Upgrading to Solid-State Hard Drive: Issues?

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Re: Upgrading to Solid-State Hard Drive: Issues?

Postby mjr4077au » Wed Apr 22, 2020 4:04 pm

I used to work in a computer shop doing assemblies and I'd probably churned out over 1000 PCs there. I absolutely enjoy building my own at home but haven't done so since 2014 or so because the venerable i7 4770k still holds up today like the champion it was way back when.

At work though where we maintain a fleet of 400 workstations for our staff, there is absolutely no way I would ever endorse or recommend anything other than a pre-built machine with vendor-backed onsite warranty. We're a Dell house at work, but I equally like HP.

Addressing the notion of genuine pre-builts not being up to par, that's only the consumer ones. When you're buying a Dell Optiplex or a Dell Precision (business-grade), they're proper computers, have actual 16x PCI-E slots etc for upgrading etc and you can customise to the spec you need upon ordering. I wouldn't touch the consumer ones with a barge pole.
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Re: Upgrading to Solid-State Hard Drive: Issues?

Postby Blzut3 » Wed Apr 22, 2020 5:48 pm

In the 20 years I've been building computers (modern and retro) I can't say I've experienced many issues. In terms of in 3-year warranty period anyway I've had one DOA motherboard (which was made easy to diagnose since my cousin was building a system the same day with the same architecture). And one board that somehow got bent pins after about a year of operating. No idea how that would have happened, but ASRock Rack fixed it and its been working ever since. But to each their own.

That said I would agree that custom system integrators would be the place to go if one doesn't want to do it themselves. No need to put more crippled OEM hardware in the world if you can help it. :P
mjr4077au wrote:Addressing the notion of genuine pre-builts not being up to par, that's only the consumer ones. When you're buying a Dell Optiplex or a Dell Precision (business-grade), they're proper computers, have actual 16x PCI-E slots etc for upgrading etc and you can customise to the spec you need upon ordering. I wouldn't touch the consumer ones with a barge pole.

As with consumer ones this also depends on what model you buy. Most of the prebuilts I have in my possession are office garbage picks and while they might nominally have slots we're still talking low profile half length and stuff like that. But yes generally speaking a business grade machine will make it easier to know what it is you're buying if you care enough.

But even if one does find a prebuilt that uses essentially off the shelf hardware, they may still have custom BIOSes which lock the board down compared to the retail counter part. I have an ASUS in my possession (retired machine from a friend) that is that way but the board apparently differs in the on board network controller and allegedly trying to unlock the board with the retail BIOS permanently bricks the on board networking.
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Re: Upgrading to Solid-State Hard Drive: Issues?

Postby wildweasel » Wed Apr 22, 2020 5:56 pm

"Home built machines don't have warranties" is something of a falsehood; the whole machine as a unit is not under warranty, but individual parts almost certainly will, sometimes even for life. Especially for things like cooling fans - I bought a Noctua cooler a few years ago to replace the extremely loud stock AMD one that came with my last processor, and when I made the decision to build a new machine, I contacted Noctua to ask if they had a mounting kit for the new motherboard I bought. Not only did they have one, they sent it to me completely free of charge, AND a new tube of thermal paste, and all I had to show them was the online store receipt from my email when I bought the fan. Corsair have also served me well on the support front, as I've had to replace two bad RAM sticks during new builds, and they authorized the shipment of their replacements before I'd even sent them back the bad sticks.
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Re: Upgrading to Solid-State Hard Drive: Issues?

Postby Enjay » Wed Apr 22, 2020 6:33 pm

All true, but it's the assembly where an amateur is likely to ruin things and, depending on what happens, a component might get damaged in a way that isn't covered by its warranty. Good to hear about how Noctua handled your case though. It's always good to hear a positive story about a supplier like that.

As it happens, I've been thinking about sorting something out with the fans on my machine. They're very noisy and windup and down all the time. I think that they must have a predictive "things are likely to get hot" setting and pre-emptively ramp up the speed when I do something processor intensive. e.g. opening a map in UDB and then opening the texture browser for the first time in a project with lots of additional textures makes the fans go wild. It happens almost straight away, so there's no way that the temperature has risen (in fact, I've monitored it), and the fans slow down again shortly after all of the textures have loaded. I've looked at the fan configuration but I can't find anything obvious but I plan on messing around with a few settings, keeping an eye on temperature and seeing what I can do. Of course, swapping out the fans is always an option, and not too expensive. The are on a water-cooled heat exchanger though but I imagine that they are still just screw-off, unplug, replace units like many other fans. I just need to look into it properly.
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Re: Upgrading to Solid-State Hard Drive: Issues?

Postby mjr4077au » Wed Apr 22, 2020 6:40 pm

Blzut3 wrote:As with consumer ones this also depends on what model you buy. Most of the prebuilts I have in my possession are office garbage picks and while they might nominally have slots we're still talking low profile half length and stuff like that. But yes generally speaking a business grade machine will make it easier to know what it is you're buying if you care enough.

