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What expensive hardware have you ruined?

Spilling water on a keyboard
(Image credit: Aukey)

I'm not suggesting any of you have broken something by exhaling vape smoke into it, dear readers, but we all make mistakes. Whether it happens because of oldering accidents, discharges of static electricity, or coffee spills, we've all busted something expensive. Tell us about your goofs, or share those of friends and coworkers so we can all wince together.

What expensive hardware have you ruined?

Here are our answers, plus a few from our forum.

A keyboard with missing keys

(Image credit: Tom Li)

Rich Stanton: I haven't ruined much expensive PC hardware, but my toddler son has so far claimed one mechanical keyboard's keys, and slightly ruined the ones I'm writing on now. He's at just the right height to reach the desk, he's fascinated by my PC's lights and screen, and he's also a master at creeping into the PC room when I'm not there. I'd go to eat a sandwich, or to run some errand, and I would return to a floor strewn with beautiful cherry reds, a mauled plate, and a grinning assassin who'd shout "dees! dees!" at me. 

I tried to placate him with an old Apple keyboard but he literally put it in the bin: it was too smooth in feel, he just wanted to rip keys off a board. I kind of sympathise, inasmuch as I imagine it would actually be quite satisfying, but obviously the stems of his first-choice keys (CTRL, Windows, Shift, and we spread out from there) got broken over time, and after a few half-arsed repair jobs I ended up just buying replacement keys. The first day I installed them, he broke the stem on my replacement shift key. I've currently got an 'A' there. Never have children.

Alan Dexter:  I remember an ill-fated trip to interview a data recovery specialist when I worked for a business-oriented magazine. It was a long journey that started way too early, and involved far too much coffee. I was probably shaking from the caffeine in hindsight. Anyway, I remember getting off the train at my destination only for my laptop to slip out of my bag onto the platform and explode into a Jackson Pollock of technology. All in excruciating slow motion of course. I think I ended up using my phone to record the interview, with additional scribblings using pen and paper. I know, dark times.

A GTX Titan

(Image credit: Nvidia)

Dave James: When one of the original Nvidia GTX Titans went up in a puff of logic...

I've been professionally bricking expensive hardware for over 15 years now, and in that time have racked up quite a component bill. From the myriad motherboard sockets an errant thumb has irretrievably crushed, to the vaunted Radeon R600 launch where, in a cool Warsaw hotel conference room, I killed one of the first AMD/ATI cards off the line by overclocking it. I even managed to utterly destroy a quad-SLI, twin 7950 GX2 machine a company masquerading as Commodore brought in to the office to show off. All I did was notice SLI wasn't actually enabled and flicked the software switch to turn it on... dead. 

But the hardware death which hurt the most was killing a GTX Titan purely through my own hubris. I had no need to upgrade my gaming rig. It had a pair of GTX Titan cards, when SLI mattered and they were the fastest GPUs ever, but I wanted to switch out my CPU for a new one. Plugged it all in, and still for no reason I can think of, one of the Titans popped, with a faint wisp of smoke curling up from the back of the GPU. 

A Thrustmaster Warthog stick

(Image credit: Thrustmaster)

Andy Kelly: Once upon a time, long ago, in the PC Gamer office, Tom Senior's desk was a tangle of wires, and he had a Thrustmaster Warthog stick and throttle on his desk for playing Elite. At the time I was playing Rise of the Tomb Raider, which wasn't out yet, and Tom (who was on the desk next to mine) heard me making an 'ooooh' noise at something. He got up to see what it was, and his leg got caught in the wire spaghetti, bringing the heavy $300 Warthog flight stick crashing to the floor, breaking it. I still feel bad about it. If I'd never ooh'd at whatever I was oohing at, that stick might still be intact today. Rise of the Tomb Raider wasn't even that good.

The cover art for Dark Souls 3

(Image credit: Bandai-Namco)

John Strike: I'm not sure if anyone in the office remembers this but one of my Dark Souls features set fire to a printer in Quay House a few years back. I'd done the layout and was printing it off to give to Tony, but someone soon pointed out a suspicious odour. I like to think it was some kind of supernatural intervention but I think it was just an A3 paper jam. The weird thing is the paper that got scorched had a piece of art with flames/embers, so it actually looked pretty neat. Spooky!

Jody Macgregor: I spilled an entire cup of tea on a laptop. The keyboard never worked right after that, and would think I was typing when I wasn't. I plugged in a USB keyboard, but found out that there's no simple way to turn off a laptop keyboard in Windows 10. I deleted the driver, but every time I rebooted it would reinstall. Eventually I had to tell it to download the wrong driver, which absurdly was the only to stop Windows from turning the thing back on.

From our forum

Scaramouche: I got my first rig around the time Morrowind released. It was a Medion from the Aldi (for those in Europe) so it wasn't special, it did not even have the revolutionairy shiny realistic water stuff in Morrowind.

Anyway, I played a lot of Europa Universalis II at the time. Because I was looking for something new for my next playthrough I at one point decided to let the game run at max speed for a couple of hours, while I was doing some other stuff downstairs. That would give me a random start I didn't play yet, so I thought.

Instead, when I returned, I found my monitor frozen, the PC not responding and some stuff inside fried. I used all my expert computer skills I had at the time (cntrl alt esc, alt f4, repeat) but my first desktop couldn't be reanimated.

A laptop

(Image credit: Alienware)

ZedClampet: I don't know what you've heard, but there's no way I destroyed a $2700 Alienware laptop by going cheap on the surge protector. That would be ridiculous and definitely never happened. *still wiping away tears two years later*

Now everything of any value in the house is plugged into Tripp Lite protectors that come with $150,000 insurance policies.

badman: 1994-ish: On one occasion it took us about a year to tell our dad that our PC broke, it just wouldn't start. He just didn't noticed it that we played outside for a whole year, without touching any PC games. I think our dad easily payed hundreds of pounds to make up for our mess-up. The computer guy told us never to use MS DOS 'double space' again (lol) (as 14 year old 'experts', we switched the OS from DR DOS to MS DOS). To this day, never really know what happened (it probably wasn't ever our mistake, maybe a power spike), but it was a very expensive repair. He replaced some hardware components and that was it. We even got a new HDD. On another occasion: Me and my brother once wiped all CMOS settings on our 386SX. Remember: that's the time when there was nothing like 'automatic detection' or someting like that. It happened after starting 'international soccer challenge'. I remember it to this day. No idea if it was a virus, never used that disk again. So, the guys at the computer store had their hands full (again). Luckily the cost was not hardware related, but boy: those dudes weren't cheap.

PC Gamer

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