back to article ASUS baffles customer by telling them thermal pad thickness is proprietary

Laptop and motherboard maker ASUS has earned the scorn of the right-to-repair crowd after telling a customer the dimensions of a thermal pad are proprietary information and that replacing it might void his warranty. ASUS customer Branden Fisher posted a Facebook Messenger exchange with the company, where a representative said …

  1. UCAP Silver badge

    This sounds like ...

    ... a knee-jerk reaction from a legal-eagle with absolutely no technical understanding.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: This sounds like ...

      Or a CSR who didn't know the answer and couldn't bothered to find out so just came up with what may well be a stock answer.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: This sounds like ...

        Wait until somebody else claims to have used a thermal pad of the same size before ASUS.

        Since the size of a thermal pad is such a vital bit of IP the penalties against ASUS for stealing this must be huge.

        1. TheVogon

          Re: This sounds like ...

          Well I can tell you that the crappy marshmallows that Asus uses as thermal pads on its RTX GPUs should ideally be replaced with 2mm of Gelid Ultimate pads.

          1. TheVogon

            Re: This sounds like ...

            (2mm is for the GDDR memory chips. Others may vary).

          2. sev.monster Bronze badge
            Black Helicopters

            Re: This sounds like ...

            Watch out bro, you're gonnq get sued for sharing that info...

    2. Marshalltown

      Re: This sounds like ...

      Or the normal hell-desk "required" response as indicated by job "training." Basically, "don't fiddle with the hardware. We do not want to deal with a liability suit when you electrocute yourself because you neglected to unplug the device first." Some old tube-driven radios had components that could still knock you cold hours after being turned off and unplugged.

  2. jgarbo
    Facepalm

    Rossmann further points out that under US law, simply opening the computer case does not void the warranty, as implied by Asus. Very big PR mistake by Asus.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Actually a rather small PR mistake. To be a very big one would require that more than 0.01% of the purchasers of their products actually gave a flying fuck whether or not they were allowed to open the case.

      Remember, when it comes to consumer IT products, the likes of us are the small minority and the vast majority of purchasers' knowledge of maintenance is at the level of; "Ugh, hit with rock", if they can be bothered at all.

      1. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

        "whether or not they were allowed to open the case"

        Particularly if there is a warranty still in effect. Most would just have it fixed for no charge. Most case-opening probably occurs once the warranty has expired.

      2. Shadow Systems

        At TeeCee, re: rocks.

        *Pauses with a rock in upraised hand*

        Torg the barely literate HalfOrc grunty voice: No hit with rock? Ungh?

        *Lowers rock sadly*

        Torg: Not use rock. Use fist?

        *Holds up a fist the size of a canned ham*

        (Off screen panick voice) NO!

        *Torg looks sad & lowers hand*

        Torg, muttering sulkily: Torg wanna hit somthin.

        (Offscreen, calmer voice) Torg, smash yourself in the head. Nobody else gets hurt that way.

        *Torg's face brightens & he starts smashing himself in the forehead with the laptop*

        (Offscreen panicked voice again) NOOOOOOOOoooooo!

        ...

        This episode of "Torg the Drooling Idiot" brought to you by Microsoft HellDesk, Tylenol+3 migraine medication, & copious pints of caffeinated alcohol.

        1. sev.monster Bronze badge

          Re: At TeeCee, re: rocks.

          When is the manga adaptation releasing? I want 4koma Torg!

          1. Shadow Systems

            Re: At TeeCee, re: rocks.

            Sev, I wish I could see to draw such a cartoon. I know what Torg would look like, I know how I'd portray him, I can hear him talking (he's one of TheVoicesInMyHead), so could probably have WAY too much fun with such a task.

            Unfortunately for me, but fortunately for sentient beings throughout the multiverse, I Am Not Allowed by order of the "MultiDimensional Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Sentient Beings". They have determined that my doodles violate too many of the cosmic laws WRT "Rule 34" as it pertains to "porn involving squiggly things".

            *Sighs*

            I shall try to post the occaisional Torg bit, but I have to leave all the best parts (AKA the artwork & animated bits involving c-

            (The screen goes black & friendly green letters appear)

            "This post has been censored for your sanity. Nothing to read here, please move along. Signed, The Society."

            1. Stoneshop Silver badge
              Joke

              Re: At TeeCee, re: rocks.

              They have determined that my doodles violate too many of the cosmic laws WRT "Rule 34" as it pertains to "porn involving squiggly things".

              And I see Shadow Systems being 'invited' by The Society to visit a psychiatrist, and being shown a series of Rorschach blots.

              #1. ShadSys: "Nothing there."

              #2. ShadSys: "Nothing there."

              #3. ShadSys: "Nothing there."

              ...

              #n. ShadSys: "Nothing there."

              Shadow Systems is dismissed, and the shrink starts doubting those blots. He shows them to the next patient.

              #1. NextPt: "Two people having sex."

              #2. NextPt: "Two people having sex."

              #3. NextPt: "Two people having sex."

              ...

              #n. NextPt: "Two people having sex."

              Shrink: "Is 'Two people having sex' really what you see in all those blots?"

              NextPatient: "Yes. If you wanted me to see something else you should have drawn that."

              1. Shadow Systems

                At Stoneshop, re: psychiatry.

                To quote Old Man Henderson, "Dude, I fucked a Shoggoth and _you're_ freaking me out."

                The stuff I claim to see in the ink blots always makes their heads explode & the office to be forced to release me since there's nobody left sane enough to pass judgement.

                *Pure, Sweet, & Innocent(TM) smile*

        2. Big_Boomer Silver badge

          Re: At TeeCee, re: rocks.

          You sound like someone who still misses his monthly dose of Thrud The Barbarian :-) Now there was someone who knew how to deal with Tech Support issues. https://iv1.lisimg.com/image/6793909/676full-thrud-the-barbarian.jpg

          1. 42656e4d203239
            Pint

            Re: At TeeCee, re: rocks.

            Thrud was the best! Have a Friday Beer.... let us quaff in fond memory!

          2. The_Idiot

            Re: At TeeCee, re: rocks.

            Ah, Thrud. Such memories :-) (pulls down his 'Thrud the Barbarian, White Dwarf special GRAFFIK NOVEL (Carl Critchlow) - best UKP 2.50 he ever spent!)

