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Gateway Computer: Replace Power Supply?

Discussion in 'Electronic Repair' started by Caroline, Apr 29, 2004.

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  1. Caroline

    Caroline Guest

    First, for a personal computer, is the phrase "power transformer" often used
    interchangeably with "power supply"? Below I am assuming yes.

    I purchased a Gateway Essential 900c in September, 2001. I get a fair amount of
    crashes (freezes; requires shutdown; reboot with scan) with it. A friend told
    me Gateways were notorious for having poor power transformers.

    In others' experience, would it be worthwhile to replace the power transformer?

    What's the identifying information on the transformer (so I know what to ask for
    at a shop)?

    About how much should the transformer cost?

    Where is it located inside the casing? (I'll also start researching this on my
    own. I have had the computer apart for cleaning before. I'm pretty handy and
    have a decent mechanical and electrical background.)

    What's a good place to buy a transformer?

    Might E-bay have these transformers?

    Thanks in advance.
  2. He is suggesting to replace the power supply. There is no power
    transformer as such,in these computers. The power supply comes as a
    complete interchangable module. If you are not familiar with this,
    take the machine to an authorised computer store for your make of
    machine, and let them fix it for you. This way the job will be done

    Jerry G.
  3. The problem may not be hardware at all. If you are using Windows 9x or
    ME, Microsoft is most likely the problem.
  4. Caroline

    Caroline Guest

    Thanks, Wayne. I read the thread and went to the site that a
    poster suggested. Very interesting.

    Thanks also, Jerry and Bennett.


    I carefully inspected the capacitors and none are leaking. Nor do they appear to
    be bulging. Also, the site suggests that massive motherboard
    capacitor problems may have only begun shortly after I purchased my computer in
    September, 2001. So I think I have lucked out on this count.

    Without too much difficulty I disconnected and removed the 90-Watt power supply
    and took its dimensions. After some research and leg work, it turns out the big
    trick in replacing it is that it's a "micro" size. CompUSA had a perfect fit 150
    Watt version for $70 at its store; online CompUSA had a $33 (taking into account
    shipping) 145 Watt version.

    Ebay also lists many 145 W and higher Watt versions whose dimensions and screw
    holes appear to fit dead-on, too. Lowest price with shipping = $32 at the

    I drove to three independent computer shops and they had nothing that would
    physically fit. Also, they were not optimistic I'd find one locally.

    Again, I don't know if a new power supply will improve my computer's
    performance. Like Bennett said, it could be a software problem. Or it could be
    something else. It's not crippling my computer use, but I figure it can't hurt
    to replace the power supply. I did clean the power supply fan more thoroughly
    than I ever have, so maybe this will help, too.

    I will watch Ebay for a week or so then make a decision.

    Whatever happens, I have a little more command of how the hardware of my
    computer goes together and look forward to maybe putting together my own when
    this one dies. So I appreciate everyone's "community service" in offering
    assistance here and shall try to return the same "service" to others.
  5. When capacitors are mentioned as leaky, they mean "electricaly leaky",
    and not physicaly leaky. You will need the proper test instruments to
    really determine if a cap is electricaly leaky or not. On some
    occasions, they can leak some electrolyte if they were severly
    overheated, but this is not very often.

    To properly test caps, an ESR meter, and a true capacitance meter are
    required. Or, a proper capacitor analyser can be used. Each one does a
    different type of test, to determine if the cap is defective or not.

    In the case of a power supply, these are normaly changed as a complete
    module. The value of the parts and the time involved to service one,
    is not very viable. Also, the manufactures do not support component
    level service on power supplies and cards.

    You should call the manufacture of your computer for proper and safe
    power supply. It not only has to physicaly fit, but you also want it
    to be electricly rated, and electricaly safe for your application.

    Before changing the supply, you should take the machine to a proper
    computer service centre to have it properly evaluated, so you know
    that for sure the supply is defective. You may end up spending money
    on a new supply, and the machine will still have the same fault!

    Jerry G.
  6. In this particular instance, leaking meant leaving a brown trail on my
    motherboard! I had 2 leaking and running down the board, 12 more that had
    bulged tops, of which most of those had started to puke a bit of electrolyte
    out the top, and one still good. However, I replaced it also. :)
    Computer works just fine now.

  7. exray

    exray Guest

    Jerry Greenberg wrote:

    Just curious. Do the Gateway rigs use something other than the typical
    PC power supply or is this some laptop version? Easy enough to just
    borrow one for a try-and-see test.

    It really doesn't make much sense to repair at a component level
    motherboards and PC power supplies unless one is simply doing it as a
    hobby. There's SOOO many things that could cause the OPs scenario and
    my first suspicion would be software problems. An old version of
    Netscape (for example) will often misbehave as described. My rig
    crashed daily when I was using Netscape 4.7.

