Friday night topic: Where do you see PC enthusiasts in 5 years?

Had an interesting conversation with some fellow editors of PC hardware sites recently that revolved around the question: will we still be doing this in five years? There was genuine curiosity about whether PCs built from components will continue to make sense, given the rise of highly integrated devices like tablets and smartphones and the ongoing trend toward mobile computing.

My take was somewhat optimistic, since I think the experience of sitting upright at a desk in front of a large monitor, good speakers, and precision input devices continues to be compelling and engaging, especially for creative pursuits and certain types of gaming. I also think PC enthusiasts are a better served market now than ever before, with better custom components and more refined products. The market may not be growing by leaps and bounds, but its maturity sure has some nice benefits, too.

However, I think some folks have trouble envisioning a path forward for large, complicated desktop PCs, when computers are becoming slick, fast, and easy-to-use consumer devices a la the iPad and such. It is true that a great many of the usage and performance hurdles that drove folks to build big, fast, custom PCs are now essentially solved problems, given the way custom accelerators (for video compression, for instance) and GPUs (for image processing, games, and UI animations) have tackled the pain points.

So, eh, I dunno. I sure would like to have a crazy-awesome hand-built PC in 2017, with a wall-sized monitor as crisp as a printed page, exabytes of instantaneously accessible storage, and enough processing power to run facial recognition on my home video library in seconds. I’d love to be playing Guild Wars 3 on it with fluid, near-photorealistic graphics. But maybe not enough other folks would be compelled by that possibility, if they could get something equivalent to today’s best PCs in a 12" tablet or the next Xbox.

What do you think? Where are we headed, and will the market five years from now look anything like it has for the past decade-plus? Discuss.

Comments closed
    • WaltC
    • 7 years ago

    Many of these comments are just so-o-o-o-oooo short sighted! It’s in questions like these that we separate the men from the boys in terms of imagination. Reminds me of when it was said that “16-bit color is all you need” and “Who needs more than a 20″ CRT?” and at one time it was speculated that the Amiga was the end-all, be-all for computer gaming. It was at one time extremely difficult to imagine a 24-bit, 30 frame-per-second game running at 640×480, believe it or not. According to a lot of folks–we didn’t need anything as highfalutin’ as that. Game developers were quoted saying things like, “I cannot conceive of writing a game that would fill one, let alone more than one, high-density floppy disk!” Etc.

    3d-gaming (not the fake, cheesy stereoscopic stuff) has been the primary gpu-development driver for the last 15 years or so–you might even say, “Since 3dfx” even though 3dfx wasn’t the first, 3dfx was the first to deliver playable frame-rates for 3d games and the first with a functional API (GLIDE). I don’t know about you, but I can see room for worlds of improvement in gpu development.

    4k monitor resolutions at least 30″ in size being commonplace–about as ubiquitous and costly as 1920×1080 LCDs are today–sounds about right, along with gpus and APIs which can render 3d games*indistinguishable* from today’s digital movie/film releases in every respect. We’re a long way from there. I’d say *at least* five years away from there–possibly ten. The future looks bright–and it looks very, very cool from where I’m sitting…;) At that point the Home PC 3d Game industry will become more popular than the current movie industry–and more profitable, too. Just watch.

    Sure, there are always the nay-sayers, the ones who want to call a halt to technology development because it is already too much for their tiny little brains to absorb…;) They’d like everyone to descend to their level of technological understanding and appreciation, but fortunately that’s not going to happen. Even now they cannot comprehend the massive differences between the portable markets (cell-phones, laptops, and tablets, etc.) and the home market for desktops–which is going where I’ve described it above. The portable market won’t go there because the onus of the portable market is portability, not advanced technology–unless you want to call taking yesterday’s tech and shrinking it “advanced,” of course…;)

    It’s perfectly alright with me if the nay-sayers want to remain fixed at their current levels of technological experience and prowess–I don’t mind at all. But that won’t have an iota of an effect on me, because I’m looking for the future that to my eyes, anyway, seems inevitable. I can hardly wait.

      • Jason181
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<]"16-bit color is all you need"[/quote<] In fairness, the people saying this were running 3dfx cards that had much, much better dithering capabilities than the nvidia cards of that time. When I saw an nvidia card running 16-bit color, I understood their adamant stance, but honestly the 3dfx 16-bit color was very close to 32-bit on the nvidia cards. We knew that eventually 32-bit in games would take over, but at the time, the available gpus were way too slow in 32-bit to be worth it; you had to choose lower resolution, lower framerates (literally about 1/2), or lower bpp. The debate raged so hard because people were looking at totally different color quality levels and wondering how the other could possibly come to the conclusion they did.

    • Kaleid
    • 7 years ago

    Consoles will still be the main focus for game developers so we will be in a similar situation. More upgrades will be available than needed..

    OLED and SSD will hopefully be the norm.

    • joselillo_25
    • 7 years ago

    I see them masturbating with porn, like now. Some things will never change.

      • Krogoth
      • 7 years ago

      “Baby, I can fill your PCIe slot with my Geforce 690 in my pocket…..”

    • holophrastic
    • 7 years ago

    I think your wall-sized exabytes is actually the main point. What we’re missing in 2012 (that existed in 2008) are the applications for component hardware. 2012 happens to be a slump where old games are back on consumer-grade devices, mobile internet connections are as slow as they were in the ’90s and home connections are as capped as they were in the ’90s. So all you’ve got left is video chat, which as you’ve said is solved by modern compression algorithms alone.

    But within the next 5 years, something will materialize that won’t be doable on a consumer device at all. It used to be video conferencing, it’ll always be better gaming, but it’ll be something. For example, perhaps it’ll be AI-related — a practical Siri, or a useful home automation, or something robotic, or something much simpler and much more obvious that I haven’t considered.

    Tech Report, and this entire industry, isn’t based on components. It’s based on systems: systems of equasions, systems of components, balancing cost and performance across multiple requirements and multiple components. It’ll come back the moment 1% of the population wants to do something than 95% of the devices can’t do. And if it’s not with CPUs and SSDs, it’ll be with gizmos and widgets.

    No idea what it’ll be though.

    edit: one idea just came to mind.

    Presuming the third-time cycle of thin-clients returning in a few years, it’ll be tablets acting as thin clients to your house, instead of workstations to a mainframe. This will bring Tech Report into the world of what sorts of premium-grade components can be installed into your house in order to enhance your consumer tablet devices — based of course on which brand/model/type/grade of tablet you have, and what sort of features you expect from your home “server”.

    • ronch
    • 7 years ago

    The main components of the PC are the CPU and GPU, and in this regard, I think it really depends on Intel, AMD and Nvidia. Unless AMD stays in the picture I see Intel and Nvidia becoming more and more complacent in the desktop space. If AMD catches up to Intel we may still see the CPU wars go on. Nvidia has to make sure they stay relevant by making sure everyone needs faster and faster graphics performance because they obviously don’t make x86 processors, and they can do that by keeping on whetting people’s appetites for more eye candy, an increasingly difficult task given how far 3D graphics have come. But even if PC hardware continue to advance, I see sales plateauing more and more. Even today you see more and more people hold on to what they have because most folks simply find their systems adequate for the things they’d care to do. This applies to enthusiasts as well, to answer the question. People may be willing and able to spend money for new computer parts but in the end, unless they just wanna bloat their epeens (how do you spell it?), or they just wanna cut their Handbrake encode time to 5 seconds, there will come a point where they’d rather just wait for another year and see what’s in store before committing to an upgrade. Hence, less and less of those days when you come home with a big bag of computer parts, eager to piece together your next build. Man, I miss those days. There’s just no reason to upgrade nowadays, what more in 5 years?

