24 2. What are the maximum dimensions for a

24 2. What are the maximum dimensions for a
1. How many pins does the P1 connector have that uses the ATX Version 2.2 standard?
2. What are the maximum dimensions for a motherboard that uses the MicroATX form
9.6” x 9.6”
3. Which form factor is a smaller version of the MicroATX form factor?
4. Which form factor uses a riser card on the edge of the motherboard?
5. How many pins does the main power connector on a BTX motherboard have?
6. Which type of case form factor is best for keeping a system cool?
7. Which type of computer case is most popular for desktop systems?
Mid-tower case
8. What is the normal voltage of house electricity in the U.S.?
110 volts to 120 volts
9. Hot wires in home wiring are normally colored ____ and ground wires in computers are
normally colored _____.
Black, black
10. What is the difference between a transformer and a rectifier? Which are found in a PC
power supply?
A rectifier is a device that converts alternating current to direct current. A transformer is a device
that changes the ratio of current to voltage. A computer power supply functions as both.
11. What are the five voltages that can be produced by an ATX or BTX power supply?
Which voltage is seldom used?
+5, -5, +12, -12, and +3.3, -5
12. What device uses the 12V 6-pin power connector?
Video card that uses the PCI Express, Version 1 standard.
13. What device uses the 12V 8-pin power connector?
Video card that uses the PCI Express, Version 2 standard
14. What is the purpose of the 4-pin auxiliary connector on a motherboard?
To provide extra voltage for a processor
15. What is the purpose of the 4-pin Molex connector?
Powers IDE drives
16. How do you determine the wattage capacity needed by a power supply?
Add up all wattage requirements for all devices that will use the power supply and then add an
additional 30%
17. Which one component in a high-end gaming computer is likely to draw the most power?
Video card
18. Why is a power supply dangerous even after the power is disconnected?
Capacitors inside a PC power supply create the even flow of current needed by the PC.
Capacitors maintain their charge long after current is no longer present, which is why the inside
of a power supply can be dangerous even when power is disconnected.
19. Which tool of a PC support technician is the most important tool to protect the system
against ESD?
Ground bracelet
20. Which permanently damages a computer component, damage caused by ESD or damage
caused by EMI?
21. What is a simple way to detect EMI?
On an inexpensive AM radio, turn the tuning dial away from a station into a low-frequency range.
With the radio on, you can hear the static produced by EMI. Try putting the radio next to several
electronic devices to detect the EMI they emit.
22. What is an unintended, high-current, closed connection between two points in a circuit
A short, or short circuit
23. What device protects a system against lighting strikes but does not protect against sags
and brownouts?
Surge protector
24. What device protects a system against blackouts?
25. What two measurements are used to rate the capacity of a UPS?
VA and watts
26. What unit of measure is used to describe the amount of work a surge suppressor can do
before it stops protecting the circuit from an electrical surge?
27. Why is it important to have an indicate light on a surge suppressor?
So you can tell when the surge suppressor is no longer providing protection against a power
28. What are the two main types of uninterruptible power supplies?
Standby and inline
29. How does a smart UPS differ from one that is not smart?
A smart UPS can be controlled by software from a computer to allow additional functionality.
30. What is the purpose of a POST diagnostic card?
To report errors at POST
31. When taking a computer apart, why is it important to not stack boards on top of each
You could accidentally dislodge a chip.
32. When assembling a system, which do you install first, the drives or the motherboard?
33. List four computer symptoms that indicate a faulty power supply.
Possible answers:
The PC sometimes halts during booting. After several tries, it boots successfully.
Error codes or beep codes occur during booting, but the errors come and go.
The computer stops or hangs for no reason. Sometimes it might even reboot itself.
Memory errors appear intermittently.
Data is written incorrectly to the hard drive.
The keyboard stops working at odd times.
The motherboard fails or is damaged.
The power supply overheats and becomes hot to the touch.
Thinking Critically
1. How much power is consumed by a load drawing 5 A with 120 V across it?
600 watts
2. You suspect that a power supply is faulty, but you use a multimeter to measure its voltage
output and find it to be acceptable. Why is it still possible that the power supply may be
Because problems with power supplies are intermittent (they can come and go).
3. Someone asks you for help with a computer that hangs at odd times. You turn it on and
work for about 15 minutes, and then the computer freezes and powers down. What do
you do first?
a. Replace the surge protector.
b. Replace the power supply.
c. Wait about 30 minutes for the system to cool down and try again.
d. Install an additional fan.
Answer: c. Wait about 30 minutes for the system to cool down and try again.
