Friday night topic: Are PC enthusiasts heading for extinction?

We’ve all heard about the signs, though perhaps we haven’t put them all together.  Average PC selling prices are dropping as new ideas dry up and PCs become commodities.  More and more PC components are being integrated into core chips, with AMD and Intel now both pushing to bring the last bastion, graphics, into the CPU.  Newer PCs are becoming more proprietary "platforms" less dedicated to interoperable standards.

Meanwhile, shipments of laptop PCs are surpassing desktops.  Game consoles are breaking down the final barriers to their total domination with online capabilities and motion-based controllers.  Mobile devices like the iPhone are finally incorporating a robust and competent subset of PC capabilities.  And home theater PCs have been locked out of playing with most forms of HD video via "content protection" standards that keep HD movies and TV shows from being manipulated freely, forcing folks to use the cable company’s DVR box or bust.

Is there room in this shifting landscape for PC hobbyists who wish to build their own computers?  If so, will our influence remain strong as current trends continue to develop, or are we all just dinosaurs?  Put another way, will our kids grow up to be PC hobbyists, or is this a dying pastime?  Discuss.

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    • HAL7000
    • 12 years ago

    The evolution and extinction of PC enthusiast as we have known and have understood for all these years is ever changing. I agree with Snakes comments that yes the days of the true enthusiast are nearing the end but I also see it as evolving into a new breed of enthusiast. As with technology everything evolves. What we did as a PC enthusiast years ago compared to today has evolved into the new generation of enthusiast. We look and think differently than before and those that refuse to open their minds to new ideas and ways of doing things are destined to diminish like the radio tubes. I am only saying we must allow the enthusiast of today to grow into what they must and be willing to accept them for what they are. We have all shared in time itself. What a great way to hand over the enthusiast banner but to the new generation of thinkers with distinction and pride of what we have accomplished and will continue to accomplish with these new thinkers. Thank everyone for hanging in tough and leading the way to the future. We all appreciated the past the present and our future. So let’s get back to work and press on, there is much to think and talk about, together.

    • Overkill
    • 12 years ago

    I simply enjoy building fast PCs and I do need the power for stuff other than games. So as long as I can afford to build them, I’m going to keep doing it.

    • MarioJP
    • 12 years ago

    So that means our minds is not going to be technically challenged anymore?? I hope PC enthusiast does not fade because i don’t want life to become the average joe no offense to them and all but i think theres room for both. I been working with pc’s for 8 years and i am not tired of it. I like the new hardware trend that is going on now and prices are dropping faster than it once did in the past. So yep your right times has changed. and i see it as a good thing too =P

    • Snake
    • 12 years ago

    The short answer: Yes.

    I have been into computers for 32 years. At that point, computers were known only to the hard-core “tech” and “enthusiast” crowd – that is, those who actively sought to participate and learn the technology.

    Computers have, /[

      • Krogoth
      • 12 years ago

      I believe your answer is that *[

      • MarioJP
      • 12 years ago

      so that means our minds are not going to be technically challenged anymore be a sad time if “enthusiasts went away” I am sorry but the human brain is much much powerful why not use it right. why take away the challenge if the brain is designed to be challenged. Thats why they are shows like Monster garage and these PC hobbyist shows like tech tv.

      As far as software goes thats great to see more options and what users want to meet their needs. Thats what makes innovation interesting.

      All i know is people are becoming less interested because its not “easy”. I don’t like things to be handed to me sure its nice to have it all there for you but at the samtime don’t take away the challenge because its not easy for everyone

    • Reldey
    • 12 years ago

    Nah, to me building a computer is much cheaper than buying one, a maxed out pc built from quality parts from new egg costs much less than a “Premium” pc from dell or hp.

    • MarioJP
    • 12 years ago

    I think PC enthusiasts will still be around because of gaming. For example hp is getting into the PC enthusiast gaming market. HP released blackbird PC which looks pretty cool. I for one been gaming on the pc and i used to be a console gamer. Sure i played the ps3 and xbox360 graphics are nice but after awhile the experiences is not the same as the PC. And till this day i love it. besides “PC market has always been a niche” but that won’t stop me from spending money on parts.

    Its great that we are going towards the future and new products coming out which i like. But however what i am not liking is everything becoming all in one because it is “ease of use” theres really no fun in that for me at least.

    as much as consoles are ease of use and plug and play goes. I won’t trade in my PC for a console. What i am seeing in this forums is everyone’s different point of view. Maybe PC gaming is not for everyone but for most.

    I still enjoy PC gaming i don’t even own a console because i don’t want one. I am happy with the games that i have on the pc. And i have collection of games that i bought so far and the freedom to mod XD

    Would be a sad day if the PC market went away because pc gaming will go down with it =(

    • Krogoth
    • 12 years ago

    A short answer = no, but they are changing among with the times.

    The days of rapid hardware leaps are gone. The focus is now on software and interface. Computer enthusiasts are at the front.

    Linux is becoming more refined and open sourced applications give enthusiast more power over their systems than ether before.

    • esterhasz
    • 12 years ago

    hmm, I am progressively become less and less interested in the “PC enthusiast” community – mostly because of a changing focus in life.

    Everything has become so much about gaming and I don’t see why I should be interested in HW reviews that give me 20 Game benchmarks and then leave out things that affect me in my personal context: power consumption (with TR being an exception here), Eclipse startup and compilation speed, Photoshop filters, MySQL performance, Avid Xpress export/filters, etc.

    Even with the right benchmarks, display resolution, contrast and brightness have so much more influence on my PC experience than Mhz nowadays that I’m getting bored with yet another CPU review. Good office tables and chairs, now that’d a topic!

    But there is indeed an ethusiast community developing around Laptops that is not so much centered on gaming…

      • Cuhulin
      • 12 years ago

      I agree with you that most of what has been directed at the enthusiast community has been way too focused on gaming.

