AMD CPUs - High DOAs?

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User’s responses – Joe

Freddy asked us to look into the following:

“I work for a local computer company and these past 3 months have produced the most dead AMD processors I have ever seen. They are cosmetically clean but fail to boot and beep the proper codes. This isn’t just from one source – we have changed vendors many times due to them not wanting to replace unworking CPU’s.”

A number of readers kindly replied – some from commercial sources, some from users who have purchased multiple CPUs – as seen below:

Commercial Sources


“For over a year (until Oct 2002) I had been Service Manager at the largest independent computer store chain in Quebec, and I too had similar experiences with AMD Athlon processors. Over the course of my employment I must have personally worked on over 5000 computers, and in all that time I had 2 Pentium 3’s fail and 1 Pentium 4 (Williamette) fail.

As for assorted AMD CPU’s, I had everything from K6’s to XP Thoroughbreds. All in all even with us selling only AMD boxed CPU’s, we had a failure rate of 5-10%. These CPU’s were all in pristine condition and simply did not POST. Most of these were in systems that we built.

AMD’s are great bang for the buck, but in my opinion they are not as reliable as Intel’s.”

Uros (Singapore)

“We had no DOA Athlon chips in the past nor now… Bought 2400 of 2200+ and 2400+.”


“The computer company I work for only buys CPU’s through “The Channel”; we are also only purchasing retail boxed processors at this time. I wouldn’t say we’ve had any more DOA then usual. We probably put 100 or more Athlon CPU’s out the door in a week, to give you an idea of our volume.”


“I work in a store that sells around 80% AMD chips. We receive most of our chips from ASI (Asia Source Inc) and a few from All Components, both in Dallas. So far I have only seen 1 dead 1600+ and a dead 1G Tbird – No other DOA’s at all.”


“Hi, I also work for a local computer store but I haven’t noticed any
dramatic increase on DOA AMD CPUs. Most of the time the CPU was burnt
out because the users put the heatsink in the wrong way or forgot to take
off the protective plastic. I wonder if the other guys uses retail CPU or OEM (we uses retail CPUs only).”


“I know one thing having worked for a reseller building computers: As soon as we went up to the Athlon XP (from standard Athlons), some workers couldn’t even get a post (apparently dead CPU) until I removed and then very carefully put the CPU back in, firmly holding it down as I close it.

Make sure you’ve reseated those CPU’s a few times, trying firm or light pressure until you get it to work, if it does.”


“We used to have those kinds of problems with the OEM K6 chips. We only buy retail packaged CPUs and have never had a problem since. AVOID the OEM (sold bare in a tray) CPUs. The venders don’t want to know you if they are DOA or die in a few months. Retail has a 3 year warranty and only once did I need to use it (wire jammed in the fan caused death) and they were very fast to get me a new one.”


“I work for a local computer shop in Hood River, OR. We’ve gotten three dead Athlon XP processors within the past 2 months. No physical damage, they were installed correctly; they just came that way from the vendor.”

Selected User Replies

I received a number of responses from users receiving one or two DOAs; the following reflect multiple purchases:


“In regards to Dead AMD processors… I have received 8 of them that won’t boot… The problems have been bent pins that were beyond repair. All of these processors by the way came from the same company; I have received great customer support from and received replacements for them.”


“In the last six months I have had 4 AMD chips die on my for unknown
reasons. There are no visible cracks, discoloring, or any other
thing cosmetically wrong. These have died in 3 of my machines. And
they were all AMD Duron 1300 chips. Don’t know why, I had VERY good
heatsinks, and good ventilation. And only one of them was
overclocked. Go figure.”


“I haven’t received anything dead, but I can tell you what my family and I have gotten that’s been working to date:

  • One 1 GHz Duron
  • Four 1.2 GHz Durons
  • XP 1800+
  • XP 2200″


“I got 4 1600+ AMD XPs a few months back…I don’t remember
exactly…perhaps 4 months. All 4 started up….2 ran for a few
minutes…..1 never booted. The fourth was fine and still is. Vendor
replaced them….no problems before or since. I have about 20 AMD Socket A
processors and have built about 10 more for others.

At first I thought it was me or a bad motherboard/PSU etc. But the 4th one
was just fine in the same motherboard/PSU combo. (a refurb A7M266-D)
Having built many computers in the past I am sure I did not fry them with
bad HSF contact, etc.”


Anecdotal replies from commercial users do not indicate an endemic problem – some have had relatively high DOAs, some not. Some private users have had DOAs, but I have no way of telling if the DOA rate is abnormally high.

Without doing a valid statistical sample, I can’t tell you that these responses support the contention that AMD CPUs exhibit a high DOA rate. If anything, it seems “episodic” – some purchasers might run into a string of bad CPUs at times, at other times not.

Perhaps the best advice out of this is to purchase retail CPUs – more protection for users in the event of failure; and you can use the heatsink that comes with it for a paperweight.

Email Joe


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