Shoddy Hardware (Was: Re: WW fixtures (was Re: "New" PDP-8))

From: Alexander Schreiber <>
Date: Mon Apr 1 20:18:57 2002

On Mon, Apr 01, 2002 at 06:52:52PM -0500, Douglas H. Quebbeman wrote:
> Anyone notice how commodity PCs have screws that have clearly
> been *cast* onstead of *turned/Machined*? Everytime you thread
> one into a hole, you generate a nice supply of metal shavings.

First rule: don't purchase cheap crap. Yes, you can get a x86 computer
real cheap - but you get what you pay for. Look around, aim for quality
and be prepared to shell out slighly more cash and you still can get
rather good hardware.

> Not good.


> To get back on topic, when did this trend start? The IBM PC,
> PC/XT, and PC/AT used machined/turned fasteners. Lots of classic
> non-consumer hardware used various "captive mechanisms" instead
> of plain old screws and bolts.

Simple: market forces. Most customers want _really_ cheap stuff. After
all the "fat" has been cut, the only way to reduce prices further is
cutting back the quality. Most customers - looking only at the price tag
are happy with this and don't understand why this is Bad (TM). Yet they
still complain when (and if) the find out what crap they bought. There
is an old japanese proverb: "I don't have enough money to purchase cheap
things" - probably based on the fact that he who purchased cheap crap
spends at least twice as much money - first for the cheap crap and then
for some quality goods.

> And how about sharp edges inside a chassis? Older hardware tends
> to have spent a little time in the hands of a whitesmith, who
> added lots of finishing detail like smooth edges that don't cut.

You can get good cases for PC hardware - you just have to ask for the
right manufacturer. I'm the happy owner of a Chieftec Miditower case and
it's a pretty good one: _no_ sharp edges (all rounded out), comes
pre-equipped for additional fans (just clip in the 80x80 cm fan),
rail kits for the 5.25" drive bays ... very well thought out case.
Rather heavy, even when empty - but it's a solid piece of work, not one
of those flimsy, sharp-edged crap cases you get with the usual cheap

I found the price of a good, top-of-the-line X86 box to be decreasing
only rather slowly over the years. It started for me with $3000 in 1994
and is now at approximately $2000. Yes, this is a SCSI-only system,
normal, simple workstation configuration - nothing fancy (like special
graphic cards for CAD), excluding the monitor (hand over another $1000).
But I got 4 years of use out of my previous workstation machine (now
doing duty as a systems testbed machine) - and the current one is
intended to last quite some time too.

We're gonna be body guards for teen rock-stars. Wouldn't the cause of freedom
be better served if we killed them instead?
                        -- Schlock from the ''Schlock Mercenary'' comic strip
Received on Mon Apr 01 2002 - 20:18:57 BST

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