      This results in PC enthusiasts falling off in numbers as the existing enthusiasts grow older and have other interests as well as games, and younger gamers find machines they can afford more easily pre-built — except maybe for video cards and related improvements in power supplies.

      At the same time, I think “tech enthusiasts” are finding new interests, like customizing and modding their cell-phones or building HD home theaters, which, as #22 noted, are increasingly being separated from computers by DRM garbage in the vain thought that billions more would be sold. (Who but the wealthy idiots in Hollywood would think that a kid who copied 100 albums would have paid $1600 if there was no peer-to-peer? How many of the copiers have that kind of money?)

      Add to that the fact that CPU speed increases are smaller than they used to be — we don’t get a lot of 50-100% increases anymore — and less significant in all but the laptop space, and there is just less excitement about the hardware.

      I think TR should branch out a bit in order to respond to this, and pick up some matters beyond gaming and its related components.

    • green
    • 12 years ago

    enthusiasts have led the way in bringing the pc mainstream

    pc’s and their derivatives are now found in many nooks and crannies
    atm’s, info desks, mobile phones, pda’s, in-car systems, etc
    the most obvious is the giant network that brings the world to your fingers
    instant communication, online shopping, information a click away
    enthusiasts have also helped push the boundaries of demand
    real-time 3d, digital content, multi-tasking, distributed projects, etc

    but the time of the enthusiast is coming to an end
    pc’s were a new frontier with boundaries to explore and push
    mass adoption has resulted in segmentation of the community
    we have over-clockers, gamers, mod’ers/ricers, analyzers, etc
    for every new frontier a market is created and commercialized
    we’re at odds with each-other and picking sides in battles

    the mass range of choice has killed many things
    it was exciting getting that one model in the limited range and getting so much “more” out of it
    now we have cheapo-end, low-end, low-mid range, mid-range, high-mid range, mid-high-end, and insane-end
    all of which are designed to fit to a specific type of market and use
    and gimped enough so the enthusiast will spend hours trying then give up

    the frontiers are also being realized and exploited and freedoms have been lost
    we now have ‘enthusiast’ products for which we have to pay a premium for
    most of which aren’t even what an enthusiast would actually want to buy
    unlocked multiplier? that’ll be an extra $400 for that privilege please
    software tweaking? we’ll sue! didn’t you read the end-user license agreement
    plain decent case? closest thing we have is the bling master 3000
    hardware acting up? yes just download the v63.43.omg.x beta 97 driver

    there has been little innovation to really make us say ‘wow’
    instead we’re fed increments and installments with bugs and patch-fests
    “product x 7% faster in benchmarks”. too bad it still ‘feels’ the same
    “75% more eye-candy”, “more features you never use”, “now with added bloat”
    most innovation appeals to mainstream so the enthusiast loses interest

    the community itself is dumbing down and shrinking
    the people that used to sell computers didn’t know crap all about it
    when something broke the enthusiast would dive in and explore
    enthusiasts were the bastions of knowledge and know-how
    now the knowledge is online and the enthusiast is selling the computer in-store
    when something breaks the people go back and demand their money back
    with a broader range of people coming in the overall knowledge has thinned out

    above all this is physics. unfortunately the research has simply not kept up
    i can remember being able to cool a pentium chip with a 40mm hsf i couldn’t even hear
    now we’ve got 120mm monstrosities taking up an entire quadrant in the case
    such cooling used to be relegated to pushing the limits of operation
    these days it’s bling-tasitic to have your motherboard straining from the weight with a rainbow of led colours

    the time of the enthusiast is ending
    the industry itself is in a rut
    we need a revolution!

    /rant

    • End User
    • 12 years ago

    If anything the past few months have been amazing for the PC enthusiast. Quad core is affordable. HD’s are hitting 1TB (750’s are at a nice price point). Memory is cheap. To top it all off the current wave of new games is awesome!

    Crysis marks the beginning of the next wave of hardware upgrades. Current generation graphics hardware is having a hard time delivering playable framerates for anyone with a 1920×1200+ setup. Alan Wake (amongst others) will use available CPU cores to render physics. PC enthusiasts all over the world will be enthusiastically upgrading their systems just like they have done countless times before. Nothing has changed!

    The current trend of laptops replacing desktops does not have much of an impact on the PC enthusiast as a laptop does not offer what the enthusiast wants – upgradeability. I would wager that many PC enthusiasts have a laptop in addition to their main rig (my main rig is a Quad core tower but I am typing this post on my MBP). If you are an enthusiast with tons of cash there are high end gaming laptops available.

    My Xbox 360 is fun (Forza 2/Halo 3) but there is no way it is replacing my PC.

    I have yet to be prevented from playing any video via my HTPC over HDMI (HDCP be damned!). Nothing is forcing me to my DVR.

    • Matt3471
    • 12 years ago

    I think all this component integration is a step backwards, not forwards in terms of system performance. When a motherboard has too many integrated components the performance can become seriously degraded. Even a mid-range video card can easily out perform on-board graphics. A good sound card can drastically improve system performance too. If your serious about your LAN you really consider buying a good LAN card. The motherboard should just be the place where all the other major components plug-in.

      • just brew it!
      • 12 years ago

      Well, I’ll agree with you on the video card. The rest of ’em, not so much.

      A good discrete soundcard will improve fidelity. Overall performance impact is fairly small though.

      On the network interface, there’s no reason a decent NIC can’t be integrated on the motherboard, and some better motherboards do exactly that — you can get motherboards with integrated Marvell and Broadcom network interfaces. NICs integrated into the southbridge have been getting a lot better as well (just don’t install nVidia’s ActiveArmor crapware).

      It makes sense to integrate stuff like network and storage (SATA) interfaces. Unless you’re talking about really high-end stuff with dedicated on-board processors and cache, integrated will perform just as well as discrete.

        • End User
        • 12 years ago

        I agree with you just brew it!. With my SLI setup I only have one PCI slot available to me (the others are covered up by the video cards). I love the fact that motherboards ship with high quality options built in. No need for a RAID controller card or a NIC. I am one of the few who like Creative sound cards so that is my only deviation from onboard hardware.

