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Let's talk computers.

Discussion in 'Bits & Bytes' started by -Ken, Nov 28, 2002.

  1. -Ken

    -Ken Guest

    Here's another long-winded opinion from Ken's world of personal computers.

    To my simplistic way of looking at it, there are only two kinds of computers.
    I will define these as Proprietary and Clone. So, why would you care?

    Let's look at the differences.


    These systems are designed to be mass produced and assembled cheaply.
    Some examples of name brands following this concept are IBM, Compaq,
    HP, (See Compaq), Gateway and Dell.

    There are both advantages and disadvantages to each design. Since the overall
    cost can be held down by the design and manufacture, these systems generally
    sell for less. They are not customizable other than the amount of RAM the CPU
    speed, the CDROM/DVD/burner options and the hard drive size.
    For most people, this is fine.

    However, this limits the choices the owner has and also makes it difficult to take
    advantage of the newer technology as it is introduced.

    Since the power supply and the motherboard are "proprietary" they can only be
    replaced with the exact same part from the same manufacturer. Once you are out
    of warranty, you will pay dearly for any replacement part you might need. Gateway
    (a few years ago) tried to charge me $119 plus shipping for a power supply which
    should have cost me $25 delivered. I politely declined and bought the customer a
    new case, power supply and motherboard. I stripped the useable components out,
    built the parts into the new case and I believe the old Gateway shell is currently
    being used as a birdhouse (probably the finest use of a Gateway to date!)


    Years ago, these were called IBM compatible. Now, IBM is no longer IBM compatible!
    The idea is that every PC built would use standard sized components which would be
    interchangeable. To that end, all motherboards, power supplies and every other part
    could be swapped out at your whim.

    Why is this good?

    Well, this allows the gamer to build a system which has the best components suited for
    gaming (great video and sound cards, for example) while the same "box" can be built
    with onboard video and sound for a business class system or for surfing and emailing.
    Since all the parts are interchangeable and it is easy to get replacement parts should
    something break, keeping these machines running after the warranty is up is cheap.

    Up to this point, all things considered, everything is pretty much equal. So, why do I
    think one is better than the other?

    Check this out. To simplify the example, we will make a few assumptions. We will
    assume the price of an entry level computer system is $1,000 and that both computer
    systems are the same. (This is not true but it makes things easier to compare).

    Let's talk proprietary first.

    I buy myself a brand new Hewlett-Packard-Bell for $1,000. I ignore the extended
    warranty and plan on getting three years reliable use from this thing.

    My wife, being smarter than I buys a clone for $1,000 and expects to
    get three years use also.

    Each year, my wife decides she will spend $200 in upgrades to keep her computer current.
    After the first year, she yanks out the motherboard, the CPU and RAM and sells it on Ebay
    for $100. She then adds $200 (her upgrade budget for this year) and spends $300 on a much
    faster processor and twice as much RAM.

    The Hewlett-Packard-Bell stays the same but I am $200 richer.

    At the start of year three my wife decides to upgrade again. This time she yanks out her video
    card and hard drive and sells them on Ebay for $100. She then takes the $100 and adds it to her
    $200 upgrade budget and gets a huge hard drive and a killer video card.

    My system is looking a little slow but still functions and I decide to gloat over the fact I am $400
    richer now than my wife.

    At the end of year three, I need a new computer. I will be spending another $1,000 while my wife
    will again be spending her $200 for upgrades.

    Currently, I have spent $2,000 to keep my system which was really old and slow for the last year
    of it's life while my wife has spent $1,600 and enjoyed yearly upgrades to her system keeping all
    the expensive parts under warranty. It is true, she invested time (which has a cost) but I think you'll
    agree it was worth it.

    Now, there's a couple of things I left out of this equation. First, my three year old system still has
    a value. Considering I don't want to have to warranty it, we'll sell it for $200 and be done with it.
    This narrows the gap.

    Also, no failures developed during the three years which depending on which part went could really
    alter the total cost of ownership.

    Even more important, what happens if you get a "dog" (after all every manufacturer has their own
    Chevrolet Vega in their closet). With the clone, we replace the offending part and be done with it.
    With a proprietary system you will be treated to hours of mind numbing muzak and untrained idiots
    reading from a script. Good luck!

    <small>Hey, don't forget, this is just my opinion. I don't know everything but I'm not bashful about expressing it.
    Please consider anything read above to be my opinion and that I don't know anything at all and probably
    shouldn't even be allowed to have an opinion. Hell, I'm not sure I know what I'm talking about and there are
    times when I wouldn't take may own advice.
  2. midranger4

    midranger4 Banned

    I do not find the Dell systems to be all that proprietary. My system is still cutting edge almost two years later.

    Yes the Dell mobos are custom and lack sensors for temp monitoring but that is the only drawback I have discovered.

    I find the systems upgrade friendly and could upgrade the processor as quickly as a clone.

    What else would need upgrading every year?

    Now Compaq? HP? IBM? *BARF*

    I just got done wrestling an IBM Netvista box that simply REFUSED to take a Kinston SDRAM memory upgrade. Got the infamous bios bird : *beep* *beep beep beep* *beep*.

    After DAYS of fighting with IBM who claimed only their RAM would work I quick shipped some Crucial RAM and the thing took right off. (I did test the Kinston RAM in another system without issue)

    Compaq/HP are killers as they guard their drivers and OS loads like the they are gold. HP especially as obtaining drivers from their support pages is a fruitless effort...by design. This makes recovering one of these systems without dealing with tech support drones all but impossible.
  3. -Ken

    -Ken Guest

    I agree with everything you said but I would like to point out, I can replace my motherboard
    with one which has RAID or switch from AMD to Intel Pentium IV should I choose.

    Currently, I am running an AMD XP-2000+ (that means it doesn't run at 2000 mHz, it runs at
    1,666 Mhz, don't ask me why.

    Even with Dell's deals, my cost on an equivalent system is usually 25% cheaper and I can
    change out components any way I choose.

    Please don't misunderstand me, I like Dell. I also have to agree with everything you said
    about Compaq, IBM and HP. If they all left the field, the computing world would be a
    better place for it.
  4. midranger4

    midranger4 Banned

    Understood Ken and am in full agreement.

    I am aware that you can build for less, I just take comfort in the 3 year hardware protection program.
  5. -Ken

    -Ken Guest

    As you know, RAM can be bought with
    a lifetime warranty and up until recently
    hard drives came with a three to five year

    Most clone parts can be bought for
    $65 or less once they are out of
    warranty so the risk is minimal.
  6. Paladin

    Paladin Have Gun -- Will Travel

    When people ask me for advice I ask them how comfortable are they in providing their own tech support and service. While I would never get one myself, I have suggested Gateways to friends based upon those who have dealt with Gateway support.
  7. Scott

    Scott Some Assembly Required

    gateway is a pretty good company, with good support. i tell anyone who asks me (people incapable of building/repairing/upgrading their own) to get one. even though my friends usually call me for their tech support. LOL

    i build my own systems. i have not had one piece of hardware fail on me yet. the warranties are plenty long enough on all the parts i buy, for their short time they spend in my machines. i also save a little building my own, because i already have all the software i need (OS's, games, apps, etc...). whatever parts i pull usually go to friends older outdated machines at a deep discount. my last upgrade i did, i had enough parts scrounged up to build a whole loaner system for my roomate.

    i guess what i'm trying to say is this---if you know what you're doing, build your own. you know how to troubleshoot it, and fix as necessary. if you don't know, buy a gateway.

    <small>sorry for my rambling----i've been up since 4:00 A.M. E.S.T. and i drank WAY too much coffee :)</small>

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