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What is OEM? What is an OEM product? What does OEM mean? Why buy OEM?OEM generally means "original equipment manufacturer." Sometimes it is referred to as "bulk packed", "white box", "brown box" and "gray market".

Almost all PC component and software vendors make two versions of the same product based on a difference in the distribution channels. Retail ("distribution") is the main consumer channel, whilst OEM (to various systems manufacturers) is another.

The retail channel typically uses colourful retail boxed products, with installation manuals, software CDs etc. Of course the cost of making the nice-looking packages is passed on to you, the customer. Retail packages are also more voluminous, and therefore cost more to ship. The OEM channel distributes products mainly to system builders and integrators, for example Dell, HP and Sun (the OEMs) and many small ones such as the mom-and-pop shop on the corner and embedded systems designers. These bulk-pack products do not have fancy packaging materials and are often produced in much higher volume, both of which result in much lower prices that are not generally available to the public. The OEM products are of the same quality as their retails counterparts. However sometimes the manufacturer warranty is different, shorter or non existent. They also tend not to include supporting materials such as manuals and drivers when applicable, however these are available for download (which tend to be more current versions anyway). Where ever possible distributes and sells the OEM versions of products (e.g. SCSI hard drives). This allows our customers to benefit from substantially reduced capital costs and much improved return on investment (R.O.I.). Besides the packaging and prices, there are sometimes other subtle and not-so-subtle differences between the retail and OEM versions of a product. Here are a few examples.

Warranty: Many types of OEM hardware components come with the same warranty as retail boxed ones. One well-known exception is hard drives. Retail boxed hard drives often come with a three or five year warranty, while the warranty of OEM drives is the responsibility of the reseller. Please check the product page for Limited Warranty information where applicable. We believe the substantial price savings of OEM hard drives easily justifies the difference in the warranty. Some of our OEM drives are 50% the price of a retail drive. That means you'd have to have more than two drives fail after the end of our warranty, but before the end of the retail warranty before the retail warranty would save you any money. That assumes that the replacement drives are the same price in the future. However as we all know, technology price continually drop. So in 5 years when your drive is likely to fail, how much will a replacement be? Will you want the same "small" capacity in five years anyway?

N.B. Many computer systems manufacturers (e.g. IBM, Dell, HP) will ONLY warranty drives installed in their systems if the drives have their OEM part numbers. So if your server or system has an active warranty, it may cover our OEM drives, if you select a part with a OEM part number from that same manufacturer (meaning Dell OEM for Dell servers etc.).

Bundled Software: Sometimes the retailed version comes with bundled applications software, whereas the OEM version may not. This is especially true for high-end video and audio cards. How useful such bundled software is to you needs to be carefully weighed against the price difference.

Manual and Support: The hard-copy manual for the OEM version may be limited to one per shipping box. However, the vast majority of information is on the manufacturer's web site. Some manufacturers claim that they do not support their own OEM products. The OEMs are supposed to do the support. In such cases, will provide the technical guidance to help you install the product.

More Information:

1. OEM (Original equipment manufacturer) is typically a company that uses a component made by a second company in its own product, or sells the product of the second company under its own brand.

Generally, dealers of OEM products add something of value before reselling the merchandise. An OEM vendor that does this is known as a "value added reseller" (VAR). A VAR might build components, sub-systems, or systems from quality OEM parts. OEM goods allow VARs a wide range of creative marketing choices, which permits smaller dealers to be competitive in the marketplace.

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