Sit down class and let me tell you a story about surge protectors. I know you’re more interested in reading about game reviews, previews and the like, but this is important stuff. Why? Well, for one; it’s an important topic that often gets over looked and two; I need to share my stupidity with the world so that someone, somewhere, doesn’t fall into the same trap.
Recently, my computer motherboard completely blew on me. Wait, that sounded wrong, let me rephrase that.
Recently, my motherboard died. Turns out, a few capacitors near the CPU had been blown. Given that it’s an old system and I needed to upgrade it anyway, I figured it was just old.
After a bit of inspection, and a few hundred dollars later, I find myself with a smoking fast computer and a fancy new Asus motherboard. Problem is that it only stays on for a few minutes now before crashing into oblivion and not returning. Before I completely damage a new part, I took a look at what was powering my computer; after all if the motherboard blew, perhaps other parts were no good as well.
Long story short, a quick peek at my surge protector revealed two things.
First, it had been suffered a surge as indicated by a glowing red diode located beneath white print that read “Surge.”
Second, It was in fact not a surge protector but a power strip.
After beating my head against the wall for being so stupid as to not think about what was providing power to my computer while I drooled over new video cards and the like, I decided I’d write an article to maybe share my lesson for the year.
First, let’s quickly get two things out-of-the-way.
A surge protector is designed to protect electrical devices, like your thousand dollar gaming rig, from voltage spikes that occur because of natural changes or natural disasters. What a surge protector does , also known as a surge suppressor, is it attempts to limits the voltage to an electric device, like your 100 dollar power supply, by either blocking or diverting any unwanted voltages above a device’s threshold. This is important for anyone interested in protecting their investments, specifically if that investment is their $1000 dollar gaming-rig- turned $1000 paperweight.
A power strip is basically a block of electrical sockets attached to a short power cable. This allows for multiple devices to be plugged into a single socket. Kind of like a USB hub but instead of the USB’s they are electrical sockets.
Anyway, while some power strips will have surge protection, an actual surge protector will give you more protection than a power strip as saying you’re getting surge protection from a power strip is like saying you’re getting lunch on an airplane; peanuts don’t count. To extend that even more, an uninterrupted power supply (also called a UPS and not for their fancy brown, tight shorts that show off their packages -amiright?) will protect you against power surges and power outages that corrupt data and damage precious components like your motherboard. Imagine being able to get on the internet, even with the power out, because your modem is hooked up to a battery backup! What better to do while it’s raining than surf the web for por…traits of Jesus.
Anyway, enough fiddling around. Take a look at whatever powers your personal computer. If it looks like the power strip pictured to the right, think about investing in something a little more heavy duty. Surge suppressors are quite inexpensive, ranging from $40 dollars and up. You can even get some, like the Rocketfish 7 outlet surge protector pictured below. Its design, which I’m sure is shared by other manufacturers, offers surge protection as well as energy-saving. A master outlet controls up to five other outlets, allowing for complete control over what draws power and when it does. Hook up your tower to the main outlet and your monitors and other peripherals to the other 5 outlets and every time you turn off your computer, your peripherals automatically turn off as well! There is an additional outlet that is always on that you can use for a device you want to shut off manually, for those with devices they don’t want tied to that system; like your cellphone or tablet charger.
If you look at your power strip and the power switch is no longer growing red, or is a dim red, then definitely want to consider replacing it soon. Power strips, contrary to popular belief, do have a life span. After a certain amount of years they lose their purpose. Sure they may protect from little surges when they are new, but when that light glows dim or doesn’t glow at all, you’re essentially plugging your device straight into the wall.
Moral of the story. Get a surge protector! If battery backups don’t appeal to you that is fine, but protecting your investment is a smart move. A $50 surge suppressor will go a long way when you’re looking at the difference of replacing a small box every three or five years, or replacing your entire computer every time a thunderstorm rolls through.
Also, for good measure, check out my new motherboard below! Isn’t she beautiful? Can’t use it worth shit right now, but Asus definitely makes the good stuff.