Components returns rates (5) - BeHardware
>> Miscellaneous

Written by Marc Prieur

Published on October 25, 2011


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The one gap in our advice on purchasing hardware is information on reliability. Sure, manufacturer reputation helps, but as reliability varies enormously from one model to another, even well-known manufacturers aren’t immune to sending out doubtful products.

Even though, as the financial sector has taught us, we shouldn‘t rely on past results, today we’re publishing some of the returns stats that we have available. Of course this type of stat is of relative value, especially as a good number of the products have become obsolete. The information is nevertheless useful and allows us to point out certain products or manufacturers that need to do better in the future.

The first question is of course where the stats come from. They’re taken from a large French etailer, whose database we have had direct access to. We were therefore able to extract the stats we wanted directly from source.

Under what conditions is a part declared as defective by this etailer? There are two possible cases: either the technician considers the exchange of information with the client (type of problem, cross testing) sufficient to declare that the product isn’t working, or there’s a question mark over the component and the etailer tests it to check if it’s working or not.

Among the returns that aren’t tested, some of the components announced as having an issue by customers probably aren't actually defective, in spite of the precautions taken by the technician. This is something inherent in the etailing sector and in practice, it’s unlikely that any model or product is more affected by this phenomenon than any other (at least we’re aware of no objective argument that shows this).

Of course, these statistics are limited to the products sold by this particular etailer and the returns made to it. Sometimes returns are made to the manufacturer itself, particularly with storage but this represents a minority in the first year.

There’s no other way of obtaining more reliable statistics and, while not perfect, at least our system allows us to give you some indication of reliability. Who would believe, for example, returns rates given by the manufacturers themselves?

The returns rates given concern the products sold between October 1st 2010 and April 1st 2011 for returns made before October 2011, namely after between 6 months and a year of use. Over the lifetime of a product the returns generally form a spread out U on the graph, with the bottom virtually flat. Our figures therefore cover the early part of the lifetime of products, where returns rates are high.

The statistics by brand are based on a minimum sample of 500 sales and those by model on a minimum sample of 100 sales, with the biggest volumes reaching tens of thousands of parts by brand and thousands of parts by model. Each time, we’ve compared the rates by manufacturer to those in our previous article on the subject published in May 2011.

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- MSI 1.5% (as against 2.3%)
- Gigabyte 1,6% (as against 1.6%)
- ASRock 2.1% (as against 2.0%)
- ASUS 2.2% (as against 1.9%)

These rates are pretty stable, with the exception of those for MSI which are significantly down. This is however very much linked to the fact that sales of MSI boards are down sharply with our etailer and the statistics are therefore biased – 80% of MSI sales were for entry level G31 Express models, which had a returns rate of 0.8%.

If we look purely at the rates for Intel Series 5 chipset motherboards, we get the following (MSI sales were under the minimum sample of 500 parts required to qualify):

- Gigabyte 1.8%
- ASUS 1.9%
- ASRock 2.2%

To refine the results even more, several models had returns rates of over 5%:

- 7.77%: ASRock 890FX Deluxe 4
- 7.00%: ASRock 790GX Pro
- 5.85%: ASUS M4A89GTD Pro
- 5.44%: ASUS Crosshair IV Formula
- 5.06%: ASUS AT5NM10-I

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Power supplies

Power supplies

- Antec 0.7% (as against 1.0%)
- Seasonic 1.2% (as against 1.3%)
- CoolerMaster 1.4% (as against 1.0%)
- Akasa 1.8% (as against 1.6%)
- Thermaltake 1.9% (as against 2.3%)
- Corsair 2.3% (as against 1.4%)
- Fortron / FSP Group 4.9% (as against 2.0%) (0.6% without the Blue Storm Bronze 500)

Antec retains the lead thanks to a reduction in returns while CoolerMaster, previously co-leader, has seen its rates go up. They are nevertheless still very reasonable, as are those for all the manufacturers, with the exception of Fortron / FSP Group. Their poor rates are in fact linked to the poor performance of one product in particular and if we don't include the stats for that model (Blue Storm Bronze 500), the Fortron rate drops to just 0.6%.

