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Expert-Reviewed as “BEST” Components -- Do Any Actually Exist?

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February 7, 2012 5:38:24 PM

Expert-Reviewed as “BEST” Components -- Do Any Actually Exist?
This topic's question could have been phrased any number of other ways.

Here are some issues which have thwarted my decision-making process to buy “the certified best” components (per-price-range) to build a new computer for myself.

My desire is to build my own computer system with major components (ex: MB, CPU, GPU, RAM, CASE, Sound Card, etc.), each manufactured with consistent, highest quality components (ex: Japanese resistors, capacitors, circuit board thickness, gold trace spacing, etc.). So far, I have not found any review, or forum post from any 'real' expert, that explains precisely the reasons why (in a comparative review) one MB or, other part, is --truly and technically-- a better performing, better designed and manufactured part than the other(s). I'm no electrical engineer, nor am I an expert in any other of the disciplines surrounding computer components, but some of the reviewers probably are. Some of the forum posters are probably and truly experts, too (although they seem to be very few in number).

THG “Badges” system is not indicative of real expertise, but rather how many posts a person acts upon. Even being selected as the poster of the “Best answer” can be misleading, since some Original Posters are ill-equipped to make such judgments correctly – myself included!! Many Best Answers are merely personal opinions, and not based upon the poster's own experience, or scientifically-proven facts.

Tom's Hardware Guide is the 1st place I come to help me make decisions. But, over the last few years, I cannot find definitive, acceptable answers (to what I'm seeking) in any of the 'reviews' I've read, including hardware forum comments. I say acceptable because more often than not, almost every part (brand/model/version) "recommended" by THG experts has numerous negative reviews by actual owners/users (on newegg). There are hundreds of posts on newegg containing words like DOA, RMA, PSU cables too short, holes don't align, cheap plastic parts, etc. The list is almost endless! And, those comments are specifically about the same parts that THG authors and forum posters recommend regularly.

I believe there are too many people recommending "what they like personally," just because they've had extreme good luck, or else to merely justify their purchase. I'm fully aware that absolutely nothing is perfect, nor ever will be! But, there must certainly be a technological method to determine actual, measurable quality between competing components, in a definitive manner. I have lost all confidence in "personal opinions" about "which is better or best".

I'm looking for conclusive choices (of computer components which I can buy) with simple explanations, based upon real/certifiable analysis. Without having that, everything I buy would be at most a gamble! At my age, I will not live long enough to read and try to understand every non-conclusive review. I am not looking to earn a PHD by reading 10 hours a day on THG, every day! It's for that reason I'm looking to THG for definitive choices.

THG seems to avoid presenting a list of products-by-category which have each been thoroughly scrutinized, bench-tested, and evaluated as “Best” (when compared to other, similar ones). I don't know why. It certainly reduces the value of THG as an expedient way to find and buy parts with confidence (without 'earning' a PHD by reading thousands of posts on this web site, most of which contradict others, and are further contradicted by negative reviews by actual users on sites like newegg).

In my opinion, if the experts (the ones who are actually providing Reviews on THG) are truly experts, their conclusions can/should be presented with a very simple short list of reasons as to why their conclusions are factual. Oscilloscopes and voltage meters do not lie (when used properly). A fact should be provable. After all, I thought that was the original purpose (years ago) of Tom's Hardware Guide – to eliminate time-consuming efforts and guess-work placed upon Tom's reading public. Now, it seems, THG has become a battleground of personal preferences and opinions, rather than measured, factual conclusions.
February 8, 2012 1:43:05 AM

Unfortunately the problem you are seeing is partially due to there being no true right answer. No part is perfect, and cheaply mass produced computer parts these days are definitely no exception. One component that I use and works perfectly for me could fail miserably for you, or one board with the best components could have defects or be damaged and fail as well. To add to the complexity, manufacturers vary in quality and execution year to year, so you can't really trust a brand either.

One component that is very scientifically reviewed (particularly on a couple other sites) is power supplies. Review sites take them apart, label each part, and test them extensively. The process is very helpful and really as good as it realistically can be, however it still isn't always sufficient. One of the top rated (by these in depth reviews) PSUs is the Seasonic Gold line, however if you look at user reviews you will still find complaints, and my X750 emits a whistle at idle. I've had a better experience with Corsair Pro PSUs (which are reviewed quite well too).

So to sum it up, I really like taking a 'scientific' approach to reviewing or evaluating a component, however it is very difficult and not absolute. Many parts are too complex or small to be completely component tested (such as motherboards or GPUs or CPUs) and even those that can be (such as PSUs) a positive result can't guarantee a positive experience. Sometimes all you can do is make a guess off a limited number of mediocre reviews and go with a company that seems to stand behind their products and hope for the best. I know that doesn't really answer your question/comment, however I felt like rambling a bit tonight (sorry).
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