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An introspective, completely unsubstantiated view of the technology enthusiast, in late 2007

More than a few times someone asked me why does DailyTech cover all that global warming stuff, or defense tech, or automotive breakthroughs.  There's a good answer to that, but its not a simple one.

In 2004 I already saw the writing on the wall.  PC technology started commoditizing, and at a brisk clip as well. 

When I got my first K6 processor, it was not just the overclockers that cranked up that 66 MHz front-side bus.  Anyone who bought a computer had to know some of the essential differences between MMX and 3D-Now!.  A lack of knowledge, in those days, would set the up and coming computer user back hundreds of dollars if he wasn't careful.

Whether you agree with Karl Marx or Karl Rove (or anyone in between), a telltale sign of commodification occurs when the manufacturer stops focusing on tangible aspects of the product and starts pushing less tangible selling points.  This often occurs when competing products are too similar, or at least indistinguishable from the purchasers point of view. 

Where have we seen this before?  Well, my HTC Hermes did everything the iPhone did a year beforehand, but I'm pretty sure Apple sold a whole lot more iPhones.  Look at today's motherboards: any manufacturer would tell you its  all-solid capacitors are better than the next guy. And don't even get me started on the memory industry ...

I remember the exact instant when computer hardware became a commodity.  Steve Jobs got up in front of one hundred journalists and in less than 60 seconds, a million Apple zealots went from ardent Intel naysayers to hardened Intel devotees.  In that moment I realized it didn't really much matter to anyone which CPU was better than another, it only mattered what Steve Jobs told everyone to think anyway.

Other signs of the death of the PC enthusiast are littered across the Internet like the tattered remains of a kite breaking up on rentry.   The birth and demise of AMD's Quadfather, the ubiquitous lack of support (or interest) for quad-GPU graphics, failed physics processors and inconsequential sales of "killer" network cards. 
 
In a recent conversation with Jon Stokes, both of us agreed that while PC tech has seen some great growth over the last few years, this growth is not keeping pace with the Internet as a whole.  PC technology, as a journalistic discipline, is unfortunately niched to the degree you'd find with muscle cars. 

This leads me to answer the question I started out with: the PC industry, as a whole, just isn't as fast-moving or interesting anymore.   Attempting to debate the merits of largely intangible technology topics is a discussion more akin to politics than science.

You bet I'm excited about CPU-GPU integration and new OLED technology, but another unfathomably high frequency bump in the sea of JEDEC memory timings completely fails to pique my interest.  Analysis of Google Keywords would indicate those more mundane markers of progress in the PC industry fail to grasp even the smallest of demographics on the Internet as well.

That does not discount the importance of the tech enthusiast.  Those of us who grew up debating the merits of CPU architecture in the 1990's are the pioneers in virtual discussion.  We are what the majority of consumers will become over the next decade when new, broader forums come to be. 

Don't worry, I'm still the first person in Taiwan with Intel's next-generation roadmap.  However, as this industry withers and new ones blossom, I encourage you all as pioneers and enthusiasts to look beyond the chips and bits once in a while.




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Inevitability
By SavagePotato on 12/1/2007 12:36:30 AM , Rating: 5
Things in the world of the PC seem to be moving in a very positive direction in my opinion. The $3000 enthusiast pc that is needed to run "todays games" in any kind of acceptable way can die a horrible death as far as I'm concerned.

The quad father platform, the killer NIC, these stand out not as enthusiast products but throw your money away for nothing products. Honestly a $200 nic that gives you a 1ms and 1fps advantage? A dual socket quad core solution that gets blown out of the water by the competitions single slot?

A $300 quad core that overclocks by 50% and smokes a stock $1200 processor, with a $250 video card that outpeforms the $600 enthusiast card on the market, I would call that progress. Aside from calling it progress I would call it a heck of alot of fun.

To take a mainstream part and make it perform like that, it engages the enthusiast in a far better way than spending $200 on a NIC.




RE: Inevitability
By SilentSin on 12/1/2007 3:54:59 AM , Rating: 2
I wouldn't really call the past couple of months a "positive direction" per se, it's great don't get me wrong, but I don't see it as permanent. It's more of a cycle. There have been video cards and CPUs released in this pricing segment for the enthusiast every so often, they just aren't a constant. Remember the Celeron 300A? Northwood 2.4C? Barton 2500+? Or the Radeon 9700? Those are enthusiast class products, and sometimes the market is ripe for them and the hardware manufacturers are at the right point in their product cycle to fill that need. It seems more random than actually being thought-out.

As a side note, I hear a lot of smack talk against the KillerNIC that is slightly unjustified. People completely forget that the higher end version basically offers you a computer on a card, you can run a Linux kernel on this thing ! I haven't kept up with application development for it at all, but off the top of my head I could come up with a few dozen different awesome uses for something like that. If you're someone with the skills to take advantage of such a beast than I'm sure the KillerNIC was actually a good deal.

