- Processor Speeds * # of Cores barely increasing over the last 5 years;
- Crap Operating Systems that spy on you and brick your machine with compulsary automated updates;
- etc, etc;
New data from analyst outfits IDC and Gartner suggest the PC market continues to crater. The latter firm's 3Q2016 data records an eighth consecutive quarter of shipment decreases, to 68.9 million units or a 5.7 per cent decline from the third quarter of 2015. IDC found “nearly 68 million units in the third quarter of 2016 ( …
>- Processor Speeds * # of Cores barely increasing over the last 5 years;
So true. My 3930k is still up there near the top of the non-Xeons and the only time I stress it is with transcoding. If I want a 50% performance increase the chip is going to cost over 1600 USD (I paid 225 for my current chip) and that gain is by adding more cores - there's only an 8% increase in single-core performance.
Apart from that, its easily capable of handling anything I throw at it.
I might have considered upgrading to a newer CPU if it was far more power efficient etc, but Intel's cunning revenue generation plan of changing the socket with each new CPU release prevents that.
What might tempt me to buy a new PC is a laptop with a "desktop-speed mode" perhaps requiring a docking/cooling station which comes with an PCIEx16 external graphics system.
Another item on the wishlist is a hardware hypervisor. I'd like to have two OS's in memory with no software emulation.
"Intel's cunning revenue generation plan of changing the socket with each new CPU release"
To call it revenue generation really demonstrates your ignorance. Chipset features are being updated at least as quickly as cpu features these days and more needs to match in order to work at all. New chipsets with new cpu families are a necessity for innovation because CPUs are not the independant black box that they have been in the past.
Also hypervisors already have hardware support. Depending on what exactly your idea of not running in software is, it is either not physically possible or has been available in CPUs since 2005!
A friend's high end HP i7 laptop was taking 3 minutes to boot on a not so bad hybrid HD. Moved him to SSD just to see the freaking thing still takes 2 minutes to boot with a 549 MB/s read rate. Updated the graphics driver using windows update, it boots in 10 sec. Next time, black screen of death. Switched to archaic HP Win 8 driver, it boots fine and couple of minutes later, screen flickers and we have the latest, non working driver again thanks to windows update.
The issue is,MS dares to touch a highly customised, special setup hybrid graphics mix of Intel HD3000+ATI. Both chip vendors (ATI and Intel) say don't mess with drivers in your case, go to laptop manufacturer (HP) and yet MS overwrites the drivers.
They removed the "don't auto update drivers" option too so you have to run a special, official tool by MS to block installs of specific hardware drivers. I can't imagine any newbie, non technical user understand that concept. They will think that their system is broken. MS could at least code an auto rollback driver function, it is all about caring.
He could buy 3 high quality tablets for that price and damn things keep working like a charm even without updates, there are even android 3 tablets in use which never had updates.
Sounds like failed Graphics Hardware, failed BGA lead-free solder balls on the dedicated AMD ATI Chip. Assuming it isn't (its likely to be that, HP will fob you off repeatedly though).
Use a bootable USB ISO of Linux Mint 17.3/18, boot from that (17.3 is more reliable for this), see if you get any graphics issues, attempt to install the AMD Proprietary Drivers, log out, log back in, you can see if the problem is hardware or software better then. The USB of Linux Mint, is bootable without actually installing anything to your computer.
You may need a RJ45 hardwire network connection if you Wifi doesn't work out of the box. Most do, Broadcom there is a proprietary driver to install, like the AMD Graphics.
Yep its a real pain,Windows 10 forced updates. I had this in Windows 10 Pro.
There is a knack to getting Windows 10 to stop looking for a replacement Graphics Driver (often it will offer two display device drivers at once (Nvidia in my case), meaning the Powershell 'device driver' block hack doesn't work. Assuming you've already allowed Windows update to run, and this has happened.
Go to Device Manager, under Display Devices->AMD ATI etc, right click - properties, select Driver Tab, Rollback Driver, if grayed -> Uninstall Driver. (try both ways, if unsucessful first time)
Go to System -> Advanced System Settings, Click Hardware Tab
Select Device Installation Settings...
Do you want to automatically download manufacturer's app and custom icons that are available for your devices?
Select -> No (your device might not work as expect).