    • flip-mode
    • 12 years ago

    Cheese?

    • moshpit
    • 12 years ago

    Considering this year has seen more triple A PC gaming titles then any year since the century began, I’d call it shortsightedly premature to announce the death of PC gaming and the enthusiasts that DIY it. One after another top title has been hitting hard this year, and they just keep getting better. And 08 looks even more rich in triple A titles. Many of these are PC exclusive.

    DirectX 10 is just taking off and beginning to catch on, multicore games are more prevalent then ever, both of the big CPU makers are tailoring new architectures for the next few years aimed specifically at PC gaming, I’d have to say NOPE to the death toll sayers of PC gaming. As others have already said, this has been a silly subject now for years, people predicting the imminent death of PC gaming. I remember hearing that line of cock-and-bull back when I had brand new Geforce 3 sitting in my Athlon 1.4Ghz machine which was brutal for it’s time. I also remember thinking the whole idea of PC gaming being dead was as ridiculous then as I find the idea now. Now I’m sitting on a rig with a GPU that’s 5 generations faster, a CPU that’s multiple times more powerful, 4 times as much memory that just happens to be 3+ times faster as well, and it’s only mid range for this gaming generation. And no end of top notch gaming hardware coming out is in sight.

    • herothezero
    • 12 years ago

    q[

    • barich
    • 12 years ago

    I built, last year, a high-end computer. Core 2 Duo, 4 GB of RAM, WD Raptor, etc. It was expensive, but it is very fast.

    I don’t use it. Instead, I use my 3-year-old Compaq laptop, which is falling apart and very slow compared to the desktop. I don’t play PC games, you see, and the CPU intensive work that I do (graphics and video) I dont do very often.

    So, I just bought a loaded Thinkpad T61. I’m going to sell the desktop and old laptop, and I probably won’t build or have a desktop again. I still consider myself a PC enthusiast, but I now value portability over speed. It’s just not fun to sit at a desk when I could be relaxing on a couch.

      • A_Pickle
      • 12 years ago

      Exaaaaactly. I play games and do movies and such, so I have a pretty kicked up laptop. But still…

      …it’s a laptop. 😀

    • indeego
    • 12 years ago

    I’m not the enthusiast I used to be.

    I no longer get gleefully excited each new Graphics card release.

    Benchmarks bore me, unless I see one that shows a 50% improvement on it’s predecessor (rare, that).

    Time has become more valuable to me. I don’t even invest in games unless I’m pretty sure I’m going to love it. I don’t have patience for sub-par games, Operating systems, software.

    The last PC I built was a TR recommended system from newegg. After I bought it, I benchmarked it (using 7zip, which scales very well against all ranges of PC’s) against Core 2 Duo HP systems from work. They came very close to performing just like my custom system, and they were cheaper and no hassle. That had me scratching my head. The HP systems were 1/5 the size of my own huge tower that took me 2-3 hours of building, (yeah I take my time, triple check) not to mention the OS install later. Why bother anymore? I mean sure you want good graphics, put in your card, but the idea of building my own has wanedg{<...<}g

      • ReAp3r-G
      • 12 years ago

      that sounds really dreary…

      man i’m still as excited as i was when i first started getting into it…which was about a decade ago…everyting new entices me

      benchmarks aren’t neccessary to me…all i want to c are improvements, no matter how small they are…and reading reviews, i read the product features, glance at the pictures and go to the cpu, memory or graphics performance then straight to the conclusion

      • A_Pickle
      • 12 years ago

      I dunno. Like, I guess I could see that, but…

      My tech motivation becomes rather inspired every time a friend of mine comes and begs me to fix their computer. HP, no-hassle? You’ve got to be kidding me. I don’t know how many damn HP’s I’ve fixed in the past several weeks, and it pisses me off.

      It makes me SO mad that there are companies out there, like Dell, and HP, and Acer, and Gateway (yeah, yeah, I know they merged) and all of those other OEMs with BILLIONS, I say again, BILLIONS of dollars at their disposal. And what do they do? Sit on their hands and release mediocre PC’s, occasionally coming out with a radical different one — and that proves my point that, when they want to, they can do amazing things.

      But mostly, they’re content being Dell, or HP, or Acer — releasing plain old PC’s that lack just enough features to make you lust over and keep you coming back to the market. It really bothers me to see the lack of excellence and pride in modern PC companies, and that’s what keeps me motivated as a tech enthusiast — hoping to turn my hobby into a future business.

    • mirkin
    • 12 years ago

    For my latest Linux box, I built an Asus bare bones. If ever there was a sign of the impending apocalypse … that was it.

    The death of the enthusiast will look more like a dwindling of numbers. Platforms will mature, become progressively cheaper and be very complete. Consoles could become the preferred platform for all video gaming, and handhelds will be able to handle all the A/V stuff many people now use laptops / desktops for. PC enthusiasts will be relegated to corporate computing environments, and that will cure them of their enthusiasm.

    • Firestarter
    • 12 years ago

    Enthusiasts will find a way to tinker with their toys, and the greater commodity of those toys will only make the market more forthcoming to these enthusiasts.

    • eitje
    • 12 years ago

    as geeks, we’ll always tinker… but does anyone still build their own TVs anymore?

      • liquidsquid
      • 12 years ago

      Exactly. On to the next hobby. First it was Hams, then PC enthusiasts, now likely green homes and cars.

      • loydc1
      • 12 years ago

      yes my pc is my tv! i can record 3 hd tv shows an record on on “any” chable ch. tvo cant do that!

      • ludi
      • 12 years ago

      TVs, no. Audio hardware…definitely. And between that, Team Fortress 2, work, and general living expenses….I haven’t bought any new hardware in months. I think the last major new thing I bought was my laptop (June-ish?) and a couple upgrades/accessories for it.

