Components returns rates (7) - BeHardware
>> Miscellaneous

Written by Marc Prieur

Published on October 25, 2012


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The one gap in our advice on purchasing of material 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 for example believe any returns rates given by the manufacturers themselves?

The returns rates given concern the products sold between October 1st 2011 and April 1st 2012 for returns made before October 2012, 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 end 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 2012.

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- ASRock 1.67% (against 1.90%)
- Gigabyte 1.77% (against 2.17%)
- MSI 2.24% (against 2.11%)
- ASUS 2.34% (against 2.66%)

In comparison to the previous period, ASRock has improved its score and keeps top spot in the rankings. Gigabyte has moved into second position at the expense of MSI while ASUS has closed the gap on MSI with a notable reduction in returns rates.

If we look more particularly at the rates observed on motherboards based on the Intel P67 or Z68 Express chipsets, we get the following numbers:

- Asrock 1.41%
- MSI 2.44%
- Gigabyte 2.47%
- ASUS 2.96%

In terms of the big picture, only four models have a returns rate of over 5%:

- 6.40% for the MSI Z68A-GD80 G3
- 6.19% for the ASUS P8P67 Pro
- 5.38% for the ASUS Rampage IV Extreme
- 5.33% for the MSI-P67A-C43

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Power supplies

Power supplies

- Fortron / FSP Group 0.42% (against 0.81%)
- Cooler Master 1.01% (against 1.25%)
- Antec 1.17% (against 0.80%)
- Seasonic 2.20% (against 1.92%)
- Corsair 2.30% (against 2.20%)
- Thermaltake 2.36% (N/A)

Antec has lost top spot to FSP Group, which posted a record this time. Cooler Master has also overtaken Antec and pushed it into third place. Corsair has benefitted from the arrival of Thermaltake, which is now the worst performer though with still reasonable return rates.

Just one model has a rate of over 5%, the Corsair V2, at 5.6%. Here are the scores for the 400-450 Watt models:

- 3.54% for the Cooler Master GX 450W
- 2.11% for the Corsair CX430 V2
- 1.40% for the Antec Neo ECO 450C
- 1.06% for the Antec High Current Gamer 400
- 1.01% for the Antec Neo ECO 400C
- 0.90% for the FSP (Fortron) HEXA 400
- 0.28% for the Cooler Master Elite Power 400W
- 0.00% for the FSP (Fortron) AURUM 400

And for the 500-550 Watt models:

- 2.10% for the Corsair CX500 V2
- 2.04% for the Antec High Current Gamer 500
- 2.03% for the Seasonic S12II-520
- 1.94% for the Cooler Master Silent Pro M500
- 1.80% for the Cooler Master GX 550W
- 0.96% for the Seasonic M12II-520
- 0.56% for the FSP (Fortron) AURUM 500
- 0.53% for the FSP (Fortron) HEXA 500
- 0.46% for the Antec High Current Gamer 520M
- 0.27% for the Antec Neo ECO 520C

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- Kingston 0.27% (against 0.40%)
- Crucial 0.30% (against 0.23%)
- G.Skill 1.01% (against 1.10%)
- Corsair 1.06% (against 1.44%)

Kingston takes over from Crucial at the top of the pile here but both brands have maintained a very low returns rate. G.Skill and Corsair, which produce more high-end models, have both improved on their scores, especially Corsair which has closed the gap on G.Skill.

Only one kit has a returns rate higher than 5%, the G.Skill RipJaws X Series 16 GB (4x 4GB) F3-12800CL9Q-16GBX with a rate of 5.45%. Corsair’s worst score is for a model at 4.08% compared to Kingston’s worst at 2.14% and Crucial’s at 1.03%.

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Graphics cards

Graphics cards

- Sapphire 1.32% (against 1.20%)
- ASUS 1.53% (against 1.55%)
- PNY 1.56% (against 1.62%)
- MSI 1.69% (against 2.25%)
- Gigabyte 1.82% (against 2.18%)
- Gainward 2.05% (against 2.43%)

Sapphire retains its position at the head of the field. Several manufacturers see their returns rate drop significantly: MSI, Gigabyte and Gainward. 6 cards have a higher than 5% rate:

- 16.89% for the Gainward GeForce GTX 580 "Phantom" 1.5 GB
- 7.87% for the Gainward GeForce GTX 580 "Phantom" 3 GB
- 6.19% for the Sapphire Radeon HD 7970 3 GB (21197-00-40G)
- 5.69% for the ASUS EAH6950 DCII/2DI4S/2GD5 2 GB
- 5.56% for the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 560 Ti OC 1 GB

The GTX 580 Phantoms have been problematic indeed, especially the 1.5 GB model. Sapphire, though with the best average score, still has a high rate on its first 7970, just like ASUS and Gigabyte on other GPUs.