      • twalkman
      • 7 years ago

      I agree. Despite my intentions I haven’t upgraded my CPU in 3 years. I just haven’t seen the value/need. Especially since its a big pain to reinstall the OS, I’ve upgraded GPU a couple of times and installed an SSD drive instead.

    • blitzy
    • 7 years ago

    Things will be much the same as they are now, devices like tablets will still be niche but their form factor an usability will have slightly improved, desktops will still be the hammer you need to get certain jobs done right. Laptops will still be a very welcome middle ground between the two. And there will be new console generations that will raise the bar for graphic fidelity. Hopefully some of the the new input mediums have evolved and improved, i.e. kinect/move, and things like occulus rift VR are making a little headway towards more immersive gaming possibilities.

    • just brew it!
    • 7 years ago

    My predictions (worth exactly what you paid for them) –

    I believe enthusiasts will still be around in 5 years, doing more or less what we do now. The difference will be that non-enthusiasts will not have much need for desktop PCs any more. Smartphones, tablets, and compact “appliance” PCs will adequately serve the needs of the masses. Since desktop PC parts will no longer be commodities, prices will rise a bit since we won’t have the massive economies of scale any more.

    PC gaming will continue to exist. An increasing percentage (though still a minority) of game developers will support Linux, but consoles and Windows-based PCs will still dominate the “serious” gaming market (“casual” games will have completed their migration off of the PC to smartphones and tablets).

    In the enterprise environment, office PCs will increasingly take the form of “all in one” systems built into the monitor, booting from a small internal SSD or over the network, with user files stored on a workgroup server or “in the cloud”. Only “power users” (CAD, EDA, etc.) will actually need dedicated PCs with fast CPUs and lots of internal storage.

    Windows will continue down the path towards the “walled garden” and “software lease” type of environment that they’ve already taken tentative steps toward (Secure Boot, Windows Store Apps, the new MS Office licensing scheme).

    AMD will have pulled out of the desktop x86 CPU market except for a handful of modestly performing APUs (which will likely be used mainly in the above-mentioned appliance PCs). They will still have a significant slice of what will be a much smaller discrete GPU market, and a modest presence in the server and HPC CPU space. High performance CPUs from Intel will be significantly more expensive than we’ve become accustomed to over the past decade or so.

    The vast majority of desktop systems will use SSDs as their only internal mass storage. Motherboards with modest sized SSDs integrated onboard will become widely available. Mechanical hard drives will still be around (and will be available in capacities approaching 10 TB), but will be mostly relegated to servers and niche applications where high capacity is much more important than access time (e.g. DVRs). We will see one or more rounds of consolidation in the SSD market, with smaller vendors merging with each other and/or getting acquired by Western Digital or Seagate.

    Linux will see a modest increase in popularity among people who get fed up with the direction Microsoft is taking, but will remain a niche OS on the desktop. Linux evangelists will continue to say “this is the year that Linux will reach critical mass on the desktop,” just like they’ve been saying for the past decade.

    More technology enthusiats will become software developers, as increasingly sophisticated Open Source platforms continue to lower the barriers to entry for people who have innovative ideas for applications and online services.

    • Laykun
    • 7 years ago

    Same place I see them every night Scott. Trying to take over the world!

    • Sam125
    • 7 years ago

    PC enthusiasts would probably be exactly the same as they are now, except most will be 5 years older and they’ll have to deal with some newer “kids” entering the scene. It’ll probably be more mainstream to be considered a PC enthusiast since software is pretty much stagnant and hardware will be faster for the same price or cheaper than a comparable system today.

    Since the golden era of PCs are over (exponential performance gains in both hardware with enticing software to utilize the gains in performance) there will probably more than a few enthusiasts who outgrow their hobby and simply follow the trend of moving more data to the cloud (server farms) and use inexpensive laptops/desktops or dumb terminals like tablets/smartphones. I could be wrong, but hey, 5 years isn’t a lot of time for the macro trends to really change much. 10 or even 15 years out and you might start seeing a move back from dumb terminals back to personal computing.

    • sschaem
    • 7 years ago

    I have the exact same PC as 5 years ago… And frankly I dont see my CPU that stressed, and my monitor is still one of the best you can buy.
    Only ‘big’ difference is that my 8800 died from old age and I now have a (free) 5770 upgrade.

    I think this system will be fine for another year for gaming (Crysis2 at 1280×768 in Ultra quality was butter smooth and looked fantastic. I tried in extreme 1920, and it didn’t really look better)

    If I compare a gaming PC from 2002 to 2007, what a difference in GPU & compute power.
    Compare 2007 to 2012, mhe…

    I see this being the same for another year. When the next gen console hit.

    At that point a big HW refresh will happen for PC gamers and a new gen of game engine will surface (what game developers do with it is questionable). That will last 2 years or so, then another 5 years of stabilizations.

    So 2014-2015 should be very interesting… then a pause after that.

    But then HMC is out, it will blow the top off the industry. About 5 years from now.

      • Jason181
      • 7 years ago

      Most people prefer their games measured in frames per second, and not seconds per frame. 😉

    • flip-mode
    • 7 years ago

    It’s going to be pretty tough to get hard core content creators to move away from dual or triple monitor workstations. That’s going to be best accomplished with a traditional desktop PC.

    Other than that, I don’t see traditional desktops having much of a place. Maybe the hard gaming crowd will want to hold on to them, but besides that I don’t see the need.

    • Chrispy_
    • 7 years ago

    I have discussed this with my peers in the recent past, and there’s thinking that a lot of the rise in the phone/tablet market is due to the market itself appealing to a different audience. [list<][*<]Many smartphones and tablets have brought computing to those that never really used a computer much before. [/*<][*<]A significant percentage (but my no means the entire PC audience) only ever used a computer to web-browse and watch youtube. [/*<][*<]Finally, there are those of us with smartphones and tablets who didn't have these devices five years ago, but would never even dream of replacing a proper workstation with them.[/*<][/list<] As long as desktops offer higher performance/dollar than laptops; As long as top-end GPUs keep needing huge cooling systems; As long as people doing input prefer a mouse/matte screen over fingers/grease-smeared glass; As long as there is a benefit fom having a granular upgrade path, ....we wil still need bespoke computers. There are still plenty of businesses (such as the one I work for) where you can never have enough power. Yes, we have an army of iPads but as long as people want higher quality results, we will always need more powerful machines.

      • pedro
      • 7 years ago

      +1 – Interesting thoughts C-Banger.

        • Chrispy_
        • 7 years ago

        What’s a C-Banger?!

        edit, nm – it’s probably autocorrect for [i<]Chrispy_[/i<]

      • burntham77
      • 7 years ago

      Well put. I know plenty of people who have cell phones, tablets and laptops, but would never think of using or building a desktop computer. They are, in a sense, not the Newegg market. They don’t read tech sites. They buy things based more on company name than anything else.

      They are not us.

    • ET3D
    • 7 years ago

    “Where do you see PC enthusiasts in 5 years?” Same as today, in their mother’s basement.

    Anyway, regarding hardware sites, I think they’ll move more towards incorporating mobile devices. This move is already happening. Phones and tablets have CPU’s and GPU’s, can be benchmarked and overclocked and their display quality tested, so there’s enough meat there for enthusiasts.

    As for the market, I think that in the long run (don’t know if it’s 5 years, but maybe) the desktop market will become more of a high end enthusiast market. Those who’ll be willing to pay for it will still have a desktop, and most others will use less flexible form factors. This is pretty much the crowd hardware sites are already targeting, so in this respect there won’t be much difference. The only difference will be that buying a desktop will not make sense for price conscious consumers, which it still does today.

