Compaq Motherboard Power Mod


Some companies insist on using proprietary pieces. It can be really frustrating when there is no apparent reason other than consumer lock in. It irritates us to feel like we’re being forced to buy their pieces. This is one of the more popular reasons listed when you ask a hacker or modder what got them started.  This project takes us through making a normal power supply work with the compaq proprietary 14 pin plug found in some smaller desktop PCs.

Aside from the plug itself being different, the motherboards require a 3.3v standby voltage. A normal power supply usually only has a 5v. Though there are even simpler ways of bypassing the issue, he chose to put an inline voltage regulator. Schematics are available on the site.

[via Hacked Gadgets]

16 thoughts on “Compaq Motherboard Power Mod

  1. Good, don’t buy that non standard force-you-to-buy crap. They do that so they can still charge top dollar for outdated tech just because no one else’s fits. I approve any mod that denies them. nicely done.

  2. this is a article that could have used a few 4 letter words in the description. i cant count the number of times that i have run into proprietary connectors. particularly the fan connectors on 2001 era dells. why michael dell? its just a fan.

  3. companies that big have the buying power to purchase in such high quantities that it costs them practically nothing to spec a different connector. oftentimes, they even get non-standard connectors cheaper than the standard stuff, so that coupled with the customer lock-in just makes good business sense for them. sure it frustrates the crap out of folks like us, but let’s face it – we’re not in the majority here. if we were, we would see a *lot* more modular stuff!

  4. Amen Daley, in fact there is no logical reason that cars can’t be modular. Aside from the obvious problems when a Chevy Aveo is treated to a 300+ HP Honda or Toyota motor, or a supercharged Ecotec.

    “Though there are even simpler ways of bypassing the issue”

    Thanks for nothing. Could we get a hint or a link? I am going to assume that you can trigger the PSU yourself, thus having no standby mode (I don’t get standby mode anyway, there is no need of it for 95% of consumers, and the other 5% usually just leave the PC on anyway.)

  5. @nubie, it is in the linked article.

    “there’s the option of hardwiring the pson (perhaps to a switch, which would essentially be like an old at psu functionality-wise, with the added trouble of having to switch the mobo on/off separately) , but that’s highly inconvenient and pretty lame “

  6. honestly, if i were on the compaq design team and trying to get a product out in time cheaply, i would really doubt that i’d be thinking about making the parts proprietary so that you couldn’t use it on other systems. the simple fact that they’re cheaper for me, and more importantly either reduce power consumption or make it easier to use a controller chip I want to use on the motherboard (presumably that’s why they want 3.3V out–either that, or they can get rid of a 5v-3.3v regulator on the board that they would otherwise have to use), would make it a no-brainer for me to use a nonstandard power supply.

    I doubt using proprietary stuff had ANYTHING to do with making sure people buy your parts. The majority of people I’d be selling to if I were compaq would probably throw away their computers and get a new one if the power supply (or anything, for that matter) broke. The only people it’d target are maybe the 1% non-corporate, technically competent people who happen to buy one of these computers, and it’s not worth it to screw them over if unless there’s some greater advantage (cost).

    Now that I read it again, I’d imagine having 3.3V standby has something to do with making solution size slightly smaller for the smaller desktop towers. It almost certainly wouldn’t be very significant (just one less 3.3V regulator onboard somewhere), but that plus the decreased cost makes it a no-brainer.

  7. I’ve got an idea…don’t buy a fucking Compaq. They are pieces of shit. Why waste time on a mod, when you could have prevented the problem by not buying a shit computer?

  8. You are wrong threepointone, compaq definitely tries to go propriety on purpose, they also mess up the BIOS and software for that purpose, there’s an abundance of evidence it’s NOT to improve anything.

    @mike you might have gotten it free or are trying to fix it for a relative or (girl)friend
    But yeah I’d certainly advise to not buy such yourself.

  9. I also would highly advise building a PC from the bottom up or at least fleshing out a bare-bones box.
    And for those that think it impossible for a layman to figure out;think again. It is an enriching experience to learn how your PC ticks ,what goes on inside the black/white box.
    Plus there are undeniable perks of not having to pay some ass to install a simple wifi/nic/sound/video card or upgrade ram……install additional H.D.D ETC,ETC,Ect,ect….or the proverbial PSU.
    modding a case is a bit on the fun side also and it can teach how to manage power supply connectors and familiarize folks with the headers on the mother boards such as usb firewire and other features not fleshed out to the front/rear areas of the case

  10. Thats slick, I’m going to need to figure out something like this for an xps 730 I am picking up of someone…They had to upgrade the powersupply to power the two monster cards he put in it, but the power supply doesn’t have a connector that matches the xps daughter board. Wish me luck haha

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