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There are a lot of opinions out there of which hardware vendors are good and which are not. What are the best hardware vendors to trust for company use?

  • Server-grade: esp. harddrives and backup solutions
  • Desktop-grade: any/all components but esp. focused on common desk workers though that are using MS Office, the web, a few internal apps, and little else. Not graphic designers, developers, or power users -- their needs are too specialized for something like this

My company (and I assume we're not unique) focuses on desktops being middle of the road but reliable. Downtime is very very bad -- time is money. Likewise with server grade stuff although they're more willing to spend some real money on quality servers.


This is not intended to start a war or be argumentative If you have real information or experience please share. And please support it with FACTS when possible

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It's always interesting to read these types of opinions, but it's really not that terribly useful of a question. For instance, I typically avoid AMD processors and Nvidia graphics cards because I've had so many problems with them, but large vocal portions of the IT community swear by them and will buy nothing else. –  Brian Knoblauch May 15 '09 at 12:09
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11 Answers

up vote 14 down vote accepted

I want to point out that stuff changes over time. Let's take Hard Drives for a moment. Back in the day, everyone recommended IBM, because they had excellent reputation and a big name. Until the Deathstar series came out. Whoops. Another good name was Fujitsu, had a big reputation in their laptop drives. Sadly, they also had their issue with Desktop Drives, namely the PB16... Ok, so it's Seagate then - their 7200.11 is good, right? Then, what about Western Digital? Samsung? They also had their shaky series.

I've recently seen RAID-Arrays where the vendor consciously chooses hard drives from three different brands, so if an entire series of a vendor is faulty, it does not hit that hard. Of course, StorageReviews etc. are good places to check longlivety, but obviously if you're reading a "6-Month-Stress Test" article, the hard drive in question is at least 6 months old and may not be current anymore.

Long story cut short: Many Vendors have a bad series once in a while, especially when it comes to storage.

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Anyone who's been building systems for awhile knows that you can never trust or depend on a single vendor - there are no silver bullets, so to speak, so you are right no the money Michael. I remember when Western Digital was utter junk. Same with motherboards - they've had their good times and their bad. This question is rather pointless due to this. –  Adam Davis Apr 30 '09 at 15:07
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Most SAN and disk array vendors use drives from multiple sources and even view different generations as replacement parts. Individual spec variations on the drive mean less when you only read one stripe of the disk per revolution. Even Hitachi (who make both SANs and fibre channel hard disks) still use Seagate disks as a second-source vendor. –  ConcernedOfTunbridgeWells May 15 '09 at 9:52
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Desktop-grade: Avoid D-Link routers Based on this Slashdot post D-Link home routers are to be avoided, it's hard to trust a vendor that would break DNS for marketing to their customers via a firmware update, and technically the hardware could be seen as a trojan.

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I agree with Michael Stum. However, I remember that HP Laserjets manufactured in the late 90s were all but indestructable and they will forever have a place in my heart because of that.

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True story: The laserjet series 4 came out in 1992 - it was the first mainstream 600dpi printer and (as the poster says) nearly indestructable. As of 2004, my doctor still has a functioning laserjet 4. I tend to find that secondhand HP's (4x00, 5x00 series if you want A3) tend to be quite good value for money if you want a printer. Often you can buy a mint 4x00 of some description for maybe £100 or so off ebay - with a duplexing unit and extra trays. For about £3-400 you can get a used 5x00 with a duplexer. –  ConcernedOfTunbridgeWells May 15 '09 at 10:13
    
I'm still using my HP laserjet 4; I had to replace a little plastic paper sensor that broke and that's it. –  pjc50 Jul 17 '09 at 14:52
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After reading article upon article on the Inquirer about the way Nvidia dealt with their defective G84 and G86 GPUs (it seems very much like they dealt with it by repeatedly lying and snowing the public with hostile PR)... you don't exactly have a lot of choices when it comes to graphics card manufacturers, but if you did, it would sure feel nice never to buy Nvidia again:

http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/1050162/nvidia-recomends-not-buying-its-defective-chips

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Here are my experiences:

  • Dell : awful customer service, take ages to deliver kit. We ended up canceling a huge desktop order to them after they failed to deliver after 2 months. (We now buy HP workstations and have had no problems)

  • HP : Our preferred choice. Servers have some nice features although can be a bit buggy at times (like the Blade Online Administrator for instance). In general they have proved by far the best in terms of reliability vs price

  • IBM : Awful reliability for servers, avoid!

  • Sun : Expensive but very reliable

Now for some networking stuff (this may offend some people ;) )

  • Cisco : More than anything what puts me off is their licensing, mainly because their customer services team don't have a clue about it either. It's also very expensive for the features it offers in many cases.

  • Foundry : Amazing kit, amazing price and top notch customer service.

