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[tlug] Dell Dimension-C Autopsy

I disassembled my dead Dell Dimension-C and did an autopsy. First thing I should report is that - contrary to what I reported earlier - the machine *was* making a noise, but only a faint high pitched electronic sound that I didn't notice before (irrespective of the power button - the pushing of which has no effect on the machine whatsoever). The problem can be explained in a word:


I'm glad the topic of bad capacitors came up earlier and also glad I saw the batch of the cursed Dell Dimension-C's in a junk shop with their capacitors ballooned out at the top, as that enabled me to quickly spot the trouble. In my old machine (bought new in... 2000.... with 20GB HDD, 128MB RAM & 565MHz Celeron), nearly all the capacitors (except the smallest ones) have ballooned tops, and one of them leaked a very dark brown goo that flowed about 8cm across the main circuit board - that's probably the detail that stopped the board from functioning.

Taking a close look at the underside of the circuit board I see that the contact area for the capacitor pins is very small (having been soldered by a machine, not human hands) and would require a proper soldering iron at a proper temperature, with the proper very narrow tip size and - last but not least - steady and careful hands and skillful application of heat. If computers were more expensive and if the Dimension-C wasn't such a rotten design, I'd consider it, but instead I bought a used Fujitsu FMV with full-size CD-ROM for Y9,800 with P-III 933MHz, 128MB & 40GB. I added the 256MB card I had in the Dimension-C and a DVD-ROM I had laying around and it's working fine.

The design of the new (used) Fujitsu is quite nice by the way - there's an "Open/Lock" knob on the back - you turn it to "Open", slide the cover off, and the CD-ROM and hard drive slide out from the front - so it's very easy to change them. And - in marked contrast to Dell - although the machine only has one hard drive, it came from the factory with plugs ready to accept a second drive. To add a second drive to some old Dell OptiPlex boxes I used, I had to buy an internal (DC) power cord... multiplier? (Not sure what to call it.) The Dell Dimension-C is the second Dell I've had to go suddenly dead on me, so I've developed a slight Dell allergy (although I am a big fan of those old OptiPlexes, which never gave me any serious trouble).

Any comments about Fujitsu computers out there? The two I have right now are working well so far (although they are not entirely happy with one of my KVM switches...).


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