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Easiest Way To Check System Power Usage?

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  • Easiest Way To Check System Power Usage?

    Does anyone know of an easy way to check with a multi meter how much power a motherboard/system is pulling in Watts from a psu?

    Do I check the power going in to the PSU or between the PSU and mobo if so what cables do I check?

    Thanks
    System:
    256Mb, PIII 533 on a Hyph01 PCI sized mobo (Lan/Sound/GFX)
    M1-ATX PSU
    250GB Hdd

    USB:
    Haicom GPS
    Belkin Wireless

    Case:
    Installed in an old NTL box, (best thing for it)

    Screen:
    LinITX 7"

  • #2
    Hi James141.

    These instructions are for use with DC-DC power supplies.
    If you want to measure power from an AC to DC supply, you can use the same instructions, but it is extremely dangerous to fool around AC power if you don't know what you are doing. Don't do it if you feel the least bit uncomfortable with the idea. One exception to my instructions if you use AC is to not bother taking a voltage reading and just use 120V as your voltage.

    If you really want the easiest way to measure the computer systems power here is what you do. Take your multimeter and change it to the ammeter. Most mulitmeters have a 10amp ammeter setting, that is the one you want. Also, most multimeters have a different socket for the 10amp multimeter connection, make sure you switch your lead to that socket before you start measuring current or else you will blow the multimeter fuse.
    Ok, now that you have your multimeter set up properly, dissconnect the red (positive) wire that leads to your computer power supply. Then attach your multimeter in series with the two lines. That is, connect one lead from your multimeter to the wire coming out of your power supply, and the other lead to the wire that goes to your battery.
    Once you have set this up as described, turn on your computer and when the computer is running full power, record the amps that the multimeter displays (it might display a negative number, this doesnt matter, just treat it as a positive number). I would assume you see around 7 amps or so at full computer power. After that, disconnect the multimeter and reconnect the power supply as it was. Next, set your multimeter to read DC voltage and with your computer turned on, and running full power, test the voltage at the input to your power supply by attaching the black lead of your mulitmeter on the negative wire, and the red lead of you multimeter on the positive wire. I would guess you read about 12.5 volts. Record the voltage that you read.
    Next for some simple calculations.
    Take your amps number, multiply it by your volts number and you have Watts (power).

    Volts x Amps = Watts.

    Hope that helped.

    Good luck.

    Comment


    • #3
      Thats great, thanks.

      I thought that would be the way to do it

      I am getting my DC to DC PSU tomorrow so I will give it a try.

      Obviously that reading includes the power that the PSU is using so would I need to take in to account the 90% efficiancy value of the psu to get the "actual" system usage?

      Thanks again
      System:
      256Mb, PIII 533 on a Hyph01 PCI sized mobo (Lan/Sound/GFX)
      M1-ATX PSU
      250GB Hdd

      USB:
      Haicom GPS
      Belkin Wireless

      Case:
      Installed in an old NTL box, (best thing for it)

      Screen:
      LinITX 7"

      Comment


      • #4
        IF you expect to pull more than 10 Amps, don't try it, you may fry your multimeter. The only way to do it pulling that much power is with a inline current sense resistor, which you can order form digikey.

        This has been talked about before. Search my id in this forum and you should find the thread and the part you will need.

        KyferEz
        TheCarPCStore.com - Power Controllers (SDC), Inverters, Tank Circuit, GPS, OBDII, CarPCs, and more!
        PSU Wattage Calculator
        Electronics Calculators
        Copper Wire Data

        Comment


        • #5
          It is only a 90w PSU so the most I can pull is 7.2A (90 / 12.5)

          And I hope I am not even going to pull that much of my new PSU is useless

          Any ideas about how I would factor the 90% in to get the actual output from the PSU.

          Would it go like this:

          PSU draw wattage * efficiancy

          so for example:


          say 50W * 0.9 = 45w
          System:
          256Mb, PIII 533 on a Hyph01 PCI sized mobo (Lan/Sound/GFX)
          M1-ATX PSU
          250GB Hdd

          USB:
          Haicom GPS
          Belkin Wireless

          Case:
          Installed in an old NTL box, (best thing for it)

          Screen:
          LinITX 7"

          Comment


          • #6
            Hi James141.

            That is the correct formula.

            Good luck.

            Comment


            • #7
              ...teaser...
              MikeH

              Comment


              • #8
                WOW that looks like a great piece of kit I want one

                Thanks for the help guys
                System:
                256Mb, PIII 533 on a Hyph01 PCI sized mobo (Lan/Sound/GFX)
                M1-ATX PSU
                250GB Hdd

                USB:
                Haicom GPS
                Belkin Wireless

                Case:
                Installed in an old NTL box, (best thing for it)

                Screen:
                LinITX 7"

                Comment

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