    • ptsant
    • 7 years ago

    Mobile devices rely heavily on servers, that are a very important market for powerful hardware (CPU, HD etc). Therefore, powerful hardware will certainly be made for servers. It is a small extension from there to imagine that consumer-level hardware is easily derived from server parts and should always be available and up to date. Already, we know that Bulldozer was designed for server work, LGA2011 is also primarily for servers so it is happening today.

    The main question is the price point. Will powerful desktops be considered a luxury item and move to workstation prices? Or will we keep getting more and more for very low prices?

    • dashbarron
    • 7 years ago

    Desktops will still be here. In a 5 year period the only real changer will be a shift from using more mobile devices than desktops (like the big push for casual users from desktops to laptops).

    And really, it’s not going to matter if Microsoft has its way. Windows 8 will stitch the forms together, and the majority of people will start to see the blend of desktop/mobile, and it wont matter what device their on because everything will be streamlined and integrated. Que Windows 9.

    –On a side note, after seeing Windows 8 I believe the above paragraph more and more. The OS is all about having social and media features integrated right into the Start Menu and other aspects of the default GUI. It’s what people want, have on their current mobile devices, and will take it with them to their “home” machines. The raging about the Start Menu is unbelievably overblown…because it’s still there and greatly enhanced.–

    • ShadowTiger
    • 7 years ago

    I think things will remain similar overall… maybe increase as people want to run a game at max settings AND livestream/capture at 30 fps (and someday 60fps).

    • albundy
    • 7 years ago

    in 5 years? i highly doubt the middle aged will move out of their parents basement.

    • chuckula
    • 7 years ago

    While discrete GPUs still exist one of two things happens:
    1. Discrete GPUs below $100 disappear outside of legacy uses for older machines.
    2. or: The performance of lower-end GPUs shoots up substantially to maintain the market for ~$75 solutions… my bet is on the first eventuality and not the second.

    Desktops still exist, but the rate of change in desktops drops off (we’re already seeing this to some extent).

    Discrete notebook graphics become much much rarer than they already are, not because of the inability of discrete cards to outperform IGPs, but because IGPs become good enough and because power consumption becomes an ever greater issue.

    I’ll still run Linux on the Desktop even though both PCs and Linux on the desktop have been declared dead more times than I can count. I’ll of course be a zombie who feeds on the sweet sweet brains of iPad users who don’t see me coming because they are too busy staring at their retina displays.

    • clone
    • 7 years ago

    I see far fewer enthusiasts in the future and I see the rest “consolified.”

    Intel and AMD are embarking on IGP wars, I see Intel increasing the potential of their IGP in 5 years 100 fold and AMD struggling to match it.

    • mganai
    • 7 years ago

    As long as there will be overclockable options at the consumer level that won’t fall down the priority ladder, I won’t have any issues. I just hope Intel will step up the generational improvements a bit more. They actually did with SB; the entire i5 line was bumped up to quads, and the 2500/2600(k) were up ~0.5 GHz from their last gen equivalents. It certainly won’t be Haswell that will bring 6-core processors down from the high end, though.

    It’s fine though, as long as 6 cores doesn’t become common within the next 4 years. (If more programmers get used to multithreaded programming, who knows what could happen?)

    • BIF
    • 7 years ago

    This is an addendum to my “we still need big machines” comment yesterday; but it kind of goes into other areas so I’m starting a new line of thought.

    A lot of companies still use and will continue to use big systems for many years to come. As consumers with all of our smart devices and tablets, it’s very easy for us to get wrapped up in our own hubris and convince ourselves that “this is it”.

    But that’s not true and all the myopia in the world won’t make it so. Those smartphones and tablets will always need some level of back-end processing infrastructure and that infrastructure cannot only rely on smartphones and tablets! I think for at least the next 15 years or more, we’ll still be making use of fast desktop workstations, rack mounted file and database servers, and even big mainframe systems, which can run Linux. One mainframe is very efficient and can replace thousands of loud and hot little servers running in closets and under people’s desks. Mainframes require a specialized infrastructure, true; but over the years there have been quite a few developments, including Linux and some models that don’t require water cooling or raised floor space.

    I think we’re seeing a directional split right now. Games on one side, and fast workstations and servers on the other. And office machines are still made possible by the chips that fail the highest clock speed tests.

    One of the first things I bought for my iPad was a keyboard. Even though the touch interface is excellent! And even now, I’m sitting at my workstation (not even my laptop), using my 12-year-old keyboard to type this post. Away from home, the iPad is king. But here at home, the old workstation still rules!

      • ET3D
      • 7 years ago

      Businesses will move out of desktops. They already do in many cases. I’m doing software development on a laptop, and so does my wife, and it’s something I wouldn’t have thought of a few years ago. Many companies are already provisioning for tablets, and one of the main things Microsoft is trying to achieve with Windows RT is that seamless integration.

      Servers too are not like desktops. For a server you want well specced hardware and you might need a big box for that, but you don’t need a lot of the features of desktops, from the aesthetics of cases to the ability to use graphics cards or replace them. Plus the components can cost more, which is why even if desktops will share these components their price will become higher.

      I’m sure some need for workstations will remain, but it will also be rather rare and costly. Most businesses won’t need that, and low power chips will have enough CPU and GPU power that even many graphics style work could be made using an all-in-one or nettop form factor.

    • dmjifn
    • 7 years ago

    I’m not sure where it’s headed and I’m not optimistic but here’s what I’d like: Much, much better composability and plugability with newer, smaller standards. Better combined power and data, ala Thunderbolt. Thin and physically flexible cables with small, non-protruding, possibly swiveling connectors. Replace expansion cards, drives, and the front and rear port clusters with modular boxes of 1-2 standard form factors that connect with this technology. Dump the PCI slots and sata slots. Instead of some 10″ x 14″ PCB, have a much smaller PCB to just house the CPU, RAM, and 4-8 SuperThunderboltZomg++ connectors. Hell, as long as we’re dreaming, why not shove this into one the standard form factors with a plate to mount coolers? Replace the mobo power connector or at least slim it down to a few wires. And then make cases that exploit all this. When it comes to building PCs nowadays, I don’t care so much about the “crafting” aspect or the physicality of the build, or if there’s really any skill required. On the other hand, I don’t want some sealed proprietary box that I can’t physically configure to my own specs and upgrade piecemeal as I see fit. I like the idea of having a folding box in the closet with 12 bays where I can retire all the GPUs I acquire if I want, whether or not it’s efficient. I want cases that can do more with less space and with better shapes, all without dinking around with routing, ripping out, re-routing… Probably there’s something to be missed without the opportunity to manhandle some naked, transistor-covered piece of electronic wonder (I’m a little bit of a romantic, afterall) but I could live with that.

    • ludi
    • 7 years ago

    IMO part of the size of the built-PC market is being masked by the growth in the overall size of the computing market. People who once would have never touched a computing device, or used them only at the office and maybe the library, now own some combination of a laptop, tablet, and smartphone, because there’s no other way to stay informed and do business.

    Longer-term, thought, I can see the custom PC market becoming much like the modern DIY-audio market: it will be served, but the range of parts and components will be smaller, harder to find, and much more focused in order to serve a smaller group of dedicated enthusiasts. Meanwhile, everybody else buys an HTIB system or soundbar off-the-shelf at Walmart.

    • Malphas
    • 7 years ago

    A lot of people here have the mindset of “I still want a traditional modular desktop PC, therefore they will continue to exist until I change my mind” or “traditional DIY desktops are better than these silly tablets and Ultrabooks are will therefore exist forever”. Which is a totally distorted version of reality, of course.