As for the quadfather/skulltrail platforms I just think those were too little, too early. The only things they were good for were the jobs that server farms have been traditionally good for for years. And that's basically all those platforms were, server farms in a box without the need for a rack. 4 or 5 years from now come back to this topic and tell me that having an extra socket to throw another CPU in (or whatever they're calling it at that point) isn't something you desire. The computer industry is in the midst of a major paradigm shift from brute strength to highly parallel force. In the next few years we'll see the use of multicore GPUs, GPUs merging with CPUs, and other types of specialized cores made to run their piece of the puzzle in unison with the rest of the parts of your systems. Where adding an extra CPU or GPU will give you net gains close to 2x what you were at previously. That's precisely what these crazy multisocket platforms were aiming for, there's just not the software support to take advantage of it at the moment.


RE: Inevitability
By SavagePotato on 12/1/2007 4:11:10 PM , Rating: 4
It is a time for change, and change is good.

The reason the celeron 300a was popular was simple, because you still had to pay $1200 for a high end chip in that day, and said high end chip was just enough to run all the games of the day.

The 9700 pro? I had one, in fact I was probably the first person in the city to have one as I got one fresh off the first shipment. The cost at the time was close to $700.

This is a new age, the days of having to spend huge dollars to get a good machine are over, and not a moment too soon in my opinion.

PC gaming has been on an ass backward slide for some time just because pumping out 1500$ on video cards just to be able to play the latest game makes for piss poor sales on the PC. This trend is the best thing that could happen for making and keeping the PC a viable game platform in the years to come.

You can doom and gloom about things if you like, I'm excited about the future.


RE: Inevitability
By Jedi2155 on 12/1/2007 5:27:41 PM , Rating: 2
9700 Pro's were MSRP at $400 USD...what caused you to pay $700?!?!


RE: Inevitability
By xsilver on 12/1/2007 6:37:49 PM , Rating: 4
Some people that come here are not from the USA, for Canadian or Australian dollars the 9700pro would have $700 at the time.

About the article, I so totally agree that the "enthusiast" industry has had a total slide; 10 or even 5 years ago, very few people would have known about overclocking or anything enthusiast and that creates some separation from the general crowd.
Today, there is not much that an "enthusiast" can be in tune with that a regular person trying to buy a PC wont know.


RE: Inevitability
By SavagePotato on 12/2/2007 4:27:04 PM , Rating: 2
The fact that I am a Canadian and the Canadian dollar at the time equaled about 65 cents USD.

Welcome to the wonders of the rest of the world outside the USA.


RE: Inevitability
By murphyslabrat on 12/4/2007 1:18:04 PM , Rating: 2
*blink* *blink*.... Wha?


RE: Inevitability
By sxr7171 on 12/1/2007 6:16:21 PM , Rating: 2
Thank you. Who in the enthusiast community even cares about AMD Quad FX? This is not 2003 when enthusiasts were buying AMD. Today you can take a really cheap Intel Core 2 Duo or Quad and overclock it to unbelievable performance levels. With 45nm Penryns coming out at prices that are like stealing them, watch people reach even higher overclocks at low, low prices.

Intel could easily sell their processors at higher clock speeds and charge higher premiums right now, but they don't because they can't afford to be "too competitive" right now and take the heat of being a virtual monopoly. So we benefit by paying less for these monster processors. We have almost unbelievable performance abilities in even $250 processors today.

This is great time to be an enthusiast. The board manufacturers are catering to us with high-end boards, even 600w power supplies are sitting below $100, and there are sicker and sicker cooling products coming out by the day. You can even watercool your processor for far less than before.

I don't see any reason to be whining about the state of affairs in the enthusiast market.


RE: Inevitability
By SavagePotato on 12/2/2007 4:34:36 PM , Rating: 2
I did Just that, I bought a core2 duo e6600 @ 2.4ghz and easily overclocked it to 3.4ghz. A 50% boost never hurts. I've been running this solution for about a year now and I've been thrilled with how well it has held up performace wise compared to my past purchases in the processor arena.

My last chip was a bit of a lemon opteron 175 that ran at 2.2ghz and wasn't "a cherry" so to speak in that it was only good for about a 2.4ghz overclock.

With this overclocked little core2 I got to enjoy beyond $1200 cpu performance for at the time about $300.


RE: Inevitability
By iFX on 12/3/2007 3:01:25 PM , Rating: 5
<<<This is not 2003 when enthusiasts were buying AMD>>>

Enthusiasts have been buying AMD over Intel starting with the original Athlon up until mid-year 2006. The FX-60 was king of the hill mid-year 2006 until C2D was launched. Don't try and say people didn't buy AMD but for one year.


Lack of Innovation
By EndPCNoise on 12/1/2007 2:19:23 AM , Rating: 1
Hi Kris, Great blog topic, and love your website too. Keep up the good work.

The one common denominator in the lack of innovation in the PC industry is the operating system...Microsoft Windows.

Windows 3.1 --> Windows 95,98 Revolutionary.
Windows 98 --> Windows XP Good innovation.
Windows XP --> Windows Vista Decent, evolutionary, but not great innovation.

Why?

