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I hate the idea of throwaway computers.

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June 29, 2010 8:57:23 AM

Hi,
I hate the idea of throwaway computers. I would like to determine what could enhance the long-term durability of a computer build. I understand that heat has deleterious effect on electronic components; therefore, a case with adequate fans, effective heat sinks and effective quiet fans are a must. I also believe that a stable, clean power supply unit with adequate wattage can enhance the durability of the computer. That leaves selecting the CPU and motherboard as elements in the long-term durability of the computer build.
What aspects should one look for in a durable CPU? Same question, what aspects should one look for in a durable motherboard? Do lower wattage CPU’s necessarily last longer? Are “Japanese” capacitors anymore durable than anyone else’s? Are military grade motherboards just another advertising gimmick?
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June 29, 2010 1:32:25 PM

With proper care in component selection, construction, and operation; short of a random failure (and with a little luck), odds are that the PC will be obsolete before something fails.
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June 29, 2010 9:08:03 PM

^ indeed. Exactly how long are you talking about though? And exactly what will you be using the computer for?

I certainly cannot see anyone using a PC from 1995 with windows 95 in today's world. 15 years later, and even going on the internet would use too many resources. I can see a computer reasonably lasting for 10 years. The first thing to die would likely be the hard drive. And if you take very good care of it, the only thing to die will be the hard drive. I still have working computer parts from the mid 1990s. One of them is actually a hard drive. But it sounds terrible, is slow and has a capacity of less than 1GB.
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June 29, 2010 10:49:57 PM

Not sure what you mean by throw away computer, but every machine I've had my whole life has lasted long enough that I replaced it with something faster before it failed. Actually excluding 1 hard drive and 1 video card, I've never had anything fail on me. The video card was actually in the first week of ownership too, so I just got it replaced by newegg.
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June 29, 2010 11:42:05 PM

jsc said:
With proper care in component selection, construction, and operation; short of a random failure (and with a little luck), odds are that the PC will be obsolete before something fails.

Hi,
My current PC is obsolete. When it was purchased, it was among the best available. This spring I had to do some repair work. This was when I ran into this term. People buy a cheap PC (Walmart, Best Buy, ect.). They use it for a year or so. It breaks, and they buy another. This is what I was advised to do, as well. I was also advised to have a "backup" computer. This certainly doesn't give me much trust in the current crop of computers.
The amount of money I spent originally would buy a very nice PC even today. I want a PC to last until it is my decision to replace it.
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June 29, 2010 11:56:47 PM

enzo matrix said:
^ indeed. Exactly how long are you talking about though? And exactly what will you be using the computer for?

I certainly cannot see anyone using a PC from 1995 with windows 95 in today's world. 15 years later, and even going on the internet would use too many resources. I can see a computer reasonably lasting for 10 years. The first thing to die would likely be the hard drive. And if you take very good care of it, the only thing to die will be the hard drive. I still have working computer parts from the mid 1990s. One of them is actually a hard drive. But it sounds terrible, is slow and has a capacity of less than 1GB.

Hi,
I've replaced the operating system several times on my current system. I had to replace a hard drive this spring (after eleven years). But it wasn't a garden-variety computer either. It will be my "back up" computer for a while. It should have been replaced earlier, but the economy intervened.
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June 30, 2010 12:17:22 AM

I have had and still use the same computer for over thirty years. It has had about 5 new cases 8 new motherboards, RAM and Processors, and 5 new graphics cards 6 new hard drives and 6 new CD drives. But it is still the same computer. :sarcastic: 
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June 30, 2010 12:37:26 AM

pjmelect said:
I have had and still use the same computer for over thirty years. It has had about 5 new cases 8 new motherboards, RAM and Processors, and 5 new graphics cards 6 new hard drives and 6 new CD drives. But it is still the same computer. :sarcastic: 

Hi,
OK, I'll bite. How does that qualify as the same computer? :kaola: 
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June 30, 2010 1:48:55 AM

The fact that I have incrementally upgraded the same computer for many years makes it the same computer, the oldest component in it is a 56k modem which is coming on 20 years old.
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June 30, 2010 2:20:38 AM

20 year old 56k? That was probably a $200 part when you purchased it.
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June 30, 2010 2:54:15 AM

Well I don’t know exactly how old the modem is but it was one of the first that you could buy at an affordable price and it still works with Windows XP. I haven’t tried it with Vista or Windows 7 yet.
Getting back to the point of the thread I have not thrown away my computer just continually upgraded it.
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June 30, 2010 2:59:05 AM

pjmelect said:
.....I have not thrown away my computer just continually upgraded it.


