The typical enthusiast PC is more decked-out than you might think

Typical PC enthusiasts may spend more on their PCs than you might think—and by the looks of it, their taste for high-end hardware isn’t just limited to core components.

Those are two of the main takeaways from the TR Hardware Survey 2014, in which we invited readers to answer 26 questions about their PCs. Around 4,000 of you participated over a period of about a week and a half, and the results paint an enlightening picture of current trends in the hobbyist PC realm.

The results also gives us a sense of brand preferences for processors, graphics cards, and motherboards. The GPU results are particularly interesting, because they show us the AMD vs. Nvidia split for each generation, indicating which of the two vendors has been gaining ground (and which one has been losing it).

We’ve split our findings into three sections, each with the actual poll results at the bottom. Then, at the end, we’ve used our data to reconstruct the average enthusiast PC. The vote counts aren’t exactly the same for each poll, so there are some very minor discrepancies here and there. Overall, though, the trends are pretty clear and unambiguous.

So, without further ado, let’s get into the results!

TR readers don’t skimp

One would of course expect the audience of a PC enthusiast site to go for speedy hardware, but we were surprised by the extent of that trend. For starters, roughly 80% of all respondents said they have 8GB or more memory in their PCs—and 41% have 16GB or more. Considering today’s memory prices, that’s pretty impressive.

And it’s just the tip of the iceberg. 89% of respondents said their processor has four or more cores, and of those who said they have Intel CPUs, 49% sprung for a Core i7 or Core i7 Extreme. Around 74% of respondents have aftermarket coolers strapped to their CPUs, as well. Just over 67% said they spent $200 or more on their graphics card, with 36% having shelled out $300 or more. (Those figures apply to individual card purchases, by the way, not to multi-GPU setups.)

Overclocking is also pretty widespread: 46% said they overclock their CPU, graphics card, or both.

On the storage front, 81% of respondents have an SSD in their computer, and 57% have more than 128GB of solid-state storage, meaning drives with capacities of 180GB, 240GB, 256GB, and above. Drives like those are enough for Windows and a sizeable selection of games and apps.

Even peripheral choices reflect expensive tastes. 39% of respondents said they have a mechanical keyboard, be it based on Cherry MX switches or otherwise. 39% have multiple monitors hooked to their PC, and 51% said their largest display has an IPS panel. That leaves only 33% with lower-quality TN displays. Our poll questions didn’t cover refresh rates, but I’d wager more than a few of those TN panel users skipped IPS in order to enjoy 120Hz and 144Hz refresh rates.

System memory capacity

  • Less than 1GB (4 votes)
    0%
  • 1-1.99 GB (20 votes)
    0%
  • 2-3.99 GB (117 votes)
    3%
  • 4-7.99 GB (673 votes)
    17%
  • 8-15.99 GB (1550 votes)
    39%
  • 16GB or more (1655 votes)
    41%

Number of processor cores

  • 1 (13 votes)
    0%
  • 2 (397 votes)
    10%
  • 3 (44 votes)
    1%
  • 4 (2965 votes)
    74%
  • 6 (284 votes)
    7%
  • 8 (311 votes)
    8%
  • More than 8 (18 votes)
    0%

If you have an Intel Core processor, is it a

  • Core i7 Extreme (106 votes)
    3%
  • Core i7 (1448 votes)
    39%
  • Core i5 (1282 votes)
    34%
  • Core i3 (96 votes)
    3%
  • Other/don’t know (263 votes)
    7%
  • I don’t have an Intel Core processor (566 votes)
    15%

Type of CPU cooler

  • Stock (1007 votes)
    26%
  • Aftermarket heatsink and fan (2060 votes)
    53%
  • Aftermarket closed-loop liquid (674 votes)
    17%
  • Other aftermarket liquid (147 votes)
    4%
  • Other/don’t know (29 votes)
    1%

Price of each (or only) graphics card at time of purchase

  • Less than $100 (173 votes)
    4%
  • $100-$149 (345 votes)
    9%
  • $150-$199 (540 votes)
    14%
  • $200-$249 (662 votes)
    17%
  • $250-$299 (541 votes)
    14%
  • $300-$399 (642 votes)
    16%
  • $400-$499 (354 votes)
    9%
  • $500-$599 (242 votes)
    6%
  • More than $600 (214 votes)
    5%
  • Nothing (I use integrated graphics) (202 votes)
    5%

What’s overclocked?

  • Processor (835 votes)
    21%
  • Graphics card (236 votes)
    6%
  • Both (790 votes)
    20%
  • Neither (2155 votes)
    54%

Solid-state drive capacity

  • Less than 64 GB (109 votes)
    3%
  • 65-128 GB (868 votes)
    22%
  • 129-256 GB (1324 votes)
    33%
  • 257-512 GB (629 votes)
    16%
  • More than 512 GB (328 votes)
    8%
  • I don’t have an SSD (751 votes)
    19%

Type of keyboard

  • Cherry MX mechanical (1002 votes)
    26%
  • Other mechanical (460 votes)
    12%
  • Rubber dome (1157 votes)
    31%
  • Scissor switch (265 votes)
    7%
  • Other/don’t know (909 votes)
    24%

Number of displays

  • 1 (2393 votes)
    61%
  • 2 (1179 votes)
    30%
  • 3 (309 votes)
    8%
  • 4 (34 votes)
    1%
  • 5 (4 votes)
    0%
  • 6 (4 votes)
    0%
  • More than 6 (4 votes)
    0%

Panel type of largest display

  • IPS (1966 votes)
    51%
  • TN (1263 votes)
    33%
  • VA (148 votes)
    4%
  • Other/don’t know (482 votes)
    12%
 

Brand preferences

Apparently, most TR readers favor Intel processors. The GPU selection is split more evenly between vendors, though.

Only around 18% of respondents said they have AMD processors—and a large chunk of those folks have older AMD chips. The number of users with recent AMD FX- and A-series chips is just under 8%. To put that number in perspective, 5% of respondents said they’re already using one of Intel’s new Haswell-E (a.k.a. Core i7-5000 series) processors, which came out about a month ago.

What about graphics cards? Overall, 48% of respondents use Nvidia graphics cards, and 46% use Radeons. (The remainder use integrated graphics.) The split isn’t so even for the latest generation: 15% have GeForce 700-series cards, but only 11% have a Radeon from the new R series. It looks like AMD lost some ground recently, because the previous generation looks very evenly split, with a difference of only a few votes.

We also asked about motherboard vendors. Asus is top dog there with 46% of the vote, followed by Gigabyte with 24%, ASRock with 11%, and MSI with 9%. The rankings track with recent market share figures I’ve seen, although Asus’ advantage looks much more dramatic here. We often recommend Asus motherboards in our System Guides on account of their excellent fan controls, so that might have something to do with it.

Processor series

  • Intel Core ix-5xxx (220 votes)
    5%
  • Intel Core ix-4xxx (801 votes)
    20%
  • Intel Core ix-3xxx (751 votes)
    18%
  • Intel Core ix-2xxx (667 votes)
    16%
  • Intel Core ix-xxx (430 votes)
    11%
  • Intel Core 2 (351 votes)
    9%
  • Intel Pentium (59 votes)
    1%
  • Intel Celeron (9 votes)
    0%
  • Intel Atom (2 votes)
    0%
  • Other Intel (88 votes)
    2%
  • AMD FX-series (244 votes)
    6%
  • AMD A-series (68 votes)
    2%
  • AMD E-series (2 votes)
    0%
  • AMD Phenom II (305 votes)
    7%
  • AMD Phenom (11 votes)
    0%
  • AMD Athlon 64 X2 (47 votes)
    1%
  • AMD Athlon 64 (12 votes)
    0%
  • AMD Sempron (1 votes)
    0%
  • Other AMD (27 votes)
    1%

Graphics card(s)

  • AMD Radeon Rx 200 series (451 votes)
    11%
  • AMD Radeon HD 8000 series (18 votes)
    0%
  • AMD Radeon HD 7000 series (705 votes)
    17%
  • AMD Radeon HD 6000 series (339 votes)
    8%
  • AMD Radeon HD 5000 series (220 votes)
    5%
  • AMD Radeon HD 4000 series (103 votes)
    3%
  • AMD Radeon HD 3000 series (12 votes)
    0%
  • AMD Radeon HD 2000 series (6 votes)
    0%
  • Nvidia GeForce 700 series (629 votes)
    15%
  • Nvidia GeForce 600 series (702 votes)
    17%
  • Nvidia GeForce 500 series (263 votes)
    6%
  • Nvidia GeForce 400 series (137 votes)
    3%
  • Nvidia GeForce 300 series (3 votes)
    0%
  • Nvidia GeForce 200 series (67 votes)
    2%
  • Nvidia GeForce 9 series (35 votes)
    1%
  • Nvidia GeForce 8 series (44 votes)
    1%
  • Nvidia GeForce 7 series (57 votes)
    1%
  • Integrated (234 votes)
    6%
  • Other/don’t know (42 votes)
    1%

Motherboard manufacturer

  • ASRock (453 votes)
    11%
  • Asus (1857 votes)
    46%
  • Biostar (34 votes)
    1%
  • ECS (11 votes)
    0%
  • EVGA (47 votes)
    1%
  • Gigabyte (956 votes)
    24%
  • Intel (76 votes)
    2%
  • MSI (341 votes)
    9%
  • Other/don’t know (226 votes)
    6%
 

Paradoxes

There were a few surprises in our results—and some figures that went against the expected trends.

For instance, 75% of respondents said they have no expansion cards other than a graphics card or sound card. 70% of respondents also said they don’t have a sound card. That tells us most of our readers use up only one expansion slot on their motherboard—yet 75% of respondents said they have full-sized ATX or larger systems, with only 21% reporting microATX or Mini-ITX PCs. I keep saying that ATX is overkill for the average enthusiast PC, and these results appear to confirm that assessment.

54% of respondents said they have a DVD drive in their PC. I get the 29% who use Blu-ray, since that format opens the door to high-quality HD movies and large backups. But DVD seems awfully out of date in the age of Netflix, USB thumb drives, and cloud backups.

Perhaps slow Internet upstream speeds play a part in the DVD format’s survival. While 77% of respondents said their Internet connections can download at over 10Mbps, only 22% said the same for their upstreams—and 59% said they’re stuck with 5Mbps or slower uploads. I’d say this result reflects ISP offerings. Aside from Verizon FiOS, most services offer fast download speeds but comparatively anemic uploads.

Last, but not least, a word on displays and graphics. While 37% of respondents said they spent more than $300 on their GPU at the time of purchase, only 20% said their largest monitor has a resolution above 1920×1200. I’d have expected that last number to be higher, considering how well high-end cards run games at 2560×1440 or 2560×1600—and how affordable monitors with those resolutions have become.

