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Is all new hardware crap?

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November 21, 2006 5:00:47 AM

Hello. I know I'm putting this in the wrong place, but I didn't see any where it would fit perfectly. I won't be hurt if it's moved to a more appropriate location.
Anyway, I have a gripe that I was hoping an insider in the industry or some elder god of technology could validate or vanquish for me.
The crux of my question lies in the subject line...Is all hardware of varying brands and form basically poor in design and or materials nowadays compared to previous years?
I made the leap several months ago from pre-2000 computing to more modern times.
It's my own build, less than six months old. And so far I've had to return a video card, a dvd burner, a hard drive, and I'm about to return the dvd burner I just received today as-though brand new-it's already screwed up.
None of these components were absolute top of the line, nor were any of them bargain basement. There was no problem with overheating, improper handling, seeing what shape dent they'd put in my wall when thrown, etc.
I used to work for a company who did a lot of Dell warrantee replacements, and I couldn't believe what those people had to put up with. Going through 2 or three motherboards A YEAR in laptops in many cases. It's pretty bad when you inform someone who works for Dell that you've been using the same laptop board for a full year and he says "That's pretty good." BTW, if you get a Dell (especially a laptop), for the love of God...Get the warrantee.
By contrast, I have a few very old computers (P1, P2) on which every single piece of stock hardware functions to this day. The only exception being a noisy fan and a cd drive that probably just needs a cable reseated. I recently moved and had to leave some of them, but yeah...Components that have lasted for 6, 7, 8 years and may continue to...Compared to several new pieces of supposedly decent quality hardware not even making it to the six month mark, and all of the similar experiences I've seen other people have with more modern equipment.
And it's not heat. I mean, yeah, sometimes it is...But unless you basically set your computer on fire, the environment temps are not going to get high enough to damage a dvd player, for example.
So what is it? Everything that can be outsourced to countries where people will do the same work for less money is...Are components across the board being treated similarly, made from the cheapest materials possible, so the mega rich can get richer on the increased profits they reap coupled with the extra they make when people have to go out and purchase replacements?
I know that sounds a little conspiratorial, but I wouldn't find it shocking.
So anyway...This has been bothering me for a little while, and I did some googling but didn't find this topic being discussed anywhere. And I'd be really interested in hearing what other people think.
In the meantime, I'm gonna RMA my new drive, and enter the crapshoot that is finding something that doesn't sound like a weed whacker and that will last at least a year. Adios.

More about : hardware crap

November 21, 2006 5:34:04 AM

Sometimes, it is just the luck of the draw. Other times, it comes from a bad psu, or mobo.
For my part, I think today's components are better than ever.
Things seemed to slide just before 2K. We were seeing mobos with capacitors that often did not last a year. Optical drives use lasers that had trouble running for more than a few hours at a time. We also only had hdd waranties that lasted one year.
A lot can be said for warranties. Most reputable companies set the waranty period @ 66% of normal life expectancy. You wont usually go wrong buying the product with the best basic waranty.
For that optic drive, I recommend Liteon or LG. They bothe have supplied me with product that lasts.
The two big companies I stay away from are Acer (Aopen) and ECS. I'm not that big on MSI as well, though I will use thier products in a pinch.
I also highly recommend Seagate drives, Asus, Abit, and Gigabyte mobos.
November 21, 2006 6:42:55 AM

I don't know what to tell you. My experience has been that if the part(whatever it may be) works perfectly from the start, it'll generally perform for at least the next few years. Though I have have had to RMA a few DOAs.

In the last six or so years I've had only 2 motherboard failures (both VIA POS's) and one video card failure. Granted, this is from 4 different systems over that time frame, but I currently am running a 200 GB HDD that I've had for almost 3 years now, ram that I've had for 2+ years and every part on a 3+ year old Athlon XP system that I gave to my brother still works perfectly.

It's funny, I know many people who've bought branded systems (Compaq, Gateway, Dell, whatever), who've had nothing but problems. However, me and most others I know that've built their own, seem to have less issues.
Related resources
November 21, 2006 8:30:12 AM

Afraid mate it's luck of the draw. I had a 2000+ system for 5 years and nothing went wrong with it at all, it was my own build and it's still going strong (being used by a mate at work) another system, 850 duron is still working, again, it's used as a work machine. My recent system is a 4000+ for about a year and only one thing has gone wrong on it...A faulty mobo that was DOA.