And thats as close as the OP will get to what he is looking for. IC's just become obsolete too quickly. Even long lasting parts start to show their age sooner or later.
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June 30, 2010 3:17:51 AM

In electronics they are always going to be that way -- technology improves and speeds increase so to keep up you have to get rid of the old and buy new (complete systems or parts) on a continual basis --- I mean do you still want to try to use an 8-track tape player or 12 inch black and white TV they may have been top of the line when purchased but are obsolete now and same goes for computer systems - the parts that will be mainstream in 15 years have not been developed yet so you couldn't buy it even if you could afford it !

If you get 3 good years of use out of a system your doing well.
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June 30, 2010 4:36:35 AM

pjmelect said:
Well I don’t know exactly how old the modem is but it was one of the first that you could buy at an affordable price and it still works with Windows XP. I haven’t tried it with Vista or Windows 7 yet.
Getting back to the point of the thread I have not thrown away my computer just continually upgraded it.

Hi,
It sounds like you have a 20 year old component rather than a 20 year old computer. I remember when windows 95 was the latest and greatest.
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June 30, 2010 5:01:28 AM

JDFan said:
In electronics they are always going to be that way -- technology improves and speeds increase so to keep up you have to get rid of the old and buy new (complete systems or parts) on a continual basis --- I mean do you still want to try to use an 8-track tape player or 12 inch black and white TV they may have been top of the line when purchased but are obsolete now and same goes for computer systems - the parts that will be mainstream in 15 years have not been developed yet so you couldn't buy it even if you could afford it !

If you get 3 good years of use out of a system your doing well.

Hi,
Having the absolute latest, fastest computer isn't one of my priorities. Are six cores running at 3GHz really that much better than four cores at 3GHz? My car is limited at 155 mph, but it is rarely over 100.

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June 30, 2010 4:48:45 PM
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terry4536 said:
Hi,
I hate the idea of throwaway computers. I would like to determine what could enhance the long-term durability of a computer build. I understand that heat has deleterious effect on electronic components; therefore, a case with adequate fans, effective heat sinks and effective quiet fans are a must. I also believe that a stable, clean power supply unit with adequate wattage can enhance the durability of the computer. That leaves selecting the CPU and motherboard as elements in the long-term durability of the computer build.

What aspects should one look for in a durable CPU?


CPUs last for a very long time if they are run within their temperature and voltage specifications. I believe I read Intel quoting a 1% failure rate at 10 years at some point in time, and that sounds about right. The only CPUs I've seen that have died generally died because a dying power supply took out the motherboard and everything on it, a ham-fisted person physically damaged the CPU when installing/removing it, somebody overheating and/or overvolting a CPU when overclocking, or by the CPU heatsink's fan failing on early fan-cooled CPUs that had no shutdown-on-overheat capability. The former is preventable by a good PSU, #2 and #3 are prevented by preventing idiots from messing with the machine, and #4 is impossible on modern systems since all CPUs made in the last decade or so have a shutdown-on-overheat capability to prevent the CPU from frying.

Quote:
Same question, what aspects should one look for in a durable motherboard?


I'd look for a workstation/server board. Those are designed to be run at full load for years on end and undergo a more rigorous validation process than consumer desktop boards. That being said, most decent-quality desktop boards will run darn near forever if not run out of specs or killed by a bad PSU.

Quote:
Do lower wattage CPU’s necessarily last longer?


Theoretically they will due to their lower voltage and thus less electromigration, but CPUs are extremely reliable anyway and it will last far beyond it being obsolete. I have a 433 MHz Celeron sitting in a drawer that still runs, if you want to get an idea of just how long CPUs last.

Quote:
Are “Japanese” capacitors anymore durable than anyone else’s?