Also, our readers’ expensive tastes clearly don’t extend to multi-GPU setups. Less than 10% of respondents said they use two graphics cards or more. Most are apparently happier to splurge on a faster single GPU, which is what we also typically recommend.

Do you have any expansion cards beside a graphics card and sound card?

  • Yes (955 votes)
    25%
  • No (2918 votes)
    75%

Do you have a sound card?

  • Yes (Asus) (649 votes)
    16%
  • Yes (Creative) (443 votes)
    11%
  • Yes (Other) (115 votes)
    3%
  • No (I use an external USB DAC) (305 votes)
    8%
  • No (I use motherboard audio) (2449 votes)
    62%

System form factor

  • Mini-ITX (216 votes)
    6%
  • microATX (615 votes)
    16%
  • ATX (2816 votes)
    72%
  • E-ATX (133 votes)
    3%
  • Other/don’t know (122 votes)
    3%

Do you have an optical drive?

  • Yes (DVD) (2140 votes)
    54%
  • Yes (Blu-ray) (1159 votes)
    29%
  • No (682 votes)
    17%

Internet connection speed (down)

  • 10 Mbps or less (865 votes)
    23%
  • 11-25 Mbps (1095 votes)
    29%
  • 26-50 Mbps (936 votes)
    24%
  • 51-100 Mbps (631 votes)
    16%
  • More than 100 Mbps (304 votes)
    8%

Internet connection speed (up)

  • Less than 2 Mbps (1183 votes)
    31%
  • 2-5 Mbps (1078 votes)
    28%
  • 6-10 Mbps (716 votes)
    19%
  • 11-25 Mbps (435 votes)
    11%
  • 26-50 Mbps (204 votes)
    5%
  • More than 50 Mbps (213 votes)
    6%

Resolution of largest display

  • 1366 x 768 (57 votes)
    1%
  • 1440 x 900 (61 votes)
    2%
  • 1600 x 900 (26 votes)
    1%
  • 1680 x 1050 (266 votes)
    7%
  • 1920 x 1080 (1689 votes)
    43%
  • 1920 x 1200 (908 votes)
    23%
  • 2560 x 1440 (517 votes)
    13%
  • 2560 x 1600 (232 votes)
    6%
  • 3840 x 2160 (4K) (42 votes)
    1%
  • Other/don’t know (146 votes)
    4%

Number of graphics cards

  • 1 (3534 votes)
    90%
  • 2 (356 votes)
    9%
  • 3 (17 votes)
    0%
  • 4 (11 votes)
    0%
 

Conclusions

So there you have it. Going by the most popular options in the poll, we can conclude that the typical TR reader’s system looks something like this:

  • A quad-core Intel CPU with an aftermarket heatsink and fan
  • A single GPU, either AMD or Nvidia, that cost between $200 and $399 at the time of purchase
  • At least 8GB of RAM
  • An Asus or Gigabyte motherboard
  • A solid-state drive larger than 128GB
  • A DVD drive
  • An ATX case and a motherboard with only one expansion slot populated
  • A single display with a 1920×1080 or 1920×1200 resolution
  • And an Internet connection with only 5Mbps of upstream

That’s pretty flattering for the most part, although the form factor and optical storage choices may raise a few eyebrows. The same goes for low Internet upstream speeds, although as I said on the last page, we can’t blame users for that.

In closing, I should point out the obvious: since this data is all self-reported, it might be biased slightly in favor of folks who like to brag about their PCs. If that bias exists, though, it’s small. Only a minority of readers reported having latest-gen processors and graphics cards, with the majority being a generation or more behind. Since CPU and GPU performance has been largely stagnating for the past year or two, that doesn’t take away from our observation about TR readers springing for high-end parts—but it does tell us our data are probably pretty accurate.

Comments closed
    • Questors
    • 5 years ago

    I would be inclined to disagree that ATX is overkill. Technology is moving fast and features being added even faster, or so it feels. Either way, I find for myself, other computer/gaming nerds I know and family that ATX gives a sense of security against the future and/or provide certain current features that a smaller board would not with the idea of having space for another graphics card later if desired or some other add-on card(s) if a new feature were to be released and is adaptable via these add-ons.
    My big thing at the moment is 4 front USB headers and a good number of 4 pin PWM fan headers on the board. There may be other slots I don’t use, but the smaller boards do not give me what I do use. There you have it; a perspective from the other side.

      • WaltC
      • 5 years ago

      Agreed, and I was about to make the same point…;) What “raises my eyebrow” is people buying tiny little cases that are barely large enough to hold their present collection of components, with no thought whatever expended to a larger case design that is:

      *generally cooler because it is more easily ventilated (more air inside and more space between components because the case is roomier)
      *far more comfortable to work in if the case has to be opened (no pinched, scraped, cut hands/fingers when moving, servicing, replacing, reseating components, because there’s more room–especially for larger hands)
      *far more room to add/update components (as one never knows what components one might wish to add later on, etc.)

      I feel like people who use desktops are already a cut above (intellectually) the folks opting for more minimalist arrangements, if they consider things other than “aesthetics.” IMO, the best place for a mid-tower is on the floor, preferably under something like a “good-looking” desk (if we want to talk furniture), in a case easily accessible and pretty much out of sight when used. Aesthetics should therefore be about the *last* thing a person smart enough to use and configure a “desktop” would be concerned with (I recall when desktops actually sat on the desktop–ugh!)

      And in this case, more room is simply *better* in many ways. The point isn’t that you might have an empty slot/space inside your case today; the point is that if *tomorrow* you decided to buy something to fill that slot/space then you are all set, most likely, and you won’t have to toss a cramped case into the river (or give it to sis or little bro’) just because you couldn’t put anything else inside of it…;) Etc.

      Kind of like buying an iMac, ya’ know? Bad mojo, worse karma…;) One-piece boxes are *the worst.* I breathed a sigh of relief when they finally dropped out of general popularity in the early 90’s–and then, gosh knows, here comes Apple bringing back the horrible one-piece cases to again foist on the unsuspecting and inexperienced [and of course, it would be Apple spearheading it, too, as it’s all about company bottom-line comfort as opposed to customer comfort and convenience. Such single-piece cases always appealed to folks who didn’t spend any time thinking about how *impractical* they were…;) (Like, when the monitor needs service the whole computer goes with it, and vice-versa, etc.)

      Anyway, my opinion is that smart money buys the most room & largest mid-tower case he can afford. (Unless you need a full tower.) I have a Lian-Li PCV-1200 mid (If I remember the model number correctly) that I bought ten years ago next month–wonderful, frigidly cool, even stylish case that I’ve never grown weary of, and that is a [i<]joy[/i<] to open up and work in. When friends or acquaintances ask me to look inside their (much smaller) cases I'm horrified at the lack of working space, heat, cabling, etc. And iMacs? I shake my head slowly and genuflect and stumble through, "In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti" & etc....even though I'm not Catholic, actually...;)

    • C10 250
    • 5 years ago

    I wish square monitors could have been properly represented in the survey. Even 1600×900 got a vote, why not 1024×768.

    That’s just my little gripe.

    Great survey! Thanks Techreport. My build has been highly influenced by your pages.

    • Buzzard44
    • 5 years ago

    Why wouldn’t you have a DVD drive in a full ATX setup? Even if you don’t need it, I’d think most enthusiasts would have one lying around from an earlier era. I don’t think there’s that many people that fill their 5.25″ drive bays with much else.

    Also I wonder what percentage of the “Other” monitor option is a projector, like me. Edge case I know, but I like having the opposite wall being my monitor. I know pixels are bigger, but feels more…immersive.

    Also, really surprised everyone’s system is so high end. About half my components are midrange, the other half were high-end five years ago.

    • Squuiid
    • 5 years ago

    Nice report. Thanks TR!

    • strangerguy
    • 5 years ago

    Personally I’m ain’t all that surprised that i7 beat out the i5 despite the mindless “i5 is better for gaming” meme.

    Intel chips has been gimped with ever lower OC headroom since SB, the 4690K is also ~$40 more expensive than the 2500K, while at the same time the 4790K is also effectively stock clocked 4.2GHz for only $100 more while having HT making the current i5s increasingly hard to swallow. Why not spend $100 for a better binned and clocked chip than on OCing mobos and cooling while playing chip lottery?

    • PGleo86
    • 5 years ago

    I’d bet that the Rx 200 series vs 700 series GPU edge for NVidia is because of the huge AMD price spike from cryptocurrencies. While that was a thing, NVidia offered much better value for money, and the AND cards were fairly new still

    • Zielhuis
    • 5 years ago

    In my opinion people with <-10mbps internet speeds, single core cpu’s and integrated graphics really don’t have any business taking a survey targeted at enthusiasts, why are these options even included?

      • Airmantharp
      • 5 years ago

      Should everyone claiming to be a car enthusiast be required to have an aftermarket turbo in order to be recognized as such?

        • Zielhuis
        • 5 years ago

        I’m not saying you need the latest and greatest to be an enthusiast.. not at all, but single core processors? come on… Even in the lowest budget segment there’s 10x better hardware for very little money.

        To go with your car “theme”, someone that really loves cars does NOT drive a 20 year old fiat panda. If they do..?.. then that’s just sad (in my humble opinion).

          • absurdity
          • 5 years ago

          Your point about the lowest budget segment assumes that there’s a budget. Some people just don’t have this. I also know firsthand that in at least a couple other countries, parts that are cheap here in the USA demand a premium. There is a worldwide audience here.

      • Krogoth
      • 5 years ago

      You couldn’t be further from the truth.

      A computer enthusiast is just a person is who simply expresses a large interest in computer software/hardware. They don’t need to be running the latest greatest or be some ridiculous SLI/CF, dual-socket CPU system for non-prosumer purposes.

      Also, not everybody has access to super-fast internet speeds due to the geography and lack of choice.

      • UberGerbil
      • 5 years ago

      The fact that this survey — taken by self-selected “enthusiasts” on a site that specifically targets them — returned non-zero responses for each of those questions, suggests you need to re-think your assumptions.

      My current main machine uses an IGP. That’s not because I am not an enthusiast; it’s because I don’t use it for gaming and since I’m currently not doing any GPGPU stuff I’d rather have it be cool and silent.

      • ZeDestructor
      • 5 years ago

      Hey! Not all of us have fast internet available at all.

      Secondly, Up until very recently, I was on a very slow Penryn-based laptop (C2D). If it weren’t for the fact that I got really lucky and had an MXM slot in that laptop (remember those dying 8600M GTs?), I’d be having Integrated graphics from 2009 up to 2013.

