Question Possible Bad Audio devices Causing Motherboard Faults (and tracking down odor)

Feb 14, 2019
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Switching Parts from a Used Computer

Summary
The parts come from a computer where the power supply seemed to be giving signs of failing. The components of the computer reached, at full load, the power supply's maximum advertised wattage. With that said, the initial question would be:

Question
Could a failing power supply degenerate computer components like the mother supply even if it wasn't a complete failure? For instance, causing the components to be volatile to a new system they were swapped to.

Further Description
For now which part is causing the odors is unknown.

While there is an ongoing attempt to troubleshoot, it might be best to explain further.

The parts that were swapped were a GPU and RAM. After the GPU swap, there didn't seem to be much problem. After the RAM swap however, there is an unique odor, though the other parts didn't have much time to generate this during the process.

In this particular case, perhaps it could be that a cheaper brand of RAM that is somewhat dated from use might be wearing on the motherboard. If this were the cause of the lightly-chemical type odor, it could also be the GPU.

The power supply emits odors in certain cases when failing. Perhaps other parts create similar signs.
 
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Karadjgne

Titan
Herald
Much depends on the psu. Many cheaper/cheaper built psus actually do not and cannot live up to wattage claims, many failing/burning out/blowing up at anything past 50% loads. So it's entirely possible that psu has been at limits or beyond for a very long time before showing signs of weakness.

Can a bad psu kill other components? Absolutely Yes, and I'm not just talking about a limit pushed/dying psu but even we'll above wattage claim brand new units. A psu is designed to convert AC power to DC power, and very good units have the cleanest ripple output, the closest to actual DC voltage. Bad/cheap units have so much erratic 'noise' ripple that downstream components (like motherboards especially) suffer a beating whenever the pc is used. It doesn't take that long before those sensitive electronics 'show you the bird' and let you know they've had enough.

You'll have to chase that odor down. It could be the psu for sure, or a motherboard component like a capacitor starting to leak and when heated giving off fumes, could be the fan motor on the gpu or case or in the psu, there's a variety of possibilities, but ram I can't see being suspect. Ram is too touchy, and either works or doesn't and has no other components other than the IC chips.
 
If you have a cheap or failing psu, all bets are off until you replace with a quality unit of sufficient power.
It would help if you were more specific about the make/model of the before and after parts and your timeline.
 
Feb 14, 2019
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That makes sense. I'll do well to avoid certain PSUs in the future. There is a PSU worth noting with regards to this information.

It seems the information regarding PSUs is that it is worth investigating the options, at least given sufficient resources to do so.

A number of things give this sign when beginning to show wear.
 
Feb 14, 2019
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Further Findings
There is an ongoing problem regarding sound devices. The on-board audio device in the computer seemed to be going bad, and took out the audio device plugged in after some time. It wasn't apparent at first because other parts seemed to be culprit.

Maybe it is something else as an on-board audio device involves some skepticism. Though, after switching to another motherboard, the odors were gone for a while anyway. One audio device that seemed safe was plugged in to the transferred motherboard's audio out, and again, the odor returned.

So perhaps the problem is being transferred through audio devices that were originally connected to the faulty motherboard. Perhaps it is taking out other components as well.

Question
As an extension to the original question as things have been narrowed down: could an ongoing audio device fault ruin other components other than the audio components themselves? At this point, testing to see if the problem transfers through other parts might be risky.

(Edit)
Two of the stand-offs for the motherboard aren't populated with screws as there weren't any included with the case (just pre-installed). Not sure if this would cause a direct problem.
 
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Karadjgne

Titan
Herald
All standoffs are grounding points from mobo to frame, and the frame is grounded to the psu by the screws that hold it. So missing a couple of standoffs usually isn't an issue since all of the grounding circuitry is interconnected on the mobo.

It's highly doubtful audio issues will backfeed far enough to be an issue to other components. There's too many diodes in place that if burned would be a break, and if shorted would end up leading to transistors or other regulatory circuitry. Backfeed will mainly affect just the audio. You'd have to be putting voltage in the grounding system, and have no frame/psu grounding for that voltage to overcome other voltage and affect other sub-systems. If that were the case, you'd have no audio at all as that'd be fried instantly.

What can be an issue is mismatched impedence. If the audio device is causing a large current draw through the audio chipset, it might be basically overheating it, which would cause the odor as the on-board audio starts cooking.
 
Feb 14, 2019
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The standoffs were installed as two extra were found.

In the case of the audio, the speakers may have been causing too much draw.

The timeline I have yet to supply is something like this, at least as far as it can be understood:
  • Power supply that was overused began failing as it seems, or causing odor. This was in system X.
    • In the meantime, the onboard audio showed signs of a problem. Something along the lines of unselecting or switching which profile was used for the used output. This was perhaps a problem with the Realtek drivers.
  • In troubleshooting, the speakers were used in another system (system Y), which had survived another PSU failure from an earlier time.
    • RAM was also swapped from system X to Y due to low RAM. Odor ensued. The power supply used in this was cheap though.
  • A new PSU was used, and the odor seemed to be gone.
    • Next however, some audio devices used in X were used in Y with the effect of the odor reoccurring.
    • It is also of note that a cable was used to connect audio out to audio in between two systems. Probably a mistake as the smell also reoccurred from X. Y was not used in this exchange however.
  • In a last exchange of motherboard between cases, a motherboard was cracked slightly when reinstalling the CPU. Unfortunately this probably confuses the problem.
With all said and done, the odor could come from corrupted audio devices. But that might be unlikely as it has occurred with no audio devices used.
 
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