A (controversial) look at the PC market

[Written Feb 25th 2021, all references to future dates are imaginary]
[Let’s think of 2018: Ryzen 1xxx/2xxx is out, and so are 4xx mobos]

Ah yes, building a new PC.. The great feeling when you finally save up enough money to get something decent to replace your dusty-but-trusty box of yesterdecade.

It’s a great feeling, indeed. Looking through computer shops, trying to get the best deals on prices, adding a few bucks more to get that color-matching piece of hardware or even better RGB!

Then, you factor in upgradeability and you think to yourself: “Okay, I’m gonna get this Ryzen 1600AF with a B450 motherboard and 16GiB of dual-channel 3.2GHz RAM, so that I can upgrade later on. Sweet.”

You’re happy and satisfied with your unheard-of-before level of futureproofing (jokes on you H87 users.. or all Intel users!?)…

Then you watch the Ryzen 3xxx announcement and think to yourself: “Only so much performance uplift? Uh, they run cooler, but.. not $499 cooler..”

And then you watch Ryzen 5xxx announcement and think again: “OK, now that’s great”, but when Lisa announces prices you go “OK, no, that’s not great.”

You save up some more and when you finally get to the desk and try to add 5600X to card… it’s out of stock. Or it’s double the price. Yeah, no.

OK, but there has to be a positive side to all of this.. your mobo has 4 RAM slots in total, 2 of which are free. You start looking for suitable RAM, but oh, what’s that? The OEM of your RAM sticks went out of business half a year ago and the sticks are nowhere to be found? Thaiphoon Burner can’t decide whether your flash chips are Hynix AFR, CFR or MJR? Nothing works anymore!? “Well, it can’t be that bad” - you think. Full of energy you scroll through your local Ebay alternative and find the exact model, you scroll down to the page description and.. THEY ARE SAMSUNG A-DIE?! You start wondering - just like myself - how is it legal to market two essentially different products under the same name… Well, it probably isn’t, but you’re broke and can’t go to court with big companies.

It’s now Dec 2021 and Ryzen 6xxx series come out: AM5, DDR5, PCIe5.. 5s all the way! But oh, right, it’s no longer compatible with ANY of your hardware, other than maybe that SATA spinning rust..

And it’s only now that you realize that unless you literally have to get a PC in month n and will get loads of money to upgrade it in month (n+1), the whole upgradeability thing is more of a marketing term than anything else.. And then you recall yourself laughing at all of these people getting prebuilts and M1 Macs and SBCs of different varieties.. and you realize they were the ones that came out better. “HOW!?” - you may ask. Well, they never had to look at the new releases, worry about saving up for a better CPU, for more RAM sticks yada yada yada.. After x years of use, they can just get the next Xavier or next Macbook or next Raspberry Pi, you get this..

Imaginary stories aside, I came to a conclusion that, especially now in 2021, it’s simply better to get some SBC like a Raspberry Pi 4, which can in fact deliver enough performance for most users, even more advanced ones and can run x86 (NOT x86_64, for now at least(?)) apps through tools like Box86 (that’s including Windows x86 apps) than to shell out big bucks for a PC that will become old as quickly as all other pieces of tech.

  • Does not apply to HEDT (yet?, ampere gib big ARM!)