Introduction to Computer Network Adapters

A network adapter allows an electronic device to interface with a local computer network.

Types of Network Adapters

A network adapter is a unit of computer hardware. Several types of hardware adapters exist:

  • Many new computers contain integrated (built in) wireless network adapter chips
  • A USB network adapter plugs into a standard USB port to enable computer network connections (typically Wi-Fi or Ethernet)
  • A wireless game adapter (sometimes called a “media adapter”) connects to an Xbox or Playstation game console or other home entertainment product, providing a bridge to Wi-Fi wireless capability.
  • On older PCs,a PCI adapter (often called a NIC) was a type of add-in card installed inside a desktop personal computer. A variant PCI adapter called “PC Card” (also known as PCMCIA cards) inserted into the side of a notebook computer to provide similar capability.

Adapters are a required component to include when building a network. Every common adapter supports either Wi-Fi (wireless) or Ethernet (wired) standards. Special-purpose adapters that support very specialized network protocols also exist, but these are not found in homes or most business networks.

Determine Whether a Network Adapter Is Present

Newer computers often include a network adapter when sold. Determine whether a computer already possesses a network adapter as follows:

  • In desktop computers. look for an RJ-45 jack on the back of the computer. The RJ-45 jack appears similar to a phone line jack but is slightly larger.
  • In notebook computers, look for a thin, removable metal device roughly the size of credit card, but thicker.
  • For notebook computers running Windows that may contain integrated adapter chips, open the Windows Device Manager. Device Manager can be accessed from the Hardware tab of the System Properties section of Windows Control Panel
  • In any type of computing device, look for a small external device with LED lights connected to a USB port

Purchasing a Network Adapter

A network adapter can be purchased separately from most manufacturers that supply routers and other forms of networking equipment. When purchasing a network adapter, some prefer to choose the brand of adapter that matches their router. To accommodate this, manufacturers sometimes sell one or two network adapters together with a router in a bundle called a home network kit. Technically, however, network adapters all offer very similar functionality according to the Ethernet or Wi-Fi standard they support.

Installing a Network Adapter

Installing any network adapter hardware involves two steps:

  1. Connecting the adapter hardware to the computer
  2. Installing any required software associated with the adapter

For PCI adapters, first power down the computer and unplug its power cord before proceeding with the installation. A PCI adapter is a card that fits into a long, narrow slot inside the computer. The computer’s case must be opened and the card firmly inserted into this slot.

Other types of network adapter devices can be attached while a computer is running normally.

Modern computer operating systems automatically detect newly connected hardware and complete the basic software installation required.

Some network adapters, however, additionally require custom software installation. Such an adapter will often be accompanied by a CD-ROM containing the installation media. Alternatively, the necessary software can be downloaded for free from the manufacturer’s Web site.

Software installed with a network adapter includes a device driver that allows the operating system to communicate with the hardware. In addition, a software management utility may also be supplied that provides a user interface for advanced configuration and troubleshooting of the hardware.

These utilities are most commonly associated with Wi-Fi wireless network adapters.

Network adapters can normally be disabled through their software. Disabling an adapter provides a convenient alternative to installing and uninstalling it. Wireless network adapters are best disabled when not in use, for security reasons.

Virtual Network Adapters

Certain types of network adapters have no hardware component but rather consist of software only. These are often called virtual adapters in contrast to a physical adapter. Virtual adapters are commonly found in virtual private networks (VPNs). A virtual adapter may also be used with research computers or IT servers that run virtual machine technology.

Summary

The network adapter is an essential component in both wired and wireless computer networking. Adapters interface a computing device (including computers, print servers, and game consoles) to the communication network. Most network adapters are small pieces of physical hardware, although software-only virtual adapters also exist. Sometimes a network adapter must be purchased separately, but often the adapter is built into a computing device, especially newer devices. Installing a network adapter is not difficult and often is a simple “plug and play” feature of the computer operating system.

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PC Power Supply Buyer’s Guide

How to Make Sure You Get the Right Type of PSU to Match Your Needs

Power supply units (PSUs) are often overlooked when building a desktop computer system. A poor quality power supply can greatly reduce the life span of a good system or cause instability. A high quality one can also help reduce the noise or heat generated within a computer system. Whether you are buying one for a new computer or replacing a old unit, here are some tips for purchasing a desktop PC power supply.

Avoid Power Supplies Under $30

Most power supplies that are priced below $30 generally do not meet the power requirements of the latest processors. To make matters worse, the components used in them are of inferior quality and more likely to fail over time. While they may power the computer system, inconsistencies in the power to the components will tend to cause instability and damage to the computer over time. Because of this, I generally do not recommend they extremely low cost power supplies.