Only two models have a returns rate of over 5%, the Fortron Blue Storm Bronze 500 (previously mentioned) with a rate of 16.59% (!) and the Corsair VX550W with 6.48%.

Looking at the 400-450W models, we get the following classification: Corsair CX430
- 1.39% Corsair VX450W
- 0.93% Antec Neo ECO 400C
- 0.83% Seasonic X-400 Fanless
- 0.49% Antec Neo ECO 450
- 0.40% Cooler Master Elite Power 400W
- 0.36% Antec Neo ECO 400
- 0.31% Fortron FSP400-60GhN
- 0.00% Antec High Current Gamer 400
- 0.00% Antec EarthWatts EA430 Green
- 0.00% Antec BasiqPower BP430
- 0.00% Antec Neo ECO 450C

Then for the 500-550W models:

- 16.59% Fortron Blue Storm Bronze 500
- 6.84% Corsair VX550W
- 1.98% Fortron Everest 85PLUS 500
- 1.97% Cooler Master Real Power M520
- 1.91% Akasa Essential Plus 550
- 1.89% Antec High Current Gamer 520
- 1.69% Corsair CX500
- 1.65% Cooler Master Silent Pro M500
- 1.38% Cooler Master GX 550W
- 0.77% Antec EarthWatts EA500 Green
- 0.67% Antec BasiqPower BP500U-EC
- 0.52% Antec Neo ECO 520C
- 0.28% Antec Neo ECO 520
- 0.00% Seasonic M12II-520
- 0.00% Seasonic S12II-520

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- Crucial 0.4% (as against 0.7%)
- Kingston 0.5% (as against 0.4%)
- G.Skill 1.4% (as against 2.0%)
- Corsair 1.6% (as against 1.6%)
- OCZ 6.0% (as against 7.1%)

Crucial has moved above Kingston into top spot with a much reduced rate, but the stats are very good for both. G.Skill has once again moved up the rankings, passing in front of Corsair. OCZ’s numbers are once again rather poor: to recap, OCZ has announced that it will no longer produce RAM and these stats are therefore for rather old references.

No fewer than 8 references have returns rates of over 5%:

- 11.04% OCZ Gold Edition 2x2GB DDR3 1333 MHz (OCZ3G1333LV4GK)
- 9.17% Corsair XMS3 3x2 GB DDR3 1600 MHz CL9 (CMX6GX3M3A1600C9)
- 7.32% Corsair XMS3 DHX 2x2 GB DDR3 1333 MHz CL9 (TW3X4G1333C9DHX)
- 6.98% Corsair XMS3 Platinium (3x2 Gb DDR3 1333 MHz CL9 (TR3X6G1333C9)
- 6.82% Corsair XMS3 3x2 GB DDR3 1600 MHz CL9 (TR3X6G1600C9)
- 6.29% Corsair XMS2 DHX 2x2 GB DDR2 800 MHz CL5 (TWIN2X4096-6400C5DHX)
- 6.25% G.Skill NQ Series 2x2GB DDR3 1333 MHz (F3-10666CL9D-4GBNQ)
- 6.11% G.Skill RM Series RipJaws2x 2GB DDR3 1333 MHz (F3-10666CL8D-4GBRM)

Kingston and Crucial do not appear in this classification. Only one OCZ model is present here as many models with rates of over 5% weren’t sold in sufficient quantities (100 or more) to be included in the results by model.

Only one Crucial model has a rate of higher than 2%, the Crucial Ballistix 3x2 GB DDR3 1333 MHz CL7 (BL3KIT25664BN1337). No Kingston model has a rate of over 2%.

