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I think my worst tech and best upgrade experience happened about two to three months ago and involved three power supplies, a Texas spring thunderstorm, and my entire desktop system setup. I had just upgraded a couple of parts in my rig that included an AMD X2 5400 Brisbane core, 2 gigs of PNY XLR8 ram, and a MSI motherboard when my trusty power supply that I'd had for a year finally gave up the ghost. So like any good geek, I immediately logged on to Newegg and searched for a suitable replacement - which I thought I'd found in an Antec Neo Eco 620C.
I eagerly awaited the Fedex truck and several days later my new power supply finally arrived. However, I should have paid more attention to the world beyond my computer as a storm was brewing off in the distance that was ominous at best and purely evil at worst. Fast forward to the installation of the new power supply into my case, which went off without a hitch. I reconnected everything, said a prayer to the tech gods, pushed the power button, and was greeted with the familiar hum of my case fans and the boot splash screen of Windows 7. As I cleaned up my office (aka: my workshop), I heard a rumble of thunder outside of my window but didn't think anything of it as I had my desktop back and as such, nothing could ruin my day...or so I thought.
That rumble of thunder turned into a a chorus of thunder which brought along a light show of epic proportions. The wind picked up and the rain came down in droves and by droves I mean a torrential downpour that would have made anything seen on "Deadliest Catch" look like a light drizzle. Just as I got up to look out the window to see exactly how much regret I needed to feel for my lack of ark building, a bright flash appeared, and all of the lights in my house dimmed, went out, and then came back on in a matter of about five seconds or so.
Every piece of hardware that makes up my desktop system (monitors, speakers, printer, etc.) all shutdown with the power surge but then magically came back on with the glaring exception of my actual desktop system. At first I thought perhaps it was just a slight glitch and a simple "on/off" of the power button would fix it. Oh how I was wrong when I performed the said "on/off" switch action and was greeted with nothing but silence! I was devastated as I had been desktopless for five days now - sure I had a laptop but honestly, can one really ever replace a desktop with a laptop and be happy? So, as the storm raged on outside, I knew what had to be done. A Best Buy was only about 20 miles away and my inner geek simply would not allow me to wait another week for me to return to the bliss of desktop computing. As such, I donned my boots, rain coat, and piece of newspaper "umbrella" and headed out on my quest! Please note that when I say boots I mean plastic bags on my tennis shoes and by rain coat I mean large trashbag with cutouts for my head and arms...
I arrived at Best Buy, forded the tidal surge that was the rain in the parking lot, and made it inside. I knew where the power supplies were but, like always, I was confronted with an array of electronics that I simply had to explore. Two hours later I finally made it to the power supply selection and low and behold found another Antec Neo Eco 620C, so I grabbed it, paid for it, and floated home. I made it back to my office and disassembled my desktop once again and performed my second power supply install of the day. I made sure that all the connections were made and with a big cheeky grin on my face and sweat on my brow, I reconnected the myriad of devices and wires to my computer, said another prayer to the tech gods, and fired up my machine. Like clockwork, I was greeted with the same hum of fans and splash screen of Windows 7 - I was overjoyed! As I sat down in front of my desk, I was once again a happy camper as the glow from my desktop gently illuminated my dark office as the storm still raged beyond my windows.
And then it happened... to paraphrase Garth Brooks "the thunder rolled and the lightning struck and another computer grew cold as I prepared for a sleepless night." Again, within moments, everything in my office came back to life except for my desktop. I...was...crushed as I had, in a little less than a week, wasted $165 and still didn't have a working desktop. I wondered what exactly I had done to be rewarded with such wrath from the tech and weather gods. Had I used Father Gates name in vain? Had I used lethal force when I installed my power supplies? Had I lustfully looked at a Mac? All of these thoughts and many more ran through my head for what seemed like hours but was really only a matter of minutes.
I knew I didn't have the money for another power supply that day and with the way my luck had gone I figured that I would probably completely curse myself if I made another attempt at installing a third power supply while the hellfire and brimstone continued to rain down outside. So, I decided to fire up my laptop and see if I could locate a suitable, nuclear attack survivable industrial grade power supply to end all power supplies for less than $200. Needless to say it's very hard to find a power supply of any variety that can actually survive a nuclear attack and much less one for less than $200, so those parameters were out of the question. However, I did find a sale on a Thermaltake TR2 W0388RU on Amazon that I picked one up along with a couple of new Belkin surge protectors as I had lost faith in the "plug setup" that I had been using (a mixture of a surge protector and power strips).
I sit here now with a good month under my belt with my new power supply and surge protectors and haven't had a single issue (knock on wood) despite facing several more Texas born and bred spring thunderstorms.
As such, the morals of the story are as follows:
1. Texas thunderstorms suck.
2. Control they inner geek, for it doth cost thee much money.
3. Despite "how hard can it be" and "pfft - it can handle that", a ten year old "surge protector" that has four power strips daisy chained to it is not the best way to power a computer system - if I'm honest.
