The Antec Aria
When I decided to build my Northwood-based PC back in 2004, I went for style and relative portability instead of ease of building, maintenance or cooling. While I was happy with the visual results, small footprint and portability, the same could not be said about how the processor heat sink's proximity to the side wall and the power supply's enclosure hanging right over it were causing the CPU fan to screech along at 3800 RPM after just a few minutes. This effectively forced me to permanently remove the side panel in order to make the fan noise bearable. The AR300 could have really used a lot more intake mesh area to help move air through the case, and especially out of the CPU area. Airflow inadequacy aside, everything else was fine until about a year ago.
What happened? I wanted to scan some documents. However, my scanner wasn't supported under Windows 8.1 running on a Core i5. So, I decided to boot the old Pentium 4-based box still running XP and get the job done that way. I pushed the power button and waited a few seconds. No noise, no lights, no fans. I checked the connections inside and out, and verified that the outlet I plugged into had power. Then, I unplugged the ATX connector and tried the “paperclip test”. Still nothing. Finally, I connected my digital multimeter to the 5VSB line and read 5.5V, confirming that the power supply was definitely receiving power and that something suspicious must be going on with the 5VSB output.
At this point, you might be thinking the situation sounds similar to the SL300 from a few months ago, and you would be correct. My first definitive proof that something had gone wrong with the SL300 was also increased output voltage on the 5VSB rail. Chronologically though, the AR300 failed a few months earlier. I chose to try repairing the SL300 first mainly because the SL300 could still be coerced into fully powering up, while the AR300's main outputs were completely unresponsive.
What do you do when your proprietary form factor power supply blows up? Either buy a refurbished or used replacement (if you can find a reasonably priced one from a trustworthy source), have it repaired, repair it yourself, rig it to a regular ATX PSU or ditch the proprietary case it came with. I did not feel like shoehorning my old P4 into a new case just to scan some paper, and still lacked the equipment to properly investigate at the time. I ended up rigging it by scavenging an old TigerPlus supply from a friend's PC that had been collecting dust for over a year. I put it on top of the Aria with its top and side panels off, plugged it in and called it done until further notice. The result wasn't pretty, safe or particularly reliable, but it got my scans done.
Since my first power supply repair story was such a success and some of you were curious about what went wrong with the AR300, I decided to investigate and hopefully restore my Aria to its former glory by fixing its proprietary form factor ATX power supply.
Before we get started, let's get the boring stuff out of the way.
I do not normally bother repairing power supplies beyond re-capping the outputs. This is only my second repair job that's more in-depth. You may want to read about my SL300 PSU repair if you have not done so already, since there will be many similarities and references to it.
As usual when fiddling inside line-powered equipment (and especially on the primary side of it), don't try this at home unless you are a trained professional or have equivalent experience. You assume all risks for whatever it is you decide to do.