4. When working on a computer, which of the following best protects against ESD?
a. Always touch the computer case before touching a circuit board inside the
b. Always wear a ground bracelet clipped to the side of the case
c. Always sit a computer on an antistatic mat when working on it
Answer: b. Always wear a ground bracelet clipped to the side of the case
5. What is a reasonable wattage capacity for a power supply to be used with a system that
contains a DVD drive, three hard drives, and a high-end video card?
a. 250 watts
b. 1000 watts
c. 700 watts
d. 150 watts
Answer: c. 700 watts
A+ Guide to Hardware: Managing, Maintaining, and Troubleshooting, Fifth Edition
Chapter 2
Form Factors, Power Supplies, and Working Inside a
At a Glance
Instructor’s Manual Table of Contents
Teaching Tips
Quick Quizzes
Class Discussion Topics
Additional Projects
Additional Resources
Key Terms
A+ Guide to Hardware: Managing, Maintaining, and Troubleshooting, Fifth Edition
Lecture Notes
Chapter 4 covers the topic of supplying power to a PC. In the introductory sections, the power
supply is linked to the motherboard and the computer case. These three hardware components
are specified and matched by form factors. Major form factors for the motherboard are
presented, with greatest emphasis on the ATX form factor. Three important computer case
categories are presented: desktop, tower, and notebook. Focus then shifts to basic electrical
concepts and devices. The salient items in this section include voltage, current, resistance,
power, closed circuits, and various electrical components (such as transistors). Once the
electrical background is provided, attention turns toward the description and prevention of
electrical threats. The student then learns how to take a computer apart and put it back together.
The final sections of the chapter explain how to troubleshoot electrical problems.
Chapter Objectives
After reading this chapter and completing the exercises, the student will learn:
• About different form factors used for computer cases, motherboards, and power
• How electricity is measured and about electrical components
• How to select a power supply
• How to protect yourself and your equipment against the dangers of electricity
• How to work inside a computer case
• How to troubleshoot electrical problems
Teaching Tips
Form Factors Used By Computer Cases, Motherboards, and Power Supplies
1. Use Figure 2-1 to introduce a computer’s electrical system and power supply.
2. Explain that the computer case, motherboard, and power supply make an
interconnecting system.
a. Note that they must be compatible.
3. Define and explain the term form factor.
4. Emphasize that the motherboard determines which form factor is used.
a. Note that a case and power supply must use the same form factor.
5. Describe the advantages of using a matching form factor for the motherboard, power
supply, and case.
A+ Guide to Hardware: Managing, Maintaining, and Troubleshooting, Fifth Edition
Types of Form Factors
1. Emphasize that when selecting a computer case, motherboard, and power supply,
choose a design that fits its intended use.
2. Use Table 2-1 to illustrate the current and better-known form factors.
3. Introduce and describe the Advanced Technology Extended (ATX) form factor.
a. Use Figure 2-2 to illustrate an ATX motherboard.
b. Use Figure 2-3 to illustrate an ATX P1 power connector.
c. Use Figure 2-4 to illustrate the 2-pin 12-volt auxiliary power connector on a
d. Use Figure 2-5 to illustrate a 20-pin power cord ready to be plugged into a 22-pin
P1 connector on an ATX motherboard.
e. Use Figure 2-6 to illustrate a P1 22-pin power connector following the ATX
Version 2.2 and higher standards.
4. Introduce and describe the MicroATX form factor.
a. Use Figure 2-7 to illustrate a MicroATX motherboard.
5. Introduce and describe the FlexATX form factor.
6. Introduce and describe the Balanced Technology Extended (BTX) form factor.
a. Use Figure 2-8 to illustrate improved airflow in a BTX case and motherboard.
b. Use Figure 2-9 to illustrate a BTX system.
7. Introduce and describe the New Low-profile Extended (NLX) form factor.
a. Use Figure 2-10 to illustrate a NLX system.
More information on form factors may be found at:
Types of Computer Cases
1. Describe the role of the computer case (or chassis).
2. Point out that there are three basic computer case categories.
3. Use Figure 2-11 to illustrate the difference between tower and desktop cases.
4. Introduce and describe the desktop computer case.
a. Use Figure 2-12 to illustrate a slimline case.
5. Introduce and describe the tower computer case.
a. Use Figure 2-13 to illustrate a full-size tower case for an ATX motherboard.
6. Introduce and describe the notebook computer case.
A+ Guide to Hardware: Managing, Maintaining, and Troubleshooting, Fifth Edition
7. Use Table 2-2 to present a few case and power supply vendors.
Quick Quiz 1
1. The form ____________________ describes the size, shape, and major features of a
hardware component.
Answer: factor
2. The ____________________ is the most commonly used form factor today.
Answer: ATX (Advanced Technology Extended)
3. True or False: The BTX form factor design focuses on reducing heat with better airflow
and improved fans and coolers.
Answer: True
4. True or False: Ports that connect cables to the motherboard can only be located on the
rear of the case.
Answer: False
5. The minitower case is also called a(n) ____________________ case.
Answer: microtower
Measures and Properties of Electricity
1. Emphasize that successful PC technicians understand electricity.
a. Point out that this means a technician should know how to use electricity; know
how to measure electricity; and can protect computer equipment from electricity.
2. Introduce four basic electrical units: volts, ohms, watts, and amps.
3. Use Table 2-3 to provide students a useful description of each unit, along with their
applications to computers.