      3. batfink Silver badge

        Correct. That minority of us with the technical ability know that we should use a hammer, not a rock.

        1. Chronos

          It's not the implement, it's knowing where to hit it - usually just above the second cervical vertebra is a good choice.

          Oh, you meant tech. Try gently reseating the VRMs (greybeard Proliant people are now back on the Valium - sorry for the trigger)

      4. ITMA

        "Ugh, hit with rock"

        Assuming they have evolved sufficiently to develop lanuage skills.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "simply opening the computer case does not void the warranty", true, but we're not talking about that. We're talking about disassembling a graphics card. Dissassembling a power supply or a hard disk would invalidate the warranty, so I suspect graphics cards live somewhere in between that - I'd say taking the heatsink off and putting it back on again (with or without changing the thermal pad or paste) would almost certainly have the potential to impact the cooling performance.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Does not void warranty

        As I've been given to understand, according to US law, the burden of establishing whether a customer repair caused damage that voids a warranty falls on the company. No amount of disassembly and reassembly, regardless of complexity is prima facie evidence of an action that may void a warranty.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnuson%E2%80%93Moss_Warranty_Act

      2. Marshalltown

        Warranties

        The trouble is that warranties are metered to last just long enough that the warranty expires _before_ you need something repaired. So, the assertion that opening or disassembling things will "void the warranty" is generally an empty threat.

        1. Precordial thump

          Re: Warranties

          Gotta love Australian consumer law for that reason. Very simple, at retail a product must be

          - free from defects

          - fit for purpose

          - of merchantable quality

          Practical upshot is that if a reasonable person expects something should last 2, 3 years without breaking down, it's still under warranty.

          Should have seen how soon a fruity PC and phone maker gave out an RMA once I told them I thought their 13-month old "out of warranty" product with a defective screen (known manufacturer defect, but not subject to recall) wasn't of merchantable quality. Not the sort of thing you want found reported in the rulings of a Civil Administrative Tribunal.

          It's sad how many people buy extended warranties not knowing this. If they can predict a risk of failure high enough to warrant selling you an extended warranty, then the law gives it to you free.

          1. dajames Silver badge

            Re: Warranties

            It's sad how many people buy extended warranties not knowing this. If they can predict a risk of failure high enough to warrant selling you an extended warranty, then the law gives it to you free.

            Yes, it is ... but it doesn't work like that.

            An extended warranty is an insurance policy. You're buying insurance against the kit failing within the term of the policy.

            The point of selling an extended warranty is to collect the commission offered by the insurer. After that it's the insurer's problem, not the seller's, so it's easy money for the seller.

            The point of offering an extended warranty (policy) as an insurer is to collect the premium (less commission) and hope they won't have to pay out -- at least, not often. The art lies in tailoring the policy so that it expires just before the kit is likely to give out, so no payment will be due.

            The law requires items sold to be of at least some basic level of quality (exactly what level of quality depends on what it is and what it cost, and the laws have changed over the years). The vendor typically offers a 1 year warranty and (to stay legal) claims that this does not invalidate any statutory requirement (which they carefully don't specify). The manufacturers know the legal requirements; they design kit so that it will usually last for as long as they may be held responsible for it, but not longer.

            The insurers know the limits designed in by the manufacturers, and tailor the premiums of the extended warranty policies to fit. If you try to extend your extended warranty beyond this period the cost will be much higher than for the initial term during which a claim is unlikely.

            In short: it's never cost-effective to take out an extended warranty. Spend the extra on better quality kit instead -- it will last longer and you won't be feeding salesmen and insurers along the way.

    3. Stuart Castle Silver badge

      Warranty for the PC isn't a problem for me. I haven't bought a new pre-built PC since 1996 (in fact, I haven't bought a complete PC in one go since then, just upgraded different bits. The current PC obviously has none of the original parts, as everything has been replaced at least once. So, no warranty covering the whole PC, just a series covering the individual components. Admittedly, this does cause it's own problems, particularly where you get one part that causes damage to another. I had this when a faulty Motherboard blew a new CPU. The company that sold me the CPU claimed the warranty was invalid because the motherboard had blown it. The company that sold me the motherboard blamed the CPU for causing the Motherboard fault.

      Neither would replace their part. As neither was particularly expensive, I put it down to experience, picked another supplier and bought a new CPU and Motherboard from them.

  3. Arbuthnot the Magnificent

    Compaq

    Just been through this with an old Compaq laptop I refurbished as a spare. CPU was easy to deal with but the GPU pad was dust and could I hell find out what size it should be, so just figured out the width and bashed some copper shim in there with paste both sides.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    eh

    Seems like he could have just tried a pad with paste on both sides. Tighten the heatsink down to specs, then remove it. If there's paste on the chip and on the heatsink, and a slight indentation on the pad, it should be good. Might want to toss the test pad and start over with a new pad to be permanent.

    I apologize if this suggestion seems too sensible.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: eh

      Recently crypto miners have been dumping RX 580 8GB of various flavours on ebay. £60-£65 so I have been tempted to take a punt on one at that price (have to rely on my 2400G otherwise). Replacing the thermal paste is easy but I cannot find reliable information on the thermal pads anywhere. Even in forums, people who have the cards can't agree on what thickness the thermal pads are or what thickness they should be replaced with. Some people recommend different thickness from different manufactures for the same card. We are talking generally 1mm, 1.5mm and 5mm so the differences aren't necessarly small ones. The choice I am left with is the one you recommend, buy three pads and waste two as I can't find reliable information from the manufacturer or anyone else for that matter. Just hope if I do take the plunge that the people who say 2.5mm thick pads have been used aren't true as they are harder to get a hold off because I live in N.Ireland, it's simply impossible to source some things if you can't buy locally (thanks Brexit).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: eh

        N. Ireland is still in the EU single market, so it's the one part of the UK that should be able to easily import from the EU. It's only bringing stuff from the UK (like Sainbury's bread!) that the EU is making difficult.

        1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: eh

          I see the resident Brexiteer has pounced on your post and downvoted you - so, to cancel it out, I'm going to upvote you.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: eh

            I see the resident Remoaner has pounced on your post and downvoted you.

