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How To
DIY - Computers
Westerners will notice Chinese made computers are often lag a little behind their exported counterparts - a situation which is now changing quite rapidly.

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:

Problem 1.
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.

Problem 2.
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 system.

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.

Problem 3.
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 screen.

Our advice:
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 the PC.

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 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.

Internet Connections

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' connection.

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 own designs.

This information is as supplied by ourselves, and ably supported by our friends and various internet portals.
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