4. The old adage of "if at first you don't succeed, then try try again" is not always the best policy to follow when one fails to realize that in fact repeatedly doing the same thing and expecting a different result is the very definition of insanity.
So, there you have it. I consider this my worst upgrade experience as it cost me two power supplies in one day but at the same time I consider it my best as the power surges that I experienced only managed to nuke my power supplies and oddly enough did nothing to my monitor, speakers, television, printer, etc. Further, this situation reminded me to take a step back and examine the situation to gain a better understanding of what needed to be done and served to reinforce Occam's Razor in my mind. So while power supplies can be expensive to replace, an entire system replacement would have cost much more. Btw, kudos to Antec as despite the fact that the their power supplies did fail on the day I got them, I went ahead sent in my rebate details and had a $10 rebate check waiting in my mailbox last week!
Oh yeah, Maximum PC rocks! I eagerly await my issue each month and really enjoy the contribution that Maximum PC makes to Tekzilla!
Thanks for the opportunity to win one of those awesome coins!
Last year I was a senior in high school and going to a trade school in the Indianapolis area. The school I attended allowed us students to work on pc and other hardware for some spare cash in our pockets. We get anywhere from 5 pc to about 20+ a year to fix, but this takes the cake for the worst upgrade request we've ever had in this class.
The pc in this tale came in late one afternoon when the computer repair class was not in session and was left in our lab on a test bench over night. When class started the next morning many of the guys in class noticed that there was a low grade buzzing sound in our class. We advised our teacher to make sure any of the high voltage electronics in the class room were safe before turning on the test bench breaker.
After we had made sure the buzzing sound was not from any of the high voltage equipment the breaker for the benches was turned on, but that buzzing sound was still there. My group was assigned to the pc that came in last night. The customer wanted the pc upgrade to meet their needs. My two partners and I agree that just by looking at the case this pc most likely couldn't even run win XP even if it tried. So we deiced to that a new pc would be constructed with the data extracted from this one and transferred to the newly built one. We had divided the task into 3rds, one of use making a parts list, the other doing research for cheap good quality parts on newegg.com and myself with destruction and data recovery detail.
This is when this simple upgrade project turned south. We had discovered that the buzzing sound was coming for this pc. The odd thing was the pc was not turned on. As a safety measure, we unplugged the pc in fear that the power supply was broke. After removing the power cord and discharging the pc, the buzzing was still there. Me and with the guidance of my Instructor decided we should open the pc.
We removed the side panel from the case to get a look inside and hopefully discover the said buzzing issue. Nothing big had jumped out to me and my instructor about the insides of the pc, until we noticed something. The CPU fan was moving from side to side very little. I looked in for a closer view and that is when i noticed it. A small white bug was under the CPU fan, stuck. We turned the fan, ending the little bug’s life. Then we notice one crawling out from side the heat sink. My instructor laughed and stated "It’s just a bug." Yeah it was just a bug, but when one had crawled its way out of the power supply and a crossed my instructor's hand, he thought otherwise.
It was all hands on deck for this one. We didn't know if it was infested before it got here or after, but he need to lock things down. I quickly removed the hard drive as the power supply was removed and put into a trash bag. We had a big problem on our hands, not because of some bugs, but if the food services class down the hall found out their food went bad because of these bugs, we were dead men. The doors were then shut and taped around the edge to make sure nothing got through. We left one untapped that was the far away from the food services class. The rest of the pc found it self in a trash bag as well. The power supply was rushed to the neared door and through outside til we could dispose of it the right way, but I rushed down the hall with an invested pc in my hands in a trash bag and tossed it in the trash compactor and hit the compact button. I looked over at one of my partners that had decided to tag along. "Well, that’s one way to compress files."
-Edward R. Draper
When I first started building computers, I had NO experience whatsoever. I was building a AMD machine around ~2003/2004. I spent over $4,000 on everything. I was gonna use fans for my first PC I would build, but everything messed up near the end so I had to go water cooling . Go BIG or GO HOME! Everything arrived. I set up everything perfectly until it came to the RAM and PSU installation. The RAM was a pain in the ass. The motherboard I was using wouldn't lock in the RAM. I forced it in... It broke the damn thing in half! I got a new motherboard, and down the drain went ~$400-$600 worth of Motherboard and RAM. Okay! Everything went smoothly until the PSU... I put it in and made sure it wouldn't fall. It didn't. So I went to get myself a refreshing drink. Next thing you know, the damn PSU smashed the CPU cooler, damaged the motherboard, case, CPU pins, and the PSU itself... Went and got some new parts, better case, etc. Down the drain... ~$1,000 worth of parts.... Time to watercool my system... Got pump, radiator, custom made reservoir, etc. Installed just fine. Test for leakage, wowowow... LEAKED EVERYWHERE! PSU - Damaged... Next thing you know, the case was rusting up in ~5 days... Gone was ~$2,000 worth of stuff...
In the end, I finished my first build EVER... I ended up water cooling my PC successfully... So far, this has been the WORST CASE SCENARIO for me in PC Building.