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    Default A Survey on the ASUS Problems with Notebooks and Support

    A Survey on the ASUS Problems with Notebooks and Support

    Last update: August 13th 2008 by E.B.E.

    Periodically, the ASUS forum receives complaints from dissatisfied customers that have a machine with recurring defects, or that have sent a machine to ASUS and were treated badly by the support department. This thread is intended as a summary of these reports, as well as a larger perspective on this type of problems, together with proposals of possible explanations for some of the problems. Hopefully, using this thread, a new reader of the ASUS NBR forum can form at a glance an idea about the most important problems ASUS have with their laptops and support.

    Before delving into the details, let me give an essential caveat. Any brand out there, from the producers of the cheapest consumer electronics to the producers of cars, will have its share of problems; its share of machine types with design faults; its share of units that come bad from the factory (the "lemons"); and its share of inconsiderate support persons. Therefore, any brand will have its share of dissatisfied customers. ASUS is not special in this respect. I do not add this statement here to demean the people that have issues, instead I add it to put their problems in the proper perspective.

    Also, please understand from the start that even if the problem that you personally have with an ASUS notebook is hugely important to you, you are still a single sample, a single individual; if the problem you were experiencing isn't confirmed by (several) other users of the same notebook, you most likely had a randomly occurring fault, which is statistically a normal phenomenon; such faults are not mentioned in this post, nor will they be. It would be entirely pointless and unuseful to try to compile a list of every individual fault experienced by ASUS notebooks.

    Another essential observation is that this list of problems and the views presented in this document are not official in any way, and are not endorsed by ASUS or by the NBR staff. This is just a survey of information collected from the NBR ASUS forums over a long period of time.

    Finally, note that this survey is an extended and updated version of the post ASUS Quality: Below Expectations?.


    Table of Contents

    1. A summary of the problems
          1.1. Hardware and firmware problems
          1.2. Support problems
    2. What can we do about this?
    3. Possible causes
    4. Some more detailed caveats (or: why things are not as bad as it may seem)
    5. Conclusion


    1. A summary of the problems

    Below I give a summary of the problems with ASUS reported on the forum. Two main categories of issues exist: hardware and firmware issues; and support issues.

    1.1. Hardware and firmware problems

    Some ASUS models suffer from hardware design and firmware programming problems. Namely, some budget notebooks are affected (A8, F3), as well as some business and gaming notebooks (V1, V6, R1, G1S). I only list here problems that affect a significant number of machines from a certain series. To determine whether the problem affects a significant number of machines, I use the number of times it is reported by different users. So, if a large enough number of users reports the same problem with a certain type of machine, I conclude that at least a significant number of machines suffers from the problem. Note that no software problems are included in this list.

    A detailed list of the problems, including the affected models:
    • A8: the plastic in the hinges breaks after extensive use (ranging from months to years). Relevant thread: A8Jx: Fixing a loose hinge (with pictures).
    • F3: the plastic on the keyboard bezel, near the lower-right corner of the keyboard, develops a crack after extensive use (typically on the order of months). Relevant thread: ASUS F3 crack in keyboard (palmrest) corner.
    • V1J, V6J, R1F, R1E: the battery accumulates excessive battery wear, up to a few percent at every discharge past 30%. At least some of the wear is "fake" and probably due to firmware bugs, although the precise cause has never been established with certainty. Relevant threads: Is your notebook battery losing life fast? It might not be a battery problem; Battery wear.
    • V1S: also suffers from the battery wear problem, but to a lesser degree. At least for some users, the wear "resets" to 0 from time to time. For some series of modular and main batteries in the V1S, using the modular battery causes the main battery to stop working. This appears to be fixed in later series of batteries, though. Relevant thread: V1S battery wear problem.
    • G1S, G1Sn: many of these machines have overheating GPUs. At least some of the machines are not affected, though. The causes are unclear, but most likely it's due to a bad design of some component the cooling system. Relevant thread: ASUS G1S resource thread.
    • M50S, M50V: some of these machines (not all) suffer from keyboard lag problems: sometimes, keys pressed do not register, which disturbs typing. Some partial solutions are proposed on the thread Solutions to keyboard lag in ASUS M50 Series. Some users report that the severity of the problem diminishes with time. It is unclear whether this is a hardware, firmware, or software problem.
    • C90S: certain brands of RAM cause the computer to bluescreen (or more correctly, for certain brands of RAM integrated circuit boards). This is not because the RAM is faulty, but because of incompatibility problems. The following thread lists RAM sticks that have been confirmed to work well with the C90S: C90S memory success report.

