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Are you a good hardware engineer


You PC die :

Do you throw it away ? (No time to fix it or unable to fix it)

Try to fix it ?

I'm useless at fixing computers :-(

~ CycleBurner ~
Thursday, March 25, 2004

Simple connection or dead video card - I'll fix it. Anything else and I've got a good excuse to upgrade.

JWA
Thursday, March 25, 2004

Funny you should ask. One of my co-workers computer just gave a loud pop and quit. We were just smelling the motherboard to see if it was what failed or the power supply...

pdq
Thursday, March 25, 2004

Microchips run on smoke - let the smoke out and they stop working.

(sorry - it's an old joke)

Interaction Architect
Thursday, March 25, 2004

Fixing computers does not a hardware engineer make...

hoser
Thursday, March 25, 2004

Well... a power supply is about $30-$40 and 1/2 hour to replace. They do give out. Everything else on a PC is even simpler to replace, assuming that you know which component is dead - EXCEPT the motherboard itself, which replacing is like doing a brain transplant.

Bored Bystander
Thursday, March 25, 2004

(Unfortunately) I got into IT by fixing / building computers, then adminning PCs and networks, so yes (I fix my own computer--I am *not*  hardware engineer).

I built my current desktop, but I hope it's the last one.  I saved an easy grand over what I would have paid for a comparable level of customization from Falcon or Alienware, so I couldn't justify not building.  Next time around though, I hope to be in a financial situation where my time is more valuable and I can just plonk down $4K for a high end machine and not even have to open the case for the first six months or so.  I get no thrill out of constantly tweaking my hardware setup anymore.

MacSqueeb
Thursday, March 25, 2004

I am what is best described as super-mega-ultra-static-girl.

Metal doorhandles and office furniture make me nervous..

For me,  poking about in hardware is going to be a mistake.

Bleh
Thursday, March 25, 2004

Dear MacSqueeb,
                            It has been more expnesive to build your own computer than to buy off the shelf for a couple of years now. You could almost certainly find the customization you want if you searched fairly carefully.

Dear Bored,
                  Changing the motherboard is fairly easy. Only problem is you have to take everyting else out first. The tricky bit is the "brain transplant" when you take out the CPU and put it back, but that is because you have to be careful not to break anything, not because there is anything complicated about it.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, March 25, 2004

As others say, it depends.  On my current box I've had a power supply go bad ($80 and about 40 minutes), a video card die ($80, 5 minutes), the sound card die ($20, 5 minutes), and the CD-RW drive crapped out (fark it, it still reads CDs and my laptop can burn them).  Now the hard drive is making funny noises, I figure it's gonna die within 6 months or so.  A dead hard drive is enough justification to build a new box.

I earned my chops fixing electronics, and have built my last 2 machines and upgraded all my boxen.  A hard drive failure, or a seriously old machine (> 4 years or so) is all that makes me upgrade.

And for the parts that died in my current box?  I think my tower case had a dodgy power supply that killed the sound card, video card, and CD drive.  Since replacing the power supply 2 years ago I've been good.  The hard drive issue is hardware, I can hear the bearings grunting and moaning when I turn the system on.

Snotnose
Thursday, March 25, 2004

I discovered case fans do *not* have threaded holes.

Alex.ro
Friday, March 26, 2004

----"A dead hard drive is enough justification to build a new box."----

When the oil money first came in, people said that when the ashtray was full the Saudis would change the car.

You're more or less saying the same thing about the Hard Drive. If it goes, you check it in another machine, just to make sure that the problem is with the drive and not with the controllers on the motherboard and then buy another and put it in. Taking out and putting in a Hard Drive is a five to ten minute job depending on how fiddly the screws are on your machine.

In fact, the only justification for building a new box is when you want to give your old one away. Otherwise you just keep changing the components for later ones. My desktop's floppy drive goes back to 1998, but all the other parts have been added between 2000 and 2004.

Stephen Jones
Friday, March 26, 2004

Stephen,

Thanks for the tip.  I believe that as well, but in this case when I shopped around (Dell, Gateway, etc--I couldn't find exactly what I wanted; Alienware and Falcon NW--approx $1000 more than I wanted to pay) I couldn't come up with a better deal off the shelf.  Perhaps I'll have to beat the bushes a little more next time, eh?

MacSqueeb
Friday, March 26, 2004

Dear Stephen,

Replacement of the motherboard is time consuming because one has to remove and redo EVERYTHING. I've done it several times and I've "hated" it each time. Yes, straightforward. And aggravating - compared to replacing, say, just the CPU or memory... I just don't consider it an appropriate task for a beginner.

Doing this with PCs running Windows NT variants (W2K, XP) is even more work because the OS generally needs to be reinstalled (unless the new mobo is the exact model that is being replaced.)

Bored Bystander
Friday, March 26, 2004

Yea,
      in 98 you just hit deleted the enum key before you swapped out the mobo.

      It is worth bearing in mind that the time taken to assemble a Dell in the factory is around seven minutes. Less user friendly machines are likely to take an hour and a half, and maybe longer if its the first time since you are likely to do something wrong.

      Here they charge $10-15 to do the job (the interesting thing was that the same shop would charge $30-$40 to set up an internet connection - I can do that in under five minutes! - because the Saudis considered puttting in the motherboard to be menial work they shouldn't have to pay much for but setting up software was higly complicated and thus merited a load of money!). It means I always leave the machine in the shop, but I have replaced everything else inside the box.

Stephen Jones
Friday, March 26, 2004

I used to DIY new machines, now I buy brand.
I still fix if the machine is out of warrantee but still usefull and the cost of replacement parts makes it worth it. I keep old carcasses around for scavaging.
When I have no replacement parts in my "graveyard", then often the cost of buying an "old" (3y+) tech part just isn't worth it, and "upgrading" to the current day tech standard part usually is a no-go since it tends to trigger an upgrade avalanche.

Just me (Sir to you)
Friday, March 26, 2004

>> the same shop would charge $30-$40 to set up an internet connection - I can do that in under five minutes! - because the Saudis considered puttting in the motherboard to be menial work they shouldn't have to pay much for but setting up software was higly complicated and thus merited a load of money!).

I wish that elevated professional status for software work applied here in the US... LOL.

Bored Bystander
Friday, March 26, 2004

"It has been more expensive to build your own computer than to buy off the shelf for a couple of years now."

That is correct only for low end machines. My mid-high end configuration is 1000$ cheaper than exactly the same configuration in a shop.

I never had a failed MB but my power supply succumbs every 2-3 years due to high level of dust accumulating inside the box. Sooner or later the dust will short the circuits.

I don't recommend people building computers unless they really like tinkering with hardware. It can be very frustrating, especially with newer hardware which is more difficult to install.

coresi
Friday, March 26, 2004

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