    • BenBasson
    • 12 years ago

    I think the real killer of the “hardware enthusiast” (shall I just go ahead and interpret this as computer builder?) will be cheap off-the-shelf solutions that don’t suck.

    Sure, Dell aren’t ever going to offer huge bang for buck, but Overclockers UK are already offering a fantastic range of pre-overclocked PCs for the gaming/high-end performance market at pretty decent prices (pretty decent for the UK, anyway). In my mind, it’s difficult to justify the extra effort of a self-build when you can get a professionally built and supported PC by people who actually know what they’re doing.

    I’m not saying they’ll take up the entire “enthusiast”/self-build market, but if more small companies start pushing products like this at reasonable prices (with free hardware support and decent warranties), it’s going to be hard to ignore.

    As for the further integration of components – I’m not entirely convinced that we’ll see any worthwhile results for anything other than laptops for a good while yet. Discrete graphics cards aren’t going to go away all the time there’s a market for them, and the only way that’ll change is when CPUs or motherboards can offer a realistic alternative.

    Sound cards may be further integrated with only minor performance losses, but the audiophile crowd won’t stand for reduced fidelity or the other problems associated with integrated sound.

    • just brew it!
    • 12 years ago

    Lots of interesting perspectives here. Allow me to give mine.

    I’ve probably been a “PC enthusiast” longer than 99% of you. I built my first PC circa 1978, when “building a PC” had a very different meaning than it does now. You bought “kits” which consisted of a bare printed circuit card, a bag of parts, and a Xeroxed schematic diagram. Building a PC required the use of a soldering iron, and making it do something useful sometimes involved writing your own device drivers.

    Times have changed; yes, PCs have become much more of a commodity. Yet, enthusiasts are still around. I don’t think PC enthusiasts will ever go away; they will just become an ever-smaller percentage of the total population. Look at the automobile. 100 years ago, cars were novelties. To keep one running, you had to tinker and improvise, just as I did with my first PC 30 years ago. Today, auto enthusiasts still exist; but they represent a small percentage of all auto owners.

    Something else to consider. Even though people who “roll their own” represent a much smaller percentage of total PC users, in terms of absolute numbers I’ll bet there are just as many as ever, if not more. Easy availability of parts and technical knowledge/assistance over the Internet makes it easier for people to dive in.

    There’s a good chance that software and content will be the new frontier.

    Linux makes a wide range of software development tools available for free; and while it is still not quite “ready for prime time” on Joe Sixpack’s desktop, it’s a geek’s wet dream. In some ways, Linux is a throwback to the DIY attitude of the early PC days. Stable, accelerated OpenGL support for Linux is finally becoming a reality across all of the major GPUs; there are some huge opportunities for tinkering there. Maybe we’ll even see a hugely popular game come out of the Open Source community in the next couple of years.

    Even in the realm of commercial games, we’re seeing a lot of user-generated content. User-written levels for UT and such. The communities that spring up around games which facilitate user-generated content are just a microcosm of how things could work in the future, in the broader “entertainment software” universe.

    Heh… looks like I’ve rambled on quite a bit. PUI FTW… 😀

      • swaaye
      • 12 years ago

      Yup you’ve got me beat by about 10 yrs. My first PC was a Tandy 1000 TX. A 286 XT, basically. Had a weird 20 MB hard card… That must have been around ’86.

      There was definitely a lot more mystery surrounding PCs back then and it sucked me right in. I wish I still had a few of those Computer Shopper mags that were 800 pgs of legal-size paper. 🙂

      Oh how I miss dot matrix printers and their beautiful sound!

      • Snake
      • 12 years ago

      No, you didn’t ramble – I am in the same boat you are. I first got “into” computers in 1978, and have seen it (the technology) pretty much come and go.

      Amazingly, I do not feel that we are truly where we should be, technology-wise, at this point. The technology industry has / was, for a long time, been so focused on ‘compatibility’ that true inginuity, true breakthroughs in the science, have taken a back seat.

      But, as I posted in my other reply, I’m with you: hardware is no longer, or will not be for long, the main interest. The results are important, while the hardware used to acquire it is beginning to lose importance.

      I see that as a good thing – it empowers the mind, thinking of the results, rather than simply fueling the desire for the material goods that the computer itself represents.

    • todd
    • 12 years ago

    Has anyone worked on dell’s newest flavor of the month? It’s complete crap.
    There will always be a place for quality.

    • Mr Bill
    • 12 years ago

    I blame M$ for gradually closing Windows to user development of programs. Back in 1983-86 I could get a FORTRAN or C compiler for $50 and write and compile my own programs. Or, you could write batch scripts and do some nifty things. It wasn’t Unix but at least you could write your own programs and interactions with the system. Every time I figured out how to do something it was like a jolt of caffeine to the central nervous system. Each version of Windows has made it harder to run role your own software and its even more bitter when you consider the >10 times high cost of modern compilers. Our salaries however have not increased by >10X. Between 1994 and 1998 I became pretty good with basic macros in Excel spreadsheets. I wrote lab data crunching applications in Excel Basic. Then MS upgrades Excel for more money and makes all the old macro language worthless. With every upgrade users are separated farther from their PC’s and forced to become consumers. The Gates and Jobs of the world have worked to crush the Woz out of us all because it makes them more money.

      • just brew it!
      • 12 years ago

      I have one word for you: Linux.

      • Flying Fox
      • 12 years ago

      If you don’t want to hear the L-word, I have another set of words for you:
      – MinGW + DevC++
      – Visual Studio Express

      Not even $50.

        • echo_seven
        • 12 years ago

        Not a direct argument against the “turning us into consumers” notion, but I’ve got to say that Microsoft’s efforts in Visual Basic are encouraging for user development. You can write (or should I say, click and drag) some really powerful programs really fast, and all the API drudgery is taken care of for you.

      • Xenolith
      • 12 years ago

      The express versions of Visual Basic, Visual C#, Visual C++, etc. are all free downloads. Have a ball, you little code monkey.