Here are the figures by GPU:

- Radeon HD 6870: 2.89% (against 2.00%)
- Radeon HD 6950: 2.04% (against 4.08%)
- Radeon HD 6970: 4.03% (against 5.85%)
- Radeon HD 7950: 4.44% (N/A)
- Radeon HD 7970: 5.56% (N/A)
- GeForce GTX 560 Ti: 1.87% (against 3.77%)
- GeForce GTX 570: 2.58% (against 2.49%)
- GeForce GTX 580: 7.56% (against 5.68%)

Compared to the previous period, the Radeon HD 6950 and GeForce GTX 560 Ti see a significant improvement in reliability. The higher you go up the range, the higher the returns rate, whether for the Radeon HD 7970s or the GeForce GTX 580s. If we exclude the two Gainward Phantom’s from the figures for the GTX 580, its figures drop back to 5.27%.

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3.5" hard drives

3.5" hard drives

- Western 1.48% (against 1.63%)
- Samsung 1.65% (against 1.23%)
- Seagate 1.70% (against 1.89%)
- Hitachi 3.77% (against 3.95%)

With an improved score, Western has taken over from Samsung at the top. Samsung’s returns rate has also got worse. Seagate is hot on the heels of Samsung and Hitachi, as was the case in our last report, brings up the rear with quite a high rate. It is to be hoped that Toshiba, which has taken over Hitachi’s 3.5" hard drive production, will be able to remedy this problem.

4 hard drives have a higher than 5% rate:

- 7.65% for the Hitachi Deskstar 7K3000 3 TB
- 6.91% for the Seagate Barracuda XT 2 To
- 5.78% for the Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 160 GB
- 5.30% for the Samsung SpinPoint F3 (HD253GJ) 250 GB

Here now are the stats for the 3 TB drives sold over the period:

- 7.65% for the Hitachi Deskstar 7K3000 3 TB
- 4.86% for the Seagate Barracuda XT 3 TB
- 3.36% for the Seagate Barracuda 7200.14 3 TB
- 3.12% for the WD Caviar Green 3 TB

And the 2 TB drives:

- 4.60% for the WD Caviar RE4 2 TB
- 3.91% for the WD Caviar Black 2 TB
- 3.32% for the WD Caviar Green 2 TB WD20EARS
- 2.28% for the Seagate Barracuda 7200.14 2 TB
- 1.94% for the WD AV-GP 2 TB
- 1.46% for the WD Caviar Green 2 TB WD20EARX
- 1.03% for the WD RE4-GP 2 TB

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- Intel 0.45% (against 1.73%)
- Samsung 0.48% (N/A)
- Corsair 1.05% (against 2.93%)
- Crucial 1.11% (against 0.82%)
- OCZ 5.02% (against 7.03%)

There have been a lot of changes in the rankings here since our last half year figures! First of all, Crucial, previously top dog, has dropped to fourth place. Although with a slightly higher score, its returns rate remains low but it has been overtaken by Corsair, with a much lower rate, Samsung, which is now 2nd according to our stats, and Intel, which now has the best score, returning to the sort of form we have seen from it in the past.

The OCZ SSDs are in last place overall but with a returns rate that is finally starting to drop. In fact, behind this rate there are some big disparities between ranges. The most popular ranges, namely the Vertex 3s and Agility 3s, do relatively well with returns of 1.51% and 2.03% respectively. Some models however have catastrophic scores and OCZ monopolises the group of models with returns of over 5%:

- 40.00% for the OCZ Petrol 64 GB
- 39.42% for the OCZ Petrol 128 GB
- 30.85% for the OCZ Octane 128 GB SATA II
- 29.46% for the OCZ Octane 64 GB SATA II
- 9.73% for the OCZ Vertex 2 120 GB 3.5"
- 9.59% for the OCZ Vertex 2 120 GB
- 6.73% for the OCZ Vertex 2 60 GB
- 5.43% for the OCZ Agility 3 240 GB
- 5.12% for the OCZ Vertex Plus 128 GB

With retuns of between 30 and 40%, the OCZ Petrol and Octane SATA II (the SATA IIIs are more reliable with, for example, 3.78% for the 128 GB) have unfortunately broken the record of the highest rates recorded since we started reporting on these stats. With such rates, we can justly classify such models as defective and it is shameful that such products have remained on sale in stores!

