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Rant: PC Repairs (Or my epic $265 journey into hell) - Paint It Black
Living the American dream one heartbreaking piece at a time
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

Current Mood: accomplished accomplished
Current Music: Type O Negative - Wolf Moon [Including Zoanthropic Paranoia]

2 thoughts or Leave a thought
ronbar From: ronbar Date: July 13th, 2003 10:07 am (UTC) (Link)
Did you shave everything on your head and face except your eyebrows yet? I bet that power supply would have had the right connectors if you had.

Power supplies (like most electronics) almost always die in either the first 30 days or after 10 years. A two-year warranty sounds about as useful as "rust-proofing" on a car. Didn't it come with at least a 30 day warranty?
hightensile From: hightensile Date: July 14th, 2003 05:26 am (UTC) (Link)

If it helps...

You did the right thing. All you had to do was disable the monitor in the BIOS and it should be cheery/happy again. It's not an absolutely necessary feature to have that monitor on the power supply to begin with as many of the motherboards at CompUSA won't have the comparable software on them -anyway-. (Although I could be wrong. You can go pick up a Soyo kt400 ultra platinum edition at my local CUSA, go figure).

Second, when you powered up the system without various cards/equipment installed, it rewrote the table and reassigned the resources held within back to the void from whence they came so, yes, Windows gets a big throbbing vein in its forehead. As these are all system devices and the north bridge, for instance, obviously can't go scampering away while your motherboard was unplugged this almost never causes a problem after Windows is done having it's little huffy-fit. On the up side, it's good to know that motherboard manufacturers and OS developers have managed to get along so well that minor disasters can occur and yet fix themselves.

Third, I have no idea what you could have in that case that would require a 600W power supply. You have a xeon lazer cooling the processor or what?!

Glad you had a good weekend, sorry I couldn't stop by and visit while I was in town.

2 thoughts or Leave a thought