ATX12V Compliant

Developments in processors, the PCI Express bus and graphics cards have all increased the amount of power required to operate them. To help provide this extra power, the ATX12V standard was developed. The problem is that it has been revised over time with various different power supply connectors to meet the necessary specifications. Make sure that it comes with the proper main power leads that you need for your motherboard.

One way you can tell whether a power supplies is compliant with your computer components is to check the type of power connectors are supplied to the motherboard. If it is missing one of the connectors your motherboard needs, it probably does not support the proper ATX12V standard.

Knowing the Wattage Ratings

Wattage ratings on power supplies can be deceptive as this is the total combined wattage of all the voltage lines and generally under peak rather than sustained loads. With the increased demands by components, the total required output particularly for the +12V line has become increasingly important especially for those that are using dedicated graphics cards. Ideally a power supply should have at least 18A on the +12V line(s). The actual load you need will vary depending upon your components. If you are not planning on using a graphics card, a 300 Watt power supply is probably sufficient but if you are running one or more graphics cards, be sure to check out the manufacturer’s recommended PSU wattage.

Having the Right Type and Number of Connectors

There are a variety of different power connectors that come off a power supply. Some of the different connectors include 20/24-pin power, 4-pin ATX12V, 4-pin Molex, floppy, SATA, 6-pin PCI-Express graphics and 8-pin PCI-Express graphics. Take stock of what power connectors your PC components require to ensure you get a power supply with the appropriate connectors. Even if it might lack some connectors off the power supply, check what cable adapters the power supply may include to mitigate the problem.

One other thing to consider is modular cables. Higher wattage power supplies tend to have a large number of cables running off of them. If you have limited space within your case, this may cause issues as you have to bundle the cables up. A modular power supply offers power cables that can be attached only if you need them. This helps reduce cable clutter which can restrict airflow and make it difficult to work within a computer.

Physical Size

Most people don’t give much consideration to the actual size of the power supply. After all, are they not all a standard size? While they are general guidelines for the size of the units, they actually can vary a good deal and make it difficult to git within your computer case.

For instance, higher wattage power supplies tend to be a bit longer to hold the additional power components they need. This may cause issues with cable routing or even fitting in other internal components. Finally, if you are using a small form factor case, it may require a specialized power supply such as SFX rather than ATX.

Low or No Noise

Power supplies generate a lot of noise from fans used to keep them from overheating. If you don’t want a lot of noise, there are a number of options available. The best choice is for a unit that either uses larger fans that move more air through the unit at slower speeds or to get one with temperature controlled fans. Another option is fanless or silent power supplies that generate no noise but these do have their own drawbacks.

Power Efficiency

Power supplies convert voltages from wall outlets to lower levels used by the PC. During this conversion, some power is lost as heat. The efficiency level of the PC determines how much extra power must be put into the power supply to run the PC. By getting a more efficient power supply, you end up saving money through the use of less overall electricity. Look for a unit that has the 80Plus logo showing that it has passed certification. Just be warned that some of the highest efficiency power supplies may cost so much more that the power savings does not match their increased cost.

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Computer Power Supply Wattage

Pretty much every power supply on the market for a desktop PC computer is advertised solely on its wattage. Unfortunately, this is a simplistic view of a very complex issue. The power supply is there to convert the high voltage from the wall outlet into the lower voltages required to operate the computer circuitry. If this is not done properly, the irregular power signals that are sent to the components can cause damage and system instability.

Because of this, it is important to make sure you buy a power supply that meets the needs of your computer system.

Peak vs. Maximum Wattage Output

This is the first real big gotcha when it comes to looking at power supply specifications. The peak output rating is the highest amount of power the unit can supply but this is only for a very brief time. Units cannot continuously supply power at this level and if it attempts to do so will cause damage. You want to find the maximum continuous wattage rating of the power supply. This is the highest amount that the unit can supply stably to the components. Even with this, you want to make sure the maximum wattage rating is higher than you intend to use.

Another thing to be aware of with the wattage output has to do with how it is calculated. There are three primary voltage rails inside of the power supply: +3.3V, +5V and +12V. Each of these supplies power to the various components of the computer system.

It is the combined total power output of all these lines that make up the total power output of the power supply. The formula used to do this is:

  • Ÿ Wattage = Voltage * Amperage

So, if you look at a power supply label and it shows that the +12V line supplies 18A of power, that voltage rail can supply a maximum of 216W of power.

