August 30, 2008

My computer smells funny

I really don't like funny smells that come from computer equipment. Read on if you want to hear about power supplies and funny smells.    

This morning, I woke up and started working on email in preparation for a long day of weekend work. Instead, after a little while, my desktop computer, a new 8 month old linux machine that I built into a nice Antec Fusion Black v2 case (which has been renamed to something else) that came with an Antec 430 Watt power supply. I have heard good things about Antec power supplies, and they generally are thought to have high quality.

I was really surprised when the monitor suddenly went black, and the LED on the front of the case started blinking. That has never happened before. Also, the computer started to smell funny. That is *never* a good sign. It usually means that something broke badly, and in a worst case scenario, you need to get a new motherboard, CPU, and power supply. Possibly video card. Probably the hard drives are fine, but you never know.

In my case, the bad smell was coming from the power supply, and after taking it out and doing some investigation, I decided that indeed, the power supply did go bad. I hoped that was it. The motherboard looked fine, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the whole machine didn't explode...

I did some searching on the net, and it looks like there have been lots of reports of trouble with Antec, so maybe this is more common that I thought.

I had some other errands to run, so I headed down to Yodobashi camera. I bought the machine there, but after the move I haven't been able to find the receipts, so there is little to no chance that I'll get a replacement. I checked with the Antec website - the power supply should have a three year warranty - but they say if you are outside of the US you need to go through the shop where you bought the equipment. I'll try to get in touch with them since I wasn't able to convince anyone at Yodobashi to help me out, but I don't really want another Antec power supply because I now have little confidence in them.

In the end I got a Nipron power supply (which would cost around $200 but I had enough in points to cover it) which powered up the computer just fine once all the cables were plugged in. It doesn't have the power cable to power the LCD display on the front of the computer (which is specific to the Antec case power supply) so I lost that, but otherwise things are working great. The Nipron power supply has a 5 year warranty, and claims to be "unbreakable". We'll see about that.

I hate when my computer equipment smells funny.


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