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August 31, 2017

Here’s How to Spice Up PC Sales

Filed under: Main — admin @ 12:01 am

There’s a reason why people once bought a new computer every two years. That reason is gone now, and apparently no one has figured it out.

For years, computer enthusiasts would buy a new system every few years. That was my norm. Then I went to every five years. Now I have some systems that last 10 years. That speaks well of their design, but doesn’t address the question why frequent updates are no longer popular.

Way back when, the reason was simple: A newer PC was faster and better. What’s missing today is the “faster” part.

Face it, the PC you’re using now isn’t really that faster than the model it replaced. Sure, it may have more RAM or a larger hard drive and maybe faster video, but at the core of the machine is a processor. Its power has increased over the years, yet performance for the desktop user hasn’t advanced in any significant way. The new systems are faster, but not that much.

Back in the 1990s, when I bought a new system, I could tell instantly how much faster it was. The speed was pleasing, rewarding, and it justified the price.

The reason processors no longer provide such a speed boost is economics: Intel sells most of its processors to data centers. The main concern at a data center is heat, not speed. The new processors are designed to run cooly. Ditto for portable computers: A laptop needs a processor that doesn’t generate heat or consume too much battery power. These are the major driving points behind processor development.

On a desktop PC, however, energy usage and heat aren’t big issues. Both are addressed directly; few if any desktops overheat. Even so, adding another fan or cooling system fixes the problem. Yet, users would update frequently if the new system was significantly faster. It’s not, so they don’t.

If they desired, Intel could develop a superfaster processor. The speed improvement would be apparent instantly. It would spur sales like nothing the industry has seen in 20 years.

Imagine using a desktop PC with no delays. With an SSD, drive access would be nearly instantaneous. Faster memory would make the CPU scream even more. Programs wouldn’t stop or stutter, graphics would appear in a flash, nearly instantaneous. Business users would freak. Creative users would go catatonic.

It surprises me that the big PC manufacturers haven’t figured out the key role processor speed plays for their sales. The PC market is expected to grow marginally moving forward. Yet, if the industry would bother to boost the processor speed from light speed, to ludicrous speed, to plaid, sales would go through the roof.

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