      Gamers come in all shapes, sizes and wallet capacity, especially with light games like LoL and a lot of indie games, not to mention over 20 years of backwards compatibility.

      • C10 250
      • 5 years ago

      I think every reader has the right to be represented. My friend and enthusiast’s last primary desktop build has been an AMD E-350. It’s all he and his family needs in a desktop and has been for quite a few years now.

      • Questors
      • 5 years ago

      Enthusiasts don’t own cable, Telco, or satellite companies and can’t control what their respective service will give them, how often they upgrade their services and/or how ridiculous the charges are if there were faster upload speed available.
      You have a thoughtless and ignorant opinion.

    • sweatshopking
    • 5 years ago

    GUIZE, I LUV COMPUTRZ!!

      • travbrad
      • 5 years ago

      OMG ME 2!

    • PainIs4ThaWeak1
    • 5 years ago

    I know Cyril says he’s surprised at the seemingly inverse relationship between expenditures on GPUs in relation to monitor resolution…

    However, being one of those people that runs a [TR unrecommended] SLI configuration with monitors that support no more than 1920×1080 resolutions, I think it’s worth noting that I do so [b<]primarily[/b<] for Folding/GPU Compute purposes. (Especially now that BigADV is on its death bed.) I'd almost suspect the remainder of the 10% of respondents in this survey [or a large majority of them] may very well fall into the same case.

      • BIF
      • 5 years ago

      I will fall into the same case as you if I ever get the house stuff done and can afford to buy an added GPU card. Compute only.

      But…SLI for compute? I didn’t even know that was possible. How’s the performance for that compared to two separate folding slots (1 per graphic card)?

        • cobalt
        • 5 years ago

        I assume the use of the term “SLI” here was simply in the “two cards in a box” sense.

        You’re right, SLI isn’t really a thing for compute. (And even if you did try to use the rendering pipeline for compute to get SLI, I can’t imagine a scenario, particularly for folding, where it would be more efficient than just using them as separate compute devices.)

          • PainIs4ThaWeak1
          • 5 years ago

          Apologies. Yes, I used the term incorrectly.

          Only intended to state that I use each card as its own dedicated folding “slot”.

      • bfar
      • 5 years ago

      I’m not all that suprised by the GPU/ monitor resolution numbers. Another recent poll suggests most of us feel that GPU power is a massive bottle neck. Indeed one comentator rightly suggests that “you can never have enough GPU power”. Damn right! TR has proved that 60fps averages are not the be-all/end all, it’s much more complex. I can relate to the user who wants to run Sli GTX970 at 1080p. It’s all a question of where you lean between adaquate performance and flawless performance.

      • cygnus1
      • 5 years ago

      I’ve been in the planning stages of a monitor upgrade for at least a year, maybe closer to two. It’s something I’m willing to spend good money on, but it’s something that needs to be future proof. Monitor tech seems to be increasing too quickly for me to feel comfortable buying something that I won’t want to replace well before the 5 years I’d like it to last. Ideally I want a 27 or 28″ adaptive v-sync capable monitor (G-sync or freesync) that works with both nVidia and AMD GPUs at a 1440p resolution and up to 120 or 144hz refresh. I’m not even overly concerned about panel type. It can be TN as long as it’s a really good TN. Nothing actually fits that bill yet, the Asus ROG SWIFT PG278Q is pretty much there except for not being compatible with AMD and nVidia adaptive v-sync techs. So in the mean time I plod along with an ancient 1920×1200 panel made by Gateway. I just expect a longer life out of a monitor and nothing out there seems worth the money at the moment as within a year something much more future proof will be along.

    • Sabresiberian
    • 5 years ago

    I kinda fear the point that ATX is not needed for most people. Sure it isn’t, but please don’t put the idea into manufacturers’ heads that they should stop making ATX and larger mainboards. In fact I’d like to see them come larger, come with slots that aren’t covered up if I use 3-way SLI or Crossfire. Let me install 3 video cards, a PCIe SSD card, and a sound card all at the same time, for example. (Please don’t start an argument about whether or not sound cards are worth their cost, that’s not the point here. 🙂 )

      • Airmantharp
      • 5 years ago

      They don’t have to make the motherboards bigger, even assuming that you use an actual PCIe SSD card; you just have to find one that has the slots properly spaced with the x16 physical slots at positions 1, 4, and 7, and use an enclosure that has eight or nine slots with space for cooling that third card.

    • rds
    • 5 years ago

    I would have been interested to know the number of actively used computers people have.

    I have my main/game machine, a secondary machine for family use, a storage server, a HTPC, 3 family laptops and a high end laptop I use for development.

    I just wonder how typical this is?

      • Klimax
      • 5 years ago

      5. Main one (powerful, large amount of storage), notebook for mobile computing, backup computer/secondary or long term processing and testing computer. (to test various cards and performance) and old computer for old games…

      • just brew it!
      • 5 years ago

      Take away the high end laptop and add dedicated desktops for my wife and son, and that’s essentially my setup.

      I also have enough spare parts to build several additional desktops if performance is non-critical (we’re talking mostly Socket AM2+ and integrated graphics).

      • Waco
      • 5 years ago

      IMO it’s typical of tech enthusiasts.

      I have:
      Main desktop
      Wife’s desktop
      HTPC
      Testing rig (we review hardware)
      Storage server
      2 Win8.1 tablets
      Laptop for car tuning

      That’s not counting anything we don’t actively use…my closet is embarrassingly full of hardware.

      • kamikaziechameleon
      • 5 years ago

      Good question. 🙂

    • kvndoom
    • 5 years ago

    The DVD vs Blu Ray is hardly a paradox. Considering how huge a rip-off it is to watch a BR on a computer, I wouldn’t be surprised if most of those simply came with the PC. I wouldn’t pay a dime extra for a BR drive over regular DVD.

    No free BR playback software is a huge issue. Then the software you do buy gets obsoleted, and you have to pay the same company multiple times over.

    For all that hassle, it makes more sense to buy a $75 player from Amazon and hook it up to your monitor’s HDMI port. Or just use your Playstation.

      • Klimax
      • 5 years ago

      IIRC VLC supports BD. No idea how well. (Don’t have BD reader…)

        • Airmantharp
        • 5 years ago

        VLC supports the BD container and the codecs involved, but it does not do the decryption. They’d have to charge you for that, as they’d have to pay for it themselves.

        (we get around that for DVDs due to a genius kid making the DeCSS decryption code all of seven lines long, where it was reprinted everywhere including on t-shirts)

          • Klimax
          • 5 years ago

          Thought it was bit further with decryption. Too optimistic.

            • Airmantharp
            • 5 years ago

            It’s not that they don’t know how to do it, the decryption was broken the week Blu-ray was released…

            • ZeDestructor
            • 5 years ago

            Some faffing around is needed to get the keyDB up and running, but once you do, it’s fairly trivial to rip BDs.

    • flip-mode
    • 5 years ago

    [quote<]For instance, 75% of respondents said they have no expansion cards other than a graphics card or sound card. 70% of respondents also said they don't have a sound card. That tells us most of our readers use up only one expansion slot on their motherboard—yet 75% of respondents said they have full-sized ATX or larger systems, with only 21% reporting microATX or Mini-ITX PCs. I keep saying that ATX is overkill for the average enthusiast PC, and these results appear to confirm that assessment.[/quote<] I suspect two causes for this: 1.) mATX case selection, quality, features, and performance isn't nearly as good as it needs to be. People get the ATX cases because finding the right mATX case is just damn hard to do most of the time. There are some very good mATX cases out there, but the number is very limited, in my opinion. Maybe manufacturers think not enough people want mATX to put more effort into them, or maybe designing a really good mATX case takes too much more effort than doing the same in an ATX case. Dunno. 2.) mITX is too limiting. The memory limit is major. I'd have gone mITX if not for the 2-slot memory limit. It's so fricking stupid, I think, to have designed the mITX standard spec that way. Then there's always the peace of mind of having that extra unused expansion slot - just in case. mITX boards often don't have the extra slot or the slot gets covered by the graphics card.

      • auxy
      • 5 years ago

      1) How do you have trouble finding good mATX cases?
      2) 16GB of RAM is limiting?

        • just brew it!
        • 5 years ago

        16GB could be limiting depending on use case. Even if you’re not hitting the page file, more RAM is always better since it allows the OS to cache more data from disk; even with SSDs RAM is still an order of magnitude faster. Running VMs also chews up RAM in a hurry.

          • Airmantharp
          • 5 years ago

          While true, actually needing >16GB of RAM is really a corner case, and in many of those cases it’s a performance argument where one is trying to avoid using the swap file.

            • flip-mode
            • 5 years ago

            Strangely, I never mentioned anything about 16 gigabytes of memory.

            • auxy
            • 5 years ago

            DDR3 UDIMMs max out at 8GB. 2x slots, 16GB of RAM. C’mon, flip-mode, use that forebrain. Your ancestors evolved it for a reason.

            • flip-mode
            • 5 years ago

            OK, this is predictable. You have an opinion or a certain usage profile of your own and a method to your madness, and you only think it appropriate that other people should do things the way you do. So if I have two 4 GB DIMMs, you would tell me to suck it up and swap them out for the 8 GB DIMMs and tell me I’m a whiner for wanting to keep the 4 GB in the two slots and add the new DIMMs to the other two slots.

            The best response to you and people who think only their view is right is to ignore you. The fact is that your way is not the only right way, whether your forebrain wants to see it or not.

            • auxy
            • 5 years ago

            See this right here? This is called “moving the goalposts”, kids. This is a really common debate tactic (though it’s a fallacy, of course) among people who know they’ve messed up, or said something really stupid.

            We were talking about a hypothetical situation where you implied having two RAM slots was never enough, and I remarked that 16GB of RAM should probably work for virtually anyone considering a desktop machine. And now you’re going on about what RAM you already have.

        • flip-mode
        • 5 years ago

        1) that’s not what I said.

        2) that’s not what I said either.

        I’m certainly open to you disagreeing with the points I make but at least disagree with the points I make.

        • BIF
        • 5 years ago

        I need 32 GB of RAM for my content creation. It’s just easier to max out so I have 64 GB now.

          • flip-mode
          • 5 years ago

          I have 32 GB for running VMs and some other memory-intensive applications. But the actual point is about flexibility, not just the capacity limitation. If I have a couple 4 GB sticks and want to keep them and add more, I can’t do that with mITX.

          And auxy completely neglects the same point made about expansion slots.