            It's nothing to do with being a Brexiteer or otherwise. It was a factual observation.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: eh

          Lots of supply chains are based on stuff coming in from GB (even if the are coming from somewhere in the EU), at least in the sites and shops I have been using for a long time. It's going to take a while for the EU based suppliers to develop the new routes as many shipping firms won't go to GB and some in GB won't deliver to N.Ireland or charge fees that make Ebuyer's blanket £15 seem quite reasonable. BTW it has always been more difficult to get certain things here, Amazon have blanket bans on products such as batteries and compressed air canisters that they will deliver to Scotland, England and Wales and that has been the case for years so it's not just a Brexit thing, just made it a lot worse.

          All of these rules are not the EU's fault. The UK goverment knew what they were signing and agreed to every one. There were lots of ideas of how to avoid all of the problems which were pointed out in advance but we are were we are and just have to deal with it.

          Sainsburys are getting a lot of the products they can't bring in from other suppliers. Lots of Spar products on the shelves so they aren't quite bare.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: eh

            All of these rules are not the EU's fault.

            The monitoring of them is. The EU has over 66,000km of coastline, and 14,000km of land border. At the moment 20% of all the border checks carried out in the EU are in that little bit of sea between GB and NI. That is just taking the piss.

            Sainsburys are getting a lot of the products they can't bring in from other suppliers.

            The EU agents blocked Sainsburys own-label bread from entering NI from GB, in case it would be illegally shipped across the border into the RoI. That despite there being no Sainsburys stores in the RoI, and therefore no possibility of that bread being sold there. Vindictive jobsworths.

            1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

              Re: eh

              Traffic between Britain and Northern Ireland isn't in the EU surely.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: eh

                N. Ireland is still in the EU single market, it's the bodge that was cooked up as a sop to the Good Friday Agreement, to avoid a "hard border". There is now an EU customs border in the middle of the UK, in the Irish Sea. It's failing miserably, and causing increasing anger in NI.

                1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

                  Re: eh

                  So NI is in the EU single market, but it is not in the EU.

                  And pretty much the point of the EU is to not have checks at borders in the EU, but only on goods entering the single market area. And that's what is happening.

                  I expect the Good Friday Agreement to go down soon and a hard border around Northern Ireland to go up and the bombing to get louder again. They may as well get on with it. The Agreement was between two EU countries and it doesn't work without it. This time we could get rid of the curiously liberal relationship with the republic of letting its citizens come and go as if they were still British - that would make it simpler.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: eh

                    Speaking as someone who has been in buildings were the roof has come down because of a bomb, seen the school they went to literally leveled by a bomb, had guns shoved in their face, in their family's faces, been attacked and stoned and I am too angry to continue that list, I am going to make a rare execption to my no swearing rule and I don't care if you're a victim of Poe's law here,

                    *

                    *

                    *

                    *

                    y

                    o

                    u.

                    When things get really bad again, it is people like you who should bee affected first but unfortunately it's the way of the world it will probably have no effect on you.

                    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

                      Re: eh

                      I would claim I'm not part of the problem but I did vote for Brexit. Not necessarily this Brexit, but it's the one we're being given. My argument is that British involvement in aiding and abetting wars in the Middle East which should be none of our business is shameful and we should have our wars with neighbouring countries instead, face to face. I wasn't thinking of Ireland but France, and the collapse of the Irish situation that I predicted can be avoided but, of course, won't be.

                2. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: eh

                  Hey, brexit means brexit. It is Boris' responsibility. This was the deal he presented as a last minute victory.

                3. James 51
                  FAIL

                  Re: eh

                  The anger seems to be mostly from people who thought they could force a hard border between Northern Ireland and RoI and it back fired quite badly for them.

            2. Shalghar

              Re: eh

              There is no process running smooth, obvious or simple enough that you cannot foul up or kill it with a dose of bureaucrats, "consultants" or other kinds of "managers".

              BTW where exactly is this "Miss Management" event ? I hear from this quite often but could not find the appropriate amount of scantily clad females to pinpoint the location.

      2. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

        Re: eh

        Simple answer is just not to buy a card that's been used for crypto-mining. Replacing the pad/paste won't make it like-new again, it'll make it flogged-to-death & with new pad/paste.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: eh

          If you know where to buy a graphics card that can beat my 2400G without a 100% markup, you could make a lot of money buying them and heading over to ebay. If you are feeling altruistic you could post a link here.

        2. Graham Dawson Silver badge

          Re: eh

          Cards used for crypto are generally in pretty good condition. Crypto mining algorithms are a fairly consistent load, with little variation, so you won't see the sort of thermal cycling that tends to damage GPUs over the long term.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: eh

        Speaking as an engineer with some thermal experience, 1mm sounds insanely thick for a thermal pad... The best thermal interface is a *really* thin pad or layer of paste, because even for the best pad or paste, their thermal conductivity is pretty awful compared to the parts they are squished between.

        On the other hand, what do I know? I use a laptop at home and at work my computers are on a service contract; the last time I changed a graphics card was probably 15 years ago... My thermal calculations usually relate to stuff a bit less commonplace.

        1. Annihilator Silver badge

          Re: eh

          Last time I changed a cooling solution it involved a blob of thermal paste with a bit of hoping for the best.

          1. Shalghar

            Re: eh

            And you did not use the half blood princes ritual of applying it in circles five times clockwise, then another three times counterclockwise ? He who shall not be pixeled will take revenge on your hardware soon....

        2. Boothy Silver badge

          Re: eh

          Typically from what I've seen, (although not always), thermal pads used in GFX cards are only generally for the memory modules and power delivery side, with the GPU core itself getting paste (although I have seen very very thin pads used for the GPU instead).

          I think this is partly down to engineering, with the power and memory items being different heights off the PCB, so making a back-plane that hits them all equally quite hard. But it's also that those none GPU components have less of an issue to running hot, i.e. the GPU will start throttling quite early due to heat, way before the same temp causes memory or power delivery issues. So cooling just isn't as critical for those parts. Hence you can get away with quite chunky pads in those circumstances.

        3. ChrisC Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: eh

          Quite. Back in the days when GHz CPUs first started hitting the scene, and heatsinks started becoming a mandatory part of every PC build, ISTR the enthusiast sites were filled with how to posts for polishing the heatsink and CPU surfaces to attain as smooth a contact patch as possible, such that you'd only need to apply a smear of thermal compound to fill in any hairline scratches that polishing couldn't remove. I've never bothered to achieve the mirror-like finish some people would strive for, but giving them at least a light polish to remove the worst of the factory undulations has been part of my PC build process since I put together my first Athlon system what feels like a lifetime ago.

