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How To: Prevent A Power Supply Cable Burnout

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Introduction

In a small number of cases, the 8 pin EPS CPU cable or ATX 24 pin MB cable can suffer a burnout under reasonable and extreme overclocking conditions. This short information guide will explain in simple terms as to who's at risk, how to recognise a burnout and how to prevent it. If you think your safe from this because the system is running a high end power supply, think again.

Are you at risk?

Even a high end PSU can suffer a burnout. A burnout may happen to the EPS and ATX cable. It's more common on the EPS cable (which provides the CPU power). You are at slight risk if one of the following applies to you:

1) High CPU overclocks (X79 and X99 at greater risk from the higher power/voltage draw).
2) Multi GPU users (AMD cards at greater risk due to higher power draw potential).
3) Cheap EPS or ATX power extension leads.
4) Massivly overclocked/overvolted GPU(s) (Single GPU significantly less risk).

How to recognise a burnout?

Often the system will cut power mid game or during a CPU/GPU stress test without any warning despite all temperatures being in range. The EPS/ATX cable might have burn marks near the pins (either end of the cable). It might also be be impossible to unplug the ATX/EPS cable from the Motherboard (because the plastic that's housing the pins can melt, fusing to the inner walls of the socket). Here is an image of my first burn out in 2013 using a cheap extension cable supplied by a very highly reputable company:



(That time I was lucky for it not to have melted the motherboard 8 pin CPU socket. I wasn't so lucky on my second burn out which was caused my an entirely different reason).

How to prevent a burnout?

First off, ditch cheap extensions. They add resistance, and use a lower caliber of cabling which can't take high load. This then increases heat and begins to scortch the plastic plug housing. The more heat and damage, the higher the resistance. The more resistance, the quicker the issue progresses.

Secondly, heat damage and resistance can happen without the use of extensions, only when the system attempts to draw too much power through the EPS/ATX cabling. This happenes when GPU(s) ask for more power. Once the PCI-E slot and PCI-E power cable reach maximum draw, the PSU attempts to feed the EPS/ATX cables with more power to help feed the system. This is exactly what causes the burnout in most cases. To prevent that, use a seperate PCI-E power cable for each 8 pin PCI-E socket on all present GPU's. It looks less neat and your using twice the amount of cabling, but it will ensure a significant reduction in burnouts among end users.

Additional Information

I've had 2 EPS burnouts during system building. Z77 and X79. 3770K 4.2GHz and 3930K 4.5GHz. One caused by a poor extension cable. The other, from increased power draw requested by the GPU's. Both times, I recieved compensation from the PSU manufacturers. In each case, the manufacturer's test labs were able to determine the system failed under normal conditions, as the cabling should have handled the load despite overclocking. So why did it fail?

Like I said, cheap extensions, and not using a seperate PCI-E power cable for every PCI-E power socket for every present GPU directly caused the problem(s) in these specific cases. One manufacturer (head of EU claim and return operations) personally told me that "It's a technological limitation with PSU's today and a wide range of companies are aware of the situation" in relation to PCI-E power cables. Make of that what you will I guess. Also I won't mention the names of the manufacturers or names of any staff members during each compensation claim to protect their identities.

I've also diagnosed a small number of cases of burnout in my last position of lead systems technical advisor for a UK company. Using a PCI-E power cable for each 8 pin socket on every GPU in each system later prevented a single future burnout. I've even seen 2 seperate cases of burn out on OCN, so it can happen!

Thank you for reading.
Edited by BradleyW - 2/10/16 at 7:33am
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post #2 of 8
Thread Starter 
OP Updated with image and additional information on the burnout prevention section.
Edited by BradleyW - 2/10/16 at 7:31am
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post #3 of 8
Good read. + rep
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post #4 of 8
Thanks for the write up.
Just as a note, my current system has a mild overclock but houses an R9 290 (space heater) and I was wondering if it would be prudent even with just one GPU to individually cable the connectors, at the moment I have the 8 & 6 (little extended bit) from one PCI-E going to it.

Am I right in thinking its the maximum cable load that's the issue, a bit like when you overload a socket the cables get warm and become a fire hazard?
If so is there a chart explaining typical PSU cable load capabilities?
    
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post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BakerMan1971 View Post

Thanks for the write up.
Just as a note, my current system has a mild overclock but houses an R9 290 (space heater) and I was wondering if it would be prudent even with just one GPU to individually cable the connectors, at the moment I have the 8 & 6 (little extended bit) from one PCI-E going to it.
Am I right in thinking its the maximum cable load that's the issue, a bit like when you overload a socket the cables get warm and become a fire hazard?
If so is there a chart explaining typical PSU cable load capabilities?

Those using Multi GPU's are most at risk, even though the risk is small. Your level of risk is extremely low so I'd not worry too much. However doubling up on the connectors would ensure a higher level of safety. To be fair, there is a risk of anything. I could fall off my chair whilst typing but It's unlikely. biggrin.gif

As for charts on physical cable load capability, I'm not sure. I don't think this kind of knowledge is frequently discussed within the public domain which often leads to a lack of exposure on the subject.
Edited by BradleyW - 2/10/16 at 8:13am
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post #6 of 8
Cheers Bradley

I suppose we would have to go by the gauge of the cable, and use electricians guides, for example the lead to my shower pump was a 20amp cable from memory and there are safety guidelines on in house cabling so you can't just put extension lead cabling behind the walls.
    
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post #7 of 8
I have suffered cable burnout had to RMA the PSU 1500w Enermax didn't work out exact cause but still using all the same build
Enermax suggested a poorly crimped cable
I know I heavily OC my system but I did have X2 30A rails set aside for each GPU i.e. 60A each GPU!


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post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
I'd have to agree, it does look like a bad crimped cable.
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X79-GCN
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Samsung 840 Pro 120GB EK Supremacy (CPU) NF F12's P/P (360 Rad)  NF A14's (420 Rad)  
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EK D5 Vario Top-X  Phobya G-Changer V2 360mm Phobya G-Changer V2 420mm Win 10 x64 Pro 
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