• Desktop computers: Re-use!

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    HARDWARE By Ben Myers Make sure the most critical hardware works right before you go ahead. Previously, I described the most basic steps to get a comp
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    • #2459700

      Another excellent summary, Ben!

      In a follow-up to this series, you might consider a few paragraphs that discuss power supplies, how to do routine testing, and tips on what to look for.

      For example, some budget power supplies do NOT have ON/OFF switches, and it’s wise to plug its power cable into an AC power strip that has its own ON/OFF switch.

      A related issue is the problem of 2-prong outlets that are NOT properly grounded.  This issue is very common in older residential units built before the current building Code required grounded 3-prong outlets everywhere.


      Also, before changing the motherboard’s on-board battery, it’s a good idea to write down any changes there were made to the BIOS factory defaults.  Removing the old battery and replacing it with a new battery will, most likely, force the BIOS to revert to factory defaults.

      • #2459760

        Good thoughts!  As the pitchmen on late night TV say: “and there’s more!”

        I must lead a sheltered life.  I do not remember ever seeing a power supply without an on-off switch.  Oh, wait!  I have!  The lamentable Bestec used variously by Acer-eGate-machines, HP and Dell.  In fact, many power supplies on name brand computers lack an on-off switch, especially the models foisted off on consumers.

        Good to make note of BIOS settings beforehand.  Better still, insert a device that records the HDMI output as one navigates thru the BIOS.  That’s what I did for both the Dell BIOS settings and the Memtest-86+ screen capture.  Way better than a camera. Nice square pixels.

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        • #2459780

          I’m sure you know how it goes:

          if a PSU manufacturer gets an order for 1 million units and

          can shave $5 off the manufacturing costs of each PSU,

          that decision just earned $5 Million.

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          • #2460293

            It’s not just the PSU manufacturer.  It’s the name brand which specifies the requirements, to reduce material costs.  Whether its a power supply, hard drive, solid state drive, memory or other commodity item, the engineers are driven to think about lower material costs and the purchasing agents work hard to pay the lowest price of the day for whatever they order.

            So all these companies used a Bestec lacking an on-off switch.  Bestec PSUs are very light in weight for their reputed 300w rating, so they are best classified as junque.

            A number of years ago, I bought a surplus case of (12) new HiPro 300w PSUs for not much money.  HP used HiPros, too.  No on-off switch, sturdily built with the right heft and a perfect replacement for a Bestec.  I have a couple left.  They are made well enough not to fry a motherboard when there is a power surge.

            In general, the desktops and towers made by most name brand companies do not have power supplies with on-off switches.

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            • #2461132

              This is the best power strip we have found:

              Tripp Lite(R) TLP76MSGB ECO-Surge(TM) 7-Outlet Surge Protector with 6 Individually Controlled Outlets, 6ft Cord


              We also use these short extension cords with the latter power strip e.g. for small AC adapters that power small devices like LAN and KVM switches:
              Power Extension Cord Short Cable Outlet Saver 3 Prong 16AWG 13A ETL Listed (10 Pack 8 Inch Black)

            • #2461208

              How do you know those surge protectors actually protect you from anything? Have you tested several different ones?

              cheers, Paul

            • #2461613

              Well, if I had unlimited funds and if I were not retired and if I had not been targeted by rogue federal agents for asking “wrong” questions, I just might have enough available funds to perform the comparison you require.

              But, sorry to say, I don’t.

              (Maybe you can produce positive identification of “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA”;  NOBODY is willing to do so, after YEARS of asking same.  One recently “dissolved” and its assets reverted to The Crown.)

              I sincerely suggest that you ask your question of some experts who do the kinds of reviews that answer your question.  They might know how to schedule lightning strikes, on demand, for example;  but, I don’t.

              I use that Tripp-Lite power strip on the output side of an APC UPS:  it has 6 independent ON-OFF switches, which make it very easy to do maintenance on low-power AC adapters like LAN and KVM switches.

              And, if you remember the thread just prior to today, there was discussion of PSUs that do not have their own ON/OFF switches.  As such, this Tripp-Lite’s separate ON/OFF switches do the job very nicely.

              p.s.  So sorry, but I’m just not in the mood to argue with ANYBODY today, not tomorrow either.

            • #2464170

              How do you know those surge protectors actually protect you from anything? Have you tested several different ones?

              True “Surge Protectors” as the name implies, should protect you from surges.  The best will usually take multiple surge “Hits” before losing their ability to protect anymore and at that time a light should go on indicating you need to get a new one.

              “Surge Suppressors” as the name implies, only suppress the surge to a certain point that hopefully won’t damage your electronics.  The MOV’s in these units are not as robust as the ones in true surge protectors and will not take more than one big Hit.

              MOV = Metal Oxide Varistor.  No, I haven’t actually “tested” any units. I’ve mainly found APC to be good quality and worth the money.

              Being 20 something in the 70's was much more fun than being 70 something in the 20's.
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      • #2463140

        Interestingly, if one does the quickest possible battery replacement, the settings remain the same, except for the time.  The trick is to keep the CMOS from degrading, becoming corrupted.  If only it were so easy to deal with other corruption.  No matter what, the CMOS settings need to be set for the environment in which the computer will run, rather than its previous world.

    • #2460361


      nice new word!

    • #2461621

      How do you know those surge protectors actually protect you from anything? Have you tested several different ones?

      cheers, Paul

      My preference is to use an APC UPS for protection, and with any surge protectors connected to that mainly used as convenient on/off switches for devices.

      Surge protectors can also be used as extensions, providing a bit more “wiggle” room for fat wall-wart style power adapters, or oddly shaped power plugs. Those adapters can often hog the limited plug in area on a small UPS unit when the receptacles are jammed right next to each other.

      Windows 10 Pro 22H2

      • #2461624

        Re:  “Those adapters can often hog the limited plug in area on a small UPS unit when the receptacles are jammed right next to each other.”

        … exactly why we use these short extension cords:



        p.s.  users who need scientific/experimental proof that Tripp-Lite power strips perform as advertised, are invited to contact Tripp-Lite directly

        • #2463133

          There are two external causes that trigger power supply failure.  One is a lightning strike, which could possibly be simulated with a Van de Graaff generator, not accessible to most of us.  The other is the power surge that takes place when the electricity is restored by the electric power utility.  The latter can be simulated by going to ones fuse box in the basement, shutting off all power, then turning it back on to see what happens.  Inevitably, the laws of physics dictate a power surge, a voltage higher than the usual 120 for a brief interval.  Of course, there may be collateral damage like that 50″ TV set now fried.

          So this is a lot of work with possible dire consequences.  I prefer to leave it in the hands of a well-appointed large test lab.


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