More information on the four basic electrical units may be found at:
AC and DC
1. Define and discuss the critical concepts of alternating current (AC) and direct current
2. Note that power is transmitted at high voltage and low AC for economical reasons.
A+ Guide to Hardware: Managing, Maintaining, and Troubleshooting, Fifth Edition
3. Explain that power passes from the utility lines to a home and the transformer steps
down voltage.
4. Use Figure 2-14 to illustrate how a transformer keeps power constant, but changes the
ratio of current to voltage.
5. Emphasize that for use in the computer, the 110-volt house current has to be further
stepped down to 12 volts or less and then rectified, a process that converts AC to DC.
6. Explain how a computer power supply changes and conditions the house electrical
current by acting as both a transformer and a rectifier.
7. Emphasize that the computer motherboard and peripherals use a low-voltage direct
current, while the monitor utilizes a 110-volt direct current.
a. Demonstrate how direct current works by using the analogy of the flow of water
current. Just as water flows from high pressure to low, current flows from high
potential (a hot state) to low potential (a state of rest, also known as ground or
An AC voltage can be mathematically expressed as a function of time. The
common sinusoidal version of this function is specified and visually represented
at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternating_current
Hot, Neutral, and Ground
1. Use Figure 2-15 to illustrate how a complete circuit including a power station, a house,
and a device are made.
a. Note that AC travels from the power station to the house on a hot line.
b. Note that from the circuit panel in the house, the current travels to various devices,
such as computers and lamps.
c. Note that the AC exits device circuitry and then returns to the power station on a
neutral line.
d. Note that the flow of electricity throughout the complete, closed circuit is driven by
the difference in potential between source and sink located at the power station.
2. Describe short circuits and the role of fuses in protecting devices from excess current
3. Discuss how grounds are used to dissipate excess current flow at various points along
the circuit.
4. Review the color-coding of ground, neutral, and hot wires.
5. Using Figure 2-16, identify the ground, neutral, and hot components in a three-prong
A+ Guide to Hardware: Managing, Maintaining, and Troubleshooting, Fifth Edition
6. Point out that a receptacle tester can be used to verify the wiring in a three-prong outlet.
7. Use Figure 2-17 to illustrate a receptacle tester.
Some Common Electronic Components
1. Point out that there are four major electronic components: transistor, capacitor, diode,
and resistor.
2. Use Figure 2-18 to illustrate the symbols for these components and ground.
3. Describe the three categories of materials used to make the components.
a. Note that a conductor is made from material such as gold or copper that easily
conducts electricity.
b. Note that insulators are made from materials such as glass or ceramic that resists the
flow of electricity.
c. Note that semiconductors are made from materials such as silicon, whose ability to
conduct electricity, when a charge is applied, falls between that of a conductor and
an insulator.
4. Define and describe a transistor.
5. Define and describe a capacitor.
6. Use Figure 2-19 to illustrate a capacitor in a motherboard.
7. Define and describe a diode.
8. Define and describe a resistor.
More information on how circuits work may be found at:
Selecting a Power Supply
1. Define and describe a power supply.
2. Use Figure 2-20 to illustrate a power supply.
3. Remind students that a power supply serves as both a rectifier and transformer to
convert AC house current to DC and to step down voltage from 110 V or 220 V to 3.5,
5, and 12 V.
A+ Guide to Hardware: Managing, Maintaining, and Troubleshooting, Fifth Edition
Types and Characteristics of Power Supplies
1. Describe seven important power supply features.
a. Feature 1: The form factor of a power supply determines the size of the power
supply and the placement of screw holes used to anchor the power supply to the
b. Use Figure 2-21 to illustrate how the holes in the rear of an ATX power supply
match up with holes in the ATX case to anchor the power supply to the case.
c. Feature 2: Consider the type and number of power cables and connectors the unit
d. Use Table 2-4 to illustrate power supply connector types.
e. Use Figure 2-22 to illustrate an inexpensive adapter to convert two Molex cables.
f. Feature 3: A power supply might have a voltage selector switch on the back.
g. Use Figure 2-21 to illustrate a voltage selector switch.
h. Feature 4: Every power supply has a fan inside its case; some have two fans.
i. Feature 5: A power supply might have an on/off switch that controls power to the
j. Use Figures 2-21 to illustrate an on/off switch.
k. Feature 6: A power supply has wattage ratings.
l. Use Figure 2-23 to illustrate wattage capacities listed on the side of a power supply.
m. Feature 7: Consider the warranty of the power supply and the overall quality.
How to Select a Power Supply
1. Describe the items to consider when selecting a power supply.
2. Describe the items to consider when deciding the required wattage capacity needed.
3. Discuss the points to keep in mind when selecting the correct wattage capacity for a
power supply.
4. Use Table 2-5 to illustrate appropriate wattage ratings for common devices with the 30
percent extra already added into the numbers.