    • idiotrepublican
    • 12 years ago

    Yes we are in the final throws of death.

    Do not plummet in despair my fellow tech nerds. While this era is ending a new one is just around the corner. For example Robotics.

      • swaaye
      • 12 years ago

      I want to make a phaser. Can we do that instead?

        • idiotrepublican
        • 12 years ago

        Anything you want. Just do not test it or use it anywhere near me or my friends/family. I am personally partial to a light-saber.

        If the physicists at CERN can finally find a Higgs Boson, we can just make whatever we want from a 9 volt battery.

          • swaaye
          • 12 years ago

          Hmmm yes. Lightsaber would work too. Also want to get the repulsorlift engines figured out.. That should quiet down highways quite nicely! (as long as the whine isn’t too bad heh)

    • PetMiceRnice
    • 12 years ago

    It’s tough to say. On the one hand, my passion for gaming and upgrading is only a shadow of what it was back in the 1990s. On the other hand, when the time does come to build a new computer (or upgrade several components in an old one), I still enjoy going through the process of picking out each individual part that goes into the system. My current tower is 11 months old now, but it was still fun to me going to a local computer store and choosing all of the parts and going over it with them. To me, it’s a much better option than picking a brand-name off-the-shelf system where they choose all the parts, load it with a bunch of crapware, and make it difficult for you to upgrade later.

    I hope as time goes on that hobbyists will continue on with choosing their own parts and go with their own custom-built systems, but I guess it depends on how viable PC gaming is going forward into the future. Any brand-name computer is able to do all of the “basics” and is enough for most users, so it depends on how much desire there is to go beyond that.

    When it comes to laptops, I do buy brand names (currently running a Compaq), but I don’t care because I don’t need anything powerful. It’s mostly just being used for Internet and e-mail, etc.. No heavy lifting of any sort.

    • l33t-g4m3r
    • 12 years ago

    DRM, overpricing, bloatware, spyware, forum trolls/shills/fanboys, and consoles have killed the pc.
    Vista is crap. I am _[

      • blastdoor
      • 12 years ago

      “forum trolls/shills/fanboys”

      ++++++

      I don’t know if the quality of forums has fallen, or maybe it’s always been low and I’m just getting tired of it. Either way, though, it’s definitely something that is pushing me away from this world. I’d say that in the last year I’ve been far less interested in reading and posting to computer tech forums (including TR) than I used to be.

      I think sites like TR should consider enforcing tougher anti-douchebaggery rules.

        • gerbilspy
        • 12 years ago

        Maybe you are just growing out of it…like little league baseball. Something you just LOVE until you don’t anymore.

      • PerfectCr
      • 12 years ago

      l[

    • Prospero424
    • 12 years ago

    I’d say that the term “PC enthusiast” is overly specific. I don’t know anyone I would apply that label to who isn’t a general technology enthusiast, anyway, and that’s where I see this going.

    “Convergence” may be an overly-used and rightfully-ridiculed marketing term, but it’s also a reality. Products like the iPhone, the Nokia Linux-based mobiles, smartphones, etc. that normally operate independently but require a PC for maintenance and content prove that there is still a role for a home PC, but it is shrinking.

    Ironically, I think the model for the future, as far as PCs, will follow the “antiquated” paradigm of the mainframe: every house will have a central, upgradeable PC that controls various day-to-day operations of the house like climate control, lighting, fills service roles like scheduling and Internet gateway, etc., and acts as a server on which content is stored and doled out to various satellite devices like PDAs, game consoles, media centers, etc.

    I think there will continue to be an enthusiast market for media centers for a long, long time because, let’s face it, home theater guys and audiophiles like to put together their own options and like to be on the bleeding edge. They’re geeks. I don’t see that changing any time soon, and I don’t see things like the Apple TV or DVRs making big headway in this regard because the scope of these devices is simply too narrow. A solution like CableCard WILL eventually have to be accepted by the big carriers, whether they like it or not.

    Gaming is complicated. Despite the popular misconception, PC gaming is keeping up with the sales of the major consoles, even if it doesn’t beat all of them put together, which is how it’s usually framed. But I don’t know how long that will last.

    Besides, game consoles, at a base level, ARE PCs. The only thing separating an XBOX 360 or a PS3 from, say, a gaming laptop or small form factor gaming PC is the software that’s running on it. The actual functionality of the hardware is almost indistinguishable, and they’re just about as upgradeable and “tinkerable” as the average laptop is these days.

    The true strength of the PC, as far as gaming, lies with its value to developers, as a proving ground for new technology, and with it’s inherent flexibility. This is a role that consoles can never replace unless they become far, far more modular and upgradeable, which I don’t see happening. As far as I’m concerned, PC gaming will remain THE place for gaming innovation for the foreseeable future.

    As far as the integration of hardware like putting video controllers on the same die as CPUs and such: I don’t see that as a threat to the existence of PC enthusiasts so much as I see it as making being one that much easier and accessible. This trend is no more a threat to the PC enthusiast community than the (almost) complete disappearance of DIP switches from motherboards was. I see integrating graphics on the chip as simply a more economical replacement for integrating graphics on the motherboard, as is currently done for casual/business-level graphics controllers, not as a replacement for enthusiast/gamer-level graphics.

    I just don’t see discrete graphics going away in the near future. I mean sure, it may eventually happen, but we have a loooong way to go until the pace of technological development in real-time graphics rendering flattens out to the point that such a thing would ubiquitous.

    Anyway, that’s how I see it. Our kids will grow up being technology enthusiasts, just as we did.

    • Spotpuff
    • 12 years ago

    I think devices will become more portable and miniaturized, handheld. You’ll have a pocket pc for almost everything, and internet terminals in every room for various access.

    PCs will be a hobby device, but it’s going to be like, I don’t know, woodworking or something similar. Useful, but not nearly as ubiquitous as it is now.