    That said, even though the “enthusiast” market continues to shrink ever more, the actual numbers will remain relatively high. I mean, back in the 80’s almost everyone who had a computer at home was a computer enthusiast, maybe the odd professional writer too, but even then you still had to have some sort of interest in technology before you’d get one over a typewriter. These days of course, everyone and their dog has a computer – or several – and the DIY, high-end market is a tiny, tiny minority, but even so there’s much more enthusiasts now – in actual numbers – than there was back in the 80’s/early 90’s simply due to the market being much larger.

    With that in mind, I don’t really see the traditional desktop becoming completely obsolete just yet, but definitely where the mainstream is concerned that’s where we’re headed. Already most PCs sold these days are laptops, and the majority remainder of individuals and businesses that still want a desktop-style form factor will be satisfied with an AOI, or just a laptop docked into a screen(s) and keyboard/mouse, which is what the company I work for does now for all their office machines – not a single desktop or AOI in sight.

    • TEAMSWITCHER
    • 7 years ago

    Microsoft has enjoyed an exclusive on the PC for far too long. And the result is Windows 8 – the worst desktop operating system ever created! The METRO interface was NOT needed on the desktop, and Steven Sinofsky flat out lied when he said that Windows 8 would support power users – it doesn’t. Windows 8 is a HUGE step backwards for desktop power users. Gone are window and menu drop shadows, gradient drawing, and moveable/resizable windows. 20 years of perfecting the desktop experience down the drain!. The Start Screen is just a billboard to direct clueless users to Microsoft Web Services. What? You thought that the iPad was Microsoft’s only problem?

    My biggest hope in that Apple will start selling OS X for the PC. Any hackintosh user will tell you that it’s not a big stretch – and compared to Windows 8 a huge step forward for desktop power users. The Mission Control feature alone is worth the effort and Windows will never have anything remotely like it.

    In the next five years every PC user will come to this conclusion – Microsoft has gone to shit! For desktop power users OS X is now the best OS. I have already switched to running Mountain Lion on my PC.

    Have fun voting me down – but I’ll have the last laugh when you install Windows 8 and have to look at Microsoft’s billboard every time you want to launch an App.

      • adisor19
      • 7 years ago

      If Apple does release a PC generic version of OS X, it will be the coup de grace against MS.

      Already there are signs toward this possibility : Mac OS X is now called simply OS X. I reallt doubt Apple would try and dilute the Mac brand for no reason, unless they really want to make OS X and iOS the same OS one day..

      I switched to OS X as my main OS when i bought my MBP back in 2007 and i haven’t looked back since. Hackintoshing a laptop is not an easy thing currently but I’d be willing to shell out a good amount of $ for a version of OS X that is easier to boot and install on more generic x86 hardware.

      Time will tell.. Apple is doing well now so they have very little incentives to pull this stunt. One can only hope.

      Adi

        • bcronce
        • 7 years ago

        Apple doesn’t sell software, it sells hardware. Back when I worked for IT, we had an OSX with a license that stated we could make as many copies of the disk as we wanted, could give out the disk to whomever we wanted, and anyone was allowed to install the OS on any official Apple system.

        We worked directly with Apple and had direct contact with senior devels, to whom we could make feature requests. We were told we could give out copies of that disk to anyone, friends, family, etc.

        Why? Because they price gouge on the hardware.

      • Chrispy_
      • 7 years ago

      I would like to use this quote from you to bump this post to the top:

      [quote<]The Start Screen is just a billboard to direct clueless users to Microsoft Web Services.[/quote<] It is my belief that when the masses see this in practice, a lot of them will start complaining. Look at the outrage Amazon caused when they announced the new Kindles wouldn't have the option to pay extra and remove the advertising. Windows 8 is an advertising platform slapped on top of Windows 7 service pack 2. The pretence that custom UI's and start menu workarounds are being axed for homogenisation reasons is rubbish. We all know it's because MS don't want the masses to avoid the advertising platform that is [s<]Metro[/s<] Modern UI.

      • vaultboy101
      • 7 years ago

      I have been using OS X on my new Macbook Pro Retina and IMO it is a superior GUI experience to Windows 8 or 7. I really like the gestures and Mission Control.

      Bear in mind my main PC is a 3 screen Nvidia surround rig with a GTX 680 but I can actually get more actual work(coding and programming) done on my Macbook with OS X!

      GUI efficiency beats multiple screens at least for my workflow anyway… YMMV

    • Goofus Maximus
    • 7 years ago

    I see them… in retirement facilities and nursing homes! It’s the aging PC enthusiast generation, as the younger folks move on to the PC-as-commodity-item, and the mobile devices take over as the main time-waster-in-chief of the next generation’s lives.

      • SHOES
      • 7 years ago

      Younger gamers just dont know what they are missing… Although with the aging consoles as of late I do find myself building more and more high end gaming systems for the 18-23 crowd… My belief is we wont see a major change in this until our technological development slows down immensely. One of the biggest perks for build it yourself is still the ability to change out parts for increased performance and keeping current with the hottest engines and games.

    • Bensam123
    • 7 years ago

    The desktop will always exist. Tablets are for media consumption, nothing more then that. If you’re starting to talk about all-in-one computers where you simply buy the thing and throw it out, you’ll still run into the same problems as traditional PCs. If I remember right Apple already tried doing this with their iMacs… it didn’t go over so well.

    I can see tablets dissapearing when the crazy wears off though. Just as quickly as they came into light they will disappear. Especially if a smart phone maker decides to make a dockable touchescreen, where the smartphone simply slide into the touch screen.

    Tablets never really had a place and I’ll continue to believe that.

    There will always be hobbyists working with computers and computers will always remain somewhat individual pieces as it would be overall too expensive to produce everything on the same piece of silicon. Tablets and atoms may do it now, but that’s a order of magnitude difference in power… Laptops would be the closets thing, but you don’t find those taking over and even they still contain individual components (some even with swappable graphics cards, mxm).

    So perhaps thats more along the lines of things getting smaller rather then simply becoming one single piece of hardware you can’t take apart.

    Even then, even if it becomes one single piece of hardware it can still be benchmarked, tweaked, and exploited.

      • spigzone
      • 7 years ago

      You’re confusing form and function. If a smartphone or tablet has all the COMPUTING power you need, then you only need inexpensive peripherals for it to meet all your needs.

        • Zoomer
        • 7 years ago

        Tablets and smartphones will never have anywhere near the same computing power as a desktop, just because of the power problem. Unless there are significant breakthroughs in power storage and computing or power dissipation technologies, it’s not going to change.

          • Malphas
          • 7 years ago

          It doesn’t need to have the same computing power as a desktop though, that’s a completely arbitrary condition. It needs to have adequate capability for its intended purpose, and for the majority of people that’s just web browsing, email, instant messaging, casual gaming, etc. tablets and smartphones are already capable of that and will continue to become more capable. It’s inevitable that desktops are going to continue to become marginalised as a result.

            • ET3D
            • 7 years ago

            15 years ago people were doing everything on hardware that’s weaker than current phones and tablets. We developed software, edited photos, rendered 3D and of course played “hardcore” games. Sure we can do more stuff more quickly now, but it’s not like low computing power is an insurmountable barrier.

            Would I develop software on a phone or tablet even today? Yes. If I could dock it and I had a decent IDE, I’d have no problem with that. It might not be optimal, but I’ve done it on weaker systems in the past.

