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Long Term Reliability?

Posted on 9th Dec 2009 at 11:13 by Richard Swinburne with 29 comments

Richard Swinburne
Something that's impossible to cover in reviews is the long term reliability of products. If you're reading this, here, it's highly likely you've built your own PC and have some experience with reliability of components. Obviously some of you will have been doing it longer than others or had access to more hardware. It's obviously subjective: we have our favourite brands that work for us, but I wanted to formalise our experiences and know what you've owned and how well its worked for you? Is it still working or did it only last six months? We want to know both good and bad stories.

In an age of "Ultra Durable", "Xtreme Design" and "Military Grade" marketing it's essential to sort the wheat from the chaff so we're better informed as consumers.
Personally, in the lab and at home I've had the most stable relationship with Gigabyte boards, followed by Asus.

I've been using both a Gigabyte 780G and X48 in my home systems for well over a year and neither has failed me. The X48 doesn't like overclocking much any more, which is an obvious downside, but otherwise it's the backbone to an extremely stable machine.

Gigabyte has a pretty great record in our lab the more I think back to be honest: our SSD test bed, which was previously the "mainstream graphics" testbed, uses an old GA-X38-UD5. Despite being knee deep in dust, having its SATA ports abused and being left on for days on end it still works perfectly.

In work I have an MSI X58 Pro which handles all six DIMM slots filled and a slight overclock that's run day in, day out for the last six months without fault. For a "cheaper" X58 with a chipset that runs on average 75-80C - that's good going. Another great MSI board that's still going strong is our P6N SLI. That board has been installed in every case review we've done for the last two years, plus, it's had dozens of coolers strapped into it as well. It's still going strong despite the consistent manhandling, which is extremely impressive.

However, despite MSI's notably better motherboards recently, we did suffer all our Eclipse SLI's fail in the graphics test machines. Overclocks became unstable, then stock speed became unstable and eventually they had to be replaced. We opted for a brace of Asus P6T Deluxe boards, having previously used Asus LGA775 Republic of Gamer motherboards flawlessly all of last year.

MSI may has recently made some excellent boards recently, like the P55-GD65 and 790FX-GD70. However, its budget boards are cut too close to the bone. Almost two years ago we saw MSI AMD boards that didn't support 140W Phenom CPUs - let alone any overvolting, overclocking overhead. MSI went back to the drawing board and at least the AMD team learnt from that PR disaster: the 770-CD53 is a very capable board for the money. The Intel team didn't get the memo though...

More recently we've been hearing of its P55 CD53/CD45 boards blowing their MOSFET brains out trying to handle overclocked CPUs on other forums. This feat we easily replicated in our labs recently. I don't have to be an engineer to see that three or four phase power won't handle 1.4-1.5V on the CPU - what did MSI expect? You simply cannot be a tier 1 manufacturer and make this kind of mistake because it will decimate your brand.

Back to Asus motherboards: despite a bit of a rocky start, the Striker Extreme was even better than the Nvidia reference boards for example. An X58 workstation board in the lab has been running seven graphics cards non stop Folding for months: despite that near kilowatt power draw and data demand, plus dealing with the subsequent heat generated, it's never had a hiccup.

Previously I've owned P4 and socket A Asus boards which I have fond memories of, as well as Supermicro - although that probably goes without saying considering the heavy investment - and even an Epox (4PCA3+) that at the time went through three CPU upgrades and used every one of its six IDE sockets. I bought it even though most people preferred the very popular Asus P5P800 or Abit IC7G series.

Shuttle XPCs have been hit and miss - I had and then donated to family, an SS50G that went on and on and on for years, however, a more recent nForce 4 SN45G didn't last more than six months.

So even before the reliability marketing, we've had products that have lasted until the next upgrade. Clearly not all did though from one generation to the next, and is that reliability message now getting through and working? Or are you less in favour of brands and more on seeing which board is best from one generation to the next? Let us know!

29 Comments

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mi1ez 9th December 2009, 12:10 Quote
Bit of both. Sticking with brands increases the chances of reliability, but of course research should be done on specific products.

Good work on the folding too!
Xir 9th December 2009, 12:37 Quote
Personally, I've never had any significant reliance problems apart from one Hickup*
Then again, I buy high end stuff when it stops beeing high end (so about a year old and the bugs are out), and I don't overclock.
My systems run stable for >5 years though.
The last 4 systems each at least 2 years with me, 2 years as "second machine" then 2-3 years with my parents.

*I've had one graphics card die on me within a few weeks of buying it (and got my money back) Sapphire X800. The replacement Sapphire X1800 has been running day in day out for nearly three years now (see system in sig).

