Recurring Power Problems with the Acer Predator Helios 300

When I last wrote about this problem, I wasn’t expecting this to be a series. I was expecting for it to be a single post, one-and-done. However, around about a month after receiving my laptop back from Acer’s repair centre, the mainboard decided to cook itself again.

My system, at the time it decided to die again, was mostly idle. I was streaming some music from TIDAL while I sat across the room, eating lunch. Not, particularly, a heavy workload.

I heard a sound similar to what I’d heard the last time, the system immediately went dark with no power whatsoever, and I could smell something burnt. While I’d seen a visible flash come out from the keyboard deck last time, this time I hadn’t seen anything. But, it was clear what had happened though — between the sound, smell, and powerless system.

So, again, I called Acer’s technical support for another warranty repair on this relatively new system. Realistically, as they’d replaced the mainboard the last repair, it was more-or-less a new computer again anyway. That, and I’d originally only just bought the system brand-new off-the-shelf a few months ago.

In this short time, I’ve now had to send it in to their repair centre twice. Needless to say, I wasn’t — and, still am not — impressed. Every time I have to send it in for repair, I’m literally losing money from work that I’m unable to do without it. Between the laptop itself, and all of the upgrades to it, I’d spent upward of $5,000 on it so far.

It took 2 days before I got an e-mail with the FedEx shipping label to send it in to their repair centre. I shipped it out to them on 30 December 2021 and it was delivered to the repair centre on 31 December 2021.

All of my SSDs are encrypted with BitLocker. The primary, OS drive, is protected with TPM & PIN. The other 2 drives are configured to automatically decrypt when Windows boots. As I knew they’d be having to replace the mainboard again, I’d provided them with the BitLocker PIN as well as the BitLocker recovery key of each individual drive. With a new mainboard, and therefore new TPM, the PIN likely wouldn’t work and they’d need the recovery key(s) to boot the system.

It wasn’t until I was packing-up my system ready to ship to Acer that I noticed a melted looking spot on the boot of the charging cable near the tip end of it. So, I called Acer back to have them update the notes on the case to indicate that the charger has a melted spot on it and I’d mark it with tape to make it easy for their technician to readily locate.

When I’d sent the system in last time, there were no visible defects or markings on the power supply or its cabling. Given that the mainboard had already been replaced once for a similar issue, and it’s now happened again maybe a month after being repaired, was a defective power supply the issue the entire time? Was the fried mainboard a symptom rather than the cause?

After about a week at the repair centre, I woke-up one day to an e-mail from them that the BitLocker PIN doesn’t work. Well, no shit, Sherlock! That’s why I’d also provided the BitLocker recovery keys. So, I proceed to call Acer technical support, as instructed in the e-mail.

The technical support representative I was talking to had absolutely no idea what BitLocker even is. He, literally, kept asking me what BitLocker is. Seriously? You’re working technical support for a company like Acer and are absolutely clueless about something as relatively simple as BitLocker? I couldn’t help myself and, literally, laughed out loud at the guy. I didn’t mean to, but I couldn’t help myself though.

He ended-up transferring me to another, ‘upper department’, whatever that means. But anyway, the guy he transferred me to actually seemed to know what the Hell I was talking about at least. Again, I told him that it’s expected for the BitLocker PIN to not work with a new TPM, and that the recovery key would be needed to decrypt the drive. Moreover, I’d already provided them with the recovery key of all drives. So, what’s the problem? Do even their repair technicians working in their repair centres not know WTF BitLocker is? Really?

You need only press a single key to enter BitLocker recovery mode, in order to use the recovery key instead of the PIN. On the screen where the system is asking for the BitLocker PIN, press the ESC key. It’s as simple as that. And, the screen where it’s asking for the PIN even tells you to press the ESC key to enter BitLocker recovery mode. OMG, do their ‘technicians’ truly not understand something this simple?

But, WTFever. I told that ‘upper department’ person that if their technician couldn’t figure out how to decrypt the drives in order to boot the system, to just perform the hardware repair and ship it back to me with the drives still encrypted as-is. I’d fix the BitLocker problem myself when I got it back. The problem was a hardware issue, so realistically, they didn’t need to access my drives anyhow.

That’s what they did. A few days later, I received an e-mail that it had been shipped back to me on 11 January 2022. FedEx delivered it earlier today.

Just delivered by FedEx, back from Acer’s repair centre.

Upon opening the box, I saw the paperwork inside indicating that the mainboard had been replaced as expected. However, it made no mention of the power supply having been replaced though. Like, really? It had a spot melted on it, FFS!

Sure enough, when I opened the bag containing the power supply, it was the exact same one that I’d sent-in. I know they hadn’t replaced any part/section of it, neither the brick nor the cable(s) of it. The serial number of the brick was the same as the one I’d sent-in and the cable had my tape still on it, in the exact place I’d put it. Not only did they not replace it, but they didn’t even remove the tape to look at the melted spot I’d marked for them. Are you shitting me?

This has to be a damn joke… Like, seriously, WTF? Am I going to have to send my laptop in to their repair centre again in a few more weeks when the power supply and/or mainboard fry themselves yet again?

I, immediately, called Acer’s technical support to ask them why the Hell they didn’t even bother to look at it let alone replace it. The support person I was talking to couldn’t tell me, but opened a 3rd warranty repair case. This time, for the power supply itself.

He said that a technician would call me within 24 hours and it would be up to them how to proceed with it. By that, he’d meant whether they’d send me a replacement first or if I’d have to ship this faulty power supply back to them first before they’ll send me a new one.

Frankly, if I have to wait until tomorrow for a phone call, and 2 more business days after that for a return shipping label to send it to them… Then wait a few days while they look at it and then up to a week for them to send me a new one if they don’t have any in-stock at the repair centre, I’ll not be impressed in any way whatsoever.

My laptop is sitting here, supposedly ‘repaired’ again, but I still can’t use it because I don’t have a damn power supply for it. And, I now have to wait a potential 1½ weeks more to get a new power supply?

The battery was charged to 100%, so I did boot the system, long enough to fix the BitLocker issue only. I then turned it back off again. How easy was it to fix the BitLocker issue? As mentioned above, when prompted for the BitLocker PIN, I simply pressed ESC to enter the BitLocker recovery mode and entered the recovery key. It was as simple as that — the system booted right up and loaded Windows.

While I was relatively happy with the service my last time around, I’m in no way happy with my experience this time, not at all. Yea, let’s send back the melted power supply without even looking at it.

Series Navigation<< My Experience with Acer’s Warranty RepairReplacement Power Supply for Acer Predator Helios 300 >>

Author

  • I tried to fix the world, but God wouldn't give me his source code. For several years, I was CEO of and lead developer at a technology company, focusing on the merchant services space. I've been directly contracted by companies, including but not limited to, cPanel and WHMCompleteSolution (WHMCS). An avid gamer.