More information on PC power supply wattage may be found here:
Protect Yourself and the Equipment Against Electrical Dangers
1. Emphasize that there are physical dangers surrounding personal computer support
2. Note that PC technicians must understand how to protect themselves and others from
such dangers.
A+ Guide to Hardware: Managing, Maintaining, and Troubleshooting, Fifth Edition
3. Note that PC technicians must understand how to protect a computer and other
equipment from damage.
Protect Yourself Against Electrical Shock and Burns
1. Describe how PC technicians can protect themselves against electrical shock when
working with any electrical device.
2. Review conditions or circumstances that can indicate potential danger.
• The power cord is frayed or otherwise damaged in any way.
• Water or other liquid is on the floor around the device or spilled on it.
• The device has been exposed to excess moisture.
• The device has been dropped or you notice physical damage.
• There is a smell a strong electronics odor.
• The power supply or fans are making a whining noise.
• Smoke is coming from the computer case or the case feels unusually warm.
3. Explain why jewelry needs to be removed when working on the inside of computers,
printers, and other electrical devices.
4. Explain the dangers of working on power supplies and CRT monitors if a technician is
5. Note that the power supply and monitor are both considered field replaceable units
Protect the Equipment against Static Electricity or ESD
1. Introduce and describe static electricity.
2. Review the threat posed by static electricity (electrostatic discharge or ESD).
3. Explain the two types of damage ESD can cause in electronic equipment: catastrophic
failure and upset failure.
4. Discuss how ESD can be prevented.
• Ground bracelet (antistatic wrist strap or ESD Bracelet)
• Ground mat
• Static shielding bags
• Antistatic gloves
5. Use Figure 2-24 to Figure 2-27 to illustrate items used to protect against static
6. Explain why if these safety tools are not available, the PC technician should touch the
case before touching components.
A+ Guide to Hardware: Managing, Maintaining, and Troubleshooting, Fifth Edition
7. Point out that when passing a circuit board, memory module, or other sensitive
component to another person, the PC technician should ground himself and then touch
the other person before passing the component.
8. Note that a PC technician should work on hard floors or use antistatic spray on carpets.
9. Point out that ESD is particularly severe in dry and cold climates.
10. Emphasize that the power cord should always be unplugged before working inside a
case. There is a residual charge in the power supply when the cord is plugged in, even if
the power switch is in the off position. The residual charge can damage the computer
and/or cause shock.
Protect Against Electromagnetic Interference
1. Define electromagnetic interference (EMI).
2. Discuss radio frequency interference (RFI) as a type of EMI.
3. Identify and discuss problems caused by EMI, such as crosstalk.
4. Explain how a tuned-down radio can be used to detect EMI.
5. Discuss ways to combat EMI.
• Moving the PC to a new location
• Shielding cables and the power supply
• Using line conditioners
More information on static electricity and computers may be found here:
Surge Protection and Battery Backup
1. Emphasize that uneven current flow can damage the computer in the long-term.
2. Note that some disturbances, such as storms, create power surges that can cause
immediate electrical damage.
3. Emphasize the need to filter AC input.
4. Note that devices that stand between the AC outlet and computer equipment generally
fall into these four categories:
a. Power strips that provide additional outlets without providing any protection from
changes in AC power
b. Surge protectors, which protect equipment against power spikes or surges
c. Line conditions that condition or smooth out the highs and lows in power
A+ Guide to Hardware: Managing, Maintaining, and Troubleshooting, Fifth Edition
d. Uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs) that provide backup power when the AC
5. Mention that only devices that have the UL (Underwriter's Laboratory) logo should be
More information on the UL (Underwriter's Laboratory) may be found at:
6. Introduce and define surge protectors.
a. Explain the importance of using surge suppressors (or protectors) to mitigate the
effects of power spikes.
b. Describe the typical features of a surge suppressor.
c. Discuss how surge protectors work and how they are rated.
7. Emphasize that indicator lights provide critical feedback about whether the surge
suppressor is working properly.
a. Use Figure 2-28 to illustrate surge suppressors that provide an alert when not
8. Review the list of features that surge suppressors should meet.
a. Encourage students to purchase devices meeting these criteria.
9. Introduce and define line conditioners.
a. Review the two tasks a power (or line) conditioner performs: protects a PC from
spikes in power (voltage surges) and regulates voltage during periods of brownouts.
b. Note that during a brownout, voltage is raised to compensate for the power
reduction. The process is reversed when the brownout ends.
c. Mention that power conditioners are rated in watts, volt-amperes (VA), or kilovoltamperes (kVA).
d. Review the formula used to determine the VA required supporting a computer
e. Use Figure 2-29 to illustrate a line conditioner.
10. Introduce and define uninterruptible power supply (UPS).
a. Point out that an uninterruptible power supply provides the services of a surge
protection, power conditioning, and power backup.
b. Describe the three types of UPS: a standby device, an inline device, and a lineinteractive device.
c. Use Figure 2-30 to illustrate an uninterruptible power supply.
d. Introduce and describe a smart (intelligent) UPS noting it is controlled with
e. Review the list of extra features provided by a smart UPS.
f. Specify factors to consider when purchasing a UPS.