            • Malphas
            • 7 years ago

            Yeah, that was my entire point. Hardware advancement has moved on a lot faster than software requirements. That’s why back in the 90’s you had like a $2000 PC shared between a household and these days everyone has their own $500 laptop (where mainstream computers users are concerned).

            My point is people saying PC’s will always be needed (in a widespread way) due to the performance requirements aren’t seeing what’s happened and is still happening. It’s the desktop form factor that still has some mileage, rather than the desktop platform itself. Like I said, my employer doesn’t use any desktops in their offices anymore, everyone has two or three monitors, a keyboard, mouse and a laptop docked into it.

            • Bensam123
            • 7 years ago

            You’re talking about a order of magnitude difference and software requirements wont stay the same. The tinnier and tinnier you get, the harder it is to achieve the same size reduction. They’re already having issues with smaller fab sizes.

            A laptop is very different from a tablet or a smartphone that Scott was originally referring to. Laptops still have interchangeable parts to a certain extent and still can be individually tweaked. Soldering things to the bored on a laptop would just serve to piss people off rather then save space.

            • Bensam123
            • 7 years ago

            So… you’re arguing that since how much computing power a person needs is subjective, that makes any argument for needing a certain amount irrelevant?

            Somehow I seem to think you underestimate the amount of people that want to use a computer for more then email and web browsing. Casuals exist in great numbers, but just because the population of casuals increases does not mean that the amount of people who use computers for more then email and web will decrease.

        • Bensam123
        • 7 years ago

        I’m not, I just believe there wont be an explosive growth that will move the computer power of today to a smartphone in five years… maybe in 15-20, but not 5. Increasing power in a standard form factor where you have quite a bit of room to work with is quite a bit different.

        • Laykun
        • 7 years ago

        Computing power is nothing without software. Software is what makes the PC world awesome. I find my tablet useless next to my laptop because I’m a software developer. I haven’t picked up my tablet and used it seriously in … 2 months?

      • volnaiskra
      • 7 years ago

      You’ll definitely be proven wrong about the tablets. Just like you can’t quite understand why people would want a tablet, I could never understand why people liked laptops. I hated them, and still do.

      Laptops always seemed a terrible idea to me: in order to gain a little bit of portability, you have to accept about 10 significant compromises: a crappy keyboard, a crappy mouse-substitute, crappy GPU, having to rely on a crappy battery, a single screen, and a small one at that, etc. etc.

      But I now realise why people were prepared to make all those sacrifices and embrace the laptop anyway: because the tablet wasn’t invented yet.

      Since people were prepared to make all those sacrifices for a 2kg laptop with crappy controls that barely fits in a briefcase, you’d be crazy to think they won’t continue to accept similar sacrifices for a sleek, light, magazine-sized thing with easy touch-screen controls that can do just about everything their old laptop ever did and more.

      The laptop is doomed, but the desktop will do just fine. Your mum and your daughter won’t own a desktop anymore in 2017, but you, me, and many of our friends still will, and the market will still serve us well. Though, as others have said, it’ll be slightly more niche than it is today.

        • Bensam123
        • 7 years ago

        And a crappy keyboard, mouse, and GPU are all better then a tablet by quite a bit. Not to mention it can be docked and use larger screens.

        A tablet is a media consumption device, nothing more. Even if you could dock with it and have all the peripherals available to a laptop the power is quite a bit below even a laptop. Even then, even if the power was the same as a laptop… you’re still locked into a OS designed to siphon your money into a app store.

        For viewing the web and watching youtube videos tablets are decent, but for everything else they suck… Your smartphone can do the same in a smaller package.

      • Sam125
      • 7 years ago

      I’d speculate that the laptop/desktop ratio remains at around 60/40 or maybe 75/25 percent at most.

    • spigzone
    • 7 years ago

    With a lot less choices and options.

    At 6-8nm (Intel) and 12-14nm (everyone else) the amount of computing power in a smartphone or tablet will be sufficient for the vast majority of people and various docking and wireless options will enable a one device-many screens solution.

    Next gen consoles will effectively glass ceiling game development and by 2017 high end APUs/HPUs will be able to run those games on high settings.

    That will suffice for 99%+ of people.

    There will still be a hobbyist market, but it will be a faint shadow of the plethora of choices it enjoys today.

      • Bensam123
      • 7 years ago

      I actually think the opposite. I believe consoles will die on the next wave, possibly sooner if Valve gets off its ass and improves Steam (readying the HTPC edition, among other things).

        • spigzone
        • 7 years ago

        Even if the next gen consoles are the last of their breed they’ll be around for the next decade and their capabilities will determine high end game specs over the next several years.

        As for Valve, it astounds me how fast Steam is continually evolving and expanding. Hard to imagine a company the term ‘get off it’s ass’ is less applicable to.

          • volnaiskra
          • 7 years ago

          You’re kidding, right? I like Steam, but it definitely is not evolving as quickly as it should be. When it comes to managing my games library, Steam lags behind – in terms of fluidity of use, features, and customisability – just about every other system I use in my daily life: Windows Explorer for files, Adobe Bridge for visual assets, Winamp and Media Monkey for music, Evernote for notes, etc. All of those things make managing my assets a breeze and a pleasure compared to what Steam does to my games. I’ve long given up trying to organise my games in any meaningful fashion because it just takes so damn long to make any changes in the steam library.

          Valve are amazing at releasing a great game every 5 years and generating PR hype about ‘innovations’ that rarely actually see the light of day. Meanwhile, Steam, their bread-and-butter, revolves around a clunky and impotent user experience that feels like a timewarp back to the late 90s.

          I guess the lack of any real alternative before Steam, and the lack of any serious competition today (coupled with all the tantelising PR hype about the next amazing thing that Valve may or may not one day actually get around to doing) is enough to make most people think that what Valve dishes out to them is good enough.

            • Bensam123
            • 7 years ago

            Yup…

          • Bensam123
          • 7 years ago

          It shouldn’t take them two years to make Steam for HTPCs. All they have to do is make things bigger and easier to read, as long as their overall layout doesn’t suck (which it kinda does).

          They really haven’t improved Steam all that much. I remember it took them years to get Steam friends working. About the jist of their improvements is Steam Green Light, which I still think is a terrible idea and improving their product selling page. They added new community features and what not buried in that mess, but I’m pretty sure most people don’t use them let alone are able to find them.

            • Jason181
            • 7 years ago

            If you’re referring to [url=http://store.steampowered.com/bigpicture/<]big picture[/url<], it's already available.

        • ET3D
        • 7 years ago

        I also believe consoles will die, but because of mobile. Mobile devices two years from now should be able as powerful as current consoles, and in 5 years I imagine they’d be good enough for most gaming purposes. Steam might have great success supplanting consoles, but if it does it will be because it can run on mobile devices (which may have Intel chips and Windows).

    • FormCode
    • 7 years ago

    In 5 years time, large high-resolution IPS panels will become the norm (25″ and larger, we’re already seeing the 27″ trickling down from the far east into local markets), we’re going to see nVidia and AMD returning to their older nomenclature as in the GTX260 and the radeon HD1750/HD1770 (:D), we’re going to run high-end Intel/AMD chips with 35-45W TDP’s and last but not least, we will still be rocking systems that would make the future equivalent of a console blush.

    • rephlex
    • 7 years ago

    Where do I see PC enthusiasts in 5 years? Still without girlfriends. Also, still be unable to put together a custom laptop thanks to the computer industry being unwilling and/or unable to get it together.

      • HisDivineOrder
      • 7 years ago

      In five years, we’ll be complaining that we’re “unable to put together a custom tablet thanks to the computer industry being unwilling and/or unable to get it together.”

        • rephlex
        • 7 years ago

        You mean we aren’t already?

