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A new way to measure reliability and quality of hardware

If you’re in the market for some new PC gear, it helps to measure reliability and quality of hardware. How do you measure that? How about buying the one that induces the least buyer’s remorse? That’s an approach you can take with the data from Hardware.fr. It’s in French, but Google Translate works.

This doesn’t measure long-term reliability–only DOA rate and short-term reliability–but it’s data I haven’t seen before, so I think it’s a welcome resource.

Read More »A new way to measure reliability and quality of hardware

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.

Read More »Egg on my face

Quieting a system with more modernized case fans

Needing a secondary case fan for my current PC build, I picked up an Antec Tri-Cool Double Ball Bearing fan, the 92 mm size. Even on its highest speed, I found it to be quieter than the fans in the PCs on my desk at work. On its lowest setting, you pretty much can’t hear it at all. At its full retail price of $25, I wouldn’t bother with it, but when it’s on sale for less than $10, that’s not bad.

Read More »Quieting a system with more modernized case fans

Who made that power supply?

I found a cross-reference for power supply brands and OEM manufacturers. It’s a couple of years old, but still useful.

Way back when, I knew that Sparkle Power actually made PC Power & Cooling Silencer power supplies. Since Sparkle units were cheaper, I bought those, and got good, reliable power from them for years until they were obsolete. That information is obsolete now too; Sparkle was bought out by FSP many years ago.

This chart tells you a whole lot more than that. And it validates that my current practice of buying Seasonic power supplies whenever possible is probably good, since Seasonic is the actual maker for several premium brands of power supplies today.

Read More »Who made that power supply?

It’s been 15 years, and computer stores haven’t changed much

In the early 1990s, I learned how to fix computers because I got tired of long waits and shoddy repairs from computer stores.

Last month I took a friend to go buy a computer. I didn’t want her to get stuck with retail junk, so I took her to a computer store that I knew sold quality parts. Plus I know the owner. He wrote an O’Reilly book too. I figured it would be a smooth experience, since I knew exactly what to ask for. The salesperson said he’d get back to me within two days with a quote, then it would take about a week to build the system after we gave the OK. Seems pretty smooth and reasonable.

It turned into a nightmare. Or at least a mess.Read More »It’s been 15 years, and computer stores haven’t changed much

New life for a Compaq Presario S5140WM

I’m fixing up my mother in law’s Compaq Presario S5140WM. She bought it about five years ago, a few weeks after her daughter and I started dating. It’s been a pretty good computer for her, but lately it’s been showing signs it might be overheating.

I took the shotgun approach, replacing pretty much everything that I would expect to be at or near the end of its life at five years.

Dead computer? Check the CPU fan.

My wife came upstairs last night. "The mouse froze," she said. I walked downstairs to the computer. Sure enough: Frozen mouse, no caps lock light, no vital signs to speak of. Ctrl-Alt-Del didn’t do anything either. I shut down, powered back up, and got the black screen of death.

When an AMD system gives you problems, always suspect the power supply

I did some power supply swapping this weekend. My video editing PC had outgrown its 300-watt power supply and I needed something fast, so I bought an Antec 430-watt TruePower box locally. I paid $30 too much, and it’s definitely a show-off box, with gold plating everywhere and multicolored sheathing around the power cables. I don’t care at all about that, but I do care that now my jammed-to-the-gills video editing machine has lots of steady, reliable power. How jammed? It has one PCI slot and one drive bay open. It can suck down some juice.