Would always recommend WD, asus, crucial, sony and LG products, they awlays seem the most reliabe (sony DVD burners are very resilant to being dropped and still working...Sorry, was drunk when dropped it)

You make a good point about pre-built system builds...They usually don't last as long as customised systems.
November 21, 2006 10:56:44 AM

Quote:
Would always recommend WD, asus, crucial, sony and LG products, they awlays seem the most reliabe (sony DVD burners are very resilant to being dropped and still working...Sorry, was drunk when dropped it)

Most of the Sony's optical drivers are made by LiteOn
November 21, 2006 11:13:49 AM

Well, I've had a couple of problems with Dell laptops, but overall, it's been a decent experience. My ABS laptop's hdd just up and died on me 2 days ago... Hitachi Travelstar, not my choice, but I don't build laptops... oh well

But this is how it is, propriteary for the big compaies usually involve huge cost cutting and massive manufacturing process. The manufacturing industry has a term called six sigma, which symbolizes the point where it's not more cost-effective to increase quality than take the hit... and when you're such a large corporation, even increasing QC by .01% can cost millions...

But if you're smart, you would always do your research before you take the jump. But always rmr, if you buy a budget system, you will get a budget system, not just in performance, but also in products. All high-end components are most likely tested orders of magnitude better than the lower end, especially if the company markets it as their flagship products.

All in all, the computer industry is still maturing, and customer service and reliability are still lacking. But I still feel we've come a long way, progress is still being made on a daily basis. Just be a smart consumer, always keep up with warranties and always do research.
November 21, 2006 11:39:40 AM

I believe increased competitive pressures are forcing manufactures to become creative... and that "creativity" (for lack of a better word) means making components that are more cheaply designed. 5 years ago if someone wanted to say a negative comment about Dell I would have gotten defensive... their products were really that good (IMHO) but now... I'll just mumble "Well, you get what you pay for" and leave it at that. The $3000 computer (for most of us at least) is a thing of the past and now the $500 Dell is pretty much the norm... so cheap that most people just buy new ones (like they do with TVs now) when it fails instead of having it repaired.

However, I think your case of problematic parts is unique... most people don't experience that kind of failure rate... care to list the brands that failed on you?
November 21, 2006 11:58:24 AM

Not to mention one thing could be affecting everything else, say, an unstable PSU. PSU's are probably one of the easiest components in a computer to be minimized which would create huge problems in the future.

Research is your friend.
November 21, 2006 12:10:31 PM

Eh, then don't buy from that company again. Complaining about the situation doesn't really help, reading reviews to see which products seem to last, talk to friends, whatnot. Yeah, I had a bunch of stuff die on me in the past, but I had lots more continue functioning like the energizer battery. It might seem like a lot because only the people's who's stuff fails raise a ruckus, but I'm sure if all the people who bought the items and it still works posts about it, then we would all just be hearing good things.
November 21, 2006 12:16:05 PM

I haven't experienced what you are talking about. My computer has been very (knock on wood) reliable. I had an issue with my motherboard, but ASUS took care of me and my computer works great again. The only part I'm not satisfied with is the bargain barrel DVD/CD-RW drive.

At my previous job we had 700 dell machines. Mostly GX150's, but also quite a few GX110's. The older 110's did fair better with parts, but the GX150's were one of those cute smaller form factors. We had mostly issues relating to fans dying (fan dies, causes the harddrive to overheat and die, etc).

I am in charge of the purchasing for my company. I have spent about $150,000 on Dell desktops in the last year. I have bought Dell Optiplex GX620's. These machines have worked awesome. I have only had 3 machines out of over a hundred that had issues.

When purchasing these machines I made it a point to NOT get the small form factor. We have the full size tower. I feel this is a great way to assure you'll have less problems during and after the warranty.
November 21, 2006 12:16:33 PM

Wow! never knew that! Thanks, always good to learn something new.

HHHMMM...Unsure. PC's are becoming cheaper, that's for sure and PC's are now being replaced, rather than repaired (which is a shame...And would be very expensive in terms of buying every new piece of kit that comes out)
Ouch...Have a really sharp pain in my kidney's...Ouch!

