Horror Story Contest Highlights!

Our Horror Story Contest has come to a close and our winner has been notified, but with so many wild and sad stories out there, we wanted to take a minute to highlight five of our unfortunate faves!

Caution: Falling Heat Sinks 

From @kopas

In the early 2000s... CPU retention mechanisms weren't nearly as reliable as they are today. I had just put the finishing touches on a Pentium 4 build. Perched atop my CPU was a massive hunk of copper, held in place by metal clips and a dainty bit of plastic on either side of the socket. As Windows was installing away, my attention was now on cleaning up the mess I hade made to the dining room and surrounding area. BAM! Thudda thudda thudda... ka-CHONK! I looked up to see my mid-tower case leaning slightly to one side and righting itself back. The monitor then went dark and small puff of smoke wisped out from the power supply. Upon further investigation, the plastic bits on the CPU socket had broken. The heatsink, now free of it's restraints, saw fit to lay waste to the internals of my brand new PC.
I ended up having to RMA everything except the optical drive. (Remember those?)

Always Check Your Plugs

From @nworbcire

Decided to build my first computer maybe 5-6 years ago, no experience other than online research/tutorials. I get all the parts and start assembling slowly, carefully, making sure not to discharge static electricity, keep uninstalled parts on their anti-static packaging, using "operation" style care moving my fingers/screwdriver/components. Everything went together quickly and was simple and intuitive like legos, or that box you play with as a kid where you push shapes through corresponding shaped holes. The only thing I needed instruction on was how to set up the jumpers for the front panel connectors on the case to the mobo, and I had to take the mobo back out after mounting because there wasn't room enough in the case to manipulate certains cables I hadn't yet attached.

Finally I finish. No static discharge. No spills/drops. No kids around to throw a nerf football at the open case. Seems like it was easier than I thought! Almost too easy.

I go to power on my brand new comp (i5-4690k, gtx 960, 8gb ram, 250 ssd, 2 tb hd, things that at the time were a step above what i was used to which set the bar for my excitement) she beeps once and starts to whir as the cooling fans power on, my graphics card lights up, I wait for the screen so I can start loading games/updates but nothing happens.....

I double check all the cables are tight. I double check the gpu/ram/monitor on a separate comp. All are verified good and working. I worry now that I got in too deep on my own. Did I just spend 1k on a machine that I can't make work? What an idiot I was for thinking it was going well. I take everything apart and put it back together again. Beep, whir, lights, nothing. I try what I think is everything I could possibly try. Beep, whir, lights, nothing. I curse the gods. Beep, whir, lights, nothing.

After torturing myself in this fashion for several hours I come to find that my stupidity was even greater than I could have imagined and I was simply plugging the monitor into the mobo and not the gpu. I had done everything else perfectly. Twice.

TL;DR spent an afternoon rebuilding a computer that was functioning fine because I plugged the monitor into the mobo and not the gpu....

The God of Lightning is Pleased.....

From @incred

So, back in the early 2000s I almost summoned Raiden and burned down the house. Let me explain. I had just gone through the journey of buying all the components needed to build a new gaming PC. I was still pretty new to the whole thing, but this wasn't my first build. The power of naïve confidence allowed me to rush the build together in no time, and I was pretty proud of myself. I simply had to power it up and behold the results. With the PC case laying on its side, I gave it a go.  

 The motherboard lights twinkled with life and the fans whirled for about half a second and for the span of a heart beat, I thought I had been successful. Then, the system fell dark. Strange. What's going on? I hit the power switch again and got the exact same results. A flicker of life, then nothing. I peered into the case and carefully checked every connection. I tried removing a stick of RAM. Nothing. Trying older RAM. Nothing. Same with the GPU. Same with just about every component. Same results. Nothing.  

 Why does it power up for only half a second and then die when I hit the power button? After all the trouble of swapping and reseating components, I was perplexed. I don't know what possessed me, but in the name of insanity I decided to flip the switch one more time. This time, the motherboard was not having it. 

 A piercing arc of light flashed from my motherboard and nearly reached the ceiling with a loud snap. This brief burst of angry electrons was short-lived, but I remember it vividly. It sparked upward from the motherboard and came crashing down against it. The event left in its wake a burning smell and a small puff of ominous smoke. That board was dead. Mercifully, my house was spared.    

 In the aftermath of depressing disassembly, I found the problem - one that I would have found if I had just been more careful and less rushed. I never put standoffs underneath the motherboard. That's right, it was sitting directly on a metal chassis and it shorted. If there was anything to be gained from that day, it was that I learned to prepare myself for a long building session. No hurrying, no skipped steps. Just do it right. I've never had such a problem again, but to this day I put the standoffs in FIRST.  

 You may now laugh at my bumbling youth.  :)

When the FBI Comes Knocking

From @Zelnar

Yeah, so, this is going to date me a little. So, I started building machines way back, because, well I couldn't afford a pre-built IBM PC, but I could afford a copy of ComputerShopper and an XT Clone. (Okay, I know I lost most of you there.) I had just finished building my XT Clone and had put in a used 5MB full height drive a friend had got for cheap (he owned a computer store selling unbranded IBM clones)  So, one day I am on a BBS and there is a message that some guy has a handful of "like-new" Seagate ST-225 20MB hard drives for sale for $150 each, some company is upgrading their machines and sold these machines as used and the guy is parting them out.  Cool.  Now, understand at the time 20MB drives are selling new for upwards of $800 each so, I'll take TWO!  Yeah, that was 3 car payments, and drained my account but heck, I couldn't pass it up.  So, they were AWESOME! Two half-height 20mb drives in my computer, yes my friends were jealous! That is until about two months later when there is a knock at the door.  A nice man with an FBI badge and another from AFOSI (Air Force) informed me that they were looking to recover stolen hard drives from Hanscom Air Force base.  Turns out the drives had been brand new, multiple CASES of drives had gone missing, they caught the guy, got my name from the BBS. Anyway, they didn’t charge me with anything, but they did take their drives and gave me a stern warning about “too good to be true deals” and after like 2 days of searching through my entire life and everything I owned looking for anything else and wanting to know if I knew anyone else who had bought the drives, they finally left me alone, poorer, but in peace.  Yeah, so, a year or so later I finally did get a bigger hard drive for my machine, but, that was my build from hell.

Don't Burp Your Baby Over an Open Case

From @Ericx112

Back in 2014 I was building a my gaming pc on the floor had the tower flat on the ground. When my wife shows up with our baby girl  in her arms she is about 6 months at the time, she came to see how it was coming along, I told her all I needed was to connect the gpu power cables and its all done. As I was done I decided to test it right there on the floor everything was running perfectly. But this is where it goes horribly wrong.

 As my wife sees everything is fine she turns around with the baby over her shoulder as she  is trying to burp her. She takes ones step and my daughter doesn't just burp, she vomits and it lands inside the tower while it was running. What most people would expect the pc turns off. I attempted to clean was hoping for the best following day I tried to power it on after making sure nothing  still had moisture. Yes what you would expect nothing was working, nothing powered on only thing the survived was my cpu and ram. After all this my wife blamed it on me for doing it on the floor and not the table.

To this day Each time I see my daughter playing on her pc it reminded me on what she when she was under 1 year old. "They said have kids it will be fun" but yes they are fun. This has been my worst experience ever building a pc.

If you're ever looking for things to avoid doing while building a PC, our Horror Story Contest page is still up and filled with tales of mistakes, woes, and random chance.

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