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[ The PC Guide | The PC Buyer's Guide | Understanding PC Sources, Vendors and Prices | Vendor Evaluation Factors | Support ]

Pre-Shipment Testing

In order to minimize the chances of problems with a new PC soon after you get it home, it's a good idea to have the PC tested before shipment. This is sometimes called a "burn-in" test, and is done to pre-screen systems to weed out bad components. Since most component failures occur very quickly, running tests on a system for 24 hours or so can eliminate some common faults. Obviously, it is to everyone's advantage if a problem is discovered before the PC is delivered to the customer rather than afterwards.

When you buy a pre-made retail PC you have to hope that the company has run a test before boxing up the machine and sending it to the retailer. In fact, most better companies do this, because it saves them money by reducing warranty claims and technical support calls. (And of course it makes the vendor happier for the same reason.)

When buying a new configure-to-order or make-to-order PC, you should always find out in advance from the vendor if they are going to do a burn-in test. Some will do it as a standard matter of procedure, while others will do it only if you ask them to. (Which may not be their policy in order to cut corners, but rather because many buyers are in such-a-big-hurry that they'd rather forego the prudence of a burn-in test so they can get their system faster.) Some PC makers won't do a test even if you ask; this is not a sign of great quality or service, to say the least...

If they do pre-shipment testing on the system, find out the details about the test, including their test methodology. In particular, you want to know what they are testing for, and how long they run the test. If nothing else, just asking will help you determine if they are serious about the testing, or if they are just turning the box on and letting it run so they can say they "did a burn-in test". (Of course even that is better than nothing.)

Next: Vendor Support vs. Manufacturer Support

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