            • Johnny Rotten
            • 5 years ago

            if your memory slots are full and you want to add more memory you are going to be at least upgrading two DIMM slots, and therefore ‘wasting’ two dimms whether your board is m-atx or m-itx.

    • Krogoth
    • 5 years ago

    The results don’t surprise me at all.

    The majority of the builds are mid-range stuff where the best bang for the buck reside. The high-end are a small minority and a larger minority are operating on older hardware platforms.

      • UberGerbil
      • 5 years ago

      Breaking news! Krogoth: not impressed.

    • Klimax
    • 5 years ago

    My fresh system:
    Core i7-5960x
    16GB Corsair 2800MHz
    Gigabyte X99-UD5
    Geforce Titan
    2x 17”
    SSD Intel 520 120GB
    HDDs: 4TB+2x1TB+500GB+500GB
    DVD (No such thing as Netflix or similar service)
    Case: Corsair 900D
    ETA: Windows 8.1

    Future upgrades 4K 24” monitor (bloody expensive – more then CPU’)
    At least one SSD on PCI-E.

      • Klimax
      • 5 years ago

      BTW: On the opposite side I got Pentium III, 256 RAM, 80GB HDD running Windows XP and 7 (don’t remember what GPU is there right now, might be Matrox G200) Chipset is 440BX…. Soundcard might be ESS 1969 or some Creative. With working MPEG2 decoding card. (And its software works in W7)

    • bfar
    • 5 years ago

    Why does it suprise you that so many people are using ATX when you recommend so many ATX cases? A user with an ATX case might as well get an ATX motherboard, because there’s more choice in that size and they’re often cheaper for no particularly good reason.

    • UnfriendlyFire
    • 5 years ago

    And meanwhile Steam’s Hardware Survey: [url<]http://store.steampowered.com/hwsurvey/[/url<]

    • satsuper
    • 5 years ago

    These survey results just makes me sad about my 1Mbps upstream connection 🙁

      • entropy13
      • 5 years ago

      What about my “up to” 2mbps down/0.05mbps up connection then?

    • midoshiro
    • 5 years ago

    Donno if anyone else suggested it (don’t have time to read through all comments), but it would be interesting if this poll could be run on, say, a monthly basis. It would be interesting to see what kinds of trends over time can be gleaned about our hardware spending habits.

    edit: also would be nice for more options to accurately capture my Xeon E5-1620 with 32GB ECC ram

      • oldog
      • 5 years ago

      I’d rather TR do a Friday Nighter on what people do with their used parts. I got drawers full of old e-junk.

        • JustAnEngineer
        • 5 years ago

        I like to keep the old stuff working, either moving it to a new PC or passing it down with the old one when I upgrade.

        When it reaches the point that it doesn’t provide value for you, either give it away or send it to the recyclers.

        • kamikaziechameleon
        • 5 years ago

        craigslist if you aren’t a hoarder. The resale on most PC parts through a craigslist if you are in a city is generally pretty flipping good all things considered. I’ve sold allot of stuff that way to great results. Listing individual parts on their or ebay will get you a surprising amount of cash frequently to things you assigned no value to.

          • oldog
          • 5 years ago

          “Listing individual parts on their or ebay will get you a surprising amount of cash frequently to things you assigned no value to.”

          Old Jazz dirves?

            • kamikaziechameleon
            • 5 years ago

            Don’t know what that is… But old parts are still worth some money. There are vintage PC cults out there doing odd things with pentium 3 machines so anything is possible.

            • Usacomp2k3
            • 5 years ago

            Jazz was the thing to have in small businesses back in the day. The capaity of 100MB Zip drives was limiting, although the 250MB helped that out. But Jazz started at 1GB (This was 13 years ago, so my memory might be fading), which was fantastic. Now transferring all of that over parallel wasn’t the fasting thing in the world.

      • Ninjitsu
      • 5 years ago

      Monthly probably won’t be of much use, considering the usual upgrade cycles.

      • Meadows
      • 5 years ago

      It would be exceedingly tiresome to keep answering the same questions every month.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 5 years ago

        I agree, and a small self-selected sample size doesn’t really tell us enough on a monthly basis unless you can guarantee that sample answers every time out.

    • chuckula
    • 5 years ago

    Interestly Statistic:

    Number of people claiming to be running an Intel 5-series part (aka Haswell-E): 220
    Number of people claiming to be running a Bulldozer/Piledriver variant: 244.

    Let’s assume that everyone is being honest here… the raw numbers indicate that even the new and rather high-priced Haswell-E platform is nearly on par with the flagship AMD platform that’s been available since 2012.

    Now, aside from dishonesty, there could be a few factors for why the numbers are maybe a little skewed here. For example, I’m pretty sure that the probability-of-response for a TR reader who has (very recently) built a 5820K/5930K/5960X based system is extremely high since you will want to brag about that thing. Additionally, there’s probably a large group of Bulldozer/Piledriver users who elected not to participate for opposing reasons.

      • Ninjitsu
      • 5 years ago

      But it’s anonymous…how would they “brag”? Still don’t know who it is…

    • Steele
    • 5 years ago

    The only thing that made me want to comment is that you were impressed with the amount of money people spent on memory. Well, personally speaking, I grabbed my 8 gigs back when Memory prices had crashed. For example, this is the memory set I grabbed from NewEgg:

    [url<]http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231314[/url<] As of this posting, it's ~$80. When I bought it 3 years ago, it was almost HALF that, $47. I suspect that many other users are in the same way. Got good quality parts when they were on sale. So assuming we all like to splurge may not be the 100% correct take-away from these test results. Other than that, great article; very insightful =)

      • jessterman21
      • 5 years ago

      Those were the days. I got my G-skill 2x4GB set for $33 in Summer 2012.

        • BIF
        • 5 years ago

        Yeah, but there were no hard drives available back then; remember?

    • R2P2
    • 5 years ago

    Only 8% with no mechanical storage? Apparently I’m a freak, running with just a 500GB SSD. The thing’s 2/3 full, and there’s probably 100GB of stuff I could delete if I needed to.

      • davidptm56
      • 5 years ago

      I’m doing fine with just a 256GB M4. 72GB still free and could free up 30-40 more GB easy if needed.

        • ImSpartacus
        • 5 years ago

        Yeah, I have a 256GB mSATA M5 with 101GB free. I do regret not spending the extra $100 for a 512GB version (it’s mSATA, so replacement isn’t really an option), but I’m not really pinching for space yet.

        Regardless, I have a 500GB 2.5″ drive in my old laptop that I could poach if necessary.

      • chuckula
      • 5 years ago

      I’m in the 8% as well if you don’t count the old Atom box that I keep around as a semi-warm backup machine with a couple of HDDs.

    • UberGerbil
    • 5 years ago

    I have to say the result that surprises me the most is that just 30% have two displays and a mere 8% have three. No matter how big my main display gets, I can’t live without at least one other to monitor (heh) things (at various times debugging windows, email, media player, reference info, etc, etc).

      • Meadows
      • 5 years ago

      It’s one of those things that’s incredibly difficult to justify spending money on until [i<]after[/i<] you've experienced it. For now, I'm still with the crowd who shrugs at secondary monitors and simply makes the primary one bigger, but at work I have two monitors, so lately I've been entertaining the thought of getting one more for the home because of that.

        • Chrispy_
        • 5 years ago

        My ideal setup at the moment would be a 27″ in landscape right now with a couple of smaller screens flanking either side in portrait.

        I’ve used a variety of displays at various ppi over the course of my work and I think 27″ 1440p is the best pixel size for the moment at about 109ppi. To get the best effect you’d want a 1440 x 900 panel at the exact same ppi – which means you’d need a couple of 15.6″ screens. It’s a popular laptop size but not for the desktop.

        Instead I’m tempted to go for one of these new-fangled 21:9 super widescreen monitors and just divide it up using software instead of bezels. Problem is that I’m not changing my dual 1440p setup until a 1440p super-wide, IPS, curved, Freesync, Displayport 1.3 model appears; I may be waiting for some time yet 😉

          • JustAnEngineer
          • 5 years ago

          [url<]http://www.ubergizmo.com/2006/02/dell-3007wfp-30-inch-lcd-monitor-review/[/url<]

      • cmrcmk
      • 5 years ago

      At work, I can’t do without a second monitor and miss having a third like I did at my old job. At home though, I mostly use my PC for surfing the web, watching netflix and playing games, meaning I pretty much only consume media on it. For consuming, one (large) monitor is sufficient. For creating, such as at work, I totally agree with you.

        • UberGerbil
        • 5 years ago

        [url<]http://i.imgur.com/m4VJbAR.png[/url<]

      • Kurotetsu
      • 5 years ago

      The biggest hurdle for me at home is a lack of desk space. Between my current monitor, passive speakers, stereo amp, headphone DAC+AMP, peripherals, and assorted other junk I barely have any space for a 2nd monitor (not without blocking my speakers, and audio takes priority for me). I’d have to get a 2nd desk before a 2nd monitor.

        • UberGerbil
        • 5 years ago

        Sound like you just need a monitor arm to get it up above all that junk. Or get some of that junk off your desk.

          • travbrad
          • 5 years ago

          Or alternatively, speaker stands. A lot of times (depending mostly on the room/positioning) they will actually sound better on stands than they would sitting on your desk (even with mopads).

          Luckily my desk is JUST wide enough to have 2 monitors of both the speaker and display variety, and still have the speakers pointed towards me.

      • Krogoth
      • 5 years ago

      Having multiple monitors only shines if you are doing real work and need to multi-task. For media consumption and gaming, a single monitor is more than sufficient, especially if it is a large unit.

        • Airmantharp
        • 5 years ago

        For gaming, I like to have at least one other monitor- stuff like Ventrilo, a Pandora page, task manager, CPU-Z/GPU-Z, or say EA’s Battlelog can all be useful while gaming.

        (I have more than one extra monitor, and sometimes I have all of those things open)

    • Milo Burke
    • 5 years ago

    For the ATX vs smaller debate:

    There are a handful of nice micro ATX cases, but not at the price point I’m typically looking for. I bought larger based on price.

    Also, my motherboard choice was determined by a Microcenter discount. Again, going full-sized appears to be cheapest.

      • ZGradt
      • 5 years ago

      Yup. When I was in the market, I found that I’d have to pay a premium and go with a board with an older chipset to go ITX. It didn’t make sense to me to pay more for less.

    • Milo Burke
    • 5 years ago

    One more paradox: 73% have an aftermarket CPU cooler, yet only 42% overclock their CPU.

      • Thrashdog
      • 5 years ago

      It’s so much *quieter* that way!

      • homerdog
      • 5 years ago

      I’m currently running the stock cooler on my 3770k. I have a Scythe Ninja Mini but it’s on my old QX6700 OCed to 3GHz, so it needs it.

