So I had just decided to retire an old desktop. I copied all the files off and was in the middle of securely erasing the hard drive when this happened. I was gonna donate it to a friend but I think it’s worth a lot less than it was 5 minutes ago.
Well, the bad smell is an omen of something that stinks! But, it is surprising how much smoke they can pack into something small and maybe not real important.
When you try to boot the computer, does anything come on? Fans, or any indicator lights? My way of troubleshooting something like this is to eliminate anything that might be preventing a successful boot. Pull all the plug in boards, and disconnect everything external you don’t need. Almost anything could be loading the power supply down so it won’t start. Yes, that even includes the video card if it uses one, and the hard drives, optical drives, and so on. If things are better with everything disconnected, then start replacing them, one at a time, until you find the culprit.
With no video card, the computer should do some beeping if it tries to come up. Obviously, it will complain about no video card. At this point, since you were erasing the disk drives, you aren’t expecting to boot into an operating system — but if you can get into the BIOS, there might be some hints there.
And, with everything disconnected, removed, and such, if it won’t even start to turn on, pull the CMOS battery for a bit, check it for being good, replace, and see if that helps.
If one of the capacitors on the motherboard has gone west, and is obvious by it’s swollen shape or whatever, you might try clipping it out. Motherboards have a number of capacitors on the power bus, and one that has shorted will put an excess load on the power supply. Usually, removing one won’t make a big difference.
Please keep us posted on what, if anything, you find. Your experiences may help others.