A+ Guide to Hardware: Managing, Maintaining, and Troubleshooting, Fifth Edition
More information on the UPSs may be found at: http://www.apc.com
Quick Quiz 2
1. A(n) ____________________ goes back and forth, or oscillates, rather than traveling in
only one direction.
Answer: alternating current (AC)
2. A(n) ____________________ is a device that changes the ratio of current to voltage.
Answer: transformer
3. A(n) ____________________ is an electronic device that can hold an electrical charge
for a period of time and can smooth the uneven flow of electricity through a circuit.
Answer: capacitor
4. True or False: Line conditioners provide full protection against a total blackout
(complete loss of power).
Answer: False
5. True or False: It is beneficial to buy a UPS that always runs at full capacity.
Answer: False
How to Work Inside a Computer Case
1. Introduce the topic of taking a computer apart and putting it back together.
2. Explain why this skill is important.
PC Support Technician Tools
1. Use Figure 2-31 to illustrate essential tools for PC troubleshooting.
2. Provide a list of essential tools.
3. Explain how to store troubleshooting tools.
4. Provide a list of convenient tools.
5. Introduce and describe Post diagnostic cards.
a. Use Figure 2-32 to illustrate a Post Code Master diagnostic card by Microsystems
Developments, Inc.
6. Introduce and describe a power supply tester.
a. Use Figure 2-33 to illustrate a power supply tester.
A+ Guide to Hardware: Managing, Maintaining, and Troubleshooting, Fifth Edition
7. Introduce and describe a multimeter.
a. Use Figure 2-34 to illustrate a multimeter.
Safety Precautions
1. Discuss the important safety precautions that will help keep a PC technician and their
equipment safe as they go through the process of taking a system apart and putting it
back together.
Steps To Take Apart a Computer
1. Emphasize that a PC technician needs to be comfortable with taking apart a computer
and putting it back together.
2. Describe the tools necessary for the job.
a. Ground bracelet, a Phillips-head screwdriver, a flat-head screwdriver, paper, and
3. Encourage students to use a ground bracelet, follow the safety precautions in the
chapter, and the guidelines in the following list.
a. Back up data.
b. Power down the system, unplug it, and press the power button.
c. Put the computer on a table with plenty of room.
d. Open the computer case.
e. Draw a diagram of all cable connections to the motherboard, adapter cards, and
f. Before removing any ribbon cables, look for a red color or stripe down one side of
each cable.
g. Remove the cables to all drives.
h. Remove the expansion cards.
i. Remove the motherboard.
j. Remove the power supply.
k. Remove the drives
4. Use Figure 2-35 through Figure 2-56 to assist in illustrating these tasks.
Steps To Put a Computer Back Together
1. Explain that to reassemble a computer, a technician reverses the process of
a. Install components in the case in this order: power supply, drives, motherboard, and
b. Use Figure 2-57 to illustrate how to align the front of the drive flush with the case
2. Connect all data and power cables.
3. Plug in the keyboard, monitor, and mouse.
A+ Guide to Hardware: Managing, Maintaining, and Troubleshooting, Fifth Edition
4. Turn on the power and check that the PC is working properly.
Troubleshooting the Electrical System
1. Emphasize that electrical problems can occur before or after boot, and can be consistent
or intermittent.
2. List the symptoms that indicate a possible problem with the electrical system.
3. Review the simple steps that may help isolate the cause of the problem.
Problems with External Power
1. Define the term brownout.
2. Explain why devices sharing a circuit with a computer should be checked if a brown out
is suspected.
3. Note that removing one or more devices may increase the voltage and improve the flow
of current into the computer.
4. Remind students that line conditioners may be used to monitor and regulate AC input to
the PC.
Problems with Loose Internal Connections
1. Mention that loose internal connections may cause the computer to appear dead or
2. Explain how to isolate the cause of this problem
a. Remove the case and check all connections from the power supply to the
motherboard and drives.
b. Use Figure 2-58 to illustrate the verification of correct cable connections.
c. Verify that the case front panel is in place before power-on.
Problems that Come and Go
1. Mention that intermittent problems come and go.
2. Review the symptoms that may indicate an intermittent problem with the electrical
system after the boot.
3. Mention that intermittent problems are generally more difficult to solve than a dead
Problems with an Inadequate Power Supply
A+ Guide to Hardware: Managing, Maintaining, and Troubleshooting, Fifth Edition
1. Mention that the power supply may not meet the needs of newly installed devices.
2. Explain how to test for inadequate power feeds.
a. Emphasize that all devices should be made to work at the same time.
3. Discuss how to estimate the total wattage a system needs by calculating watts required
for each device and adding them together.
Problems with a Faulty Power Supply
1. Describe how to test for a faulty power supply.
2. Explain why a power supply that gives correct voltages when measured might still be
the source of problems.