    • Meadows
    • 7 years ago

    There are a lot of people who value mobility over absolute capability, and who value usability (and/or “fool-proofness”) over longer learning curves. They’re the simple people, they’re the people Dell and HP pre-built computers for in the past, they’re the people integrated graphics was created for in the first place (and sound, but that’s a point of argument to this day), and they’re also the people most likely to buy up budget CPU inventory and not notice the difference.

    They can get the same from a tablet, from a highly integrated laptop, or from their smartphones, depending on preferences and disposable income. What does this mean?

    This means that Dell and HP are going to sell less to simpletons, since there are less work-intensive paths to serving them now.

    Computer “enthusiasts” (I’m going to use the term generously), the people who – like Scott – prefer to “sit at a desk” to do their stuff, or people who prefer the increased flexibility/capability of a computer even if they don’t make use of it all, or people who simply prefer being in the position to tell what goes where, and what part they buy from whom, are not affected by this.

    They probably have smartphones (but they also probably rooted it by now), they probably even have a tablet to watch movies during a train trip. But they’re not going to give up “the PC experience” and not going to sell or give away the one device they invested the most time (and money) in.

    Not in five years, at least.

    • Arclight
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<]However, I think some folks have trouble envisioning a path forward for large, complicated desktop PCs, when computers are becoming slick, fast[/quote<] Not that fast.....

    • Waco
    • 7 years ago

    The same place they are now. 5 years ago nothing substantial was different. 5 years before that, ditto.

    • travbrad
    • 7 years ago

    We’ll be complaining about xbox720 ports not utilizing our hardware properly. :p

      • Arclight
      • 7 years ago

      xbox720 will most likely have hardware INFERIOR to what a mid end system would have been considered a year or 2 ago.

      • HisDivineOrder
      • 7 years ago

      We’ll be doing that next year.

    • tviceman
    • 7 years ago

    If the desktop market is gone, what ever will I do with my 300 steam games?

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 7 years ago

    I love building a PC. I’d like to say I think the PC enthusiast will always have options.

    That said, I suspect that building your PC will go the way of “building your own TV” and “building your own radio.” The masses will stop buying video cards like they have sound cards, network cards, modems and 3d accelerators before them. I wonder how long it will take Intel before one day they decide creating a SKU for an Intel CPU to overclock readily just doesn’t make sense with their priority being on power per watt. I wonder how long before the consumer market is just a sinkhole for nVidia when Tesla, Quadro, and eventually Tegra are just blowing up the market. Or how long AMD has left at all as a company given their horrible financials and their continuing problem with figuring out what to do.

    Without AMD, nVidia and Intel don’t have much reason to do much of anything, really. Moreover, you’ve got game developers who are ALL working on PC’s to build their games, yet most of whom barely bother with porting (if they bother at all). You’ve got consumers more interested in integrated systems than in building PC’s. They just “want it to work.” The Post-PC world legacy that Jobs left us is what’s most likely to kill the enthusiast PC market because “Thin is in” and everything–all things–are being tossed aside in the pursuit of ever smaller, ever thinner devices. It’s hard to build a very small, thin PC without excising the configurability of the PC. Do you see many TV enthusiasts at home building their own HDTV’s nowadays?

    There is hope. Intel seems to value its heritage. nVidia does, too. Hell, even AMD seems to though in the end it might not be in their power to keep doing something when they’re in the red so bad. And there are a few developers who seem hardcore intent on making sure the PC platform continues to have the very best in games (Valve, etc).

    But consider that a whole generation of gamers are going to grow up playing Angry Birds, Cut the Rope, Plants vs Zombies iOS, and what not. Many in the future may have an iPad but not a PC. PC’s won’t go away entirely, at least not until they manage to give tablets a viable, easily accessible and common way to create content with a keyboard on tablets. Sure, there are ways now, but none of them are particularly common or often used. But just because PC’s exist as engines of creation doesn’t mean the numbers of “custom” motherboards and CPU’s and GPU’s will be sold to make today’s pricing continue forward.

    It seems likely a loop will begin. Less consumers buy motherboards and CPU’s, so less motherboards and CPU’s are manufactured for enthusiasts to purchase. Then because less are sold, they’ll sell for higher prices to justify the production and the shipping (from the retailer). Higher prices will drive away even more enthusiasts as they find they can’t afford to continue the hobby. That’ll kill even more sales and probably drive more than a few OEM’s out of business. With a consolidation of the market and prices going higher and higher while quality/offerings will decrease, more enthusiasts depart. Prices go higher still. Round and round. This is to say nothing of the fact the economy may not recover and/or may worsen, especially as it affects Asia as a whole.

    Really, that’s how the homebuilt PC ends. Not with a bang, but a whimper.

    • Mr Bill
    • 7 years ago

    Perhaps the development of multi core CPU’s will start mattering when game AI’s get good enough to start needing those extra cores? I don’t play first person shooters, pretty happy with simulation games or multi user games like WOW. There one can either play the game (PVE) or play against other players (PVP). PVP is exciting as all get out. But PVE is just fun to wander around. So, I just upgraded my graphics card from a Radeon 4770 to the 7870 and yep, its plenty fast. I guess the only other thing I would like is more / faster cores for when I run adobe lightroom to examine my digital photos. My Phenom II X4 955 is quick and the SSD’s are quick. But well, actually…

    I think storage is the biggest bottleneck. I have thousands of digital photos. I want them kept safe and yet quick to access. There is no useable backup strategy one you get beyond a few terabytes. No storage medium seems to actually be reliable enough over the long haul. I had hopes for magneto optical but it lost out to DVD’s which are nice for movies but slow for random access and can hardly be considered best for long term storage; not when their dyes degrade over time.

    • odizzido
    • 7 years ago

    I know you’re looking for some interesting answers, but I see things being exactly the same as they are now.

    One thing is certain though. I will still be playing X-COM.

    • Olreich
    • 7 years ago

    Our current alternatives to the desktop PC are laptops, tablets, and phones.

    Where the PC shines is in the trade-off of portability vs. processing power. For the portability of these devices, their abilities are limited: more battery life or more processing power, a stronger graphics engine or more heat production, more space or smaller form-factor.

    The PC lacks most of these trade-offs, lest the builder is looking for something very specific. It chooses processing power every time. It spends the money that would be spent on batteries and lower heat-production on fans and more powerful hardware. It’s built to be a jack of all trades, in it’s singular location. No matter what you need to do, the PC will handle it decently, if you pay the price of going to it, rather than bringing it with you.

    A portable device is defined by it, very few laptops even break the chains of portability, usually at a cost of high heat, short battery-life and bone-crushing cost. Tablets and phones cannot hope to have the versatility of the PC, as the input methods are woefully inept.

    Portable devices are great for what they are: less-powerful versions of the desktop in certain tasks. But the desktop will continue, continuing to have a magnitude more power, and versatility of the portable devices.

    • blastdoor
    • 7 years ago

    There is no question in my mind that there will still be many people (including me) who like sitting (or standing) upright at a desk with a big monitor, comfortable keyboard, and precision pointing device. But I think it’s a big mistake to conflate that with a DIY custom-built PC. I gave up the DIY thing about 5 years ago, but I still like a big monitor, keyboard, etc.

    • destroy.all.monsters
    • 7 years ago

    It’ll still be here. Maybe more of a niche than it is now. The people that need or want desktops will still have them. One of the most overlooked positives to desktops (not at all related to the enthusiast market) is that it’s vastly easier and cheaper to repair a desktop than to replace an all in one unit due to its modularity. So I expect that both the high end and the low end will continue to be well served as a result even if the mid-end becomes primarily the laptop space.