1) Vista was delayed several times, and for far too long. Vista should have been released 2 years earlier. (Possibly delayed intentionally due to expiring court orders regarding kernal code.)
2) Vista does not optimize well, nor scale well for multicore CPUs.
3) Vista was never designed for, nor intended for multiple GPUs. SP1 will not solve this problem either. This is why SLI, Crossfire, and multi-GPU-single card technologies work inconsistently at best and do not scale well.
4) Vista is so overly bloated with Digital Rights Management DRM crap, which creates further performance issues, and hardware conflicting issues.
5) Microsoft and the PC industry have not pushed for the adoption of 64 bit operating systems fast enough, and now we are hitting 2 to 3 gigabyte memory address space walls (usually dependent upon the amount of memory in your video card or cards.) SP1 will not solve this problem either.

We can only hope that Microsoft will release Windows 7 Vienna on schedule, and that Windows 7 Vienna will have all the above problems corrected.

Windows 7 Vienna will also need to be designed to work with new CPU-GPU combination chips like AMD's Fusion processor, and some of Intel's Nehalem processors.

The above reasons are why the PC industry has stagnated.




RE: Lack of Innovation
By EndPCNoise on 12/1/2007 2:33:56 AM , Rating: 2
one more thing I forgot to mention Kris...

I really enjoyed the article "Biofuels: Salvation or Crimes Against Humanity?" exposing the real costs of ethanol, and I also enjoy reading the "defense tech" articles as well. I hope your website will continue to write quality articles on topics such as these in addition to PC industry articles in the future.

Good work to you and your staff. Thanks.


RE: Lack of Innovation
By noirsoft on 12/1/2007 8:53:59 AM , Rating: 3
I happen to view Vista as a much bigger step from XP than XP was over 2000. And, since my computers run Vista just as well if not better than they ran XP (including an older 3.2 Ghz p4) I wouldn't call it "bloated" by any means. Yes, a machine barely capable of running XP won't run Vista Premium, but a reasonable machine (I've had 2 gigs of RAM for a few years now on all machines) will do just fine.

to answer some of your points

4) I've heard so much fear-mongering over Vista's DRM schemes, but have not actually encountered any problems related to it in almost a year of usage (Yes,I bought a copy of Ultimate on day 0) -- I wish people would stop blowing smoke about this.

5) Vista 64 exists and has solved the 32-bit memory addressing issue. The problem is not that MS hasn't pushed it hard enough, it's lazy third-party software writers who haven't bothered to update their software for 64-bit compatibility. And how could Vista SP1 solve this issue? If MS dropped 32-bit support entirely, they would lose millions of customers who would complain that MS is trying to "force an unwanted upgrade on them" -- sound familiar?

You may want to actually spend some time trying to understand the issues you post about.


RE: Lack of Innovation
By FITCamaro on 12/2/07, Rating: -1
RE: Lack of Innovation
By mindless1 on 12/4/2007 2:18:05 PM , Rating: 2
It's because the vast majority of gamers, the target market/audience, are not running 6 bit Vista.

If a benchmark doesn't effect real world uses at least as much as reasonable, it's pointless.


RE: Lack of Innovation
By TomZ on 12/1/2007 2:51:53 PM , Rating: 2
As the above poster said/implied, you obviously know little about Vista. You really should read up from some reputable sources instead of echoing myths posted by ignorant people and Linux fanboys.

#2, Does not scale well for multiple CPU's - WTF? Basically same kernel design as XP and NT (updated version of the same code, really), which worked great on multiple CPUs. I've personally run WinXP and Vista with SMP for years, and Vista is at least as good as XP in that repect.

#4, DRM, again totally ignorant. Vista is not "bloated" with DRM any more than XP. If you read about DRM in Vista, you'll see that a lot of what Vista has was already present in XP, that Vista has the ability to support more DRM with third-part support (but doesn't include that portion), and that DRM doesn't affect performance of other aspects of the OS (e.g., when you're not watching a movie). Get the fact's from the source, instead of the Linux love-groups: http://windowsvistablog.com/blogs/windowsvista/arc...

#5, Not sure why you bring up SP1, because memory size is a 32-bit limitation; there is no reasonable expectation that SP1 might "solve" that problem. And I would remind you that WinXP 64-bit has been out for years now, so it is hardly the fault of Microsoft that the industry has not adopted 64-bit. The real reason is that most desktop users have no use whatsoever for 64-bit. Most people are running 512MB, 1GB, to 2GB of RAM, for which clearly 32-bit is fine.


RE: Lack of Innovation
By Ringold on 12/1/2007 3:37:11 PM , Rating: 2
I dont understand the argument that the OS has anything to do with the things that light fires under enthusiasts in the first place, Tom.

Maybe I totally missed the point of HardOCP's existence; Hard Over-Clocker's Place (or is it planet? my [H]ardness fails me). I always thought it was about tweaking, modding and raw performance. AT, TR, Bit-Tech, these places review hardware and measure performance, not fuzzy aspects of how the OS works but performance.

As long as a driver exists for an OS, and its fairly optimized, as it is for Windows, then the PC enthusiast experience appears to me to be independent entirely of the OS.

I know some people like to flog MS for all the evil in the world, but I don't get it here.


RE: Lack of Innovation
By TomZ on 12/1/2007 4:40:18 PM , Rating: 3
I agree. I think in theory it is possible for an OS to "bog down" performance of the entire system, but I haven't ever seen that happen with Win2K, XP, or Vista. I think performance problems typically relate to, as you may have implied, a poorly written device driver.