Run Windows Update. Allow it to parse/download, attempt to install any Graphics Device Drivers.
Once upto date..
Manually install HP AMD ATI Graphics Driver.
Run Windows Update again. It should now keep the manually installed driver.
You may have to work at a lower screen resolution to do these operations.
"If the job is still getting done 'well enough'; why change the tool(s)?"
exactly, like "my 10 year old PC does just fine, and does *NOT* have Win-10-nic on it!"
Which is a nice segue into the REAL problem: Win-10-nic is a reason NOT to get a 'new' one.
If Micro-shaft simply changed their policies to allow new computers to ship with '7 Home' on them again, sales would get a NICE boost. But ever since that's been "not happening", PC sales have suffered. Blatantly.
Because, 'new, shiny' isn't enough to sell a new computer these days. Especially if it's "wearing Win-10-nic".
Sounds like you have the Nvidia nforce chipset, there is a workaround, if you were told by "Get Windows 10" your machine didn't qualify. Use the USB Installer - ISO of Windows 10 1607, Install the nforce driver manually from an older Win7/Win8.1 driver.
why change the tool(s)?
Unfortunately, other people can break them when you're not looking.
I've been using Office 2000 for years (roughly 16...) and, courtesy of a Microsoft update, it seems to cope fine with newer Office file formats, but I've no doubt it won't do forever. However, other changes to my PC mean the file dialogs now take an age to open and Excel can only be quit from the task manager. Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0 now barfs on startup, presumably because wherever it phones home to is no longer there. And I've got a bunch of hardware that will only work under XP.
So you can only keep stuff going for so long - though that would seem to be too long for some: when you can only rent your tools, you're have no control of their lifetime whatsoever.
Agreed. If it works, and does the job, why give it the shaft and buy a new one...
Another factor to consider is that most people are comfortable with the win7 interface, and the win10 infernalface is too daunting for them (they still think it is the same as win8/8.1)
And also the fact that you cannot transfer your win7 licence over to your new shiny...
"And also the fact that you cannot transfer your win7 licence over to your new shiny"
Depends on the license, if it's OEM (ie licensed to that piece of hardware), then no, you're stuck. If you paid for a full license you can keep moving Win 7 to a new machine. Hell, you can still do that with XP.
Besides, any kind of tablet is not conductive to do lots of typing on or CAD design, for that you still need a proper Win7/Win8.1 computer. Heck, any 386 with 2Mb RAM, DOS and WordPerfect will be suited just fine for that task... :p
IMHO (and from my POV) a tablet is good enough for viewing emails on the go, do stocktaking on, other $jobs where you have to walk around and check things off, play the odd casual game and keep in touch via whatsapp/twatter...
I agree with your sorta(?) point that an older computer would work perfectly fine for something like word processing. After all, the world did just that. On a side note, I still have my 386 if you'd like to buy it. Can't recall how much memory was in it, but I think it had a whopping 20MB HD...
I don't think the whole Win10 thing is a major factor here. Most people outside IT don't really care what Windows it runs, beyond grumbling a bit when stuff changes.
I think the main reason for the slump is that, back when PC performance was doubling every 18 months, developers made use of the extra oomph either by adding more features or being more lazy, until you would be basically forced to upgrade, because your old machine would collapse under the weight of the new version of something.
Now that PC performance is pretty much stalled, any application that's targeting recent specs will usually also work respectably on fairly old iron. So what's the point of upgrading?
We may see a boost to sales once they get SSD costs down to the point where developers feel they can get away with building stuff that works poorly on HDDs. Then everyone will be forced to get an SSD, and many of those will just buy a new PC.
Very sensible Flippo. That seems to be exactly what I see and I spend most of my time dealing with everyday folks and their PC usage. I also think you missed one thing. As net connections get faster the need for processing at the client end lessens. Why bother buying a really powerful PC if everything you want can be provided "in the cloud" on a 5 year old budget PC.
Perhaps cheap 4K screens on laptops will get a few sales?
Factor 1: Austerity (a.k.a. the rich robbing the poor).
People now have far less money to waste on anything that isn't on the survival checklist. For most of them, that list does not include a largely ornamental relic from the 90s.
Factor 2: Most people are not geeks.
