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PC Freezes up after sitting idle

eMachines (hush)
November 10, 2008 at 15:54:16
Specs: WinXP Home, AMD Athlon 3000+/2 GB RAM

Hi, for the past couple days I find my mouse and keyboard are frozen after the computer sits idle for a while. I dont know how long to be exact. This time it sat about 9 hours. I am forced to do a forced hard boot. It may happen in less time too I just dont know yet.

This is a new problem and I havent added any hardware or software so it's not a driver issue. It's been working fine for a couple years.

I picked up and removed a virus a couple months ago and this wasnt happening until yesterday. I dont know the name for the virus but it added the phrase "virus alert!" everywhere.

Anyway, any thoughts?

Thank you very much.


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#1
November 10, 2008 at 16:47:18

Do you have any power settings set to go to standby?
Do you use a screensaver?

Try turning off any of those that you have enabled.


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#2
November 10, 2008 at 17:20:23

I don't know, it still might be portions of that virus still in your computer. BUT, it could also be your power supply. The newer EMachines have bad power supplies in them. If it is not supplying enough power, or supplying too much power, it could freeze the system. If you let it go long enough, it may take out your whole motherboard. If I had an EMachines, I'd definitely get that power supply replaced even if it worked fine. A friend of mine gave me his EMachines to see why it wouldn't turn on. You guessed it, the power supply was bad and took out the motherboard. EMachine power supply failures are very common on the internet.

WinSimple Software


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#3
November 10, 2008 at 17:31:31

No Screensaver, no standby, the only thing I have set is for hard drive to shut off after 15 min. But again, I havent made any changes and things have worked fine for a few years.

As far as the virus lingering, I just wonder why it would wait so long to finally show this symptom. If its that.

Power supply... ugh. I hope it's not that.

Thank you for your replies... hopefully more will come too...


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Related Solutions

#4
November 10, 2008 at 19:46:06

It might very well be the power supply, but I would try first removing the standby option for the hard drive. From what I have read, that is not recommended and can cause problems.

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#5
November 10, 2008 at 20:11:27


Emachine computers are well known to have el-cheapo power supplies that tend to fail more often than average, and when the power supply fails completely, they are a lot more likely than average to damage something else, often the mboard.
This has been the case for at least 5 years if not longer. There was a succesful class action suit against emachines in the US not long ago about this common problem.

Many examples of dead or failing emachines computers.......
See response 1 in this:
http://www.computing.net/windowsxp/...

Check your power supply.
See response 4 in this:
http://www.computing.net/hardware/w...

If there are indications it might be failing, if you replace the power supply BEFORE it fails completely, doing that will probably restore your system to working fine again.

If it is a BESTEC power supply I recommend you replace it in any case.

If you have a tower system, in most cases you can replace it with any standard (PS/2 sized) ATX power supply that has the same capacity rating or above. If you tell us your model number I can confirm that.


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#6
November 10, 2008 at 20:26:07

I completely agree with Tubesandwires' advice. If it's a Bestec power supply, get it replaced regardless of whether or not it's the culprit for these freeze-ups.

WinSimple Software


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#7
November 11, 2008 at 02:42:32

Thank you all for the advice I guess I will look into a new power supply. Hopefully that will also fix my problem.

Tubesandwires, you asked for the model number. It is the eMachines W3400 and here is the spec page from eMachines support.

http://www.emachines.com/support/pr...

Thanks a lot !


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#8
November 13, 2008 at 10:58:52

emachines W3400

NOTE that you have a MSI mboard on this system.
Some MSI mboards have the bad capacitor problem.
Check your mboard for them BEFORE you buy a replacement power supply.

Open up your case and examine the mboard to see if you have bad capacitors, and/or other findable signs of mboard damage .

This was the original bad capacitor problem - has some example pictures.
History of why the exploding capacitors and which mboard makers were affected:
http://members.datafast.net.au/~dft...