3. Mention that an ATX power supply monitors the range of voltages provided to the
motherboard and halts the motherboard if voltages are inadequate.
4. Point out that if the power supply appears “dead,” it should be replaced.
Problems with the Power Supply Fans
1. Describe simple characteristics of a defective fans noting that they usually hum or
whine before they stop working.
2. Point out that is best to replace the defective fan or entire power supply.
3. Note that if a fan or power supply is replaced, and the fan still does not work, the
problem may be due to a short in another component, such as a drive, the motherboard,
or an expansion card.
4. Describe the steps to troubleshoot a nonfunctional fan.
Problems with Overheating
1. Describe a symptom of overheating.
2. Explain how to verify an overheating problem and correct it.
Power Problems with the Motherboard
1. Emphasize that an improper contact between the motherboard and chassis can cause a
2. Explain how to verify this problem.
A+ Guide to Hardware: Managing, Maintaining, and Troubleshooting, Fifth Edition
Replacing the Power Supply
1. Emphasize that the easiest way to fix a power supply suspected of being faulty is to
replace it.
2. Describe items to consider when selecting a replacement power supply.
3. Describe steps to determine if the power supply really is the problem.
Quick Quiz 3
1. The POST (power-on self test) is a series of tests performed by the startup
____________________ when the computer is first turned on.
Answer: BIOS
2. True or False: A multimeter is used to measure the output of each connector coming
from the power supply.
Answer: False
3. A(n) ____________________ might solve the problem of intermittent errors caused by
noise in the power line to the PC.
Answer: line conditioner
4. A faulty ____________________can cause memory errors, data errors, system hangs,
or reboots; it can damage a motherboard or other components.
Answer: power supply
5. True or False: A power supply is considered a field replaceable unit (FRU).
Answer: True
Class Discussion Topics
1. What are the primary differences between the ATX and BTX form factors?
2. In the event of a lightning storm, should you rely on a surge suppressor to protect your
equipment or should you unplug your computer?
3. If the fan in a power supply is not working, should you address the problem by
immediately replacing the fan or the power supply? What technical knowledge supports
your response?
Additional Projects
A+ Guide to Hardware: Managing, Maintaining, and Troubleshooting, Fifth Edition
1. Search the Internet for a description of how a surge suppressor works. Summarize the
description in 2 to 3 paragraphs. Your response should refer to three types of wires: hot,
ground, and neutral.
2. Identify three ways that Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) improve
the older Advanced Power Management (APM). How do these new features promote
energy conservation? Provide a response in 1 to 2 paragraphs.
Additional Resources
1. Motherboard Form Factors:
2. How Electricity Works:
3. Specifications and Developmental History for Transistors:
4. Surge Protectors:
5. Windows XP: How to Troubleshoot Hardware Problems with Device Manager:
Key Terms
¾ alternating current (AC): Current that cycles back and forth rather than traveling in
only one direction. In the United States, the AC voltage from a standard wall outlet is
normally between 110 and 115 V. In Europe, the standard AC voltage from a wall
outlet is 220 V.
¾ antistatic wrist strap: See ground bracelet.
¾ ampere or amp (A): A unit of measurement for electrical current. One volt across a
resistance of one ohm will produce a flow of one amp.
¾ ATX: The most common form factor for PC systems presently in use, originally
introduced by Intel in 1995. ATX motherboards and cases make better use of space and
resources than did the AT form factor.
¾ ATX12V power supply: A power supply that provides a 12 V power cord with a 2-pin
connector to be used by the auxiliary 2-pin power connector on motherboards used to
provide extra power for processors.
¾ brownouts: Temporary reductions in voltage, which can sometimes cause data loss.
Also called sags.
¾ BTX (Balanced Technology Extended): The latest form factor expected to replace
ATX. It has higher quality fans, is designed for better air flow, and has improved
structural support for the motherboard.
¾ bus riser: Also called a riser card.
A+ Guide to Hardware: Managing, Maintaining, and Troubleshooting, Fifth Edition
¾ capacitor: An electronic device that can maintain an electrical charge for a period of
time and is used to smooth out the flow of electrical current. Capacitors are often found
in computer power supplies.
¾ clamping voltage: The maximum voltage allowed through a surge suppressor, such as
175 or 330 volts.
¾ compact case: A type of case used in low-end desktop systems. Compact cases, also
called low-profile or slim-line cases, follow either the NLX, LPX, or Mini LPX form
factor. They are likely to have fewer drive bays, but they generally still provide for
some expansion.
¾ data line protector: A surge protector designed to work with the telephone line to a
¾ daughter card: A subordinate extension of a motherboard.
¾ desktop case: The initial screen that is displayed when an OS has a GUI interface
¾ diagnostic card: A card that is useful when troubleshooting errors with hardware.
¾ diode: An electronic device that allows electricity to flow in only one direction. Used in
a rectifier circuit.
¾ DIP (dual inline package) switch: On/off switches used on older motherboards to
configure the board.
