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Posts: 1867
Joined: Tue Nov 09, 2004 3:02 am

Old PC More Reliable Than New PC's?

Mon Dec 26, 2005 7:01 am


I have had many PC's, my old one was a Packard Bell with:

Pentium 2 Processor 300MHz
2MB SIS Graphics RAM

And it has always worked, never ever had to replace a single part inside it. It has never even slowed down. Infact, my current PC has never had to have parts replaced, but it slows down a lot very regularly. My specs:

Pentium 4 Processor 3.00GHz
1024MB RAM
120GB HD
256MB NvIdia FX5200

It has probably got more to do with Windows XP  Smile

But, i also have another PC at my Grans house which is a HP:

Pentium 3 Processor 600MHz
256MB RAM (Upgraded from 64MB)
32MB OpLex (I think) Graphics

This PC has never had to have any parts replaced, apart from myself upgrading the RAM but there was nothing wrong with it.

Now that i've bored you with my PC life story... lol, i'll get onto the main points:

Many of my friends have newer PC's, and they have had to replace many parts because they just stop working. One of them has a HP PC, and the other three have Dell. (No surprise their, why they don't work  Smile )

Do you think that there is a larger demand for PC's now, so they are rushed and parts are made of cheaper components to make them less reliable?

I know people will say it is just luck, but these people do look after their PC's and the best thing is that they don't have as many programs on their PC as myself.

All Comments Appreciated  Smile

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RE: Old PC More Reliable Than New PC's?

Mon Dec 26, 2005 7:29 am

Its more psychological.

Older stuff seems reliable today, because the things that did fail have been thrown out long ago and all thats left is what didnt fail.

Having been in the PC scene for 15 years or so now, I can honestly say that systems today are no more or less reliable than those I started out with, providing you spend the right amount of money. There was crap on the market 15 years ago, 10 years ago, 5 years ago. There is crap on the market today.

The only difference is, crap 10 years ago was expensive crap, crap today is cheap crap, because the relative price of computers has come down over hte years.

Just my 8.35p (damn inflation).
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RE: Old PC More Reliable Than New PC's?

Mon Dec 26, 2005 7:30 am

seems like i never had as many problems with PCs as i have in the past 3 or 4 years ... in fact, in the past 3 years, i went through 3 PCs (i am a writer and do some small desktop publishing, so i use them continually)...

still, i was appalled at buying brand-new, not cheap PCs (the last 3 were sony vaios), so when i had problems in november, i read info on 'consumer reports' and switched to macs

i now have a G4 notebook and am loving it ... i do think, like so many things, the emphasis on quality products just isn't the same as it use to be

oh, and one word of advise ... get an external harddrive, or buy 'briefcase' space online for seamless backup when the little bugger goes down.

happy holidays!

the lester mainwaring party
I want something under my wheels thats plenty long and mighty dry --- Vern Demarest
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RE: Old PC More Reliable Than New PC's?

Mon Dec 26, 2005 8:15 am

I've been remarkably lucky with my hardware. I had a Mac IIVX which I bought in 1992 as an undergrad student and it served me well right up through 1999-several tricks to hotrod it helped but it was still a 68040 processor.
The next one was an AST PIII-500 mhz which was a disaster and never did stay fixed. Ultimately it got swapped for an IBM 2174 W98SE machine which gave good service for five years. I've since set up a network in the house and the old IBM, having been hotrodded with tons of memory and an 833 mhz Athlon is now a big filing cabinet. The next project is going to be a motherboard upgrade so I can use a faster processor than the 833 mhz Athlon.
Presently we have a Dell 4600, have had it for 1-1/2 years with nary a hint of trouble-it's flawless. The latest addition is a Toshiba laptop with wireless so I can go on the road and stay in touch with my students.

One thing about the old IBM, though. If you stay about two steps behind the technology curve you can compute for pennies. I bought 384 mb of memory online for $6 per strip, same stuff new costs $50 per each at Office Despot.
If you believe in coincidence, you haven't looked close enough-Joe Leaphorn
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RE: Old PC More Reliable Than New PC's?

Mon Dec 26, 2005 8:28 am

As long as you are still able to be in the same neighborhood of what's out there currently, then yes. I've had my current computer since April of 2003, and I have done some upgrades to it over time I've added memory (upgraded to 512MB with the addition of another 256MB stick; recently replaced one of those 256MB sticks with a 512MB stick, and may replace the other 256MB in the near future as well.), added an additional hard drive (When I bought the computer, I thought I'd never use 40GB. Six months later, I went and got an 80GB drive to suppliment the other drive), and ditched the onboard graphics for a video card. Even the newest games run on my computer without too many issues. I've been considering replacing my computer in the next few months, but may wait until Vista comes out already installed on a PC.
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RE: Old PC More Reliable Than New PC's?

Mon Dec 26, 2005 8:36 am

Going back 16 years, we had 2, 286 IBM PS2s. With the DOS operating system, they lasted about 10 years, before the hard drives failed. The hard drives had proprietery connections, so we were not able to find replacements. The software never crashed, unless you made a bad batch file, and it would end up in an infinate loop. Those, I consider to be reliable.
Yay Pudding!
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RE: Old PC More Reliable Than New PC's?

Mon Dec 26, 2005 9:51 am


Old things have less to go wrong.

Signed, Aaron Nicoli - Trans World Airlines Collector
Topic Author
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RE: Old PC More Reliable Than New PC's?

Mon Dec 26, 2005 4:54 pm

Thanks for all of the replies. Obviously i must be a bit 'Kukoo'. I have found that mainly Dell PC's break down more now than the older ones.