    • albundy
    • 12 years ago

    heh, just watched the new mac os x leopard viddy at
    §[<http://www.apple.com/macosx/guidedtour/<]§ and I just lost enthusiasm for windows. Microsoft is a total disappointment when it comes to new windows releases. if you dare watch it, it will blow you away. wish i could use it with my hardware though.

      • blastdoor
      • 12 years ago

      Leopard does look wicked cool. I just wish I could use it at work.

      • indeego
      • 12 years ago

      I’d watch it, but I’m afraid I don’t use Quicktime. POS, insecure bloated crapg{<.<}g

        • Toasty
        • 12 years ago

        Then use QTLite, all the codecy goodness, none of the bloat
        Get it here: §[<http://www.codecguide.com/qt_lite.htm<]§

          • indeego
          • 12 years ago

          Oh I know about it, I even used to use it. I refuse to use anything quicktime anymore, third party or notg{<.<}g

            • End User
            • 12 years ago

            Why not?

            QuickTime uses open standards. Whats not to like?

            I lean towards DivX from a compatibility point of view as it is more widely used and they have extended out to set-top DVD players.

            • 5150
            • 12 years ago

            DO NOT QUESTION THE INDEEGO!

      • End User
      • 12 years ago

      Leopard is the better OS but the Mac is not the better gaming platform.

    • sigher
    • 12 years ago

    My reasons for losing interest revolve around the updatecycle being so speedy, if you take the time to really select a nice system in that time you took to read reviews over-the-counter cheap PC’s have become more powerful than my thoughtful tweaked choices and announcements are made that my choices will be discontinued.
    So then you have to start from scratch again and there’s constantly new mobo’s new sockets new kinds of RAM new slots for graphicscards new everything that you lose the energy to keep track or the will to pump in cash for something that will be obsolete before the order is processed, so you end up just going for the obvious mainstream setup and curb your enthusiasm and be content with what you got.

    And it’s not just for computers, the same applies to PMP’s and other technology.

    • TheTechReporter
    • 12 years ago

    First the article essentially asks “are PC enthusiasts dying?”, then all of the examples he cites ask “are enthusiast PC’s dying?”, which is a _COMPLETELY_ different question. Am I the only one to find it odd that he’s trying to link these 2 thoughts as if they depend on one another somehow?

    That said, the short answer is that no, PC enthusiasts aren’t going anywhere. Overclocking will still be useful (it’s not like most OC’ers actually _needed_ the performance increase to begin with), PC gaming will live on (“Average Joe” may not care about PC’s inevitably surpassing consoles each generation, but gamers like me certainly do), people will still mod their PC’s just for the fun of it (neon lights, etc.), I could go on and on….

    The fact of the matter is that now is actually the best time for enthusiasts. Parts are cheap, everything from OC’ing to tweaking games to performing intricate mods is easier than ever before (but still not easy enough for “Average Joe”). Also, let’s not forget that laptops and CE devices can still be OC’ed, modded, etc. Just because desktops _may_ die out doesn’t mean enthusiast activities have to go along with them.

    • albundy
    • 12 years ago

    “And home theater PCs have been locked out of playing with most forms of HD video via “content protection” standards that keep HD movies and TV shows from being manipulated freely”

    Says you! I beg to differ.

    • Smurfer2
    • 12 years ago

    All this doom and gloom. I doubt desktops and PC enthusiasts are going anyone. Most people use to, and continue to, buy from OEMs. Prices on them have dropped. As for PC gaming, I dunno. People have been predicting its downfall for a while. I think you just need to look at WOW to see if it is failing to make money. 😛 People on this forum who have and use desktops they built will probably continue to do that.

    • SGT Lindy
    • 12 years ago

    I would say that PC enthusiasts will never go away totally but for the most part it’s coming to the end.

    I remember building my first 286-12mhz when I was 21…..20 years ago. It was one continuous upgrade with some part being part of the last PC and never a complete replacement. Up until my Pentium D 920 and my 7800GT.

    It was all for gaming and tweaking around as my IT career grew. My first overclocK was my Pentium 133mhz to 166mhz using the ASUS P4T Pentium mobo…..then the famous Celeron 300A slot 1 to a 450mhz overclock on my Abit mobo. I wasted so many hours on PC games. Back in the Quake/Quake 2 days when I worked for PacBell and had a dual channel ISDN line (128k) and owned all over those 28.8k High ping bastards.

    PC’s back then were used at work or by IT geeks. Now they are everywhere, and everyone has one. They are as you state very integrated and so very cheap. Example my first sound card was an Adlib board, then a ISA sound blaster board (the orginal) that I had to set the IRQ on…IRQ7 to be exact and if I printed to my parrellel dot matrix printer and played sound at the same time DOS would lockup from a IRQ conflict I kept on upgrading and messing with my sounds cards over the years. Now I have a cheap HP notebook that has some integrated sound on it that I only want it to work…and could care less who makes it.

    Joe Six Pack….want a PC to do certain things (internet, music, email, photos) and when that PC gets slow he gets a new one after 3-5 years. He does not give a rats ass what components make up the PC…he just wants it to run. Joe has also given up on PC games and all of their “requirements” to get a game running, drivers, patches, hardware upgrades. Joe has moved on to the play-n-tray consoles gaming for good.

    I laugh at the one comment here that predicts DX10 gaming will be the end of console gaming….that is fraqing funny stuff. Please wake up and realize PC gaming looses more money each year and console gaming just grows and grows. Xbox Live has proven that console gaming can do MP gaming quite well. If it were not for WOW and that type of cash cow gaming PC gaming would almost be gone. Simply console gaming is cheaper to make, cheaper to support and has much greater ROI than PC gaming. I predict that if Crysys releases on the 360….it will sell more copies there than on the PC.

    Like I said PC enthusiasts will never go away but it will come close as long, as long as some tard wants to waste $$$$$$ to get the best 3dmark2017 score for pure e-penis joy, it will live another day. If was fun when it was unique and different. Now it’s just a total waste of time.

