The power supply is one of the most important components for your PC build, this is because it supplies power to the entire system. A bad, or an insufficient power supply can have massive effects on the performance of your computer, ranging from stability issues & overall slow performance. It is important that you never skimp out on your power supply.
In this post, we’re going to go over the key reasons why power supply fails, and the symptoms of failure so you know what to watch out for. Additionally, we’re going to discuss how you can maintain and increase the lifespan of your power supply so you can use your system for as long as possible. Also, considering the efficiency rating could have an impact on the quality of your power supply.
Answer: A good power supply should last between 5-10 years, but it’s important to never skimp on a unit. The reason you should never skimp out on your power supply is that if it fails, then the effects can be detrimental to your entire system. Bad power supplies are known to take other components with them if they fail, so if you’ve spent a lot of money on your CPU and motherboard, they could be at risk of failure too.
How Do Power Supplies Fail?
Failing capacitors are one of the main reasons why power supplies fail, and it usually happens over a long period of time. Capacitors fail due to heat and constant stress, and these two factors combined can cause the electrolytes within the capacitors to swell, leak and explode. Leaking capacitors will leave residue on the main board of the device, and swelling capacitors can have the electrolytes leak from the seal.
Environmental effects can cause your power supply to fail as well as all the other components in your PC case, what we’re talking about are electrical surges. Your power supply isn’t protected from electrical surges which can happen due to lightning strikes and other power anomalies, so this can cause the internal components in your power supply to fail. It’s recommended that you purchase a surge protector if you value your PC.
Fan failure can indirectly cause your power supply to stop working, this is why many power supplies use zero RPM modes to increase the lifespan of the fan as well as reduce noise. The fan failing means the power supply is unable to cool itself, therefore, resulting in the internal components failing over time due to excessive heat. Capacitors and semiconductors will usually be the first to fail.
Dying Power Supply Symptoms
- Random Shutdowns
- Random BSOD
- Grinding Fans
Computer symptoms are usually extremely vague, so if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s recommended to perform trial and error to find the true culprit. A failing power supply can cause random shutdowns of your computer, this could be caused by the power supply becoming too hot, many components will shut down when they become too hot to protect themselves.
Random BSODS are another vague symptom as they can be caused by many components, but a failing power supply can cause BSODs. Insufficient power to the components or random voltage spikes are the main culprits of a blue screen of death, and the best way to be sure it’s the power supply is to test another one. Although BSODs are a broad symptom, a failing power supply is up there with one of the main causes.
Grinding fans are fans that randomly make an annoying grinding noise due to their bearings failing, this noise is usually distinct and a warning that you need to replace the fan or buy a new PSU. Once the power supply fan finally fails, then the power supply is inevitably doomed due to its inability to cool itself. Your computer may still work, but eventually, your power supply will succumb to heat.
What Is The Lifespan Of A Power Supply?
Now that we’re aware of how power supply fails, and the key symptoms, the average lifespan of a power supply is around 5 years, but some units can last much longer, up to 10 years. It all depends on how well you maintain your power supply and keep the overall system clean, your power supply is one of the key components, so you should treat it with care. Statistically, a power supplies failure rate is around 1.15% or 1 in every 87 units so statistically there’s nothing to worry about.
Warranties usually reflect the quality of your power supply, and you usually get what you pay for with power supplies, cheap power supplies will have shorter warranties. Many 1200W power supplies have long warranties that reach up to 12 years because the components they use are so high quality, the manufacturers are confident in the power supplies ability.
Expensive power supplies will use higher quality components such as Japanese capacitors that have a great reputation. Additionally, they include functionalities such as Zero RPM mode that automatically activates once the power supply is cool enough. Zero RPM mode will obviously increase the lifespan of your fan which means it can run much longer.
How To Increase Power Supply Lifespan?
Keeping The PSU Clean is one of the best ways to increase the lifespan because regularly cleaning the power supply will decrease its overall temperature. Lower temperatures also mean the power supply fan doesn’t have to work as hard which means the power supply will last much longer on average.
Don’t Mix And Match Cables because If your choice of power supply is fully modular, you’ll notice you can remove all the cables. While this is fine for cable management, you shouldn’t include cables that didn’t come with the PSU, this is why some power supplies fail and bring other components with them. Use the cables that come with the power supply, or are authorized to work with the power supply otherwise incompatible cables will kill your PSU and its components.
Purchasing a surge protector is a cost-effective way to increase the lifespan of your power supply and your entire computer. Power surges have destructive effects on your power supply due to overvolting capacitors usually causing them to explode. Surge protectors can cost around $50, so you can save your $2500 PC build for 50x cheaper.
Does The Efficiency Rating Matter?
The power supplies Efficiency rating can reflect how long a power supply can last, this is because power supplies with higher efficiency ratings usually come with higher quality components such as Japanese capacitors. You’ll find that Titanium rated power supplies have very long warranties, usually 12 years, this is because they use high-quality components to achieve such a high-efficiency rating.
Many of the time, you can get away with a gold-rated power supply because they’re usually more affordable and usually higher quality. But gold-rated power supplies usually come with warranties up to 7 years which could mean that gold-rated power supplies don’t last as long. But if you’re building an expensive gaming build, you should always aim for a power supply that is at least 80+ Gold rated.
If you see a power supply being sold, and it doesn’t have the 80+ Certification then you should stay away from it at all costs. They are usually inefficient at converting AC power, and this can be due to the build quality. Always go for an 80+ power supply as they’ve passed certain specifications, you should never skimp on a power supply.
In conclusion, power supplies can last long if maintained correctly, on the short end, your power supply will fail at around 5 years, if properly maintained it can last up to 10 years. A power supply’s lifespan can be reflected on the efficiency rating of the power supply, usually lower efficiency rating units use components of lesser quality consequently causing the power supply to have a lesser lifespan.
Increasing the power supply’s lifespan is pretty easy, and these tips can be used to increase the lifespan of all the components in your PC case. We recommend frequent spring cleaning to keep the thermals low, and never mix and match cables as some cables will be incompatible with your power supply. This can cause immediate power supply failure.