IBM S series USFF reliablility

Dec 24, 2004
Posted this in the wrong area earlier, so it's a repeat question:

We bought a couple IBM S series ultra small form factor model 8086-46U with the 3.4G cpu machines to eval at work. The things are barely bigger than a phone book. They've got only two 2.5 inch fans in them, not including the 1 incher or so in the power supply.

One of the 2.5 inchers is at the front, blowing in, the other in the rear, blowing out. With a 7200RPM drive, and a 3.4Ghz Intel inside, practically useless ventalation, the little suckers get hotter than hell, it's hard to keep your hand on the top of the case when it's been doing actual work for any amount of time.

The vents for the fan in the front are going to plug with dust quickly, meaning no airflow at all.

We're thinking there's no way they're gonna last even a year. But scared that's what IBM is going to make their new business desktop. We don't want to move to Dell!

Does anyone have experience with this model, like do they throttle when hot, have you had any problems with reliability, etc.?
Sounds like your only issue is the fact that you don't want to clean them. I suggest you put proper maintenance on your priority list. :) Maybe a 3 month schedule with a can of dust off?
We have 5 buildings in our company, we rotate cleanings and tune-ups between them weekly. All machines get whatever updates / new apps installed, that couldn't be pushed to them, all the user-inflicted damage corrected, the crap cleaned out, defragged, and canned air treatments. We also bought a portable air tank and an air line dryer, should we find something that really needs a good cleaning out (like our antique phone switch cabinet).

So normal maintenance is not an issue. It's actually very high on our priority list. No machine goes more than 5 1/2 weeks without a cleaning and good tune-up. The servers get it even more frequently than that.

You'd actually have to take a look in one of these things to see how crowded it is, and how horrible the airflow is. I'll see if I can't drag my camera in and get some pics.

As I said, the case itself gets too hot to hold your hand on very quickly. The Intel chips are known to throttle when overheated. And, as you know, component failure happens a lot faster as it's operating temp goes up.

We cannot find anything like MBM that'll work on these to keep an eye on them.
So, rather than buying a bunch of them, just to see we blindly made a huge mistake, I asked if someone had experience with them.
I would like to see some pictures for sure. But I think your fears are likely misplaced. I have seen some of the testing that the "big guys" use and some of it makes our torture testing look weak.
Curious, but why not build your own USFF computers? I know you can buy the stuff at Newegg and you can use relatively low-grade (Sempron) processors with better cooling that will serve you well. Or if you have to stick with IBM then why not get a small processor? That's really the source of your heat.
Leon2ky said:
Curious, but why not build your own USFF computers? I know you can buy the stuff at Newegg and you can use relatively low-grade (Sempron) processors with better cooling that will serve you well. Or if you have to stick with IBM then why not get a small processor? That's really the source of your heat.

I wish I could build the systems for here. Last job I hand-built every single system there, desktops and servers, well over 200 systems. If I were the boss here like I was up there...

I mentioned going with a slower proc, his reply "we're not gonna pussy with them, either they work or they don't" and "we live in the real world, I'm not going to spend all my time running between machines blowing dust out of cooling fans, and we're not spending money on machines that won't last 10 minutes longer than the three year warranty" (after I told him of Kyle's reply).

He then told me he shut of of these off after playing catch-up with the Microsoft critical updates, opened it up, popped out one of the DIMMS and said it was so hot he could barely hold it in his hands.

IBM has a flash of these machines on their support website, but of course it doesn't work, so I'll have to drag the camera in.

I'm also trying to sway him over to AMD based machines. Most of our servers are Opterons, I'm not sure why his adversion to desktop AMD systems.
Any particular reason you're going with USFF? If not, the ThinkCentre A series might be a better choice. The A51p is about $1,000 with an Intel P4 3Ghz, 1GB of ram, and a 3 year warrenty. Plus, it's got S-ATA drives, and the graphics can be upgraded (if you work in the kind of area where your users actually need more than integrated graphics can provide.)

And besides, the cases and keyboards are "t3h s3x0r".
I work for a company with 25K+ employees. We replace every PC every 3 years.

For about the past 7-8 years, we bought IBM. Last year we had Thinkpad T40s (great machines) and S50 small (not ultra-small) PCs with 2.8GHz (HT enabled) P4s. I love mine, and have had no issues.

This year we evaluated the S-series again alongside Micron, Dell, and HP. IBM had the most solid product, except in my hands-on testing the S-series ultra-small got hot and the case didn't close properly at all. It looked like it would be a problem, but IBM was pitching desktop use and SFF. We still liked the regular S-series SFF (again non-ultra), so were going to look at that.

The choice? We went Dell. Turns out Dell undercut on price and offered a much better service agreement. (IBM field tech and contracted tech companies for installation were not cheap for us, so we basically insourced 2/3rds of that nationwide install work.) While I think Dell has a "cheaper feel" to its products, its service has proven to be outstanding if/when there are issues.

My message to you is to either run with the non-ultra-sff S-series, or look at Dell, because it's obvious management isn't going to buy any other options. I still prefer my IBM S desktop to the Dell Latitude D610 laptops my coworkers are getting. :)