back to article If it still works six months from now, count yourself lucky

My underwear smells of bacon. The idea, I think, is to make carnivorous members of society salivate in the unlikely event that they should ever bring their faces into close proximity of my shreddies. Unable to test the effectiveness of this theory "in the field", as it were, I am forced to take it on trust. That said, I can …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "I want to be fair to Microsoft, so in the interests of balance let me say just this: either the Surface Pro or my colleague has not been assembled correctly."

    I would put a lot of money on the former and not a red cent on the latter.

    1. hplasm

      Either the Surface Pro or my colleague has not been assembled correctly.

      Does this cover all Windows products vs users

      i.e Microsoft's version of 'You're holding it wrong'

      1. Ralph B

        Re: Either the Surface Pro or my colleague has not been assembled correctly.

        Microsoft's version of 'You're holding it wrong' would be 'You're holding it. Wrong!'

        1. Trigonoceps occipitalis Silver badge

          Re: Either the Surface Pro or my colleague has not been assembled correctly.

          "Hello, you appear to be holding it, do you need help getting that wrong?"

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      HP thin and light laptops

      Back in the early 2000s HP made a range of "thin and light" laptops and one went to a company consultant. It had 3 year warranty against accidental damage. He wrecked it so thoroughly in 6 months that what came back was a new machine. Along with a note to the effect of "We've replaced it this time but if you give it to your gorilla again we're not going to fix it under warranty." After this, he stopped throwing it in his bag along with all the junk he had managed to accumulate, and it lasted rather longer. Titanium Powerbooks similarly treated had a habit of developing severe cracking, because titanium is not really a suitable metal for cladding consumer goods in thin sections.

      However, later on I acquired an Acer Ferrari (half price being the reason) and that was almost of Panasonic Toughbook durability, better even than Thinkpad. I think it had rubber bumpers on the rubber bumpers and the carbon fibre lid wasn't for show. It eventually got sidelined because it wouldn't run 64 bit W7 (though it would run 64 bit Ubuntu.)

      So I am not totally convinced that Mr. Dabbs has actually tested some of the tougher Windows notebooks.

      1. Anonymous C0ward

        Re: HP thin and light laptops

        What? You got an Acer that didn't have f*cked hinges?

      2. Sherrie Ludwig

        Re: HP thin and light laptops

        Typing this on a THIRTEEN year old Acer laptop than will need replacing soon (the door fell off the DVD player slot, the space bar is wonky from time to time). My iPad mini bricked in under a year. I will go buy a new Acer as soon as Windows 10 is either fixed or scrapped.

    3. Helldesk Dogsbody

      @AC - Incorrectly assembled colleague

      You obviously work in a very different environment from the one that I'm familiar with. I'd be more inclined to make the exact opposite bet based on past experiences...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What trash are people buying. Computer components don't fail. Every machine I've built over the decades has become obsolete, then the replacement parts have had long enough to become cheap themselves.

    All except a 56k modem which was struck by lightning. An act of god according to insurance policies.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "Computer components don't fail."

      PSU electrolytics do. And batteries which you have to count as components in some cases due to their being glued in.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Capacitor plague affected components around 2000-2005 I dodged that bullet, though one mobo was starting to bulge before obsolescence. Now all but the large PSU caps are tantalum or polymer.

        My theory is that dirty power from not using UPSs prematurely wears people's gear. That and OEMs use shit components to begin with.

        Ah, I just rembered I had a hard drive fail in storage. Not spinning for a year or two caused the grease to gum up.

        Either way Google agrees with me. Consumer grade gear is statistically amazingly reliable.

        1. jMcPhee

          "OEMs use shit components to begin with"

          Yep. We go through HP, Lenovo, and Dell like popcorn. The old IBM systems from the 90's keep cranking.

          The systems we kit from individual components get replaced because they are too slow and not because they fail.

        2. LucreLout Silver badge


          Either way Google agrees with me. Consumer grade gear is statistically amazingly reliable.

          Yeah, I'm writing this on a Dell laptop which has served as my main computer since before iPads existed, and it all still works fine. I've upgraded the memory and wifi cards though.

          I view 5 or 6 years as a full life for portable computers, which my Dell has met superbly. Will the Surface Pro last so long? Possibly not, but then how many people are using the iPad 1 they bought in 2010 as their main device? Not many I'd wager - most will have moved on to newer kit, with the iPad 1 being given to kids, relatives or charity, or otherwise relegated to background tasks rather than being the main event.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            iPad 1

            ... how many people are using the iPad 1 they bought in 2010 as their main device?

            Not as a main device, but I recently switched back to using my old iPad 1 instead of my Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 as my primary ebook reading device. Android is a pile of steaming crap (my opinion), and there is literally no ebook reader which displays all of my PDF's correctly. I've tried many.

            Ironically, the old iPad 1 displays them fine. Modern iTunes can't deal with the iPad any more, but using Calibre and a local-only network setup lets me transfer files to it without hassle. Time to sell/throw-away the Samsung POS. Never again with Android. ;)

      2. Mage Silver badge

        Also tin and tin plague

        Lead free solder dramatically has increased failure rate. Thus INCREASING landfill. The health and environment impact, if electronics is built to last and then recycled is negligible. The prohibition doesn't apply to Aerospace/Military and some watches.

        Also gold is unsuitable for consumer connections. Any damp and nearby tin is attacked. Gold should only be used with gold, and if not regularly unplugged. It's not even the best conductor, just corrosion free and pretty, though causes electro-galvanic corrosion in many other metals.

        Fan failures over the last 20 years have been a massive source of PSU, CPU and Graphics card failures.

        While ceramic and plastic dielectric capacitors are hugely better than 1950s paper capacitors, the Electrolytics are a disaster, modern ones seem to be too small and in places with more heat than a valve radio (they put the caps away from hot bits). I think modern electrolytics are 1000s of times less reliable than 1950s ones.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Computer components don't fail

      Oh dear. I would recommend dialling back your blind trust in components. In general, if something electronic has been working for 6 months you're OK, at that point the expected point of failure tends to move to mechanical parts such as connectors, spinning parts (hard disks, fans) and power supplies.

      There has been a real scandal with electrolytical capacitors which expired quite quickly (look up "Capacitor plague"), and stuff like that will happen again as long as people are in search of short term profit.

      Also, electronic components themselves are not free of latent issues - poor welds and internal wiring can also create a ticking clock as thermal movement eventually causes a disconnect.

      So no, they DO fail. Not as often as before, but they do fail.

    3. jason 7

      Indeed manufacturers cannot build against user stupidity and clumsiness.

      However, how much care and attention does a normal person give to a laptop costing £400 to one that cost them £1500?

      Plus do people really carry those very heavy MacBook Pros around with them all day? I wouldn't.

      Personally all my (non Apple) laptops long outlast their usefulness to me and still look at worst a year old before I hand them on after 6 years or so use. I still get 4 hours+ battery out of my 13" 2009 Dell laptop (to be replaced today with the new Dell 13" i3 Chromebook).

      Looking after kit is quite easy. Though you cannot guard against the crappy Toshiba HDD in your laptop, that's luck of the draw. If you have one of those then you are on borrowed time no matter how long you've had the laptop.

      1. Montreal Sean

        Toshiba hard drives.

        Drives so crap that even Toshiba puts other vendor HDDs in their laptops.

      2. LucreLout Silver badge

        @Jason 7

        I still get 4 hours+ battery out of my 13" 2009 Dell laptop

        Wow! How do you manage that please? I'm on my 3rd battery for my Dell - they only seem to survive so many duty cycles before losing power retention. Taking your statement at face value, I may be doing something wrong....

        1. jason 7

          No, it came with a big 8 cell battery as standard. With the 1.3GHz dual core ULV Intel chip it gave over 10 hours when new. Funny at the time I hated it as I wanted a nice slim lightweight laptop but I came to appreciate not having to carry a laptop charger round with me all day.

          Also the fact I don't have it hooked up to a charger all the while helps. Like I said you just have to look after stuff and it will look after you mostly.

    4. Little Mouse

      Re: "What trash are people buying"

      The kind bought by people who don't know the difference between "Cheap" and "Good Value".