This may be only a small fraction of say the 450W the power supply is rated at. The maximum output of the +5V and +3.3V rails would then be calculated and added to the overall wattage rating.

+12V Rail

The most important voltage rail in a power supply is the +12V rail. This voltage rail supplies power to the most demanding components including the processor, drives, cooling fans and graphics cards. All of these items draw a lot of current and as a result you want to make sure that you purchase a unit that supplies enough power to the +12V rail.

With the increasing demands on the 12V lines, many new power supplies have multiple 12V rails that will be listed as +12V1, +12V2 and +12V3 depending on if it has two or three rails. When calculating the amps for the +12V line, it is necessary to look at the total amps produces from all of the 12V rails. Often times there might be a footnote that the combine maximum wattage will be less than the total rating of the rails. Just reverse the above formula to get the maximum combined amps.

  • Ÿ Amperage = Wattage / Voltage

With this information about the +12V rails, one can use it against a general power usage based on the system of the system. Here are the recommendations for the minimum combined 12V rail amperages (and their relative PSU wattage rating) for various size computer systems:

  • Ÿ Small Form Factor – 15A (250W)
  • Ÿ Mini-Tower – 25A (300-350W)
  • Ÿ Mid-Tower – 35A (400-500W)
  • Ÿ Full Tower – 40A (600-650W)
  • Ÿ Dual Video Card (SLI) – 50A (750W+)

Remember that these are only a recommendation. If you have specific power hungry components, check the power supply requirements with the manufacturer. Many high end graphics cards can pull near 200W on their own under full load. Running two of the cards can easily require a power supply that can sustain at least 750W or more of total power output.

Can My Computer Handle This?

I frequently get questions from people who are looking to upgrade their graphics card in their desktop computer system.

Many high-end graphics cards have very specific requirements for power in order to operate properly. Thankfully this has improved with manufacturers now listing some information. Most will just list the recommended total wattage of the power supply but the best is when they list the minimum number of amps required on the 12V line. Previously they never published any power supply requirements.

Now, in terms of most desktop computers, the companies generally do not list the PC’s power supply ratings in their specifications. Typically the user will have to open up the case and look for the power supply label to determine what exactly the system can support. Unfortunately, most desktop PCs will come with fairly low power supplies as cost savings measures. A typical desktop PC that didn’t come with a dedicated graphics card will usually have between a 300 to 350W unit with around 15 to 22A rating. This will be fine for some budget graphics cards, but many of the budget graphics cards have been increasing in their power demands where they won’t work.

Conclusions

Remember that everything we have been talking about involves the maximum limits of the computer power supply. Probably 99% of the time a computer is being used, it is not being used to its maximum potential and as a result will draw much less power than the maximums. The important thing is that the computer power supply needs to have enough headroom for those times that the system is being taxed heavily. Examples of such times are playing graphic intensive 3D games or doing video transcoding.

These things heavily tax the components and need additional power.

As a case in point, I put a power usage meter between the power supply and the wall outlet on my computer as a test. During average computing, my system was pulling no more than 240W of power. This is well below the rating of my power supply. However, if I then play a 3D game for several hours, the power usage peaks upwards to around 400W of total power. Does this mean that a 400W power supply would be sufficient? Probably not as I have a large number of items that draw heavily on the 12V rail such that a 400W could have voltage problems which would result in system instability.

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International Power Adapters: What You Need to Know

If you’re planning on traveling internationally, finding a power adapter should be as simple as looking up the plug standard for your destination, buying an adapter, and packing your suitcase.

However, if you need more than just a plug adapter, you could accidentally ruin your hair dryer.

First, let’s explore why we have so many different plugs and standards across countries and then let’s look at how to check your label and reduce the risk of accidentally buying the wrong adapter or forgetting a necessary converter.

There are a few key variations in standards between countries (or sometimes even within a country):

  • Ÿ Current
  • Ÿ Voltage
  • Ÿ Frequency
  • Ÿ Outlet and Plug shape

Current

The two main standards for current are AC and DC or Alternating Current and Direct Current. In the US, we developed a standard during the famous war between Tesla and Edison. Edison favored DC, and Tesla AC. The big advantage to AC is that it was capable of traveling greater distances between power stations, and in the end, it was the standard that won out in the USA.

However, not all countries adopted AC. Neither did all yoru devices. Batteries and the internal workings of many electronics also use DC power. In the case of laptops, the large external power brick is actually converting AC power to DC.

