As was foretold, we've added advertisements to the forums! If you have questions, or if you encounter any bugs, please visit this thread: https://forums.penny-arcade.com/discussion/240191/forum-advertisement-faq-and-reports-thread/

What should I look for in a UPS to protect my system from outages and surges?

TetraNitroCubaneTetraNitroCubane The DjinneratorAt the bottom of a bottleRegistered User regular
Lately my computer has been subject to numerous power outages due to unstable power in the area. It has started to cause damage to my GPU and has had other impacts on file integrity (the drivers for my GPU were shot after powering back up). I'd like to purchase a UPS to protect my system, but I don't know the first thing about what to look for in such a purchase.

In terms of power draw, my system is currently running:

i7-3930K at stock
Corsair H100i cooler
Corsair HX 850W PSU
GTX 680
1 SSD
1 HDD
Cooler Master HAF X Case (with assorted fans)

I'd want to put all of that, plus 1 LCD monitor, a router, and my cable modem on the UPS, in terms of power draw.

Any help in the process of selecting an appropriate UPS for protection of the system would be much appreciated. What specifications should I look for? What are the most critical features? How can I ensure that it's going to play nice with my PSU (I've heard that some PSUs are incompatible with some UPS models)? I'm not looking to run the thing for very long in the event of an outage, just to ensure proper shut down and protect against surges. Thanks.

Posts

  • nexuscrawlernexuscrawler Registered User regular
    edited February 2014
    I'd have to look up exact brand but also look for something with voltage regulation built-in too. A UPC will keep you up if the power goes down but a regulator will protect your system from spikes and drops in voltage that are common in places with poor power. that stuff can really fuck up electronics.

    also you have a very hefty PSU make sure whatever one you get have an output wattage that matches or exceeds it.

    nexuscrawler on
  • Jebus314Jebus314 Registered User regular
    edited February 2014
    How long are your power outages? Unless you are looking to drop $$$ you are only going to get a minute or two out of your UPS. Typically you just want enough time to shut everything down properly. Unless the power is just blinking on and off.

    The typical selling point for a UPS is the max power (watts and volt-amps) and the battery life. So you will see something like 400 watts, 600 volt-amps, and 5 minutes at max power. I have no idea what volt-amps actually means. It has something to do with the fact that when the circuitry gets complex you can have electricity flowing around but not doing any work. Like charging a capacitor and then having the capacitor send all of the energy back. Long story short most UPS are designed with PCs in mind so the VA tends to take care of itself and you can just focus on watts and time at max power.

    The first thing to do is go to a power calculator for PCs put in all your parts and then add the wattage that it gives you to whatever the power draw is for your monitor (plus anything else you are hooking up). That will tell you the wattage you need. Even better if you have something like the killawatt that you can plug in and measure the total wattage directly (if you are measuring, try and run everything maxed out to see what your max load would be). Then you are off to find a UPS with probably around 20-30% more than what you measured/calculated.

    Time at max load is basically an indication of how big the batteries are compared to how much the UPS can output. For shutting down you probably want a minute or two at full load. That should be enough to cover the worst case scenario of having the power cut out right in the middle of you running prime95 and furmark tests. You get about a minute at full load to exit those programs, and then a few minutes at reduced power to safely shutdown.

    The other things that get tossed around are pure sine waves and switchover time. Supposedly some modern PSUs have trouble with the shitty triangle shaped sinewave that lots of UPS deliver when running off of battery power. The internet abounds with people claiming both yes and no on this, but if you're worried about it get a UPS that specifically says something about pure sine waves. Also, when power outages strike it takes a certain amount of time for the UPS to recognize it and switch over to battery power: this is called the switchover time. PSUs can only run for a small amount of time without power: this is called the holdup time. Obviously for the UPS to work the switchover time must be less than the hold up time. As far as I know every UPS meant for PCs has a fast enough switchover time that this isn't an issue. But again, if you're worried it probably isn't that hard to find the specs for you PSU and the UPS you are thinking of buying.

    I don't know a lot about brands but I think APC used to be the gold standard, and CyperPower seems to be the most popular these days.

    Jebus314 on
    "The world is a mess, and I just need to rule it" - Dr Horrible
  • TetraNitroCubaneTetraNitroCubane The Djinnerator At the bottom of a bottleRegistered User regular
    Thanks for the info, guys. I've been looking into UPS systems for a few days now, and it sadly seems like the ones rated for enough wattage to cover my system are pretty damned expensive. But then again, I gather that a few hundred bucks on a UPS is better than the repair and replacement costs to the actual hardware it'll be protecting.