Anyway, the PC market is still maturing, but if the current trend continues, we could see it becoming like every other electronics devices...Where everything will become a throw away tech. It would be sad if it comes to that. :( 
November 21, 2006 12:17:11 PM

all of the crap hardware goes into cars.
November 21, 2006 12:30:06 PM

Your general observation that newer hardwares conk out faster than hardwares of yesteryears maybe right. Probably due to the many applications running that it tasks the system to the point of faster wear & tear.

Or the users just have to use the system more often nowadays.

Or, considering that the use of computer grows by leaps & bounds every year, manufacturers have no choice but to fan out manufacturing like a cottage industry, no matter what quality assurance is in place, they can never be the same as the original.
November 21, 2006 12:34:23 PM

Best way to avoid crap hardware? Don't be a first adopter, wait for the second revision, read the reviews, check the forums, ask around and most importantly, don't be a cheap bastard and skimp on price just to get under budget. You spend less just paying the first time instead of having to deal with the headache and the wallet ache of having to get better components because you opted for the "value" ware.
November 21, 2006 1:12:19 PM

I don't think it's fair to compare the Optiplex line to the Dimension line that most of us end up buying when we call Dell... any present-tense complaints I have about Dell are directed primarily at their consumer-level products... not their business line of products.

However, the hospital I work at did have a rash of failures in a specific model of Optiplex... but Dell didn't make the capacitors that were failing so I don't hold them at fault.
November 21, 2006 1:22:32 PM

Quote:
Everything that can be outsourced to countries where people will do the same work for less money is...Are components across the board being treated similarly, made from the cheapest materials possible, so the mega rich can get richer on the increased profits they reap coupled with the extra they make when people have to go out and purchase replacements?


I'm sorry this is a new concept for you. Ever hear of Walmart? You mentioned Dell...

Sorry to break your ship's bubble and whatever, but this is how companies operate worldwide. "Quality" isn't standard in any industry. Turn-around is how large corporations make money. Why sell you a good couch if you can buy 3 crappy ones it cost them just a few bucks to make? Ever break apart an old couch? The wood inside it is pretty much just waiting for you to jump on your couch. It would make sense to make more items out of stronger, lighter materials...why not an aluminum alloy frame couch? Why thin steel? If you want quality furniture anymore you get it custom made. When it comes to computer parts...more expensive is better, but one little internal component can stop a DVD burner or a motherboard from working right.
November 21, 2006 1:25:29 PM

Quote:
Best way to avoid crap hardware? Don't be a first adopter, wait for the second revision, read the reviews, check the forums, ask around and most importantly, don't be a cheap bastard and skimp on price just to get under budget. You spend less just paying the first time instead of having to deal with the headache and the wallet ache of having to get better components because you opted for the "value" ware.

Someone posted something about buying Corsair was paying for "the name" I agree, but they're standards haven't changed...the reason you pay for that name is because the name stands for quality. I know what I'm buying every time when I buy Corsair.


I totally agree with this. Oh, and I won't vouch for Dell at all. The only reason they put decent (never top quality) parts in their computers is because they outsource their tech help and it's as crappy as ever. With their newer enthusiast XPS line they've gotten a lot better with upgradeability and class though. I have to give them props for realizing they were going down the tubes.
November 21, 2006 1:37:02 PM

New technology is also more high tech, and with high tech comes complexity and with complexity comes less reliability.

Sure you can fight a battle with only slingshots (I'm talking old slingshots from Pleistocene times, a string with a pouch that you swing around) that are very reliable and not much can go wrong, but military won't use them because new tech is available, but the increased performance outweighs the increased risk of failure.

I do agree with you though, it is easy for a company to put a crap product on the shelf these days, sucks that some of them choose to do so.

I'm only 19 but have been an audiophile since I was very young, and my father is very much an audiophile as much as our family income can afford. One thing I notice in speakers/receivers/amps is that the middle of the line gear from the 80's still kicks everything from today to the curb, save the ultra high end (Eg: Wilson Audio)

I have some 1988 Bose 501's (the last of the good ones) that I picked up for $50 at a garage sale that sound unbelievable compared to a $1800 pair of JBL's (still love JBL, nothing against the company) that my uncle has. Not that you can compare the prices, but the old woman I bought them from said "Those were $400 years ago, not sure if they are worth anything now."

