Reliable power supply brands

Reliable power supply brands

If you’ve built a few PCs, or repaired a few PCs, you have some idea how important the power supply is. If you buy any old tin box that fits, you can probably expect to run into some problems. Here’s some advice on buying power supplies, including reliable power supply brands.

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Tips for buying computer memory

Tips for buying computer memory

Many years ago, I wrote something titled Memory Buying Secrets. That post is lost to history, thanks to migrations in this site’s early years, but there are a number of things you need to know when you’re buying memory that can save you money and frustration, so I figured I would revisit that topic today. Here are my tips for buying computer memory, based on decades of experience. Read more

SSDs might be getting less interesting, but that’s not necessarily bad

Ars Technica has a story about SSD news coming out of CES.

Basically, they’re predicting that the big news this year will be consolidation and lower prices. That may be bad news for someone who writes about SSDs for a living (I don’t), but good news for consumers. Read more

HP has a brilliant idea

After last year’s flip-flopping on getting rid of its not-quite-as-profitable-as-they’d-like PC business, and the resulting self sabotage, HP needed a good idea to try to undo the damage.

Their idea is completely unoriginal, but it’s tried and true and more likely to work than anything else they could possibly do: Bundle their premium PCs with premium-level customer service and charge a little more.

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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.

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Micro Center’s 18-minute pickup works spectacularly

It was like ordering Chinese takeout.

I wrote yesterday about how I needed a motherboard to try to solve my ongoing webserver issue. I don’t live or work anywhere near Micro Center. The computer store near my house closed, and I don’t like the one near my workplace anymore since they jerked my friend around. Frequently I order computer equipment online, but Micro Center’s pricing is really good right now, so I asked my wife if she would mind trying a pickup order.

It worked. Splendidly.

I went to the web site, created an account, then added the items I wanted to my cart. I’ve known for a couple of days that I wanted an Asus P5G41T-M LX motherboard, a Pentium E5700 CPU (two cores of 3 GHz goodness for 65 watts and 50 bux0rZ), and 8 GB of Kingston DDR3. I also added a 32 GB SDHC memory card for my wife’s new camera, to make the trip worth her while. I added my wife as an authorized pickup person and created a PIN for her.

Seven minutes later, I received an e-mail message saying my order was ready.

She went to the store, walked right up to a sign at the front of the store that read Internet Pickup, handed them her driver’s license, told them her PIN, and they grabbed a pile of stuff with my name on it, put it in a bag, and handed it to her.

And I know now that you can place your order and pick it up any time within three calendar days.

I already have a 40 GB SSD and a Corsair power supply I’ve been saving for the project. Now I just need to find an ATX case to gut, put my pieces together, install Linux, and I’ll have a new web server.

My Socket 775 adventures, Chapter 1

So I bought an Intel Socket 775 board to support a crash webserver rebuild project. I present the story in hopes that it might be useful, or entertaining, or both. I don’t know the ultimate outcome of it yet, but all of the decisions made sense at the time.
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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.

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I was on vacation

I went on vacation and I guess my DSL connection got jealous. As far as I can tell it died two days into the trip. Figures. So that’s why the site’s been dead.

If it interests youm I’ll tell you about my trip.I went with the girlfriend’s family to Orange Beach, Alabama, which is close to Pensacola, Florida. In Alabama the beaches are just about as white and much easier to walk on because it’s softer, but the shell hunting is better across the Florida border.

My St. Louis buddies say I’ve already lost the twang I picked up down there. That’s a good thing. I’m a northern boy.

Train fans will have something to look at near the intersection of highways 59 and 98 in Foley, AL. An old Louisville & Nashville diesel switcher locomotive, L&N caboose and boxcar are there, along with a St. Louis-San Francisco (Frisco) boxcar. They appear to be in reasonably good condition.

The Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola is excellent. I could spend days there. Take the 11 AM restoration tour if at all possible. They take you out into the airfield where planes that won’t fit in the museum are displayed, but they also take you inside the hangar where you can see their works in progress. In front of the hanger was what was left of a Brewster Buffalo, an early Navy fighter from World War II. It’s something of a holy grail today, because its ineffectiveness against the Japanese Zero doomed it early in the war. We sold a bunch of them to Finland and palmed a few more off on the British while the Navy did its best with the Grumman Wildcat, which was slightly less ineffective, while waiting for the Hellcat and Corsair fighters.

But anyway, they had the *censored*pit section of a Buffalo in front of the hangar and another Buffalo inside, which was waiting for its wings to be installed and a trip to the paint shop. They were also working on a replica of Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Electra. She wasn’t in the Navy, but her role in aviation and women’s acceptance in it means the museum was interested in the plane. The widespread belief that the Japanese believed her to be a U.S. spy and shot her plane down doesn’t hurt, either.

For great fish and seafood, check out Original Oyster House in Gulf Shores, AL. We had an hour and a half wait, which we passed by browsing the adjacent shops. I imagine that’s the source of most of those shops’ business. The shops aren’t earth-shattering but won’t bore you to tears either. The seafood is.

Flounders Chowder House in Pensacola Beach, Florida, is also amazing. Don’t ask me which one’s better. I think Flounders has the better atmosphere but the food in both places is first-rate. While just about every seafood place in the area is going to be better than Red Lobster, it’s easy to find disappointingly mediocre seafood in the area. But these two places knocked my socks off.

I made a new friend outside Papa Rocco’s in Gulf Shores. A sign outside Papa Rocco’s advertises warm beer and lousy pizza. Seriously, that’s what it said. I was walking across the Papa Rocco’s lot on my way to a souvenir shop when a woman started yelling at me. I kept walking but turned a couple of times. When I turned and looked at her, she yelled, "Yeah, I’m talking to you!" She wasn’t anyone I knew and she was obviously drunk. I have no idea why she was upset with me. I picked up my pace and got lost in the souvenir shop as quickly as I could.

I was crossing Papa Rocco’s to get a good look at Tracks To BBQ. Obviously if I’m on the Atlantic coast I’m going to eat seafood, since I can get good BBQ closer to home. But the ad for Tracks To advertised "Antique model train cars on display." So of course I wanted to check it out. Peering into the window, I was able to see that it was a small establishment, with only two or three tables inside. I saw a couple of Lionel posters on the wall and some assorted trinkets in the window. Further back, next to the cash register, I saw a couple of old OO or HO scale train cars that looked pretty old. What appeared to be a locomotive in the original box sat next to them. On a shelf below that I saw a postwar Lionel hopper car. I paid $10 for the same car at a swap meet last month. Nothing earth shattering there, at least not from what I could see inside. That’s not to say there wasn’t something cool running on a shelf under the ceiling, but I couldn’t tell from outside and the establishment was closed.

I’d hoped to see some prewar tinplate. Oh well.

The outlet mall in Foley is large and you can spot the occasional bargain. Some of the shops were handing out 40% off coupons for other shops in the complex. I got a pair of $50 Reebok tennis shoes for $20. I thought about buying a pair of the canvas Reebok Classic shoes as well. They would have been $12 with a coupon. I’ve had a couple of pairs of them in the past and they’re decent shoes. I’ve had shoes that were better looking and lasted longer, but in most cases I also paid $60 for them.

But as with all of these kinds of places, caveat emptor. I tried on plenty of shoes with lumpy soles. Those shoes aren’t worth taking for free because of what they’ll do to your feet. And mixed with the bargains you can find some high-priced items that are trading on reputation. Careful shoppers can save a bundle though.

I also learned that a large sand castle can attract a lot of attention. We built one large enough for a 4-year-old to hide in completely. It drew lots of looks and comments.

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