I find the failure of a computer’s power supply to be one of the most difficult failures to diagnose. And earlier this week I had that perception reinforced.
The second computer in my office, the “guest” gaming PC, has become my wife Irene’s primary EverQuest II machine. It is built out of parts replaced by my most recent upgrades: basically, it is a two year old “bleeding edge” computer, which means it is still pretty decent for playing EverQuest.
A few weeks ago, Irene experienced a couple of odd events while using this machine. On one occasion when I was watching, the screen suddenly became “corrupted”, with garbage characters appearing amongst the graphics. A screen refresh cleaned things up. Then there was the “crackle” the machine emitted one day just before rebooting. I decided this week that it was time to give that computer some TLC.
My thinking initially was that the machine was probably a dust clogged nightmare. I could see globs of dusty fur sticking out of the drive bay, so I imagined discovering a huge mat of fur and dust inside. When I cracked the case, however, it actually wasn’t too bad: yes, it definitely needed cleaning, but the dust/hair build up had mostly been stopped from entering the chassis by the air filter on the case. The innards were in need of a few blasts of compressed air, and the corners of the case benefited from some vacuuming.
The whole cleaning process took an hour or two. When I reassembled everything and turned the box on, I got…nothing. No POST dialog, no Windows start up, no beeps. The fans started, the machine *seemed* to power up, but it didn’t seem to actually get into the boot process at all. My initial assumption was that dust was causing a short, or that I had damaged a component while performing the cleanup. But that wasn’t it….