Sorry for the long/bad analogy, but I know where you are coming from. Just don't forget that complexity = increased rate of failure until the product is completely revised, by which time it is now obsolete :wink:
November 21, 2006 1:37:43 PM

Quite true. As much as I love buying new hardware, and reviewing bleeding edge hardware, there are some risks that I just wouldn't take. Every time someone asks, "what about <insert brand>" and I've never heard of them, especially when they plan to overclock their computer, I do my best to shy them away from making that mistake.
November 21, 2006 1:41:32 PM

I agree with you RyanMicah. I honestly am willing to pay a fair premium for something I know is going to be quality. What better example in the PC hardware circle than PSU's? I built my PC when I had little knowledge and have since gained much. (Lucky I got a good Ultra X-Connect, people report failures)

Now I and every other knowledgeable hardware junkie will always say "Never skimp on the PSU." We all know why, and we all recommend the same 8-12 companies that have good quality parts and low rates of failure. Why else pay $150 for a SeaSonic PSU when you can pick up an "Okia" of the same 650watts for $39? Quality price premium.
November 21, 2006 1:48:03 PM

My experience of Dell systems has been great. I've had 3 Dell Laptops in the last six years and all of them are going strong. I am particularly pleased with the screens.

I've just given my old 4150 to my son, it still works great, although I did break the TAB key.

The only gripe I really have with Dell systems is that when they do go wrong like a PSU going or something then it is quite expensive for the replacement parts.

I run a small Computer Services Company and recently I had a Dimension 8100 in for a new PSU which was a DELL bespoke type. The PSU was £90 ($150). Which is outrageously expensive especially when I have to add my costs on top. Otherwise the majority of Dells I get in need new HD's which is exactly what I would expect to replace.
November 21, 2006 1:51:50 PM

You lucky ********* (insert word that seems reasonable)
I have some old sony speakers that my dad had in the 70/80's, they cost him £500 when he got them and by todays standards (this is a complete kit, record, tape player and amp provided...They're so heavy! They weigh a ton!) they far exceed anything out there. I've managed to rig them up to my PC and have the most richest, crispest and gorgeous sounds ever thought of. To begin with I didn't believe him (I have some 510D cambridge soundworks) but after hearing his system I was taken!

It's a sad state of affairs that components fail, but it does happen, due to begin made as quick/cheap as poss and very little QC. Users expect alot from the money they pay for the system and they are entitled to it. Tell me this: If you brought anything else (car, fridge, AC, etc) would it fail like a PC component would? The only thing that has real issues is the electronics market (if I'm wrong, then please tell me!
November 21, 2006 1:56:28 PM

That's a pretty good analogy actually...

My dad has a really old souped up stereo system. The still operable 8 track player, cassete player, record player and orange speakers date it all the way back to the late 1970's. It still sounds better than nearly anything I hear today.

The simple fact of the matter is that instead of building products that lasted and built repeat customers, we now build cheap crap that has to be replaced every couple of months or years. It's a sad world.
November 21, 2006 2:08:49 PM

Quote:
The crux of my question lies in the subject line...Is all hardware of varying brands and form basically poor in design and or materials nowadays compared to previous years?


A very complex question. A number of dynamics are in play here. On the good side; manufacturers have increased theirs yields 10 folds in the last few years. Its hard to purchase a PC case with sharp edges anymore. All the crappy manufacturers have either increased their quality or gone out of business. Asia and remaining developing nations have all adopted the same manufacturing quality standards as the US, Japan, and Korea.

On the downside- emphasis is very strong on cost reduction resulting in cutting corners. Although that new PC case has rolled blunt edges, it's made of thinner gauge sheet metal. Semiconductor technology is pushing the envelope on physics (heat dissipation, size, etc..) causing narrow margins in operations while increasing in size and complexity. Although this complexity increases opportunity for failure, improved quality processess keep it in check.

Last, design margins have been steadily changed so that products are designed to last 3-5 years instead of 10. For heaven's sake, a computer is technically obsolete after 3-5 years. Why should it continue to operate? Unfortunately, this margin has a considerable infant mortality rate which equates to DOAs.

