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Thread: Computer Longevity

  1. #1
    Old but Crafty RayMac's Avatar
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    Computer Longevity

    Is it just me or have the roles of computer hardware and software reversed themselves the last couple of years?
    When I first started working with PCs the hardware was bullet proof - except each O/S upgrade rendered a machine obsolete and ready for the scrap heap. Today I'd venture to say there are still lots of folks who'd be happy to use Windows XP (13 years old at least) but the average computer lifespan is 4 years or less.
    My early 2011 laptop just failed and when I got a new one the salesperson (who's also the service tech) told me to expect about 3 years and then I'd be back again. I had a tank like Compaq laptop from 1998 that ran OK until it became impossible to use even with Linux (except as a headless server or firewall.) I've also got a 2005 era Dell Optiplex desktop that's still chuggin' with Debian. So something has changed in hardware-land.
    And apparently it's the same thing with desktops. They look big and chunky on the outside but inside they have tiny mini-ITX motherboards and laptop system on chip processors.
    I guess the only way to get 10 years out of a computer today is to build your own desktop. You'll still be replacing some stuff along the way but hey...
    Does this bother you or are you happy to switch your machine every 3 years?


    Few things are more delightful than grandchildren fighting over your lap. ~Doug Larson

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  3. #2
    Happily unadjusted 😜 popoki nui's Avatar
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    I'm with you, Ray. I miss the days of good, sturdy, upgradeable, machines. And I miss XP. My older (2006) desktop still works well with XP Pro, but more modern stuff just seems so cheap and disposable. I use three laptops around home (2x PC, Win 7 and win 8.1), and Macbook Pro. I expect to have to replace them in 2-3 years. It makes me crazy.


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  4. #3
    Although there are manufacturers that can achieve great products that do last, 'lead free' solder has caused many a problem with reliable production, same as BGA mount IC's (where all the connection legs are hidden under the IC).
    If the processor connections become "iffy" then the product's unusable, and BGA (Ball grid array technology) is used on many a processor (not just the main one) especially on small or laptop type products.
    Couple that with LF and it's been a recipe for disaster .... but like I said some manufacturers do all this well.

    Then couple that with the finance department getting involved "post design but pre-production" and it adds further to the problem.


    Pay good money to a top flight big name manufacturer and you should avoid these problems.
    Last edited by Seriously; Dec 2, 2014 at 08:25 PM.

  5. #4
    Old but Crafty RayMac's Avatar
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    When I wanted a Linux only machine I used to look for an "off-lease" business grade desktop or laptop. These were really well built and quite expensive when new. You could expect another 4-5 years out of them for sure, if not more. I would just get rid of XP and install Linux.
    I'm wondering if that is even a viable strategy any more. My last Linux desktop I built from scratch and I know I put quality components in it. I could never have gotten a machine that good at Best Buy or Staples. That's not really an option for a laptop though.


    Few things are more delightful than grandchildren fighting over your lap. ~Doug Larson

  6. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by RayMac View Post
    When I wanted a Linux only machine I used to look for an "off-lease" business grade desktop or laptop. These were really well built and quite expensive when new. You could expect another 4-5 years out of them for sure, if not more. I would just get rid of XP and install Linux.
    I'm wondering if that is even a viable strategy any more. My last Linux desktop I built from scratch and I know I put quality components in it. I could never have gotten a machine that good at Best Buy or Staples. That's not really an option for a laptop though.
    Trouble is with a laptop is space and heat, if you want a reliable system, main processor ideally needs to be socketed and that means thick which kind of stops it being a laptop.

    Yes I know it's not laptop useable, but I recently bought into a shuttle DS81 system where you can use (latest gen) socketed processors and whack the tiny box on the back of the screen (via the vesa mountings).
    Fully configurable with standard memory sticks, 2.5inch drive too.

  7. #6
    premature curmudgeon ken_sturrock's Avatar
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    For business purposes, I've used a "three year life" as a planning factor for a long time.

    At home, I nurse our machines for a lot longer. I'm currently fighting the need to upgrade our 2008 Macintosh laptop (perfect condition!) to the latest version of OSX. Unfortunately, bit-by-bit, all of the software I need is leaving me behind. I'm glad, however, that my 2008 machine actually can still be upgraded to the current release (slow as it may be).

    I just put together a Linux-based home server that I'm hoping will just sit quietly in the corner and behave for the next five or so years.

  8. #7
    Another Member crownpuller's Avatar
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    It's all a bit 'NEXUS 6' these days, with designed-in life-span; and I don't just mean computers/laptops. I like my hardware to be BUILT, and I get a fair degree of satisfaction from getting the optimum out of 'obsolete' kit.
    Typing this on an eight year old DELL Precision workstation. Cost me peanuts from an office clearance, solid as a rock in every respect and it clocks 6.9 (Windows Experience Index) with Windows 7 64 bit. It laps up everything I can throw at it, and hardly ever speeds up the cooling fan.
    I also look after my in-laws' 20 DELL OptiPlex GX620 (Pentium D), equally solid running Windows 7 64 bit.
    Don't expect to have to replace either of them for a good few years yet.
    Some people have opinions - The rest of us have taste.

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    Super Member Raza's Avatar
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    I have to say that I'm a little saddened by the performance of my MacBook Pro. It's four years old and I need it to last two more years, and it just doesn't feel like it will. Even after a restart, it labors. I'm doing my work on my Air, which is blazing quick, but my music, movies, and what not on the Pro.

    Maybe be I just need to clean it up, but I'm not sure what the issue is.

  10. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Raza View Post
    I have to say that I'm a little saddened by the performance of my MacBook Pro. It's four years old and I need it to last two more years, and it just doesn't feel like it will. Even after a restart, it labors. I'm doing my work on my Air, which is blazing quick, but my music, movies, and what not on the Pro.

    Maybe be I just need to clean it up, but I'm not sure what the issue is.

    You should try a couple of things at least: First of all, a hard reset of the controller http://support.apple.com/en-gb/HT201295, and maybe a hard drive clean-up/defrag (google that)

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  12. #10
    I bought a Chillipro case made out of solid plates of 4mm purple anodised aluminium about fifteen years ago and I just upgrade the individual components as and when. It's running sub 10db fans throughout and I'm very fond of it.

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