I've had more monitors die on me than system parts. ;)
mi1ez 9th December 2009, 12:51 Quote
I've had both hard drives and optical drives give up the ghost, and a mouse & CRT but that's it.
Paradigm Shifter 9th December 2009, 13:05 Quote
The only bit of kit I've had die on me recently was my DFI LP X48 -T2R. The SATA controller died suddenly.
M7ck 9th December 2009, 13:12 Quote
I have a love of both BFG graphics cards and ASUS motherboards, I have had several of each with no problems and would look towards them both for future purchases.
sandys 9th December 2009, 13:57 Quote
All my hardware has been great, I've been building PCs for years, only ever had PSU failures.
okenobi 9th December 2009, 14:00 Quote
I read a lot of negative stuff on the forums lately about Asus, but my skt 939 board (A8N-Sli Deluxe) is at least 4 yrs old and runs 24/7 with all four DIMM slots filled, my X2 ocd from 2ghz to 2.35 and slightly overvolted and managing 4 HDDs. It's never had a problem. Saying that, when I first bought it I had the problem that any veteran will remember. The southbridge heatsink was stupidly noisy and the fan broke. This was fixed by Asus with the "Premium" (which my Dad's machine runs and has done for more than 3 years flawlessly), but I had to replace the heatsink with a passive one. Apart from that solid.

Before that I had a socket A board from Asus which was again superb. Abit used to be great around the socket A/939 era, and I still know of several machines going strong from back then. They seem to have disappeared now though.

My biggest problem has been HDDs over the years and the most failures for me has been Seagate. From the first Quantum Fireball 4.3gig that I bought I've only ever had WD, Seagate or Samsung. Every Samsung has been flawless. My current setup consists of 5 Samsungs from T series to F1s.

Nothing else has broken!
mjm25 9th December 2009, 15:52 Quote
Mucho respect for Gigabyte, motherboards are awesome and my 4870x2 is also Gigabyte (altho that was bought cos it was the cheapest :p) as for the motherboards i'm sure the ultra durable bumf must have something to do with it, cooler = better afterall.

on topic i had some crucial ballistix exploderise on me recently, just one 2Gb stick out of 8Gb isn't bad i guess... although it was JUST inside warranty (11 and a bit months) so it makes me concerned for the rest now. bare in mind that was always left at stock speeds and stock voltages. still... it's nice RAM.
thehippoz 9th December 2009, 16:52 Quote
think almost anything standard quality will last if you your not using it as a testbed.. pretty impressive on your gigabyte board.. asus has always made decent stuff- their customer service isn't bad but it's not great either

seen a show on the gigabyte plant.. it's like watching robots as the boards go down the line- they have some good qc it looks like and they keep the tim out of shangs hands
centy 9th December 2009, 17:04 Quote
Where are DFIs new boards? that's what I want to know..

Only going back to around 04/05 but the first DFI Lanparty board I bought: the nF3 Ultra-D AGP died within 6 months. I sent it over to nl for repair/replacement and they sent it back apparently with a newer revision chipset but still dead. Further correspondance proved fruitless however I still ended up buying an UT nF4 SLI-D because everyone was going mad about them.
The nF4 board has had at least two big 'ot graphics cards die in it and a corrupted bios (quickly replaced gratis by DFI nl) in it's lifetime, and it is still chugging away pretty much 24/7 in a family members house at the 2.8Ghz best compromise overclock I found on it back late 2005.
Lots of official bios and customs too but none ever made cool and quiet work well when returning from sleep mode or overclocking.

So August I bought a DFI LP DK P45 T2RS to go with an E6300 45nm for my latest PC and again I'm not disapointed. Easily got her to 3.5Ghz with no extra vcore on the stock cooler and left it at that. Returning from sleep mode no longer messes with clockspeeds and speedstep works even when overclocking so i can idle at a less planet destroying 2.0Ghz and game at full pelt.Theres a new bios for the P45 T2RS with all kinds of new options available just like the P45 T2RS PLUS, maybe I'll get a big cooler and go for 4Ghz one day.

My first Powercolor card the 4870 512MB was dead on arrival, the Powercolor 4890 1GB which I chose instead has worked perfectly well since August :)

OCZ are always happy to give you as much info as they can on your kit/settings. I've had 1GB PC3200 EL and 4GB PC2 9200 LV both kits have been push to to limits and are still passing all the stabilty tests :)

A Tagan Easycon 530w is still powering the overclocked nF4 machine from 2005. The 120mm cooling fan did randomly die on this unit, since the PSU was out of warranty and I admited to their tech support that I had opened it to trail a case fan in there to get it working pronto they didn't seem interested in allowing me to pay for the repair to be carried out, as I had no email response to that request. This is a shame as I'm sure one of their repair engies would have sorted it out in seconds.