      • swaaye
      • 12 years ago

      I don’t know…. I have bunches of consoles in my history, and have all current ones excluding the PS3. In the end, I spend more time on my PC than any of the others. Why? Because of mods and the PC community, which I generally find to be really a lot more interesting and “mature” perhaps.

      Consoles provide me with extra entertainment, for sure though. I’m a fan of racing sims and consoles really are the only place to get that fix. But otherwise, I’m really only interested in a few of the exclusive titles. Mass Effect will get my $$. Games that are multi-platform get played on PC where I can jack the detail and quality way up and use a KB/mouse.

      Even if I can’t stand MMOs, they are unbelievably popular and they offer an experience that simply can not be had on the little consoles. Of course, consoles certainly offer some social options of their own.

      I’d say the platforms are certainly converging. The consoles are, like I said, getting previously PC-centric genres. 360 especially however has some huge holes in its lineup. It’s mainly an action game/sports game machine.

      The primary reason consoles don’t just take over the world right now though is that they are so controlled. There is no modding community. That is a major problem, and I don’t see it getting fixed because the manufacturers like their complete and total control. I’ve played with some stunning mod team work in the past few years and I sure wouldn’t want to lose that capability/flexibility.

      • sigher
      • 12 years ago

      You sure like the sound of your own keyboard.

    • wingless
    • 12 years ago

    I think the problem is that software is not pushing the capabilities of hardware to the limits like it used to. We have 3 out of 4 64-bit cores doing nothing most of the time so we haven’t even seen the power of our current hardware yet. Without cutting edge software that makes our top-of-the-line hardware look weak we no longer get the fulfillment and joy of upgrading to a new CPU and seeing the two or three fold increase in performance like we used to do in the olden days.

    I don’t think it matters too much if more parts are becoming integrated or not. The hobby of system building will just mean we’ll have different and newer types of machines and configurations to build. It also will never be allowed to die because there is MONEY in it for manufacturers and thats ultimately what counts.

    “The market has spoken” -Colbert

    • BobbinThreadbare
    • 12 years ago

    At some point DIY laptops have to become a reality, right?

      • sigher
      • 12 years ago

      If we develop tiny alien-like tendril fingers maybe.

    • doobtribe
    • 12 years ago

    Ill just repeat what some have said.

    Enthusiasts are undoubtedly not extinct, its the prices that are just way to prohibitive for the common enthusiast.
    Not to mention the poor drivers and other nuisances of the enthusiast products that should never have in the first place(considering the products price),

      • swaaye
      • 12 years ago

      PC components are cheaper than ever, courtesy of becoming commodities. Hardware also works better than ever before, is insanely easier to set up, and is obviously doing a hell of a lot more too. We even get lots of ridiculous bling now which should attract those street racer types in droves!

        • doobtribe
        • 12 years ago

        Your not on the same ground of “enthusiast” that i refered to, people that spend the most for the latest and best, such as SLI/CF enthusiasts that spend big cash not only on the graphics cards but the best motherboards with 2 16lanes PCIe motherboards and topnotch powersupplys to feed the watter cooling and all the stuff it can fit in and build and tweakit by themselfs!, and still after all the money spent nuisances and bugs easilly show up on most games out there, attention only goes to the top titles while many stay forgotten and patches get buried over hype on some other new product that arrives a year later.
        As for 64 bit drivers/software then….wont even go there.
        Thats what PC enthusiasts are, and those are not cheap commodities.

        People that buy a low/midle entry budget pc is not a enthusiast.

          • willyolio
          • 12 years ago

          wrong. enthusiasts and money spenders are not the same thing. in fact, enthusiasts usually spawn from people with [i]less[/i] money, using their knowledge to get more bang for their buck. the first few people who overclocked their CPUs and GPUs weren’t about spending as much as they can afford. or the people who undervolt their fans to make them run slower and quieter. and let’s not get started on case modders…

          i would define an enthusiast as a person who’s enthusiastic about his computer. not someone who just blows a ton of money on it. there’s a reason ultra-cheap and low-power parts like VIA’s C7 or nano-ITX motherboards sell at all. it’s not because non-enthusiasts are looking for cheap computers, i can tell you that.

            • doobtribe
            • 12 years ago

            Utter bullshit, enthusiasts go mainly for good high performance hardware, but im not saying they wont (as i) have also a midle/low end pc for acting as a (media)server running with old (that was once highend) hardware.

            • Ethyriel
            • 12 years ago

            You’re being very narrow minded.

            • Kharnellius
            • 12 years ago

            Where do you get these cute little ideas?

    • Ethyriel
    • 12 years ago

    I don’t think we’ll become extinct, but I think we’ll go back to our more humble roots from all this neon lighted madness. When the big thing used to be overclocking and highly effective cooling (remember the craze over Alpha heatsinks and Delta fans? The Obsidian single card SLI?) there really weren’t all that many of us, and then there was an explosion of ricer types which got mistaken for techies. But as that happened that smaller subset continued to exist in high end cooling, power efficient, and silencing circles. I think people will move on from the idiocy of quad graphics cards, neon lights, and cheaply made 1250w power supplies and the evolution of that original group of tech enthusiasts will live on.

    • BoBzeBuilder
    • 12 years ago

    Well if it is, I suggest you start looking for another job Scott.

      • indeego
      • 12 years ago

      Why? You can still buy a dell and put in parts that Scott reviews.

      I read maybe 20% of the reviews on TR, I buy OEM for work and generally am out of the enthusiast game, but the ones I do read I get a kick out of, and it keeps me coming backg{<...<}g

    • Cova
    • 12 years ago

    Enthusiasts won’t go away – just what we do and how we do it will change, and already is. When I first really started getting into PCs, overclocking the CPU was about all there was for hardware modification – no-one was doing case-mods yet, the top video-card was a Voodoo 2 (or 2 of them), 3D was just starting and no-one had heard of the internet yet.