Obviously this answer is a two sided sword.



Rick
November 21, 2006 2:14:06 PM

You and I, the consumer have created this problem.

Let's face it, we all shop online comparing prices and generally buy from a site that has a very cheap price but looks like it will still be trading next week.

The result is that everyong is trying to undercut their competitors and as a result quality does suffer.

About 10 years ago I worked for a microfilm bureau who wanted to go digital and so they had a 1x CD writer. This thing cost us £1,500 ($2700) which is a lot of money but I know that I could plug it in today and it would still function correctly (although it does take a full 70mins to write a disc).

We live in a fast food society and we want everything the same way, we want it cheap and we want it at our convenience.

We all know that fast food whilst cheap and easily available is not very good quality, the same is true of modern electronics. Nothing is designed to last. Because next week we'll get bored and buy a new one!
November 21, 2006 2:16:33 PM

My dad was so poor he lived on a farm in China and walked 3 miles to school everyday... oh well, at least now he earns $300k a year and runs his own buisness. Good stuff.

Eh, even if a computer is obsolete in a couple of years, it can still be used for many purposes. Router, firewall, even a file server. Most consumers won't look at it that way though, if it's old and slow, it's junk and toss it, but since us enthusiasts know we can re-use parts, we look at long term reliability...

But this issues isin't just for computers anyways. It's the whole world as a whole, cars, furniture, even buildings. Nothing we can do about it really. If I ran a corporation, I'd say screw the little people and concentrate on the big money.
November 21, 2006 2:18:27 PM

Bad karma maybe?

I build on average three systems a year, for myself, friends and family.
I use nice stuff, cheap crap, stuff on sale, stuff purchased used off Ebay, stuff purchased second hand at computer shows, stuff that's been stuffed in my parts closet for two or three years -- never, ever, had any problems whatsoever.
No hard drives have ever failed, no video card problems, no bad monitors, no overheating, no failed optical drives -- nothing at all in 8 years of building computers.

But then, I'm Catholic and I make a little prayer to St. Expedite when I start a new build, so maybe that helps! :D 
November 21, 2006 2:42:02 PM

I've had good luck with all components in general other than RAM & DVD. I've returned 2 sets (of 3) of ram within the 1st week this past year (no overclocking). Of the 2 DVD burners we have, 1 won't burn DVD's & the other won't burn CD's. I always use a portable HD since I can't seem to get burning to work (frustrates me).

Jo
November 21, 2006 2:50:05 PM

It's pretty much a "yes" to every remark of yours.


Cheers!
November 21, 2006 3:18:34 PM

Lucky fool. Seems that my bad parts luck moves in streaks. May have something to do with shipping because the couple times I have had to RMA parts they were in the same shipment and there were more than two parts each time.

Maybe bad luck? Maybe bad shipping? Probably a combo of the two and a third factor of bad products.
November 21, 2006 3:21:51 PM

I've had runs of good and bad luck, but the bad seems to be more common recently. What I've seen more of lately is just bad engineering design. A few examples:

MSI released an Nforce 4 board with an onboard soundblaster card that required voltage on a power supply pin that was removed from the atx spec almost 2 years previously.

XFX released a 7800GT with a molex power connector. Very few modern power supplies have enough amperage on any of their molex connectors to power a 7800GT. They then released the same card with a proper PCI-X power connector, but left the old ones on the market and didn't really make it obvious that this was the case (and were unwilling to exchange the molex one for the correct one). I ended up paying the restocking fee and ordering an evga 7800GT to replace it, which has issues (locks up the computer randomly, has artifacting), but I have to keep it since they won't do cross-ship RMAs (even though I chose them because I was told they did, it was apparently only for a faulty batch of 7900 cards).

Speaking of cross-ship RMAs. They used to be standard procedure, but virtually no manufacturers do them any longer. I guess a few got away with it and everyone else followed suit. I don't know about you, but I can't take my computer down for a week and a half (or more) to wait for replacements to arrive. I've decided to personally boycott companies that don't offer them. So, I don't know if I'll ever be able to upgrade again. I have yet to find one that does offer them for sure (BFG said that they did in some circumstances, which is vague-talk for not likely).