      Still I’m considering a new cooler of the i7 to see how much quieter it will be.

      • EndlessWaves
      • 5 years ago

      The others want a very quiet system.

      I bought my tower cooler to go with my passively cooled graphics card since the stock cooler reportedly wasn’t as quiet as it could have been (and that was before aging).

        • Milo Burke
        • 5 years ago

        You’re right, there are some low-noise enthusiasts out there. But I suspect there are many who get caught up in the researching and buying rush that is inevitable with an enthusiast building his pride and joy.

        For example, when I bought an enthusiast bicycle a while ago, of course it wasn’t complete without an aftermarket enthusiast seat, aftermarket enthusiast pedals, and aftermarket enthusiast tires. Naturally.

        I suspect enthusiast PC builders, in the same way, want the affordable upgrades whether or not they need them because it further sets them apart from OEM systems. It’s one more area to be unique and superior, and one more thing one can research and ask questions about on a forum.

        I’m as guilty as the rest. The first computer I build had an overclockable processor and motherboard with an aftermarket cooler, and I never overclocked it. My second build, I did. =]

      • UberGerbil
      • 5 years ago

      I bought an OEM CPU SKU which didn’t include a cooler, so I had no choice but to buy an aftermarket cooler. I don’t overclock, but I do appreciate the silence.

      • ImSpartacus
      • 5 years ago

      Not all coolers are expensive.

      Also, I have a mITX case, so thermals are paramount. Not only CPU thermals, but other things in the chassis.

      • just brew it!
      • 5 years ago

      Even an inexpensive tower cooler (e.g. Cooler Master Hyper TX3) is way quieter than the stock HSFs, especially under heavy load.

      • I.S.T.
      • 5 years ago

      I have a cooler master 212 evo simply to keep my CPU as cool as can be.

      • Antias
      • 5 years ago

      Environment also plays a factor…
      Where I live in Australia is kinda hot all year round (mid summer is not unusual to be over 45c/115f for days on end… yes I have aircon but i really don’t like it on much unless it gets to extremes) – having a closed loop liquid cooling system allows for better control in the really hot summers as well as dust control with the fan etc on the outside of the case for easy cleaning…

    • ludi
    • 5 years ago

    [quote<]For starters, roughly 80% of all respondents said they have 8GB or more memory in their PCs—and 41% have 16GB or more. Considering today's memory prices, that's pretty impressive.[/quote<] Kind of depends on [i<]when[/i<] the system was built. Anyone building a Core iX system three years ago probably put in at least 16GB because the deals were pretty spectacular. I paid $105 for a 4x4GB Corsair kit in October 2011.

      • ratborg
      • 5 years ago

      Same here I was able to get 16GB for under $100 when doing my last major upgrade. Not so much now.

    • ZGradt
    • 5 years ago

    I prefer full size ATX cases and boards because I tend to convert my main system into a file server or test setup after I upgrade. Big cases hold more drives, and sometimes I wish I had more PCIE X4 slots.

    Plus, bigger is just better. Everyone knows that.

      • BIF
      • 5 years ago

      Big cases just give me more flexibility for building, rebuilding, reconfiguring, and just generally satisfying my God-complex…

      • vargis14
      • 5 years ago

      4x slots can be filled by a motherboard with 3 or more 16x slots.

      It seems a lot of people forget that a16x slot can take any PCIE card…1x 4x 8x and 16x.
      Getting a higher end motherboard setup for PCIE 3.0 trifire or tri sli will also have a 2.0 4x 16x slot.
      That should give you 3 4x slots availible with a 16x slot for graphics along with a 1x slot for sound.

      I was happy with onboard sound until I got my Soundblaster z…so I will have my SBZ until drivers become a problem and then I will get a new better sound card, but I think I have 2-3 years B4 I have to worry about that.

    • Andrew Lauritzen
    • 5 years ago

    > I keep saying that ATX is overkill for the average enthusiast PC, and these results appear to confirm that assessment.

    Totally agreed, but unfortunately I couldn’t find any good microATX HSW-E boards yet :S Nor can I find any cases without drive bays.

    It should be quite possible/ideal now to make a small system with a HSW-E + single discrete GPU + M.2 SSD with zero drive bays and that’s what I’d buy if I could. Unfortunately it seems that my desire for 8 cores apparently also means I want 4 graphics cards (lol), huge cooling solutions (since I must overclock like crazy…), a zillion SATA ports/bays and tons of gimmicky nonsense on my motherboards. Couldn’t be further from the truth.

    • Bomber
    • 5 years ago

    I’ve upgraded since responding to this as the GTX9x0 review comments pointed out.

    Core i7 875k (4.3ghz overclock) to Core i7 5820k (still stock…haven’t tinkered)
    Asus P7P55D-E Pro to Gigabyte GA-X99-UD5 Wifi motherboard
    Same amount of memory just DDR4 now (of course)
    GTX560 Ti 448 to GTX970
    24″ 1080p to 27″ 1440p
    128gb SATA3 to 256gb m.2 PCIe SSD

    Kept all my other drives, case, power supply and H100 in the move.

    Not an entirely necessary upgrade but hey, when the wife agrees to go all out, you don’t argue.

    • ratborg
    • 5 years ago

    Another point to consider is that enthusiasts probably have more than one computer at home. For example I answered the survey with the specs from my main gaming/work PC. We also have a couple of Macs, a HTPC and PC based file server. Those PCs have items that didn’t show up in the survey.

    For example the HTPC has
    1. A capture card in one of the expansion slots
    2. Micro-ATX motherboard
    3. AMD A-series CPU
    4. Blu-ray drive to watch videos on the TV

    The file server has
    1. Older AMD CPU
    2. Mini-ITX motherboard
    3. 4GB RAM

    Interesting study but overall just a partial slice of what’s in use.

      • Andrew Lauritzen
      • 5 years ago

      Definitely true for me as well, but it’s still interesting to get a sampling of the “most powerful” gaming machine in a household.

      • homerdog
      • 5 years ago

      I have 3 desktops and a laptop. The two most powerful desktops are very similar (4core Ivy Bridge, GTX670/HD7950, 16GB DDR3, SSD + 1TB HDD, BDROM etc.), but one is mITX and one is ATX. Needless to say the mITX one is way more awesome. I built the ATX one before I realized 90% of it would be empty. 🙁

      Also for some reason I was able to vote twice, so I voted once for each of those systems. The older rig is considerably slower (QX6700 @3GHz, 6GB DDR2, 320GB HDD, GTX260).

    • southrncomfortjm
    • 5 years ago

    I went with aCorsair Carbide 500R for my gaming build to make sure I would able to get all the cables nicely and neatly tucked away. The ATX board was also the same price as the mATX at the time, so I just went for it. In hindsight, a mini-itx build would have been preferable.

    At this point, I’m eager to complete a mini-itx gaming build, but its not in the cards until: 1) I build out my home theater with a 55-65inch OLED and new surround sound speakers and receiver; and 2) I actually need to upgrade my 3570k. Until then my massive computer suits me just fine.

    • Freon
    • 5 years ago

    Cyril, your paradoxes section is not terribly informative other than to show your personal biases and your disconnect from your readership. There’s really no objective argument being made, either there or in your linked article. Throwing around words like “overkill” like that is, in my opinion, only thumbing your nose at readers who, as shown by your own data, seem to have different priorities than you.

    I think it would be a lot better if you realized what it truly represents, which is a gap in your own knowledge or the materialization of your own bias, rather than some self-deception or irrationality on the part of your readers and their own needs and concerns.

    This would be a great subject to cover, but step one is to bring it back to a neutral place where a mature conversation can be had. For now, I find it being handled in a rather immature fashion.

    It’s frustrating to see this type of writing mixed on a website that otherwise has a history of excellent objective performance testing. I often refer people to come here to read the SSD lifecycle articles, latest graphics card reviews, etc. due to the rigor of the testing, but then these sorts of analysis (and the horrible up/down vote system in comments) are just so off the mark that it makes me question the recommendation.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 5 years ago

      I don’t get the condescending tone here. The conclusion that most respondents have a single expansion card is pretty solid, meaning therefore that an mITX setup is adequate and mATX is plenty. That does make ATX overkill.

      • tim.hawkinson
      • 5 years ago

      I agree. Implying that those who purchase an ATX board and don’t fully utilize each expansion slot have made a poor choice seems pretty smug.

      As others have stated, there are generally more choices in ATX motherboard lineups allowing one to fine tune their expense versus the features desired. This effectively means ATX boards are cheaper. The space taken up by these extra ports and expansion slots is penalty free and provides options in the future instead of the limitations of a smaller form factor.

      Similar logic applies to the optical drive. These drives cost a whopping $15, easily fit in ATX cases and provide access to the giant stack of optical content I have accumulated over the years. Even if I only use the drive once a year, its still nice to have. The apparent disdain for those who have not aggressively sought to eliminate legacy content and connectivity is somewhat concerning.

    • odizzido
    • 5 years ago

    I am not surprised by the DVD drive at all. I have passed mine down from build to build and I imagine this is true for most people. I will say that I haven’t plugged it into my personal computer for several years now, however it has helped me with some other computers I support.

    • albundy
    • 5 years ago

    intel and amd should take a serious look at these results. i spent a whopping $9 on a zalman optima cpu cooler for my phenom 2, and the difference was night and day with double digit temp drops. stock coolers suck.

      • ludi
      • 5 years ago

      Stock coolers are designed for maximum economic efficiency, not performance. Heat is removed most efficiently when the temperature differential between the heatsink and surrounding air is high, which conveniently means that a smaller, cheaper cooler gets the most bang for the buck (and tends to fit in the most possible configurations that a stock cooler might be asked to occupy).

      Enthusiasts generally have a different set of priorities for temperature control, hence will have to purchase something aftermarket…and make sure their chassis layout can accommodate it.

    • jessterman21
    • 5 years ago

    I think the “paradoxical” results on the third page all come down to bang for your buck.

    Motherboard audio is plenty for 99% of people.
    ATX mobos are more feature-rich for the price.
    ATX cases provide better cooling and are often cheaper.
    DVD drives are super-cheap and I’d rather have one and not need it.
    Reputable-brand 1080p displays start at $120, versus $500 for 1440p.

    • Ninjitsu
    • 5 years ago

    [quote<] and 57% have more than 128GB of solid-state storage, meaning drives with capacities of 180GB, 240GB, 256GB, and above. [/quote<] Or it means that people have multiple SSDs...

    • Meadows
    • 5 years ago

    I wonder if TR can use this data to negotiate more lucrative advertising deals with select brands for certain products.