          So the idea of simply slapping on a precut slab (relatively speaking) of TIM and treating that as an effective interface between heat generator and heat dissipator feels really very wrong to me, and if the design of the heatsink assembly *requires* a thick layer of TIM to bridge the gap, then it would make me wonder what other shortcuts have been taken in the design.

          Yes, that's mine, the one with a half-used tube of arctic silver in the pocket...

        4. herman Silver badge

          Re: eh

          The thermal pad makes up for mechanical tolerances in the gap between the heat sink and the CPU. The pad thickness depends on the whole assembly problem. However, heat pads do not wear out. I don't see why anyone would need to replace a heat pad, unless the whole motherboard was replaced.

          1. Shalghar

            Re: eh

            I am afraid that i have to correct you as i have seen "worn out" heatpads of minor quality. Looked a lot like overaged PVC slabs, which means the old pad was visibly shrunk and brittle. I assume the equivalent to phtalates and other such chemicals had dried out there. The reduced contact surface due to the visible mechanical shrinking (i could see the imprint of the formerly unshrunken shape all around the pad) and the reduced conductivity due to the no longer elastic properties of the material led to cooling issues which disapperaed after a new pad was put in place.

            Why on earth would the world of cooling be a safe heaven from those of the cutting corners ideology who only want to sell and maybe let their products barely survive the warranty period ?

        5. dajames Silver badge

          Re: eh

          Speaking as an engineer with some thermal experience, 1mm sounds insanely thick for a thermal pad... The best thermal interface is a *really* thin pad or layer of paste, because even for the best pad or paste, their thermal conductivity is pretty awful compared to the parts they are squished between.

          Yes, exactly.

          Thermal paste is a thermal insulator -- just not as effective an insulator as air.

          The ideal is to have the heatsink directly in contact with the chip that it cools, so as to maximize heat transfer between them. Unfortunately the surfaces aren't perfectly flat or smooth so air gaps would exist between them. The purpose of the paste is to fill those gaps and exclude air, but not to significantly separate the heatsink and the chip.

          You want the thinnest possible layer of paste.

      4. Richard Jones 1

        Re: eh

        Thanks stupid, vindictive, protectionist, Brussels morons I think your meant to say.

        1. Karlis 1

          Re: eh

          No, that's the brexit which was never defined, the 4 years of Tories fucking everything up as much as they could to keep the bextremists happy and simple reality that GB is now equivalent to Zimbabwe legally and in practice when it comes to importing anything to EU (which, NI is kinda part of for now).

          All the morons are still in power in Westminster.

      5. Jakester

        Re: eh

        I can't imagine a 5mm thermal pad would be good for anything other than insulation. Is there a decimal point missing in these numbers? Even 1mm sounds insanely thick.

        1. Boothy Silver badge

          Re: eh

          Pads are typically only used to cool the memory and power delivery side, not the GPU itself. Those items don't produce as much heat individually (although cumulatively they can), and they are less sensitive to temperature. i.e. a VRM is quite happy running hot, whereas a GPU would start throttling at much lower temperatures.

        2. Karlis 1

          Re: eh

          Common ones are .5/1/1.5 and 2. 3mm in extremis. 5mm is guaranteed to be a mistake.

          1. Stoneshop Silver badge
            Boffin

            5mm is guaranteed to be a mistake.

            Quite.

            Elsewhere someone was looking for the specs for a transformer to use a 110V suitcase amp+speaker (for an electric guitar) on 230V. He read the fuse value as 22A, so he was unpleasantly surprised at the size and cost of the 3kW transformer that would require.

            Turned out the lettering on the chassis was rather worn, and the fuse was actually .22A.

            22A would feed a fair-sized PA stack, not just a single suitcase amp/speaker.

  5. Short Fat Bald Hairy Man

    At this point I wonder exactly which provider makes sense

    I do try to base my decision on attitude towards customers.

    All my smartphones (both) have been ASUS, Having a rethink when the current one collapses. But I doubt whether there is much choice.

    One company whose attitude never came into the picture was Nokia, used their tank until I was forced to use a smartphone.

    Used it for nine years, had exactly one LOCAL SHOP REPAIRABLE problem.

    1. the Jim bloke
      Meh

      Re: At this point I wonder exactly which provider makes sense

      Been using Nokias for the last couple of years, the first 6.1 had an issue just shy of the 2 year mark where the touch screen stopped working, so I couldnt enter the PIN to login after a restart,

      got around that with an external USB keyboard and mouse (mouse on its own wasnt able to hold and enter PIN). Not practical for normal use but sufficient for content recovery.

      Getting it fixed would have cost more than a replacement.

      I do expect a 2 year lifespan from an A$ 400 phone, or a bit over 50 cents a day.

      The replacement Nokia 6.2 is alright, but shit at phonecalls. Somehow it cannot provide the callers voice at a reasonable volume despite having no problem with music (possibly my main use). External speakers/headphones are ok. Connection also drops inexplicably, to the point my partner prefers calling me on my 5-year-old cheapy samsung work phone instead.

      As in many other cases, Nokia-now is not the same as Nokia-then

      1. Is It Me

        Re: At this point I wonder exactly which provider makes sense

        With phones Nokia now is nothing to do with Nokia then, Nokia phones now is HMD with Nokia now doing other things.

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: At this point I wonder exactly which provider makes sense

      I was using Nokia bar phones (as my work phone) right until two weeks ago; everyone else has been using smartphones since they were offered as the corporate phone (including WinPhones at some point). I just kept using what I already had. Or found.

      However, couple of weeks back I got a mail asking if I was perhaps using a 2G SIM? Nope, it's the standard company-issued SIM, in a 2G phone. "Oh, but $provider is going to drop 2G in a couple of months, so you'll have to get something that does 4G". "Sorry, I'm not going to walk around with a portable data collector powered by Google. Or Apple, for that matter."

      So now I'm looking into stripping KaiOS down to just calls and SMS, no farcebook, google arsesistant and the like,

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Will ASUS' next move...

    ...be to classify its answer as "confidential" too and sue the poor user for going public?

    1. nautica
      Boffin

      Re: Will ASUS' next move...

      Yes.

    2. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Will ASUS' next move...

