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View Full Version : Best Practices for maintaining your pc hardware?


Zkage
11-10-09, 04:35 AM
Hello all. Just started off at this forum. For the past 3 years, I have not kept a system at home; been working with a office laptop.
The major reasons were saving up for a hi spec system and not finding enough time for the system with work+studies,thus the expenditure not being practical.

Finally close to ending my masters so i have been checking up on available hardware etc as well. One major concern for me is the durability of the hardware. All the previous systems that I have owned, from the age of the nvidia 6800gt and other legacy cards, have blown up, lost motherboards, fried Ram and scrambled graphics cards.

The frequency of lost motherboards etc has been a constant thorn. What I would like to request from all of you nice, uptodate ppl :afro: the best way to maintain your system?
in terms of power surges, grounding and how to check up on the health.
are there some best practices which could be floated around?

for example:
Dusting off your pc each week;
Putting some device to check surges? grounding? ( when you are bare feet and touch the metal part of the casing to feel a slight shock)
Major reasons for hardware failure ?

The point being: i do not wish to spend a lot of money building up a brand new rig, complete with ups,stabilizer etc and then having to see it blow up/fry in a year.

bob saget
11-10-09, 02:21 PM
Cool question.
I have been lucky with my first build that I put together during the summer.
It helps if you have a larger size case.
Make sure your power supply is of high quality (even if wattage is on the lower side).
After maybe 3-4 months, open up the case and brush the dust off as much as you can, and you can use compressed air. This should help with the temperatures.
I really feel like its better to baby your computer than stress it, especially if you need it to last.
I turn off my computer when i go to school or go out of the house, but i know many leave it 24/7.
Don't download teh pr0nz/go on weird sites on the main computer. There's so much sh*t on the net nowadays, its pretty easy to get your computer infected.
Pretty much it.....

frenchy2k1
11-10-09, 02:40 PM
a few ground rules if you want to keep a computer for long:
- never underestimate the importance of a good power supply. Dont skimp on it, it is the heart of your system (as in the central part pumping power to the rest). A power supply should be about twice the power required (so, ~500-600W for a reasonable system nowadays).
- protect your input line. Personally, all my computers are behind UPS (uninterrupted power supply), not just surge protectors. Then again, my current location make them scream about once a week (meaning a loss of power). This allows me uninterrupted usage of my computers and no bad reboot. A good power surge protector is necessary, a UPS a luxury. Buy them on the cheap at sales at Office Depot, Fry's or others...
- buy quality components. The only reason to build a computer from parts is to choose your own pieces, otherwise you can find pre assembled computers for really cheap. Choose wisely. Major MB makers like ASUS/Gigabyte and MSI have better reputations than ECS for a reason. Careful that each brand has usually several price points and quality comes often with price
- get a well ventilated case. Heat speeds up component aging. A cooler computer is a longer living computer.
- get components with longer warrantied and extend those if possible with your credit card, so that in case of failure, they will replace them for free.
- overclocking will often shorten your system's life. Higher voltage can damage components, higher speeds usually bring higher temperatures.

In the end, remember that you are playing statistics. Your particular case also depends on luck of the draw. You can minimize risks with care, quality, reputation and warranties, but you cannot eliminate it. Some of my systems got parts dying either Dead on Arrival or dying within 1 year of usage. Other have been going strong for over 10 years and I had to retire them for lack of performance.

Remember also what trade-offs you are making and what the alternatives are. I paid $100 for a plextor burner and it is still going strong after 10 years, but for the same price, I could have bought 5x$20 burners and gotten better perfs along the way (at the inconvenience of having to change them). It's the same for complete computers. You could buy a top of the line now and keep it 5 years or buy cheaper and change in 2 years. It all depends on what you want to do.

Zkage
11-11-09, 12:07 AM
Thanks for the answers, due to my current location as well, i have to face a Lot of power outages or power fluctuations.
So if i had to note the points down:

1)PSU
2)UPS
3)Cooling
4)Dusting

I am trying to note these points because the last time around, i had a heavy stabilizer and going to a UPS and then to the system- with a decent a4tech 400watt psu and i had gone on a business project for a couple of months, came back, turned the system on and it fried right there.

CaptNKILL
11-11-09, 03:09 AM
In my opinion the two best things you can do to improve long term reliability of your system are:

Getting a high quality power supply that supplies stable voltages and runs cool under load.

Getting a well designed case that provides air flow to cool every component. To go along with this, keeping your cooling fans and any grills\filters clear of dust will improve air flow and make all your parts a lot happier.

Other than this, I don't really have any other suggestions because I very very rarely have any hardware failure or problems.

I overclock the hell out of my components and I don't do it conservatively (I use lots of voltage), and I've been doing it for around 6 years, yet I've never lost a CPU. I've also seen very few bad motherboards or graphics cards over the past 10 years.

Our electricity is also pretty flaky here, but I've never used a UPS. I've been using decent PSUs for a while now and I think that's helped a lot. I used an Antec True Power 400W for a very long time, then an Antec Smart Power 500W (which started whistling... RMAd it and that one has been working fine for 3 years), then an OCZ GameXStream 700W (with active PFC), which I've been using for quite a while now.

A UPS may extend the life of your power supply if you have lots of outages or fluctuations but I think the PSU itself is what is going to make or break the rest of your system.

LydianKnight
11-11-09, 03:21 PM
I'd say (in my opinion):

1. Clear the fan/vent intakes once a week (yes, a week, dust generates everyday)
2. Clear the internal cards once a month (yes, a month, same reason as above)
3. Put your PC in a position not against a wall, I mean... leave some space for air circulation

And the most important (for me, at least, I respect every other people's opinion into this debatable subject)... DON'T OVERCLOCK any of your components... While it's a funny experience (if you do it properly) it's also a dangerous one, higher voltage margins reduce the overall lifetime for any component.

A PC with a decent enough processor (like my 'next-gen' one, a Phenom II 905e, 2.5GHz, quad-core, 65W) and decent memory (DDR2-1066, 4GB, 2x2GB configuration, from OCZ with black-painted metal heatspreader) is more than enough to do a wide assortment of things, from watching movies, office, messenger to the occasional game or even frequent gaming.

Check your wall socket for if to have a ground cable, if not... buy one yourself and screw/attach it to any metallic surface (like your window frame or whatever has enough mass and enough close to any other structure for it to absorpt the residual charge).

Apart from that, nothing more comes into mind, right now...

Just my 2 cents,
Julio

mullet
11-11-09, 03:30 PM
In my opinion the two best things you can do to improve long term reliability of your system are:

Getting a high quality power supply that supplies stable voltages and runs cool under load.

Getting a well designed case that provides air flow to cool every component. To go along with this, keeping your cooling fans and any grills\filters clear of dust will improve air flow and make all your parts a lot happier.

Other than this, I don't really have any other suggestions because I very very rarely have any hardware failure or problems.

I overclock the hell out of my components and I don't do it conservatively (I use lots of voltage), and I've been doing it for around 6 years, yet I've never lost a CPU. I've also seen very few bad motherboards or graphics cards over the past 10 years.

Our electricity is also pretty flaky here, but I've never used a UPS. I've been using decent PSUs for a while now and I think that's helped a lot. I used an Antec True Power 400W for a very long time, then an Antec Smart Power 500W (which started whistling... RMAd it and that one has been working fine for 3 years), then an OCZ GameXStream 700W (with active PFC), which I've been using for quite a while now.

A UPS may extend the life of your power supply if you have lots of outages or fluctuations but I think the PSU itself is what is going to make or break the rest of your system.

+1 all the way.