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Does louder HX520 buzz over time imply impending equipment damage?


drclaw

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Hi, I purchased an HX520 from Microcenter about a month ago and immediately noticed a very faint buzzing sound which was most evident when doing (usb) drive seeks or long browser scrolls (forum skimming), both of which caused the buzz to stutter a bit. Since it was nearly inaudible when seated with proper posture, and the fan was orders of magnitude quieter than the one from the generic (but very reliable) power supply it replaced, I was content with my purchase.

 

About a week ago, however, the HX520's buzz got so loud that I could hear it over old spinning hard drives, dvd burners, etc. I was worried that this increasing buzz over time may indicate worse problems, and hypothesized that running an extremely low-power system on a 520 watt power supply may be the source of my problems. So I dug up some old power-hungry PCI/PCIe cards and hard drives to try to see how much more load it needed. I found that an overclocked PCIe 16x GeForce 7900GS was able to silence the buzz when it was actively displaying things, or if not, the addition of an old PCI DEC (Yes, Digital Equipment Corp.) Tulip 4-port 10/100 NIC w/ integrated PCI bridge would do the trick. Note that the Tulip is a very long card with lots of silicon. No other combinations of PCI cards would work, and I only had one internal hard disk kicking around and it didn't help either. At this point however, the added components, even taking into account a "quiet" aftermarket fan on the graphics card (and underclocking it to boot), still caused the system to make more noise than the old power supply I had bought the HX520 to replace. On top of this the old 4-port ethernet card forced the PCI bus speed down so low that performance was unacceptable. Finally, my difficulty differentiating glue from possible popped cap electrolyte when peering into the back of the power supply convinced me to take it back to Microcenter to get it replaced.

 

So, here I am with the replacement HX520, and it buzzes, but the buzz is completely inaudible unless I'm directly behind the machine or my ear is less than a foot away from the power supply. I'm pretty sure this is actually better than the original HX520 when I had first purchased it. I did an evening's worth of experimentation and determined that it still buzzes or doesn't buzz based on the same types of system loads I tested with the original HX520. There's glue in the same places there was "glue/possible electrolyte" in the original HX520 (yes, I checked this *before* plugging it in). I've tried removing USB peripherals, and checked the USB power rail with a multimeter (it just about nails +5V), letting the BIOS optimize itself, making custom optimizations, adding and removing all the same cards (including my soundcard, which I tried with and without the break out box plugged in), unplugging fans, monitors, keyboards, mice, booting to a completely minimal system, etc. I've also got a heavy duty filtering power strip and I've tried these tests with and without it between my PC and the wall. The only things I haven't done are to swap the HX520 into a different system, try a different CPU, shuffle the RAM around, or try the machine on a completely different electrical circuit as all these things would require far too much more disassembly than I have the patience for.

 

Based upon what I *have* tested, it seems that no matter what I do on a typical residential electricity grid, there will be an almost inaudibly faint buzzing at low loads (but not high loads) and that is *completely* fine with me. The thing I'm worried about is that the buzz will increase in volume over time and that this could indicate reliability issues leading to possible equipment damage. So, finally getting to the end of the novel I've written, I ask these questions:

 

1. Does an increase in buzz volume over time indicate possible failure and / or equipment damage?

 

2. Assuming the equipment listed in my profile is running idle, will running such a high wattage supply at such low loads damage the HX520 or the rest of the system?

 

Thanks,

 

- Mike

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1. Does an increase in buzz volume over time indicate possible failure and / or equipment damage?

 

The buzzing would not indicate a failure or a risk of damaging any components. However if the buzzing were to get loud enough that it would be bothersome, then we could certainly try replacing the unit for you.

 

2. Assuming the equipment listed in my profile is running idle, will running such a high wattage supply at such low loads damage the HX520 or the rest of the system?

 

Running the PSU at low loads will not damage the PSU in any way. The PSU should operate normally whether you have 0% load or 100% load.

 

Let us know if you have any other questions!

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