    ASUS are not acknowledging that some of these problems exist. For instance, they have never acknowledged the excessive battery wear problem. They are acknowledging to a large extent the hardware problems of the A8 and F3 models; consequently, broken A8 hinges and F3 palmrests are replaced free of charge in most countries.

    1.2. Support issues

    The quality of ASUS support varies significantly across the globe. Here is what we know with good certainty:
    • US support is excellent, and this is reported by a large number of users. Typical turnaround times are on the order of a couple of days, with same-day returns if the user carries the laptop into the service center.
    • UK support is bad; every report that I can remember about UK support indicates this. In the UK, ASUS laptops are sometimes repaired using 3rd party shops that ASUS has a contract with. In those cases, it has happened that the laptops returned with damage due to improper handling, with loose parts inside, or with unattached heatsinks. Sometimes, defective ASUS UK laptops are sent to The Netherlands. Even then, UK owners reported long turnaround times and unsatisfactory results.

    Here is some information that we are not so sure about, because we do not have enough reports to form a clear conclusion. Almost certainly, a part of the cause for the lack of extensive information is the fact that these countries are not mainly English-speaking. Nevertheless this information may be helpful to know, so I am including it.

    • Support in the Netherlands is somewhat of a mystery. It appears that many countries send their ASUS laptops to be fixed in the Netherlands, at least in certain instances. However, reports on the turnaround time and the quality of the service depend on the point of origin of the laptop.
      - As already mentioned, when UK is the point of origin reports are bad. That can be related to the fact that when machines are sent from the UK, they have already been mishandled in the UK so the user is already dissatisfied -- but it is unclear whether this is a complete explanation.
      - My own experience with ASUS Netherlands, while repairing notebooks sent from inside The Netherlands, is reasonable. I do not know of other experiences of people inside Holland.
      - We have one bad report from Luxembourg (laptop sent to NL).
      - We have two good reports from Germany (laptops sent to NL).
    • Besides ASUS NL, there was one bad report for Portugal some time ago, and one for Italy. I am unsure where those laptops were repaired.


    2. What can we do about this?

    As always, before investing in a piece of machinery as expensive as a notebook computer, do your research. Look up the ASUS model you want to buy in the list of models with problems, above. If it's there, investigate the problem that it has, and see if that problem affects you, given your usage pattern (e.g., the "modular battery kills main battery" of the V1S will hardly affect you if you won't even buy a modular battery). If the notebook is on the list, weigh the extent to which the computer fits with your needs with the disadvantage of possibly having to deal with that problem. Consider alternative notebooks, either from ASUS or from other manufacturers.

    If the ASUS laptop you're interested in is not on the list above, chances are it's problem free. Don't work under that assumption, though. Look up reviews and user feedback on the internet. See if there are any recurring problems that do not appear on this forum, or that I did not catch in my survey. Make your own informed decision.

    With respect to support issues, if you're in the US, you should certainly weigh ASUS support positively, especially since ASUS also offer 1 year of accidental damage protection there. If you're in Europe, the situation is not so clear. If you're in the UK, you're likely to run into troubles if your notebook needs warranty service. So, for UK residents, I would suggest either a) find a reputable ASUS reseller that will help you fix the notebook in case it breaks down, without you having to send it to ASUS; or b) look at another brand. In other European countries, things are not so clear because we do not have enough reports. Check the list of "uncertain countries" above, for a rough idea of what you can expect. Do research yourself, e.g., you may find more information in pages and forums written in the language of that respective country, than on this English-language forum. If you can't find enough information, to be on the safe side, you can assume that things can go bad with ASUS support in case you need it, and work further under that assumption.

    The steps above can be applied right away and their consequences are immediate. On the longer term, we, as an ASUS user community, can try to raise awareness at ASUS about the problems that they have, either by emails and other benign communication, or perhaps using lawsuits when the problems are severe. Somewhat cynically perhaps, I will say that this doesn't have much chance of success. Big electronic companies don't really care about reports or even lawsuits from a few customers. Unless it's something really bad, e.g, health-threatening (exploding batteries is a good example), the company will simply tend to turn a blind eye and leave the problems die out on their own. Legal action is rarely likely, because it can easily cost multiple times the price of the entire notebook -- so it's hardly worth it for an individual user. There remains the option of collective legal action, but again, unless the problem is really bad, I do not believe there is enough motivation for a group of users to really go into such a thing.