There is one exception that I would say, however, which is that if the computer has less RAM than the particular OS + application set demands, then you're going to see an overall slowdown.


RE: Lack of Innovation
By SavagePotato on 12/2/2007 4:38:45 PM , Rating: 5
Your post couldn't be more wrong.

Honestly I stopped reading when you said Vista doesn't scale to multicore well, thats when I realised you had no idea what you were talking about.

Vista scales to multicore far better than XP ever did, and is pushing 64bit harder than XP ever did.


RE: Lack of Innovation
By gochichi on 12/3/2007 5:30:15 AM , Rating: 1
Good point about Vista, and the general lack of excitement about it. I didn't get in line over it. The desktop effects look decent enough, but it makes it feel lethargic, b/c things that were happening instantly in XP, are now animated. Minus this lethargic appearance (there should really be a turbo option on the effects, and smooth transitions all of the time instead of just having the option of slow or no transitions) I doubt that many people will struggle with performance into the future.

In due time, however, people are going to start using the full potential of Windows Media Center. This will have a substancial effect in keeping MS's marketshare through the roof. Sure you could pay $2.00 for a low-res show on iTunes, or just hook up bunny ears to a PC and get the same show in over-the-air-HD... and stream the recording to any laptop in the house, or desktop, or Xbox. Watch out Tivo, watch out iTunes/iPod... Microsoft already done killed you, it's just a matter of time.

I see this as something that will redefine how people view PCs... facing forward they will clearly be more useful for consumer applications than any other platform, including the Mac. Consuming Video, Games, Pictures, etc. Mac is rightly the platform for content creation (and priced accordingly, priced as tools), but Microsoft will more than salvage their platform for the much more common content consumption.

I could not agree more about 64-bit Vista, Vista should have been exclusively 64-bit, end of story. Frankly, I think the fact that 99% of copies of Vista shipping today are 32-bit is a ploy to promote more hardware sales in the future. Basically: Almost every desktop and a few laptops sold today could easily support 4GB-8GB of RAM at the hardware level... but when people are faced with the fact that they have to shell out $100+ on a 64-bit Version of Vista (and reinstall etc. = hassle) they'll likely just buy another $700.00 laptop that comes with 64-bit Vista. Either way MS makes more money.

I think DRM is good (for Microsoft), it may not be built for multiple GPUs but it's built for playing protected content with a market value... and because they've made such an effort to provide DRM, content providers are going to be very interested in releasing content for Vista now and in the future. Watch out Blockbuster... horrible service, $4.49 rentals, inconvenient... XBOX marketplace is neither... and it's only a matter of time before the PC gets this kind of functionality.

I'm pretty sure that Windows 98 was not designed for multiple GPUs and yet SLI was invented on Win 95/98. I really don't see how it's up to Microsoft to fix AMDs driver issues. Aero effects are chump change and definitely don't require much... so I don't see how this applies at all. It's clear that DirectX 6,7,8,9,10 has been and still is able to technically benefit from multiple GPUs. Nvidia GPUs are getting almost an 84% performance benefit from SLI in a lot of games.

I dissagree on the scaling of multiple cores. It is quite typical for my 2 cores to be within 10% of each other in terms of use. Vista, if anything, has a license that permits I think up to 2 physical professors on Home Premium and more on Ultimate and Business. There is no core limit, and the underpinings of the system quite seem to expect 2-cores at a minimum, and certaily 8 cores will not be an issue on Vista, certainly not compared to other issues.


RE: Lack of Innovation
By EndPCNoise on 12/3/2007 2:13:10 PM , Rating: 2
@ gochichi

I respect that you can disagree and/or counter my opinions/arguments WITHOUT the use of nor the addition of insulting or degrading language in your posts as so many others do here on DailyTech.

I look forward to reading your posts and having cordial forum discussions with you in the future.


RE: Lack of Innovation
By serajadeyn on 12/13/2007 12:25:05 PM , Rating: 2
While I agree, the lack of innovation is helping with the stagnation in the market, I don't necessarily agree with you or the article's bottom line. I honestly see that such a large shift towards integration has been made, that everything from games to consumer home electronics setups are pushing the enthusiast market down to a crawl. PCs get games ported from consoles (I had NFS6 and it was sob-worthy)instead of natively developed code with better optimizations, AMD's new CPUS aren't substantially faster, they only match and compete on price, and Hardware that is made for an enthusiast is constructed cheaply and priced more than for a high-quality, albeit more basic impliment.(disagree? test out a new Razer Tarantula Keyboard and compare the build quality to the $30 cheaper Logitech/Microsoft wave-form keyboards) They build'em, we don't buy'em, and the manufacturer, instead of fixing it, stops catering to our needs altogether. This has happened to practically every other market in the last 10 years, and we may have been lucky enough to survive without such a practice until the last 3-5years. DDR3 doesn't stretch out system perfomance enough to justify the insanely higher cost to have it. I don't consider $1200 CPUs and $350 mobos hardly anyone(enthusiasts included) will buy, to actually be enthusiast hardware; I consider it "empty rich nerd's pockets" hardware. The enthusiast picks his own parts, tweaks his BIOS settings, uses trial and error, to get a truly custom setup that has his friends drooling. now you can just pop on over to HP's site and drop 5k on a watercooled, crossfire'd behemouth without doing a bit of your own work. where's the sense of accomplishment? That's gone too. Remember when you had to use an electrician's pencil to unlock multipliers on an athlon? True, now you can get stuff factory unlocked or ready for overclock motherboards, but still, the VAST majority of sales for people who build their own system just go look up a "combo special" and find some name brand ram for a good price, because they've already got their 'gaming system' PS3/XB360/whatev that plays their movies and surfs the net, and makes you a grilled cheese sandwich. None of that innovates, it just integrates. It's time to head away from all-in-one setups again.

