Help my computer from exploding again!!

OK I'm putting this here because I think for what I am asking it may be relevant. In the past I have bought all of my computers from either Alienware, or IbuyPower. I now have a family and blowing 3 grand on a computer is no longer an option. I recently had a lot of help from Mr Pizza and Coldsleep and I have come to a build and it has been ordered.

COOLER MASTER HAF 932 Blue RC-932-KKN3-GP Black Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case
G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL7D-4GBRM [...] mbo.469415

Video Card:
XFX HD-587X-ZNFC Radeon HD 5870 1GB 256-bit DDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card
Power Supply:
XFX Black Edition P1-750B-CAG9 750W ATX12V v2.2 / ESP12V v2.91 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS SILVER Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply [...] 63938&SID=

ASUS P7P55D-E Pro LGA 1156 Intel P55 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
Operating System:
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders - OEM [...] 13-131-621

Processor: (Changed from i7)
Intel Core i5-760 Lynnfield 2.8GHz 8MB L3 Cache LGA 1156 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor BX80605I5760
CPU Cooler
ZALMAN CNPS9900ALED 120mm 2 Ball Low-noise Blue LED CPU Cooler [...] mbo.459421

I will be using a "old" WD 1T Black hard drive (which actually got about 10 hours of use) and a 2 year old Optical drive (whatever IBuyPower put in my computer last.)

Long story short, my old hard drive was dying and I got a new on RMAd from Western Digital. Installed it no problem, installed Windows Vista, downloaded WoW:WOtLK, then that night went out and bought Starcraft II. Installed SC II and as I was changing the resolution and graphics to max and loading the game for the first time my computer exploded. This really is not an exaggeration.

The lights were off, as it was like 1 am, and I saw an arc or electricity come from the back of the computer (it was quick but I assume it was the PSU) and hit the motherboard/processor area. Two soft pops and a loud BANG later, the power cord blew out the back of the computer, and smoke and the smell of electrical burning came pouring out of the fans from the case. I am not being dramatic lol, it was quite spectacular. There are actually scorch marks on the motherboard near the chip.

The computer was 3 years old or so, and I just decided it would be better just to start from scratch, seeing how I had never built my own before and what better time to learn than now?! So in an attempt to not bore the people who have actually continued to read my story, I guess I'm asking if this was my fault? Was I supposed to do something software/hardware wise to the computer after reinstalling Windows Vista?

The reason I am posting this on the "Overclocking" forums is I believe it had something to do with either heat or voltage once I did the reinstall. Possibly a PSU or mother board setting and I know people in the forum would use software for such things.

Which brings me to my ultimate question. Once I build my computer, what programs should I be running, what should I be looking for (heat, voltage, settings wise) and how do I know my computer is running properly and hopefully prevent another computer "explosion"??? Something went horribly wrong with my last computer, and I would like to avoid that same from happening again. I currently and NOT planning on overclocking, but this is not out of the realm of possibility in the future.

Sorry if this makes no sense. Ask questions and hopefully I can answer them!
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  1. StarCraft II already has a reputation of killing PC's.

    Just replace your PSU every 2 years, and make sure there is no dust built up, etc, keep the case clean and ventilated.

    Until the first few patches I would recommend running SC II with Vsync ON as this will reduce the load on MOSFETs and other components.

    (A breif peak of 640+ fps can cause some components in a system to explode, this is why Valve limited Half-Life 2 to 300 fps, at least by default).

    Sometimes above 300fps you can hear components making a whistling noise or similar, sadly it is not going to be the same frame rate for different genre's or game engines.

    The fact of the matter is, the problem is real and Valve know about it (Blizzard probably do to, I just doubt they care since they can't be held liable for it).

    PS: Dell (including Alienware) aren't exactly know for using high quality power supply units, they even used to use the ATX connector in a non-standard way with modified power suppy units.
  2. Hello, glad you decided to build.

    "StarCraft II already has a reputation of killing PC's. "
    I don't know about this however I do not believe it applys anyway as the OP was not playing the game and was instead just adjusting settings.

    "Just replace your PSU every 2 years"
    Ha. If I replaced the PSU that often on my P4 I think I would be down a few hundred dollars by now. A good quality brand name PSU will last for ages, geez my P4's PSU is a "Yaha"...nice =]. Damn my Core 2 build is 1.5 years old already, which means I have to replace my Antec EA in 6 months. YEAH RIGHT.

    "they even used to use the ATX connector in a non-standard way"
    Hmmm I fail to see how that backed up your valid point that Dell PSUs are bad.

    Ok having finished that:

    When building a computer you should generally start up the BIOS and set the components to the specified ratings. RAM voltage, RAM speed, CPU clock speed, etc. However this is often automatic so you often just open it up and don't have to change anything.

    However you did not build the computer, you simply replaced the HDD. Therefore this was not the problem as the CMOS had still recorded your settings.

    When starting up a new build I would generally open HW Monitor and the run Prime 95 to stress the CPU. To make sure the temperatures are in spec, I also may run CPUZ to check if the CPU speed is correct. However this also does not apply to you as it was not a new build.

    I just listed that for your knowledge.

    As far as I can tell this is not your fault in anyway. No there is nothing you need to run after a reinstall, except driver installations. I would say that the generic PSU failed on you. Generic PSUs are bad and they are more likely to take your whole system with them when they fail. All you can do is make sure you grab a quality PSU for your next build.

    Hope this helps. Your PC isn't under warranty?.
  3. Sadly I went the cheap route and went with the one year warranty. Over one year those companies really make you pay quite heavily for an extended warranty. This is another reason I feel building my own this time would help. Not only would I gain a better understanding how all the components work together, but also have separate warranties on each piece of hardware.

    I am going to be following the Best of Tom's Hardware build a computer thread and I hope it will help me build it on my own as I do not know anyone who lives near me to help me out for my first build. To my understanding, I'm going to follow the instructions for each piece of hardware and get everything plugged in and inserted into the case and motherboard. In theory, I should then be able to just press the power button and boot to BIOS? I assume that is when I install my OS, and then run the programs to check my voltage, speeds and temperatures are all OK after it is installed.

    Can you provide some links please for the software that I should be using or are these programs included in Windows 7? HW Monitor, Prime 95 and CPUZ I guess are all secondary programs separate from Windows 7? Also, are they free?
  4. Yes you just do as you said and check the speeds and temps when in windows. Yes all the programs are free. HW Monitor and CPUZ are available here:

    Prime 95 64 bit is here:

    You should do fine by yourself, its pretty simple. You will be much happier with your build then with a crappy OEM one. Good Luck!
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