The non-geeks (i.e. the 99%) who jumped on the PC bandwagon, merely tolerated the impossibly complicated and dysfunctional monster that Microsoft chained to their desk, only while there was no better alternative more suited to how ordinary people live in the real world, and now there is. Phone, GPS, Facebook ... check. Reading email in Outlook on a laptop as you walk to work? Not so much.
Factor 3: What's a PC?
We're now at least two generations into an era in which it's not considered abnormal to have never used a PC outside of the classroom (the same generations who rarely if ever watch TV). Oldies (and in particular geek oldies) find this hard to imagine, but it's a fact. This geek oldie doesn't even own a TV, and most of my viewing time is spent watching YouTube on a smartphone, on the train, in the kitchen, and pretty much everywhere other than at a desk (mainly because I simply don't have one).
Welcome to the 21st century.
Except that it *is* powerful kit. Modern smart phones do full screen video at HD with colour & sound far beyond a PC from 10 years ago.
Not comparable to the state of the art PC plugged into the mains, but still remarkable. Just because it is mostly hidden, doesn't mean it isn't there.
3 PCs 2 cases are 8 years old, other for watching films about 4 years.
Graphics cards 5 years+, monitors too.
HDDs replaced when they start to fail or at 5 years.
Anything that needs more than the 32GB RAM that's in the 2 main PCs is only used briefly, so is shunted into Azure. Doesn't cost anything when it's turned off.
I doubt I'll ever replace the cases, just the internals as they wear out. I do fancy a bigger monitor (2 x 24", 1 x 20" at the moment), but not all applications can cope with super high resolution screens.
Sadly, my Surface Pro is unlikely to last more than 3-4 years.
Agreed. My PC is at least 10 years old, but in that time it's had 3 new PSUs, bigger HDDs, an SSD, a new mobo with upgraded processor & memory & just last Christmas a shiny new graphics card. I'm picking up a new keyboard & mouse on my way home tonight (all the characters have worn off the keyboard) as a treat because I've been such a good boy recently! The only thing that hasn't been changed is the case, but it's the same PC I've had for at least 10 years :)
"but it's the same PC I've had for at least 10 years :)"
I say that's a Theseus' paradox and just because the case is the same it's not really the same PC. You have had some bits for 10 years but could equally say it's only as old as the newest component.
I upgraded a 5yo MacBookPro to a (then) current one last year, the old one had a 750GB hybrid disk. Main changes:
- 1/2 kg less
- I can no longer have all my photos with me
- snappier disk I/O, booting much faster but that is every other month or so
- nicer screen.
If the old one had not been playing up I would probably have waited - a lot.
As I dislike Windows 10 so much, I buy my kit directly from a small manufacturer with Ubuntu pre-installed, and I drop Linux Mint onto it. I doubt such purchases will show up in the statistics. No more big-brand, UK high-street Windows PCs for me, especially as my last Windows PC crashed and burned during the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. That is the 2nd PC Windows 10 has trashed for me. There won't be a third. Microsoft has lost me as a customer for ever.
Why don't you just buy the kit with no OS on it at all?
I've done that for years and then put the OS of my choice on there. Still on Win7 for now but I won't be upgrading. Going back to Apple after an absence of 12 years.
And before any of you try to convince me to use Linux as a desktop OS, it doesn't support the software I need. I'm quite happy with Linux on my servers though.
"Still on Win7 for now but I won't be upgrading."
Ditto - although in my case it's back on Win7, rather than still on it. I've been using Windows 8 for a couple of years because of an urgent purchase, but I finally went out of my way to buy a laptop with Windows 7 Pro on it a short while ago.
That goes along with a desktop PC that I bought over a year ago, but only recently set up, and which is running Linux Mint. (It came with 8) - and a brand spanking new Windows 7 desktop PC that arrived yesterday.
So I can use the Windows 7 laptop when out and about at clients where I need Windows, the Windows 7 desktop PC at home when I need Windows, and the Linux Mint desktop PC at home for everything else. As an added bonus, I intend to install Mint on one of my old laptops so I also have a laptop to take out and about with me when Windows is irrelevant.
Previously, all my PC stuff was on a single Windows laptop, which was therefore under heavy use - so that spread of machines should reduce any given machine's workload and, hopefully, enable them to last that much longer into the future.
