650W Antec Earthwatts: Crackling sound at startup

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650W Antec Earthwatts: Crackling sound at startup

Postposted on Tue Mar 06, 2012 6:46 pm

Good day to you all!

This morning, when I turned on my machine, I heard a crackling sound at the back of my case. It was quite audible but faded away within minutes, most likely due to some elements that finally warmed up. Same happened a while ago, when I turned it on, after I came home from work.

Now I read a thread here with similar problems and many seemed to agree that it was most likely the power supply. I did not really open my case and try to find the source of that crackling sound, but it feels like it is my power supply..

As if that is not enough, I can see that it is now 3.5 years old - well past its 3-year warranty :(

So what do you gather, scrap this and buy a new one, or is it still usable?

Thanks! :)
Last edited by glacius555 on Wed Mar 07, 2012 8:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 650W Antec Earthwatts: Crackling sound at startup

Postposted on Wed Mar 07, 2012 2:39 am

Have you moved the PC or changed any components recently?

Define "crackling sound" — is it like a shorted wall socket or a bug zapper? A faint "crakcrakcrak" or "zztzztzzt" sound? If it's just some coil whine it's nothing particularly dangerous, but if it's a clicky-poppy arcing sound you'd best find the problem. Has there been any smoke odor?

Conspicuous arcing/popping sounds usually mean there's a short or dying component somewhere. The PSU is the likeliest (though not only) spot for that.

It's also possible things are overheating and burning up due to dust — have you taken an air compressor or canned air to this PC recently?

I would swap out the PSU if it's feasible or take the thing to a repair outfit.
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Re: 650W Antec Earthwatts: Crackling sound at startup

Postposted on Wed Mar 07, 2012 6:46 am

Hmm.. It sound like a big moth flapping its wings, if you can imagine one, so no "zzzt", more soundless flapping of wings. And no smell of smoke, so far..

I do indeed need to clean the dust, although it is not exactly all that dusty inside the case, but maybe some got sucked into the power supply..

But yeah.. I'll open it at the next cold boot and try to find out what makes the crackling sound..

And dammit, why is it about to die after 3.5 years.. :(

EDIT: No, i haven't done anything significant to it lately..
Last edited by glacius555 on Wed Mar 07, 2012 8:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 650W Antec Earthwatts: Crackling sound at startup

Postposted on Wed Mar 07, 2012 7:35 am

+1 for attacking the PSU with a can of compressed air first, just in case it is dust.

If that doesn't do anything, with the mains switch off at the wall, but the unit still plugged in and earthed, grab the big bundle of cables and wiggle it quite firmly but not violently.
They should all be well soldered into the main PCB inside the PSU and also cable-tied to the outer casing too. By wiggling it around a bit what you are doing is gently flexing the PCB and aggravating any stretched, dry or cracked solder joints.

It's not a very scientific test, but if the PSU is on its way out you might accelerate it's death. The overvoltage protection means that it's very rare other components will die when the PSU gives up, but I wouldn't blame you if you unplugged your SSD(s), data drives and graphics card(s). I assume you make backups of your data already, but if you don't "my PSU might be about to die" is probably a very good time to start making them ;)
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Re: 650W Antec Earthwatts: Crackling sound at startup

Postposted on Wed Mar 07, 2012 2:30 pm

Kudos for reminding about backing up, haven't done that for a while! :)

I did open the case, vacuumed most of the dust and due to lack of compressed air, best I could do was to blow air through the fans.. I could actually see some dust left inside, so will need the compressed air after all.

I left it powered off for 2 hours, before cleaning the case, and then pulled on the cables like asked, and this time the crackling sound was not there. Wonder if my cleaning helped? Will post an update when I do another cold boot in the morning..

Frankly, I am tired of this Sonata II case now, too cramped, too hot, too much dust.. So I ordered A Fractal Design Arc Midi today, one I kept watching and hoping to buy for weeks! :D

Let's hope this is not turning into "Found one problem, upgraded everything!" situation :-P
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Re: 650W Antec Earthwatts: Crackling sound at startup

Postposted on Thu Mar 08, 2012 1:49 am

well..

Cold boot next morning was OK, no odd sounds or any other anomalies.

Do you think it may be safe now, provided I give it another good cleaning when I find compressed air? Or may it be that some component is already dead? Would gaming help to stress test that?

Thanks a lot in advance guys, you've been a great help! :)
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Re: 650W Antec Earthwatts: Crackling sound at startup

Postposted on Thu Mar 08, 2012 2:42 am

"A big moth flapping its wings" sounds like something stuck in one of the fans.
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Re: 650W Antec Earthwatts: Crackling sound at startup

Postposted on Thu Mar 08, 2012 8:34 pm

Maybe it was some dust stuck in the power supply fan..

I did clean it, and here is how it looked, just before I took out the MB. That mess with cables is how it was for quite long:

Image



Here is how it looked before I moved some more cables. Temps went down 5 degrees from 50 degrees celsius, in CPU and GPU:



Image



Really hoping that it was just dust. Now just need to find canned air, to clean it thoroughly..

EDIT: Also planning to install exhaust fan just beside the power supply, and switch some of the connectors, so more air can move. First thing tomorrow, this evening was too long, took me hours cleaning and moving, was done past midnight.
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Re: 650W Antec Earthwatts: Crackling sound at startup

Postposted on Thu Mar 08, 2012 8:50 pm

Only 5 degrees in a completely different case with much better fans?
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Re: 650W Antec Earthwatts: Crackling sound at startup

Postposted on Thu Mar 08, 2012 9:34 pm

Captain Ned wrote:Only 5 degrees in a completely different case with much better fans?


I value silence more than good temps right now, so most of my fans are below 1000 RPM all the time, even HD6950 has its fan set to 20% only, around 1200 RPM.

I think that reference fan on HD6950 is nothing special, unless 50% of speed (at least) is set. But that ends up being like a vacuum cleaner..

Also, my CPU fan is from Intel, I am sure that if I replace it with a 800-900 g metal tower that blows directly at exhaust fan, CPU temps will go down 20 degrees more. GPU temps may also drop, but I reckon that exhaust fan on a side panel, and maybe one more fan in the front or beside my PSU should help..

All in all, I am not disappointed. I am glad that I bought a case that is pure joy to work with, and I know what to do if I need better temps ;)
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