    5. Tom 38 Silver badge

      Utter BS. Transistors have a lifetime, particularly the more they get squashed down and used. You replace your servers on a rolling 3-5 year cycle, because dealing with the shitty intermittent problems that older servers give you is not worth the time when a replacement server will be faster and use less power. If you have servers older than 5 years old, and they actually do real work, replace them now.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "If you have servers older than 5 years old, and they actually do real work, replace them now."

        It's a bit late to go back and tell that to one customer I had who ran the application on the same server for 10 years and only stopped using it because my company stopped development. They just didn't think the problems of virtualisation were worth it.

        Transistors do have a lifetime, it is affected by gate thickness, temperature, voltage and switching frequency. IBM POWER devices used to have stonking thick gate oxide and be immune to everything but nuclear strike, Intel commercial parts are more fragile. But I think power supplies, electrolytics and motors tend to die long before modern CPUs that are being run within limits.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Transistors have a lifetime, particularly the more they get squashed down and used. You replace your servers on a rolling 3-5 year cycle, because dealing with the shitty intermittent problems that older servers give you is not worth the time when a replacement server will be faster and use less power

        I would agree with frequent server replacement mainly because it'll give you more bang for the buck (and with decent accounting you should have written that off at least a year earlier), but from an electronics perspective there is no need - other than the mechanical parts those things will keep on working well beyond the point where you consider them serviceable (assuming you run inside specs, of course).

        For things that are not stretched to their limits, their lifetime can surprise you. One of the small older computers I have around displays "C Copyright Psion PLC 1986"(*) on bootup, and that did not exactly have an easy life. Yet, it has never failed even once. I suspect the EPROM packs I still have for it would work too, but I don't have the required UV light anymore to erase them (note to self: find out what actually happened to the eraser I made myself). Actually, the 256k FLASHpack I have still works too :). I think that implementing planned obsolescence for especially consumer electronics is actually hard work because components don't fail that quick by themselves.

        (*) It's a PSION Organiser II LZ64, still in perfect working order.

        1. peter_dtm

          UV light anymore to erase them

          uncover eprom window

          place on windowsill in direct (UK) sunshine for about 30 minutes


          Repeat 3 or 4 times

          Note : using windows correctly saves cost of UV eraser.

          About the only decent use I have ever found for windows & electronics ....

          Note - in Tropics or high altitude places (Jo'burg) 10 minutes is about all it needs...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: UV light anymore to erase them

            > (UK) sunshine

            Good luck with that.

      3. HarryBl

        My bruv is still using a Dell pedestal server (on NT4) that he bought 20 years ago

        1. LucreLout Silver badge


          My bruv is still using a Dell pedestal server (on NT4) that he bought 20 years ago

          Is he still waiting for it to boot up?

        2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          My bruv is still using a Dell pedestal server (on NT4) that he bought 20 years ago

          My main printer is a HP LaserJet 4M that was purchased in 1992. Around 10 years later I swiped the Postscript card from a dying LJ4MP and plugged into into the 4M, so now it's technically a 4MP and handles PCL and Postscript. These days I have to use one of those USB-to-Centronics cables, but it works fine.

    6. John Tserkezis

      "What trash are people buying. Computer components don't fail. Every machine I've built over the decades has become obsolete, then the replacement parts have had long enough to become cheap themselves."

      You've never owned a teenager have you? Everything they touch eventually turns to crap.

    7. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Err... I beg to differ

      There _ARE_ components that fail. You just never ran across them. They are (ab)used in their design configuration and will _ALWAYS_ fail. They are, however, the minority.

      Some of the more well known examples which I have run over the years:

      Low power Athlon 64 1500+, part number ADC1500B2X4BX (E6) - Every single system I have seen this chip in has failed sooner or later. I have 3+ dead MBs with this soldered on them in my loft. It dissipates way too much heat for its official thermal design and being severely underpowered to start with usually runs at full hilt so it emits it mas power too.

      Various low power laptop series and fanless board Nvidia chipsets (~ 5-7 years ago). In some cases (PNY) made worse by using "sticky" silicon transfer to heatsink which was guaranteed to detach after 4-5 years. Same story. It will fail. Question is mostly "when".

      Last (before they disappeared off the market) Ali based laptop chipsets as used in HP NC4000 and NC4010. Guaranteed fail for same reason - combined chipset + CPU power output cooks the chipset over time.

      Early pre-centrino Sony Vaio P3 laptop keyboards (non-mechanical failures). Same story - CPU too hot, the "scanning" backing of the keyboard is cooked over time so badly that the plastic goes brown and cracks breaking the wires etched on it.

      And so on.

      It is quite common for components to fail and in most cases the failure can be traced back to bad cooling, bad/loose heatsink + sticky silicon instead of paste, nasty "hotspots" in case, etc - thermal design issues. Failures are also quite often not immediate - 2-4 years.

  3. LDS Silver badge

    I still have a working 286...

    All of my PCs have been binned due to obsolescence, not faults. Probably thanks to I always built (or had them built) them using good components. I still have a working 286 with its 20MB "Winchester" hard drive.

    BTW: I have a Surface 2 Pro which I carry with me every day, and it's been working flawlessy. The only thing that worries me is you can't replace the battery yourself - but that's something Apple pioneered with its all-glue-sleek-designs.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I still have a working 286...

      From it's prominence in mid-late 90s IT GCSE and A level courses, I thought that I'd be encountering Winchester drives regularly in my IT career.

      Not the case.

  4. DaveMcM

    I have to agree with the Apple hardware comment - as a reasonably recent convert to Apple hardware my 2 and a bit year old MacBook Pro is still working perfectly, whereas the previous 3 "pc" laptops that came before it - none of which I would consider "cheap" with all being in the £600 - £700 price range - barely made it past 18 months each before batteries or trackpads or DVD drives gave up the ghost and refused to play any more or the inevitable drag of windows updates had reduced them to a crawl.

    1. David Lawton

      Thats been my experience too which is why i praise the Mac so much now and moved to Macs at work.

      From 2003 to 2012 i had a new laptop every 18 months ish. The battery would be crap after 12 months, getting worse to the point of having to be plugged in all the time, machines fans would be on constantly after a few months, i would have laptops just reboot instantly, power connectors snap, WiFi just stop working, and motherboards just die. But i kept getting these HP, Acer and Asus laptops because there was no way i wanted a Mac, Mac's were overpriced crap blah blah blah.

      Then i gave in and got my first Mac, a Macbook Air, after all it could not be any worse than something running Windows 8! and now I'm a complete convert. 3.5 years on, and its still as fast as the day i bought it, i still get over 5 hours of battery out of it (it was the 2013 Air where the battery hours leaped closer to 9/10 hours , so just missed out), i've not done a clean install of OS X on it ever, it came with Lion, i upgraded it to Mountain Lion, then Mavericks, then Yosemite then Al Capitain and its still fast, and amazing if that was Windows it would be dog slow by now going through that many upgrades. The MagSafe power connector is such a great thing , the trackpad is the best i've ever used, and no fan noise unless i load Minecraft or rip a DVD, and best of all i could still get close to £500 for it today if i wanted to sell it!

      Just wish i had not been so closed minded for the last 15 years and ignored that Mac, i could have saved a lot of time and money if i had bought one years ago.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Just wish i had not been so closed minded for the last 15 years and ignored that Mac, i could have saved a lot of time and money if i had bought one years ago.

        :). In my case it wasn't being close minded, it was exposure to OS 9 that made me hesitate. I used that at a company, and the non-familiar way it worked and the toy noises it made did not create a good impression. If it hadn't been my wish to ensure I covered all the basis for something I am writing I would have never bought a Mac, and even then I expected to use it as a poor Windows/Linux backup once I was done.

        Instead I threw out all Windows stuff, and Linux now mainly lives on some VMs and on servers. Best decision I ever made, and, like you, I regret not having tried this earlier.

        This is why I find the Windows fanatism occasionally expressed here rather suspect. That comes either from people using their computer for gaming (fair enough, OSX isn't that hot on it), from people who have never been near OSX so maybe that's just jealousy, or from Microsoft sponsored trolls (of whom we have unmasked a few when they started spouting BS).

