Egg on my face

I dragged my computer back over to Micro Center this afternoon. It took three of us, but we got the computer working.

It’s a long story. It would have been a much shorter story if I’d remembered my rule #1. I won’t bore you with the details, except to say the second technician, upon hearing the only thing we hadn’t swapped out was the power supply, dragged a power supply out of the back. We plugged that power supply in, and heard the sweet gimme-some-memory scream from the motherboard failing to POST. Incredible. So we powered down, reinstalled the memory, and watched the system POST.

My Corsair power supply was good, but not good enough for this board. That matters. So I walked back to the aisle and bought a Thermaltake 430-watt box. For a system that’s going to spend its life in text mode with nothing but 8 GB of RAM and an SSD plugged into it, that’s probably overkill, but I intend to use the system for five years, so I want something that isn’t going to break. Conveniently, the Thermaltake unit I bought has a 5-year warranty. And it was on sale, though at this point, I was beyond that. I just wanted the computer to work.

After paying for it, I tested the new power supply back at the knowledge bar. I wanted to go home knowing everything in the case worked well together.

Along the way, I picked up some good tidbits from Eric and Dave S., the other technician who helped me.

  • Dave S. doesn’t believe in power supply testers. Now Eric doesn’t either.
  • Dave S. sees more dead OCZ SSDs than any other brand. He owns Kingston and Intel drives, and right now he recommends Intel. He was interested to hear about the Samsung 830, and agreed with my logic that Samsung has the same advantage Intel has, since it owns the fab and can pick out the best chips and sell whatever’s left to companies like OCZ.
  • As far as power supply brands that Micro Center sells, Dave S. favors Thermaltake, Antec, Cooler Master, and Corsair, not necessarily in that order. Although Micro Center sells some cheap power supplies–you can get a $15 power supply there, and it just happens to be on sale for $14 this week–he said to stay away from them. He repeated the same advice I’ve been following for years: Look for something that feels more like a brick and less like a tin can when you pick it up off the shelf.

So I have the new computer in my basement with Debian-AMD64 installed, downloading and installing Nginx and the other bits and pieces I’ll need in order to run WordPress. This is the first time I’ve seen Debian-AMD64 running on a 3 GHz 2-core machine with 8 GB of RAM and an SSD. It’s really fast and I like it. We’ll have to see how WordPress likes it. Hopefully that won’t take too terribly long.

It used to be my rule was to always suspect the power supply. That was a good rule when I was constantly dealing with pedestrian power supplies. The power supplies in brand-name boxes aren’t as bad as the $15 tin cans, but they usually aren’t $50 bricks either. Today I learned that rule applies even when you always buy a $50 brick.

Power supply standards change quickly enough that I’m not going to buy a spare just to keep a spare around. But if I suspect one is bad, I definitely need to take the box to Micro Center and have them test it. Then buy the replacement there, of course.

2 thoughts on “Egg on my face

  • February 12, 2012 at 11:02 pm
    Permalink

    The only good power supply tester comes with a case, motherboard, and etc…

    • February 13, 2012 at 10:24 pm
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      True, the danger being that a really bad power supply can take down that kind of tester. But that would be a good use for, say, a Pentium 4 board or something else that’s functionally obsolete but modern enough to put a real load on a modern power supply.

      I did learn today that Corsair makes it very easy to file a warranty claim. It’s just a web form you fill out, then they contact you via e-mail.

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