The Corsair HX 520w coping with the new overclocked machine no problems at all.

Hard drives.. they all die at some point backup now!
leslie 9th December 2009, 17:27 Quote
Hard drives are always an issue.
Until the Raptors came out, you couldn't convince me to buy WD. It was junk, they seem to have stepped up since. Seagate used to be what I bought, then they bought Maxtor and seemed to take a dive. Hitachi seems fine. I won't touch anything else, too many problems.

For video cards, I have had 3 (2 were high end) ATI cards fail while sitting in anti-static bags on a shelf. WTH! Good cards while using them though.

Also, I won't touch another Thermaltake case either, cheap tin cans is what they are. Parts not fitting properly, extremely thin... Yes it was pretty and it was light weight, but also paper thin and the screws stripped if you even looked at them crooked.


My worst hardware failure though, is mice.
Mice are my worst enemy. Logitechs seem to last the longest, averaging a bit over a year before either the batteries give out or they start acting funny. Too bad their support has taken a serious hit.
wst 9th December 2009, 23:26 Quote
Okay, it's prebuilt, but this HP Compaq PResario SR1939 (Athlon 64 3700+ skt939, 1GB ram, originally with a geforce 6200se *rolleyes*) has, apart from killing 2 graphics cards (one after a power cut, the other just... died) and the monitor dying... lasted 4 years. Though I *did* replace the mouse a few times and recently the keyboard as well.
Not bad for a generic box thing, eh? :D
SouperAndy 9th December 2009, 23:43 Quote
I've had a few failures fairly recently... The worst being a <12 month old OCZ Vertex 120GB SSD.

It just 'stopped', I walked away for my machine for 10 minutes and on my return black screen. BIOS couldn't find the drive.

I tried multiple SATA ports, SATA cables, different PSU cables, etc to ne effect. In the end I RMA'd it and received a Patriot Torqx as replacement. May be just a 'bad un' but less than 12 months reliability isn't good! :(

I still have a couple of S939 systems going on DFI & Biostar mobos and they're still going strong after 4-5 years tho' :D

Andy
Furymouse 10th December 2009, 03:42 Quote
I had three Asus A7n8x's die within a month of each other, whereas the Soyo sy kt400 that replaced it has been chugging along since august of 03. The only Asus thing I have allowed myself to buy has been my EEE.
Kúsař 10th December 2009, 08:25 Quote
I've based all 5 PCs at home on Asus. One of them - A8N-E died because of crappy chipset fan, but at least it was performing it's duty over 4 years with honor until chipset's last IO operation.
Unfortunately - this week I've discovered my brother's new M4A78T-E can't detect Ahteros' LAN chip. I'll RMA it later this month...

Otherwise I've got rather good experiences with Asus boards.
Digi 10th December 2009, 14:43 Quote
Been lucky in the long run. 1 or 2 psu's have blown up but apart from that I have only had problems with 2 nvidia cards and some ram.

I have run ati/gigabyte and asus kit for years without issue. My 6+ year old machine (backup) runs a gigabyte 7nnxp (with sticky-uppy voltage card(y) and nice blue lights) and AMD athlon 2800+ and a gigabyte 9800pro (which I swapped my 9700pro for when it came out for 400 quid in tottenham court road.. those were the days!) and it all still runs along with the 2x 80gb WD (my memory fails be but I believe these were the first with 8mb cache?)

I will never again buy an nvidia product after my 8800gts 640mb died at the same time as 2 of my friends nvidias. Sorry I left ATI - I love you really!
The_Beast 10th December 2009, 16:18 Quote
I've been really lucky, I've never had anything die on me for the two systems I've built.
Ficky Pucker 10th December 2009, 20:51 Quote
evga 8800 gts after 2 years
1 viewsonic vx922, and 1 viewsonic vx 924(refurb, replacement for the vx 922)
tiny fan on asus a8n-e(mobo still works after i installed a heatsink in place of the fan)

that's all i can remember.
wuyanxu 10th December 2009, 23:33 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by M7ck
I have a love of both BFG graphics cards and ASUS motherboards, I have had several of each with no problems and would look towards them both for future purchases.
same here from now on.

i was fan of BFG + Abit where they never failed be. but since Abit went out of business, im looking at the next in line (alphabetically): Asus
Dannythemusicman 11th December 2009, 12:22 Quote
Gave away recently a PIII 245mhz mmx with just 32mb of RAM that was bought brand new in '97 for around £1,000 and it was still running absolutely flawlessly with it's original 4mb 3DFX Voodoo chip inside. Only thing that ever went wrong was the fan that needed replacing about 2 years ago.
okenobi 11th December 2009, 13:54 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Furymouse
I had three Asus A7n8x's die within a month of each other, whereas the Soyo sy kt400 that replaced it has been chugging along since august of 03. The only Asus thing I have allowed myself to buy has been my EEE.

