How to Boost PC Power Supply
By Norm Dickinson
With modern components requiring more power than ever, you might find that you need to increase your computer's power supply before installing upgrades. This applies to new motherboards, video cards, additional hard drives or optical drives, as well as certain external devices that rely on the PC power supply to operate. You can upgrade the power supply with minimal tools; matching the new power supply to the needs of the new equipment is the biggest challenge.
Determine the Power Requirements
Check the product packaging to find out whether the new hardware you are installing requires special connectors to work, as in the case of a SATA hard drive or certain video cards.
Determine how much power each new component will require and add this amount to the wattage of the existing power supply. The result will be your new power-supply size.
Check the physical form of the existing power supply to find an exact replacement with a higher-level output. For instance, the existing supply might be a standard ATX design, a compact size or a proprietary design.
Installing the New Power Supply
Back up all important files. Shut down the computer and remove the power cord.
Remove the case cover to expose the power supply. Make careful note of where each power cable is connected, or take a digital photo to refer to later.
Disconnect each of the power leads from the system.
Remove the screws that hold the power supply in place. Check for brackets or screws inside the case as well as the obvious ones on the outside of the case.
Install the new power supply using the same screws and brackets, if any, that held the old power supply in place.
Reconnect the cabling, using your notes or photo as a reference, and add any other cables that your new hardware may require.
- When choosing a new power supply, compare wattage, number of power leads, types of leads and warranty as well as price.
- You almost always will have connectors left over that are not used. If you see connectors that were not plugged in before and if everything ran fine previously, do not plug them in now.
- Upgrade the power supply and test it prior to installing any other hardware. If it works as planned, install the new hardware one piece at a time, testing along the way. That way, if anything goes wrong it will be isolated to the latest upgrade and will be easier to troubleshoot.
- Make sure each connector is fully seated. Double-check the locations of the power on pins on the motherboard before connecting electrical power to the system. Use an outlet strip to turn on the system the first time, and be prepared to turn the strip off if something goes wrong.
- Never supply power to a power supply unit that is not connected to hardware, as this can burn out a working unit in seconds. Never open a power supply unit to work on the inside; it has no user-serviceable parts inside.
Norm Dickinson began his writing career in 1997 as a content creator for Web pages he designed for clients. His work appears on various websites, focusing on computer technology. Dickinson holds an Associate of Arts in industrial electronics technology and another Associate of Arts in computer science.