Question Weekend Question: What expensive hardware have you ruined?

PCG Jody

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Dec 9, 2019
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I ask the PCG staff a regular Weekend Question and post the answers on the site. If you'd like to throw in an answer here, I'll squeeze the best into the finished article!

This week the question is: What expensive hardware have you ruined?

I'm not suggesting any of you have broken something by exhaling vape smoke into it, but we all make mistakes. Soldering accidents, static electricity, coffee spills, we've all busted something valuable. I spilled a cup of tea on a laptop once. Tell me your goofs, or share those of friends and family and co-workers so we can all wince at them together.
Apr 25, 2020
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I got my first rig around the time Morrowind released. It was a Medion from the Aldi (for those in Europe) so it wasn't special, it did not even have the revolutionairy shiny realistic water stuff in Morrowind.

Anyway, I played a lot of Europa Universalis II at the time. Because I was looking for something new for my next playthrough I at one point decided to let the game run at max speed for a couple of hours, while I was doing some other stuff downstairs. That would give me a random start I didn't play yet, so I thought.

Instead, when I returned, I found my monitor frozen, the PC not responding and some stuff inside fried. I used all my expert computer skills I had at the time (cntrl alt esc, alt f4, repeat) but my first desktop couldn't be reanimated.
I don't know what you've heard, but there's no way I destroyed a $2700 Alienware laptop by going cheap on the surge protector. That would be ridiculous and definitely never happened. *still wiping away tears two years later*

Now everything of any value in the house is plugged into Tripp Lite protectors that come with $150,000 insurance policies.
1994-ish: On one occasion it took us about a year to tell our dad that our PC broke, it just wouldn't start. He just didn't noticed it that we played outside for a whole year, without touching any PC games. I think our dad easily payed hundreds of pounds to make up for our mess-up. The computer guy told us never to use MS DOS 'double space' again (lol) (as 14 year old 'experts', we switched the OS from DR DOS to MS DOS). To this day, never really know what happened (it probably wasn't ever our mistake, maybe a power spike), but it was a very expensive repair. He replaced some hardware components and that was it. We even got a new HDD. On another occasion: Me and my brother once wiped all CMOS settings on our 386SX. Remember: that's the time when there was nothing like 'automatic detection' or someting like that. It happened after starting 'international soccer challenge'. I remember it to this day. No idea if it was a virus, never used that disk again. So, the guys at the computer store had their hands full (again). Luckily the cost was not hardware related, but boy: those dudes weren't cheap.


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Jan 13, 2020
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Not really ruined, but I sent my Logitech MOMO racing wheel and pedal set - that I had since before 2004 - to Goodwill around 2012. Simply because it didn't work with like ONE game, and I was tired of finding a "place" for it. It wasn't exactly easy to put... anywhere. I'd assume that either Goodwill or whoever got their hands on it has destroyed it by now :<
Gather around boys and girls, it's story time! This was in 2004, I had just finished a shuttle PC build. Now days I think they call me SFFPC, or small factory form PC's but that is neither here or there. Anyway shortly after I build this PC I was deployed to Iraq, I had my PC shipped to me out there to use during downtime. I was able to use it in my living area with the help of a power converter. Well, one night I had to work somewhere else on the outpost on the overnight; I took my tiny PC with me but not my power converter. Without thinking I just plugged it straight into the wall with a plug adapter...The results where not good. Not only did I fry my only power supply, but I caused a blackout on the whole outpost until the emergency generators kicked on. I quickly put my PC back in the large bag I had while they searched for the source of the outage. Remember Deny... Deny...Deny... I never brought another PC or laptop with me for the other deployments after that.
Ummm, @FreezerBurn, what game were you trying to play? You weren't trying to play a war game while actually IN a war, were you?? That'd be kinda like your flight getting delayed because the pilot was playing Microsoft Flight Simulator and lost track of time.
Yes I was... Oh it was Battlefield Vietnam. All that just to play what had to be one of the worse games in that series. It was fun to play between missions. We also used it to play bootleg movies and music.
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Nov 16, 2020
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So uhh, I've broken a LOT of hardware...

1998: (Not so much broken, just scared the crap out of me.) Just gotten my very first brand new Windows OS computer, Pentium MMX @ 233Mhz (not the P2) with 32MB of RAM. I had never really seen or played with a "modern" BIOS at this point, and started tinkering, figuring out what I could switch to make the system either boot faster or operate faster. I managed to inadvertently configure BIOS for no IDE devices installed, so the system simply stopped trying to POST. It took me a week of agonizing over admitting to my grandpa that I broke the brand new computer he got me, or try to find somebody to give me guidance; I ended up talking to my friend's dad who was far more into computers than I, and recommended that I just reset CMOS... I felt really dumb, and then really emboldened to see what I could do with it. I never told my Grandpa. Lesson learned: Don't play with stuff unless you know how to undo it.

2000: First Windows computer (from above), upgraded to 256MB. Original board had 2 PCI slots on it, 3 ISA, and 2 ISA-Extended slots. I had done some work inside the case flipping DIPs to try to overclock my CPU (to very limited success), and had forgotten to re-install my ISA 56k modem. I happened to call a friend who wanted to play C&C Red Alert with me, so I got off the phone and proceeded to go to my computer to get ready. I had just learned that PCI was supposed to be hot-pluggable, and assumed ISA was the same. Attempted to plug my modem into my PC while it was on, POP, no more computer. It was a sad month until I saved enough to both find and purchase a replacement Socket 7 mobo (they were already phased out and hard to find). Lesson learned: Make sure you know exactly what the hell you're doing before doing.

2003: Blew up an AMD Duron that I overclocked almost instantly. System managed to start booting Win XP, then loud POP with a small waft of smoke out of the case, and that CPU/board was done. Lesson learned: Don't buy cheap CPUs and try to OC them.

2011: Rebuilding my home-built pfSense router, I was mounting the CPU (Athlon x2 4200+) back into the socket (Socket A, it had the flathead screwdriver spot to help mount the clip), and my screwdriver slipped, hitting the back of the GPU, severing a number of traces on the board near the slot. It rendered that poor 8600GS lobotomized to PCIe x8 from PCI x16 and if it was in an actual x16 slot, it wouldn't even POST. Funnily enough, that same router config is still running to this day, just GPU now in x8 slot for life. (And yes, it does push Gigabit speeds without breaking a sweat.) Lesson learned: Avoid Socket A fan mounts.

2013: First (and so far only) 8-core computer rocking an FX-8120, all core OC'd @ 4Ghz 24/7 with Corsair H80 in push/pull configuration. Came home WAY late one night after being out with the roommate to find that unmistakable stench of blown electronics, and my computer dead. I had bought a cheaper gaming board with OC capability, but no power phase heatsinks, and then took away any airflow down onto the chips by going watercooling. Board and CPU died instantly, everything else was salvageable. Lesson learned: Don't leave heavily OC'd hardware unattended, and don't cheap out on components if you plan on OC'ing.

2018: Dumped ~1 liter of Cherry Coke into my Razer BlackWidow Chroma (v1 with the 5 macro keys), it survived after a vigorous rubbing alcohol and warm water bath, though, the switches are now starting to stickkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk. Still rocking the half-broken thing. Lesson learned: Do NOT keep sugary drinks on my desk. (I still do, just much further away from my keyboard.)
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