    3. Possible causes

    Realistically, I think that these problems are "normal". I put "normal" in quotes for good reasons. In the capitalist economy, the actions of a company are dictated first and foremost by the profit that it makes: the bottom line. All else is just marketing (which is a nice way of saying that all the rest is lies), which is itself motivated by profit. I think that the laptop types with design problems are released for the following reason. The ASUS managers push for a fast product design cycle, which enables them to get new types of machines out of the factory in a short time. This is extremely important for an electronics company in the present times, when electronic technology becomes obsolete over an interval on the order of months. There is not always enough time to iron out all the problems, even if the engineers know the problems exist. Once the manufacturing line is in place, it's all downhill. The cost of changing the line is so large, that it will take a very, very significant problem for ASUS to be motivated enough to do it.

    With respect to the support problems, things are less clear. It may also be a problem of money. Maybe ASUS simply thinks there's not enough reason to invest the funds necessary to change or improve the support team, even if it does perform badly. ASUS may also be locked into contracts with 3rd party shops such as those that damage laptops in the UK. The central management levels at ASUS simply may not know about these problems, or they may not consider them important enough; to them, support in a European country is only a very small part of the big puzzle which is the multinational company.

    Another theory with some empirical support is that these problems were caused by a change in the orientation of ASUS, which occurred a few years ago. ASUS initially offered high-quality laptops for a niche market, consisting of people that knew about ASUS from perhaps their reliable desktop motherboards, or from other people that had bought ASUS notebooks and were impressed with the quality. The quality came at a price premium, but those willing to pay it benefited from a well-built, reliable laptop. Later on however, ASUS entered the mainstream notebook market, where price, and not necessarily quality, is the main driving factor. To do this, they had to cut on the costs. These cuts may have affected the design stage, BIOS/firmware programming, and quality control.


    4. Some more detailed caveats (or: why things are not as bad as it may seem)

    In this section, I give some more detailed considerations aimed to put the problems described above in perspective, so that a new reader is not scared by these problems for the wrong reasons.

    As I already mentioned in the beginning of this survey, ASUS is not special in having design and support problems, and therefore dissatisfied customers. Any brand has its share of these things. An important question is whether ASUS manifests design and support problems to a greater or lesser extent than other brands. Since I do not have experience with other brands, I cannot make that determination.

    The problematic models mentioned above are a small part of the entire range of notebook models sold by ASUS. They also have models with excellent track records. These good models belong to the business class (e.g., the M6, V6 that I own), as well as the consumer class (e.g., the F8 series is very reliable). The U series (U3, U6) also gets a lot of praise, and there are no significant issues with the W series, either. There are also many owners of the problematic models who are quite happy with their purchase. This is usually because, due to their usage pattern, the problem does not affect them.

    Moreover, we have to keep in mind the negative bias that a forum such as this has. Most of the people will come here to report and solve problems. From the people who have problems, a large percentage do report them on the Internet, and certainly many of these people arrive on this forum, because it is well-known. By comparison, a much smaller percentage of the satisfied customers will come to a forum to report their satisfaction -- they will just be glad their computer works, and they will keep on using it without advertising to the world that it does work. Add to this the fact that there is a significant amount of positive feedback on this forum, of people who do say "this ASUS is a great machine, and I am happy with my purchase". When correlated with the negative bias that I explained above, this makes a strong positive statement about the overall quality of the ASUS notebooks.

    It is also essential to understand that a certain, small percentage of the units sold by any company will be bad or break down in a short amount of time (these are the "lemons"). Because ASUS sells a very large amount of notebooks, that small percentage translates into a significant number of bad units. Reducing the percentage of bad units that pass quality control is a difficult tradeoff for the company, a tradeoff that requires costly investment. Beyond a certain, small enough threshold on the percentage of bad units, the investment no longer makes sense for the company, because it cuts into the profits too much.

    Also, when we are talking about individual random faults, which are not recurring in many machines of a certain series, we shouldn't be scared that the frequency with which they are being reported on the forum is constantly increasing. This is again a statistical consequence. This time, it is a consequence of the ASUS brand becoming more popular, and people buying more ASUS computers. Since statistically the same percentage of the computers will develop problems (all other things being equal), the total number of computers with problems will increase, and the frequency of problems being reported will increase. This is not a sign that the brand quality is decreasing.