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Compared to our previous report in May 2012, there have been a few changes in returns rates overall:

- Motherboards: 2.01% (against 2.29%)
- Power supplies: 1.58% (against 1.39%)
- RAM: 0.78% (against 0.88%)
- Graphics cards: 1.77% (against 1.80%)
- Hard drives: 1.74% (against 1.80%)
- SSDs: 2.93% (against 3.89%)

The figures are down for motherboards, RAM, graphics cards, hard drives and SSDs, with SSDs benefitting from figures from OCZ that aren't quite as bad. In contrast, the returns for power supplies are slightly up.

The same two manufacturers continue to have rates that are higher than 3% in certain sectors, namely Hitachi with 3.77% for hard drives (against a previous rate of 3.95%) and OCZ with 5.02% for SSDs (against 7.03% previously). OCZ’s high rate hides big disparities between ranges, with the returns on the Petrols and Octane SATA IIs being catastrophic.

What does the future hold? Of course, no one can predict this but over the next period, for sales between 1st April 2012 and 1st October 2012 for returns before October 2012 (namely between 0 and 6 months of use), OCZ continues to have a high rate of 5.65%... once again impacted by the Petrol and Octane SATA II models. Among the most popular models, things are much better, with the exception of the Agility 4: 0.93% on the Vertex 4s, 1.22% on the Vertex 3s, 2.59% on the Agility 3s and 5.60% on the Agility 4s.

For Hitachi hard drives, the current rate is around 1.76% over this period. It remains to be seen how things will evolve. Here are the products with the highest returns sold over this period, five by category (minimum sample of 100):

4.28% for the ASUS Rampage IV Extreme
4.20% for the ASRock H77 Pro4/MVP
2.92% for the ASUS P8Z68-V PRO GEN 3
2.81% for the ASUS P8Z77-M PRO
2.47% for the MSI Z77A-G45

Power supplies:
2.84% for the Akasa Venom Power 550
2.43% for the Corsair Gaming Series GS600
2.12% for the Corsair CX500 V2
2.09% for the Corsair Gaming Series GS800
2.00% for the Cooler Master Silent Pro M500

3.48% for the Corsair Vengeance LP Blue 16 GB (4x 4 GB) DDR3-1600 CL9 CML16GX3M4A1600C9B
3.31% for the Corsair XMS3 16 GB (2x 8 GB) DDR3-1600 CL11 CMX16GX3M2A1600C11
3.28% for the Corsair Vengeance 16 GB Blue (4x 4 GB) DDR3-1600 CL9 CMZ16GX3M4A1600C9B
2.94% for the Corsair XMS3 8 GB (2x 4 GB) DDR3-1600 CL9 CMX8GX3M2B1600C9
2.83% for the G.Skill RL RipJaws 8 GB (2x 4GB) DDR3-1066 F3-8500CL7D-8GBRL

Graphics cards:
11.88% for the Sapphire Radeon HD 6770 1 GB (11189-10-20G)
7.62% for the Sapphire Radeon HD 7970 OC Edition 3 GB (11197-01-40G)
6.75% for the Sapphire Radeon HD 7870 OC Edition 2 GB (11199-03-20G)
6.06% for the ASUS ENGT520 SL/DI/1GD3/V2(LP)
5.07% for the Sapphire Radeon HD 7970 3 GB (21197-00-40G)

Hard drives:
4.36% for the Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000.C 1 TB
4.20% for the Western Digital Caviar Black 1.5 TB (WD1002FAEX)
4.11% for the Hitachi Deskstar 7K3000 2 TB
3.57% for the Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 320 GB
2.39% for the Western Digital Caviar Blue 500 GB (WD5000AAKS)

37.19% for the OCZ Octane 128 GB SATA II
29.52% for the OCZ Octane 64 GB SATA II
28.10% for the OCZ Petrol 128 GB
22.48% for the OCZ Petrol 64 GB
8.52% for the OCZ Agility 4 256 GB

Several products already have a higher than 5% returns rate: the OCZ SSDs (no surprises here!) and an entry level ASUS graphics card as well as four Sapphire cards, including a Radeon HD 6770, two Radeon HD 7970s and a 7870 OC.

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