Your PSU is the foundation of your PC build, and testing your PSU, whether it’s brand new or recycled from an older build, is easy and inexpensive insurance against future problems.
Why Test Your Power Supply Unit?
The obvious answer might be simply to ensure it’s working, and if it seems like it’s working fine, why bother?
The more nuanced answer is that unless your PSU fails to turn on or dramatically snaps, crackles, pops, or outright flames itself out of service when it does turn on, problems aren’t always immediately obvious.
Signs of failure aren’t always so obvious, though. Sometimes a PSU will turn on, and the computer might even boot up.
But issues like unstable voltage on a certain connection will lead to irregular but persistent problems that are difficult to pin down, like blue screen of death crashes that only happen under very specific conditions.
If you don’t test your PSU, the source of those problems is almost impossible to detect otherwise.
When and How to Test Your Power Supply Unit
Because of all the phantom problems that stem from an out-of-spec or failing PSU, there are a few situations where we recommend testing the PSU by default.
If you are putting a new PSU in your computer, it’s a perfect time to test it because it isn’t even installed yet.
If you’re reusing your existing PSU in a new build, it’s worth testing it to ensure it is functioning as expected before sacrificing your new build to it.
It’s also a good idea to test your power supply unit and all cabling when using a modular power supply when you have new aftermarket cables or if you have unlabelled modular cables in your miscellaneous parts bin. Modular cable ports and cabling don’t have a universal standard, and you can damage your PC if you use the wrong cables with the wrong power supply.
Finally, if you’ve been tearing your hair out trying to troubleshoot a problem with your computer that seems to have no real identifiable solution, it’s probably time to test your PSU.
If you want to test it the dead-simple way, you can do so with a PSU tester. PSU testers are great because they give you extra information and easy peripheral cable testing in a way that a digital multimeter can’t.
If you have a multimeter on hand, though, it’s straightforward to test the power connector and the pins on most of the other connectors.
In short, it’s really simple to test a PSU if you know what to do and there’s no good reason not to do it. Catching a problem with the PSU before you put it in your build or troubleshooting a problem with your existing PSU before it fails entirely (and possibly takes other components with it) is a great way to avoid headaches.