> I buy my kit directly from a small manufacturer with Ubuntu pre-installed
For the benefit of those of us who are planning on doing the same, please could you mention the supplier's name and whether you'd recommend them. (I've done exactly this in the past but the supplier I used to use has gone out of business so I could use some recommendations for a new one)
I doubt the average Trump stalwart would apologise, because they believe in what he says, even if he claims he doesn't mean it.
Trump's "offensive" attitude towards women may be a reflection of the fact that some women are naturally inclined to seek out (i.e. be "available to") higher status males (including married ones) to improve the chances of their offspring - even if it's not PC to say so.
Most Trump supporters want a wall built - it's not necessarily racist (not that they'd care about that accusation) because the USA comprises many races and is more diverse than Mexico. The group most likely to gain economically from less immigration is low paid workers who are more likely to be recent migrants. More immigration makes it cheaper for wealthy Americans to employ workers or buy their services.
Let's be honest, the only thing a home user is likely to want a PC for which actually tests modern hardware is intensive gaming. Aside from a very small subset of people who might be doing CAD or data-crunching work (enough to support a few of million device sales a year at most, including B2B sales), that means the games market is now the only software application which is really pushing you to upgrade. And the specs that a game requires are determined by the engine.
Now, game engines are expensive to make. If you go to the investment to create a new engine, that a major investment which you need to defer across multiple projects. Most companies therefore view a new engine as an asset to be re-used for 10 or 15 years. Many of them most recently refreshed engines in 2005, when consumer desktops were running 32-bit OSes and often a not had 32-bit processors. Therefore, most of the present crop of video games for the PC are 32-bit, with 4GB maximum RAM addressing. They're not pushing the hardware envelope at the moment, because they are literally designed to work on computers from 2005. Hence, at present, the average gaming PC on the market is about twice as powerful as required for the most demanding game on the market. Hence the proliferation of 'gaming laptops' - you can get away with building a laptop that will run Witcher 3 or GTA5 at the moment, because these games are quite capable of running on third-rate hardware and so you don't need the large-scale desktop machines with a metric ton of cooling to run them.
A few companies are now starting to really put together genuinely 64-bit engines, and games made on those new engines do genuinely stress the hell out of modern hardware. But that's a vanishingly small % of all games at the moment. However, a great many companies are now coming up to refresh. In the next 5 years, we'll go from about 5% of games using 64-bit to having 95% of games using them.
And then users will have a genuine reason to update their desktops again.
"Let's be honest, the only thing a home user is likely to want a PC for which actually tests modern hardware is intensive gaming"
I'd also add in the factor of the 'consolisation' of PC games.
For pretty much all PC games developed today a console version is also released, and the PC version is usually handicapped as a result because development costs don't allow the two versions to be developed separately. Lack of manual saves, poor anti-aliasing, slow panning response etc. are all signs of a game developed to cope with the hardware limitations of a games console, then made a little prettier for the PC with higher resolution textures. The last game I can remember that stretched a gaming PC and didn't also have a console version was Crysis, and thats nearly 10 years old, and even the latest consoles still aren't powerful enough to cope with that game (I'm not talking about the inferior sequels, I'm talking about the original with real world physics etc.)
My current PC is over 6 years old, and together with a graphics card that is nearly 3 year old, it'll play the latest and greatest games at full pelt with all the bells and whistles turned up to max, a situation which would have been impossible 10-15 years ago.
The only reason I can think of for upgrading in the next year or two is if I get a VR headset, as running what is effectively 2 HD monitors displaying fully anti-aliased, highly textured detail while coping with movement tracking will require a high spec PC (you may think 'meh', but they're supposedly astounding for realistic flight sims like DCS World, even if a little lacking in resolution in the current generation of headsets.)
Lets hope that new generation of games engines are tied into something platform neutral like Vulkan, not chained to the dysfunctional bag of shite that is DirectX + Win10. With the PC market shrinking like it is, cross platform compatibility should be more important than ever, so there is hope. I'll be a happy bunny if my next gaming PC isn't at risk of repeated breakage by forced updates.
(Background - I have "upgraded" one and only one machine to Win10. It survived until the next patch/reboot - then just stopped working. In contrast I have had no real issues with Win 7 or Win 8, on multiple machines over many years).
