Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

In Pictures: 16 Of The PC Industry's Most Epic Failures

In Pictures: 16 Of The PC Industry's Most Epic Failures
By
Sometimes The Glass Is Half Empty

Every industry has its ups and downs, and the history of personal computers is littered with both. Rather than hitting you with another list of favorites, we thought we'd mix things up with some of the most prolific lows, botched products, and major irritations that we've endured over the past decade-plus. Some of the best ideas came from our readers. Others are the personal pet peeves of a long-time reviewer. So please, indulge one man's therapeutic rants as as we reminisce about some of the PC industry's most notable failures.

See more See less
Ask a Category Expert

Create a new thread in the Photo reports comments forum about this subject

Example: Notebook, Android, SSD hard drive

Display all 239 comments.
This thread is closed for comments
Top Comments
  • 48 Hide
    phamhlam , February 3, 2012 3:56 AM
    Where is Windows Vista?
  • 46 Hide
    amuffin , February 3, 2012 3:46 AM
    When I saw the captain piccard facepalm, I knew this was going to be a good article.
  • 32 Hide
    face-plants , February 3, 2012 4:00 AM
    phamhlamWhere is Windows Vista?



    True that...how about Millennium Edition also.
Other Comments
  • 13 Hide
    bobfrys , February 3, 2012 3:19 AM
    Stay classy.
  • 46 Hide
    amuffin , February 3, 2012 3:46 AM
    When I saw the captain piccard facepalm, I knew this was going to be a good article.
  • 16 Hide
    runswindows95 , February 3, 2012 3:56 AM
    I find it funny that two technologies (RDRAM and the first P4) that launched together are on this list. Overall, I agree with everything on the list.
  • 48 Hide
    phamhlam , February 3, 2012 3:56 AM
    Where is Windows Vista?
  • 18 Hide
    face-plants , February 3, 2012 3:59 AM
    I still have Rambus memory and those darn blank 'continuity modules' laying around that I should have never bought for inventory. I hated the first gen Pentium 4's and wish I had skipped them completely with my system builds at the time.
    Also, amen to the comments about Intel's boxed Heatsink/Fan HSF. Not only were those two clear plastic halves of the pin extremely easy to split apart but, some mainboards required me to push entirely way tooo hard before hearing the "click" of the black clip finally seating properly. I still have pictures of a few Intel boxed boards that were so incredibly warped by the force of the HSF retaining clips that they caused internal damage to the boards (opened traces or something) and were never able to POST properly. I believe that mess ended with Intel cross-shipping at least a dozen new mainboards and my store just eating the cost of some after-market Zalman coolers to get the builds out on time. From then on, I only used the boxed coolers for replacement parts and simple bench-testing until the design improved a little bit years later. They're solution is still far worse than AMD's IMO though.
  • 32 Hide
    face-plants , February 3, 2012 4:00 AM
    phamhlamWhere is Windows Vista?



    True that...how about Millennium Edition also.
  • 3 Hide
    ta152h , February 3, 2012 4:07 AM
    Some of these weren't great, but probably don't deserve to be on this list.

    RDRAM failed, not because of RDRAM, but because of the Pentium III. Which brings us to the Willamette too. The Williamette reached 2 GHz on the same process technology that the Pentium III/Coppermine reached 1.1 GHz, and outperformed it EASILY at virtually everything at that clock speed, and even when introduced at 1.5 GHz (compared to 1 GHz Pentium III) beat it in virtually all benchmarks. Why? A good part of it was the performance of RDRAM, which finally was attached to a processor that could use the bandwidth. The bad was the x87 was greatly weakened so developers would use SSE 2, which was very powerful and considerably better. I guess that's a plus and a minus.

    Ironically, RDRAM died just when it was finally better than the competition. The price had finally come down to the price of other memory, and the performance was better for the Pentium 4 than DDR. But, when they released it for the Pentium III, which couldn't use the bandwidth (although even then, the i840 had very good performance by using interleaving to reduce latency), the performance was bad because of the processor. The cost was excessive too, although it was wrong attributed to royalty payments.

    While the Willamette wasn't a great processor, the really bad one in the Pentium 4 line was Prescott. I think most people would pick that one as the worst.