What to look for, mboard symptoms, example pictures:
http://www.badcaps.net/pages.php?vid=5
Home page that site
- what the problem is caused by
- he says there are STILL bad capacitors on more recent mboards.
http://www.badcaps.net/

Pictures of blown capacitors, other components, power supplies, Athlon cpu's, etc.:
http://www.halfdone.com/Personal/Jo...
............................................

Your power supply is confirmed to be a standard (PS/2) size and has standard ATX wiring.
If you already have a used standard ATX power supply or can borrow one temporarily that has 300 watts or more capacity, I recommend you try that first before you buy a PS to see if that cures your problem (the colors of the wires must be identical at each position in the main connector from the PS).
.....

I found info that says W3400 probably has a BESTEC power supply p/n 100889 or 100929, or a part number compatible with those.

Example replacement PS for eMachines p/n's 100889 and 100929, and similar:
http://www.power-on.com/atx12vem300...

That site confirms your PS is a standard (PS/2) size and has standard ATX wiring - if you hold your cusor over the connectors, it shows you which colors the wires are and what they are for.

You don't necessarily have to get a power supply from that site - any standard ATX power supply with 300 watts or more capacity will do - just DO NOT get a BESTEC power supply - make sure the source is selling you a replacement model, NOT a BESTEC one.
(If your present PS is 250 watts 250 watts or more capacity will do.)

The main connector of the BESTEC power supply and this replacement has no wire at position 18 in the 20 position main connector. It doesn't matter whether a replacement power supply main connector has a wire there - it's white if it has one - or not - it's used only for a certain function if the mboard has ISA slots, which does not apply to your mboard. If there is no white wire, if a mboard has ISA slots they will still work, they just won't support that seldom used function.

Many recent power supplies can be used on mboards that have either a 20 position main connector, or a 24 position main connector, by means of a one piece 20 position main connector, and a 4 pin connector you can place beside it if needed on mboards that require a 24 position connector. The wiring of the one piece 20 position connector is identical to that of power supplies that have only that connector and no provision for the 24 position connector on the mboard.
The wiring colors are standardized and relate to standard uses at these main connectors. The colors of the wires at the same positions in the main connector, and the numbers of wires at each position (some positions have two wires), must be identical for both the PS originally connected to the mboard and the new PS.

Just don't buy an el-cheapo PS - there are more poor power supplies being made these days than ever before. It should be a brand with a good reputatation, it should have at least a one year warranty, or better, a three year warranty, and it should have anti-short and overvoltage protection built in.
......

A very good unofficial emachines systems support information site:
http://www.e4allupgraders.info

Your actual mboard is a MSI-7145 (RS-480M-IL)
(identical to the MSI model except it has an emachines bios version on it):
http://www.e4allupgraders.info/dir1...

MSI manual, mboard revision 2.1, last download on this Downloads page:
http://www.e4allupgraders.info/dir1...

This is a decent mboard - I installed the MSI version (MSI bios version) on a friend's system a while ago.
There is more support for it on the MSI site.
Make sure the info and downloads you find there are for revision 2.1 - there may be other mboard revisions.
Flashing the bios with a version for the wrong mboard revision may result in you having a mboard that WILL NOT BOOT!


Regarding bios updates found there, or anywhere....

Flashing the bios is NOT a fix-all!!
Usually flashing is an un-necessary risk and will not cure your problem!
DO NOT flash your bios unless you find specific info such as in release notes for a bios version, or in release note for an older bios version that is newer than the mboard already has since newer bios versions almost always include all previous fixes, that it will cure a problem you are having.

If you want to be able to re-load the original emachines software installtion, DO NOT use an MSI bios version - the Recovery disk or Recovery disk set for your emachines model will probably refuse to load it's contents if the bios is not an emachines bios version, and/or if the mboard is not the same model or in a small group of models meant to be used with the disk or set of disks.
.....

These I learned thru experience...........

You have a decent mboard.

As I recall this model has a 24 "pin" main connector socket but can use either a 20 or 24 "pin" main wiring connector from the PS - it works fine with a 20 "pin" one - see the mboard manual.

