The difference between OEM and Retail when buying computer components

I may be in the process of learning a not-inexpensive lesson here, and I wanted to share it with others in the hopes that you may avoid my pitfall.

There are two ways to buy most computer components. You can buy full retail boxes, which are exactly as produced by the factory for the part’s manufacturer, or you can buy an OEM part. OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer, which is someone who builds systems and buys that part to include in their system for resale. Sometimes the discount places on the web get batches of these OEM parts from OEMs who bought too many. In these cases, these discount places resell these parts to you, the end customer, at a price lower than the retail price.

The problem with that, as I’m finding out, is that the warrantee for these parts is sometimes sold along with the OEM part to the OEM. So when that part dies, you have no one to go to for a warrantee replacement. This is bad.

I had a hard drive die on my last week, and it was only about 6 months old, well within the warrantee period. Unfortunately, I bought an OEM drive, and the original drive manufacturer no longer claims any responsibility for that drive. I’m contacting the place where I bought it now to see if they’ll replace it for me, and I have no idea if they will or not. Time will tell.

Either way, be aware of what you’re buying. I’m pretty sure I’m only buying retail boxes from now on, just for the peace of mind. It’ll cost a few more bucks, but that money is insurance against something going wrong later.

— bab