      "Our legal strategy is proprietary information. Prepare to hear from our lawyers"

      - ASUS

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge

        Re: Will ASUS' next move...

        Our legal strategy is surprise...surprise and fear...fear and surprise.... our two legal strategies are fear and surprise...and ruthless efficiency.... Our three legal strategies are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency...and an almost fanatical devotion to proprietary information.... Our four...no... amongst our legal strategies... amongst our legal strategies...are such elements as fear, surprise.... I'll come in again.

  7. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    The solution is... {blindingly obvious}

    ASUS wants you to buy a new Laptop/PC.

    Simples.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge

      ASUS wants you to buy a new Laptop/PC.

      Which very likely won't be an ASUS.

      Bullet, meet foot.

  8. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells
    Coffee/keyboard

    I didn't realise pads were really widely used. I've got sausage fingers and even I can clean a CPU with a bit of bogroll and then apply a bit of paste.

    1. Bill Gray

      I wonder. My mother had an ASUS laptop that overheated. I tried cleaning (easy enough) and applying thermal paste (similarly straightforward). But getting the (censored, too profane even for El Reg) heat sink in place without forming bubbles was maddeningly difficult. Don't remember exactly what obstructed what, but I never did get it exactly right and the laptop still runs hotter than one would wish.

      Perhaps the thermal pads would offer a solution. And should note that this was my only experience with an overheating laptop. Even though it wasn't Apple hardware, it could be I was holding something wrong.

    2. tony72

      I think they're used just because they're convenient, not because they're great. Both thermal pads and paste are terrible heat conductors, just that they're significantly better than an air gap, but the ideal is a metal-to-metal contact with the bare minimum amount of paste to fill the imperfections in the surfaces. I think manufacturers go for lower mechanical tolerances and make up for it with a nice thick thermal pad to fill the gap because it's cheaper. Presumably they test these things and it's good enough, but still seems sloppy.

    3. SuperGeek

      "I can clean a CPU with a bit of bogroll and then apply a bit of paste."

      Not to be pedantic but you shouldn't use bogroll because of the dusty lint it leaves behind. Forms bubbles in the paste. Source: Experience :)

      I use wet wipes very carefully, followed by isopropyl alcohol.

      1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells

        I don't re-paste very often but my most recent attempt using bog roll solved the overheating problem.

        It might not be ideal, but it's better than nothing.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        if memory serves, the ArcticSilver folks used to recommend using paper coffee filters and alcohol to clean the chip and the heatsink. It worked a treat, and didn't leave behind any bits of material.

      3. mark4155
        Coat

        Get in there boy!

        You tell him lad! Bogroll indeed, the cheek of this boy. Either way, long as it works we are all friends. Toodle Pip!

  9. Edward Clarke

    And Facebook removes the link...

    Louis Rossman put up another video on Youtube this morning. It seems that a viewer put up a link to Rossmann's ASUS video on Facebook and "someone" didn't like it very much. A few complaints about "abusive content" later and the link was blocked. Rossmann doesn't have a Facebook account but learned about the block from a few of his viewers.

    1. JWLong Bronze badge

      Re: And Facebook removes the link...

      Rossman has 1.5 million subscribers on Youtube. 3 people complained about his video and FaceFarce block the linkage to it.

      How much do you want to bet that those 3 users that complained were ASUS employees.

      And, since when does FaceFarce block anything?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: And Facebook removes the link...

        "And, since when does FaceFarce block anything?"

        When a company which buys a lot of advertising space asks them to?

      2. TheMeerkat Bronze badge

        Re: And Facebook removes the link...

        Facebook and the rest of BigTech blocks users since the woke crowed cheered them blocking Trump.

        You get what you ask for.

        1. Unicornpiss Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: And Facebook removes the link...

          To be fair, there's a difference between removing content from a user that is chronically spewing nothing but harmful lies and rabble-rousing and removing something innocuous because a handful of people may not have liked it. Kind of the difference between taking someone's license after their 5th DUI or taking it away for a parking ticket.

    2. Karlis 1

      Re: And Facebook removes the link...

      The reason for that is simple - Rossman is a pain in the ass who deserves little respect and even less of a forum. His drama antics have just grown old for 90% of the tech community.

      If you are unable to solder, run business or hold yourself together you should not pretend to be a spokesperson equal to PETA hysterics in tech.

      1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

        Re: And Facebook removes the link...

        That's a nice pile of Apple Store vouchers you have there!

  10. vincent himpe

    what a pile of drivel

    replacing thermal pads because they 'age' ... total and utter nonsense !

    Do they leak an oily substance ? yes, some do.

    Does it matter ? no, not a bit.

    Thermal pads or thermal grease is an emulsion made from alumina (aluminum oxide) suspended in a carrier material.

    The thermal properties are determined by the alumina. The rest is just a carrier to be able to manipulate it.

    You only need very little paste. Heaping it on works aversely. It is not a refrigerant. It's a transfer material. One that has worse properties than then materials it is trying to transfer between. Yes, you read that right. The heatsink and the copper slug on the device have much better thermal properties than the alumina.

    Why do you need it then ? because, at microscopic level, neither the heatsink nor the heatslug on the device (processor,gpu) are 'flat'. They contain pits. The thermal compound fills these potholes and lowers the thermal resistance. When the device goes hot for the first time the "oil" goes fluid , the alumina particles settle under pressure and that's it. Components mounted on a heatsink where paste is used will always be mounted "spring loaded", either by special retaining clips made from spring steel, or using split-washers under the screw, or the heatsink itself spring loaded. the reason is what i came to mention before : at first operation of the assembly, the first time this stuff gets hot, the oily carrier goes liquid , squeezes out, while the alumina particles remain trapped. the carrier material is a very bad thermal conductor, you want it out of there.

    The same nonsense goes for statements like "this paste is totally dried out , let me replace it".

    It MUST be dried out ! That's when it is most effective.

    Aluminum has a thermal conductivity of 230-ish watts per metre-kelvin

    Alumina is 30 ...

    Copper is 401

    Oil is 0.1

    Now you get it why you want that oil out of there ?

    As for the thermal pads : they need to be compressed for the same reason : get the carrier out of there and compress the TIM ( thermal interface material )

    There is a tendency to go away from alumina based materials and go to carbon based material ( a material called Vertical Carbon ) or graphite.

