Saturday, May 12, 2012

new power supply smell

I didn't realize there was such a thing as “new power supply smell”, but when I opened the box of the ThermalTake TR2 600W power supply I got today to replace the Rosewill RP600VP2–S-SL power supply that burned out last night, there was this very apparent chemical odor escaping the inside of the box.

The computer just lost its juice last night. I was playing Skyrim, which may have been putting some increased strain on the power through the video card, but it's obviously never been a problem. I googled the issue and found a post on a forum (don't have link handy) saying that something called “dirty power” is a fairly common cause for power supply burnouts.

Dirty power is the reason why we plug computers and monitors into surge protectors. It is electrical current that varies by more than 10% from the usual 120 volts coming out of the wall socket. It can fry your hardware, which in turn costs money to replace and time to repair. What I think gets taken for granted –  what I took for granted – is that any old power strip will do. This might be the case in areas where there are few, if any, thunderstorms, i.e. Seattle, but definitely not the case in a place where the local hockey team is named “Lightning”.

So I made sure to get a real surge protector today at Best Buy along with the replacement power supply. I went to Best Buy because this was sort of an emergency purchase. I need to have this computer working this weekend because it is the final two days of the Ludum Dare 23 judging period, and I plan to play and rate as many games as I can before the time is up. So waiting until Monday for a shipment to come in from Newegg was not an option.

By “real surge protector”, I mean one that actually lists how many Joules of protection it provides, and lists a pretty big number –  the bigger the number, the more surge protection. One nice bonus feature the one I got came with is four outlets that are spaced further apart to allow for AC adapters to be plugged in without obscuring the adjacent plug. The limited warranty built into the product doesn't hurt, either. In any event, a real surge protector is one that takes its surge protecting business seriously, and is no mere run-of-the-mill strip-o-plugs.

Installing the new power supply was not too much of a hassle. I just had to make sure everything plugged into the motherboard and the hard drives correctly. I did have to mess around with some BIOS settings when I got the computer running again, as they must have reset at some point between the old surge protector blowing out and being powered on again with the new power supply. I totally forgot I had Ubuntu installed on one of the drives of this machine. I might've went ahead and started using that if not for my dependency on Windows-only applications and games. Some day I will have to enter a 12–step program for Windows users. Does such a thing exist?


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