PC hardware getting more reliable

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PC hardware getting more reliable

But vendors must still try harder, Gartner urges.

PC vendors have reduced hardware failures by around a quarter in the past two years, but there is still room for improvement, Gartner has reported.

According to a benchmark study by the analyst firm, annual failure rates for desktop and notebook hardware have declined, but notebook failure rates still range from 15 per cent to 20 per cent.

Three years ago, notebook failure rates averaged 20 per cent in the first year, climbing to 28 per cent in the third year, the research firm noted.

Desktop failure rates went from seven per cent in the first year and 15 per cent in the fourth year, to a current level of five per cent in the first year with an anticipated 12 per cent in the fourth year.

"Users need to track their PC failure rates to spot problems and hold their PC suppliers accountable," said Leslie Fiering, research vice president at Gartner.

"Once chief financial officers become aware of PC failure rates, especially in enterprises that purchase thousands of PCs each year, there will be extra pressure placed on chief information officers to spot problems and hold their PC supplier responsible.

"CFOs will want assurances that the equipment they finance is not going to result in downtime for their employees."

The two largest sources of failure for desktop systems are motherboards and hard drives. "The number of motherboard replacements has been rising over time as more components get integrated onboard," said Fiering.

"Parts such as network interface cards or modems can no longer be swapped out as separate parts. If either of these fails, an entire motherboard swap is required.

"For notebooks, screen breakage used to be the single-largest source of failure. But notebook manufacturers have improved designs significantly to reduce screen breakage by adding structural rigidity to the notebook casing and screen bezel, as well as providing greater clearance between the screen and the keyboard when the system is closed."

Garter highlighted some of the steps users can employ to reduce failure rates. These include performing due diligence on PC vendor quality assurance programmes and annual failure rates as part of the vendor selection process, and verifying the PC vendor's escalation and problem resolution processes.

Companies should also check with PC vendor reference accounts on reliability, and establish query and reporting capabilities within internal help desk, asset management and support systems to extract hardware failure rate data by model and failure type.
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