    Carbon, under certain circumstances, is a much better thermal conductor than most other materials out there. Diamond, which is the crystalline form of carbon, can handle 2000 watts per metre-kelvin. Nothing else comes close to that apart from graphite. There are some exotic materials such as magnesium oxide, boron nitride and aluminum nitride that perform very good. Some of these are actually used inside the semiconductor package.

    And yes, you can actually buy thermal paste that uses , industrial, diamond . It is used in cooling applications for high performance lasers and processor modules like for IBM Z-series mainframes.

    1. vtcodger Silver badge

      Re: what a pile of drivel

      Convincing post. Sounds like you know what you are talking about. Did you come to this site by mistake?

      1. vincent himpe

        Re: what a pile of drivel

        The Registers is a good publication, but once in a while they totally do a cock-up. Especially when it comes to the deeper points of engineering. And that is not entirely their fault. The internet is full of half-truths and misguided information. We live in a cargo-culture world, where even schools propagate cargo-culture.

        When;s the last time you went "Ok kids, let's all gather our amplifiers and other electronics today. It's time for the annual thermal grease swaps on the power transistors..."

        That is just not being done. Why would you do it on your graphics card or laptop ? I've got equipment (Hewlett Packard test equipment) that is 50 years old and still has the original paste from when it was built. Works perfectly fine.

        If you break the thermal interface because you needed to remove the heatsink or replace a component, by all means wipe the damn thing clean and reapply , sparingly, new thermal grease.

        And don't fall for the oxygen free reverse electron spin tinseltown compounds they charge 20 times the price for.

        Stick to the known brands like Parker , Laird , Loctite. The good stuff is around 3 to 4 watt metre-kelvin and around 250$ per kg. So a 10 grams tube should be about 2.5$. Some of the fancy-pants stuff ( which is nothing but repackaged of the above. There's ain't that many companies that make this stuff) sells for 10 times that price !

        Laird Tputty 508 , Parker Chomerics Therm-a-form have been the staple for many decades.

        I've been in electronics for almost 40 years of my life ( i etched my first circuit board when i was 8 years old) and it boggles my mind if i read some of the stuff being pushed out there.

        1. MrDamage

          Re: what a pile of drivel

          > Stick to the known brands like Parker , Laird , Loctite. The good stuff is around 3 to 4 watt metre-kelvin and around 250$ per kg. So a 10 grams tube should be about 2.5$. Some of the fancy-pants stuff ( which is nothing but repackaged of the above. There's ain't that many companies that make this stuff) sells for 10 times that price !

          Laird TPutty 508: 3.7 W/mk

          Arctic MX-4 : 8.5 W/mk

          Grizley Kryonaut: 12.5 W/mk

          So yeah, we could go for the cheap stuff that you use, or we could go along and get stuff with better thermal transfer properties. So for something that most of us will only do once, it's worth spending that bit extra, especially those of us who live in countries that have 40+ degree celcius summers.

          1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

            Re: what a pile of drivel

            You obviously haven't thought about what w mK actually represents. 3.7 or 15ish, doesn't matter, it's not milliwatts. The order of magnitude is more than sufficient to be vastly better than required. An increase doesn't mean you have better thermal transfer, it means you have more headroom - and even cheap past has plenty and enough headroom already.

          2. vincent himpe

            Re: what a pile of drivel

            Initially i was not very keen on the Arctic stuff as i could not find a real datasheet that shows measurements and compound composition (the composition is typically published in the SDS : safety data sheet).

            Anything that has not "measured according to a standard procedure" engineering curves, and data, is useless. You can't compare it. My product floats according to the brick test. But that one there is better cause the cat prefers sleeping on it.

            But, i found it: https://www.arctic.de/media/bf/b7/b1/1597063298/MSDS_MX-4_EN_20181026%20English.pdf

            It turns out that this is a combination Alumina 50% / diamond 5-10% blend , hence the better performance.

            The gizzly stuff is only alumina and zinc oxide. They don't publish any real technical data(at least none i could find). Just a statement "as tested by overclockers guide" which means nothing. This is akin to "The cat likes it". Since nobody knows the cats decision making procedure it is useless.

    2. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: what a pile of drivel

      All good assuming there are no thermal or mechanical forces which might move the heatsink and the cooled component even a small amount relative to each other...

      The space shuttle booster was perfectly sealed by the rubber O rings, until it was cold and the o ring couldn't move to keep the seal against the vibration of launch.

      Yes, the vibrations there are massive, but thermal cycling and differential expansion has a good chance of gently moving things against each other, that's where having the flexibility of a relatively new pad would be wanted.

      It's not something I've ever really looked at, I can't recall having used a thermal pad in several decades...

      1. vincent himpe

        Re: what a pile of drivel

        If they are properly bolted down they will not move. That's why these heatsinks are spring loaded. The thermal expansions and contraction during the heat cycles need to make sure you don't break the barrier.

        The elasticity of the pad compensates for that. The same goes for the thermal compounds ("grease" as it is wrongly called). There remains enough of carrier to allow for this. The stuff is at the same time tacky enough and elastic enough it can overcome this movement without issue.

        If you gave it a whack , and it shifted .. by all means replace it. Then again ... what nutcase gives the heatsink a whack ?

        The space shuttle issue had nothing to do with moving. The o-rings became hard when it was cold and lost their elasticity. As the booster ascended the gaps between the stages widened and the rubber o-ring (actually not rubber. They were Viton (tm) (a fluoro elastomer) made by Morton Thiokol.) could not compensate. It becomes rigid at low temperatures could not expand fast enough, leaving an opening where gas escaped with the well known resulting explosion. Vibration had nothing to do with it.

        Your laptop ,amplifier or graphics card is not subject to nearly such strong mechanical forces.

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: what a pile of drivel

          "If they are properly bolted down they will not move."

          I have less faith in various manufacturers than you ;)

          I also remember lugging computers with ruddy great heavy and tall* heatsinks to and from university, the jolts received in transport can be quite significant.

          "The space shuttle issue had nothing to do with moving. The o-rings ... could not expand fast enough"

          It was precisely because of the vibration and motion of the joints (which were there for congressional rather than technical reasons) that the elasticity of the o rings was needed, and which couldn't (due to the cold) move into the gap being (temporarily) created in the join.

          The mechanical forces on heatsinks are nowhere near as large, but they are exposed to repeated forces over a longer period.