Definitely true. I probably generalised a bit, there's garbage in any sector of the PC industry, be it consumer, business or enterprise.
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Re: Upgrading to Solid-State Hard Drive: Issues?

Postby Graf Zahl » Thu Apr 23, 2020 12:31 am

Enjay wrote:All true, but it's the assembly where an amateur is likely to ruin things and, depending on what happens, a component might get damaged in a way that isn't covered by its warranty. Good to hear about how Noctua handled your case though. It's always good to hear a positive story about a supplier like that.


This is the problem. It doesn't help me that the parts have warranty if it's during assembly that things break. Then the warranty is worth shit.

mjr4077au wrote:At work though where we maintain a fleet of 400 workstations for our staff, there is absolutely no way I would ever endorse or recommend anything other than a pre-built machine with vendor-backed onsite warranty. We're a Dell house at work, but I equally like HP.


It all depends on the use case. My main problem with branded pre-builts have already been mentioned - custom locked down BIOSes, preinstalled crapware and sometimes even driver lock-in for essential hardware, meaning you cannot just upgrade your drivers. Been there, seen that all the time, especially with the larger brands. These things are fine if they merely need to run office stuff, but beyond that - no, thank you!
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Re: Upgrading to Solid-State Hard Drive: Issues?

Postby mjr4077au » Thu Apr 23, 2020 1:21 am

Graf Zahl wrote:
mjr4077au wrote:At work though where we maintain a fleet of 400 workstations for our staff, there is absolutely no way I would ever endorse or recommend anything other than a pre-built machine with vendor-backed onsite warranty. We're a Dell house at work, but I equally like HP.

It all depends on the use case. My main problem with branded pre-builts have already been mentioned - custom locked down BIOSes, preinstalled crapware and sometimes even driver lock-in for essential hardware, meaning you cannot just upgrade your drivers. Been there, seen that all the time, especially with the larger brands. These things are fine if they merely need to run office stuff, but beyond that - no, thank you!

Agreed, but because our users are just that, users, and not developers, this approach works best for us. All machines run our own Windows 10 Enterprise 1909 image, a few built-in metro apps removed, drivers to suit the machine, branding and our standard apps. Users aren't admins, users have no access to the BIOS as its password protected, etc.

Granted for a developer where you might be testing different hardware, drivers, etc, it'd be inapproriate. Most of the R&D computers are an open sandbox for that team to do whatever, but they're also not on the network either.
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Re: Upgrading to Solid-State Hard Drive: Issues?

Postby Enjay » Sat Apr 25, 2020 3:32 pm

wildweasel wrote:Noctua

Spurred into action by your story and having investigated a bit more, I have a couple of Noctua fans in the post winging their way to me from Amazon.

I also took my fans out and gave the radiator/heat exchanger a good clean out. It wasn't that choked up with dust (I've certainly seen much, much worse) but it did need a clean. I'm one of those weird people who do actually open up my case and clear out the dust on a fairly regular basis. However, this stuff couldn't really be seen with the fans in place. It has improved things, as has tweaking my BIOS settings, but the fans are too noisy by default and the Noctua ones weren't particularly expensive, so I thought they'd be worth a try. Everything I read about them was positive. I guess I'll find out in a couple of days or so.
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Re: Upgrading to Solid-State Hard Drive: Issues?

Postby Enjay » Thu Apr 30, 2020 9:01 am

Further to the above, the Noctua fans arrived an hour ago. I've just fitted them to my cooler radiator and... I can't hear my fans any more!

If I deliberately turn them up to full speed, I can hear a whisper that is quieter than the old ones were on slow-tickover. The only thing I can hear now are the case fans (which are still pretty quiet). There are two of them as well (plus another bigger one round the back which stays off most of the time... and the one on the GPU) and I'm toying with changing them out just for absolute silence but they are very quiet anyway, so there isn't much point.

Now all I need to do is monitor the temperatures for a bit to compare the cooling performance of the old fans versus the new ones but I expect that to be good as well.

The only weird thing about the new fans is their weird chocolate and beige colour (which I guess is their branding gimmick) but they can't even be seen and it doesn't bother me. I know that they also do grey fans but I just went with the choc/beige because it was exactly the model that I wanted.

Thanks for mentioning your Noctua story wildweasel. As a result, I have a much quieter computer. :D
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Re: Upgrading to Solid-State Hard Drive: Issues?

Postby Graf Zahl » Thu Apr 30, 2020 12:56 pm

Quiet fans are definitely a good investment. When I bought my current system 8 years ago I ordered the ultra-quiet package and under normal office workload the machine makes virtually no noise. My previous computer's fan was as loud as a roaring lion by comparison.
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