Richard's Biggest Fails of 2009

January 4, 2010 | 12:33

Tags: #2009 #fail #green #ion #marketing #rant #silent

Companies: #dfi #intel #nvidia

Joe didn't let me put this in the Biggest Fails of 2009 article because he doesn't like bullet points. I do though, so I'm posting my Biggest Fails of 2009 as a blog instead...

By which I mean, my choice observations of failure, not my own personal mistakes.

Ahem.

Anyway, we’ve had a bumper year for new products – many of which have leaped forward in terms of performance: Intel's Lynnfield and Nehalem EP CPUs, Indilinx SSDs, DirectX 11, ATI HD 5800 series, Windows 7 (and of course, Snow Leopard and Karmic Koala). Even minor updates such as SATA 6Gbps and USB 3.0 have shown promise. However, there have been many failures - and unlike everyone else in the main Fail article, I'm not going to limit my rage to just one. Nope, I'm ranting about them all!
[break]
People who bought into 'Green' or Eco-branded products
It's not green, it's just slow. Those hard drives, for example, save about one to two watts at most – and that efficiency could be lost between one power supply or another, or by simply adding another fan. They have very acceptable, very specific uses, but they are not going to dramatically reduce your PC power bill or save the polar bears.

AMD Athlon II X4 620 quad core
Yes, it’s cheap, yes it’s a quad core, but with no L3 cache it’s up to 15 per cent slower than competing CPUs. AMD is the only company I know who has cancelled perfectly great products such the Phenom II X3 720 BE and Phenom II X2 550 BE and replaced them with SLOWER hardware. You cannot cheat the system: a £75 quad core is £75 for a reason.

Seagate's Barracuda XT
This is the only hard drive out there that uses SATA 6Gbps. It’s chuffing expensive, and it doesn’t make a blind bit of difference. Talk to me next year when SATA 6Gbps SSDs arrive, but even then most of the motherboard chipsets are bottlenecked to some degree anyway. Upgrade proof? No. Consumers should wait this one out.

24, 32, 1000, half a million-phase CPU power regulation
It's just not needed. If it was, the 8-pin CPU power header and PSU cabling would melt long before you reached its capacity. Other, cheaper boards seem to overclock perfectly well with a fraction of this much over-engineered power capacity.

Everyone has missed the fact that more components = more chance of failure. This particular peeing competition is held at the cost of the consumer, and arguably the companies involved in this escalation of power phases are focussing more on their rivalry than on end users. Fortunately for them, the average customer (and even reviewer) buys the marketing.

MSI MFlash
We’ve bricked several boards this year – I just did another today in fact – and there's NO BIOS recovery method whatsoever when it happens. Another brick of plastic and PCB is not what I ordered. Your boards may have got better elsewhere, but a fundamental issue like this is unforgivable.

“Silent” everything
It’s become an intangible, unquantifiable word that no one believes anymore. Silent means "does not make any noise. At all. Ever." I can just about take silent fans, if they're so quiet as to be for all practical intents and purposes, inaudible, but it's ludicrous that we still see numerous high airflow gaming cases or heatsinks which have silent branding. We’ve already shown this year in our fan labs that many, many claims of silence simply don't hold up in reality.

Nvidia Ion
Excuse me, but it’s taken Ion products the best part of this YEAR to become an easily usable, GPU accelerated solution. Yet without a new graphics product to focus on, the relentless Nvidia marketing machine was in overdrive claiming how it was going to make your children into geniuses, save marriages and bring peace in the Middle East. Except, before Windows 7 and Adobe 10.1 alpha it was such a fuss to get DVXA working right with all types of video, and even then you couldn’t get flash to play properly because you had to rely on Intel’s Atom CPU.

Athlon Neo and AMD’s attempts at ultra mobility
The HP DV2 was the only product at the start of the year and it was not only late, it had a real world battery life you could measure in minutes. Plus it wasn’t all that nippy either. What do we currently hear about AMD’s ultra mobility products now and in the future? That’s right: sod all.

DFI
Not ONE good board this year. Efforts in 2009 included the “retail” X58 JR we received that had the wrong capacitor installed, so it subsequently burnt out 12GB of memory. With software and features that haven’t evolved much beyond 2006, we doubt the LANParty division will be here beyond 2010.

Intel
Lawsuit after lawsuit after lawsuit: when will it end? How does it feel to have the last decade catching up with you?

Phew.

That feels better - here's to a great 2010, eh?
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