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6/26/2006
04:54 PM
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PC Failure Rates Drop, But Not Far Enough

Annual failure rates for notebooks still range from 15% for machines bought today to a projected 20% in three years, Gartner says.

The failure rate of PC desktops and notebooks fell about 25 percent in the last two years, but there's still some room for improvement, a research firm said Monday.

In releasing the figures, Gartner Inc. saw good and bad news in the numbers. The good news was the decline; the bad news was that the annual failure rates of notebooks still ranged from 15 percent for machines bought today to a projected 20 percent in three years.

Three years ago, the AFRs for laptops averaged 20 percent the first year, climbing to 28 percent in the third year. Desktops today had far lower AFRs, ranging from 5 percent in year one to a projected 12 percent four years from now. Four years ago, the range was 7 percent to 15 percent.

"Users need to track their PC failure rates to spot problems and hold their PC suppliers accountable," Gartner analyst Leslie Fiering said in a statement.

For notebooks, the top sources of failure on systems less than two years old are motherboards and hard drives, followed by chassis, including latches, hinges, feet and case cracks; keyboards and screens, Gartner said. For desktops, motherboards and hard drives were the two largest problem areas.

With motherboards, the number of replacements has increased over time as more components get integrated, Gartner said.

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

Gartner defines a hardware failure as any repair incident that requires a hardware component to be replaced.

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