    • cobalt
    • 5 years ago

    Like cmrcmk, I’m not getting the shock over having a DVD drive:
    1) You’ve got the physical space. Almost every mATX/ATX case has at least one 5.25″ bay.
    2) Unless your first computer ever was bought in the past couple years, there’s a good chance you’ve got some games or other software lying around on optical discs.
    3) Plus, even today it’s still an optical disc that has the drivers for your video card, or really any retail hardware, or software, purchase.
    4) DVDR discs are cheaper than 4GB thumb drives if you have a small quantity of data to move.
    5) DVDs are easier to put an OS on and boot off of.
    6) For all these benefits, they’re incredibly cheap — around $20 for a perfectly good one.

    Sure, you can get by without one pretty easily today. But even if you don’t back up to DVD (cloud backups) and don’t use it for watching movies (Netflix) and have a small menagerie of thumb drives, there’s almost no reason NOT to have an optical drive.

    (Edit: spelling and clarified one point)

      • Ninjitsu
      • 5 years ago

      Exactly. DVDs work with the least fiddling for OS installation (at least, Windows).

        • just brew it!
        • 5 years ago

        They’re still the path of least resistance for installing Linux too. There are a bazillion other ways to install Linux if you don’t mind varying degrees of futzing around, but using an optical drive is a no-brainer (just boot from the CD/DVD and follow the prompts).

          • auxy
          • 5 years ago

          Using a flash drive is literally no more difficult for any modern system (whether ‘system’ means OS or hardware).

            • just brew it!
            • 5 years ago

            In the past, the issue was not *using* the drive to install, it was *making* the drive in the first place. At least with Ubuntu, the tools to make bootable installation thumbdrives were a bit hit-or-miss. I imagine this has gotten better (probably been at least a year since I last tried), so I suppose I ought to give it another chance.

            • ermo
            • 5 years ago

            FWIW, the last four Linux flavours I’ve installed could all be written to an USB key with dd. We’re talking Fedora 20, Ubuntu 14.04.1 LTS, Linux Mint 17 and Arch.

            All it took was something along the lines of “sudo dd if=some.iso of=/dev/<correct usb key device name> bs=8M”, so not exactly rocket science to an experienced *nix hand like yourself.

            To the uninitiated, “dd” is a standard *nix utility which simply copies blocks verbatim from one device to another. The “bs=” argument describes the size of the chunks you read from/write to devices.

            • just brew it!
            • 5 years ago

            Interesting. Didn’t realize they’d started doing that with the ISOs. At least in Ubuntu, used to be you had to futz around with a special tool which only seemed to work about half the time.

            I use dd all the time for cloning hard drive images and creating ISOs from CDs/DVDs, but didn’t know it was now possible to create installation thumbdrives that way.

        • Andrew Lauritzen
        • 5 years ago

        Maybe for pre-EFI stuff but these days USB installs are just as easy or easier (and way faster). I still get .isos even if I have a physical DVD just for the benefits.

        And if you have *any* working windows install, you don’t even need that anymore as you can just do it all from windows itself, even install a fresh/clean copy.

        I do get the “they’re only $20 and why not have one” angle, but I don’t think I’ve actually used a CD/DVD in a PC in many, many years.

      • Chrispy_
      • 5 years ago

      I have a DVD drive in my HTPC and my main desktop.

      One of them is so old it’s PATA not SATA.
      The other is a hand-me-down SATA drive from the Core2 era

      Despite owning two DVD drives, I’ve neither written nor read a disc on either them in probably close to 7 years.

        • cobalt
        • 5 years ago

        I probably use mine once a month on average. I occasionally use the disc-based drivers when they’re surprisingly hard to find on the internet. And a few old games in my backlog are on CD/DVD, and I’m not generally going to re-purchase them just to get a cloud copy. On a couple occasions I’ve used it to read some of my old PS2 games for emulation. One of the biggest uses is for professional photos; those guys still tend to throw those on disc.

        But my single biggest use? I’m still digitizing my disc-based media collections.

        But going forward, I’ve got a USB DVD burner (/BD-ROM) drive, and there’s a nontrivial chance it may be my last optical drive purchase. My most recent build, an HTPC no less, is optical-drive-free; I only used the USB DVD drive to install windows from disc.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 5 years ago

      And in my case (and many people’s, I’m sure), it was $20 or $30 I spent 6-8 years ago. I’ve had a SATA DVD burner since probably 2007.

      • UberGerbil
      • 5 years ago

      I agree with all your points but #3: IME the software on the discs is always out of date, so the first step after buying hardware is to go to the mfr’s website to download the latest. I do use the drive to install tax software once a year but that’s because they send me the disc whether I ask for it or not.

        • cobalt
        • 5 years ago

        True; I generally only use it for hardware where the manufacturer makes it oddly difficult to download the software. That’s not particularly common these days, but I have, sadly, had it occur in the past year. My bigger point was that any retail boxed purchase including software (including a purchase of retail boxed software itself) comes on disc, not with a thumb drive or a download code.

        (I probably should have swapped #2 and #3 for my points to make more sense. #3 was that boxed retail purchases today still include discs, so you need a drive if you ever buy retail. #2 was that even if you don’t buy boxed retail any more, you almost certainly did some time in the past decade. )

      • ImSpartacus
      • 5 years ago

      I bought an external drive because I rarely ever need a disk drive on my desktop and I like the versatility in case I buy a laptop without a disk drive.

        • Kurotetsu
        • 5 years ago

        Same here.

      • auxy
      • 5 years ago

      Complete rebuttal:
      1) My 5.25″ bay — singular, thank god — is taken up by a SATA RAMdisk.
      2) I don’t have any optical discs of any kind. All of the games I had on optical disc have long since been migrated to Steam, GoG, or other similar services — or simply stored in a .7z’d ISO on my network somewhere.
      3) Why would you EVER, EVER use the drivers off the disc? Stupid. Go download the drivers somewhere else and put them on flash media.
      4) When we’re talking about sub-$5 I don’t really think “x is cheaper than y” is a relevant argument.
      5) No they aren’t. Just because you cannot into flash drives…
      6) And they still are a waste of space and money, besides supporting a corrupt media industry which seeks to bleed you, as a consumer, dry.
      Oh, and 7) Holding onto legacy cruft holds everyone back. Stop justifying the creation of more of these godawful mechanical devices with your purchases so the rest of us can get on to the next big thing just that little bit faster.

        • cobalt
        • 5 years ago

        That’s not exactly a rebuttal, you’re simply saying my points don’t apply to you. Which is fine! I never said these points all apply to every person all the time, I’m simply saying there are many reasons people still have optical drives, and thus there’s little reason to be shocked that many people have them.

        • flip-mode
        • 5 years ago

        As usual, everyone that’s not doing it your way is doing it wrong.

      • kamikaziechameleon
      • 5 years ago

      The shift away from disks for physical is pretty pervasive. Thumb drives are just so much easier to manage. I still use a drive for blu ray but I would rather keep a External drive in a box on a shelf rather than plugged into my system if I wasn’t going to go that route.

      • CreoleLakerFan
      • 5 years ago

      I prefer to purchase physical CD’s and movies and rip them into the format of my choosing over digital downloads, which work fine in a pinch. You need an optical disc drive for this.

    • just brew it!
    • 5 years ago

    I did not take the survey as I was on vacation at the time.

    The biggest surprise for me was that so many people have made the switch to mechanical keyboards. If you take the users of Cherry and non-Cherry mechanicals together, they outnumber the people using rubber dome!

    It is also sad (but not surprising) that adoption of AMD’s FX series is still behind that of Phenom II.

    Might have been interesting to have one more tier in the RAM size question, since “16GB or more” got the most votes. I wonder what percentage of people have 32GB (or more)?

      • hubick
      • 5 years ago

      I’d love a mechanical keyboard, but there’s no way I’m giving up the ergonomics of my Microsoft Natural keyboard 🙁

        • BIF
        • 5 years ago

        Me neither! This one is all yellowed from age, and it looks quite nasty, although I clean it up a few times per year. I have one of the newer wired MS ergo keyboards at work and it’s just not as good as this one. I blame the number 6 being on the wrong side (left) of all new keyboards, when it should be on the right side where the F6 already resides. I can’t get used to this and I’ve had that keyboard now since about January.

    • zaeric19
    • 5 years ago

    I have to agree about ATX vs Micro-ATX vs Mini-ITX. For my most recent build I decided to go the Mini-ITX route and now I can’t see myself ever using a full ATX board for a desktop build again. I have a Z97 mobo, i5-4690k, 750Ti, full ATX power supply, 840 Evo and room for 5x 3.5″ hard drives. I agree with what some others are saying about cramming it into such a small space, it can be annoying but it is really nice once complete. I still love my Lian Li full tower case (will use it again some day) but with how much I have to relocate in my current job, having a fun-sized computer is really nice.

      • Thrashdog
      • 5 years ago

      For my latest build I stuffed a 4670k, GTX 780, an SSD, a 3.5″ HDD, and a 450w power supply into one of the smallest cases I’ve ever worked in. It’s, uh… [url=http://imgur.com/a/INESy<]pretty tightly packed.[/url<] This was a fun exercise and the final product is one of the best LAN party machines ever made, but I think I might move back up to mATX the next time I build. I find myself wishing for one extra slot for a sound card, and just a bit more breathing room than I've got. Still, I don't see any need for full ATX ever again. It just takes up more space on the desk for no real utility.

        • d0g_p00p
        • 5 years ago

        Wow an ncase, impressive. I would def go that route on my next build if that case was available to the general public.

        • Johnny Rotten
        • 5 years ago

        Yup. I just built a Node 304 box (4790K, 16 gigs, couple of ssd drives, gtx 970) and will never go back. I just examined my usage patterns over the last, what 7 years, and the only thing i ever upgrade is the video card anymore, and even that is what maybe every 3 years? M-itx is great, no more big ugly box sitting on the floor, just a tiny (dare I say cute?) box sitting off on corner of the desk.

          • Jambe
          • 5 years ago

          I delivered [url=https://pcpartpicker.com/user/Jambe/saved/rCkJ7P<]a similar box[/url<] for a client the other day (Node 304, 4690K, 970, Corsair H90 cooler). Helluva lot of computer in 20 liters! Straightforward assembly, too. I've been requesting that TR include at least a 30-liter mATX build in their system guides for... years now, it feels like. They have the 33-liter CM N200 now, which is alright. It's suggested that small cases are too difficult for new system builders. Rubbish, I say; there are several 20 to 30-liter tower cases which are a breeze to put together, especially if they're not to be crammed full of disks. I will grant you that a super-diminutive [url=https://pcpartpicker.com/user/Jambe/saved/QRbwrH<]ten-liter Rosewill V3 Plus build[/url<] can be a mite tricky, but now I don't even hesitate to recommend m-ITX to newbies, what with the Node 304 being so dead-simple.