Maybe, maybe not. A quality capacitor will last a good long time if properly cooled. The whole "Japanese capacitor" bit comes from a Taiwanese company stealing a recipe for capacitor electrolyte (the goo inside can-type electrlotic capacitors) from a competitor but unknowingly not stealing the entire recipe. The resulting electrolyte was faulty, sold widely to Taiwanese and Chinese capacitor makers, and caused a rash of premature capacitor failures in the early 2000s in the "capacitor plague." The Japanese makers either did not use the faulty Taiwanese electrolyte or did not use it widely and thus didn't have the failures.

Quote:
Are military grade motherboards just another advertising gimmick?


Yes.
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July 1, 2010 7:15:44 AM

MU_Engineer said:
CPUs last for a very long time if they are run within their temperature and voltage specifications. I believe I read Intel quoting a 1% failure rate at 10 years at some point in time, and that sounds about right. The only CPUs I've seen that have died generally died because a dying power supply took out the motherboard and everything on it, a ham-fisted person physically damaged the CPU when installing/removing it, somebody overheating and/or overvolting a CPU when overclocking, or by the CPU heatsink's fan failing on early fan-cooled CPUs that had no shutdown-on-overheat capability. The former is preventable by a good PSU, #2 and #3 are prevented by preventing idiots from messing with the machine, and #4 is impossible on modern systems since all CPUs made in the last decade or so have a shutdown-on-overheat capability to prevent the CPU from frying.

Quote:
Same question, what aspects should one look for in a durable motherboard?


I'd look for a workstation/server board. Those are designed to be run at full load for years on end and undergo a more rigorous validation process than consumer desktop boards. That being said, most decent-quality desktop boards will run darn near forever if not run out of specs or killed by a bad PSU.

Quote:
Do lower wattage CPU’s necessarily last longer?


Theoretically they will due to their lower voltage and thus less electromigration, but CPUs are extremely reliable anyway and it will last far beyond it being obsolete. I have a 433 MHz Celeron sitting in a drawer that still runs, if you want to get an idea of just how long CPUs last.

Quote:
Are “Japanese” capacitors anymore durable than anyone else’s?


Maybe, maybe not. A quality capacitor will last a good long time if properly cooled. The whole "Japanese capacitor" bit comes from a Taiwanese company stealing a recipe for capacitor electrolyte (the goo inside can-type electrlotic capacitors) from a competitor but unknowingly not stealing the entire recipe. The resulting electrolyte was faulty, sold widely to Taiwanese and Chinese capacitor makers, and caused a rash of premature capacitor failures in the early 2000s in the "capacitor plague." The Japanese makers either did not use the faulty Taiwanese electrolyte or did not use it widely and thus didn't have the failures.

Quote:
Are military grade motherboards just another advertising gimmick?


Yes.

Hi,
I thought it was strange to list Japanese manufactured capacitors as a selling point. It didn't make sense as a specification. I haven't run across "workstation/server" boards, but I haven't researched servers either. What is the relevance of the processor architecture?
Anonymous
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July 1, 2010 8:04:08 AM

All I know about capacitors is I have seen many older OEM boards from Dell and Packard Bell and the likes with popped Capacitors, rending machine broken, but mind you, the machines were on the last legs of usability already ion terms of working speed!

I still have a working 486 running Win 95, heck there is also various ZX Speccy and Amigas in the loft, my dad has still got our LOGO basic PC as well (BurgerKing anyone, what a game)

Most of the time the hardware becomes obsolete before failure so not to worry too much, unless its High End hardware being pushed close to the limits where failure under extreme heat and stress could cause early failure!
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July 8, 2010 12:45:07 AM

Best answer selected by terry4536.
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July 8, 2010 7:35:30 AM

pjmelect said:
I have had and still use the same computer for over thirty years. It has had about 5 new cases 8 new motherboards, RAM and Processors, and 5 new graphics cards 6 new hard drives and 6 new CD drives. But it is still the same computer. :sarcastic: 


Thats like the Family Viking Axe, handed down from father to son for generations, blades been replaced a few times, the shaft rotted away more than once and it periodically needed new bindings, but its the same axe my ancestors wore into battle a thousand years ago :p 
Its not just computers Op, its a throwaway society in this day and age in general unfortunately,
Moto
July 8, 2010 7:38:47 AM

I hate the idea of throwaway computers. I would like to determine what could enhance the long-term durability of a computer build. I understand that heat has deleterious effect on electronic components;

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