The Computer Buzz
||January 24th, 2008|
Nome and Paul Van Middlesworth - owners - The Computer Factory
Parts Is Parts
You may remember the old TV ad where the fast food counter clerk answers a customer’s inquiry about the quality of the meat in the chicken nuggets with a shrug "parts is parts," he says. Well that statement is just as false with PC components as it is with chicken nuggets.
"Digital" PC components like memories, CPUs, hard drives, optical drives, and LCD monitors are manufactured using "analogue" processes. By that we mean that the complicated manufacturing processes that create these devices are inherently imperfect. All of the above devices have hundreds or even thousands of small defects.
A one and a half inch square CPU with 8 million transistors has hundreds of bad transistors; a hard drive with 200 billion byte locations will have thousands of defective bits.
Component manufacturers use highly sophisticated quality measurement test systems, not to determine whether or not a device is perfect but to determine whether the level of imperfection meets acceptance standards.
If a device is too "imperfect" it will fail the tests and be scrapped or salvaged. If it meets the minimum requirements it will be sold as an OEM or bulk pack product to be used in building new computers or sold to generic/no name retail packagers. These components are usually sold with severely limited warranties.
If the device passes all the quality screens with flying colors it will be sold as a premium or boxed product with multi-year warranties under the manufacturers name.
The major computer marketers like Dell, Compaq/HP, and Gateway/E-Machine have their PCs made for them at third party assembly plants in Asia. These companies use the OEM or bulk pack components. These lower grade components carry only one-year warranties, which the major brand PC companies pass on to their customers.
The major brand PC companies allow the use of cheap OEM components because they really don't mind that these components barely survive the one-year warranty period. If your PC breaks down after a year or two it's good news for them. Either the customer will be forced to order an over-priced "factory replacement part" or buy a new PC. Either way they're winners. Since all the major brands use the same third party Asian manufacturers and the same cheap components, there is no competitive disadvantage for selling a low quality product. Buyers have no real choice.
Low-end PC components often show up as no name specials at electronics retailers. The retail store salesperson may tell you that a highly respected manufacturer makes the DVD burner with the spectacular price and a name you don't recognize. It may well be true but it won't be the same quality as a component that goes to market under the manufacturers name.
Local PC sales and service companies who have been around for a few years have learned that unless you stick to the high quality components in building and repairing PCs, you won't be around for long.