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HARDWARE GUIDES

An Introduction to Accurate Voltage Measurements
By: Barzan "Tony" Antal
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    2007-12-04

    Table of Contents:
  • An Introduction to Accurate Voltage Measurements
  • BIOS
  • Everlasting Vdroop Dilemma
  • Measuring PSU Rails

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    An Introduction to Accurate Voltage Measurements


    (Page 1 of 4 )

    It seems like measuring voltages accurately is one of the most requested topics in computer hardware forums. This article is part one of a two part series examining the crucial importance of taking the time to manually measure the voltages yourself. If this topic is of interest to you, read on for a complete discussion and guide.

    Since computers are like any other electric equipment they draw energy from the power plug (or batteries). We all know that’s their primary source of power. Therefore, monitoring accurately the way your precious computer is being fed is quite understandable, if you approach the situation from this perspective.

    This scenario is the same for temperatures. Despite the automatic throttling and overheating protections, it is still advisable to manually check the temperatures at which your computer runs, or at least find out how high it goes. However, I’ve covered this topic thoroughly in my “Measuring Temperatures with Thermal Probes and External Sensors” article. I’d advise skimming it before moving on with this series.

    In this two-part article series I am going to focus mostly on voltages. We’re going to discuss manually measuring the voltages yourself with the help of a multimeter (DMM—digital multimeter or VOM—analog volt-ohm-meter). Of course, amperage and other electrical factors shouldn’t be neglected either. But our emphasis is going to lie on accurate voltage monitoring.



    You might think that you know everything that you need to know. There are dozens of do-it-yourself guides and tutorials reachable through the World Wide Web on this topic. However, almost all of them neglect the actual measurement of the Vcore (CPU core voltage also known as VCC). I find these guides considerably incomplete. Additionally, I was unlucky enough to find a few unreliable sources of information too.

    I welcome you to join me on this journey. Throughout this two-segment series I want to explain why we shouldn’t rely on internal software and BIOS voltage monitoring, discuss the possible causes for their inaccurate reports, and ultimately share, in an understandable and clear way, a few of the correct workarounds to actually measure the voltages effectively and accurately — do it like the pros.

    Considering the nature of this article we can’t move on without a disclaimer:

    All of the described techniques within this article involve direct contact with electricity; therefore, you should think twice and be totally prepared before actually attempting to try what you’ve learned. This article is solely for educational purposes and nobody other than you can be held responsible for anything. The potential damages involved are high, so please act consciously.

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