Some MSI mboards have the bad capacitor problem.

Some MSI models have a soldered in bios chip, rather than a removable bios chip in a socket on the mboard, despite the fact the picture of the mboard may show it in a socket. If your bios chip is soldered in, I recommend you DO NOT flash the bios - if something goes wrong while flashing or if the bios chip physically fails, the mboard will not boot - it can be replaced by some vendors on the web, but it's expensive enough that it's usually much cheaper to replace the mboard.
If the bios chip is in a socket, if the bios chip needs to be replaced, a reasonably priced option is for you to get another one from a vendor on the web, already flashed with the latest manufacturer's update.
E.g. You can get a soldered in bios chip replaced, if you are in the US, or get such a replacement bios chip here:
http:/www.badflash.com

Some MSI models, or two or more mboard revisions of a model, look identical in pictures.
Sometimes the only difference is visually hidden - the one main chip under the heatsink is different. If you are considering flashing the bios, if in doubt, release the pins holding the heatsink on the main chip on the back side of the mboard to confirm which actual chip is under it, and compare that to the specs for the model or revision you think it is (if the mboard is already installed, remove it so you can do that).


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#9
November 15, 2008 at 12:48:54

WOW.
Thank you so much Tubesandwires, for the extensive information. I can't thank you enough for the time you spent explaining that all to me... a complete stranger.
Thank you!

I will look at these capacitors now and hope for the best. I have 2 identical machines, I picked them up for $200 ea. including 17" monitors (open boxes) a couple yrs ago at Walmart. I'll have to open up the other one too, which happens to be working fine.

I do have a question regarding power supply. Are there things I should look for in a power supply? With children, Christmas coming, etc. I have to watch the budget and if I am going to replace 2 of these power supplies I'd like to do it affordably.

Any thoughts on this brand ?

COOLMAX V-500 500W ATX Power Supply

http://www.walmart.com/catalog/prod...

I need to do this right away so if there is a reason I should avoid this CoolMax I'd appreciate your thoughts. I'm alos reading the unofficial eMachines support site you provided the link to.

Again, Tubes... thank you so much for every bit of info you've given me.


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#10
November 16, 2008 at 11:08:56

Coolmax is a relative newcomer at making power supplies. They made until fairly recently and still make mostly cpu cooling fans and other computer cooling related products, and have a pretty good reputation for those.
Most of their power supply models are warrantied for one year; a few are warrantied for five.

The model you pointed to is one of their cheaper models, warrantied for one year.
It MIGHT be okay, and it is PROBABLY better than a BESTEC model, but if I were you I would choose something likely to be better, since Coolmax hasn't been making power supplies long enough for you to be able to find much info about how good they are over a longer time.
Something better usually costs more, but it doesn't necessarily have to cost a lot more.

Any decent PS with a rated 300 watts or more capacity will do you fine for these systems.
I have been told by pros at a place that builds custom systems all the time you don't ever need more than 350 watts PS capacity if your mboard has no PCI-E slots, unless the computer is a heavily loaded server.
The only reason you might need more capacity is if you might later use the power supply with a mboard that has PCI-E slots, in which case you would need 430 watts or greater.

For example on the Walmart site, they also have Antec models. Antec is a long time power supply maker headquartered in the US with an excellent reputation and excellent customer support.

Antec Basiq 350 Watt Power Supply
1 year warranty
$38.88
http://www.walmart.com/catalog/prod...

Antec Earthwatts Power Supply, 380W
3 year warranty
$49.88
http://www.walmart.com/catalog/prod...

Antec Basiq 500 Watt Power Supply
1 year warranty
$62.88
http://www.walmart.com/catalog/prod...

You don't necessarily have to get one of those - e.g. there are also good ones on the newegg site - but I'm not familiar with the reputation of some of the more recent brands. Generally, stay away from buying the cheapest ones listed on a multibrand list. Local smaller places that custom build computers and sell computer related parts often have some good power supplies - when you take into account the shipping you usually have to pay when you order online, your total cost may be cheaper despite the fact the PS may cost a bit more locally.