Anyway, the current hardware market sadly pales in comparison to where it used to be, in terms of customer service and compatibility.
November 22, 2006 1:24:47 AM

Quote:
What I've seen more of lately is just bad engineering design.

(...)

Anyway, the current hardware market sadly pales in comparison to where it used to be, in terms of customer service and compatibility.


In a nutshell, my view on this subject is that, profitability wins at any cost (pardon the pun), 'bad engineering design' being just a consequence of mass-production & deadlines (time-to-market is supposed to be minimized...); though it helps to provide all what's been talked about & conveyed in this forum (& much more, of course), I can be a harsh critic on capitalism, the way it's being applied & the costs it also brought to 'our' way of living. I'm generalizing the issue, because I find it pertinent in order to contextualize this socio-economic behaviour.
I think there's never been so many, so good & so 'profitable' scientists, engineers, companies, technologies (you name it), as there are now; at the end of the day, it all comes down to profit. Inevitable? Yes, if we stay put. But, the consumer is supposed to be the final filter, right? Perhaps, we've loosen out our filtering standards & became more vulnerable to abuse. It's also our responsability to set the standards & demand compliance with them; knowledge, in this case, is definitely a good weapon; and so is attitude.
I build my own systems; I also make sure my rights fully apply, on what concerns the warranty of those standards. It's not an easy task, I know that.


Cheers!
a c 471 à CPUs
November 22, 2006 3:50:19 AM

Other than a PNY GeForce 4200Ti go bad wthin 6 months, the component that have primarily failed on me is the hard drive.

3 of 3 Maxtors died and they are permanently banned.

1 of 3 Western Digital had bad sectors; lost 20GB of a 120GB HD but stable ever since. I'll still buy their HD though.

1 of 2 Seagate drives died within 1 month. Fortunately the data was backed up. Got it replaced and had no problems ever since.

Interestingly enough, the only HD that never gave me any problems is the infamous IBM Deskstar ("Deathstar") GXP75 60GB HD from 2000. Still using it today.
November 22, 2006 5:27:25 AM

i belive it s two things
'
1 we live in a desoable socity
2 when riding on the edge manufactures dont have much time for r&d take a HD
how long do you thing you would have to make trst and market a HD before the cometition got there copy out my guess is under 18 months

i am afarid quality control has a very short window and a lot of little bugs will not show up in stress tests

take checking a overcklock on a rig might run PI fine might be stable on stress test for 12 hours fine temps go up in summer and all of a sudden you have a system thats blue screening and rebooting like crazy.

anyway i would rathe r live now and have the cool sweet amazing toys i do that still be on my orig 533 comp that runs like a dream.
November 22, 2006 6:26:34 AM

Won't add anything new but I agree here,

You probably had bad luck

You got what you paid for.

This reminds of a computer we had back in 1995. It was a Texas Instrument 486 DX66. This computer was industrial grade, we were using it to controle a plan process. Believe it or not that PC cost around 10K back then which is serious money even by today's standard. That computer never failed, not even one component after 6 years of running 24/7. That computer was so robuste that I could have used it as stool to get to the upper shelves of my office without any fear of breaking it.
November 2, 2008 1:00:47 AM

Quote:
...dig, dig. **creak** Oooooooh....lookie how the corpse looks. So fresh.

11-22-2006 at 01:26:34 AM

<insert Necro Thread pic here>
November 2, 2008 1:18:48 AM

[/sigh]
November 2, 2008 4:39:08 AM

it sounds like a bad PSU is trashing your components, or you're just getting unlucky.
I don't think that all new hardware is crap. Here are the systems that I have built that are still running.

2002 - AMD 2400, 512MB DDR
2004 - Intel P4 2.66, 512MB DDR
2005 - AMD 2800, 512MB DDR
2005 - AMD 2800, 1.5GB DDR
2005 - AMD 64 3200 2GB DDR
2006 - AMD 64 3500 3GB DDR2
2008 - Intel Q6600 4GB DDR2
2008 - Intel E8400 4GB DDR2
Some workstations, some home computers... all still running. None of them are top of the line, and most of them are really low end (even for their time)
I would see if your power supply or mobo is killing your components or something, I wouldn't be surprised it you continue to experience problems.
November 2, 2008 9:45:00 AM

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