    One more thing. Some people report they have bought in the past computers that have caused far less issues than their new (ASUS) computers. I think this phenomenon is also not restricted to a certain brand. In recent years, I have observed a trend of reduced reliability in all electronic products, starting from mobile phones to laptops. As already explained in this document, the useful life for the company of a certain generation of technology keeps decreasing; a certain laptop model nowadays is sold for a few months, maybe half a year at most. Therefore the design cycle has to be shortened as well, to maintain the competitiveness for the firm. This directly leads to more design problems not being fixed, and as a result to a worse overall reliability.


    5. Conclusion

    This concludes my survey of problems with ASUS laptops and support. Hopefully, it will help people understand these problems better. Thanks for reading.

    Here are some related threads, discussing complaints about ASUS support and quality:
    Last edited by E.B.E.; 27th September 2009 at 01:11 PM. Reason: New links.
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    Default Re: A Survey on the ASUS Problems with Notebooks and Support

    Very informative and nicely said
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    Default Re: A Survey on the ASUS Problems with Notebooks and Support

    awesome post as usual E.B.E! Rep up!
    Last edited by D3X; 14th August 2008 at 11:48 AM. Reason: Can't at the moment :( will rep you once I can..
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    Default Re: A Survey on the ASUS Problems with Notebooks and Support

    Agree. Well done and written.

    This needs to be added to the sticky so that it can be referenced easily from various threads and doesn't get buried as time passes since we know it's going to be needed.
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    Default Re: A Survey on the ASUS Problems with Notebooks and Support

    I'm sorta scared...

    see, I opened the CPU cover panel and removed the warranty sticker in order to repaste... BUT I ended up chickening out and now the sticker won't stick back the way it used to AND its very slightly torn. I swear, I didn't modify or change anything (I didn't even touch a screw with a screwdriver)! If my lappy dies because of NVidia's fault, will ASUS still fix/replace my machine despite the busted sticker?
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    Default Re: A Survey on the ASUS Problems with Notebooks and Support

    What about the keyboard lag in the M50 series?

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    Default Re: A Survey on the ASUS Problems with Notebooks and Support

    Quote Originally Posted by hidavi View Post
    I'm sorta scared...

    see, I opened the CPU cover panel and removed the warranty sticker in order to repaste... BUT I ended up chickening out and now the sticker won't stick back the way it used to AND its very slightly torn. I swear, I didn't modify or change anything (I didn't even touch a screw with a screwdriver)! If my lappy dies because of NVidia's fault, will ASUS still fix/replace my machine despite the busted sticker?
    Not a problem. All you have to do is "swear" to Asus that Nvidia made your sticker not stick & were so dumb they even tore it.

    I'm sure Asus will give you a new "lappy".

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    Default Re: A Survey on the ASUS Problems with Notebooks and Support

    Quote Originally Posted by fbxcore View Post
    What about the keyboard lag in the M50 series?
    Yep, I was thinking about that. But I'm not sure that's not a software problem, since it gets "better" with time and there are also (partial) software fixes to it. Still, it's worth mentioning I think. I'll add it on the next edit.

    Quote Originally Posted by hidavi View Post
    I'm sorta scared...

    see, I opened the CPU cover panel and removed the warranty sticker in order to repaste... BUT I ended up chickening out and now the sticker won't stick back the way it used to AND its very slightly torn. I swear, I didn't modify or change anything (I didn't even touch a screw with a screwdriver)! If my lappy dies because of NVidia's fault, will ASUS still fix/replace my machine despite the busted sticker?
    Well... what you did was voiding your warranty, so they don't have to honor warranty on your notebook anymore. Still, (depending of course on your location), ASUS service are pretty relaxed about this sort of thing, so as long as you didn't damage the CPU, scratch the heatsink, or anything like that, I suppose it can be ok.
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    Default Re: A Survey on the ASUS Problems with Notebooks and Support

    We'll see. They've been good with me in the past so I think they might still help me, like you said, considering that I didn't actually DO anything to the computer. I'm in NYC.

    But hopefully, I won't even have to worry about my machine crapping out...
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    Default Re: A Survey on the ASUS Problems with Notebooks and Support

    Quote Originally Posted by E.B.E. View Post
    Yep, I was thinking about that. But I'm not sure that's not a software problem, since it gets "better" with time and there are also (partial) software fixes to it. Still, it's worth mentioning I think. I'll add it on the next edit.
    I didn't know that it gets better over time, but it seems like a BIOS fix could take care of it, from what I've heard the touchpad and its many functions may be conflicting with it, but I hope it gets fixed for good.

 

 
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