"Lets hope that new generation of games engines are tied into something platform neutral like Vulkan, not chained to the dysfunctional bag of shite that is DirectX + Win10. "
There's a lot of hope, here, and I see it a future success. Doom with Vulkan runs like no other FPS has ever run on my gaming rig. It flat out beats DX11. So, I think the day of DX are counted. Devs are not stupid, and between good propriatory and good open, the choice is easy.
In my limited role as computer support for the non technical I have helped with two upgrades in the last few years, both to laptops to replace old XP desktops. No point in trying to keep the old kit running as they both wanted the flexibility of a laptop.
First was W8.1 (subsequently rolled back from W10 for indignant friend) and the second was W10. The version of Windows the PC shipped with was never an issue.
Classic Shell and the automatic tool to migrate from XP kept them both happy. Recognisable menus and their old desktop wallpaper made it all familiar enough not to be too daunting.
On the home front, Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad both running cheap upgrade from Vista to 8.1 with no problems. i2500k and W7 going like a train. Cheap netbookish thing from HP chuntering along on 8.1.
I've just upgraded from a really ancient AMD single core to a more recent 6 core on a new motherboard, but that must hsve been going on 15 years old. I have upgraded everything to SSDs.
The 18 month refresh cycle is dead. Along with first world people not having (enough) PCs.
So we are presumably in for years of articles from the department of the bleeding obvious reporting ever contracting sales.
SWMBOs PC is 4? years old (maybe older) and was getting a little tired.
I doubled the ram, swapped an SSD in and got the fastest AMD APU that would fit an FM2+ socket. For less than 200 quid she's happy with her 'new' machine because it's at least twice as fast as previously. It could now be good for another 3 - 5 years.
It has always been that if you have a recent machine, you can always upgrade it. It's just that the term 'recent machine' is now becoming a much longer time
I would tend to agree. Unfortunately games (for the moment) are mostly tied by DirectX to the windows platform. For me, high quality gaming is about the only thing left that can't be done satisfactorily on a tablet/phone. If it wasn't for that I would happily drop windows, especially the crapware that is Windows 10.
Everyone is talking about what they do with their own PCs. But the home PC market was never that big (in comparison with the business market) and started contracting years ago.
No, the news here is that businesses have stopped or slowed down their replacement rates as they move towards "thin client" (phone, tablet, Citrix) solutions for more and more stuff. And, as the server market isn't growing fast enough to compensate, manufacturers are starting to face the squeeze there. This is why IBM and HP have got out and another reason why Dell's purchase of EMC looks worse value for shareholders every day.
Microsoft's 2016 parade is also likely to be cancelled due to rain. They really need to get into services quickly or Google will still the Exchange business from under their noses as well.
The elephant has the same causes for businesses as it does on the consumer side. Most business users are not doing very intensive work on a computer. There are relatively few people doing CAD, movie animation, etc. who would benefit from new kit. The rest of us can get along fine with 3 to 5 year old kit if not older very easily.
The only those who need high intensity graphics in either side are likely to benefit from new kit. Both are relatively small groups in each market.
I cobbled together some upgrades to a Dell Precision 530 workstation that was destined for the scrapheap. The final revision of the motherboard, from 2001 (!), plus a pair of 3GHz Socket 604 Xeons. The HDD's are a bunch of 15k RPM SCSI monsters, and video upgraded to the best AGP Radeon card I could find. This was all topped off with some riser cards and 4GB of RAMBUS RIMM's.
The parts for this lot came from ebay and scavenging, and cost less than £40.
Despite the age it still runs Win7 32bit every bit as snappily as my i7-6700k. Obviously you can forget games from this decade but older stuff still behaves. And it's more than good enough for internet/office type tasks. Yes, it's a bit power hungry, and yes, a bit noisy, but that's besides the point.
So, against that backdrop why on earth would anyone without an interest in cutting edge software consider upgrading? The only reason is hardware failure. I should also point out that I have replaced friends & family PC's with either Macs or custom build Win7 towers in preference to letting anyone suffer the horrors of zero control in Win10.
I also cite the change of the world from purchasing licensed software to subscription as a major factor in dropping PC support. Adobe, MS, even AutoDESK have all gone this road and none of us want it. I mean, why bother upgrading when you can get a permanent copy of Office 2010 that does everything you need and then some for not a lot. And it's a damn sight nicer than permanent subscriptions just to use MY damn computer.