    • cmrcmk
    • 5 years ago

    I still have a DVD burner because
    1) I still have games, software and music CDs I’d like to be able to access (not that I do it often, but it’s cheap to retain the ability)
    2) I carried my DVD burner over from my previous build, so having the ability is essentially free

    Even if I didn’t have a drive available, Newegg will sell you a DVD burner for $18 vs a bluray burner for $60. Since the only blurays I own are a couple movies I’d rather watch in the living room and all other video I watch is streaming or through satellite, that cost increase isn’t worth it.

      • diesavagenation
      • 5 years ago
        • Ninjitsu
        • 5 years ago

        Well, I stream DVDs over ethernet to my TV in my next room, and I’ve only got one rig which is for both entertainment and work.

      • BIF
      • 5 years ago

      I still buy all of my music on CD, and plan to continue doing so for as long as they still make them and they’re only a couple bucks more than MP3s.

      I did streaming once when MusicMatch was still around. It was nice while it lasted, and at only $6 or $7 per month, but when Yahoo discontinued it, I stopped my subscription and have been gun-shy to start another subscription with a different service. All that music I had access to…bye-bye when MusicMatch stopped operation. Sirius/XM is always in trouble, and who knows if any of these current services are even solvent, let alone reliable.

      So now I’m very hesitant to play that game again.

      MP3’s, meanwhile, can be .99 or up to $1.20, or $14.40 for an average twelve-song CD equivalent. By comparison, a twelve-song CD from Amazon might run me between $10 and $20. I’ll pay the premium, and there’s no risk of a service going out of business and leaving me high-and-dry ever again.

      Hah, all that just to say I still have a CD/DVD/BD device in my main computer. I really gotta cut back on the caffeine!

        • just brew it!
        • 5 years ago

        I still prefer lossless, so I do agree with you in that I’m willing to pay a premium for physical media (or lossless FLAC). But if something is significantly cheaper (or only available) as MP3s I’ll go that route. Really wish Amazon would offer downloads in FLAC format.

          • travbrad
          • 5 years ago

          I also wish “lossless” FLAC wasn’t usually just a 44khz 16bit copy straight from the CD though, because even CDs aren’t truly lossless. Most bands record at much higher quality than CDs, then it gets turned into a CD/mp3/flac.

            • just brew it!
            • 5 years ago

            HDtracks sells higher rate/resolution downloads. Unfortunately, they charge a substantial premium for the higher resolution files. E.g., SRV’s “Couldn’t Stand The Weather” is $25 if you want the 176/24 version. I really can’t see paying $25 for a 40 minute album that is available in MP3 form from Amazon for $9, or on CD for $15.

            • travbrad
            • 5 years ago

            Yeah I’ve bought some music from them, but like you said it’s usually hard to justify paying 3x the price. I wonder if it’s them marking stuff up so much or the record labels. It should cost very little to provide copies that haven’t been down-converted to CD/mp3.

            The other big problem is selection. I’d say only about 5% of albums I look up are even available, and that’s being generous.

            • just brew it!
            • 5 years ago

            My guess (for which I do not have hard evidence, but it makes sense given how the music industry seems to operate) is that their agreements with the recording companies require them to charge significantly more for “studio quality” digital copies.

            At least Bandcamp does lossless FLAC at reasonable prices. I’ve picked up some of the recent Buckethead releases that way.

            Edit: Could’ve sworn there used to be more Buckethead stuff on Bandcamp. Maybe he’s pulled most of it down.

            Edit #2: Never mind, I’m just being a spazz. It’s all listed under “Bucketheadland” instead of “Buckethead”.

            Edit #3: And this actually supports my theory that it has something to do with the major labels. Bandcamp is all indie stuff, and they charge the same price for downloads regardless of format.

        • UberGerbil
        • 5 years ago

        Yeah, I enjoy going to my local music store (yes, there still are a couple) and thumbing through the used CDs. And buying used, at a few dollars per disc, the price per song beats almost any download service. It’s true you sometimes get a song you wouldn’t have purchased, but in a lot of cases those turn out to be ones I enjoy (though I never would have sought them out online). And I buy a lot of compilation CDs which lead me to artists and music (and even entire genres) I would never have found through Amazon or iTunes. And then after I’ve ripped the CD to the format and compression of my choice, I have a lossless backup already on separate physical media I can throw in box in the closet.

    • paternal_techie
    • 5 years ago

    I think the biggest take away was the amount of people still using Windows 7 versus Windows 8 or 8.1. I believe the number was close to 60%, which doesn’t bode well for MSFT and probably has to do with the announcement of [s<] Windows 8.2 [/s<] Windows Threshold tomorrow.

    • I.S.T.
    • 5 years ago

    Honestly? I use ATX because it’s far easier for me to work in. I don’t have much dexterity, or really in form of fine control, in/of my hands due to tl;dr reasons, and a bigger case and a bigger motherboard makes it easier for me to do things. Unless medical science and treatment automagically fix my hands, ATX it is for me for the rest of my life.

    Can’t say I mind, really. Roomyness is awesome.

    • hubick
    • 5 years ago

    Seems a lot of people here might not share my appreciation that a nice monitor makes a HUGE difference to how you experience your PC.

    I jumped early on the Dell 30″ bandwagon in ’04, and again this month with a 4K screen (40″ Samsung TV), and the impact is hard to put into words. I have an all new appreciation for the high-rez pics from my camera, they’re just glorious on this screen.

    Then again, I’m primarily gaming on the PS4 in the living room now, so my PC is mostly for programming and surfing, so I can afford to forego the latest CPU updates in favour of a new monitor.

      • DancinJack
      • 5 years ago

      I’m not sure it’s so much appreciation as it is monetary constraint and usage patterns. I’m sure a lot of people here are gamers, where *x1080 is the sweetspot when considering performance and value, both for monitor and graphics.

        • hubick
        • 5 years ago

        You’re certainly correct.

        Though, you can get a decent 4K monitor for the same price as a top-end graphics card, so the monetary constraints aren’t too bad, and there’s nothing stopping you from gaming at 1080p scaled 2x.

          • Johnny Rotten
          • 5 years ago

          I suspect its not so much monetary concerns as performance @ >1440p really drops off a cliff. With SLI/Crossfire being a fairly significant compromise (noise, heat, power, plus game idiosyncracies) most people stick to single card solutions. And I doubt anyone who would peruse this site would tolerate playing at downscaled resolutions (gross!)

          • EndlessWaves
          • 5 years ago

          Most of the 4k screens released don’t do nearest neighbour interpolation for 1920×1080 unfortunately, so you get a blur instead of crisp 1920×1080.

          And of course we’re only just seeing non-hacked together 3840×2160 screens that are single tiles running at 60hz and those are TN screens so the top/bottom colour difference is going to bother some in a screen that size.

          And then there’s the issue of driving it. I don’t know which were the first cards with DisplayPort 1.2 but I’d suspect at least several dozen percent of the audience’s cards don’t have it.

            • travbrad
            • 5 years ago

            [quote<]Most of the 4k screens released don't do nearest neighbour interpolation for 1920x1080 unfortunately, so you get a blur instead of crisp 1920x1080.[/quote<] Yep. If they did I could see myself switching to a 4K display a lot sooner, but they really are a terrible proposition for budget/mainstream gamers right now. 15FPS at 4K or 60FPS blurred 1080p aren't great options.

        • jessterman21
        • 5 years ago

        Definitely a monetary constraint.

        The sweet-spot ends at $250 for a GPU (well, $330 now that the GTX 970 is here to shake things up), and about the same for monitors.

        It’s not worth it for most people to shell out a ton for a 4K screen when you’ll have to play your games with pixelly shadows, muddy textures, and egregious pop-in.

      • Lane
      • 5 years ago

      It’s not that I don’t want to make the jump, but I have a perfectly good 24″ monitor (Dell 2405FPW) that continues to deliver the goods 10 years after purchase. When it dies I’ll probably get a wall-spanning 4K monitor, but until then I’ll put my money towards replacing stuff that breaks or gets obsoleted like hard drives, CPUs, GPUs, etc.

    • Anovoca
    • 5 years ago

    [quote<] A single display with a 1920x1080 or 1920x1200 resolution [/quote<] I don't remember the survey ever asking for total number of displays, just largest rez of primary display. NM, found it on another page. Curious though how the answer of display quantity compares to rez size. I.e. did people answering they only have 1 display primarily make up the 2560 category. Maybe one of TRs famous scatter plots is in order?

    • superjawes
    • 5 years ago

    The CPU and GPU brands are completely expected. AMD hasn’t really offerend competition with Intel since the launch of the original i7 series back in 2009. So it’s no surprise that AMD’s highest CPU category is the Phenom II…

    Radeon GPUs, on the other hand, have kept competition in video cards alive, and we see strong numbers across all the recent generations of cards from both camps.

      • kvndoom
      • 5 years ago

      I can’t see myself upgrading to another AMD when I move from my Phenom. Unless their next architecture just blows everyone away, there’s not going to be much value proposition.

    • weaktoss
    • 5 years ago

    I think there are a couple of reasons for ATX overkill paradox.

    1. Not many people put a big premium on space underneath the desk. There’s gonna be a box under there, and most people don’t care whether it’s a clunky box or a 40% less clunky box.

    2. As far as I can tell, the market for ATX cases and mobos is much more fleshed out than for micro ATX or mini ITX. You get many more options at different price points for ATX than for the smaller form factors. This seems to be starting to change, but overall you still tend to have to pay more for less if you want to downsize.

    That said, my most recent rig is micro ATX and I don’t think I’ll ever go full ATX again.

      • crystall
      • 5 years ago

      My current build is an ATX and my previous one was a µATX. They’ve got more or less the same amount of stuff crammed in so I could have stuck with a smaller setup but I found that the latter had a few problems which were more than offsetting the modest space savings:
      [list<] [*<]For testing I needed to put a second card in a 4x+ PCIe slot (either an InfiniBand HCA or a 10GbE adapter), this meant removing my dual-slot graphics card and having to use a single-slot for the time being. Annoying but solvable since µATX motherboards with two non-adjacent full-length slots are becoming more popular. [/*<][*<] I also used two other cards at the time (PCI and PCIe). The former is now gone so that wouldn't be a big deal now but it still was when I built my new system. [/*<][*<]My full-length graphics card was awfully close to the drive cage and made plugging SATA cables on the motherboard a nightmare (I had three hard-drives + an optical drive which is not very common but still). Doing anything with the drives involved removing the graphics card and possibly the drive cage too. It was very unpleasant. [/*<][*<]Building the system was a nightmare due to the cramped space. I could fit everything including a pretty hefty after-market cooler but just barely. [/*<] [/list<] Nothing of the above is a major issue and I could have lived with another µATX setup, but I thought that the time I spent putting it together and working with it later was not worth a few centimeters saved here and there.