I had one of those boards and never had a problem with it running my overclocked XP2500+.
Weird how Asus seems to be quite split with different experiences for different people. I might consider switching to Gigabyte next time I buy a motherboard. Are motherboards the only component that spark such debate?
Furymouse 11th December 2009, 17:22 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by okenobi
I had one of those boards and never had a problem with it running my overclocked XP2500+.
Weird how Asus seems to be quite split with different experiences for different people. I might consider switching to Gigabyte next time I buy a motherboard. Are motherboards the only component that spark such debate?

I think it mostly came down to being an early adopter. Pretty sure they were all revision 1. But even so, it's hard to go back to a brand after that.

I think HDD's would be second highest in the debate over reliability according to brand. For instance I won't go seagate anymore after losing two. But others might swear by them.
Ross1 12th December 2009, 00:47 Quote
**** long term reliability, technology moves too fast for it to be much of an issue. however.... i do have my pc on 24/7 (not just because i cant be bothered to turn it off, it proabably does more while im asleep). Ive not had much just go due to old age, just hard drives and a monitor.

Most problematic electronics are external power bricks. Those things are always built on the cheap and the transistors go bang all the time. Literally had 4 of them go on me within a year. In different houses, on different surge protectors.
MSHunter 12th December 2009, 07:18 Quote
Optical drives consistently fail on me.
Been through:
Ausus drives
Sony Drives
Longest lasting has been LG
its been 3 years and that on an external (old fassion big brick model)
It is starting to get load now.

But I will stick with LG because they:
Last Longer
Burn Any thing
Cost nothing
okenobi 12th December 2009, 09:26 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Furymouse
I think it mostly came down to being an early adopter. Pretty sure they were all revision 1. But even so, it's hard to go back to a brand after that.

I think HDD's would be second highest in the debate over reliability according to brand. For instance I won't go seagate anymore after losing two. But others might swear by them.

Totally agree on Seagate. I've had two go and won't go back. Monitors, I've lost a couple. But they weren't massively expensive and you feel like you get something for your money when you replace them.

Ross, you're right about power bricks. However, I disagree about long-term not being an issue. I think long-term might be a relative term in the tech industry, but it's still important. Nobody wants to have to deal with hardware failure on their pride and joy.
Ross1 12th December 2009, 11:21 Quote
well, it all depends on how we define long term. I think what i kinda got as was although I may only use a motherboard for say 2 years before it gets replaced, I might be using it almost 24/7 for those 2 years. Does that count as long term? How many hours of use can you reasonably expect to get from a mobo?

oh, and about optical drives.... the lasers may wear out.... but are you sure it wasnt simply getting dirty? i mean its bound to pick up dust over the course of a year or two.... if the pc is in a dusty environment then its going to get clogged quicker.

hmmm, actually this probably affects a lot more components than just optical drive lasers.
okenobi 12th December 2009, 13:04 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ross1
well, it all depends on how we define long term. I think what i kinda got as was although I may only use a motherboard for say 2 years before it gets replaced, I might be using it almost 24/7 for those 2 years. Does that count as long term? How many hours of use can you reasonably expect to get from a mobo?

oh, and about optical drives.... the lasers may wear out.... but are you sure it wasnt simply getting dirty? i mean its bound to pick up dust over the course of a year or two.... if the pc is in a dusty environment then its going to get clogged quicker.

hmmm, actually this probably affects a lot more components than just optical drive lasers.

That's what I mean. "Long-term" means a different thing with PCs, but it's still relevant. Hard drive MTBFs are quoted in hours. So yes a 24/7 PC can be expected to last less time than one that isn't on all the time. My main desktop machine has core hardware dating back to 2005. Is it the fastest? No. Does it play every single game I want to play? No. But it does most of what I need and I therefore don't want to HAVE to replace it because of failed hardware. If I do end up building a replacement in the new year, I will find something else for my current machine to do, because it cost me a lot of money and I'd like to get my money's worth out of it.

I think it's different for people who change components all the time chasing benches and overclocking, but I think most of us just want to be able to play the games we want, do the work we need to and play some media without hassle. For that, reliability is key.
Tangster 17th December 2009, 09:20 Quote
I've not had many bad experiences with components, aside from blowing a cheap PSU before I knew to spend good money on them and burning a MSI Skt A board when overclocking.
That said I don't like Creative anymore, their old Audigy cards worked well and were reliable, but I've had to use the warrenty on 2 X-fi cards and 2 Zen players as well. As such I don't plan on buying from them again, I've got my eye on a Xonar card and an Ipod touch(much as I dislike apple, at least they are reliable.).
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