Problems, problems, problems…

Well, you should always expect unexpected problems when upgrading computers.

Case in point: In my last post, I talked about adding an XFX GeForce 7300GT video card to my computer. However, at that time I had not really pushed it very much. I played Doom 3 for a couple of minutes, was amazed by the quality of the rendering, and posted to this blog. Later, I continued to play Doom 3, and found that, consistently, after about 5 – 10 minutes of playing, the computer would lock up. So, I downloaded a video card stability tester, and the card would fail the test (i.e., crash the computer) within just a few seconds of the test running. After reading online and reviewing the specs for the video card, I began to suspect that the card was attempting to pull more power than my 400W power supply could, well, supply.

So, I went onto NewEgg, read some reviews, and ordered an Antec TrueControl 550W power supply. This time around, I wanted to go with Antec since they are consistently well reviewed and have a very good reputation for producing high-quality power supplies.

A few days went buy, and it came. I installed it, and it completely solved the problem. Doom 3 runs perpetually, and the video card stability test runs without crashing. However, this is not the end of the story.

The TrueControl line of power supplies come with a control panel you can mount on the front of your computer. This panel has several dials which allow you to tweak the voltage and fan speed of the power supply. I have two issues with this control panel: One, I don’t overclock so I don’t need to tweak my voltage levels. Two, the panel is incredibly, incredibly, ugly. Perhaps if you’re one of those people who put neon lights in your case, it wouldn’t be so bad, but that is not the look I’m going for at all.

When ordering the power supply, I assumed that if you didn’t set up the control panel, the power supply would just run like a normal power supply and produce the rated voltages and whatnot. However, it turns out that without the front panel connected, the power supply actually runs all the voltages at their minimum rated levels, and fans at full speed. Incredible.

It’s perfectly safe to have voltages at the bottom of the rated range, but the problem is that if that voltage were to fluctuate at all, you’d suddenly be outside of that safe range. I didn’t want to pay top dollar for an Antec power supply, and always be worried about my voltage levels. Nor did I want to have to install the horrible front panel.

So, I returned it to NewEgg. Luckily, they are good about things like this. In its place, I ordered a standard TruePower Trio 550W power supply. No front panel.

Upon installing this power supply, the video card still functions correctly, and voltage levels are where they should be. I’m pretty impressed with the Antec power supply so far. It’s quiet, powerful, and puts out incredibly steady voltages.

But in the end, this is a lesson — always assume that something is going to go wrong when upgrading parts. Not that that’s bad — you’ll learn a lot along the way — but it’s just important to keep in mind.

Leave a Comment