    I don’t think that tablets are a fad – but I don’t see them supplanting desktops and laptops at least until they become as powerful as our desktops are today – something I don’t expect to see in further out than 5 years.

    I think the more important questions at the moment are – will x86 be run by a single vendor in 5 years; will MS continue its course of closing its ecosystem and forcing UI choices down the throats of desktop and laptop users and will Linux get its stuff together as a result.

    • jjj
    • 7 years ago

    5 years is very little,the tech world is always slower than expected.
    4k screens will still cost a lot.
    intel might be out of the desktop market (at least this part) but others might be in.
    3d printing might be more accessible and at least we might have 3d printing stores where we can make custom cases (or case makers could offer that).- same thing could work for mice,game controllers.
    5 years is not enough for OC to go away and that also means coolers and fans are well and alive.
    PSU standards are stuck in the past but that also means there is very little chance for a lot to change in just a few years.
    RAM (integration) and NAND (can’t shrink anymore) might go away but we should have 3D RRAM or at the very least vertically stacked NAND (BiCS ).
    HDDs will be very much alive.
    We should have new toys too,touch,gesture,projectors (i do want my desk as a second screen).

    5 years is little,10y,well that’s a lot different but in the end ppl will always find some toys,cars. PCs maybe next it’s 3D printing

    • Ashbringer
    • 7 years ago

    The question is irrelevant. So long as people want to look at things on a screen that’s bigger then a tablet, and type with with a keyboard, the PC will always have a place. Whether it takes the shape of a HTPC or a desktop machine is yet to be seen.

    The concern will be how future PC OS’s will take shape. Do we begin to move onto linux? Do we still use Windows?

      • internetsandman
      • 7 years ago

      I dunno, I can envision a phone-to-desktop display-dock, or perhaps tablet dock, that would provide everything that a desktop PC can except for high powered computing tasks like gaming or workstation jobs like video or music editing

        • destroy.all.monsters
        • 7 years ago

        In 5 years? We aren’t making the jumps in technology that we were. I don’t think anyone’s cpu roadmaps make this look terribly likely. The big fly in the ointment may well end up being games, stream processing and image manipulation as well as 3D.

        OTOH there are numerous apps and interfaces that allow light recording on an ipad right now. I still think this paradigm shift is at least 7-10 years away.

        Market segmentation is not the same as market integration – the thing I think a lot of pundits seem to be confusing.

        • blastdoor
        • 7 years ago

        I’m sure someone will offer that, but I don’t think it makes a lot of sense. Several reasons:

        1. Docking is annoying.
        2. I don’t want all my PC data on my phone — phones are too easy to lose.
        3. It just isn’t necessary. A good ARM SOC is only $25. Why not have on in your phone AND one in your monitor? Files you want to access on both devices could be automatically synced wirelessly.

          • BIF
          • 7 years ago

          Docking with port replicators or wires is indeed annoying! I would not have said this five years ago, but it’s true today!

          My “New iPad” can syncronize my music and podcasts with my workstation via WIFI.
          The iPad can also syncronize my eWallet files via WIFI.

          A bit off-topic:

          Anybody who wants to see a truly excellent syncronization mechanism, you should check out eWallet. I syncronize my sensitive information across three devices with it. It just works, even with iOS devices. I never have to worry about having deleted a record from this device, adding one to the second device, or changing several on the third. No matter what, syncronization brings all three “wallets” up to date with each other. There are no missing or duplicate records or any other wacky file disagreements to worry about.

          I have not yet decided on a new smartphone, but I’ll tell you this: Android can’t update my eWallet files, but iOS can. That made eWallet one of the STRONGEST reasons for me to buy an iPad and not an Android tablet. It’s also a powerful point in favor of the iPhone 5. For me, that is.

    • Alexko
    • 7 years ago

    I don’t know what the masses will be doing, I never understand the masses.

    But I’ll be doing the same thing I am doing today: using a desktop computer as my main (almost only) computing device. I don’t even own a laptop, and don’t plan to buy one. I may get a cheap smartphone, perhaps even a tablet if they get [i<]really[/i<] cheap, but they'll very much remain secondary devices. I completely agree that large, high-definition monitors (preferably coming in sets of 3) combined with powerful graphics, good input devices and several terabytes of storage is the best computing experience you can get. I won't give it up. There's one thing I might not be doing, though: upgrading my CPU. I got a 3.0GHz Core 2 Duo in 2008, and it's struggling with some games (that, by the way, would run well on a 3.0GHz Core 2 Quad, also available in 2008) so I'll be upgrading to a quad-core Ivy Bridge CPU soon. By 2017, I might have upgraded my CPU once, but frankly, the days of frequent CPU upgrades are gone, there's just no need for it anymore. However GPUs are a different story, especially for multi-monitor gaming, and even more so when next-gen consoles are released. So I expect frequent upgrades on that front. In other words, if you're still writing here in 5 years and I don't get hit by a bus between now and then, I'll still be here reading you.

    • yokem55
    • 7 years ago

    From a raw productivity standpoint, there isn’t likely to be much out there better than what a big display and a full-size keyboard and mouse can provide. Now what’s under the hood powering that interface is likely to change. It might be the type of deal where you can dock your mobile device and be able to “do real work” with a desktop interface.

    Now I think there will still be a substantial market for the types of machines we have now, big cases with full ATX mobo’s, 100W cpu’s, 100’s of gigs of ram, mult-disk arrays with 100’s of terabytes of storage and huge arse gpu’s, but it will be limited to folks that know how to use the horsepower – and the pricing will reflect the narrower market.

    • vargis14
    • 7 years ago

    For the desktop i see 4k displays and much faster gpus and cpus but it will be almost the same with SSD’s galore.

    • BIF
    • 7 years ago

    We still need big machines for some things. Music production, animation, art.

    Yes, a lot of people use laptops to great effect. I have an i7 that is great for music production. But the desktop form factor, tower, or rack-mounted machine will still have a place for these things.

    In fact, I am STILL arguing with myself over the number of cores for my new machine. In addition to music and animation (which I want to get back to), I’m really getting off on folding these days. I need/want more slots and more cores.

    I’m frustrated that my choices are basically a single processor hex-core or a dual processor server with more cores that doesn’t have UEFI.

    What I really want is a dual socket system with 8 cores/16 threads (in EACH CPU, dammit!). Going that far overboard would really only benefit the folding activities and would not be justifiable for the other stuff I like to do. But I really don’t care because I’m a glutton for CPUs, cores, memory, DSP processors, monitors, and whatever else I can think of!

      • sweatshopking
      • 7 years ago

      and money is no option, it would seem

        • derFunkenstein
        • 7 years ago

        The word you seek is “object” – and when it comes to a machine you make a living with, then no. It can’t be an object.

          • sweatshopking
          • 7 years ago

          i didn’t seek a word, but you’re right, that is the one used in that fashion.

          and no, you’re wrong. he says clearly:
          [quote<] Going that far overboard would really only benefit the folding activities and would not be justifiable for the other stuff I like to do. [/quote<] that has nothing to do with it, at least as he's described it. And i still don't agree anyway. just because i use something doesn't mean i need the super powered ultra one. there is the law of diminishing returns, and investments include that. he has to look at the cost vs the efficiency gain like anyone else.

            • destroy.all.monsters
            • 7 years ago

            To play devil’s advocate a moment – I don’t know how much the OP uses samples or processor intensive effects programs like Nebula but there’s a lot of good reasons to have as many cores as you can possibly throw at something in the recording world.

            I’m going to guess BIF’s either using UAD-2 or the new Avid dsp set-up since s/he mentions DSP but even that has a certain amount of overhead (as does USB and some implementations of SATA).

