Byte Me Article 421 – Reliability & Robustness

Choose a Reliable Computer
What To Look For When You Go Shopping For One

With the latest mix of products on the market we need to revisit an old question – what is the most reliable and robust computer device?  Barely a week goes by without someone asking me this question and given the manufacture quality of some of the available hardware it is a valid concern.  In this article we will be looking from the point of view of a small business or home user.

One way to answer the above is to use a process of elimination and where better to start than with the internal storage drive.  If reliability is to be considered, then totally forget about any device that has an internal mechanical hard disk drive (HDD).  One of these is going to fail when it is a month old or 12 years old or somewhere in between, so a solid-state drive (SSD) is the only way to go.

Another trap that we see is the use of more than one hard drive.  This sometimes comes about because the customer thinks that 2 or 3 hard drives are better than having one.  Unfortunately, 2 or 3 hard drives equates to 2 or 3 times the chance of a failure.  This situation also often arises because the previous IT company thought it easier to grab the hard drive out of your previous PC and put it as a secondary drive in your latest PC.  This is simply lazy, very bad practice and encouraging a failure as your old drive is exactly that.

The same can be said for dedicated graphics cards.  If considering a laptop or desktop there are models that come with dedicated graphics cards and models that come with ‘integrated’ or on-board graphics.  Unless you are a PC gamer or use specialist photo shop or CAD software a dedicated video card will not improve your PC performance by even 1 percent.

A dedicated video card will however, create a lot more heat, use a lot more power, chew through batteries quicker in a laptop, add weight and complexity – and create another potential point of failure.  Unless you have a specific use for it then we highly recommend dodging a dedicated video card in your next PC purchase.

While touching on specialist PC’s we diagnose faults, repair and build new PC’s for lots of gamers.  With this we see water cooling, overclocked CPU’s, overclocked ram, often 4 ram sticks, special video cards, special power supplies and multiple hard drives.  These systems are pushing the boundaries of performance and reliability and are NOT for the average small business or home user and will not provide any tangible benefits to these users.

After purchasing and owning a cheap and nasty Windows PC, lots of people get browned off to the point that they go and spend 5 times the previous PC’s cost on an Apple Mac.  They think that they are buying a better mouse trap without flaws – wrong!  Apple Macs still need updates, still have problems, still get viruses and often don’t run the software that a small business need. 

There are no cheap Apple Macs which helps with quality control, however spending a similar amount on a good commercial PC from the likes of Hewlett Packard will result in similar levels of reliability and robustness.  In fact, we believe that Apple Mac reliability levels are often achieved at far less cost with the careful selection of a Windows based PC.

Next week we need to look further to eliminate potential problem sources to arrive at what should be considered the most reliable & robust devices currently on the market. 

Future Byte Me topics can be emailed to[email protected] and Bruce is contactable at Kerr Solutions, 205 Musgrave Street or on 49 222 400.

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