¾ direct current (DC): Current that travels in only one direction (the type of electricity
provided by batteries). Computer power supplies transform AC to low DC.
¾ electromagnetic interference (EMI): A magnetic field produced as a side effect from
the flow of electricity. EMI can cause corrupted data in data lines that are not properly
¾ electrostatic discharge (ESD): An electrical charge at rest. Also known as static
¾ field replaceable unit (FRU): A component in a computer or device that can be
replaced with a new component without sending the computer or device back to the
manufacturer. Examples: power supply, DIMM, motherboard, floppy disk drive.
¾ FlexATX: A version of the ATX form factor that allows for maximum flexibility in the
size and shape of cases and motherboards. FlexATX is ideal for custom systems.
¾ form factor: A set of specifications on the size, shape, and configuration of a computer
hardware component such as a case, power supply, or motherboard.
¾ ground bracelet: A strap you wear around your wrist. The strap has a cord attached
with an alligator clip on the end. Attach the clip to the computer case you are working
on to prevent static electricity. It is also called an antistatic wrist strap or ESD bracelet.
¾ intelligent UPS: A UPS connected to a computer by way of a USB or serial cable so
that software on the computer can monitor and control the UPS. Also called smart UPS.
¾ inverter: A device that converts DC to AC.
¾ joule: A measure of work or energy. One joule of energy produces one watt of power
for one second.
¾ line conditioner: A device that regulates, or conditions, power, providing continuous
voltage during brownouts and spikes.
¾ line-interactive UPS: A variation of a standby UPS that shortens switching time by
always keeping the inverter that converts AC to DC working, so that there is no chargeup time for the inverter.
¾ low-profile case: Another term for a compact case.
¾ MicroATX: A version of the ATX form factor. MicroATX addresses some new
technologies that were developed after the original introduction of ATX.
A+ Guide to Hardware: Managing, Maintaining, and Troubleshooting, Fifth Edition
¾ Midsize towers: Also called midi-towers or mid-towers, are the most versatile and most
popular tower case.
¾ multimeter: A more general-purpose tool that can measure several characteristics of
electricity in a variety of devices.
¾ NLX: A low-end form factor that is similar to LPX but provides greater support for
current and emerging processor technologies. NLX was designed for flexibility and
efficiency of space.
¾ notebook case: A type of case used for portable notebook computers.
¾ ohm (Ω): The standard unit of measurement for electrical resistance. Resistors are rated
in ohms.
¾ overclocking: Running a processor, motherboard, or video card at a higher frequency
than the manufacturer recommends and is not considered a best practice. It might also
void the warranty of a component.
¾ P1 connector: Power connection on an ATX or BTX motherboard.
¾ POST (power-on self test): A series of tests performed by the startup BIOS when you
first turn on a computer.
¾ power conditioner: A line conditioner that regulates, or conditions, power, providing
continuous voltage during brownouts.
¾ power supply: Also known as a power supply unit (PSU). A box inside a computer
case that supplies power to the motherboard and other installed devices.
¾ power supply tester: Used to measure the output of each connector coming from the
power supply.
¾ radio frequency interference (RFI): EMI in the radio frequency range.
¾ rectifier: An electrical device that converts AC to DC. A PC power supply contains a
¾ resistor: An electronic device that resists or opposes the flow of electricity. A resistor
can be used to reduce the amount of electricity being supplied to an electronic
¾ riser card: A card that plugs into a motherboard and allows for expansion cards to be
mounted parallel to the motherboard. Expansion cards are plugged into slots on the riser
¾ sag: Another term for a brownout.
¾ slimline case: another term for compact case.
¾ smart UPS: Another term for intelligent UPS.
¾ soft power: Another term for a soft switch.
¾ soft switch: A feature on an ATX or BTX system that allows an OS to power down the
system and allows for activity such as a keystroke or network activity to power up the
system. Also called soft power.
¾ spikes: Temporary surges in voltage, which can damage electrical components. Also
called swells.
¾ static electricity: An electrical charge at rest. Also known as electrostatic discharge
¾ surge protector or surge suppressor: A device or power strip designed to protect
electronic equipment from power surges and spikes.
¾ swell: another term for spike.
¾ tower case: The largest type of personal computer case. Tower cases stand vertically
and can be as high as two feet tall. They have more drive bays and are a good choice for
computer users who anticipate making significant upgrades.
A+ Guide to Hardware: Managing, Maintaining, and Troubleshooting, Fifth Edition
¾ transformer: A device that changes the ratio of current to voltage. A computer power
supply is basically a transformer and a rectifier.
¾ transistor: An electronic device that can regulate electricity and act as a logical gate or
switch for an electrical signal.
¾ uninterruptible power supply (UPS): A device designed to provide a backup power
supply during a power failure. Basically, a UPS is a battery backup system with an
ultra-fast sensing device.
¾ volt (V): A measure of potential difference in an electrical circuit. A computer ATX
power supply usually provides five separate voltages: +12 V, -12 V, +5 V, -5 V, and
+3.3 V.
