Socket775 concerns unwarranted

Socket775 concerns unwarranted

When Intel's new 925X, 915G, 915P, 915GV and 910GL Express chipsets hit the shelves in July this year they were already coming under fire from a range of sources.

Critics of the new technology expressed concern over the design of the new Socket775, arguing that the decision to create a pin-less CPU, and a socket with more densely-packed pins on the motherboard, would lead to increased breakages, and warranty claims against motherboard manufacturers.

However, local whitebox manufacturers are applauding the new technology. Far from more fragile, they have found the new socket design is proving more robust, and easier to handle through the manufacturing process.

According to Optima's retail channel desktop product manager, David Choi, the interface has proved easier to align than its predecessors.

"As far as we are concerned it is an improved process compared to the previous chipset," he said. "When it comes to our manufacturing process it is better to have the pins on the motherboard."

In fact Choi said the new motherboards feature springs at the base of pins, which are better able to absorb shock should they be inserted with too excessive force.

Concerned about the negative reviews early in the piece, business development manager for local PC manufacturer and hardware distributor Cassa Australia, Ross Bain, conducted his own testing.

"We wanted to prepare ourselves for any fall out. I must have pulled the heat sink and the CPU in and out of the motherboard twenty times, and I didn't come across any problems," Bain said. "We haven't seen a single board come back yet."

Bain believes the initial concerns may have stemmed from hardware review websites, whose testing is unduly heavy handed. He argues, in the real world it would be highly unlikely for anyone to replace their CPU enough times to weaken or bend the pins.

"The average life span for a system is two to three years, and no one would replace a CPU 20 times over that period," Bain said. "People just don't take their systems home and put their CPU in and out of the socket. That's just not how they use computers."

David Ye, warranty department manager for hardware retailer and custom-build PC manufacturer IT Warehouse said the new socket design had represented no problems either for DIY customers or the company's own manufacturing process.

"No one has come back to us with a motherboard with bent pins," Ye said. "People are normally very careful when they are assembling a system, and the new sockets aren't any more or less fragile than any other models."

Moreover, the design has won favour amongst motherboard manufacturers and distributors, who would find themselves in the front line should warranty claims become a problem.

Daniel Feldman, marketing manager for hardware distributor Synnex, told ARN the company had experienced no increase in returns of motherboards with the new sockets.

"We distribute Intel, Asus and Gigabyte motherboards with the Socket775 and there have not been any issues with any of the motherboards," Feldman said.

Nonetheless, some motherboard manufacturers have taken measures to ward off potential problems. Jeffrey Lim, marketing supervisor for motherboard manufacturer MSI Computer Australia, pointed out the company is providing a special bracket for the CPU to facilitate the assembly process, and does not expect any increase in returns as a result of the Socket775 technology.

"At this stage our return rate is still minimal and we don't expect it to increase. We are providing a special solutions kit which minimises damage to the motherboard. It consists of a bracket that holds the CPU during the installation process," Lim said.

In fact even some of the hardware review websites, which initially criticised the socket design, have come around. Hardware reviewer Sander Sasser, who writes for review website Hardware Analysis, is a case in point. In early October he published the following.

"Initially we were sceptical about the new socket-775, many of the motherboard manufacturers we talked to described it as fragile and they were expecting many product returns due to customers damaging the socket. In the past few months we've worked with quite a few socket-775 motherboards and we can honestly say that socket-775 isn't as fragile as we thought. If you insert and remove the processor as intended you won't damage the socket, nor will it cease to function after a few insertions."

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