My PC is a Custom Built one from June 2004. I have never upgraded her at all, except adding a DVD Drive but nothing has failed.

A good friend living in Sweden bought a Dell, he knows nothing about how PC's are built inside and a few days into having his Dell PC he agreed with me never to buy Dell. The Graphics Card drivers were the latest NvIdia drivers but in FS the panel and other things started hiding when you clicked on something in the Cockpit.

And the person who has the HP, my Aunt, had to replace her HD after only 1.5 years old. Fair enough, she never used the PC a lot and the HD can get damaged from lack of use.

Quoting Aviation (Reply 6):

Old things have less to go wrong.

lol... i like that  Smile

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RE: Old PC More Reliable Than New PC's?

Mon Dec 26, 2005 11:53 pm

Hi all,

Quoting Dogfighter2111 (Reply 7):
Thanks for all of the replies. Obviously i must be a bit 'Kukoo'. I have found that mainly Dell PC's break down more now than the older ones.

I think you are right. I've worked in IT support for several years and feel the same way. I still have an old 5.25 inch drive from an original IBM XT. The thing is a tank. My dad's Dell has had its hard drive replaced twice already! This is a $2500 machine too!!

I think it is an issue of the quality of components makers use. My "new" HP laptop's hard drive failed about only 6 months. Meanwhile the Custom PC I built back in June 2000 runs perfectly. It is an AMD Athlon 750 MHz with a 15 GB Hard Drive and 256 MB of RAM. Runs like a champ on Win XP SP2. Normally I'd replace my desktop every 5 years but not this time!

At work we all use IBM (now Lenovo) Thinkpads. Even though they are all Pentium 4 2.0 Ghz they are slow as hell. Even with a 1 GB of Ram they are nothing special. We bought a Sony Vaio and it blew the doors off of the IBM's...Just shows that it's the components the make the PC.

Topic Author
Posts: 1867
Joined: Tue Nov 09, 2004 3:02 am

RE: Old PC More Reliable Than New PC's?

Tue Dec 27, 2005 12:40 am

Quoting Sv7887 (Reply 8):

I agree with everything you have said. Although, Custom PC's are built with high quality components most likely the same as MAC's and Sony but the difference really is you are paying for the name. Just like a lot of cars.

The way i see it, is i chose all of the components in my PC. (I ordered it from a UK Custom PC specialist) and i will only pay a little extra for one persons work for the actual build where as i will probably be paying a little extra for a few peoples work for building the PC if i went to Dell or HP where the quality jsut isn't as good anyway.

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RE: Old PC More Reliable Than New PC's?

Tue Dec 27, 2005 2:12 am

Unfortunately, I'm going to give a more complicted answer and start with Yes and No.

First of all, you are a lucky man to have had no trouble from a Packard-Bell. I know of no make that has a worse reputation for quality and reliability;their average was worse than the low spots of Compaq, Gateway, Dell, etc. when they were at their worst. Our company is a local HP authorized repair facility and until several years after P-B bit the dust we would get at least a dozen irate people a week coming in to complain about the crap HP were making - thinking wrongly that the companies were the same due to the similarity in names. Generally speaking, once reality was explained and they were calmed down, they would buy an HP unless the repair on their PB was simple.

Now, on to the reliability today vs. yesterday question. If you buy a mid to high end business class computer today from a reputable manufacturer there is no question that the hardware is more reliable. On the low end consumer models, i.e. what you can buy at CompUSA, Wal-Mart, HSN, etc. the story is not so pretty. These use the lowest grade components available and typically have much shorter warranties as a result; typically one year and in some cases just 90 days. OTOH, most business class PCs come with 3 year warranties and promos for free upgrades to 4 or 5 years are not uncommon. If you want reliability and better performance, buy business class from a reputable reseller or directly from the manufacturer's Small and Medium Business store on the web; it's worth the minor 10-20% premium.

Now, on to make it a bit more complicated. Today's processors, drives, memory etc. typically produce considerable heat and are also very sensative to being overheated. Large manufacturers spend a lot of time and money using CFD to analyze heat flow and transfer and adjust their designs accordingly. Small "White Box" manufacturers do not have the money or ability to do so and as a result their reliability suffers greatly. I can't emphasize enough how important this is, HP for instance adjusts the lengths and locations of cabling in the computer to optimize air flow. The typical response of small manufacturers is to fit larger fans and run them full speed at all times. This results in a noisy computer, low lifetime for the fan, and may not even solve the problem.

Another innovation that has helped improve the reliability of todays PCs are SMART hard drives that can usually detect faults early before they cause catastrophic failure of the drive allowing pre-failure replacement.

If you go to the workstation and server segment of the market then the reliability of today's machines is far better than ten years ago. Features like redundant power, redundant fans, SCSI drives, hot swap memory and drives, RAID drives(and memory), etc. that used to be common in the Unix world are now common with these machines. Add in redundant NICs, redundat FC connections to fault tolerant SANs, etc. and this hardware really is ready for Enterprise applications today.

The SW is not quite as good of a story. Don't get me wrong, today's MS Windows is much more reliable than it was ten years ago but it is still bloated, not nearly as reliable as Unix/Linux, and subject to virus, worm, trojan attacks, etc. particularly at the desktop level. In fact, I would estimate that 70-80% of the desktop boxes we "repair" have no hardware faults. It is common to find 200+ instances of adware, virus, etc. absolutely killing the performance and reliablity of the machine.
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