PS-If you're wondering where i went and If i'm coming back, I apologize, this suddenly became a dump post for everything i think is wrong with the market today, and I realize I have not addressed the counter-points properly.


Interesting Article
By thestereotype on 11/30/2007 9:13:23 PM , Rating: 2
You didn't have to explain to readers why articles are written about environmental issues and sales data, if they are here to complain, they are readers themselves. It was interesting to read your approach to the diverse news selection found on DT. I would agree that the tech industry is becoming house-hold. I recall just last week a friend asking if I knew any good deals on cheap PCs. I referred him to a $419 PC/LCD package; a good package. This person replied that this was too much money! It is wild how a $400 PC today, which can do so much by previous standards, is too much.
It is rather funny how things change thought. I started reading DT from reading Anandtech, now I hardly even check Anandtech. DT has grown quite a bit.




RE: Interesting Article
By MaulBall789 on 12/1/2007 1:03:48 AM , Rating: 3
I know what you mean. I read DT almost daily. I check out AT every couple of weeks at best. Anand has hurt its overall viewership by spinning off DT. Shot themselves in the foot, they have (sorry, couldn't resist).


By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 12/1/2007 12:20:50 PM , Rating: 3
AnandTech is stil growing, though not as fast as DT. Alexa would show both sites about even, but keep in mind everything on Alexa is ranked in relation to the Internet as a whole.


examples.
By cochy on 11/30/2007 6:15:25 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
The birth and demise of AMD's Quadfather, the ubiquitous lack of support (or interest) for quad-GPU graphics, failed physics processors and inconsequential sales of "killer" network cards.


I wouldn't quite agree with the examples to listed here. In fact I would say that these products weren't targeted towards the PC enthusiast at all. Many times we've made the distinction here that on one hand you have the PC enthusiast and on the other hand you have the "gamer". Two very different people mind you. Those products are all marketed towards "gamers". For the most part these gamers don't really understand much about computer hardware at all. I mean ever walk into a pc shop and listen to these kids talk? What they understand is marketing hoopla.

Now on the other hand you have the very knowledgeable PC enthusiast. Now by virtue of actually knowing something or two about hardware, all those above products were doomed to failure from the start with the enthusiast. Why? Because they were/are stupid useless products, that no matter how much marketing bs in thrown in front of them, we know they suck. Quad-FX was just a dumbed down re-branded Opteron platform. Why buy into that? Quad-video card? Are you kidding? SLI and Crossfire x2 have a tough enough problem seeing linear performance gains. KillerNIC? lol won't even go there.

Basically these products failing doesn't really understate a problem in the enthusiast industry. Your other points are good. AMD blackbox edition with unlocked multipliers. Now there's an enthusiast product. Highly overclockable mobo with good options, that's an enthusiast product.

Dunno..maybe you're getting a little cynical with age :P




RE: examples.
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 11/30/2007 6:23:25 PM , Rating: 2
Perhaps I am a little jaded -- but then again so are these companies to put resources in those directions.


RE: examples.
By Puddyglum1 on 11/30/2007 7:38:49 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
AMD blackbox edition with unlocked multipliers. Now there's an enthusiast product. Highly overclockable mobo with good options, that's an enthusiast product.
The very reference to "enthusiast product" shows that you may still misunderstand this blog. An enthusiast product nowadays is not as it was years ago, e.g. dual video cards then, and dual video cards now.
quote:
Preliminary testing of dual graphics cards shows performance gains of more than 50% compared to single graphics card configuration.
http://www.xbitlabs.com/news/other/display/2004051... performance benefit and cost-effectiveness was exciting to the market 3-7 years ago. The average computer user didn't really know about it. It was left to enthusiasts.

What are the benefits of the Blackbox Edition AMD 64? An enthusiast sees right through it by taking a peek at review websites. Even the gains of PCIe vs. AGP are more theoretical than practical; the theoretical gains became the selling-point, when in actuality an enthusiast of four years ago would use an adapter so his old card could work in the new motherboard -- and with the saved money buy a nicer present for his mother than if he hadn't been so pro-active.

But as PC technology becomes a larger market, the competition becomes more fierce, and the consumers become more eager. The enthusiast market now has a disgusting price for entry, both for the consumer and the manufacturer. Quad-FX highlights this, as nobody wanted to go that route.

In short, I think the enthusiast market is plagued by artificial campaigns for products with marginal performance increases which cannot deliver cost-effectively.

That's the most boring conclusion I've ever come to.


