My best and worst PC-related moments

Written by Antony Leather

November 9, 2010 | 08:46

Tags: #fire #leak

I was talking cars with my brother the other day. He has owned several old VW Beetles which he's tweaked and modded over the years so has had plenty of good and bad experiences with them.

For example, the engine exploding and dumping all it's oil on the M4 (the stain is still there seven years later). I have a more modern car but we still have plenty to reminisce about our driving escapades.

Then I realised that I had just as many, if not more, interesting moments with the various incarnations of PCs I've owned too. Here are a few of them; feel free to share yours in the comments too.
No.1 The RAM stick of death.
Timing was of the essence with this one. I had a spare stick of RAM that I was installing into my parent's PC one weekend. It was a dinky case so was a little fiddly. This wasn't helped by the fact it was quite noisy - the family were round, the washing machine was on as well as two TV's.

My best and worst PC-related moments My best (and worst) PC-related moments
Thankfully, you're more likely to be killed by a shark than a stick of RAM.

Then, the instant I placed the stick of RAM in the DIMM slot, we had a power cut and the hole house seems to thump into blackness. For about 5 seconds, (it seemed a lot longer) I thought I was probably dead, having received an electric shock, and at the very best, I'd shorted out the electrics and the PC was toast. Thankfully, it was just a badly timed power cut but it had happened the instant the stick of RAM clipped into place. Thankfully the only thing I had to change was my underwear.

No.2 Water + electricity don't mix.
For those of you that know me, you'll know that I've been into my water cooling for getting on for a decade now. I've only ever had one hardware-killing leak though and this happened after a new build where I'd stupidly taken someone's advice that 7/16 ID tubing doesn't need hose clamps. Having heated it up and shrunk-fitted it onto the barbs, I was playing Battlefield 2 shortly after its release and was amazed by some awesome water sound effects that sounded like I was next to a river.

I then realised I was on a map called Strike at Karkand in the middle of a city and the sound was actually coming from my PC. The horror of the situation inside my PC was quickly revealed as a quick glance at the motherboard showed one of the hoses on the CPU waterblock had come loose and was spraying the motherboard with coolant.

Thankfully, only the motherboard and sound card had gone the way of the Dodo - amazing given that my PC had decided to become a jacuzzi. I stuck with water cooling though but ever since then I've always used hose clamps as the tubing can become loose over time and when warm, can become flexible enough to come off.

No.3 The upgrade bug
Is it just me or do you still yearn for the days of the 9800 Pro? It seemed that back then spending £200-300 on a new high-end graphics card usually yielded a massive increase in frame rates and visual splendour. One of the most prominent PC moments for me was when Nvidia's 6-series was released back in 2004. A few games I was playing at the time made use of Shader Model 3, Far Cry being one of them.

I ordered my 6800 GT online and went to collect it from the store. What followed next was a week of solid jaw dropping and wide-eyes as my favourite games benefited from superb water effects and the like as well as huge increases in frame rates from my 9800 Pro. It was the only time I've paid more than £300 for a graphics card and in my view it was money well spent, especially after I water-cooled it.

No.4 It's alive!!!
For most people, building your own PC and powering it on for the first time is quite a big moment.

This might be the reason why building my first water-cooled PC a few years later was an even more exciting experience. It was terrifying too as I'd only bought my motherboard and graphics card a few weeks earlier. Having connected everything up in the loop outside the case first to get my bearings, with no leaks present I dismantled everything and started to install it into my case.

Over the next two days I sat leak testing again, this time with just the pump running, terrified to turn my system on too. Eventually though I persuaded myself there were no leaks and turned my PC on too. The combination of the sound of the hard drives spinning up and water gushing through the waterblocks was terrifying and awe-inspiring at the same time. I felt like the creator of Frankenstein - it was like some super-advanced PC had come to life in my living room.

So what are your best and worst PC moments? Let us know in the comments.
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