DIY - Computers
| Westerners will notice Chinese made
computers are often lag a little behind their exported
counterparts - a situation which is now changing quite
Chinese made PC's are generally pretty reliable. However,
after a couple of years usage you will invariably come
across a couple of minor problems:
You are working away and the computer simply 'dies'.
It will try to reboot, but fail. Warning messages of
dire consequences may be shown on the monitor. You think
this is a terminal problem.
No it isn't, the cheap internal fan for the CPU simply
stopped working. Check yourself by taking off the cover,
power up, and see if the fan spins = it won't. Get a
new fan for a few RMB, install, and your PC is fine
again. This is very common.
Your fantastic 'Play anything and any region' DVD /
CD player starts doing odd things, and sometimes throws
out stupid messages to your monitor. Other times it
won't record, playback, or you can't playback on a different
Invest in a new drive, as this one is basically ...
done. You can fit it yourself, and a new DVD ReWrite
of good quality should be around Y400RMB. The local
repair guy will charge you the same for a third-rate
one fitted, with 6-month life. My good quality one has
now entered year 5 of reliable service.
Microsoft 'Black Screen of Death' is a deliberately
engineered fault that came with Windows XP Service pack
3, and Vista original. Basically any operating system
that runs XP sp3 'Hot fixes' is open to this problem,
which includes some Chinese versions of XPsp2.
So you are working away and all is well. You close down
your computer, and upon rebooting, it never stops writing
to 'pagefile' system. Once it exceeds pagefile buffer,
it starts spraying code anywhere and everywhere over
all installed hard drives. You now have a total of about
2-minutes to save any files you want to keep. Then your
computer dies leaving you with a Black Screen. The pc
will never boot again - and all you have left is a black
Never try to update your Chinese version of any Microsoft
operating system or its components. The only remedy
is to re-install an operating system, which in turn
means you have just lost all work not saved outside
Buying a New Computer in China
Lenovo is the leading Chinese manufacturer of computers,
and many regard Asus the Taiwanese company as producing
the best motherboards.
Every city will have a 'Computer City' where all the
retailers huddle together for safety. In larger cities
you can buy anything you want that is computer related,
whilst smaller cities will has a reduced choice.
Computers are quite reasonably priced, especially if
you shop around or have one built by a local shop to
your own design. However, expect the specification to
be about one year behind those sold in the west or Hong
Things to look for:
1. Check that every single USB port is actually working,
and that it is USB2 or better - many ports are either
not connected on the front of the machine, or are USB1.
2. Make a similar check with all audio connections,
as again ones on the front of the pc may not be connected,
or may be wired to the legacy motherboard sound card,
not your super-duper and separately added sound card.
3. If you require a CRT screen, then know these are
becoming difficult to obtain. The replacement flat screens
are of low technology and may render working with graphics
a total nightmare.
4. Check that memory suits your needs, especially RAM
and Hard Disc size. China tends to provide the minimum
only, whilst for a fast pc you will need the maximum.
5. Chinese suppliers always partition the hard drive
into a least four logical drives which can cause usability
problems later in life, especially if you install every
new application on C drive = you will run out of space!
Second Hand Computers
These are often sold in the repair sections of larger
Computer cities, and are basically completely new computers,
but using older technology. However they are very cost-effective
and about one quarter the price of a branded new one
of very similar capabilities.
Always buy new from proper shops. If someone on the
street offers you a cheap laptop, then know it is stolen.
In airports disreputable con men abound and will have
over-clocked old units, often altering the apparent
operating system detail = you buy a pig in a poke.
Whilst Chinese ADSL may appear a tad weird to Westerners,
it actually works pretty well. I have known fitters
arrive to install on Sunday evening, and service is
very good. That stated, there are occasional problems.
The first is that the Chinese ADSL system requires 2
internal computer connections (I'm trying to keep this
very simple). You will be familiar with the standard
ADSL 'modem' connection which is quite like western
alternatives. Depending upon your settings, this gives
you a little icon near the clock featuring 2 monitors.
This is often called the 'Broadband' or 'China Telecom'
The problem is that you need a second connection, which
will give you a second similar icon near the clock.
This is termed the 'Lan' connection, but acts similar
to a 'network bridge' - and is what makes the ADSL system
available for your use. You will still need this, even
if you are running a wireless set-up. The fitters should
set all this up for you with no problem, but local computer
repair guys are not always as competent.
Most other problems are USB related, and often regards
USB 1.0 technology packaged and sold as being USB 2.0.
That stated, the situation is improving rapidly in this
respect. The only exception is that USB sockets on your
PC may be USB 1.0, or may not even be connected internally
at all. You should not find this to be a problem if
you buy a new computer from a quality manufacturer such
as Lenovo; but it still happens when shops build their
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