    My PSU is in fact one of the modern ones that have difficulty (supposedly?) with the stepped or simulated sine wave UPS systems, so I've been looking at the pure sine wave varieties as well. I'm not terribly interested in pushing the thing once the power goes down, so I'm not looking for hours of runtime - just enough to prevent damage. The thing is, some amazon reviews/newegg reviews actually state that using the UPS in question caused damage to their HDDs, by shutting down their systems unexpectedly. So now I just have no idea what to think about compatibility!

  • SkeithSkeith Registered User regular
    What's been causing your outages? Weather? Because you might not have any recourse but to leave the thing unplugged if things get bad.

    aTBDrQE.jpg
  • Jebus314Jebus314 Registered User regular
    Thanks for the info, guys. I've been looking into UPS systems for a few days now, and it sadly seems like the ones rated for enough wattage to cover my system are pretty damned expensive. But then again, I gather that a few hundred bucks on a UPS is better than the repair and replacement costs to the actual hardware it'll be protecting.

    My PSU is in fact one of the modern ones that have difficulty (supposedly?) with the stepped or simulated sine wave UPS systems, so I've been looking at the pure sine wave varieties as well. I'm not terribly interested in pushing the thing once the power goes down, so I'm not looking for hours of runtime - just enough to prevent damage. The thing is, some amazon reviews/newegg reviews actually state that using the UPS in question caused damage to their HDDs, by shutting down their systems unexpectedly. So now I just have no idea what to think about compatibility!

    I would be highly skeptical of this. It's obviously possible that any UPS malfunctions, just as it's possible for any electronics to malfunction, but a properly working UPS shouldn't be having any effect on the incoming signal so long as it's within the acceptable limits (which are probably adjustable depending on your UPS). I guess if you had one that was always online (meaning it's always going AC -> DC -> AC, so that it can clean up the incoming AC signal), and you also had problems with the stepped output AC signal messing with your PSU, but this seems highly unlikely. My guess is that there is some other problem that is getting blamed on the UPS, or the UPS is broken and should have been returned.
    Skeith wrote: »
    What's been causing your outages? Weather? Because you might not have any recourse but to leave the thing unplugged if things get bad.

    I don't see why you would ever need to leave it unplugged. The UPS is there to protect against any surges or dropouts, and should work fine no matter what the cause. Barring extremes like your electrical system being struck by lightning or something.

    "The world is a mess, and I just need to rule it" - Dr Horrible
  • TetraNitroCubaneTetraNitroCubane The Djinnerator At the bottom of a bottleRegistered User regular
    Skeith wrote: »
    What's been causing your outages? Weather? Because you might not have any recourse but to leave the thing unplugged if things get bad.

    The outages seem sporadic and unpredictable, and also are happening often. I'm not entirely sure what's causing them, but I think weather probably isn't a deciding factor.

    In any event, regardless of the source of the outage, I'm concerned with the suddenness of an outage causing damage, more than the possible surge afterward. I've had a number of times where my system was powered off due to an outage in the middle of a rather CPU/GPU intensive game, and in those instances my video drivers got corrupted as a result. I don't want to risk hardware damage or further corruption from something similar.

    I'm also sort of hoping for power 'conditioning' as it were. The wiring in my apartment complex leaves something to be desired (you can see the lights dim when the fridge kicks on, for example).
    Jebus314 wrote: »
    I would be highly skeptical of this. It's obviously possible that any UPS malfunctions, just as it's possible for any electronics to malfunction, but a properly working UPS shouldn't be having any effect on the incoming signal so long as it's within the acceptable limits (which are probably adjustable depending on your UPS). I guess if you had one that was always online (meaning it's always going AC -> DC -> AC, so that it can clean up the incoming AC signal), and you also had problems with the stepped output AC signal messing with your PSU, but this seems highly unlikely. My guess is that there is some other problem that is getting blamed on the UPS, or the UPS is broken and should have been returned.

    Looking at the reviews in question, perhaps you're right. The only explanation offered was "After only 1 week online, the battery connection caused a shut down that caused HD corruption", for the model I'm interested in. I gather that's more of an outlier issue that certainly shouldn't happen in normal operation. I'm just wondering if my PSU would be compatible with the UPS, or if certain combinations just don't play nice.

    For the record, my current thoughts are this UPS. And I'm running this PSU.

Sign In or Register to comment.