How to Test a Dell Power Supply

Written by heather lindsay
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How to Test a Dell Power Supply
Power supply (power supply image by robert mobley from

A failing power supply can be the source of many computer crashes. It can also result in hardware that operates poorly or not at all. A failure to recognise the real problem means hardware is often replaced rather than the power supply itself. Testing your Dell power supply to see whether it still works is a simple process that you can accomplish with a paper clip. When a paper clip is connected to the green (signalling) wire and a black (ground) wire, it completes a self-test circuit that will turn the power supply on if it passes the test or prevent the power supply from turning on in the event of a failure.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Paper clip

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  1. 1

    Unfold the paper clip into the shape of a "U."

  2. 2

    Remove the Dell's side access panel. This may require the removal of one or more thumbscrews on the rear face of the computer's case.

  3. 3

    Disconnect the main motherboard connector of the power supply from the motherboard. This will be a 20- or 24-pin rectangular connector. This connector is the largest coming from the power supply and is connected to the motherboard just to the right of the computer's central processing unit.

  4. 4

    Locate the pin on this connector that is connected to a green wire. There is only one, and it lies between two connectors attached to black wires.

  5. 5

    Insert one end of the paper clip into the green wire's connective socket.

  6. 6

    Insert the other end of the paper clip into either one of the black wire sockets located directly next to the green wire.

  7. 7

    Plug in the power supply and press its external or main power switch to the "On" or "Closed" position.

  8. 8

    Listen to the power supply. If the fans turn on within the power supply, it has passed all self-diagnostic tests and is still working.

Tips and warnings

  • There is zero chance of electric harm during this procedure as long as the ends of the paper clip are in the correct sockets. This green wire carries only a minute signalling voltage that allows the power supply to turn on if there are no hardware failures.

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