        Mind you, OSX is not *perfect*, certainly not certain apps that come with it. Apple Mail doesn't have the first idea about the difference between attachment and embedding when it comes to sending images (it quite simply sucks at that, to the point where you need to buy a plugin to fix it), Pages and Numbers are too much focused on a Desktop Publishing Model to be decent for the average end user, and I much rather use Firefox than Safari because it works in more places. But it's so much easier to use and simpler to keep safe that that still makes it worth it.

        Unless you're heavy into gaming.

        1. cd

          Best thing to do, speaking as ex-Applecare, is not use any Apple apps. They are for short-bus people. The kind of people that thought that buying a computer would make them proficient. See my vaporware book entitled "Software that helps too much and the people who use it".

          I've used Mozilla-then-Seamonkey since the M-builds, still works with ancient emails and everyone that I set up with it never has a browser or email problem, no support calls. Neo-Open-Libre Office does that kind of work well enough for most and doesn't look fisher-price like pages. Lots of good devs on OSX, you can find just about anything.

          Delete iTunes and use a good music player, download a better photo editor, etc. A lot like setting up a new Linux distro.

          The last lappie I bought from them, however, will probably be the last after 20 years of being a customer. I just put a new battery in it which I won't be able to do on the new ones, cleaned the useful ports which no longer exist on new ones, and replaced the hard drive which is still possible on some older models.

          The hardware is now catching up to the software in being mostly for wet-asses, sadly. Mr. Cook is more into profits and image than quality, it's already obvious from his recent exec hires.

          1. Chris 3


            Never had any problems with, Safari or indeed iPhotos/now Photos. iMovie does the business for simple video, assuming you are happy to assemble in linear fashion. Pages is pretty good if you want simple and effective Newsletter layout, for everything else there is MS Word or Indesign.

            So in summary - the Apple apps are just fine for everyday use. I think the person destined for the 'shortbus' is probably the person who makes such a meal of them.

            No, I'm not going defend iTunes.

      2. BitDr

        Money Saved

        Nothing lasts forever, but you can save much by assembling kit from high end components and using Linux || Free BSD. How? Purchase quality hardware, avoid shopping by brand-name, buy the maximum amount of RAM your MB supports, and purchase more CPU power than you need while remaining within budget. Similar rules apply to Hard Discs, buy enterprise grade long-life kit. Use RAID storage where you can (make sure you know how to manage them), and SSDs where speed counts.

        The machine in use to write this has an Athlon II CPU, 4GB RAM (which is a small amount these days) and what was at the time a high end MB; it boots from an SSD and uses a software RAID for /home. The graphics card is an nvidia GeForce 6800 GS. A hardware RAID would be faster, but I've been burnt by their oft-proprietary nature, and when those fail they can be a more of a hinderance than help when it comes to getting them back on their feet.

        The PC that this one replaced is also still working, 24/7/365 doing duty as an internal-facing web-server and NAS running an older version of CentOS.

      3. Updraft102

        My 8 year old Asus Core 2 Duo laptop is still working perfectly, and it's accumulated more than five years of "on" time by now. My 11 year old HP laptop works great too; I just don't use it when I have the much faster and more current Asus available. Everything works on them both (hinges included). I did replace the hard drive on the Asus, but the original (though too small to be of much use) still works nicely.

        The comments about electrolytic caps are right on target. I've had a number of electronics devices fail or develop odd behavior, and in nearly every case, I found bulged electrolytics inside the errant devices. Upon replacement of the caps, these old items often spring back to life, working as well as they ever had. In fact, I haven't yet replaced caps in a device and had it remain in a failed state. It's always revived dead devices and restored proper function to ailing ones.

        It seems that the capacitor issue has gone beyond the "plague" era (supposedly a function of industrial espionage) and is now in the realm of "cheap, crappy components are good enough to get the product past the expiry of warranty." Most electrolytics are terrible; there are only a select few manufacturers whose electrolytics can be relied upon, as compared to hundreds of manufacturers who provide the cheap ones that end up in many respectably branded devices.

        Fortunately, my Asus laptop (as well as the Asus motherboards in my desktop PCs) have only polymer capacitors, and so far they have worked very well.

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge

      my 2 and a bit year old MacBook Pro is still working perfectly,

      That's hardly an endorsement. Kit like that should last at least five years, else I'd consider it 'not fit for purpose' with a subsequent claim against the manufacturer.

      The most-intensively used systems I can call my own are all Thinkpads of varying age, none younger than those five years. The only problems I have to deal with is a reluctant chipset fan (not the primary CPU fan, and once it's past POST the system apparently doesn't care about it stalling again) on an X61, and the batteries on two 701C's being, quite understandably, rather expired. Somewhere in the past I had a T23 and an A21 joining the choir invisible at age 7+, and an X22 that was loaned out, subjected to a puddle of soft drink, improperly cleaned and only handed back after several days. It did keep going for about three months, but finally ceased to be. An X30 is still in use 24/7.

      1. Amorous Cowherder

        Re: my 2 and a bit year old MacBook Pro is still working perfectly,

        2 years?

        I have 2 Macbook 13" "Whiteys" I bought in 2009, all that's been replaced in each are hard drives after they failed. Sure the batteries are only able to hold a charge for about 90 mins now but the laptops are still going strong!

        Also have 2 iMacs. A 2007 24" and an 2008 24", one has had the HD replaced the other is untouched internally but both working fine and one of which is the one my Missus uses on a daily basis as her main machine, in use for at least 4-5 hours a day. My 75 year old father still has his 2008 iMac, despite replacing his main PC box at least 4 times in the intervening time with kit he built himself. 1 box is running Yosemite and the other 2 are running El Capitan!

        Not bad for a system that's 7 years old and able to run the very latest O/S from Apple! Like to to see Microsoft running Windows 10 on kit that was bought in 2007.

        1. Updraft102

          Re: my 2 and a bit year old MacBook Pro is still working perfectly,

          I don't have a 2007 Windows laptop to try that on, but my 2008 Asus laptop is running Windows 10 just fine right now. Everything worked right out of the gate after the upgrade from 7-- even the fingerprint reader and the associated software. I'm not keeping it like this, mind you-- Windows 10 is awful, IMO, and this PC that has spent nearly all of its existence running Windows XP is going back to WIndows 7 shortly. That's another topic, though, so I'll leave it at that.

          1. Updraft102

            Re: my 2 and a bit year old MacBook Pro is still working perfectly,

            After the success with my 2008 laptop, I decided to try putting Windows 10 on my 2005 HP laptop with a single-core AMD Turion CPU and 1GB of RAM. Guess what-- it works! This pre-Vista relic is up and running with Microsoft's latest... triumph (cough, cough). It's quite usable... or at least as much as Windows 10 is, anyway.

            So you Apple folks are not the only ones that are able to run the newest OS on hardware that is quite old. This laptop's 11 years old (and everything still works on it & the hinges are still nice and stiff). I know HPs are know to have hinge issues (my even older pre-HP Compaq's hinges became completely floppy years ago), but this one has been a gem. It was retired from front-line duty for reasons of obsolescence, not because anything was wrong with it.

    3. Dan 55 Silver badge

      My 2007 iMac is still going, perhaps not as spritely as it once was as I'd imagine that El Capitan requires a little more from the hardware than Tiger but perfectly usable.

      With the 2012 MacBook the jury's still out, the video output fried and It had to go back to see a Genius. Hopefully it's not a regular occurrence, it's not covered by the extended guarantee that all the other MacBooks of its age are in spite of exactly the same symptoms as its a dual nVidia/Intel and if Apple says they don't do this then they don't do this...

      1. Missing Semicolon

        +1 for (older) Thinkpads

        The batteries last in these because they ship with a neat app that reduces the charge cycles on the battery - so they last longer in "corridorr-warrior" usage patterns. If you leave it on the desk plugged in, it simply never charges the battery at all. Other laptops tend to "trickle-charge" the Li-ion cells, which kills them in a few months.

        However, more recent Thinkpads seem to be gravitating towards the rest of Lenovo's output in terms of quality. Shame.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: +1 for (older) Thinkpads

          In my previous life, I went through 3 Lenovo Thinkpad T410s.

          Albeit they were hard worked workstations running various VMs, IDEs, test environments etc.