            I think it’s more about wishful thinking than a willingness to spend an uber amount of money on things but that might just be my interpretation.

            • BIF
            • 7 years ago

            D.A.M. is correct in his guesses as well as my wishful thinking. 😀

            I do use samples; I think my library is 1.5 TB now.
            I have a UAD-2 Dual, so I can fit a lot of effects in there.
            I also use some native processor-hungry effects and instruments.

            My Q6600 is quite adequate for the smallish music projects that I work on and I haven’t done a lot in recent years with animation rendering, but I’m feeling the urge to work on it again.

            For animation, no amount of cores is enough, not even for Pixar!

            “Money is no object”. Well, that’s true up to a point. I do have to balance my gear lust with a realistic expectation of what I’m going to get out of it in the next 5 years (which is what I have come to expect from hardware).

            At this time I can afford a hex-processor and motherboard and 64 GB RAM and a very good GPU, so I’m probably going to go for that. The Q6600 is no slouch with the music, so the new rig won’t really do a lot more for me with the music.

            But it will make it easier for me to get back into animation rendering and it would be fun to see how fast such a machine folds. 2P server boards are interesting, but many of the motherboards don’t offer enough PCIe slots, USB ports, or BIOS featurs. If they did, I would probably flip burgers or find some way to accomodate a second processor and an expanded cooling loop for it all.

            • destroy.all.monsters
            • 7 years ago

            Glad I got your line of thinking. What sample player do you use? Curious about the new versions of VSL.

            Just an FYI in case you weren’t aware – VirtuaVia and Magma still make pci and pcie expansions on the off chance that you need that many slots. Usually you want an x4 for a RAID or high throughput JBOD SATA set up but the rest you can fill with as many UADs and what not as you want. If you mean lots of x16 for stream processing yeah you’re pretty much stuck with high end enthusiast boards.

            • BIF
            • 7 years ago

            Kontakt and Play mostly.

            Would love to play with VSL, but I dropped quite a chunk of change on Complete Composer’s Collection and I know that Komplete 9 is probably due out later this year.

            Right now I have a 2 TB hard drive for running two Win 7 systems. I just spool the samples right off of two partitions on two different drives. Once I settle down with folding, my next project is to deploy two SSDs for sample testing as well as Win 7 system testing. There’s a thread in the storage forum on that.

            I also use a 4TB MyBook as a NAS, but mostly just use it as a network share for the moment. I’m not using it as a media server just yet, although I would like to try that with iTunes Server and some of the features it came with.

            The big project will definitely be the new i7 build and Win 8 standup. I’m thinking of doing that sometime in November.

          • paulWTAMU
          • 7 years ago

          well, even if you make a living at something (particularly if maybe) you have to look at what you spend vs what you get.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 7 years ago

            Yeah, I suppose I should have qualified my statement. It’s important to make sure that your equipment doesn’t slow you down when money is on the line, but you don’t need a 4P 6-core Xeon setup, either.

      • Diplomacy42
      • 7 years ago

      it really doesn’t matter how many cores you have, a single dedicated GPU will outperform any multicore system in terms of the science. f@h and the other distributed computing projects actively obscure this fact with their point systems.

      so, if you are into folding, go out and grab some 460s, its better for the science.

        • BIF
        • 7 years ago

        Thanks for the tip.

        I’m considering the Asus P9X79 WS motherboard and the six-core Intel i7.

        The motherboard has plenty of slots to accomodate a couple of UAD-2’s and a couple of GPUs. This probably would make for a mean folding machine too!

        It’s too bad I can’t use the Sharc processors in the UAD-2s for folding a few work units while I’m doing word processing or updating a web page. 😀

    • not@home
    • 7 years ago

    Those that are using just a tablet for all their computing are not those that are your target market anyway. They never were your target market. Before tablets, they just bought a PC or laptop from Best Buy and that was it. Your target market is those people who need a significant amount of computing power whether that be for gaming, workstation, etc. The PC is the best platform for those people and there will always be those kinds of people. If the platform slowly morphs into something else, so be it. It will be a relatively slow morph anyway, slow enough to give you enough time to adapt.

    • Star Brood
    • 7 years ago

    – Fully modular mobile GPU’s because notebooks can be for power users.
    – Universal CPU pins because it is eco-friendly to not swap out mobo’s for every upgrade.
    – All main software open source, major PC releases Linux-friendly.
    – I wake up.

    • lilbuddhaman
    • 7 years ago

    more cynical.

      • BIF
      • 7 years ago

      I didn’t know Cynical was a place. 😉

    • cegras
    • 7 years ago

    Given that intel at least has plans until 2014 (and same with AMD too) the CPU will not be diminishing in importance anytime soon. Anand has a good piece up where he says intel drives high margin server chips by financing fabs with high volume consumer parts.

      • Damage
      • 7 years ago

      Yeah, the existence of roadmaps is a interesting data point. It takes 3-4 years to build a chip, and I think we can assume there are roadmaps to replace existing products in place at Intel and Nvidia and at least in part at AMD. But the question of whether the full R&D cycle can get funded depends on how current and near-future products fare.

        • cegras
        • 7 years ago

        That’s reasonable. I may have spoken too soon in my original post, but upon closer examination it seems that in the future a lot of tasks the PC was once responsible for will be fragmented. Consumption is going to tablets and ‘smart TVs’, and content creation is allegedly being enabled on notebooks (and on the cloud).

    • derFunkenstein
    • 7 years ago

    I think so. Personally I see “home computing” and “mobile computing” as two different markets. I think you’ll see the overall PC market shrink at the cost of notebooks and be overtaken by tablets with or without docks, and then of course phones will be their own huge, fascinating market.

    So what you wind up with is desktop + tablet. And the desktop will have its own DIY market as long as it exists.

      • Airmantharp
      • 7 years ago

      Yup. Desktops will grow in share, only slower than tablets and laptops. And those two markets seem determined to merge. The need for a true desktop for things other than real workstation use and gaming is certainly growing thin, though.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 7 years ago

        The “need” isn’t the question – the question is will there be PC enthusiasts in 5 years and I say yes because it’ll be notebooks that fall. Enthusiasts rarely do anything because of a need.

    • sweatshopking
    • 7 years ago

    i think we’ll still be doing this. what else we going to do? we’re too nerdy to settle for a random tablet. maybe one we can take apart would fill the niche, but i don’t see us going anywhere.

    first!

      • Glycerin
      • 7 years ago

      Nobody cares that you’re first!

        • BIF
        • 7 years ago

        I don’t, and I’ve downthumbed both of you just because it’s Friday and I’m in a grouchy mood! 😛

          • Glycerin
          • 7 years ago

          i downthumbed you cuz im in an irritated mood so piss offf

            • BIF
            • 7 years ago

            Thank you, I feel much better now that I have exported my grouchiness to another person over the internet! 😀

            • sweatshopking
            • 7 years ago

            i’m in a good mood. so take that cranky old men. 😛 AND I’M SITTING AT 0, SO SOMEBODY LOVES ME

            • Meadows
            • 7 years ago

            T’was I.

      • yogibbear
      • 7 years ago

      In 5 yrs I expect to still be thumbing you down.

        • entropy13
        • 7 years ago

        SSK might take that literally.

          • sweatshopking
          • 7 years ago

          I did. he’s been doing it for that long, i’m sure it’ll continue. As much as these guys complain, they do love me. YOU ALL DO. I KNOW IT’S TRUE.

      • ronch
      • 7 years ago

      First? Man, you’re AWESOME! //sarcasm 😛

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