        • weaktoss
        • 5 years ago

        [quote<]I thought that the time I spent putting it together and working with it later was not worth a few centimeters saved here and there.[/quote<] A good point I forgot to mention. I do love my micro ATX setup, but there's no getting around the fact that it's a pain to work in whenever I want to open it up.

      • Anovoca
      • 5 years ago

      I would agree that my choice for ATX was primarily driven by case and board selection rather than practicality. I have done a few computer builds for others using micoATX but found the quality of most of the cases not up to par with brands exclusively in the full ATX market. This was of course a few years ago and the market is shifting.

      • Wirko
      • 5 years ago

      I was hoping that H97/Z97 would bring about more micro ATX boards but the choice has become worse, not better, compared to H87/Z87. Same is true of mini ITX, which is a poor choice for those who want to be future proof anyway. Not just because of a single PCIe slot; RAM can’t be added, either.

      Those of us who are looking for small, full ATX cases can’t be happy either. The noname case I bought in 1999 is 42 cm tall, 44 cm deep, and 18 cm wide. Everything has grown a lot since, cases of this size can still be found but aren’t in abundance these days. I’m planning to pick something like [url=http://www.bitfenix.com/global/it/products/chassis/comrade<]BitFenix Comrade[/url<] or [url=http://www.lian-li.com/en/dt_portfolio/pc-a55/<]Lian Li PC-A55A[/url<] for my next build.

      • ludi
      • 5 years ago

      When I built my i5 system — three years ago next month — the Z68 boards were new on the market and ATX was the most widely available, with Asus having the best EFI implementation at the time. Since I was re-using an Antec Sonata, and wanted to the system to be upgradable for at least five years, it was a no-brainer to get an Asus ATX board. Also, I like having some space to work with when assembling or upgrading a system.

      Currently, I have two add-on cards: audio, and video. But a video capture card or internal WiFi card wasn’t out of the question and could still happen in the right set of circumstances.

        • UberGerbil
        • 5 years ago

        I was in exactly the same boat. I wanted to go mATX, but every one of them had one or another feature deficiency. I ended up getting a Fractal Design Arc Mini ATX case, which I absolutely love, but I still wish I could’ve gone smaller.

      • JAMF
      • 5 years ago

      The question also left open the way to interpret it. “System form factor”…

      So I answered EATX, since my case is EATX, even if it has an ATX motherboard. If they wanted to know motherboard size, they should have asked that question.

      • The Wanderer
      • 5 years ago

      In my case, I go with an ATX motherboard partly because of market selection, but primarily for one single reason:

      SATA ports.

      A larger board means more real estate to devote to features, and smaller boards just don’t have enough ports for me. One of my goals / criteria in a system build is “as much storage capacity as I can possibly cram in there” (to the point where I’m pretty sure the storage devices in my last system build cost between 1x and 2x as much as my i7 Extreme CPU), and I have a hard time finding cases and motherboards which will really allow that.

      My current system has 8 ports, and they’re all full – 5 mechanical drives, two SSDs, and an optical drive. I believe my case still has an empty bay or two which could take more drives, and if I had more ports to connect them to, I’d probably have filled those bays as well.

      Edit: That said, I do have both GPU and sound card, so the PCI slots aren’t going entirely to waste either.

      • travbrad
      • 5 years ago

      My case is actually on top of my desk (a desktop PC on a desk, I know it’s crazy) behind my monitors, and ATX still isn’t too big. My monitors and speakers take up more space than my case/PC.

      I have large hands too so the added space in an ATX case is nice for when I replace/upgrade stuff. Those Asus “Q connectors” are a godsend.

    • papou
    • 5 years ago

    This is quite consistent with the stream userbase reporting
    [url<]http://store.steampowered.com/hwsurvey/[/url<] OS Version Windows 7 64 bit 48.08% System RAM 8 GB 28.22% Intel CPU Speeds 2.3 Ghz to 2.69 Ghz 22.13% Physical CPUs 2 cpus 48.81% Primary Display Resolution 1920 x 1080 32.89% Please note that Techreport could use Javascript or Googleanalytics to get some of the data (screenresolution) without user intervention

      • weaktoss
      • 5 years ago

      [quote<]Please note that Techreport could use Javascript or Googleanalytics to get some of the data (screenresolution) without user intervention[/quote<] A nifty trick, but many people (myself included) likely took the survey on their work machines instead of their primary rig.

      • jihadjoe
      • 5 years ago

      That shows the average steam box isn’t quite as “loaded” as the average TR box, though.

    • south side sammy
    • 5 years ago

    how many people were using work station processors?

    or perhaps why not a none of the above option in the polls?

      • Inkling
      • 5 years ago

      Then they would’ve answered “Other Intel” or “Other AMD,” which were options on that question.

        • crystall
        • 5 years ago

        I’ve got a Xeon E3 v2 and I put mine under “Other Intel”, it seemed the sensible choice. All in all I wouldn’t expect that many people to have Xeons on their main machine unless they need both ECC memory and a fair chunk of CPU power. You can get ECC memory with Core i3 processors and the right motherboard too but considering the price of workstation-class motherboards saving on the CPU doesn’t make much sense. Naturally Core i3s have ECC support but not i5s and i7s, gotta love Intel’s market segmentation.

          • the
          • 5 years ago

          Dual Xeon E5645 here in my tower Mac Pro with 48 GB of ECC memory. Certainly overkill but it is the only decently expandable Mac out there. (Well there are Hackintoshes but they have their assorted bugs and no one officially supports them.)

    • Kretschmer
    • 5 years ago

    I’d be curious to see the operating system breakdown in this community, as well; it might be a useful addition to the next survey. And a comedy PSU size question.

    I’m sure that the hardware marketing folks are drooling at these results…

      • eofpi
      • 5 years ago

      They might drool a bit less if there’s a question about how long the interval was between builds. A lot of us build good boxes, then sit on them for 5 years.

        • Dazrin
        • 5 years ago

        Mine has been running for 7 now with only upgrades to the OS (Win7Ult now), hard drive (SSD now) and graphics (from NVidia 8800- GTS to a 5870). That is also the reason I only have a DVD drive – didn’t need a BluRay 7 years ago. I still use the DVD weekly to rip CDs to transfer the contents to our website.

        Heck, I only have 320 GB of secondary storage and it has worked fine for me, although running a bit low now.

        • kamikaziechameleon
        • 5 years ago

        Interesting, I essentially budget annual money to my PC (About 300-400 annually) when I don’t spend it I roll it over. So I will generally upgrade a GPU every 2 generations, upgrade miscellaneous components, keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, etc. Build a new system every 3-4 years, or basically whenever CPU tech improves appreciably at the price point I’m looking for.

        • MarkD
        • 5 years ago

        Yeah, my quad core 9660 is still going strong, but I’m starting to think about upgrading. Then I think about what I can do with that money, and the urge fades a bit. Maybe Broadwell…

      • Inkling
      • 5 years ago

      Those questions were in there. Just click the link to the full survey on the first page…
      [url<]https://techreport.com/news/27055/the-tr-hardware-survey-2014-what-inside-your-main-desktop-pc[/url<] Operating system results: Windows 8.1 (1341 votes) 34% Windows 8 (54 votes) 1% Windows 7 (2184 votes) 55% Windows Vista (55 votes) 1% Windows XP (42 votes) 1% Linux (220 votes) 6% OS X (48 votes) 1% Other/don't know (11 votes) 0%

        • Ninjitsu
        • 5 years ago

        I’m actually surprised the TR avoided posting this these results.

        • just brew it!
        • 5 years ago

        Interesting that Linux’s share is comparable to Win8/Vista/XP/OSX combined. TBH 6% is higher than I was expecting, given the prevalence of gamers here.

          • derFunkenstein
          • 5 years ago

          Since it was a self-selected sample, it’s hard to tell, but I wonder if maybe some of these machines are dual-booted, and maybe some people consider daily work machines primary (running Linux) vs. a secondary gaming box that runs Windows? Or maybe a couple of Steam OS people. Hard telling.

          Still, Windows had 90% of the responses.

          • kamikaziechameleon
          • 5 years ago

          Xp is outdated, it doesn’t support 64 bit in a meaningful way.

          OSX is outdated, its less useful than a darn iPhone. Right around the avent of iOS OSx started to die. Ironically iOS is chained to OSx via their closed platform loop.

          Vista 32 bit is a joke, vista 64 bit is not so bad but still why wouldn’t you use win 7 or win 8.1???

          Linux is simply amazing, if you can put up with the shortage of software on it, darn it is a cool OS. Best part is being able to find the version that matches what you want it to do. I am a huge fan of Ubuntu project.

            • just brew it!
            • 5 years ago

            Yup, I run Ubuntu as my primary OS. Win7 is also installed in a VM, but I don’t use it much.

            • Airmantharp
            • 5 years ago

            XP is outdated, but would be secure if properly configured (not constantly logged in as admin) and if it were still supported by Microsoft. It’s otherwise a working OS. XP 64 has enough support for average desktop and gaming use; just don’t try to find a printer driver for it.

            OSX, near as I can tell, isn’t any less useful than Windows and will happily run Windows in a window when needed.

            Vista 32 (patched up) works as well as 7 and 8 for everyday tasks, and the 64bit version was the first ‘consumer’ Windows to support x86-64. The major glaring flaw is the lack of trim support for SSDs.

            And Linux will remain the custom OS that it’s always been until Gabe gets it fixed up for proper gaming :).

            • kamikaziechameleon
            • 5 years ago

            Emulating another OS so as to circumvent how irrelevant of an OS it is doesn’t speak to the value of a PREMIUM product.

            OSX is done because Apple has been delinquent in upkeeping the hardware that runs it, in chasing software companies to produce for it, etc. iOS devices surely have some strong appeal but knowing the only proper back end for them is OSx is rather upsetting. Once apple picked a fight with adobe (the #1 2rd party software partner) over iOS flash it signed the death warrant of OSx as a content creation platform.

            Benchmark a game inside your emulation layer and let me know what you find.

            Only hipsters or tech ignorant people blow money on OSx as a primary OS.

            EDIT, I forgot to acknowledge that apple has imbued greater scaling capability in their OS. I wanted to give them props.

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