Where I am in Canada, the local competition is such that Walmart cannot compete with the prices other local places have for most computer related parts, and they are not the best place to buy from - they have slimmed down their selection - only printers and complete systems are competitive.

I have seen reviews of Antec power supplies where they have deliberately loaded them to the max capacity for long periods of time and they did not fail - some cheaper power supplies cannot actually stand up to that. I've even seen a few reviews where they deliberately overloaded the power supply up to about 10% and they did not fail.

Generally, the difference between power supplies warrantied for one year or less and those warrantied for a longer period is mostly the robustness of the components used inside the power supply. Cheaper power supplies usually have components and wire gauges that just barely meet the PSs specs - more expensive ones have components that exceed that and will stand up to severe conditions better. Some cheap PS makers actually lie about the max capacity, and the fan(s) may not have two ball bearings, or better, and have a sleeve bearing on one side (the fan will fail sooner).
An easy way to tell the difference is cheaper power supplies are usually much lighter in weight than more expensive ones.
A brand with a better reputation is more likely to make a more reliable power supply than a brand with a lesser reputation or a no name brand - e.g. An Antec PS is more likely to be more reliable than many other brands, even for PSs with the same warranty period length.

Long time good brands I know of?
excellent - Antec, Enermax,
very good - Thermaltake; Powercooler, but they haven't been making them as long
Good, reliable, often cheaper - AOpen; Startech - they're often re-branded but they test everything they sell.

Others may be able to tell you of brands that came along later that have a good reputation.



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#11
November 16, 2008 at 18:10:06

In my experience, Antec supplies run real warm. I have a 430W Antec TruePower 2.0 running in an AMD Sempron AM2 socket MSI system. The fan in the power supply doesn't do an adequate job keeping the system cool. Heat is just not good for computers because it shortens their lifespan. Granted, power supplies as well as other PC components are supposed to be atleast a little warm, but the system that has the Antec supply in it is the warmest computer I've ever seen. Adding another case fan doesn't help either, no matter what direction the fan is turning. Maybe the heat is the reason that I'm starting to get BSODs, random restarts, and Event Log entries that say "The driver detected a controller error on \Device\HardDisk\D."

Reading reviews on Newegg suggest that Antec's power supplies have deteriorated somewhat, as well as their tech support.

I have 2 other systems that both have Sparkle power supplies in them, one a used 235W powering a Pentium 3 system, and the other, a fairly new 350W powering yet another AMD Sempron system. Both stay cool, even in the summer. They have long cables, and they both have good weight to them. I've been using the 350W for about 7 months, and the other for a year.

WinSimple Software


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#12
November 17, 2008 at 06:48:50

I agree with Rayburn that Antec's power supplies have deteriorated somewhat. I now use PC Power and Cooling psu's in two of my computers. There are often some great deals at newegg on them.

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#13
November 17, 2008 at 12:05:51

Rayburn -
Are you basing your comments on an Antec in one system?
Some of the 64 X 2 cpus produce a lot of heat. Your heat problem is a lot more likely because of the cpu, not the power supply.
No PS should be adding any heat to the inside of the case at all - it's designed to get rid of it's own heat, as well as a certain amount of heat produced inside the case, but it can't make up for an inadequate cpu heatsink/fan combo, or a cpu or case fan fan blowing the wrong way.
Are you using a AMD supplied heatsink/fan that came in a kit with the CPU, or some other one? I have installed such that came in a kit for a 6000+ and a 6400+ and both run cooler than average with the AMD heatpipe heatsink and fan - both are 125 watt models. The cpu temp never goes above 45 C under any circumstances (nothing is overclocked; the computers were in my basement). If you're using another heatsink/fan combo, you may need to get a better one.
I haven't bought an Antec but my brother has a 4xx watt one, about 3 years old, 3 year warranty, and it does not produce excessive heat and it is quite quiet.
The only reason I haven't bought an Antec is where I am Enermax PSs are a fair bit cheaper than Antec locally, so I've bought 4 or 5 of those - their quality is still top notch.
The one disadvantage of an Enermax is if you ever need to RMA it, which I haven't had to do, there is no place to send it to in Canada, so higher shipping charges for me, but I believe there are places you can send it to in the US.