          Not something I have looked at in a very long time though.

          * Although todays heatsinks are about as tall, but mine were basically solid copper for a good while and then radiating fins - this was in the days before heatpipes. One set of mine were sufficiently bulky and heavy that the fans were mounted on brackets off the case rather than adding even more load to the plastic tabs on the socket.

        2. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

          Re: what a pile of drivel

          So, the several degrees improvement I get from repasting a dried-out heatsink is entirely imaginary?

          1. John Robson Silver badge

            Re: what a pile of drivel

            Do you clean the dust off the heatsink at the same time?

    3. low_resolution_foxxes Silver badge

      Re: what a pile of drivel

      Curses, I learnt something today.

      [goes back to rule 34-ing]

      Interesting btw.

    4. Will S
      Facepalm

      Re: what a pile of drivel

      I thought this was some kind of joke at first.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: what a pile of drivel

      > "Nothing else comes close to [2000 W/mK diamonds] apart from graphite. "

      I'm going to show my ignorance now.

      Isn't graphite as cheap as pencils?

      Why isn't that the material of (economic) choice?

      1. vincent himpe

        Re: what a pile of drivel

        of course it is not your bog standard graphite .. although that actually performs very well.

        If you find a metallic foil with black slippery , semi shiny surface that can be scraped off ( kind of like those scratch-it lottery tickets) : that is a graphite based TIM. Intel uses (or used ) those for awhile with the XEON processors.

        https://industrial.panasonic.com/ww/pgs2/soft-pgs

        That site has nice graphics and shows some easy to understand basic principles and problems with grease (like the pump-out effect)

      2. dajames Silver badge

        Re: what a pile of drivel

        Isn't graphite as cheap as pencils?

        Why isn't that the material of (economic) choice?

        I think most pencils, these days, have a "lead" that is something other than pure graphite (or lead, for that matter), clay is a common additional component. Then again, my technical pencil claims to use "polymer" leads, whatever those may be?

        ... but I'd guess that the reason graphite isn't popular in heatsink compounds is that it's a good electrical (as well as thermal) conductor.

    6. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: what a pile of drivel

      Thanks to everyone involved in this part of the thread. That was a fascinating exchange of thoughts that has left me with far more knowledge than I had before - - - > Cheers!!

    7. Annihilator Silver badge

      Re: what a pile of drivel

      "And yes, you can actually buy thermal paste that uses , industrial, diamond . It is used in cooling applications for high performance lasers and processor modules like for IBM Z-series mainframes."

      Certainly goes some way to explaining the Z price tags...

    8. dajames Silver badge

      Re: what a pile of drivel

      The same nonsense goes for statements like "this paste is totally dried out , let me replace it".

      It MUST be dried out ! That's when it is most effective.

      Aluminum has a thermal conductivity of 230-ish watts per metre-kelvin

      Alumina is 30 ...

      Copper is 401

      Oil is 0.1

      Now you get it why you want that oil out of there ?

      Well ... a couple of points:

      1. When the oil leaves, it is replaced by air (alumina is an inflexible solid; it won't magically flow to fill the space vacated by the oil), and the conductivity of air is even worse (around 0.025 W/mK).

      2. The oil is what holds the alumina in place. Once the oil goes the alumina crumbles away leaving (once again) air.

  11. Back to school

    Pad is the least of the issues with this card

    Perphaps it is also proprietory why this card with ~350W power limit will barely touch 250W with the limit sliders maxed in any of the OC software, or why all the photos and websites show 10 power stages when you actually get 9 same as the FE.

    Basically the same spec as the FE but with an off the shelf water block and ASUS tax.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Pad is the least of the issues with this card

      I wonder if Apple use propriety iPads for thermal interfaces?

  12. aerogems
    FAIL

    Can all but guarantee

    Having worked for Asus in a customer facing role for a brief time, I can all but guarantee this question was put to some poor sod who is probably new to the job, received little to no training and so just tried to BS an answer that sounded good when they couldn't find any info internally. This is a company that pulls stupid stunts like selling every single one of their top end cards, not holding any back for silly things like warranty claims. Any that come back as defective and can be reworked then go right back out as warranty replacements. And that's just the tip of the iceberg for Asus' Stupid Tricks. They're also incredibly racist, the US division anyway, but that's a story for another day.

  13. TFNG-TECH

    Top secret

    I didn't realize when I made my videos on my youtube channel about how to replace thermal pads on various RTX 3080's with the proper thermal pad sizes to fix the terrible thermal issues on the vram chips and a video on the width and lengths of the required thermal pads was top secret information.

  14. TrevorH

    > Savvy users often clean the surface with some high-strength isopropyl alcohol to remove debris and ensure peak effectiveness.

    Here's a warning for those of you who have a bottle of 99.x% pure isopropyl alcohol. If it's over about 5 years old, get rid of it. I speak from experience, very bad experience :-( I had a bottle of it that fell into my pocket at a $dayjob nearly 40 years ago and I just finished it up and found the bottle rattled. Tipped it out into a pyrex glass ashtray and it was a small crystal, probably no more than 4x4x1mm, poked it with a metal stick and BOOM! Loudest single noise I have ever heard. My hearing cut out about 1/10th of the way through the B in BOOM! and and was followed by a ringing so loud I tried to cover my ears with my hands, I can only hear about 80% of what I could before. Shattered the glass ashtray into several large pieces and left a pile of powdered glass on the table. Left me completely deaf for at least 4 hours and recovered only gradually and is almost certainly never coming back. Went to A&E and they tell me my eardrums are still in one piece though I'm not sure I believe them.

    Apparently isopropyl alcohol forms peroxides over time and these are extremely unstable.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Very sorry to hear that. A serious question -

      > "I had a bottle of it that fell into my pocket at a $dayjob nearly 40 years ago and I just finished it up ..."

      Were you drinking it at your $dayjob?

  15. Richard Pennington 1
    Mushroom

    BOOM

    Many years ago, I went to university and studied Natural Sciences - a sort of mix and match of subjects of which my choices included chemistry in the first year, and (totally unnecessarily, as my main subject was physics) also chemistry in the second year. In year 1 I was introduced to a demonstrator - a cheerfully insane type who seriously considered standing for Parliament as a Scottish Nationalist (in Cambridge). His job was to supervise the students during the practicals and intervene if something goes drastically or dangerously wrong. Like the young lady at the end of my row who was evaporating off petroleum ether (think: 4-star ...) over a naked Bunsen flame.