          However the downgrade in quality from my old IBM Thinkpad 380Z (still running) was remarkable.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        With the 2012 MacBook the jury's still out, the video output fried and It had to go back to see a Genius.

        I had a MBP from 2011, and the graphics subsystem was what made me buy a new one in the end. That series seems to have had a problem that was just hard to fix. The one I have now is quite simply brilliant.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        +1 for Mac

        My 2006 Perspex iMac ran without a hiccup until I sold it on eBay recently - purely because I wanted a new shiney retina iMac. The only thing that I noticed was some screen burn on the LCD (and I didn't know that happened). Compare and contrast that with the 7 work Lenovo laptops I've been through in the same time, even through these laptops have spent 99% of their time in docking stations: in fact three of them never left the office.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Apples Meet Oranges.

          An Apple is a high quality product. It's built to a high standard. No argument there.

          Same goes for high quality PCs/Laptops ect.

          However, as Apple tend to only to mid range to high range, everyone makes the mistake and fallacy of remembering the low end and dirt cheap laptops to compare them to.

          I'll agree it's harder to find a Windows based system with the same quality, but there have always been manufactures out there doing it. Though from now on I may prefer to ditch Win10 and go for a Linux.

    4. TeeCee Gold badge

      ...apart from the slidey door over the battery compartment. The crimped on steel strip assembly that engages with the chassis to hold it in place is the worst piece of case design I have ever seen anywhere. Designed to fail.

    5. Quortney Fortensplibe
      Thumb Down

      Don't Believe the Hype!

      "...I have to agree with the Apple hardware comment..."

      Up until a couple of years ago, I would have too; Every Apple device I've ever owned [and the first was a PowerMac 8500/120, purchased way back in 1996] is either still working, or was when I eventually binned it due to obsolescence.

      Or, that was the case...

      In the past couple of years, I've had 2 iPads and a MaBook Air die on me. None of which has received even a tiny fraction of the abuse their stalwart predecessors had endured with impunity. Nor [not that it's strictly relevant] have I had any joy from Apple with regards repairs or replacements.

      Apple long ago crossed the line between "Appreciative of your custom" plucky underdog" and "We've had your money, now fuck off!" megacorporation. For now they're still riding on their former reputation for great customer service. But those days are long gone and anyone thinking that nowadays 'paying the Apple tax' is justified by either quality of construction, or the promise of their after-sales support, is very sadly deluded.

    6. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      I've had to replace, repair, or (more often) pay to have repaired far more Macs than PCs. My laptops (work and personal) have been Thinkpads and high-end Dells, which no doubt helps. But they've been far more reliable than the Apple products my wife, daughter, and friends prefer. And when they do go wrong, they're usually a straightforward DIY repair.

      I'll admit their iPhones beat my Symbian and Android phones somewhat for MTBF. On the other hand, my phones cost 1/5th of what theirs cost, and when one fails I buy a new one and transfer the SIM and SD cards myself, and off I go. (And while I'm waiting for the new phone to arrive I can pop the cards in an older but still functioning phone, so I'm not without a device.)

      Anecdotal? Sure. But so are most of the other comments.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      As much as I moan about Apple fanbois, I bought a Mac Mini as a cheap home workstation, and it has outpowered and outlived the Windows 10 MiniITX box it sat alongside.

  5. sandman

    Hmm, I must be lucky. I've been buying PCs, laptops and Macbooks for, well, just about ever and none of them has broken. It's not that I treat them well either - particularly the laptops. It's quite annoying really, because if I see a new shiny that I lust after I'm firmly told by herself that I don't need it (true). I have to wait until they become so obsolete that there's no other choice.

    To be fair the machines are usually from manufacturers people have actually heard of - as are their internal bits, which possibly helps.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Hmm, I must be lucky. I've been buying PCs, laptops and Macbooks for, well, just about ever and none of them has broken.

      In my experience, kit doesn't break in my hands but immediately takes a nose dive when the kids get it in their hands. I must see if I can't set up a hardware test service with them involved :).

  6. Franco Silver badge

    I've personally never broken a laptop, sold more than a few after replacement though. Belkin network kit on the other hand...

    I've got a Surface Pro V1 which I've had since January 2014 and it's been flawless. It's due for replacement with a V4, and in fact would have been replaced already if I hadn't missed the MS Store's trade-in offer.

  7. SkippyBing

    In defence of Windows based laptops my Toshiba Satellite purchased in 2007 is still going strong despite having circumnavigated the globe, going to Iraq and bouncing round various ships. I did once take it apart to vacuum out the sand from the deserts of the Middle East but even that failed to kill it off. To be fair it now runs Linux Mint but only because Win XP become obsolete and the Win 10 trial didn’t really indicate I’d get blinding performance from that…

    1. dogged

      I've only ever had one Windows laptop fail. It was a Samsung with a touchscreen, which developed a dead line on the screen.

      Not a crushing, world-ending failure but irritating enough to make me buy a Thinkpad after a while.

      Which, incidentally, is the 2013 X1 Carbon and it's going fine.

  8. Fraggle850

    Never had a problem with my own PCs

    Other than obsolescence I've never needed to replace one. For laptops I only ever buy second hand thinkpads and have seen these take some abuse. I have seen significant problems with Dell laptops though and put this down to build/component quality.

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Never had a problem with my own PCs

      There does seem to be a big quality gap between Dell's consumer stuff, and their business kit.

      Of course, you're paying more for the stuff that lasts.

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

        Re: Never had a problem with my own PCs

        Hmm, my Latitude E7450 here at work must have got mixed up then. Last month it managed to get through two motherboards in 10 days, which is made even worse by the fact that for 7 of those 10 days I was on holiday.

        Even the visiting Dell tech that had to come back to replace the first replacement motherboard with the new second one couldn't understand quite how it had gone tits-up again, especially given the thing had sat in the IT department cupboard between his first repair and me getting it back, pressing the power button and getting sweet FA out of it again...

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Re: Never had a problem with my own PCs

      Two Antec PSUs that went wonky, first one after just under a year, the other about half a year later. And one motherboard (some ASUS socket 754 iirc) that started to dislike half its memory. Apart from that, just external influences like a lightning strike across the street killing a soundcard and modem.

  9. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    One, just one

    I have bought one PC in my life. Everything else has been upgraded or bought piece by piece. As such, the three PCs I have today are the result of this endless recycling of stuff.

    In all this time (since the dawn of the upgradeable PC in 1990 or so), I have only had one piece of equipment fail catastrophically : a PSU unit that up and blew a capacitor. I had just enough time to shut down the PC properly and unplug before it started smelling of burnt plastic.

    That is the only case I encountered where something went so badly wrong on my PC equipment.

    Along the way I've had a few hard disks die, like everyone else I think, and I fried a motherboard one day plugging something in that I shouldn't have plugged there.

    But all in all, my PC equipment has been absolutely stellar. I have motherboards from early 2000 that still work. Actually, it has only ever been my insatiable appetite for upgrading that has cost me so much money in equipment. That, and the fact that I have never purchased a laptop in my life. Don't trust the things.

    Won't trust Surface either. I prefer sitting at a proper desk, in a good chair, with mouse, keyboard and two 26" widescreens, thank you.

    1. keithpeter Silver badge

      Re: One, just one

      Domestic user incident report...

      Damaged on Arrival: Consumer HP PC with a CD-ROM drive that had broken in transit and spread pieces over the rest of the case but no damage to other parts. Not obvious from sound so signed for but then repaired onsite by HP techy which probably cost most of the profit. Pre millennium.

      Laptop failure: Apple G4 iBook (white plastic). DVD drive failed twice in first year, last one took logic board with it, repaired under guarantee. Battery changed through a recall programme. Then a good 5 to 6 years of faultless performance. Finally hard drive failed (sounds like food mixer) but laptop still boots from Mac OS DVD. Might do the iFixit change a hard drive process for this thing as a nerd challenge (quite the procedure). Note the pattern: failures in first year, then plain sailing.

      Hard drive failure: One in the days of 5+ inch ones plus the iBook.

      Darwinian selection: I now use recycled corporate laptops as they are cheap and I can get decent performance on Linux out of them. Most recent is a X220 Thinkpad. Perhaps those of us who use *recycled* Thinkpads benefit from the removing of duff units from the herd?

