Byte Me: Fortunes spent on bad technology

WHEN a week passes at the shop it can often provide the basis for one of these articles and that has proved to be the case for today.

We had a new customer come to us in dire straits with a PC that was giving all sorts of grief but in this instance it was only three months old and had cost just over $5500.

So what was going wrong?

They had recently moved to Gladstone but had decided to "buy a really good PC" before leaving Brisbane "where all the big PC shops are".

They had basically walked into a major PC retailer in Brisbane and said "we want it to be really powerful and last for years".

What they had in fact got in return for all of this cash was a box of problems.

The PC itself was in a massive tower with a water-cooled, overclocked i7 CPU, three hard drives, 32GB of overclocked ram and a top-of-the-range gaming card.

This was an online computer gamer's dream - something that would shoot up the opposition, complete the mission, advance to the next game level, slay the dragon and rescue the maiden without even breaking a sweat.

I asked what they actually used the PC for. "To send some emails and browse the web"!

And what else I inquired? "That's about it - but we don't want it to be running slow all the time so we decided to spend some money to get the best".

After more inquiring it turned out that the salesperson had been about 20 and was into PC gaming.

He had sold them the sort of PC that he would have loved but it was 10 times more complex than the customer needed, so it was nowhere near the "best" PC for this customer.

In the trip up the coast the water-cooling had leaked, the motherboard and ram was destroyed and the warranty could only be effected back in Brisbane.

So how do you send a 24kg box as big as a small fridge back to Brisbane to have repairs done that were caused by the road trip in the first place?

The customer needed to get important emails and wanted a hire PC from us and a guarantee from me that sending the broken one to Brisbane would get it fixed once and for all.

The first of these we can do - they took one of our new PCs home and got their emails sorted.

The second part we can't - it would be up to the original shop in Brisbane to effect the warranty and make the PC reliable. However, this PC was too complex to ever be reliable.

The customer loved our Intel i5 hire PC (I kind of thought they would) so they bought it for $1465 and the other $5500 worth of junk is now sitting at their home for their 10-year-old son to pull apart and play with!

There are many categories of worth in the computer industry. In most of the budget stuff you get exactly what you pay for and there is a lot of junk around.

In the mainstream segment as long as the retailer knows what they are doing you get both power and reliability. If you pay too much you can then get to a segment of too much complexity and reduced reliability.

The customer in this story had bought a Mack truck to cart the groceries home - it doesn't work.

We have also built gaming rigs for avid computer gamers but the complexities of water cooling and overclocking have always been avoided. These extreme PC add-ons give around a 10% performance increase for both a doubling of cost and a ten-fold complexity increase. Future Byte Me topics can be emailed to bytemearticles

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