    Fast forward a year. I am now in the second-year lab, and the demonstrator has a new batch of students in the first-year lab next door. And then we heard the bang. It turned out that a student had (correctly) used a steam bath to evaporate a solvent away, but had then spoiled things by dropping the product into the hot water in the steam bath, where it had promptly dissolved. Enter the demonstrator, coming to the rescue of the student and the product. His strategy was to extract the product from the water in the steam bath with an organic solvent (ether), and then evaporate the ether away. The trouble was that he had had to use rather a lot of ether - several bottles of the stuff.

    Now, each bottle of ether is supposed to have a strip of magnesium in it while it is in storage. Apparently, one of the magnesium strips was missing. The reason for the magnesium strips is to prevent the formation of peroxides in storage. When the demonstrator evaporated the ether away, the peroxide concentration went up, until ... BANG. It shattered the glassware, and left the demonstrator with a cut to the chin (from flying glass fragments).

  16. jonnycando

    Somebody measure and post on all manner of social fora.

  17. Old one

    Asus is crap

    I bought a Asus Win 10 for doing a tax return as MS dropped security for Win 7. Cooked a hard drive on a Win 7 Pro HP machine a few months before the Asus machine and toyed with a few Linux OS. Settled on Zorin Lite which I think is working OK other than I can't get it to talk to my MS machines. So what the heck. I try the Zorin on the Asus. Reset the bios to read the USB I used on the HP machine. Asus boots and basically tells me there is an illegal USB then defers back to Win 10. Hmmm so I check the BIOS and its set for booting from USB so try again, again & again.... Hmmm so I try another USB with a different Zorin Ultimate OS only to get the same results. Try an Amazon USB stick with Ubuntu and the same....

    I BOUGHT the machine-- IT IS MY machine not Asus. At this point I don't know if I can even wipe the drive - SSD - because IF the bios has this imprinted Win 10 only crap what can I do? BTW no CD drive... Write it off and put a hammer to it. And yes Asus support is NOT. If it works in Win 10 be happy and kiss our azz.

    1. Steve the Cynic

      Re: Asus is crap

      Turn. Off. Secure. Boot. The bootloader on the USB stick isn't signed with a certificate that the UEFI recognises, so Secure Boot refuses to load it.

  18. Skyeman

    Where did "Right to Repair activism" come from? Have I turned into Swampy because I think it's better to fix things that are broken? How did this become a "rights" issue? We should switch this negative labelling around and call the companies who block repairing "Anti-repair Activists" instead.

    We see this happening on the large scale as well. It was apparently "cheaper" to build a whole new bridge across the Firth of Forth than to maintain the old one. Which is still in use.

  19. saabpilot

    I feel sorry for the poor customer support person. Who no doubt went to check the details of the heatsink pad, couldmn't find it, so asked A Manager. And was then forced to tell the customer what he did.

  20. cb7

    I can see why it could become a warranty issue if someone ended up fitting poor quality pads that do more to insulate than conduct...

  21. goldcd

    Sure I remember people complaining the wrong thermal pads were shipping on their GPUs

    Just wondering if Asus' refusal to state what the dimensions of the part are, are because it doesn't meet the spec - and would be euqivalent to saying they'd shipped thousands of cards with defects.

  22. Man inna barrel

    There are many types of heatsink pad

    Having investigated heatsink pads for power supplies and power amplifiers, I have sympathy with Asus treating heatsink pads as not user replaceable. There are insulating pads, and non-insulating pads. There are different thicknesses for different voltages. There are more expensive materials for critical applications, and cheap materials that may be good enough, or may not. A transistor on the primary side of a switching power supply will want a thicker insulator, to maintain safety. A plastic-cased graphics chip might use a graphite-loaded pad, which has no electrical insulation, but excellent thermal conductivity.

    If I worked for Asus as an engineer, I would not like to specify a heatsink material for users to fit. I would be obliged to test the effect of many different types of material, in order to provide some guarantee that the product will continue to operate as intended, with a new pad fitted. You have a right to repair, but it is your fault if you get it wrong.

    I think the phrasing that the pad thickness is "proprietary information" might be a bit of legal arse-covering. If Asus were to publish the information, then there might be a concern that users could misuse the information, and blame Asus when they screw up, resulting in emission of the Magic Blue Smoke from the Big Clever Chip.

  23. Unicornpiss Silver badge

    I experienced this years ago..

    ..when trying to repair a digital phone at a job I had. Replacement phones were $300 each and back ordered for over a month. Which wasn't great for a thriving business that needed all of its phones. I took it apart and found a crystal with one of the wire legs broken right where it entered the component. The printing on the crystal with any useful information was smudged, so I called AT&T's customer service and asked if I could buy one, since I couldn't get a replacement phone: "No, we don't sell components." Fair enough. Can you tell me the value of the component? "That's proprietery information" (this was before the Internet was ubiquitous--these days I could probably find a schematic) I ended up just taking apart one of the other phones and getting the value off of it, and it turned out Radio Shack had it, as it was a very common value. (Remember Radio Shack, and when they actually sold components?)

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge
      WTF?

      (Remember Radio Shack, and when they actually sold components?)

      You must be close to retirement.

      Somewhere around 1980 they tried running a couple of shops in the Netherlands. The one in the city I lived in was in a prime location in a major shopping area, right across from the town hall. There were at least three well-stocked electronic parts shops less than 10 minutes cycling away, with agreeable parts prices instead of ones that can only be explained by RS shipping each part individually, by first class airmail, from the factory to HQ, where they would be manually packed in those Archer blister packs, then sent on, again individually by 1st class airmail, to some regional distribution centre and from there by luxury limousine to the shop. Which would then slap the price sticker on, with the decimal separator left off.

      Those shops also had a Pimply-Faced Shop Assistant to customer ratio of 3 or 4 to 1 for the moments there actually WAS a customer inside. Knowing nothing (of course) and trying to get your name and address for whatever inane marketing stuff HQ could think up.

      They didn't do well, and shut within a year.

      Stock remains ended up at one of the other shops, now priced in line with the rest of that shop's inventory, but it still didn't sell; ten years on it was something of a sediment in their bargain bin.

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