I was looking at the reviews of the FX-55/Athlon 64 4000+, and the following thought occurred to me:
“Hmmm, if I did what these people wanted, I’d pay $700 or $800 for the CPU. Then, if I wanted SLI, I’d probably pay $600-$800 for the two video cards and $200 for the motherboard. Add a Gb of RAM for another $200, and we’re talking about a $2,000+ box.
This is not what the doctor ordered for most of you. Especially when the non-video part of the computer really isn’t all that much more powerful than what you have now.
These day, “gamer” seems to stand for “Give All Manufacturers Extra Resources.” Prices on gamer boxes keep going up and up.
SLI will be the next big step. While that one will at least offer a lot of extra bang for the buck, it does mean a lot of extra bucks. Too many for many of those reading this.
Dual processors will be the step after that. At least the initial generation will be rather more expensive and offer rather dubious benefits.
The real question, though, is whether PC gaming is going to become a sport for the haves rather than the have-nots.
Grabbing A Few Extra Bucks Now, Losing A Ton Later
If having a decent gaming box becomes a $1,500-$2,000 proposition, many reading this are going to end up being priced out of the market.
That’s true for the younger ones without a lot of steady income, though that goes without saying. What isn’t so obvious is that it’s also true for many of the older ones afflicted by that condition called “marriage.”
So by increasing the price of entry, manufacturers are cutting off both ends of the age spectrum.
After all, PC gaming isn’t the only form of computerized gaming out there. A new generation of video gaming machines is coming, and the one thing that can be said for certain about them is that they won’t cost $1,500-$2,000.
So the end result of a $2,000 PC gamer box could well be fewer PC gamer boxes and more Xboxes.
That’s cutting off your nose to spite your face.
Our Short-Term Goals
The last year or so, we’ve been in the very unenviable state of saying, “No” to everything out there. People often ask, “Why didn’t you review X?” and the answer is, “Why should we review items we don’t think you should even consider buying?”
We’re now on the verge of entering a period when buying a new system won’t be such a crazy idea, at least for some. Over the next six-seven months, the smoke ought to clear from AMD’s technological and pricing strategies and capabilities. There’s still a lot of uncertainty, though.
We suspect what is going to happen is that most AMD fans reading this will hold off until Semprons get x86-64 enabled and/or some Athlon 64 cost less than $100, say $89 or less. Then the bandwagon will start. We think the odds on this happening over the next six months are greater than 50%, but no certainty.
Given that, we’ll start testing more once PCI Express boards that actually work right are out there and these SLI-capable video cards are out there.
When that happens, though, we’re going to emphasize the cheaper-end systems, and mostly seek the answers to two core questions:
We’re going to emphasize the cheaper stuff because that’s where the bodies are. There are certainly far more people interested in buying an $82 Hammer than an $820 one. Almost all in the first category will not pay $820 for a CPU, and I suspect most won’t pay $182 in the months ahead.
If overclocking/gaming/high performance computing becomes a rich(er) man’s game rather than 21st century hotrodding, what’s left may have higher profit margins, but far fewer participants.
And if that happens, those who depend on the size of the market rather than its profitability per sale (like, hint, hint, computer hardware websites), will be the ones dropping off the map.
Let’s try to delay that day from coming.