      Plastic networking equipment: Both my humble netgear adsl modem/routers doing fine, 8 years in.

      Capacitor survival: HP xw series workstation (2003) PC bought refurbished in 2009 chugs away quietly, now donated to a charity and has Ubuntu on it as Web kiosk type thing. Nice quality case - best made computer thing I've seen.

      Pint: for all the corporate customers who have kindly stress tested my Thinkpads.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My first real PC was an Apple II back in 1979. About every 18 months all the socketed ICs had to be extracted and re-inserted to cure an intermittent problem. It was thought to be the notorious "low current" oxide build-up on the tin plated contacts.

    The attraction of the Apple II had been the ability to plug-in home-made prototype cards. When Apple went for the "appliance operator" market with their subsequent models - I switched to IBM compatible PCs. I still have a wire-wrapped board that needs the ISA bus - but it's too beautiful to scrap.

    The kitchen is currently full of midi-tower PC cases waiting to be listed on Freecycle - but more likely destined for the council tip. Some are fully working - some are empty as the result of people wanting their W7 upgrade PCs to be in stylish black cases. The garage is full of (probably) still working components that occasionally are mined to restore someone's faithful XP P4 PC back to full vigour.

    It is of course an apparent fact of life when S/W no longer runs because of API changes - or H/W is no longer supported by the O/S. No doubt proud owners of Brunel's 7 feet gauge steam locomotives felt a twinge of nostalgia when the well-designed track had to be downgraded to the arbitrary 4 feet 8 (and a half) inches favoured by their rivals.

    1. Chris 3

      I seem to remember with the Apple IIs, you had to also open them up and push all the RAM chips back in with a satisfying crunching noise as they tended to walk out of their sockets after a while due to thermal expansion.

  11. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Shame on you Mr Dabbs

    All my PCs, on the other hand, broke down at some point and ended up as landfill– except for their hard disk platters, which I use as coffee mug coasters at home.

    not heared of recycling then?

    My local one just took a Sun E450 (bought off Ebay circa 2007) without a problem. There were several cardboard boxes of assorted junk accepted as well.

    I'll be donating a large box of assorted SCSI cables including terminators before Crimble.

    don't put the IT rubbish inot landfill please!

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Shame on you Mr Dabbs

      Bet most if not all of it has ended up as landfill somewhere in Asia instead of the UK.

      Mobiles and tablets designed to die when the battery dies really piss me off, along with all the other household goods that are designed to die after x hours (taking into account average daily usage that means just after the two years warranty). Wall-E wasn't a Pixar cartoon it was a documentary.

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: Shame on you Mr Dabbs

        "My local one just took a Sun E450 "

        My recycling centre wont take anything. They have got so wound up in their own rules its pretty much impossible to dump anything there. SOIL(earth) ffs - its not toxic , its not not non-biodegradeable - its aldready degraded! its gods own honest earth , its not even rubbish! You'd think theyd need soil to cover up all that shit !

        but its "No mate , you need a permit to dump that"

        1. phuzz Silver badge
          1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

            Re: Shame on you Mr Dabbs

            @phuzz - dont think i didnt sonsider all kinds of schemes. including a vehicle based version of The Great Escape. In the end I settled on ranting at the council till they gave in

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Shame on you Mr Dabbs

              "In the end I settled on ranting at the council till they gave in"

              Upvote for your stamina, sir.

          2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

            Re: Shame on you Mr Dabbs

            Need to get rid of some soil? Perhaps someone wants to grow stuff - or cover up a dead hippie...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Shame on you Mr Dabbs

        "Mobiles and tablets designed to die when the battery dies really piss me off,"

        Recently bought a Byron SX portable wireless chime unit that had rechargeable batteries. They were obviously slow-moving stock that had been reduced. So it was no surprise when the continuously connected charger never showed "full charge". Tests showed that the batteries were sticking at about 2.5 volts - whereas full charge would be 3.6v.

        The spec and box said "3 x AAA" Ni-Mh batteries - no problem. Opened the chime easily - expecting to find a battery holder of springs and contact strips. Wrong - the batteries were hidden inside an integral plastic compartment with its lid sealed by a hot iron on the lugs. Managed to prise the lid off intact - to find a sealed pack of 3xAAA whose wires were soldered to the main circuit board.

        Eventually found a Motorola Baby Alarm battery that seemed a reasonable match - and it had an XH two pin plug. Ebay supplied 100 XH PCB headers for 99p including postage from the Far East. Next time the batteries need replacing it should be a simple job - on continuous charge that's probably in about three years time..

        The average punter would have to throw away the chime when the batteries fail.

    2. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Shame on you Mr Dabbs

      Naturally, I took these PCs to my local Recycling Centre after removing the components I could re-use. I am under no illusion that someone with a screwdriver then picked apart the rest and carefully melted it all down for re-use. It will have ended up in landfill somewhere, possibly in the ocean, possibly in Italy or China. If it makes you feel happier to believe that they didn't end up as landfill, please go ahead.

  12. ardubbleyu

    I am currently still using a PC that I bought in 2006. The PSU and motherboard (ASUS P5NSLI) are original, as is the HDD (a Seagate I think)

    I've upgraded the BIOS, processor and memory, together with the graphics card, and Win 7 replaced XP when it came out way back when...

    The machine still shows a decent turn of speed, the limitation being the 5400rpm HDD, and Windows 10 reckons it is compatible, although I've not been brave enough to try it!

  13. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    bit ranty

    For some reason i cant skim read that , too ranty and jumpy . Just cant work out the gist.

    Am I to understand your washing machine has broken?

    props for the Young ones joke though

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: bit ranty

      Ah, I see you're new here. It works like this: I have nothing original or interesting to say. If you're looking for a point to SFTWS, you've missed the point.

  14. 's water music

    ... that basque you bought for the wife but never had the courage to show her...

    "for the wife"? Was it a much larger size by any chance? Don't worry, we wont tell.

    Icon because it might go well with it

  15. Tim 11

    I'm currently the proud owner of a 4 year old dell precision M6600 and a 5 year old macbook air 11. Both used very intensively and both are in just about perfect condition, though the macbook does have a small dent where I knocked it off a table onto the floor (this would probably have killed a plastic cased HDD laptop).

    I agree with AD though - the construction on cheaper products is crap. there was a time when you knew your laptop would be outdated in a year so there was no need to bother buying something well built, but nowadays it's worth the money to get something that will last

    have just bought an HP envy 13 which looks superficially as well built as a macbook but only cost £600. if I get 5 years out of that, it'll be a bargain.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "have just bought an HP envy 13 which looks superficially as well built as a macbook but only cost £600."

      Dell Latitude E6410 laptops started to glut the market a couple of years ago. Intel i5 M560 @ 2.67ghz dual core - with four threads. Presumably the end of businesses' three year "write down" and extended warranty. As these were business market machines the physical build is far superior to Dell's home laptops which often fail physically inside three years of extended warranty.

      Price on the second-hand market - with legal Dell W7 - was just over £200. Boosted the memory to 8GB - plus a new larger battery and a 1TB SSD/HD. Nice machine.

  16. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

    What happens in Blackpool...

    As with my incorrectly assembled colleague, perhaps I am at fault. Perhaps I have just been unlucky, no doubt caused by not purchasing a twig of heather off that crone in Blackpool back in 1974. I had my chance and blew it.

    Hang on, so you were on a jaunt in Blackpool in 1974, and you feel at-fault for an incorrectly assembled colleague? Are these two facts linked? And are you entirely sure that basque was for HLW, although I draw the line at wondering at the crone's potential other involvement?

    Speaking as a man who was apparently conceived there (information I wanted to know about as much as the rest of you lot did too), enquiring minds aren't sure that they want to know...

  17. Alistair Dabbs

    Update on that Microsoft Surface Pro

    Last night, my incorrectly assembled colleague messaged an update:

    "So...Microsoft took my new surface in for repairs, found the problem unfixable and sent me a second hand scratched and creaky "refurbished" replacement."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Update on that Microsoft Surface Pro

      Honest question, Microsoft or the store he bought it from?

