannot quickly isolate, be sure to test a power supply and rule it out before spending too much money.

Tips on Testing A Power Supply

Most families have a other computers of similar size. Before you spend money on a tester or a new power supply, you might try just swapping in a power supply you know works. That is the low-tech solution, but it often takes a lot of extra effort that people aren’t willing to expend.

Buy a Power Supply Tester
You can buy a power supply tester for relatively cheap. While a multimeter is a better overall solution because you can use it for other things, a power supply tester is a fast and easy way to tell if the PSU is good.

Check For Proper Voltage
Check the voltage setting on the back of the power supply. While this is not likely the problem, just confirm it is set correctly for your region. If the computer was recently moved, it’s possible the switch was moved. 115v is typical for the United States.

Make Sure Power Supply Fan is Working
If you have an older PC, you should make sure the fan on the power supply is working. If it’s not, you need to replace the power supply immediately. You can sometimes blow them out with compressed air, but if it is not spinning at all, the power supply must be replaced.

Is the Power Supply Powerful Enough?
Lastly, you should make sure your power supply is rated high enough for your needs. If you built the system a few years ago, you have probably added extra hard drives, a more powerful graphics card and maybe some new RAM. Make sure your power supply has enough voltage to handle it all. Try this Power Supply Calculator.

Test A Power Supply With A Paperclip

This video demonstrates how to test a Corsair power supply. This test only tests the power supply to confirm it is not dead. It does not determine if there is another issue with the power supply or how it will perform under a normal load.

You should perform this type of test if you push the power button on your computer and nothing happens–no sounds, no fans, nothing.

If the power supply fan is spinning, there is no need to go to this length and perform this test. You can, however use a multimeter or a power supply tester to check if the power supply is functioning normally–meaning it is supplying the proper amount of power to the computer.

Resolution Summary:

  1. You can swap out the power supply with a known good one.
  2. You can buy a cheap power supply tester.
  3. You must make sure all necessary power supply connectors are attached.
  4. Check the voltage setting in the back of the power supply and make sure it’s set for your region.
  5. Make sure your PSU fan is working.