PC Repair and Sunk Cost Fallacies

We have a Gateway Profile 5.5 that we bought used at a Hamfest.  While not the latest or greatest, it was at least a solid workhorse of a machine, until it suddenly switched itself off.  When it came back on, the screen presented only this:

This system's cooling fan is not operating properly. Please check fan operation. 
Your system has been halted.

It probably wasn’t worth a lot of money to fix, so I made the natural assumption that one of the fans had either failed or was clogged with dust.  I thoroughly cleaned the interior, checked the fan bearings, cleaned the heatsinks and replaced the heat sink compound.  It worked for about a day before I got the same message, from which it absolutely refused to recover.

One of the fans was a relatively expensive squirrel cage fan, but fine, if it took new fans to make all this worthwhile, then I’d buy brand new fans.  The PC booted all the way, but wouldn’t run a full burn in test without shutting itself down.

The other possibility was that the sensors on the motherboard were defective.  Motherboards for the system were available, but at a premium relative to their capabilities due to their proprietary nature.  Fine.

As of this moment, to fix this problem, I have gone through:

  • 4 motherboards (2 refused to boot, 2 with the same fan message)
  • 2 sets of fans
  • 2 power supplies
  • An I/O board
  • A hard drive
  • A CPU
  • Two sets of RAM

In a very literal way, there is nothing left of the original PC except the LCD screen and a plastic shell, leading me with several possibilities:

  • This is a common problem due to a failure of a component on the motherboard
  • Through some relationship bordering on magical, the problem is caused by the LCD (or even more unlikely, by the case itself, somehow.)
  • I am exceedingly unlucky, and have experienced the same type of failure on multiple components within the same short period of time (or I manage to keep buying defective parts.)

The worst part is, even though I’m well aware of the sunk cost fallacy and that any further attempt to repair this PC is likely to result in nothing more than a time consuming way to dispose of money, the pile of parts which should be a functional PC instill an overwhelming desire in me to fix this PC, and once and for all find out what’s really wrong with it.

Probably ghosts.

Share
Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.