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Graphics cards

Graphics cards

- PNY 1.0% (as against 1.2%)
- ASUS 1.3% (as against 1.3%)
- Gigabyte 1.6% (as against 2.5%)
- Sapphire 1.7% (as against 1.5%)
- Club3D 1.9% (as against 1.6%)
- Zotac 2.1% (as against 1.4%)
- XFX 3.4% (as against 3.0%)

PNY and ASUS are still top of the class, while Gigabyte has cleaned up its act and moved up to the no. 3 spot. XFX is still bringing up the rear, with even higher rates than before. Overall, the numbers are good, but there are six cards with returns rates of 5% or over:

- 8.25% ASUS EAH5870/2DIS/1GD5/V2 - 1 GB
- 6.42% Gigabyte GTX470 Super Overclock 1.28 GB
- 6.12% Sapphire Radeon HD 5850 1 GB
- 5.49% Sapphire Radeon HD 6970 2 GB
- 5.28% Sapphire VAPOR-X HD 5870 1 GB
- 5.00% Gainward GeForce GTX460 1 GB Golden Sample

Here are the figures by GPU:

- Radeon HD 6850: 1.4%
- Radeon HD 6870: 2.4%
- Radeon HD 6950: 4.0%
- Radeon HD 6970: 4.7%
- GeForce GTX 460: 2.2%
- GeForce GTX 560 Ti: 1.3%
- GeForce GTX 570: 2.5%
- GeForce GTX 580: 1.7%

Like the Radeon HD 5800s in their time, the Radeon HD 6900s are not the most reliable of products. The Radeon HD 6800s don’t suffer from the same issues and the GeForce GTX 560s/570s/580s also do pretty well.

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Hard drives

Hard drives

- Samsung 1.5% (as against 1.8%)
- Seagate 1.8% (as against 2.0%) (1.6% not including the 7200.11 160 GB)
- Western 2.0% (as against 1.5%)
- Hitachi 3.0% (as against 3.1%)

Surprisingly, Western Digital has been unthroned by Samsung and Seagate. Western's rates are up significantly and the competition has improved. Hitachi still brings up the rear by quite some distance, though its rate has improved slightly. Only three drives have a 5% or worse rate. These are listed below and the third is the 7200.11 160 GB which is at 16.4%: this is probably old stock with the problematic firmware of this series.

Here’s the breakdown model by model for 1 TB drives:

- 3.65% Western Digital Caviar Blue (WD10EALS)
- 3.59% Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000.C (HDS721010CLA332)
- 2.89% Western Digital Caviar Black (WD1001FALS)
- 2.79% Western Digital Caviar Black (WD1002FAEX)
- 1.61% Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 (ST31000528AS)
- 1.57% Western Digital Caviar Green (WD10EARS)
- 1.31% Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 (ST31000524AS)
- 1.27% Western Digital Caviar Blue (WD10EALX)
- 1.15% Samsung SpinPoint F3 (HD103SJ)

And the breakdown for 2 TB drives:

- 5.53% Western Digital RE4-GP (WD2002FYPS)
- 5.07% Hitachi Deskstar 7K2000 (HDS722020ALA330)
- 4.75% Hitachi Deskstar 7K3000 (HDS723020BLA642)
- 4.42% Western Digital Caviar Black (WD2002FAEX)
- 3.48% Seagate Barracuda LP (ST32000542AS)
- 3.40% Seagate Barracuda XT (ST32000641AS)
- 3.05% Western Digital Caviar Green (WD20EARS)
- 2.98% Seagate Barracuda Green (ST2000DL003)
- 2.20% Samsung SpinPoint F4 EcoGreen (HD204UI)

Overall, the 2 TB drives are less reliable than the 1 TB drives. Samsung’s models have the lowest returns rates in both ranges. Note that with the Western Digital RE4-GP (WD2002FYPS), there was quite a low sample (253) and half the returns (7) were made on a single sale: this abnormal rate for what is a “pro” drive can therefore be explained by a problem with transport.

