I buy a lot of Maxtor 160GB drives and I want to warn you to make sure that you get what you pay for. There are 2 flavors of Maxtor 160s out there, white label and OEM/Retail. The white label drives are gray market drives that were intended for the large manufacturers (like Sonicblue for that matter). Sometimes, the manufacturer buys too much and has to dump some of them out in the open market. These white label drives typically have NO warranty to the end user because their warranty is supposed to be held by the system manufacturer. The one-year warranty that comes with them is usually by the reseller or broker. They typically don't have serial numbers or warranty dates and there is no way to get warranty service from Maxtor because you don't have a serial number to give them when you call.
The OEM/Retail drives have 3 year warranties. I have talked to the VP of Customer Service for Maxtor and he told me that even increased noise is sufficient to declare a drive as defective. For those of us who want the quietest units, this is pretty important.
The white label drives usually go for $200-225 on Pricewatch. The OEM/retail drives are typically $245-270.
Once in a while, I find a great deal on a 3 yr warranty drive on eBay. You can sometimes pick those up for $210-$245. I've seen some auctions for 160GB ReplayTV upgrades (not mine) go for $225 and $235. I suspect that is below their cost. Just make sure that you ask the right questions and make sure that the drive has a serial number and warranty date. That virtually eliminates the risk of buying a drive from eBay if you can make sure it has a 3 yr warranty.
A few months ago, I purchased 12 of these drives from NewEgg for $250 (shipped). They were out of stock for a while, now they have them in stock for $230 (+$7 shipping). These are OEM drives with a 3 year warranty.
pu82: I've never heard of a drive without a serial number. Without a serial number you wouldn't be able to uniquely identify a drive. For many applications, that would make the drive useless... Maybe they don't print the serial number on the drive, but that would cause problems for asset tracking.
I have seen several of these white label drives come through my ReplayTV business. They came from people who have sent me their drives for service. They purchased their drives through eBay sellers, flea market vendors, or low price Pricewatch sellers. Check out the link on my post and you can see the difference between the drives. Note that you can almost read a Made in USA logo on the white label drive and the OEM/retail drive says Made in Singapore. Well, they are all made in Singapore and the Made in USA tag is simply there for the system builder, like Dell, IBM, Sonicblue, or Compaq. The system builder then prints its own warranty information right on the drive.
There is a bar code on the end of the drive but Maxtor does not recognize the number. It is a unique number but it is not valid per Maxtor tech support. They tell you to talk to the vendor who built your computer. Now that would be difficult if you only bought the drive. I know this because one of the drives sent to me by a customer failed the recertification process and I couldn't load the RTV software on it. I talked to Maxtor on behalf of the customer and even thought the drive was brand new and DOA, there was nothing they could do. The drive didn't register in their system because there was not a valid serial number.
COMPUSA sells the drive for $299 and is right now offering a 10% discount card called Gamefix for $50. They give you $30 off on the $299 purchase so if you spend $200 or more over a year in COMPUSA, then you break even and I'm sure many of us spend way more in this store every year.
Don't expect very many stores to be running sales on the newest and biggest drives.
Thanks for all the feedback. Since I am buying 4 of these drives, I figured that saving approx $50 per drive by getting the white label drives means that I could afford to replace one of the drives myself for the difference in price. I don't expect that Maxtor has anywhere near a 25% failure rate, so it was an easy choice.
It is not necessarily the equivalent of an extended warranty. If you call Maxtor for warranty service on a white label drive, they will tell you to contact the system builder or the person you bought it from for warranty support. If you are lucky enough to still have a connection up the food chain back to Maxtor, you will get a replacement drive. If not, you will have to take your chances that the outfit from whom you bought your white label drive is still in business and gives you support after the 30 day DOA period. 95% of the time they will tell you to call Maxtor, who will in turn tell you to go pound sand. The extra $ is not for an extended warranty but it is for a reliable warranty.
When you buy a white label drive, you have to buy it with the sense that it is "AS-IS" and it might be worth the $50. The drive failure rate I have seen in well over 2000 drives in my computer and Replay experience is about 1-2% over the expected life of the drive (2-5 years) so the odds are definitely in your favor. But for those whose drives fail, they see it as a 100% failure rate.
No doubt that the price of a white label drive is tempting ($200-210) and as long as you know the risks and accept them, go for it. The same thing is true for gray market hardware, especially photography equipment.
An extended warranty is additional warranty you purchase when there is already a warranty. If the darn things were likely to fail, no one would ever offer an extended warranty. They are betting you $ that the item will not fail for a period of time after the original warranty expires. Now, if you had no warranty to begin with......then you're betting your $200 that the drive will last 3 years.
Don't argue with me about this. If you think the warranty you get when you buy full retail is worth it, then that's your business. Like I said, $30-50 (or more) for a normal factory warranty is absurd, especially for things that RARELY NEED WARRANTY WORK. Put the $50 in a bank account and every few years use THAT money to replace the drive.
I'm not arguing with you nor am I saying anyone should go one way or the other. I'm simply pointing out why there is a price difference and what that price difference goes to. I buy a hundred drives for a client and tell the CFO that I can save him $5000 by buying white label drive and even if we assume a high failure rate of 5%, he needs to buy an extra 5 drives at $200. So he saves $4000 by going white label. I recommend that he buy white label and inform him of the risks and he accepts it in exchange for the savings. For someone who is buying only 1 drive, I would inform him of the risks and he makes the decision to save $50 or not.
No agrument from me as to which is right or wrong. They are both right depending on how comfortable the buyer is. If the first 98 drives sold by some outfit turns out to be perfect, do I want to buy the 99th and/or the 100th given that 2 out of every 100 fail?
Buying things without warranty is gambling, you're betting that it will not fail.
Buying a warranty is also gambling, you're betting that something will go wrong and the dealer/manufacturer is betting that it won't.
For everyone that wins, somebody loses.
I don't advocate one or the other so there is no argument here. There is no right or wrong, just risk.
There is a real difference between an extended waranty and a warranty. We all know that most electronics items initially either work or don't work (duh). If they work, they usually will keep working for a long time (solid state components don't usually spontanteously fail the way that vacuum tube components did in the old days), so the savvy consumers generally avoid paying extra for rip off extended warranties that rarely are relevant. But having no protection for an item that is dead on arrival is a different thing, and while I wouldn't pay even $1 for an extended warranty, I would be willing to pay something to know that I can replace an item that ships DOA. Obviously this way of looking at the world only gets you so far, and at some point a premium to get the initial warranty is so steep that it doesn't make sense. I don't know whether $50 on a $230 item is too much, but if not it's certainly getting close.
If you look at www.pricewatch.com you can find 3 year warranted hard drives at close to the same price as white label. The 3 year warranty is well worth it especially when using the drive in what I consider the harshest IDE drive environment, the replay recorder.
I just looked over at pricewatch. You can get a 1 year for $210 + shipping or a 3 year for $226 + shipping. In a year and a half you might be kicking yourself wishing you could get a free drive to replace the one with the high pitch whine.
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