Turn on PSU without motherboard - the 'paperclip trick' | Lounge

By: Jonathan Kwan
February 11, 2006
Images re-encoded on April 23, 2010

You may or may not have heard of this before, you might have not even thought of this before, or if you are just wondering how it's done, we'll present you with the so-called "Paperclip Trick" today -- a commonly known trick between computer enthusiasts and modders.

After reading the previous paragraph, you are probably still wondering, "Yeah yeah, whatever. Just tell me what the heck are you talking about!?" The whole thing behind the "paperclip trick" is to allow you to turn on your power supply (PSU) without plugging it into the motherboard and pushing the power button in front of your computer. This is too inconvenient for people who wants to use their power supply to test out certain things, and to get around this, we'll have to fool the power supply into thinking that there is a motherboard there and the switch on your case is pressed.

If you have an extra power supply dedicated for testing components, this tutorial will also be very useful. So from now on, after this simple trick, you can now turn on your power supply with the switch at the back of it. And all you need is a paperclip and around two minutes or less of your precious time. You won't need much computer knowledge or something -- just follow the simple instructions and use some common sense. If you need your power supply later to power up a computer normally, simply remove your paperclip -- no modifications are done to your power supply either so you will not void your warranty.

DISCLAIMER: We are not responsible if you do any damage to yourself, any kind of living things, nor are we responsible your computer equipment. Please do this at your own risk.

This will now be the switch to turn your power supply on and off...

First of all, find a paperclip and bend it to something like the picture below.

The second thing is find the 20/24 pin connector that's supposedly used to connect to your motherboard. Ignore the extra 4 pins that's with the 24 pin power supplies. In the 20 pin block, find the green wire. There's only one. There are two black ground cables beside it.

Next, put your paperclip into the pin with the green wire and the other end into one of the two black ground wires beside the green wire. It doesn't matter which one, either will work. If your power supply wires are not color coded, when viewed on the side with the plastic locking tab, simply locate the fourth wire from the right (See picture below).

You're done! Isn't that simple? While it won't kill you, I would not recommend touching the bare metal parts of this setup. For safety issues or if you are going to leave the paperclip on indefinitely, just wrap it in electrical tape.

Or if you are REALLY leaving it on indefinitely, why not make it look nicer? This is what I've done with one of my extra power supplies.

First, I shortened the paperclip quite a bit. After all, who would want it sticking out so much? If you can shorten it so much that it connects both pins with nothing sticking up the top, that would be perfect.

What I've done is that I made three very short pieces of electrical tape and wrapped it...

Then I neatly taped the rest of the connector block with electrical tape. Isn't this neat and easy? Now you can use your power supply to test out components without the motherboard, or you can now have an use for the extra PSU laying around!

Do you need any computer technical assistance? Drop by our Forums. Registration is free, and it only takes a minute!