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- Intel 0.1% (as against 0.3%)
- Crucial 0.8% (as against 1.9%)
- Corsair 2.9% (as against 2.7%)
- OCZ 4.2% (as against 3.5%)

Intel confirms its position at the top with a very impressive rate. It is followed by Crucial, which has improved its rate significantly but it has to be said that the M225 previously affected things quite a bit – on the C300s alone its rate was 1%. Corsair’s and especially OCZ’s returns are up however and OCZ is still clearly bringing up the rear. 8 SSDs have rates of over 5%:

- 9.14% OCZ Vertex 2 240 GB
- 8.61% OCZ Agility 2 120 GB
- 7.27% OCZ Agility 2 40 GB
- 6.20% OCZ Agility 2 60 GB
- 5.83% Corsair Force 80 GB
- 5.31% OCZ Agility 2 90 GB
- 5.31% OCZ Vertex 2 100 GB
- 5.04% OCZ Agility 2 3.5" 120 GB

Note the positioning of the Corsair Force 80 between the OCZ versions that are also both based on SandForce controllers.

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Compared to our previous report in April this year, there have been a few changes in returns rates. Returns for power supplies are up from 1.2% to 1.5% and the rate for SSDs is up from 2.2% to 2.7%. The results for hard drives are however quite stable at 2%, compared to 1.9% previously, while memory and graphics cards are both down 0.1 points to 1.2% and 1.6% respectively. The overall rates for motherboards was stable at 1.9%.

As always, the overall figures mask significant differences. Note the excellent rates of under 1% obtained by Antec for power supplies, by Crucial and Kingston for RAM and Intel and Crucial for SSDs.

On the other hand, several manufacturers have rates of over 3%. This is the case for Fortron / FSP Group for power supplies (though this drops to 0.6% if the most problematic model is excluded), OCZ for RAM and SSDs, Hitachi for hard drives and XFX for graphics cards. With the exception of Fortron, these manufacturers were already bottom of the class in our previous article.

What about the future? We can’t yet predict it, but we can give you a list of the five products sold between April 1st and October 1st (from 0 to 6 months use) that have the highest returns rates by category:

- 5.83%: ASUS M4A79XTD EVO
- 5.60% ASUS P8H67-M EVO / H67
- 5.50% ASUS P8P67 EVO
- 4.62% Gigabyte GA-P67A-UD3

Power supplies:
- 2.13% Corsair CX600 V2 80PLUS
- 2.02% Antec High Current Gamer 620
- 1.96% Seasonic X-760
- 1.84% Corsair Gaming Series GS700
- 1.83% Corsair Professional Series Gold AX850

- 4.95% Corsair Dominator 4 GB (2x 2 GB) DDR3 1333 MHz CL9 (TW3X4G1333C9D)
- 3.83% Corsair XMS2 2 GB DDR2 800 MHz CL5 (CM2X2048-6400C5)
- 2.54% Corsair XMS3 4 GB DDR3 1333 MHz CL9 (CMX4GX3M1A1333C9)
- 2.33% Corsair XMS2 4 GB (2x 2 GB) DDR2 800 MHz CL5 (TWIN2X4096-6400C5C)
- 2.33% Corsair Dominator 4 GB (2x 2 GB) DDR3 1600 MHz CL7 (CMP4GX3M2C1600C7)

Graphics cards:
- 5.07% MSI R6950 Twin Frozr III Power Edition/OC
- 3.70% Gainward GeForce GTX 560 Ti "Golden Sample" 1 GB
- 3.29% Gainward GeForce GTX 580 "Phantom" 3 GB
- 3.25% ASUS EAH5870/2DIS/1GD5/V2 1 GB
- 3.24% Gigabyte GeForce GTX 560 Ti OC GB

Hard drives:
- 6.50% Hitachi Deskstar 7K3000 1.5 TB (HDS723015BLA64)
- 6.01% Hitachi Deskstar 7K2000 2.0 TB (HDS722020ALA330)
- 5.69% Seagate Barracuda XT 3 TB (ST33000651AS)
- 4.69% Western Digital RE4-GP 2 TB (WD2002FYPS)
- 4.11% Seagate Barracuda XT 2 TB (ST32000641AS)

- 8.23% OCZ Vertex 2 240 GB
- 4.93% OCZ Vertex 3 120 GB
- 4.04% OCZ Vertex 2 100 GB
- 3.92% OCZ Vertex 2 80 GB
- 3.13% OCZ Vertex 2 160 GB

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