Re: Sorry Guys, The PC Enthusiast Industry is Dead
By The Jedi on 12/1/2007 12:12:35 PM , Rating: 2
NewEgg.




By darkpaw on 12/1/2007 9:34:43 PM , Rating: 3
NewEgg has gone quite a bit beyond their enthusiast roots, hell I saw an ad for them on the Price is Right when I was off work last week.


Stunning
By JTKTR on 11/30/2007 5:57:06 PM , Rating: 2
It's ridiculous that in the Hardware reviews of the day I always see different RAM reviews, each one getting slightly faster as time goes on. I don't care if someone hit DD3-1800... call me when something like that turns the PC industry on its ear.

You've shed light on something that I've been wondering about. It's like hearing your favorite show is being canceled, but it's true. Very well put.




RE: Stunning
By Ringold on 11/30/2007 8:13:53 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
call me when something like that turns the PC industry on its ear.


I was just checking Alexa after reading Kris's great blog post here for the traffic some of the more popular tech sites have received over the past 5 years, and the masses agree with you.

During periods that seem to represent tit-for-tat or large upheavals between the Intel/AMD and Ati/Nvidia duopolies, traffic would surge, or at least perk up.

Since the release of the 8800GTX, though? Flat for some, gradual decline for others. Anandtech, in particular, for some reason surged huge in late 05, declining steeply back to pre-surge levels ever since. Stagnation doesn't do our favorite websites much good, but that makes sense.

Why check every day when you know competition wont return to the realm for another year or so?


1984
By wordsworm on 12/2/2007 8:41:48 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I remember the exact instant when computer hardware became a commodity. Steve Jobs got up in front of one hundred journalists and in less than 60 seconds, a million Apple zealots went from ardent Intel naysayers to hardened Intel devotees. In that moment I realized it didn't really much matter to anyone which CPU was better than another, it only mattered what Steve Jobs told everyone to think anyway.


I had to laugh when I read that. What would have made it more like 1984 is if there had been anti-Intel posters all around and then, in mid speech, Steve Jobs had been handed a paper - without missing a beat or a word, he said how Intel was now the ally, and all his followers began tearing down the anti-Intel posters shouting angrily, shouting that somehow MS spies had put them up in the first place!




RE: 1984
By Ringold on 12/2/2007 10:06:41 PM , Rating: 2
Double-plus-agreement!


Dead Wrong
By rickon66 on 12/2/2007 8:48:23 PM , Rating: 2
Kris, I think that what you are seeing is a change in yourself and not in the computer technology enthusiast. I my view it is just the opposite, I have been building and hotrodding PC's since 1991 and now is the greatest time for that hobby ever. The performance available per dollar is mind boggling. I am having the computer time of my life.
I think that you, Kris have grown as a person and what was interesting to you 10 years ago does not necessarily mean the same to you now. You have also probably became somewhat spoiled or jaded over the years as more and more tech stuff has been made available to you from manufactures. There is something special about saving your lunch money in anticipation of being able to purchase that Q6600 as opposed to having all of the good stuff provided to you. I can see the difference in your blogs and articles, they are more oriented towards politics(somewhat anti-American at times) and other non tech interests. As new interests grow, often the old ones wither away.




RE: Dead Wrong
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 12/3/2007 11:09:35 AM , Rating: 2
I'm certainly open to that possibility. Although you highlighted it yourself, "hotrodding" PCs. For a large stretch of the 90s, you had to have that hotrod knowledge just to get by.

Now the majority of PC users, if they do any research at all, its basically just to flip to the conclusion page of an AnandTech or TechReport review. I don't think that everyone changed, but the lowest-common-denominator sure did -- and not that that's a bad thing.


I tend to agree...
By joemoedee on 12/3/2007 8:50:38 AM , Rating: 3
As someone that worked for a PC manufacturer for a few years, I do see the shine fading from the high-end PC industry.

Why? There's no real true reason to upgrade your rather recent PC if you bought smartly a few years ago.

A several year old computer runs XP just fine, and outside of playing games at the highest settings, it will be able to run just about everything out there decently. Vista for all intents and purposes, has been a flop. Outside of a few visual differences, there is no real compelling reason to upgrade to it at this point. XP is stable, solid, better on resources, runs everything, and most people already have it.

Outside of a few games that push the hardware envelope, you can have a really enjoyable experience on just about any machine out there. (Again, if you bought correctly a few years ago)

The majority of the American public have PCs now, as do many in the connected world. Grandmoms get on the net. The former "status" symbol of having a PC is no more.

Additionally, outside of the Keyboard/Mouse vs Controller argument, Consoles can deliver a very similar gaming experience to PCs now. This wasn't the case when you were comparing a NES or SNES to a PC 15-16 years ago. Why pay $3000 for a high end PC, when you can get a similar experience on a $400 console?

Additionally, The $300 computer can do 95% of what that $3000 computer can do.

I can speak from my own experience. I've been a PC gamer since 92.

I have a machine, a Sempron 3100+. Radeon 9550 video card. It's 3 years old.

Last year, I built a Core2 Extreme X6800 with a 7900 GTX. I played a few games on it, but nothing too heavily. (I'm not big into FPS, RTS, or MMORPGs so that limits my new PC gaming selections) I sold it, and still use the Sempron 3100+. I can do everything I typically did on the beast.