¾ voltage selector switch: A power supply might have a voltage selector switch on the
back. Often, the voltage selector switch on the power supply can be set to 230 V or 115
V. When in the United States, set the switch to 115 V. Be sure to never change the
switch setting until you first turn off and unplug the power supply.
¾ watt (W): The unit used to measure power. A typical computer may use a power supply
that provides 200 W.
Lab Manual for A+ Guide to Managing and Maintaining Your PC, 7th edition
Ch. 2
Chapter 2 Solutions
Lab 2.1
1. Why is it important that your case and motherboard share a compatible form factor?
Answer: It allows the components to fit together and function properly.
2. When might you want to use a slimline form factor?
Answer: You might want to use it when a thinner profile is required, such as a media
center under a TV.
3. What advantages does ATX have over Micro ATX?
Answer: Answers can include more expansion slots and better heat dissipation.
4. Where is the CPU located on the BTX motherboard? Why?
Answer: It is located near the air intake at the front of the case, for better cooling.
5. Is it possible to determine the form factor without opening the case?
Answer: Yes, the form factor can usually be determined by the shape of the case.
Lab 2.2
1. When removing the cover, why should you take care to remove only the screws that
hold the cover on?
Answer: The power supply retention screws are often accessible from the outside of
the case; if they are removed from the power supply, they could damage other
components by falling on them.
2. How should you rock a card to remove it from its slot? Why is it important to know
how to rock a card correctly?
Answer: Rock the card lengthwise. If you rock the wrong way, you could damage the
card or slot.
3. What should you do to help you remember which components connect to which
Answer: Take notes, make a sketch, attach labels, and so forth.
4. What marking on a ribbon cable identifies pin 1?
Answer: A colored stripe on one side of the cable identifies pin 1.
5. What component(s) define(s) the system’s form factor?
Possible answers: The power supply, the backplate, the spacing of the mounts for the
motherboard, and the position of the expansion slots in relation to the CPU
6. What form factor does your PC use?
Answer: The answer is based on the actual system.
7. Why would a PC technician ever have to change out a computer’s motherboard?
Lab Manual for A+ Guide to Managing and Maintaining Your PC, 7th edition
Ch. 2
Answer: The motherboard might need replacing if it becomes damaged, such as when
a trace on the board or a chip is damaged. Also, the board might need replacing when
the CPU is upgraded or additional features are needed. For example, if the system
requires a SCSI controller, the motherboard is upgraded to provide this on-board
Lab 2.3
1. What is the electrical voltage from the house outlet to the power supply?
Answer: It is usually 115V AC.
2. What voltages are supplied by the power supply on your system?
Answer: This answer depends on form factor.
3. What model of multimeter are you using?
Answer: This answer depends on equipment.
4. List the steps to set this multimeter to measure resistance.
Answer: This answer depends on the multimeter.
5. Besides voltage and resistance, what else can your multimeter measure?
Answer: This answer depends on equipment, but most likely will include continuity.
Lab 2.4
1. How is a component, such as a network card, commonly marked for identification?
Answer: It is marked by a sticker or stenciled label.
2. In what sections of a Web site are manuals commonly found?
Answer: Support, Download, and Customer Service
3. In what format are manuals commonly provided?
Answer: .pdf (PDF)
4. What software do you need to view a PDF document?
Answer: A PDF reader such as Adobe Acrobat Reader
5. Why would a PC repair technician need to know the power consumption of a
peripheral component?
Answer: The technician would need to know when the peripheral gets its power from
the power supply and you are attempting to determine whether the power supply is
adequate for the system.
Lab 2.5
1. The estimated wattages for individual components were provided in the lab. How can
you find the actual wattage for each component?
Answer: Look on the component or check the documentation.
2. What is the typical efficiency rating for a power supply?
Lab Manual for A+ Guide to Managing and Maintaining Your PC, 7th edition
Ch. 2
Answer: 60% to 70%
3. Are there any connectors your system needs that the power supply does not have? If
so, what are they?
Answer: Answers may vary.
4. Are there any connectors provided by the power supply that your system is not
using? If so, what are they?
Answer: Answers may vary.
5. Why is it important to buy a power supply that is close to the requirements for your
system instead of buying a higher wattage power supply?
Answer: Excess energy is wasted as heat.
Lab 2.6
How many connectors linked your original power supply to the motherboard?
Answer: Results will vary depending on equipment used.
How many watts of peak power could the original power supply provide?
Answer: Results will vary depending on equipment used.
Why is it important to be able to calculate the peak power required for all
Answer: To avoid drawing more power than the power supply can produce.
What are two reasons that PC technicians don’t usually repair a power supply?
Answer: The electricity inside a power supply can be dangerous and it’s
generally not worth the time to fix a field replaceable unit.
What term is used to refer to components that are commonly replaced but not
Answer: Field Replaceable Unit (FRU)
What is the most efficient way to determine whether your power supply is bad?
Answer: Use a multimeter to measure the voltage being produced.
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