How A Paper Clip Saved My Sanity

I know what you’re thinking. You read the title of this post and assumed it’s got something to do with me escaping from a Vietnamese prison with nothing but a paper clip and my boyish charms. Well, sorry, but you’re wrong. This is actually a pretty dull tale about how a paper clip diagnosed a problem with my spare PC and has thus stopped me tearing handfuls of my rather thick and silky hair out.

About a year ago my PC started experience problems. It would work fine when it was up and running but, oddly enough, wouldn’t turn on within a few hours of being turned off (you had to wait about six hours before turning it on after last using it or it wouldn’t boot). It was an incredibly strange problem and eventually I resolved it by replacing its generic PSU with a sexy 650W Corsair one. Celebration and cold beers all round, everything was fine… for about three weeks.

Then my PC started randomly rebooting, sometimes after a few minutes, sometimes after a few hours. I persevered for a few months until it eventually died in December (you may recall me moaning about it back then) and I took the opportunity to purchase a completely new computer. Even though the old PC has now been replaced, I always intended to fix it up and use it as a spare.

Several weeks ago I bought a new motherboard and fitted it into the PC. Ta da, the Heavens parted and everything worked again… for a while. The old problem shortly returned and sometimes it just wouldn’t boot at all and, if it did run, it would turn off randomly. I had replaced the PSU and the mobo so I figured it must have been the CPU heatsink. Maybe the CPU was overheating?

It wasn’t. I attached two new heatsinks (those push pin fans are a flippin’ nightmare to get on if you’re an idiot like me and didn’t read the instructions first) and it had no affect. Sometimes the PC would boot, sometimes the fans would just turn for a few seconds then shut down. Re-seating the components would sometimes get it to start, sometimes it did nothing. I’ve just spent the last three days trying to diagnose the problem and I was on the verge of throwing the entire metal case out the window (PC rage is a legitimate defense in court right?).

And then I found a 2D angel called Jeff Checchi who showed me how to use a simple paper clip to test whether or not a PSU is faulty. I tried it and my power supply failed, it was broken. I fist bumped my bewildered wife in a moment of pure geeky indulgence. Computer, I am your master. I’m also incredibly unlucky to get two failing PSUs in a row.

Fortunately Corsair have a 5 year warranty on their products and have just arranged to RMA my PSU. Hopefully I can get it sent back to them over the weekend and receive a replacement within a week ending this drama once and for all.

So here below, for your pleasure and your knowledge, I give you Jeff Checchi, Corsair employee, PSU engineer, hero.

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  1. Yogi says:

    I have to admit, the image of a husband and wife fist bumping over a PSU diagnosis, made me burst out laughing. Awesome. Glad you figured it out.

  2. Klepsacovic says:

    There’s something about straightforward and simply-presented tips that fills me with happiness.

  3. ixobelle says:

    Do not lick the paperclip. Twould be bad.

  4. Usiel says:

    I share your pain.

    Usually I buy a complete PC System, because I hate going through endless hardware discussions to find out, which part has been proven the best and I am not very patient in assembling the parts and installation.
    Unfortunately the last three systems I bought, all had a major problem requiring to upgrade a certain component. (RAM, Graphic Card, Soundcard and Power Supply Unit). So I had to go through exact these hardware discussions that I tried to avoid, to find out which upgrade would fit to my system.

    My trusty Computer needs to be replacement, but I still postpone buying a new one, because I haven’t found a solution to buy a pre-assembled system which does not need to be upgraded two month later.
    If you have an Idea you are definitely my hero.

    • Gordon says:

      This PC was bought as a complete (custom built) package but unfortunately it died just after my 1 year warranty expired :( Now I make sure any PC I buy whole has a good 2-3 years warranty on it so I can just send it back and let someone else deal with it.

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