Two weeks ago a friend of mine retired an Acer Aspire X1800 and asked me to help him backing up personal files then wipe its HDD clean. After doing so I'd like to perform a few tests and benchmarks before deciding whether to keep it myself, put it on auction, or (in the worst case) gut it for useful parts and send the remaining dead or unstable parts to e-waste.
Turned out this 11-year-old SFF system was better than I thought: the HDD SMART was healthy and loaded with Win7-x86 recovery partition (plus lots of bloatware, although they did no harm); after fully updated and bloatware uninstalled, the system took 28 seconds from POST to Win7 login screen -- not too bad for a 320 GB mechanical HDD on Pentium E5400 with 4 GB DDR2 RAM. Furthermore, unlike most pre-built SFF systems which are more like laptops without a monitor (using SO-DIMM, proprietary MB form factors, and ~90 W external power bricks), this one uses standard DIMM, an almost standard mATX MB (with only two PCIe slots instead of four: one 16x and one 1x), and a Delta 220 W internal Flex-ATX PSU. Adding a low-profile graphics card and an SSD would make it a low-key yet quite capable Win7 machine or a killer WinXP build.
Then it suddenly refused to turn on yesterday.
I didn't have any spare Flex-ATX PSU so I took two working ATX PSU to test it. No effect.
I replaced and reseated the CR2032 battery (this MB would refuse to boot if there isn't one). No effect.
Then, instead of using its power switch connect to the front panel, I shorted those pins on MB with a steel tweezer. Voila!
I took out my multimeter and confirmed the micro switch underneath the power button was the culprit: it wouldn't short when pressed. A micro switch is less than $1 if you buy a single one retail and a dime for a dozen if you buy bulk. However, that micro switch was buried in the plastic front panel assembly with glue and molten plastic rivets. I found no way to replace it without damaging the front panel permanently, although a replacement switch could still be hidden behind the panel if small enough, or could be relocated to the back panel where the 1x PCIe slot has minimal use.
And I bet there had been many, many consumers who would recycle a similar pre-built SFF computer just because the $1 power button failed. 🙄