OT: Weird Hardware Problem

David Christensen dpchrist at holgerdanske.com
Wed May 20 06:26:30 UTC 2020

On 2020-05-19 20:47, Ben Brink wrote:
> Hi David,
> This sounds like a power supply issue.. where the powersupply has just 
> enough to run operation within normal range, but any demand sends it 
> over lowering capacity threshold, subsequently causing a brief power 
> outage and subsequent reboot. I had it happen to numerous machines over 
> the years.. was quite a drain on time to figure it out, because I 
> assumed it was software, and then didn't have the electronics equipment 
> to check.
> You should be able to rule out a powersupply issue by loading the power 
> supply with a few extra peripherals.
> Just know that if it is the powersupply, be sure to keep backups of your 
> work, because the power dips can damage the data on storage.
> Powersupplies are a common failure point due to short capacitor life. 
> These are the weak points in common consumer electronics.
> best wishes,
> Ben

I have also seen power supplies that were marginal and/or that had 
partial failures (one bad rail).  Thankfully, the components they were 
powering did not appear to be permanently damaged once I replaced the 
power supply.

I am not the OP -- I was attempting to give suggestions to the OP that I 
had not seen posted yet.  The OP stated that he had installed a new 
power supply, and Arthur Chance has already mentioned the power supply. 
Without information about the loads, the original power supply, and the 
new power supply, we cannot verify the OP's choice.  I can only assume 
that the OP selected a "correct" part for his application.

Of course, the OP could do more testing with yet another power supply as 
a double-check.  A 500+ Watt ATX2 power supply should be adequate 
overkill for a desktop box with a motherboard, an optical drive, and one 
or two HDD's.

Without full engineering information and (expensive) test equipment, our 
efforts are limited to "monkey see, monkey do".  We throw ideas at the 
OP, he tries what he wants, and perhaps he'll get lucky.

Understand that this is an obsolete low-end consumer-grade Dell product, 
albeit with big CPU and memory options.  It was designed for casual 
Windows Home users, not Linux/ FreeBSD madmen like us who want to flog 
it like a workstation and server. ;-)

Perhaps it is time to cannibalize the good parts and junk the rest -- 
FCLGA1150 motherboards are still available new, and some are made with 
high-spec parts (for gamers).  But, a new motherboard may require a new 
case, as I believe Dell uses the uncommon BTX motherboard form factor. 
Alternatively, Inspiron 3847 motherboards start at $40 on eBay.

That said, given the shrinking margin of memory and storage sizes vs. 
bit error rates, and the increasing risk of bit rot, I now put my money 
into computers with ECC memory.


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