    They (computers) can be fun to play with. If the goal is to save money
    on repairs its not gonna likely happen with a few simple discrete
    component replacements.

    But hey, go for it. Its a learning experience and if I hadn't been thru
    this scenario several times then I couldn't give advice. While you're
    learning, keep your eye open for a good deal on another rig.

  8. Sounds like a typical spyware/virus infestation. Suggest running Spybot Search
    and Destroy as well as AVG Antivirus, both available as freeware from their
    respective sites.

    Alan Harriman
  9. Guest

    Actually the hoopla over the MB caps was that the caps would
    physically leak their electrolyte all over the MB. The impact was
    two-fold in that the caps lost their capacitance and the goo would eat
    into the traces. I've tossed over a dozen MBs at work so far.

    For the original poster, start by checking that all of the fans are
    still working. In particular the CPU fan. It's more likely that
    you've got a bad fan than a bad power supply. Also beware that the
    off-brand $32 power supplies are not exactly high quality. Your
    original, even after so many years, is probably a better unit.

    You're frequent crashes are probably software related. Given the
    vintage, you probably have Win95 or Win98. Both were very buggy and
    over time eventually become unstable. Of all the Win9x machines at
    work, I've yet to have one make it more than 3 years without reaching
    the point where it needed nuked and reinstalled. Of course, now they
    get Windows 2000 installed...

  10. Eugen T

    Eugen T Guest

    Chris, just a small comment regarding your Win95/98 stability stuff... I
    have Win98SE system that went just fine for FIVE years until I actually had
    to completely format the system drive... Win98SE is the most stable OS out
    of that family (and I'd suggest NOT to install any Windows updates on system
    installed from original CD - those updates were THE biggest headache).
  11. Caroline

    Caroline Guest

    The fan works fine, thanks.

    Sometimes I get a weird noise at startup that seem to be coming from the power
    supply (possibly specifically its fan). Sounds like a motor scraping against a
    casing? The noise goes away after a few minutes. Been like this for a couple of

    But it's too much to ask anyone to diagnose something like this sight unseen.
    Just noting...
    Okay. Someone emailed me in private with a similar comment (and many other
    No, it's Windows ME.
    Note to exray: It's a desktop computer.

    To others saying a shop could perhaps better troubleshoot: The situation is not
    crippling. Also, with my last computer, a shop took my money, kept the computer
    a week, and failed to repair the problem. Sure, maybe I just had a bad shop. But
    no, I do not have money to throw away and I am fairly savvy-engineering wise
    (though computer hardware is relatively new). So I'm about somewhere that Bill
    says. Namely, no need to look for a new rig yet and definitely inclined to
    experiment on my own.

    I doubt it's a virus. I use a modem and don't download garbage in emails.

    Of course as others suggest, the problem could be software or something else I
    haven't figured out yet.

    I appreciate everyone's input.
  12. jakdedert

    jakdedert Guest

    Actually, that one's easy. The lube in the fan is drying up, and it takes a
    bit of time to warm up to the point where it flows and the fan works
    quietly. The sound you hear is either the bearings scraping metal-to-metal;
    or else the bearings themselves have worn themselves to the point that the
    fan blade is no longer centered and is scraping against the housing until
    air flow dynamically centers it.

    Either way, a new fan is indicated. Relubrication is possible, but may be
    beyond your skills; and is sometimes only a stop-gap solution (I've had
    pretty good luck at it...about four out of five....). Of course, a new
    power supply would 'include' a new fan....

  13. Guest

    Eew. Even worse. :}
  14. Caroline

    Caroline Guest

    I gave the re-lubrication a shot on Saturday. Took off the casing, took out the
    power supply and removed its side panels, took off the fan grille, studied the
    setup looking for bearings, pulled up the sticker in the center, and saw the
    center move when I pushed the fan. Looked about as close as I could get to a
    bearing. Put a few drops of "Zoom" oil in.

    Sounds better. Haven't had the really big noise I have heard now and then in the

    Still shopping for power supplies. Found a Fortron at IIRC for
    around $40 total that I think I'm going to go for.

  15. jakdedert

    jakdedert Guest

    That's basically how it's done. I've washed the bearing out in the past
    with degreaser (lighter fluid) before relubing, but couldn't tell you if
    that worked better or not. In fact, in an emergency, I just squirted a bit
    of lighter fluid in to re-flow the oil and resealed the fan. It worked
    until I got around to actually doing it right.

    One other thing I've taken to doing is packing with grease *after* doing all
    the above. This, on the theory that if the bearings start to heat up, the
    grease will melt into the bearing and provide a source of reserve
    lubrication...pure supposition on my part, but I've had pretty good luck
    getting them to last.

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