Voltage

Voltage is the force with which electricity travels. It’s often described using a water pressure analogy. Although there are several standards, the most common voltage standards for travelers are 110/120V (USA) and 220/240V (most of Europe).

If your electronics are only meant to handle 110V of force, having 220V shooting through them could be catastrophic.

Frequency

Frequency for AC power is how often the current alternates each second. In most cases, the standards are 60Hz (America) and 50Hz everywhere that values the metric system. In most cases, this isn’t going to make a difference in performance, but it can occasionally cause problems with devices that use timers.

Outlet and Plug Shapes: A, B, C, or D?

Although there are a lot of different plug shapes, most travel adapters settle for the four most common. The International Trade Administration breaks these down into alphabetical shapes (A, B, C, D and so on) so you can check to see if you need something beyond the usual four for your travels.

Can You Just Use a Power Plug Adapter?

Is that all you would need? You can buy USB adapters and use your USB C cord with a USB A plug. It seems like the same concept should apply.

For many devices, it is that simple. Look at the back of your device where you find the UL listing and other information about your device. In the case of laptops, you’ll locate the information on your power adapter.

The UL listing will tell you the frequency, current, and voltage that your device can handle. If you’re traveling to a country compatible with those standards, you just need to find the right shape of plug.

Devices generally come in three types: those that only comply with one standard, dual mode devices that comply with two standards (switching between 110V and 220V), and those compatible with a wide range of standards. You may need to flip a switch or move a slider in order to convert devices with dual modes.

Do You Need an Adapter or Converter?

Now, should you want to travel with a single voltage device to a country with different voltage, you’ll need a voltage converter. If you travel someplace from a lower voltage (USA) to a higher voltage (Germany), it will be a step-up converter, and if you travel in the opposite direction, it will be a step-down converter. This is the only time you should use a converter, and remember that you don’t need to use them with your laptop. In fact, you might damage your laptop if you do.

In rare cases, you may also need an AC converter to convert DC power to AC or vice versa, but again, your laptop uses DC power already, so do not use a third-party converter with it.

Check with the company that made your laptop to see what you need. If necessary, you may also be able to buy a compatible power adapter in your destination country.

Hotels

It should be noted that many international hotels have built-in wiring for their guests that don’t require any special adapters or converters to use. Ask before your trip to see what your accommodations offer.

What About Tablets, Phones, and Other USB-Charging Devices?

The good news about USB-charging devices is that you don’t need a plug adapter. In fact, using one would probably ruin your charger. You just need to buy a compatible charger. USB is standardized. Your charger is doing all the work to convert the voltage to the USB charging standard to power your phone.

In fact, USB may be our best hope for standardizing our power charging for the future, between that and wireless charging systems, we may be moving toward the next “electric plug” solution for our international travel.

Although the USB standard has changed over time 1.1 to 2.0 to 3.0 and 3.1, it has done so in a thoughtful way that offers legacy compatibility. You can still plug your USB 2.0 powered device into a USB 3.0 port and charge it. You just don’t see the bandwidth and speed advantages when you do. It’s also easier to replace and upgrade USB ports over time than it is to rewire homes for new electrical standards.

Why do Countries Have Different Shaped Power Outlets?

After a system of power transmission was established (AC vs DC), homes were wired for electricity, but there was no such thing as a power outlet. There wasn’t a good way to patch something into the network temporarily. Devices were wired into the home’s electrical network directly. We still do this with some appliances, like light fixtures and oven hoods, but at the time, it meant there was no such thing as a portable electronic device.

As countries built out electrical systems, there wasn’t need to think about compatibility. It was a wonder that power even standardized between cities and states within a single country. (Actually, that didn’t always happen within countries. Brazil still has incompatible systems within portions of the country according to the International Trade Administration.)

That also meant different countries settled around different voltages and frequencies as power plants were built. Tesla recommended 60 Hz in the US, while Europeans went with the more metrically-compatible 50 Hz. The US went to 120 volts, while Germany settled on 240/400, a standard later adopted by other Europeans.

Now that countries were establishing their standards for transmitting power and houses were getting wired to receive it, an American inventor named Harvey Hubbell II came up with the idea to let people plug their devices into light sockets. You can still buy power adapters you can plug into light sockets today. Hubbell eventually improved the concept to create what we now know of as the American outlet plug with two prongs.

A few years later, someone else upgraded the two prong plug to add a third, grounding prong, which makes the socket a little safer and less likely to shock you when you plug things into it. American outlets also grew two different sized prongs to keep people from accidentally plugging them in the wrong way.

