Blog Post

Notebook makers: change your warranties for RAM upgrades, please

Q1_45Just a mild, mid-day rant on the subject of RAM and small notebooks. In this day and age, what kind of sense does it make for notebook manufacturers to claim a warranty is void by adding memory to a device? I completely understand the concept of a warranty and realize that it’s near impossible to support every possible hardware tweak a user may want to do. I’m not suggesting the central concept be thrown out the window by any means and I believe that heavy-duty tinkering under the hood should render a warranty null and void. But let’s look at the situation as it applies to memory.

Many new devices are coming with minimal memory amounts in the 512 KB to 1 GB range. However, many of these same devices are advertised as capable of increased RAM capacities and some even offer a second, open SoDIMM slot. It’s a catch-22 though: if you take advantage of the advertised feature and upgrade your RAM, you risk voiding your warranty. It’s like advertising for an included feature that you effectively can’t use.Here’s my suggestion: going forward, companies should design their device to either make the RAM user-upgradeable or not. Allow for a simple cover to be removed that has access only to the RAM slots and don’t void a warranty if said cover is removed. You’ll make your customers happier, give them more options and won’t make them feel like psuedo-criminals for taking advantage of the full capabilities in the device you designed. Plan B would be to simply offer the full amount of possible RAM to begin with… the Q1UP with XP was only available with 1 GB, yet is capable of two.Wondering if I believe I should be out of warranty for the RAM upgrade I performed on my Samsung Q1UP? I sure do, but that’s a risk I knowingly and willingly took. The RAM wasn’t easy to access and I had to take the entire device apart. There’s a good example of when the “out-of-warranty” argument should be applied. In the case of my Asus Eee PC which has a cover specific to the RAM and one other slot? Absolutely not… there’s not too much I could muck about with under the hood in that example. Thoughts?

11 Responses to “Notebook makers: change your warranties for RAM upgrades, please”

  1. Out of curiosity, has there been anyone who has been refused warranty recently on a product for upgrading RAM? Would be good to see which manufactures just stick that sticker on to discourage users and those who actually enforce this ridiculous policy.

  2. In the past I have upgraded the RAM in my machines, and I have never been knocked back for warranty repairs when they went wrong (unfortunately).

    That included Apple, Dell (two of them) and Toshiba.

  3. Woadan

    I’ve replaced RAM in many computers, workstations and laptops alike. I always hated when the manufacturer of a workstation configured the innards so it was nigh on difficult to get at the RAM.

    With margins on most PCs as low as they are, it is not surprising that the manufacturers would try to steer you toward buying their over-priced solutions. but that doesn’t make it right.

    I easily added a 1 GB DIMM to my LE1600 from motion. (It came from my Celeron Q1, in fact, when I upgraded it to a 2GB DIMM, which was itself an upgrade from the original 512 MB DIMM originally installed.) The reason it was so easy was because there was a door on the back of the unit with a slot for a DIMM. It was the easiest by far RAM upgrade I’d ever performed.

    I think it should be an industry standard, no matter who makes the computer, and no matter whether it is a workstation or a laptop, that an easily accessed door be a part of the configuration. And not just for adding RAM, but also for upgrading what comes from the factory.

    Of course, configuring the machine with more than enough RAM to begin with would be a great start. Don’t short-change me just to make the price look good, especially with Vista.


  4. in the united states, there is the magnuson-moss warranty act which – I am basing this on other people’s interpretations – does not allow companies to invalidate a warranty if you do not use ‘authorized’ replacement parts. A warranty can only be void if a replacement part directly damages your item.

    for example, if you install a third party air cleaner into your car engine and your air conditioning fails, the warranty isn’t void. if you install a third party air filter into your car engine and part of it comes off and whacks your mass air-flow sensor, then your warranty on that part can be void.

    I bet I’m wrong on this somewhere, though; legalese makes me sleepy!

    (in other words, those ‘void if removed’ seals are supposedly not allowable? that doesn’t seem right… companies use them all the time.)

  5. JonGH

    My Toshiba M200 has a RAM cover that is simply removed, exposing the RAM slots. A very simple solution to your problem and making upgrading to the maximum 2Gb a breeze.

  6. jalapeno

    I own a Thinkpad X series and Lenovo has no problem with me opening it up, they even have how-to videos on their web site for replacing things like the wireless card, memory, keyboard.

  7. This reminds me of PC warranties back in the mid-90’s from companies like IBM and Compaq. Back then you voided your warranty if you installed third party software on your PC. Crazy but true.

    Just out of interest, does anyone know if the limitations Kevin is talking about still apply if you buy something like Apple or HP Care extended warranties?

  8. Nomo, there is no “current norm” unfortunately. I’d love to see one.

    Chris, I think many folks would agree with you, so hopefully, MSI is listening.

    markcov, I’m not the typical mobile device user, so my opinion on your question doesn’t matter much. ;) Me personally: no, I would not pay more for Samsung memory to retain the warranty. I’ve fitted cheaper memory into three Q1s, the Eee PC, an HP notebook, a Gateway Tablet, a MacBook Pro and an iMac all in the past two years.

    IMO, it should be illegal for companies to have a “we install it at whatever price we set or you install it and lose our warranty” policy when it comes to memory. RAM is a pretty standard component these days and notebooks are now more user-configurable than ever before. I don’t recall this being as much of a problem with desktop components and it generally shouldn’t be a problem with RAM in a notebook.

    It’s time to put the “P” back in “PC”.

  9. markcov

    Good luck. Most places like Dell, IBM, etc that I’ve seen want the end-user to fill out the memory slots with their overpriced memory. I can buy the same, or higher quality, RAM for a lower price myself. Samsung is just missing out on an opportunity to sell a RAM upgrade to the end user.

    If they offered 2GB of RAM would you pay Samsung an above market price so you could retain your warranty?

  10. It is my understanding that your suggested solution (Plan A) is the current norm; opening the unit won’t necessarily void the warranty. Asus received some backlash over “Warranty Void if Removed” stickers on the Eee PC memory cover. The company ultimately changed its position by stating, “ASUS will not be responsible for the damage caused by improper hardware change.” When memory is a user-installed option, I think the warranty is only void if the user harms the computer as a result of the install.