  18. Gavin McMenemy

    Platform Independent

    I've worked in IT for 20ish years now. I've never had a problem with my Windows laptops that weren't down to me thrashing the OS to hell and back. Hardware-wise they've all been fine. I had a desktpo PSU blow on me once (like the guy above) but that got a warranty replacement. I've worked with Macs too. They're solid machines and in fact I've no problem with them either... I've never really understood the carping from either camp. Shrug.

  19. Efros


    generally last me about 6 years, after which they are passed on in a working condition to someone else. The last one was actually still a performer, I wanted a newer one to cope with an increase in workload (Skyrim!). I work in an environment where we have circa 600 MacBook Airs, their reliability in the hands of the average teenager is not good. As to wireless routers, pretty much most of the ones I've had through my hands work like they're broken from the get go. My current linksys 1200AC only works because I replaced the firmware with OpenWRT, and even then it works fitfully. Consumer grade networking gear really does suck.

    1. jason 7

      Re: Laptops

      Yeah six years from laptops is the norm for me too. Compaq, Panasonic, Dell all keep on trucking.

      Wireless routers as you say are the weakest link. Heat kills em. Even my Draytek only lasted 18 months or so.

      1. Updraft102

        Re: Laptops

        My Netgear WNDR3700 (v1) has been continuously used from its initial purchase in 2009 to the present, 24 hours a day as is the norm. It operates flawlessly, never dropping a wireless connection or self-rebooting like some do, and it consistently provides wireless speeds close to the practical maximum for a 300 mbit N connection.

  20. jason 7

    Often more to these "Only had it 8 months" stories than meets the eye.

    I remember back in my corporate days a lot of users would on purposely mistreat their kit to get the kit they actually wanted. Dropping, spilling were very common occurrences just a day or two after being told they could just change it.

    Many years ago one guy who was a real pain in the arse came in on a Friday and demanded he be given the latest colour version of the PDA (remember them?) he had. We refused as it was just a few months old and still did all he needed it for. We knew he wanted it for bragging rights etc. So off he went in a huff.

    Monday morning he comes back in with the PDA in his hand and it looks like he ran over it with his car. In fact we suspect he did just that. He threw it on my desk, walked out saying "There you go! Now I do need a new one!"

    What did I do? I took the mashed up case off it and slotted in the innards of a working spare. It looked like roadkill...but it worked just fine. Went to his desk threw it down in front of him and said "No you don't!"

    He never bothered us again.

    1. Darryl

      Re: Often more to these "Only had it 8 months" stories than meets the eye.

      I have had users who (it seemed) purposely broke their iPhone 5 to see if they could get something newer and more exciting. The problem is, I have a drawer full of working 4S's, and, since they're still updateable to the latest iOS, they're perfectly good spares for 'clumsy' users.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Often more to these "Only had it 8 months" stories than meets the eye.

      "I took the mashed up case off it and slotted in the innards of a working spare. It looked like roadkill...but it worked just fine."

      I'm surprised he didn't take it and get it mashed even more, to the point it was literally split in two so that everything had to be replaced AND pointed out he needed it soon for an important business trip so that he can throw the broken pieces back at you and say, "YES I do! AND SOON!".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Often more to these "Only had it 8 months" stories than meets the eye.

        I once worked in a school where that happened quite a lot.

        We got HR to add equipment damage without a reasonable explanation to be part of the competencies part of the disciplinary process - ie if you keep breaking equipment, you got a verbal warning for failing to look after school equipment. It was never really enforced, but just the threat of it caused the number of 'looked like it had been thrown down the stairs' laptops and PDAs to diminish to near zero, as opposed to dozens of devices a year...

        ...funny that.

      2. jason 7

        Re: Often more to these "Only had it 8 months" stories than meets the eye.

        "I'm surprised he didn't take it and get it mashed even more, to the point it was literally split in two so that everything had to be replaced AND pointed out he needed it soon for an important business trip so that he can throw the broken pieces back at you and say, "YES I do! AND SOON!"."

        The point was made. He knew.

  21. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    My Casio calculator I bought in 1985 is still working perfectly, as is my BBC Master from around the same time and my A5000 from about 1992, as is my no-name PC I bought in 2009. The only "consumer appliances" I've had break down were the crappy Hoover I was bamboozled into buying in 1993 that died a few weeks later - never bought a Hoover ever again - and I'm on my third washing machine in 30 years.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "My Casio calculator I bought in 1985 is still working perfectly,"

      My Texas "Programmer" hand-held calculator still works too on mains or with a 9v battery. Bought for £49 in 1978 (about £200 now with inflation) - when its recently introduced binary/octal/hex capabilities were very useful. Actually it was my second one - the first quickly developed the keyboard stutter that required Texas to replace a lot of units under warranty.

      My great-nephew recently returned the remnants of my childhood Triang electric train set that I had passed on to his father when he was a child. After 60 years the diesel shunter still works.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        HP11C, working perfectly from 1987. Rather disappointed that I had to change the original batteries a couple of years ago - does nothing last?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I have 8 small pebbles I use to do binary arithmetic, they've never failed once, and they're probably millions of years old. Do I win £5?

          1. keithpeter Silver badge

            Floating Point

            "I have 8 small pebbles I use to do binary arithmetic, they've never failed once, and they're probably millions of years old. Do I win £5?"

            Not until you have calculated the value of 4*atan(1) correct to 12 decimal places. Assuming your pebbles are in Radian mode.

      2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        "the first quickly developed the keyboard stutter that required Texas to replace a lot of units under warranty"

        Yep, common problem. Switched to a programmable CASIO first (no complaints whatsoever, probably still in some drawer somewhere and probably still works...), then (when I could afford it) to a HP48SX. Still in daily use after 20 years. Got a 48GX later, to have one at the office and one for use at home. Another nice thing about the HPs is that a lot of people are baffled by RPN, so at the office no one ever wants to borrow it.

        As to laptops - I've still got a Toshiba Satellite 4060XCDT from 1998 or so. There's some legacy software on it that needs Win98, and I need it every two years or so, as long as it works I won't bother with replacing it.

    2. Updraft102

      My mum has a Panasonic microwave manufactured during the mid 1980s that she's still using.

  22. Timmy B Silver badge

    You pays your money...

    I've had pcs of various kinds since forever. From Amigas,Apricots and Apples right to Yogas (no Zs). In all cases but one they have lived to the point where they were replaced with the next version up. I've had to return only two devices and they were where I decided to buy really budget tablets as an experiment so my own fault. I have a healthy upgrade system with laptops - I replace every 18 months and the other half gets the old one and then hers goes to a friend, child, etc. There is an Acer laptop over 4 years old at a friends house going strong.

    In all this I would rate the build quality of them as Apple and MS joint top - my Surface is brilliant well equal to an ipad - Dell next for my excellent 7000 series lappy and a series of work purchases that were very solid. All the rest I would lump together as as good as each other depending on what you spend.

  23. Sil

    Never had a Mac but most of my PCs (IBM, Dell, self made) last so long they end up in recycling while still working.Biggest failure so far was a GTX 275 card which died after 4 years.

    At my previous job, an IBM PC extracting data from Telext 24/7 was still working when I left, 10 years later.

  24. Flatpackhamster

    Never had any Mac gear...

    But my PC kit seems fine. My main computer will be 10 years old next month. It's had a SSD to replace the (fully functional) old disk drive. The graphics card did develop a fault so I changed that. I stuck more RAM in. But otherwise it's fine. My Acer laptop - not a manufacturer noted for robustness - is 6 years old in February. My previous machine was replaced due to age rather than faultiness. Same for the one before that. The occasional part has failed but rarely anything major.

    A great many computers that I see that are obsolete are still in perfect working order but they're no longer fast enough to do the work demanded of them. I have a contact who takes the obsolete machines to Uganda and Tanzania and puts them in to schools out there, so it's nice to know they aren't going in to landfill.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What are you doing to your kit?

    I've had my fair share of hardware over the years and from my experience I'd say the bathtub curve is spot on. Either it dies very early, typically within a couple of months, or it basically lasts forever - as least as far as the chips and other components are concerned. The one thing that does fail with some regularity are fans and that's typically because the bearings fail but I've got fans that have been in active service on and off for 10 years. For those things that die early it's almost always capacitors that fail but even that seems to have become a thing of the past.

  26. thx1138v2

    Geeze Louise!