  • HP : Avoid Avoid Avoid - it does strange things and the CLI interface is unlike anything else around. We've also found things like the web interface completely lying about the VLAN setup and STP settings.

All that said no matter what kit you go for find a good reseller. If you have any problems you can always get the reseller to deal with it. We've been through a number of resellers and finally found some good ones. (We use separate ones for servers, desktops and networking equipment).

Everyone will have different experiences thou so don't take my word as gospel ;)

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Oh boy, this is a fun answer. My company does desktop/laptop computer repair, and we also do a lot of computer assembly. I keep very good records about what goes bad in our shop, and here is what my spreadsheet say:

1) Stay away from the HP Pavilion line of laptops that start with "DV" nearly half our laptop repair business (that is, physical repair, bad motherboards etc) is done in DV5000/DV6000/DV9000 computers.

Statistic - So far this year we have replaced 19 laptop motherboards. Of those, 10 were DV5000, DV6000 or DV900 models. Almost all had bad graphics chips.

2) Stay away from EMS motherboard, we frequently find them bad, even in relatively young (2-3 year old) desktops.

3) Stay away from Foxconn motherboards for the same reason, we frequently find them going bad even in very young machines.

Statistic - We have replaced 35 desktop motherboards so far this year. Of those, 28 were EMS or Foxconn. Two were Asus, 5 were MSI. I think I may have a dead MSI coming in later today, but we'll see.

4) Dell Inspirons last forever. We see huge numbers of 4-6 year old Inspirons (600, 600,. 6000, 1505, 1705, etc) that have bad hard drives, but are in otherwise good condition. We see very few similar HPs (the ZE series, early Pavilions) that have lasted that long.

Statistic - We stock the most common Dell and HP power adapaters. In as far as the purchase of power adapters gives us a sense of the popularity and longevity of a machine, I have so far this year sold 15 adapters for older dells, and only 3 for older HPs.

Those are the most amusing/immediately apparently statistics I have for you, enjoy!

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Regarding the comment about DV pavillions: There seems to be 4 of them for every other brand in the stores, they are really cheap and HP is the market share leader. Perhaps half the repairs are HP's simply because half the number of pc's out there are HP's? (Not making the claim, just wondering). –  Console Jul 31 '09 at 13:56
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Warning: this is purely opinion - as far as I'm aware there's only one reason to go for Dell servers - price. I'm happy to be proven wrong however.

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I don't know, I have an old PowerEdge 2500 that's still going strong... –  ultrasawblade Jan 12 '11 at 14:21
    
I'm genuinely pleased for you. –  Chopper3 Jan 12 '11 at 18:31
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Not sure about bad vendors but I have my good vendors. These tend to be personal opinion based on experiences when purchasing multiple products from these and other vendors.

  • Hard Drives - Seagate or Western Digital
  • PSU - Antex EarthWatt, Corsair
  • GPU - Nvidia (ATI tend to have buggy or non existent Linux drivers)
  • RAM - Crucial, Kingston
  • Prebuild Desktop Machines - IBM/Lenovo due to high build quality.
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I've never had good luck with Lexmark Printers. Where I used to work we had nearly a dozen models that got returned or repaired with high frequency. Luckily in those days most users were still used to generally crappy reliability from their hardware so not every printer had to be returned. At the time Epson and HP had much better products in terms of reliability.

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I've worked for a couple of companies that bought hardware from vendors just before they went out of business. Because it was cheap.

Bad move, don't do it.

There was no support, no warranty, no nothing. But no matter how loudly I said this, management wouldn't listen.

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For desktop work, I love Western Digital stuff. The MyBook line has been very kind to me.

I tend to avoid Seagate drives for historical reasons.

For servers, my company tends to stick to IBM. I got a cast-off IBM server that is nearly 8 years old, and it still runs pretty well for a light-use server.

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"historical reasons"? Personal history? –  scraimer Apr 30 '09 at 13:07
    
Here's the most recent Seagate problem: arstechnica.com/hardware/news/2009/01/… There were other issues on Macs back in the late 90's and early 2000's, too. I just can't trust a hard drive manufacturer after those kinds of problems. –  Bob King Apr 30 '09 at 13:18
    
Seagate however do always admit to their problems rather than just blanking them. They also provide 5 year warranties on their drives. For that reason I'm not going to hold past mistakes against them, they could purely be due to the amount of drives they push out daily. –  Adam Gibbins May 2 '09 at 23:43
    
Seagate EVENTUALLY admits to them. I was at a company that bought a LOT of seagate drives a few years back (think 8 JBODs with 12-24 drives on one system) and it took us several months to get them to admit that we were having a problem. We ultimately got them to replace the drives, but it was a fight. So don't think they don't try to point the finger just like anybody else. –  Michael Kohne May 15 '09 at 10:56
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