I won't be buying or upgrading P in the future, mine is good enough, runs windows 7, and has limited is these days.
Right now, android phones, android tablets and PS4 for gaming all do the job perfectly. I am in the market to buy a replacement android tablet and the right price and right spec. PixelC looks very tempting
Is the problem here.
The people are out there to buy PCs but the threat of Windows 10 being standard is putting people off.
Id be interested to see what the stats look like if it were possible to remove Windows users. I know its hard to determine, but it would be interesting.
Windows is getting so crap. I am beyond tired of it.
These figures do not include custom built machines.
I haven't purchased a pre-built PC since I was 14 and even though it seems to me like it yesterday it is in fact a very long time ago. I build my own PCs with parts of which I have meticulously researched so that I can get the best for the money. Also so I don't get ripped off by the usual suspects with the dodgy crap they put in PCs.
I only replace the motherboard, cpu and graphic card when a failure happens. That happened for me this April when the motherboard crashed (along with the dvd drive). Normal lifetime of a PC today is around 5 - 8 years, after that the capacitor and other chips wear out and just start to fail. Hard drives are replaced when they fail and that is normally every 3 - 5 years at the moment. It is not a surprise the unit sales of PC is going down, when its easy to just replace the motherboard and other hardware and keep the box. Most people don't want many old PC boxes in their homes.
Normal lifetime of a PC today is around 5 - 8 years, after that the capacitor and other chips wear out and just start to fail.
I have an old box with Abit BP6 and dual celerons. It's been running non-stop (apart from a house move and some power cuts and few quick shutdowns for couple of disk and one PSU replacements) probably for about 15-16 years or so. One the CPU fans is bit sticky and at times doesn't run at all for long periods of time (based on lmsensors). Strangely enough it has not cooked itself even though the machine isn't even in a well ventilated area.
They just don't make stuff like they used to.
I think your readers fail to understand how we got where we are today with multicore this and ssd that.
You got quadcore simply because I told the bank manager that I would sell a shedload of dual core and I did.
You get octo because you bought quad.
If you don't buy octo you can't have sexdec.
And everyday that passes that you don't buy octo means another supplier of kit capable of building sexdec doesn't invest in sexdec tech and before you know it nobody can buy the kit that does current generation cuz they were all invested in the future that will never happen and nobody can afford to build a factory capable of 486 no matter what moores law says because moore knew everything about transistors and fuck all about economics.
Buy it to skip it, do you want the future or not ?
Seriously, who needs a 20 core 40GHz processor, 16PB hard drive, etc. to run Word and surf the internet? 99.99% of businesses and 95% of home users have more than what they need and will only upgrade when their PSU fails 6 years later. The other 5% are mostly gamers.
Whoever needed a phone has one. And we're tired of Angry Birds by now.
Whoever needed a tablet has one. And we weren't really all that fascinated by Angry Birds being larger and pixelated.
Frankly, if anyone wants to push new steel, they really should invest much more heavily in making new games. It's about the only reason people will actually upgrade hardware any time before it keels over dead. Intel, AMD, Dell, Asus, Apple, Google, Nokia, etc. should start sponsoring Plants Vs Zombies Super Bowl Bash, Call of Duty 69, the Grand Theft Auto: Hotter Coffee mod, and the Pokemon Middle-Of-A-Busy-Intersection Detection Toolkit if they want people to actually buy their latest Yet Another Gadget We Already Own To Do Things We Got Bored Of.
Or put simply, "It's all about the content, baby!"
That or Samsung had the right idea: Make it break sooner and try to take other devices with it!
I wonder how many people are building their own PCs though?
Just buying a banal vanilla box of one of the main vendors seems so... 90's. Things like technical support are basically a free commodities now with thousands of options available online via forums etc. Most of the reasons for sticking with pre-built boxes don't really exist anymore. Plus you get to choose your own OS (Linux for the win(e)!), and it's easy to build a box that has the spec to support multiple VMs so you only need one for as many OSes as you want to run.
Also in terms of productivity, most of what people want to achieve can be done on much more portable devices now.
Perhaps it's time to let go of such an outdated approach to the PC market?
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