    You're getting Apple cooties all over your PCs! No wonder they don't last. Apple cooties have a very strong redox reaction with anything non-Apple. You didn't know that? It's not that PC's suffer from engineered obsolescence but that Apple products are engineered for competition DESTRUCTION.

    Google "quantum chemistry". No, you can't get rid of the cooties by washing your hands - it's quantum scale and, as such, will work it's way into your DNA. I seriously hope you're not intending to have any children in future. If you have young children now it may be too late. You'll see what Apple cooties do to progeny when they reach three years old. That little cyborg will be running your life and any computer (even Apple) the little monkey touches will disintegrate in their hands. Of course they'll smile sweetly at you with wide eyes and say, "An elephant stepped on it!" If you unwisely choose to argue with that you'll be rewarded with the inescapable logic of a three year old who now commands, "Get me a doggie, daddy, to keep the elephants away." Cats and elephants are friends so don't even think about going there.

    Apple's engineered obsolescence is long term and the DNA cooties will even destroy Apple machines that have reached their expiration date. Even Neo couldn't defeat this one. YOU ARE DOOMED.

  27. Jay 2

    My old MacPro lasted 6 years before I sold it on, one main reason it went was that even though it was able to run the lastest MacOS, many features wheren't supported by the hardware. Before that I'd usually replace Windows PCs evevery 3 years or so.

    Slightly more on-topic my wife's MacBook (white plastic one) is currently still going at just under 8 years. The case is a bit grubby, it's been through 2 batteries (not helped by Apple's great design decision to allow them to effectvely commit suicide) and it's stuck on 10.7, but it's still very functional. Though it's days are now numbered as she's just picked up a new MacBookPro.

    A friend of mine is after a new laptop, and he seems insistant on not buying a Mac even though most of his household is (or will be) Apple-centric and he had a MacBook before. His concerns are cost (fair enough, but I'm sure his contract can take the blow) and how such things fare in a corportate environment nowadays (ie Windows-centric). If not a Mac then at least he's considering a Lenovo, though he's trying to do it on the cheap and get something via eBay. I'm sure we'll be getting complaints in 18 months or so...

  28. A. Coatsworth

    The only Apple kit I've ever owned is a 30Gb iPod (the first with video playback). Bought back in 2007, it's still going strong, I use it on a regular basis . Battery life has degraded to around 6 hours but that's better than expected for a 8+ years device.

    So from the negligible experience I have, yes Apple devices are bulletproof... what irks me, and is the reason I never bought any other fruity kit, is the amount of artificial limitations they put in the device, for their own sake and against what's better for the customer: no FM radio, has to be synchronized with the pc using the crime against humanity that is iTunes (I luckily can use Winamp instead, but why is it necessary to use *any* software to sync a damn usb disk?) laughably short list of supported audio formats, ONE single choice of supported video format, proprietary connector, the supplied earphones were garbage, it strips the audio files form its metadata on upload and did I mention iTunes? (I hate it with the burning passion of a thousand Suns)

    Looking back I wonder if it has worth the while... it's impressive that a device that uses spinning rust has survived so long the hostile environment that is my front pocket (narf narf!) but the amount of time I lost fighting iTunes, converting files back and forth, reloading the whole library because the table used to match audio files with metadata got corrupted, getting patches for Winamp... I wonder if I had been better with a Zen Vision, which was my other option back then...

  29. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

    in defence..

    I've got a belkin WiFi card that's 8+ years old now and it still works just fine (though finding drivers is getting more challenging) an old Sony vaio that's 10 years old and still works and my current laptop is a lenovo x200t (early hybrid laptop / tablet affair) that a bought on a whim off ebay for less than a meal out and it's been solid since I got it (though win 10 seem thin on the ground for built in cache drive and no proper drivers for the graphics card but then I've got a gaming rig for that).

    Who says all windows boxes are crap?

  30. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    bacon-scented banana hammock.

    Have you got an especially good thesaurus or just a prodigious memory for synonyms for kegs?

    Either way, well done sir!

  31. Benno

    Panasonic Toughbook CF-18

    10 years old, on it's second battery.

    A fine example of the level of quality that is possible if the manufacturer is interested.

    Yes, is was a $5K AUD laptop, but it's still in the field - every working day (supporting a system that needs an XP box).

    Personally I have an Asus N61J that's over 6 years old - SSD and new battery fitted. The onboard DVD-RAM drive is dead, but I think she's got a few years left yet.

    IMHO - Commodity PC's are just that, decent servers are far superior, and some shit just lasts longer than other shit.

    I'm sure I can dig up a functioning Apple Newton from around here somewhere...

  32. a pressbutton
    Black Helicopters

    those pants need an upgrade

    In 6 months time I expect they will bring some out that smell of bacon and eggs.

    ...The sausage and brown sauce is diy.

    black helicopters because much like rounded corners, there is probably a related patent / court case in progress somewhere.

  33. Unicornpiss Silver badge

    Personal experiences...

    Without reading through 70+ other comments to see if anyone has already mentioned it, I can offer the following:

    We have a number of Surface Pro 3 tablet PCs at work, and the number is climbing. They seem to be pretty sturdily built. (I guess gluing them together does make them pretty solid) We have had one user crack his screen and one that had an outright motherboard failure, which is pretty much on par with the reliability of our Dell equipment. Of course data recovery on a glued-together laminated slab that won't power up is a royal pain. My main annoyance with these (other than Windows 8.1) is the quirkiness of them. The BIOS and OS offer scant options. The mini-DisplayPort connectors on the docks seem to output when they feel like it and sometimes generate weird video artifacts while the side port on the device itself generally works okay. And we have a couple with random blue-screen errors that seem to be hardware related. Our Dell kit is pretty well-behaved for the most part. I believe the "Latitude" series is better-built and higher quality than the more consumer-grade "Inspiron" and other lines. When we had HP laptops, the less said about them the better.

    On the other hand, we have hundreds of iPhones and anyone that says "Apple just works." has never had to support tons of them. We have broken devices and random hardware failures every couple of days, to say nothing about the annoyances with iOS (especially the native mail client) and the atrocity that is iTunes. We had BlackBerry devices before this and they were actually more reliable overall, which is nearly the best thing I can say about them. I'm sure anything that gets punishment in an Enterprise environment is going to fail though.

    Re routers, I have an Asus that has been pretty flawless for 2 years now and the Netgear that preceded it lasted a long while before getting flaky enough that I finally replaced it. I totally agree with Belkin being self-immolating and no comment on D-link. TP-link is good budget equipment, but you do get what you pay for--their quality has been hit or miss IMHO.

    Just one jaded IT worker's .02, for what it's worth.

  34. Peter Johnston 1

    Presume it is time for Mr Dabbs to "upgrade to another Apple" and benefit from the 20% discount and entrance to Apple events that being an Apple accredited journalist confers. Bribery - nah!

    I had two Apples - a desktop and a laptop. Both died after 13 months - just out of warranty. This, I am told by other Mac users, is normal. In both cases it was something simple, which I could have popped down to Maplin to source and had fitted within the hour (power supply and hard drive respectively). When I went to the central London Mac authorised dealer, however, I was shocked to be told I had to bribe them £100 to jump the queue, otherwise it would be 3 weeks to even look at it.

    Since I needed it for work, this was seriously unacceptable so I went out and bought a Dell. Which is still working. As is my trusty Lenovo.

    I'm reminded of Jim Barksdale's comments - If you have data, let's see it - if all we have is opinions, let's use mine". But journalists opinions - even if based on a very small sample - they are arrogant enough to voice as fact without even taking the time to research the article to provide some data.

    PS: Apple bricked my first iPhone by forcing through an "upgrade" to the operating system whcih broke Google maps and made every programme unacceptably slow. So my first iPhone became my last.

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Apple accredited journalist

      That would be nice if it was true. The reason I say what I like about my computer kit is that I pay for it.

    2. Amorous Cowherder

      You must just have bad luck. Got 3 iMacs from 2008/7 and 2 Apple laptops from 2009, all still running fine with just the HDs having had to be replaced in some of them.

  35. defiler

    My desktop

    Never had to buy a new one in 23 years.

