I'm sitting at my desktop about ten minutes ago when all of a sudden I heard what I can only describe as a fizzing or zapping noise, and then the system died. Attempts to power it back on result in absolutely nothing. I'm thinking it's probably the power supply, but I don't know for sure, and don't have another one to swap in and test it out - nor, for that matter, do I have a spare motherboard, or a spare CPU, if those are what did it.
Before I step on out to purchase a replacement PSU and see if that was the culprit, is there any way to check for sure?
If that doesnt make the fan on the PSU spin then it is definitely dead. Since you heard a noise check the motherboard for blown capacitors, it will be fairly obvious, and if the PSU or motherboard smells funky it is likely your culprit. Odds are it wasnt your CPU's fault, but it may very well have been killed too.
Nope, not at all. If you are stupid enough to hang onto a ground wire while you grab the paper clip with a wet hand you might get a slight tingle, but the voltage on the green wire and the max available current is very small, you will get more power out of a 9V battery.
If you are really concerned about shock, turn off the switch on the back of the PSU, plug in the paper clip, flip the switch on. Now if it were the real 5V rail instead of the 5VSB rail then it would be dangerous, but the whole point of the 5VSB rail is its not trying to provide power to anything, its just waiting to see that a connection has been made.
not sure i agree with that - the voltage on the rails may only be 5v, or 12v, but they can put out more than 15A of current - easily more than enough to kill a person, if the OP is unsure in any way about doing the 'clip-trick', i'd strongly suggest he doesnt.
What are the specs of your PC? if its a shop bought fairly modest spec, it would be pretty cheap to buy a modest generic PSU in order to see what the problem is, definitely much cheaper than a new PC.
Although I doubt you would hear it, I advise checking the capacitors on your motherboard since this is something you can check for free. Typically the tops of capacitors will appear concave... if any are convex or have visibly ruptured, there's your answer... or at the very least one of your problems. This is a fairly common problem... and one that I find myself overlooking when its staring me in the face. Just my 2 cents.