COUNTERFEIT COMPUTER HARDWARE

APOWER AK680We have noticed that counterfeit computer components are becoming a growing problem. We first encountered this problem with the AK 680 power supply. The Echostar 680W is even worse. Both use oem power supply boards and labeled their respective products at double the actual true capacity or more. Vast  numbers of these counterfeit power supplies have been sold to unsuspecting users.

More recently we have identified counterfeit video cards.These are relatively easy to spot, the length of the card and the bracket do not match the reference product. Unfortunately large numbers of these counterfeit cards were sold to unsuspecting users.

Now there is a growing amount of counterfeit computer memory. 4 counterfeit sticks of memory in our possession are all programmed as Kingston but the part numbers are false. We purchased several DDR3 sticks which we determined were counterfeit. Even low capacity memory has been widely counterfeited.

We have complained to Ebay, Amazon and others and there has been a lot of resistance to remove these products. As long as they get their commissions, they are not too concerned with the product.

The counterfeit capacitors made by Teapo are a good example of the chilling effect of sabotage. Machines using the old Teapo capacitors failed much more quickly. Motherboards had to be replaced, usually with other components as well. Our old Zotac 8600 GT had Teapo capacitors who all popped when the card got too hot. PC hardware components are expensive and when 1 million units are affected the results are staggering.

Estimates vary but about $170 billion in fake hardware is now seen in 2016. That is more than triple the combined value of unlicensed software. movie and game copying. Most likely this underestimates the real problem.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich) dropped a couple of very alarming tales during a hearing about counterfeit parts making their way into brand new U.S. military weapons. The problem needs more political attention.

CAVEAT EMPTOR

The old latin caveat emptor seems to be taking on a whole new dynamic with made in China computer hardware. Murky and Byzantine supply chains, lax enforcement of weak intellectual property laws and an outlaw manufacturing culture all contribute to widely available fake PC components mixed together with legitimate parts in the PC components supply chain.

What defines a counterfeit part? NDAA Section 2320, defines counterfeit as a “spurious designation” intended to deceive and infringe on US trademark law.  Under the most basic definition of the concept, counterfeits are parts that are “marked” or “remarked” as something that they are not.

But the new NDAA Section 818 goes further and directs the Department of Defense to establish a definition for counterfeit which must include parts that are previously used and then resold as new parts.

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