AMD has proven thru tests the most effective place to mount a case fan is as high as you can mount it on the back of the case, blowing OUT of the case.
Sometimes the openings where you mount a case fan are too restrictive to airflow, especially likely on a cheap case, and you need to cut out the metal there and install a grille instead (it will be noisy if it's an unrestricted hole without the grille).

Also, if you have fiddled with the fan on the cpu heatsink, if it can be mounted either way, all the cpu fans I know of blow TOWARDS the the heatsink and cpu - it isn't any where near as effective if it blows away from them.

Similarly, if you have a case with a duct on the case side, it's probably a lot more effective if the fan for it blows towards the heatsink and cpu.

I've heard Sparkle PSs are OK.

kx5m2q -

Last time I checked PC Power Cooling's PSs are actually re-branded power supplies made by others - they don't actually make their own - but if it's the same situation as Startech, if they test everything they sell thuroughly, they're probably OK.


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#14
November 17, 2008 at 12:24:22

Tubes-thanks for the information about PC Power Cooling's PSs. I know that they usually are rated highly by consumers on websites like newegg, and also, for example, by Maximum PC Magazine. As Rayburn mentioned, some of the consumer ratings on Antec PS's have been declining somewhat. That doesn't prove anything, of course.

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#15
November 17, 2008 at 12:26:36

Well I posted my last reply knowing that there were going to be questions, so therefore I'm prepared to answer them.

I'm not basing my opinion of Antec on one power supply, but also on my experience, and some on the reviews that I mentioned.

I don't have an X2 processor, just a standard single core Sempron. I am using the stock heatsink and fan. The fan connector is keyed to insert one way, so I can't change the direction if I wanted to. The AMD logo on the fan is facing upward, not towards the heatsink/fan. If I'm not mistaken, the fan was already mounted to the heatsink when I bought the processor, so to me AMD knew what direction the fan should be spinning in. Right now the CPU is at 40C, so the reason for the excess heat to me doesn't seem to point to the processor.

I don't recall the old power supply that I had installed before the Antec ever being that warm. In fact, none of the many PCs that I have, have had in the past, or serviced have ever been that warm. It doesn't matter if it's sitting idle, or if it's being used, it's still warmer than any other computer. I would look into getting another power supply but I can't afford it right now.

"I haven't bought an Antec but my brother has a 4xx watt one, about 3 years old, 3 year warranty, and it does not produce excessive heat and it is quite quiet."

Mine is 2 years old. That to me still seems to suggest that Antec's quality is deteriorating.

WinSimple Software


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#16
November 17, 2008 at 14:07:52

Rayburn
- in that case the fan in the PS may be defective, or if it is variable speed (temp controlled) the circuit controlling it may be defective.
That cpu temp is OK. The only time I have seen excessive heat buildup that wasn't because the cpu was not being cooled adequately, it was because the PS fan or it's circuit was defective, or the fan had (a) sleeve bearing(s) and had been used a long time, and the fan could no longer spin as fast as it should, or wasn't spinning at all (I would expect no fan in an Antec PS would have anything less than two ball bearings).
You could try installing a 80mm 3 wire case fan in the back of the PS box, if there is an 80mm one there to replace, and run the wiring and connector to a 3 pin mboard header (so you can monitor it's speed), and it will run at it's max speed all the time - that should cure the problem. If it's amperage or wattage is the same or higher, it will move about the same amount of air., max, as the original one is supposed to.
Of course, that would void the warranty if it still applies, but it's a cheap fix.
If the warranty is still in effect, you could try rigging up a case fan on the outside of the case at the air outlet opening, blowing out, if you can't RMA the PS at this time.

