Power Supply: How to Choose and Install

How to Remove an Old or Broken Power Supply

In order to install a new power supply, you must first, in most cases, remove the old power supply. This task is fairly easy in most Dell computers as well as, other similar tower pc's and can be done in home. First though, you need to unplug the pc, I recommend unplugging the whole tower including your monitor, power, sound, internet, and all USB chords. If your not very familiar with plugging and unplugging these components, I recommend labeling all the chords before unplugging them.

Afterward you may remove your case cover exposing the interior of the case. If your old power supply is modular you can simply unplug the chords that go into the psu leaving them attached to the computer itself. However, in some cases the power connectors cannot be removed from the psu and must be removed from the components to which they connect.  If the latter is the case, I still recommend labeling the connectors to show how they previously plugged. For example, the cable running from your power supply to the motherboard should be labeled motherboard before it is unplugged from its slot on the motherboard, and the one running to the hard drive labeled hard drive; this should be done for all chords running out of the power supply and plugging into a component. 

On the exterior of the computer there a few screws which can be removed at this time, so long as your careful when removing them; as when these screws come out the power supply is no longer attached to the tower and needs to be supported by hand. With any luck the power supply is now freed from the tower and other attachments and may be removed from the computer safely.

Buying a New Power Supply

It is easy to Install fans, lighting, and clear-view windows, but does your computer have the power to run these extras? It is a good idea to check the wattage and style of your PSU or power supply unit to find out. The power supply is the little box in the back of your pc that regulates and sends power to each of the electrical components. Because the power supply is an integral part of the computer itself, I suggest starting your pc creation with the purchase of a good PSU. You can add lights and windows and fans to almost any pc so long as the power supply will regulate the energy they need to run and if you don't have the power to run the extra's the extra's will make your system unstable. The PSU doesn't HAVE to be high end, and it doesnt have to have flashing led lights either, although you can purchase them that way. Plan to spend a little money on your new power supply, a little extra room for later upgrades will usually save you money in the long run.

If you intend to build a high end gaming computer you'll need a PSU that is sli ready to support multiple graphics cards. I recently purchased a Coolmax 700watt sli ready modular PSU. I chose this one because I like the modular psu's, these units allow you to change out your power connectors in case one of the connectors goes bad or shorts out, also it has 2 pci-e connectors to support sli graphics, plus it had a $20 mail in rebate. Other good brand names to look for are CoolerMaster, Antec, Thermaltake, and OCZ. So again keep in mind, modular is nice, Sli capabilty is great for gaming, and if you just want to add some bells and whistles remember more WATTS = more POWER!!!

Installing a New Power Supply

Installing a new power supply is an easy chore, especially if you followed my advice and marked your power connectors. Even if your old power supply is not modular and you had to remove all the old power connectors when your removed your psu. If you marked your chords you can compare the the connectors to get an idea of how things need to be.

First, there is the largest of the chords with the biggest connector, 20-24 pins, this is to plug in your motherboard. Although there are a few other motherboard power connectors 20-24 pin connectors are popular. So look for the slot on your motherboard that holds this connector and firmly push it into place. Next is your hard drive connector, also called an SATA connector. These come in a couple of styles as well. Since there are many different components and connectors, I always recommend labeling your chords. If the chords are labeled on your old power supply you can simply look for that chord on your new power supply and plug it in easily. If you didn't label the chords, there is another website that has pictures of the many different style chords available. See link below.


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charlemont profile image

charlemont 4 years ago from Lithuania

My requirements for new power supplies are:

1. Buy from a reputable maker. All kinds of computer problems are usually assigned to memory modules, hard drive, software glitches etc. PSU remains beyond suspect. Yet if it malfunctions, nothing will help to solve the problem.

2. Buy QUIET or fanless PSU.

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