The capacitor plague and wasted hardware

After being involved in computers for around 15 years now, every once in a while I experience one common occurrence and that is the failing of hardware. It's been a few weeks since I had a failed disk. It's been this week that I realized that three monitors died at our office in the last few years. Hardware seems to be dieing more recently than not. It's a shame a lot of components seem to be usable, but are usually being discarded along with perfectly functioning hardware.

This is a power supply, out of a cheap desktop PC which was purchased for about $400 back in the day, today being practically worthless. The power supply is not functional, but the rest of the computer is functional and in good shape. It is almost surprising to me, that a common problem with inflated capacitors did not occur on this even-then budget machine.

The problem with this is, that as an almost worthless machine, it would cost $180 to replace the power supply with a new or refurbished one. At that cost it is more appropriate to put the same amount into a new hardware setup, which is more powerful and aesthetic and has media capabilities.

I find this sad. Obviously, investing in new hardware is needed, however creating waste out of perfectly functioning hardware seems ... wasteful. The hardware has possibility for use in a non-critical environment (like your grandmothers apartment, if she isn't filthy rich or is given iPads as birthday presents). It is more than capable to perform most tasks you and anyone do online and can even be used for gaming (Especially if you're a fan of Quake Live).

So how where will this machine end up? It will be moved to our internal LAB workbench, where a Linux cluster will be set up, and will be used to test software as well as test hardware and network equipment. While it won't be used for any real work, there is a lot of research that can be done on this aging equipment, and hopefully it will take a few more years, before we have to throw it out completely.

Unless I manage to get my hands on a 150W or 160W picoPSU for about $70 (or even less if possible), it will just have to run out off a standard size ATX PSU. Thankfully, I have a few of those in working condition just lying around collecting dust.

- Tit Petric

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