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First post, by Kahenraz

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I've only ever experienced this smell from a small handful of devices so far (all laptops) but it is always the same strong, distinct odor; almost like vinegar.

When removing the drive from one of the older laptops I've been using (a Dell Inspiron 5100), I noticed that it had begun to emit the stink. It is definitely coming from the inside of the device as it is much stronger when I put my nose close to it. For this laptop, the smell is strongest in the hard drive bay and not any of the exhaust vents as one might expect.

Is anyone familiar with this stink or have any insight on the subject?

Reply 1 of 14, by cyclone3d

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Maybe the adhesives from the different insulation tapes used?

The clear-ish yelllow-ish tape tends to smell when it is peeled back.

Sure you don't have a rodent or cat peeing on your laptop?

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Reply 2 of 14, by texterted

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It's the "magic smoke" waiting to come out!

Cheers

Ted

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Reply 3 of 14, by SirNickity

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The only two smells I associate with electronics are the kinda nice one that new electronics have, that sometimes you will still get when pulling a fairly NOS-ish motherboard from its anti-static bag; and the unfortunate coating of funk that indicates this particular new eBay score came from a humid locale and has been hanging out in a basement or garage for many years. Soon to be accompanied by the smell of dish soap.

Reply 5 of 14, by brostenen

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If stuff is stinking from within computers, then the smell might be that "fish" smell, that leaking electrolyt caps are producing.

Don't eat stuff off a 15 year old never cleaned cpu cooler.
Those cakes make you sick....

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Reply 7 of 14, by schmatzler

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There are so many smells on old electronics that are hard to describe.
I like that 70s smell. I always associate it with leaded solder and a specific type of ancient flux used to bring everything together, but that's probably just my imagination. It's a pleasant kind of smell, tough.

DNSDies wrote on 2020-01-14, 19:21:

I think it's the conformal coating breaking down over time into its constituent parts.

I think so too, and that's one of the negative kind of smells. I have a radio from 1978 with a few boards inside. The coating on the boards turned into some kind of brown, glue-like substance and it stuck to everything. The smell was really bad, when I cleaned them I thought I was cutting onions.

Then there's that "maritime" smell, like rotten fish, which is most likely due to leaking caps.

The "new car smell" I mostly associate with modern electronics, even slightly used devices still emit that smell. Maybe it's created by the modern process of making plastics?

Edit: There's also ozone smell, from (bad?) power supplies.

Reply 8 of 14, by ifrit05

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One of my favorite smells are new (to me) vintage hardware being opened before cleaning. That and freshly printed laser printer paper. Yeah, weird, I know.

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Reply 9 of 14, by retardware

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The old flame retardants' smell is so lovely (at least for a moment).
On the other hand, I really hate the smell of pre-1982 big electrolytics, sort of chemical foul smell, similar to polychlorinated biphenyls' sweetness.
Almost extinct nowadays is the spicy smell of ancient tube electronics which the hot stuff emanates while autolysing the dust 🙁

Reply 10 of 14, by bristlehog

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I experienced the smell many times when buying old PCs. When I clean them thoroughly, including washing everything (that has no batteries and moving parts), the smell goes away.

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Reply 11 of 14, by SpectriaForce

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I have noticed over the years that old CRT monitors and televisions emit a distinctive smell when powered on.

I sell 'ridiculously expensive' retro hardware to people like you. I feel sorry for that.

Reply 12 of 14, by Ultrax

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I've definitely noticed old laptops tend to have a smell similar to that of either crayons, BO, or as OP mentioned, vinegar. I'd assume the cause is due to adhesives becoming older, but that's just a guess. You aren't alone though - I've definitely experienced this too.

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Reply 13 of 14, by brostenen

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SpectriaForce wrote on 2020-02-01, 21:37:

I have noticed over the years that old CRT monitors and televisions emit a distinctive smell when powered on.

Ahhh.... The smell of childhood evenings, in front of the tv while watching movies.

Don't eat stuff off a 15 year old never cleaned cpu cooler.
Those cakes make you sick....

My blog: http://to9xct.blogspot.dk

001100 010010 011110 100001 101101 110011

Jah ich will trynen... Die Leute wie macht scheisse in dem Grünen.

Reply 14 of 14, by imi

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SpectriaForce wrote on 2020-02-01, 21:37:

I have noticed over the years that old CRT monitors and televisions emit a distinctive smell when powered on.

the smell of roasting dust ^^