Basically it boils down to this. In an effort to mainstream computers and the internet, it's all gotten watered down. The hardcore PC gamers with money to burn will still buy the latest and greatest, while the rest won't because they don't have to. The list of reasons to buy the latest and greatest is getting smaller and smaller, as dropping another $500 on the new video card on the market doesn't make much sense when all it's doing is giving you an extra 5-10 fps on an already playable amount of fps.

The technological leap just isn't there right now, and until it is, high end will be stagnant.




The surest sign...
By Puddyglum1 on 11/30/2007 5:51:03 PM , Rating: 2
is when technology-news articles use 100x100px glimpses of attractive women to compel us to read.

Kris, you totally, nostalgically nailed it.




The gaming Aspect
By indianpunk on 12/1/2007 10:13:03 AM , Rating: 2
http://www.tomsgames.com/us/2007/11/16/crysis_demo...

u might want to check that link out as even now when the technology is there to take the advantage of the new hardware we are not able to get (not that i can afford it in any ways:) )

Anyways instead of getting half hearted product out so fill the market with why cant we have new tech faster the way it has always been
lack of competition is one reason i can get these days and more increase in buyers making a techlogical product a bit too over commercialised just like the steve jobs example pointed out above

Anyways 2008 looks bright with lots of quad action so lets look forward to that




I disagree
By Polynikes on 12/10/2007 10:30:26 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The birth and demise of AMD's Quadfather, the ubiquitous lack of support (or interest) for quad-GPU graphics, failed physics processors and inconsequential sales of "killer" network cards.

I don't think these are signs of the end of the enthusiast industry, I think they're simply bad ideas that didn't catch on. Who the hell needs four CPU cores and four GPUs when there are no games to support them? SLI and Crossfire don't even come close to doubling performance as it is. They need to perfect 2 GPU operation before they move up to 4. Who wants a physics processor when my dual core can handle Havok physics just fine without a drop in performance? And who really thinks a network processor is gonna give them any real, tangible edge playing an online game? It's not gonna help you at a LAN tourney, that's for sure.




We're asleep, not dead.
By gochichi on 12/3/2007 5:50:40 AM , Rating: 1
If we were dead, the 512MB 8800GT would be in stock and readily available for $149 at Walmart. Same goes for the HD3870. The scarcity is a blatant sign that enthusiasts are all over still.

You can't honestly expect people to shell out cash for outdated stuff at outdated prices for an indefinite amount of time. The people have voted, whoever was going to pay $500-$600 on a 8800GTX did so. I and probably a lot of other "enthusiasts" jump on a new product.

I think that as we age, and remain concerned with childish things, (like video games and junk) we often project this gloomy view of the market. "Things aren't like they used to be"... when really, we're just jaded from so many iterations of hardware and software. I have Halo 3 but was having a better time playing Golden Axe on the 360. Is it b/c the games have gotten worse? HELL NO!

Frankly, the harware situation is exciting and affordability is great. I think that PC gaming is going to trump console gaming around January or February. The PC game industry will never die... video games are made on PCs by geeks... so I just can't see an end in sight for PC gaming. When you look at the total numbers showing up to conventions, it's pretty clear that PC gaming is only getting bigger and bigger. This makes sense too, b/c unlike consoles, old games keep their user base, and keep getting better over time.

Meaning, when you buy a PS3, it's not b/c Grand Theft Auto 1 will look any better. That's not the case on Windows computers. Quake 2 on my computer, using no 3D acceleration is running at hundreds of frames per second running at 1920 x 1440.

Right now, we are dormant still. Starcraft 2 will come out and all bets are off.

In terms of hardware know-how... I do fear much of the Vista crap is b/c people that have no business building a computer are doing so. But this only points one more time to the increasing numbers of enthusiasts. A lot of us just wince at over-clocking not b/c we don't know, but we got to know the procedure in hard-times, when stability wasn't that great to begin with.

Is it b/c there are less enthusiasts that there is now a Dell XPS line, Voodd PC, etc. from companies that used to sell beige computers?




By TomZ on 11/30/2007 9:26:11 PM , Rating: 1
I'm so sick of the holier-than-thou attitude of open-source advocates. I own an engineering company, and I personally like that I can sit down in Visual Studio, develop a nice program (myself or with my small team), send it to a customer, and then send out an invoice. That to me is a very good thing - earning money for myself and for my family by creating something useful to someone else.


By cochy on 11/30/2007 11:30:05 PM , Rating: 2
The open-source community has created much usefulness for many people. I agree with you that holier-than-thou attitudes suck, no matter where it's coming from. However don't let some with pretentious attitudes detract from an otherwise great thing.


By TomZ on 12/1/2007 7:29:05 AM , Rating: 2
Just for the record, I'm knocking the attitude, not the software. There's definately some good OSS, although quite frankly 90% is junk, the remaining 10% contains some real jems, e.g., GCC, Linux, Apache, etc.