    Others might be all the Super 7 chipsets. The 386 kind of sucked (added a lot, but the performance wasn't that great). The K5 was a big headache, being very late, lacking MMX (which was a selling point by the time it came out, due to be late) and stuck at 116.7 MHz. AMD 486/DX2 80 MHz had that nasty tendency to have the internal cache go bad. i820 really sucked, being late, using the wrong memory (RDRAM) for the processor, and then having bugs with the MTH. Worse than that, for only a little more, the i840 had much better performance, and more features. Cyrix should have been known as Cryix, because you would if you bought one. The headaches those things caused ...
  • 28 Hide
    jryan388 , February 3, 2012 4:08 AM
    Love the FX 5800 picture
  • 16 Hide
    Anonymous , February 3, 2012 4:10 AM
    I wouldn't call the zip drive a failure, epic or otherwise. At one point several major PC vendors shipped with internal zip drives and there was quite a fury to own them. It was perceived as cheap, decent-sized storage that was more cost-effective than hard drives. The problem of course was that the zip drive format was owned by Iomega rather than being vendor-neutral.
  • 4 Hide
    face-plants , February 3, 2012 4:19 AM
    The drive wasn't a failure but as a mass-storage medium in it's time it had way too high of a failure rate. I used Zip Disks for archiving (100, 250, and 750) for years but had a few disks of each type fail on me. These were all relatively new since I would use them to backup data and only access them again to check what I had saved... and sometimes to add more files to them. As a backup medium, they were no good. Thank god that each one I had die was a backup copy of data I still had the original copies of. Any backup medium that you save files to, store it away someplace safe only to find the disk unreadable some time later is worthless. After having enough disks die unexplainably I found it more reliable to just put two or more hd's in each of my personal machines and leave one disconnected except for periodic system images.

    Maybe I just had bad luck or an unusually high amount of cosmic radiation finding it's way to my disks but I'd never trust a Zip Disk again.
  • 31 Hide
    cleeve , February 3, 2012 4:25 AM
    phamhlamWhere is Windows Vista?


    I never got why Vista was considered so terrible. Yeah, user account control was irritating, but if you disable it you're getting 99% of the Windows 7 experience. I never jumped on the 'I hate Vista!' bandwagon. I actually had it on my server until very recently.

    face-plantsTrue that...how about Millennium Edition also.


    Windows ME... now there I agree. I came this close to adding it to the list, I think I even wrote up a draft. the problem is, It's been so long and I used it so little before giving up on it and going back to Win 98 SE back in the day, i couldn't speak about what was wrong with it with real credibility. So I figured I'd best leave it out.

    But yeah, ME sucked. :) 
  • 7 Hide
    SteelCity1981 , February 3, 2012 4:27 AM
    And guess who stuck to DDR and didn't buy into the BS RDRAM was selling? AMD. Just like how AMD said nope we aren't adopting BTX motherboards, we dont' see them as the future, while Intel did and and was touting this is the future of case designs to lower heat. We all saw what happened their. Everyone that had a BTX system, just like an Intel system with RDRAM got screwed over and left in the dark, while AMD kept chugging along with standards already in place and then bite on the hype.
  • 3 Hide
    illfindu , February 3, 2012 4:27 AM
    I think the smell idea is not only bad but I think allot of people don't realize how nearly impossible it would be to do in any real form. When you smell some thing you are actually taking in molecules of that object or gasses let off bye it. These things would have to actually generate chemicals or store massive deposits of scents that would never accurately portray what they want you to smell.
  • 5 Hide
    cleeve , February 3, 2012 4:29 AM
    Quote:
    ...2900XT was not as nearly as big failure as GeForce FX.


    Yeah it was, Scrum. They both sucked really, really hard compared to the competition of the day.
  • 3 Hide
    Soma42 , February 3, 2012 4:31 AM
    Why all the hate on Vista? It had it's issues, don't get me wrong, but it was an improvement over XP in a lot of ways.

    Windows 7 > Vista > XP

    Definitely not face-palm worthy.
  • 1 Hide
    de5_Roy , February 3, 2012 4:32 AM
    fun article. looks like you guys focussed on pc hardware (cpu, ram, hdd etc..) this time.
    imo hd-dvd (competitor of blu-ray), coolermaster psus (low end), firewire are fails too.
  • 7 Hide
    face-plants , February 3, 2012 4:34 AM
    The BTX form factor now there's another one for the list.
    Good call SteelCity1981
    The theory of having all the hottest components in a line from the front to the back of the case was good for cooling but it's done now in many modern cases without the need to stray from the many friendly flavors of ATX, Mid-ATX, Micro-ATX, uATX etc
  • 5 Hide
    phamhlam , February 3, 2012 4:38 AM
    XP was old but Vista wasn't a great succesor. It gave Windows the Aero them and such but it lack a bunch of simplicity and productive design. Windows 7 is close to perfect.
Display more comments