Recently my PC started having "Thermal Events" which is Intel's way of saying it was overheating. Thanks to Intel's Active Monitor program, their program shut down my PC before it burned up the CPU. I opened up the PC case and pointed a house fan on it, but I could hear the power supply rising and falling like a roller coaster ride, so I knew that despite the fact the thermal events had ended I needed to replace the power supply.
After pricing power supplies at the two rip-off stores here in Folsom, I headed to Fry's, the major rip-off store chain in California. I rarely enjoy Fry's as about 99.9% of their prices are at full retail. People seem to think that if one sees a price in a newspaper then it magically must be a bargain. That is rarely the case at Fry's.
Well to cut to the chase, I discovered that PC power supplies have changed and that I didn't get the memo. The really cool power supplies are modular so that you only plug in cables to your power supply and to your PC components that you actually need, thus increasing air flow inside your PC. The "traditional" power supplies just come with a zillion pre-installed cables and the ones you don't need, you just tuck away as best you can within your PC's case.
So! Quickly name three brands of PC power supplies! Yeah, I couldn't either. I spent a long time looking at the power supplies at Fry's. Naturally I had no assistance as all computer stores require that their employees know nothing about PCs and are forbidden to assist customers unless the customer tackles the employee or puts them in a head lock.
Eventually I decided to purchase an Antec power supply, because they are a popular PC case manufacturer. Upon driving the 20 miles back from Fry's and removing my PC's old power supply, I discovered the new generation of power supplies have a 24 pin connector to the motherboard. My three year old motherboard has a 20 pin connector. Once again I missed the memo!
The next day I took the Antec back to Fry's, stood around for an hour and finally figured out that possibly an Asus power supply would do. Naturally when I got to my car I opened the box to count the pins so that I wouldn't have to make another trip. Initially I was shocked because the connector had 24 pins AGAIN! However upon closer examination I found that 4 of the pins were attached as a separate plug so I just unplugged the plug and all was well.
The important bit here is that this power supply had a 140 mm fan on it to help with the PC cooling. Most of the power supplies in PC cases and even on the shelves at Fry's lacked decent fans. In fact for the $80 I paid for the power supply I could have purchased a brand new PC case that included a power supply. However the power supplies that come in PC cases are as a rule pretty lame and all of the ones I looked at didn't have good fans. Plus I didn't want to go through disassembling my PC when I only needed a new power supply.
As a footnote the new power supply is 500 watts and my old one was 350 watts. The fan is the best part of it though. It also has connectors for PCI boards and SATA drives in case I upgrade my PC in the next ten years.
I'm happy but my advice to PC hackers like myself is that if you are looking for a Sunday afternoon project, upgrade your PC power supply to one with more power, a big fan and modular cable connections. I got the additional power and big fan, but the modular power supply was $20 more, so (being unemployed at the moment) I skipped that feature this time.