By noirsoft on 12/1/2007 8:43:57 AM , Rating: 2
I like to distinguish that while I'm not against open source software, I am ardently against the "Free Software Movement"

And Richard Stallman is an idiot. Just because Emacs isn't worth paying for doesn't mean that the rest of us shouldn't be able to make money.


By TomZ on 12/1/2007 2:54:48 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, and in the end even Stallman himself earns his own living off of software, even if indirectly.


By mindless1 on 12/4/2007 2:22:36 PM , Rating: 2
But what if they really are holier than thou? If they pretended they weren't, wouldn't that make them all the more holy? What was your good thing? Money. What was your opposition's good thing? Sharing information with open source.

Yeah, one is holier than the other in a general sense. Get over it.


By TomZ on 12/1/2007 4:46:58 PM , Rating: 5
No, if I go a little deeper into my thoughts, what comes to mind is:

"You're full of shit"

Your post couldn't be more far off. Nice try, and thanks for playing. No fear here.


By Xietsu on 12/2/2007 5:39:24 AM , Rating: 2
" GeorgeOrwell said:
Because at the end of the day you are probably ripping your customer off and are afraid that if they see what they've really bought vs. what they think they bought, you'll be in trouble.

Even if you are not ripping them off, you are afraid that there is something not worthy in your work, perhaps some copied code that you don't have a license for.

You probably believe that food labels shouldn't have to say what's in the food either."

Your attempt to gauge the assimilations of one's mind are made in an almost asinine aspect. Often, only the truly Godfearing would continually question the morality of their commercial conditions. Most are content with the coverage of their conclusive capacity.

The remark in regard to food labels was ludicrous. Every construct of hardware isn't consumed by physical abdominal contraction, thus, the consistency of its constituency need not require disclosure (as the components of a nutritional project are [consumed by physical abdominal contraction], ingredients become a credit of liability). Personal health relates to communication of such due to the connection of potential complications in an individual's welfare.

The critical differentiator is the fact that the market allows such disparity between competition, thus an engendering of proprietary proliferation becomes so productive. It is merely the acknowledgment that, due to the customer's willingness to accept such compromise, the criteria for contemplating a company's level of consequence is crude.


By SavagePotato on 12/2/2007 4:47:26 PM , Rating: 2
I would be afraid of being a goatee wearing unemployed bum living in a basement writing open source code for something to do out of the false pretense of saving the world as well.

Giving away everything free sounds like a noble goal for sure. Thats not entirely an accurate portrayal.

The current open source for money architecture seems to work this way. Sell customer services using open source software that they have no clue whatsoever how to operate, and have no hope of getting support outside the tech in question. I know this first hand having witnessed this buisness model in practice.

Now which is more of a rip off? securing a customer through lack of knowledge and making them dependant on you to maintain this open source solution you sold them. Or them paying a corporation like microsoft who supports their own products?

I don't see that big a difference.


By clovell on 12/1/2007 7:13:29 PM , Rating: 3
> When we look at all so-called "industry", ultimately we find that competition breeds dishonesty, deceit, a disregard for ethics, disobeying the law, and other forms of immoral behavior.

You're advocating communism there, George.

Although there are those who wish to ruin the spirit of open source, those who view all that cooperation and honesty as a threat to their tyranny, to their slave empires.

You're smoking crack. But, most of us knew that. I don't know what your beef is against large companies - maybe one laid you off for being so damned creepy.


By Xietsu on 12/2/2007 5:10:10 AM , Rating: 2
Well, the corporate ideal essentially is a neo-feudalistic manner of fief flowing. The mainstream worker is as though a serf, a laboring member of the proportionately heavy taxed middle-class, bearing the economic profits of the business executives (relative to the land owners of the Medieval era). I suppose the stockholders and the chairmen reap substantial monetary success.


By Xietsu on 12/2/2007 5:21:19 AM , Rating: 1
GeorgeOrwell said:
It is no wonder that the only thing happening in technology that has any spiritual energy, the only path of heart, is open source. Which, of course, is based on cooperation, not competition.


I'm not very clear where your portrayal of "the path of heart" or "spiritual energy" pervade from, but the technological field relative to our idea of the "personal computer" is at least moderately plentiful. Thousands of people from across the globe utilize these hardware advancements to better outreach and obtain some sense of conceptual comprehension. It would be common to confirm collective, collaborative cohesion within the dynamics of the virtual environment conceived of by modern hardware computing capacity (i.e. consider these message boards and the hundreds of thousands functioning similarly as a form of voice and construction).


By Misty Dingos on 12/2/2007 12:10:40 PM , Rating: 2
Technology favors the competitive. Not the cooperative. Orwell was wrong. Just plain wrong. Competition brings out the best technology. As it necessitates the innovation and invention to stay in a competitive environment.

Life never evolves in a cooperative benign environment. If you want to help the homeless. Get them some mental help and a job.

I am truly tired of the constant whining, hand ringing, tear dabbing, hand holding, subdividing, excuse making socialist liberal elitist communist left. Get a clue communism is as dead as its founders. Socialism is morbidly ill and dying as we speak and the sooner that these sad social experiments are pushed into the ash can of history the better.


“And I don't know why [Apple is] acting like it’s superior. I don't even get it. What are they trying to say?” -- Bill Gates on the Mac ads
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