PSUs (power supplies) have the role of supplying the correct current, frequency, and voltage of electricity to the rest of the components within a computer. For this reason, PSUs need to be made with the rest of the components’ requirements in mind. So, with that being said, can a PSU fry a motherboard?
A power supply in and of itself should not fry a motherboard through “supplying too much power.” There are, however, particular situations where a motherboard may be damaged by a PSU, which include a significant surge in electricity and supplying too little electricity to the motherboard.
Most modern PSUs are equipped to handle power fluctuations. However, there are certain instances where a motherboard may still be fried. But are there ways to prevent this? And how likely of a situation is it to have a PSU fry a motherboard?
Power Supplies, How They Work, And Damage To Other Components
Understanding the effect something can have is to have a basic idea of how that specific thing works and how it fits into the greater system (the niche it fulfills).
The Function And Workings Of A PSU
Switching power supplies (the type found in computers) function inside a computer system by converting AC (alternating current) into DC (direct current). This pulsating direct current is regulated in voltage (which is kept low) and frequency to correctly supply the motherboard, adapters, and additional components found within a computer.
PSUs generally also have a built-in fan to cool the unit itself. This fan contributes to the overall airflow within the computer case.
PSUs And Motherboards, How Likely Will A Frying Incident Occur?
Within a computer setup, the PSU connects directly to the motherboard, supplying it with DC power, which allows the entire system to function.
Most modern PSUs and motherboards are equipped with surge protection technology (protecting the components from over current and voltage) so that minor spikes and dips in the voltage and current supplied will not cause damage.
Under Which Circumstances Will A PSU Fry A Motherboard?
Although a PSU will not fry a motherboard simply out of its own, there are a few situations where a power supply can contribute to a motherboard being fried.
Some of these situations include:
- Power surges
Although both motherboards and power supplies are generally equipped with power surge protection technology, this only really assists in small fluctuations. If there are considerable surges in electricity, the components inside can all be fried.
An extreme case and example of this situation is a lightning strike.
- PSUs that are not strong enough for the components
Power supplies are “named” according to the wattage they supply to PCs. When there is not enough power provided by the PSU, it is not a good situation.
By undersupplying computer components, they are :
- The parts are liable to break or fail (think about an athlete who doesn’t get enough energy while running, their body won’t work as effectively and will probably fail).
- Software is also liable not to work correctly (the operating system does not start up and run correctly).
- If it only just meets the minimum requirements, the PSU will operate under strain. This could cause it to overheat, which will speed up the process of the part breaking down.
- Poor quality PSUs
A well-made, good-quality power supply comes equipped with mechanisms to self contain any malfunctions. If there is a fault within the power supply or a destructive electrical surge and the PSU breaks, this will prevent the damage from spreading to the other components within the computer.
On the other hand, a poor quality PSU will often not mitigate the damage done to other components.
In fairness, over current and voltage protection in a PSU always has the potential to fail, no matter which brand you purchase. If frequent power surges occur in your area, a PSU will likely become worn out quicker.
The Ways To Prevent A PSU From Damaging A Motherboard
Although technology has made leaps and bounds of progress in terms of containing issues and preventing damage from occurring, there are still things we, as the consumers, can do to ensure that our computers and their components remain undamaged for as long as possible.
Some of these preventative measures include:
- Make sure you don’t buy a PSU that is too small (undersupplying) for running components.
The first step when building or upgrading a PC is to ensure that the PSU you purchase/have installed will adequately supply the components within the PC.
- Don’t buy substandard parts.
Although, as has been previously stated, all brands of PSU can and do still fail, poor quality parts tend to malfunction more frequently or sooner than a better brand. Although the cost may be considerable, sometimes it is better to take the bitter pill of paying more for a piece of hardware that will last longer.
- Invest in surge protection/UPS
A relatively cheap and simple option is to purchase a surge protection device. These essential pieces of equipment ensure that your PSU is not taking the brunt of the power surges.
If there is a high frequency of lightning strikes or an inefficient grid in your area (rural areas most often), then not having a surge protector of sorts is tantamount to signing a death warrant for your PC.
A UPS is a slightly more expensive option but well worth the investment.
- Make sure your PSU fan is clean, as well as the area around your PC.
Heat equals death when it comes to PC components. Ensuring that the fans are optimally working guarantees that the hardware is efficiently cooled and operating at peak performance.
If your PSU overheats, it could be damaged, which could result in your motherboard and other devices being damaged as well.
Making sure the area surrounding the PSU (and PC in general) is clean is a priority.
A power supply in and of itself should not cause any damage to a motherboard. However, if there are power surges, the PSU malfunctions, or the PSU is too small for the PC components, it will cause damage to those components. By making sure you buy good quality parts, a surge protector, and clean effectively, you can prevent unnecessary damage to your computer.