    I've had to replace the motherboard a few times, CPU now and then, VGA every few years to keep up, hard discs here and there, case and PSU when I outgrew them, and memory when I needed more. But it's the same computer for 23 years!

    (You probably don't want to look at my keyboard...)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: My desktop


      Your comment reminds me of 'Triggers Broom' !!

    2. Demonix

      The axe of my grandfather?

      “This, milord, is my family's axe. We have owned it for almost nine hundred years, see. Of course, sometimes it needed a new blade. And sometimes it has required a new handle, new designs on the metalwork, a little refreshing of the ornamentation . . . but is this not the nine hundred-year-old axe of my family? And because it has changed gently over time, it is still a pretty good axe, y'know. Pretty good.”

      ― Terry Pratchett, The Fifth Elephant

  36. fishman

    I went through a couple of cheap routers at home, and finally bought a Linksys WRT54GL. I've had it for over 7 years, and it works perfectly. While slow (b/g), I've only got a DSL connection.

    And they still update the firmware.

    1. Richard 120

      One of the best routers if you got the right version, flash it with third party firmware it can act as a network bridge and all sorts of other cool functions.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "...once you pop the skid-catchers in the wash, the piggy pong will be dramatically reduced, if not blessedly removed altogether."

    When you take them out of the wash, simply take a moment to smear them with some o' this:

    Apply generously - you won't regret it!

  38. Rabbit80

    Stop buying crap..

    I have been building PCs for years and never had a single failure other than hard disk.

    One of the ones I built has survived a trip via courier to Ibiza and back - the journey was rough enough to crack the front panelling, the return journey bent the chassis yet it still works fine!

  39. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip

    Have to say I've been quite fortunate with PC hardware

    Laptops have been especially resilient - but that's because they're Thinkpads, and not the low end shite.

    Had a couple of hard drive failures, including one DOA. A couple of (cheap) power supplies, an 8800GTX (now that's a piece of hardware that will eventually fail, due to crap solder joints. I baked it in the oven three times to fix it, each extending its lifetime by another month, before finally giving up). A motherboard that had a failure in its cache module - that produced interesting errors.

    Work wise it's only the low end laptops that were unusable after a few years, a fair few 10K/15K hot swap drive replacements, and the sensors on PowerEdge 2400s tend to fail after a number of years. One instance of RAID controllers corrupting the array, fortunately not so badly the data couldn't be recovered, and another of the controller itself failing by sending lots of interesting errors over the PCIe bus.

    Really, it's only low end crap that's caused the problems. Cheap power supplies are an especially bad idea. High on the list is also generic designs thrown out by a nameless OEM, where the kit is basically functional, but six months later it needs flashing to improve security and the OEM has washed their hands of it. Add in almost every mobile phone ever two years after release; still 'works', but apps are now too resource hungry, and there's security exploits.

  40. Richard 120

    It's a bit of a troll article to be honest eulogising apple when compared to cheap tat pre-built machines.

    On a website where most of the readership will build their own kit and will be perfectly aware that you get what you pay for and some manufacturers provide better components than others.

    There are also exceptions to every rule. Sometimes you get unlucky, sometimes you get lucky.

    If we want to go down the route of Apple vs. Microsoft vs. A.N. Other then it entirely depends on your own abilities and tolerances.

    I am not a fan of Apple because their environment is a walled garden, I can't break it in the way that I want to break it, I'm not a fan of Microsoft for similar reasons, things that I want control over are hidden in the depths of things which you can't get at without breaking something else.

    I want to be allowed to at least be able to see how something is working in order to break it in a way that suits me, I want root.

  41. WereWoof


    You, Alistair, owe me a new keyboard for "bacon-scented banana hammock", but have a pint on me for making me laugh like a maniac!

  42. Novex

    Late to the Party

    I am currently typing this message on an Acer Laptop (TravelMate 4222WLMi) from 2006, so now somewhat over nine years old. The only thing I ever changed was the memory, going from 1GB to 2GB. Even the little 80GB 2.5" IDE HDD is still the original (I'm touching a lot of wood right now!). It came with Windows XP Pro, got an upgrade to Windows 7 Pro, but now dual boots with Linux Mint 17.3 Cinnamon. Touching a tree full of wood, it's still able to handle the relatively light load I put on it, but even I'm aware that basic HD video won't play properly due to the old processor and graphics. The only reason for not replacing it has been lack of funds (don't ask) but I'm glad it's still working (now giving a forest a woody by how much I'm touching it ;-)

  43. Jim 40

    Yet more random musing

    In thirty odd years of using and building PC's I've never had one fail on me. Obviously I've had the occasional hard drive die and I've had one PSU fail but no mobo's,CPU's, memory or graphics cards have kicked the bucket.

    I always build my PC's so I know exactly what I'm getting and don't have to pay for crap I don't need, like DVD/BluRay players and 3d gaming graphics I don't require.

    I have little or no use for laptops but would probably be looking at Ebay for Thinkpads if I needed to. I have an Acer laptop from 2005 vintage still working.

    At work I've never seen any of the dozen or so servers fail. HP/Compaq Dell kit. I actually have a couple of old Compaqs next door. They still work but require so much power and make such a racket I don't actually use them. I really should get rid. Otherwise hundreds of Dell, HP and a bunch of Asus mobo based desktops have worked pretty much without issue

    Apple don't make stuff I want or need. I did a price comparision of my last PC build to an "equivalent" Apple box. The price discrepancy was a little under £1000. The PC is an i7 4770k with 16GB memory a 250GB and 500GB SSD with a 1TB hard drive running W7. Storage is on another rock solid i7 based server with 7TB of HD and a 150GB SSD. My workstation cost £1200. Apples nearest equivalant was £2000. My workstation is fast, easy to upgrade and maintain.

    Two 24inch Dell monitors are used to RDP the assortment of kit on the home network as well as viewing a number of VM's.

    It's a piece of piss to build decent reliable PC's. Don't buy the cheapest tat. Quality brands provide value.

    Router is an Ebay purchased Netgear DG834. These things never need a reboot up and carry on for years. Under £10 on Ebay. Can't get fibre so stuck with ADSL for the foreseeable.

    I'd like to play with iOS to see what it's about but I'm blowed if I'm paying Apples prices for the privelage. I keep promising myself a Hackintosh but too much other stuff takes priority.

  44. randomist

    In my experience most "failures" in the consumer arena are user inflicted or just crappy OEM to start with. I've had several "dead" notebooks that people gave me for "parts" - like I'd put that crap in something I built? Usually they just need a new OS install and they work fine. One needed a new stick of RAM that I would have upgraded anyway, another needed to be cleaned, another a new (old - spare) HDD. Even the batteries were usable in all of them for at least a couple of hours.

    My own notebooks I've had work for years without failure. They do fail eventually but they take at least 3 years of me carrying them around on public transport, at work, at home etc., which I think is acceptable.

    I've never really used OEM desktops, I build my own, and they've never failed before becoming obsolete. I've RMA two components on free extended warranties, but they were already more than an upgrade cycle old and weren't system-critical. For the amount of time I've been building desktops, and the use they get, I'd say the hardware I use is pretty damn reliable.

    Thumb Up

    Go with what you trust.

    Anyone who knows me knows I'll back Apple all the way in areas such as longevity and ROI. When I worked at Blackpool Council I took it upon myself the try and bring Apple into the frame simply by presenting its advantages. It wasn't all plain sailing as you can imagine, but my first convert was the CEO. He never looked back. Alas he also accepted the advantages he utilised without putting pressure on anyone else...but we often (Oh yes) sat and watched ICT elsewhere in the Council, and the problems that staff put up with. No, Apple is not faultless, but my experience is a predominantly greater user satisfaction than many people using other platforms. I have watched frustration, anguish, inefficiency. I don't prescribe going down the Apple route, but I do advise that experience and trust are key to personal ICT satisfaction. Go with your experience. A great ICT team, lower actual use, being free of problems, minimal down time, ease of use...go with it. Alistair's article treads a line and is well balanced. What I detest is purposely user bashing. If you have a choice and you are lucky enough to have experience f multiple platforms...why shouldn't you go with your belief. Talk to anyone at IBM. Staff are given the choice, but they have to understand that they have a job to do. Their experiences make very interesting reading.

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