Meanwhile, other countries began developing outlets and plugs without considering compatibility, although it was the outlet that made portable electronics possible. It was just a matter of which standard gained traction in each location. Most country systems also adapted a system that made it only possible to plug your devices in one way, whether it was by making the plugs different shapes, making three of them, or putting them at different angles.

Apple MC556LL/A Laptop AC Adapter Review

The Apple 85W MagSafe Power Adapter is the highest wattage available in this line of Apple MacBook AC adapters. It is designed for use with any 15 or 17 inch MacBook Pro models.

These MagSafe Apple laptop AC adapters bear the companies landmark magnetic design. Rather than plugging into a jack on your MacBook, these adapters instead latch onto your machine via a magnetic connection. Aside from giving your machine a very cool design factor, this is actually a very functional design. First, this design is as efficient as any DC jack connection. However, this magnetic connection is much faster, easier, and more convenient to attach and remove. Also, it doesn’t require any more parts on your machine, which means there’s less to break or require repair.

This is actually a safety feature of the machine as well. A common source of damage to both typical laptop AC adapters and DC jacks is caused when someone trips over or hits the cord connecting the adapter to the machine. In a DC jack connection, this connection is rigid, and the force can bend pins or jacks, or cause stress on the cord and connections themselves, which can damage or outright break your components. With this magnetic connection, the cord simply falls away, with no damage to either component, and even without any kind of accident, a much longer lifespan for your adapter.

Just like Apple’s innovative laptop batteries, these adapters also bear an LED light indicator indicating to you the status of its charging or running state. An amber light indicates your battery is charging, while a green light tells you your battery is fully charged. These adapters are designed with a unique shape as well, meant for the cord to wrap neatly and securely around its own cube designed plug, for convenient storage and portability.

Why Does AC Adapter Polarity Matter?

The AC adapter is an important component of any laptop. Without it, it would not be possible to recharge the laptop’s battery, which is essential for portability. The AC adapter also makes it possible to use the laptop without draining battery life, helping extend battery life on long days. Laptop AC adapters are not all created the same, however, and one of the distinguishing characteristics of different AC adapter designs is their polarity.

The polarity of an AC adapter refers to the way that power flows through the cable and into the laptop itself. The power coming from a wall outlet is what is known as alternating current (or AC power), but the power needed by the laptop is known as direct current (or DC power). The AC adapter converts the AC power into DC power at the correct voltage for the laptop.

The polarity of the adapter happens in the connector that is inserted into the laptop directly. The connector is comprised of a tip and a barrel. The tip is essentially the hole in the middle of the connector and the barrel is the larger area surrounding this hole. Power can only flow in one direction, either from the tip to the barrel or from the barrel to the tip. This is what is meant by polarity.

An adapter with a positive polarity means that its tip is positive and its barrel is negative. An adapter with a negative polarity means that its tip is negative and its barrel is positive. There is no standard design, so adapters and devices are often marked with a symbol to show their polarity. The side connected to the center dot is the tip, and the side connected to the symbol shaped like a C is the barrel.

It is important not to plug an adapter with the wrong polarity into a device. It will not supply power, and in some cases can cause damage to the device or the adapter. Visit Spareparts Warehouse to find a compatible adapter for your laptop, or view specific sections, such as Sony Laptop AC Adapters and Toshiba Laptop AC Adapters to find adapters specific to your laptop’s manufacturer.

Toshiba Laptop Memory Replacement

When looking at upgrade options for a Toshiba laptop, you will find that upgrading the laptop memory is likely to have the greatest impact on the overall performance. Programs store their data in RAM when they are running. If multiple programs are open at once and the laptop runs out of free memory, it must begin using the hard drive to store and retrieve the extra data. Since hard drives are much slower than RAM, this results in slower performance. Upgrading memory allows users to run more programs with fewer slowdowns and speed up operating system load time.

Replacing your Toshiba laptop memory is one of the simplest upgrades to make. The basic steps are as follows:

  1. Disconnect the AC adapter and remove the battery to ensure no power is going to the laptop. This reduces any risk of electric shock when disassembling the machine. The battery is most often removed by sliding the battery slider and removing the battery.
  2. Locate the memory access panel on the bottom of the machine. It is usually marked with an icon that resembles a memory stick. In some cases it may be located behind the battery. If you have trouble locating this panel, consult your manual or a service manual for the exact location.
  3. Remove any screws securing the memory access panel in place and remove it.
  4. Gently release the two fingers holding the memory stick on each side and it should swing upwards. Carefully pull it out of the slot. Repeat for the second stick if there is one.
  5. Place the new memory stick in the lower slot and snap it down into place. Repeat for the upper memory stick if there is one.
  6. Replace the memory access panel and screws.
  7. Replace the battery and reconnect the AC adapter. Boot up the computer and test that the full amount of memory is recognized by the computer.

