Operation Underpowered is a Success

| Wednesday, July 13, 2011
What is Operation Underpowered? It's a top=secret, highly-classified and not commonly known operation to attempt something which could be refereed to as underpowered.

The computer my friend gave me is great, but had two problems. First, no hard drive. This was not really a problem since I can just stick mine in there. But that brings problem two: power supply. Somehow she had no plugs for a SATA drive. This only confirms my belief that she is crazy.

Originally I was going to put both the new and old power supplies in. This would have been Operation Overpowered. But it fell apart in the planning stages when it was found that one of them wouldn't even turn on, due to not being plugged into the motherboard.

A simple swap of power supplies was out of the question. For some reason, Dell uses a monstrously over-sized power supply that does not even come close to fitting. But a complex swap still had potential. So I did what anyone else would do: created a hideous abomination.

The PSU is now stationed in the front of the case, taking up all of the spaces for DVD or CD drives. It's not really attached. By which I mean not at all attached. The way the cords are twisted causes it to slightly fall into the case. Fortunately the external power cord fixes this, since it has to be run through the front of the case to get to the PSU, where it acts as a counterweight and tension in the other direction. You might have figured out that this also means it is facing in the opposite direction as usual.

There aren't enough molex (the 4-pin things that my friend told me not to call 4-pin because that's something else) connectors to fit a DVD drive, not that one would fit anyway.

Windows decided it did not like this. Specifically, it decided that I was probably some sort of terrible pirate. After a total of four tries at activation it decided that I had indeed legally acquired my copy of Windows. But that didn't mean it was going to just talk to my new motherboard like they'd met before. So then came driver time. I'd done this before with no problems: looking up drivers on the nearby Mac, downloading them to a USB drive, and copying them over. That didn't work. Somehow the majority of them ended up corrupted and then DOS decided to join the whinefest with complaints about programs being too big for the memory. My other friend (yes, I have just indirectly counted my friends as 1 and 2 and stopped at that point) suggested that it was something to do with downloading. Normally I'd call him a socialist for even suggesting such a thing (I also say this for good morning and hello), but I was trying to make my computer be less fail.

So I unplugged everything and stuck the hard drive back in my old case, at which point it decided it no longer wanted to be referred to as boot drive, since that was apparently offensive. A bit more convincing and by convincing I mean randomly renabling nonexistent SATA drives, which it whined about, and I'd managed to get it to start and function just like normal. At which point Windows decided to complain again, which at least this time I could say "ask me later" and it didn't respond with "okay" followed by a log out. I used my now-functioning computer to download the drivers and unpack them. Switch everything back to the new, install them, and finally, a working computer. XP even recognizes the majority of the new RAM. Pretty awesome, right?

Here's the picture of the abomination.

P.S. I guess I never explained the name. My old Dell PSU is only 350 watts while the newer one is 500, so I'd also been briefly worried that it wasn't enough. But guessing at the specs for a power supply calculator, it said I had plenty. So I ignored that and figured a few flames and smoke could be ignored if it came to that.


Kring said...

I'm not so sure that it's a good idea that your PSU exhausts it's hot air into your computer. That might ... make it hot in there. :)

There would also be the option to use some kind of an adapter. :)


Klepsacovic said...

QUIET! That's Operation Adaptation and it is phase two. And was highly secret classified until you ruined it.

Since it's backward the PSU vents out the front through the empty drive slots.

Kring said...

But... on your picture it's not backward, is it?

Masterlooter said...

There is a way to power up a PSU without plugging it into a motherboard. All that's needed is a paperclip and the know-how. Incase you every want to go the dual PSU route.

Kring, I'm pretty sure the fan you see on the PSU in the pic is an intake fan, not an exhaust fan. You can see that it is on the side that the cables come out of. So the air isn't flowing correctly, but at least not blowing hot PSU air on your CPU. - it's just sucking hot CPU air into your PSU.

Also Klep, still going to recommend a fresh reload of Windows when you switch HW platforms. It may seem like a pain at first, but 10x easier than chasing down drivers and other problems that may arise.

Rem said...

Just a hint: you can actually use two PSUs at once. You power up the one not plugged into the motherboard by briefly shorting the first and second pin in its motherboard connector - that's what the MB would otherwise do to turn it on. Several years ago I did that to give a graphics card an independent power source :D

I'd google it to be safe in case my memory is not perfectly exact and ... you know ... be careful not to get electrocuted.

Rem said...

*waves at Masterlooter* I blame OpenID for coming up a minute late :p

Kring said...

Can you please stop giving such dangerous advice to Kleps? I blame you two if that was his last post... :)

I'm not sure that's the intace fan because the intake fan is normally on the same side of the PSU as the (115/230 V) power plug.

But now that I think about it... isn't that part of the ATX standard that hot air should be exhausted towards your CPU? Probably the most outdated and stupid standard still in use today...

Masterlooter said...

lol @Kring. Sorry. Compared to the crowd I usually hang out with, Kleps is quite eloquent. And of course, as we all know, eloquence is directly related to one's technical prowess.

All I know off the top of my head of the ATX standard is that airflow goes front to back, bottom to top. Many (most?) ATX PSUs will have an exhaust fan for obvious reasons, but only some have intake fans (usually higher end ones).

By design that upper part of the PC will be hotter than the rest. Remember ATX was designed around the time the original Pentium processor was the best on the market. Many of those systems didn't even need heat sinks on the CPU in the first place. Air flow was designed around the parts that actually got hot, such as HDDs and graphics cards.

Now that CPUs actually generate significant heat on their own, gooder cooling solutions are needed. That's part of the reason why you'll see some newer chassis with the PSU at the bottom of the chassis instead of the top.

Klepsacovic said...

@Masterlooter: The only windows CD I have laying around is specifically for a Dell, and not even the Dell I just replaced. I ended up using it a few months back after I decided to do a fresh install and had just as many driver issues, just the "too big for memory" one was new, but seems to either be resolved or in a position to be safely ignored.

@Kring: I'm pretty sure that when normally installed, the fan blows front to back. It is definitely backward, so currently the PSU vents out the front. This means that it isn't blowing onto the CPU, but it is blowing opposite, which could theoretically, in a tiny tiny way, cause it to be fighting the fan in the back of the case.

If my computer was off I could easily pull open the PSU. It has no screws, since I removed them years ago when I was considering switching the fan. It used to buzz/rattle (the fan), but then I found that punching it was cheaper than replacing it.

@Masterlooter: I believe technical competence is directly related to the number of non-trivial computer problems one has. Anyone can get a virus, but it takes real work to get boot problems. Or the time I put a boot password in the BIOS and forgot it... Then I learned my mobo had a pin I could pull to fix that, for certain definitions of fix.

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