Feren (feren) wrote,

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Rant: PC Repairs (Or my epic $265 journey into hell)

This morning I went to Radio Shack (twice, since I arrived there at 09:10 and they didn't open until 10:00, thus forcing me to go home for 40 minutes to wait for them to open) and bought a nice little digital multimeter and various other accessories and necessities like an alternator tester, a device for tracing electrical circuits back to a breaker panel in a house and a jeweler's screwdriver set. When I got home with my $145 bag of treasure I checked my old power supply according to some directions that I was directed to on the world wide web to see if I could prove or disprove the functionality of this power supply once and for all. After getting the probes hooked into the harness I plugged the supply in, threw the switch to "on" and and saw absoultely NO voltage on the line that I was told should be showing voltage. Okay, according to the sheet that means the power supply is dead, so let's go buy a new one! At least I can do that with some measure of expediency, I thought to myself. There's that little computer store right across the street, I can buy a power supply there and patronize my local small business like a good American should.

So I bought a new power supply, installed it and everything worked fine... well, that's how this story is supposed to go. Unfortunately that is not how the story actually went. I came back to the apartment totally defeated, since the store across the road is not open on Sunday. That's really helpful! I mean, they're open bankers hours? What good is that? How do they stay in business? Computers never break from 9-5 M-F, they break at midnight, they break on the weekend, they burst into flames when your cat rubs his cheek against it at 6:30 in the morning.

Deciding that from now on I would say "The hell with it" to the small business in question I lept into my truck and swooped over to CompUSA, completely overshooting it in the process. A few sailor-worthy curses and a sharp U-turn later and I find the road I missed. I park the pickup, walk into the store and am presented with a dazzling array of... expensive power supplies that almost suit my needs, and inexpensive ones that are completely inadequate for my needs. I chose a middle of the road house brand unit, plopped down my $100 and then an extra $20 for a two year warranty so that if THIS one burns up I don't have to drop Yet More Cash to revive the system. Well, at least not for another two years, theoretically.

I came home, unpacked the supply and for the grins of it I ran the same test with the multimeter on the new unit that I did with the old one. Alarmingly I received the same result -- zero volts on the line. Okay, this was not the scenario I wanted. But what choice did I have? And if it was broke I could return it seeing as how I'd just bought it 30 minutes ago... I went into my bedroom, installed the new supply in the chassis and plugged it in. Hey, cool, the LED on the motherboard lit up again! I take this as a sign of positive things to come and busily reinstall all my cards and reconnect power to things like my hard drives and CDRW before I close the case back up and put the cover on.

So now I have a new 600W power supply as opposed to my old 500W supply, and I have a functional PC again. This is a good thing, but the story isn't done yet. Almost, but not quite. See, there had to be one teeny-tiny catch to this whole thing, and here's the catch: this more expensive and more powerful power supply doesn't have a cable to connect it to the motherboard's built-in lead for monitoring the supply's fan speed. I didn't even realize that it was lacking this cable until I rebooted, at which time the monitor program provided by ASUS for my motherboard went absolutely apeshit insane, shrilling that the fan in the power supply was returning a value of zero RPMs and thus must have failed. This naturally alarmed me and I shut the PC down so I could spend the next ten minutes trying to find out if the fan had seized. Once I realized it hadn't I started looking for the cable to connect it to the board, since I didn't remember doing that. Hmm, that's odd, I think to myself. I don't see a cable with the right connector. I wonder if the old one had that? It must have, how else would it have worked? So out comes the old power supply, and sure enough there's a lone cable pair with the right connector on the end. I look for a cable like this one the new supply -- it's not there.


I've just spent $120 on a power supply (okay, $100 if you don't count the extended warranty) that is missing what I perceive to be a rather critical feature that IS available on the unit that costs $30 less? What has this world come to?! I demand an explanation!

Having discovered that there's going to be NO WAY WHATSOEVER for my motherboard to monitor the power supply's exhaust fan I decide to trust to fate and close the case back up. I rebooted, listened to the horrible "Bong bong bong" noise of the monitoring telling me that my fans had again suffered a massive failure and tried to figure out how to tell the program to stop monitoring for that particular environment variable. I finally figured out how to disable the monitor for the power supply fan and sighed in pleasure as blissful near-silence again filled my room (the whine of the CPU fan and the hum of the window fan being the only noises preventing true sulence). I plugged all my remaining peripherals back in and then watched in horror as XP said I had a whole new batch of hardware to work with, reinstalling drivers willy-nilly. Naturally the sudden burst of productivity on the part of Windows resulted in a crash, so I had to reboot the machine. Things seem to be working now, so I'm going to chalk this up to experience (buying in a hurry is bad, and CompUSA house-brand power supplies are not terribly reliable) and just... move on. I just want to put the epic story of the Little Power Supply That Drove Me Insane behind me.

Hey, at least I got something good from this whole debacle: a nice new multimeter.

In another's eyes

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