    But as time passes, the enthusiasts role is changing from tweaking out a single system, to integrating many different systems that were usually not designed to work together (or with DRM designed specifically to not work together). So now instead of just being the guy everyone calls when their computer breaks, the enthusiast is becoming the guy you call when you want to get your DRM’d songs from itunes onto your zune, or want to setup a file-server for media distribution/sharing around the house. Like everything else in this industry, we’re getting more and more involved in the content, as the PC components turn into cheap commodities.

    • Hance
    • 12 years ago

    virtual reality prOn sign me up

      • Gungir
      • 12 years ago

      You might want to Google Virtual Hottie 2.

      Terrifying.

    • blastdoor
    • 12 years ago

    Yup — it’s pretty much over for the DIY PC builder dudes. I know I dropped out of that game about a year ago.

    But I don’t think that’s the end of computer geeks. I think people will just redirect their tinkering efforts from hardware to software. Maybe some hardcore hardware types will focus on other types of hardware — maybe DIY power generation, or something along those lines.

    • marvelous
    • 12 years ago

    I think to a point enthusiast will slowly heading for extinction.

    Maybe within 10 years we will all have all the power we need to game in photo realistic environments. Then what? What kind of processing power do you need life after gaming PC? Virtual reality? Getting high off of virtual worlds with gadgets sticking out of are minds? Only time will tell.

    • matnath1
    • 12 years ago

    As long as last years best graphics card and cpu end up costing 1/3rd or 1/4th of what they were only those with large walletts and little regard for value will continue as enthusiasts.

    Consoles’ will become less relevant to me as PC technology pulls further and further away. In the next year or so, as Direct X 10 titles flex more muscle, the consoles “eye candy” will look more aged and there will be a more compelling reason to spend more on PC upgrades. Similar to the way direct x 9 now makes DX 8 obsolete?

    In the here and now, A decent PC only hold’s a slight advantage over a PS3 or Xbox 360 but that will soon change. Todays High end Graphics cards cost $400 to $600 and BARELY break 40 fps at 16 x 12 with some eye candy on initial DX titles. The 8800 GTX and HD 2900 will drop in price too much next year and probably be slower than next years mid range parts while consuming more power. I will wait for the GeForce 9 series or the HD 3000 or 4000 whatever DAAMIT decides to call it to buy a more power efficient, and powerful single slot mid range card that will probably break 40 FPS with 4x 8x on Crysis etc.

    Just as an example, i bought an ATI X1800 XT 512MB for $400 3 months after it was released and the X1900 series was unleashed. I also went for a $400 X2 4200 +. Also 2 gigs of DDR 400 for I think $180 and a 220 gig H/d for $90. (DVDRW for $100??) Plus the case and PSU etc.
    I sold this system on eBay for only $350 when it cost me $1,200 to build it.
    Last month I bought an 8600GTS for $107 off of Newegg’s open box site which outperforms the X1800 while using FAR less power (YES I HAVE DONE THE HOMEWORK ON THIS) and a complete Dell Desktop with an AMD 2.8ghz AM2 X2 5600+ a 320 gig H/d and 2 gig’s of ram for less than that X2 4200+ cost by itself. I will never do that again. This system breaks 30 fps on LOST PLANET at 1280 x 720 2x 8x with no problem. ( I added 2 gigs of DDR 667 for $40 bucks so now have 4 gigs of DDR 667!) Total cost of this system was only $700 and it kicks is adequate. Next year I can add a phenom quad core and a next gen mid range card and be set for a while.

    Quad core’s are just not relevant yet but will be. When that times comes, I will be rite in there buying a phenom as well!

      • SGT Lindy
      • 12 years ago

      “Consoles’ will become less relevant as PC technology pulls further and further away. In the next year or so, as Direct X 10 titles flex more muscle, the consoles “eye candy” will look more aged and there will be a more compelling reason to spend more on PC upgrades.”

      hahahahahah NOT. Come on consoles keep gaining market share over PC games….every year for the last 10. Joe Six pack likes the ease of the console way more than he does trying to up the resolution on a PC games. Pure fact.

      The very fact that notebooks are killing the desktop market backs that fact up.

        • swaaye
        • 12 years ago

        Joe Sixpack could’ve bought a SNES instead of a 386/486 too. And consoles were cheaper, PCs more expensive back then.

        Consoles still lack a lot too. Modding, the stupid MMOs, real simulations.

        The great technological circle shall continue. And people will argue about it to no end. Ever search Google Groups for historical console vs. PC arguments?

    • Hance
    • 12 years ago

    I find myself not getting as excited about new stuff as I used to. I must be getting old. I think you will see people building their own desktops for quite a few years to come. I also think you will start to see more and more people building their own laptops as they gain market share. I do think there will be a reduction in numbers of PC enthusiasts though as more and more people want something that JUST WORKS and they dont want to spend time tinkering inside their box.

    When I started build my own systems years ago you could save a ton of money buying the parts and building it yourself. These days that just isnt the case with the type of PC’s most people want. If you still want a high end gamer you can save money rolling your own but if you want mid range or low end I think you better off getting a pre built system.

    • Gungir
    • 12 years ago

    Eventually, like all things, the enthusiast’s time will pass. Devices are becoming more powerful in increasingly mobile and easy-to-use formats, and inevitably, they will, for all practical purposes, replace desktop computers. However, there will always be something for us. iPods to hack, Linux distros to write, hardware to reverse-engineer and re-tune… Plus, with American love of choice, I would be that we’ll eventually see customizable mobile devices with which we can fiddle until they expire in a puff of magic blue smoke.

    If all else fails, there is the universal fallback for tinkerers, the reason engineers exist, and the single universal truth of a technologically sophisticated society; something will always be broken.

      • ew
      • 12 years ago

      If your looking for a customizable mobile devices with which you can fiddle until you expire in a puff of magic blue smoke check this out. §[<http://www.openmoko.com/<]§

    • 1970BossMsutang
    • 12 years ago

    Well it’s still going to be a long time before the core style gpu’s are any good and even then i doubt there performance.

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