In the case of my brother's Antec it has two temp controlled fans and most of the time they are running at their minimum speed.

Does yours have a 1 year or a 3 year warranty? I wasn't aware any Antec PS had a one year warranty until I found those Walmart "hits" - all of them were 3 year previously - maybe it's only the one year ones that are inferior, if that's actually the case.

I don't know if reversing the connector would make the fan spin the other way - some DC motors spin the same way regardless of the way you connect them - for that matter it probably won't work because the two power wires are next to each other, rather than being on either end of the 3 - what I'm talking of is some cpu fans can be physically mounted so they blow either way - it sounds like yours is installed the right way.

I am spectical about some reviews I've seem on the newegg site, and many other consumer supplied reviews.
You've got to take into account
- "the squeaky wheel gets the grease" - people who have problems are a lot more likely to post a review than ones who don't, so the amount of negative reviews are often skewed out of proportion to the actual true situation.
- there are often some reviews where the person is blaming a problem on the item when it's actually caused by something else. E.g. in this case, too much heat may be caused by an inadequte cpu heatsink/fan, or they are overclocking the system and aren't taking that into account.
- in the case of a PS, the reviewer may be trying to use a PS with a capacity that is inadequate for their situation - e.g. two or more PCI-E video cards that draw a lot of power - of course they're going to have problems.

For those reasons, there are often some reviews you should ignore.


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#17
November 17, 2008 at 14:34:26

Thank you for those tips. I may try them soon. If the reviews on Newegg about power supplies aren't reliable, they shouldn't even allow people to write reviews on them, because, to me, it just seems pointless. I mean, what's a review for, other than to give people an idea on how good a certain product is?

Since my CPU temps are fine, and the video card isn't the problem (I have the same model in my other Sempron based system that runs cool), and the power supply itself feels warmer than any other component, I'm lead to believe that the power supply is the source for the heat. The reason why I brought this up is because I generally don't like to suggest a power supply that runs warm.

WinSimple Software


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#18
November 17, 2008 at 15:51:44

Tubes: About your comment "people who have problems are a lot more likely to post a review than ones who don't"
If you look at a lot of the customer reviews, a large number are usually very positive. So if an item gets a lot more negative reviews than usual, one might suspect that there could be a problem.
Rayburn: Anyone can post a review on newegg-thus you shouldn't expect a professional opinion. I still think you can learn something from those reviews, though.

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#19
November 17, 2008 at 17:42:33

"Anyone can post a review on newegg-thus you shouldn't expect a professional opinion."

I'm not expecting a professional opinion, I just thought that the reviews were accurate. So what's wrong with the reviews and why aren't they reliable?

Are you saying that people intentionally write wrong reviews? If so, what's the point in doing so, and also how can they be helpful if they're wrong?

It sounds to me like Newegg should just remove the reviews altogether.

Personally, I wouldn't recommend Antec at all, but it's up the OP.

WinSimple Software


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#20
November 18, 2008 at 05:13:58

I don't think anything is wrong with the reviews. I'm definitely not saying that people intentionally write wrong reviews. I think the reviews should be left there, but that when reading them one has to understand that they are written by customers who may not be professionals.

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#21
November 18, 2008 at 10:45:14

Ok I understand that, but what I don't understand is what the difference is between a professional review and one written by customers. They both seem the same to me.

WinSimple Software


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#22
November 18, 2008 at 11:21:25

If, for example, the editors at Maximum PC Magazine have tested power supplies in their lab, I might trust their opinions alittle more than a customer who has used the power supply, but might not have the equipment or as much experience. That customer's opinion, however, is certainly worth reading and should be allowed to remain. Of course there are non professionals who may have a lot of experience with computer hardware, such as power supplies , whose opinion might be more valuable than a computer professional in some way. It's just that a review by a customer has a better chance of being unreliable. But it's not worth trying to determine which ones those are-so just leave them all there and let the reader judge.

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