At this point, if the memory is recognized and the laptop is working properly, you are finished. If you are having trouble you may want to check that you selected the proper memory module for your machine, or the possibility that the memory is not seated completely in the slot.

Laptop Parts and Symptoms

One of the most common issues with laptop batteries is overheating. Not that the batteries are designed poorly or improperly but due to, in most cases, user wear and tear. While the laptop is using the AC adapter for power the battery acts as a backup in case of a loss of power or accidental unplugging. During this AC power use the battery becomes hotter than it would if being used independently. To lessen the chances of this overheating, which leads to a shorter life expectancy of the battery, keep the AC power adapter plugged in only if you need to charge the battery while using the device.

If the battery is consistently hot to the touch, remove it and allow it to cool down making sure it is close to room temperature before reinserting it. Should the battery continue to overheat or get too hot it will probably need to be replaced. Always replace a defective battery as soon as possible as it could cause irreparable damage to the laptop in question. In addition to overheating, failure to charge or hold a charge is another very common issue with laptop batteries.

First check to see if the AC adapter is securely plugged into the device; the tightness of the connection will vary from laptop to laptop but it should be held in place well. To check for a good connection look for the battery charging LED if one is present on your laptop.

If it is not on wiggle the cord to see if the connection makes and breaks contact. If you notice a flickering LED light then the solution is a new adapter which is far better than needed to purchase a new battery or a new DC power jack which can be repaired by a common user with a little instruction and help.

Issues with third-party batteries and Sony laptops

Sony laptops are arguably some of the best Windows laptops available, but there are a few issues that many users won’t appreciate. One of these issues is a type of protection that Sony includes to prevent users from using third-party batteries with their Sony laptop.

Sony would prefer that users use only Sony laptop batteries, partly because it means they must be purchased directly from the manufacturer, but also to ensure quality. Users who have found a trusted third-party manufacturer for their laptop batteries, however, are likely to be frustrated by this limitation. Fortunately, there is a workaround to let you use third-party batteries with your Sony laptop, as the battery check is a software program rather than something included in the Sony system board. Follow these steps to disable the software check.

  1. Power down the laptop, remove the battery, connect the AC adapter, and power the laptop back up.
  2. Click the Start button and type “msconfig.exe”. You may need to enter your password to continue.
  3. Click the “Startup” tab and look for a listing for “ISBMgr.exe”. Uncheck the box.
  4. Click “OK” to save the changes, and choose to restart the laptop. There may be a popup once you restart; alerting you that certain programs have been disabled. Simply dismiss this dialog box.

Now you can install your third-party battery, and you should find that it works without problems. Visit our Sony laptop parts page to view other parts and upgrades that are compatible with your laptop.

Diagnosing a Laptop AC Adapter Problem

Laptop AC adapters can sometimes take a lot of abuse. As an external part of a laptop, they are designed to be rugged, but problems can still crop up from time to time. If you suspect that yours may be having an issue, here are some steps for diagnosing a laptop AC adapter problem.

  1. Try another power outlet. This may sound silly, but if you are not getting power to your laptop through the AC adapter, try another power socket to ensure that is not the cause of the problem.
  2. If possible, try another AC adapter. This may be more difficult, but if you have a friend or a repair shop that has a compatible AC adapter, try one that is known to be working. If the problems still persist, you know the AC adapter is not to blame.
  3. Try running the laptop without the battery. Sometimes problems with the battery can cause symptoms unrelated to the AC adapter. If the laptop runs fine when running only from the AC adapter, it is likely caused by a faulty battery or some other component.
  4. Look for signs of wear and tear on the AC adapter. Large cracks on the “brick” or transformer could be signs of problems, as can frayed wires or bulging. If any of these conditions look serious, replace your AC adapter.
  5. Listen for strange noises. AC adapters that are failing often make whining noises or other strange sounds. Replace the AC adapter if necessary.

If you have tried the steps above and are still uncertain whether your laptop AC adapter is faulty, it may still be a good idea to order a replacement. As one of the least expensive parts of a laptop to replace, it may be worth the peace of mind knowing that your AC adapter is working correctly.