PC Priorities

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No question the computing scene is dramatically different from what it was in the not too distant past. The shifts we have all seen – eg, more laptops, small form factor, main-stream overclocking, etc – may have changed your priorities.

So the question is:

What are your computing concerns now?

For example, let’s say you now only have laptops whereas previously you had desktops – what topics are of interest to you now?

There are no right or wrong answers and someone will be picked at random for a prize – so Email Joe with your entry.

Readers respond and I think many of you will see your concerns reflected in the email excerpts below:


My main concern will be the anti-piracy measure in Vista and DRM controls in

I believe we have passed the “Golden Age” of personal computing. I am seeing
a trend of the rights of the users being increasingly restricted to allow
for more profits of the bigger organisations.

I think the users will lose out whether they stay legal or not. If you do things 100% legally, then the following will occur:

  1. For music and movies: You purchased the content legally but either you
    can’t use it on the device you want, or they automatically expired after a
    set date, and a PC upgrade make the DRM’ed files think you are pirating and
    lock you out of your own files that you purchased legally.

  2. For hardware: You want to watch DRM’ed blu ray discs but none of the
    monitors and graphics cards supports HDMI and things like that.

  3. For the OS: You bought a copy of Vista but you changed your hardware
    enough so you get locked out of your own PC.

If you do things illegally, then the following will occur:

  1. For music and movies: It will be too much of a hassle to by-pass the
    DRMs, and the RIAA, MPAA will be after you in any case.

  2. For hardware: All hardware you purchased from now on will have some from
    of hardware DRM or “Trusted computing module.”

  3. The OS: From the sound of it so far it is looking increasing difficult to
    by pass WGA or WPA for Vista, the OS need WPA even for VLK and the OS has
    built in checks for tempering of system files.

In all scenarios, we are all at the mercy of the big companies and “content
providers” I am actually hoping they will restrict our rights to an extent
that a “revolution” can occur, when the users finally give up, stop
watching Hollywood movies, start using Linux, and even create and
broadcast their own contents like on youtube.


My main concern is the massive power consumption of future video cards and the inevitably high price they’ll command.


The real questions are that I’m on the fence about are what’s happening w/ video cards and dx10 … I don’t really see a future w/ Microsoft, so that leads to what’s happening with linux distros and gaming applications, sli/crossfire etc.


A main concern of mine is power consumption. With SLI, video cards requiring two power plugs, quad core processors, and 10,000 RPM hard disks, more computers are going to start requiring larger power supplies. A standard 120 Volt outlet in most American homes can only safely supply so much current. Are we going to need to plug our computers into 240 Volt outlets usually reserved for appliances, such as ovens and clothes dryers?


I build computers for people, the Joe Sixpacks specifically. My main priority recently has been making sure that the computers I build can run Windows Vista. This includes making sure that I have selected the newest platforms / sockets.

As of last year I didn’t have to worry so much about this sort of stuff. Since every customer I talked to just wanted the least expensive computer, I could slap together some cheap parts, they were happy, and that was that. Now I have to explain to them why they need to spend some more money, and explain compatiblility, and new standards. To them it sounds like I’m speaking in tongues!


My priorities are:

  • Quiet: I shouldn’t be able to hear it. My computer stays awake, I
    shouldn’t have to.

  • Fast: I don’t want to have to go to different computers for
    different things. That means one needs to be powerful enough for anything I do.

  • Small: Transporting computers is a hassle. Having to bring 15kg of
    extra steel whereever you go, more so.

  • Attractive: I don’t want to have to hide my computer in shame. It at least has to be unobtrusive.
  • Cheap(ish): I’m not paying US$1000 for a processor, no matter what. I’ll spend money where it needs to be spent, but a computer shouldn’t cost limbs.


I still want the hot games and the hardware to run
them, but they have taken the back seat to multimedia.

Today I want video, music and even books whenever and
wherever I want. Before I leave for work, I want that
day’s music for the drive ready to go. At lunch break,
I want to have the ability to watch streaming TV from
my own server and even configure recordings with PVR.
That night at home, I will watch my recorded shows or
those broadcast on the net by my favorite network.
Before bed, I will read a few chapters of a recently
downloaded book.

Last has yet to come, but for the first time there is
a real possibility of dropping Microsoft products
almost completely. I have already quit using Office
and IE. I have two spare XP Pro keys because those
systems have been switched to Linux, which till now,
is looking more like a necessity than a novelty.
Dreading the price of Vista, the possible OEM concerns
and wanting to remain a legitimate (legal) user, even
OSX is starting to look good.


At the moment, STABILITY. I’m getting sick of games crashing to desktop
in WinXP. Or the complete reboots… I have quality hardware, and all
my temperatures are good… I am in the process of migrating over to
Linux. Probably going to try Ubuntu for now. I plan a clean reinstall
of XP with NOTHING but what I need for games. And do all my E-mail, web
browsing, word processing, etc. on Linux. Once I get comfortable with
it, I’ll probably start slowly using it for gaming.

I’m sick of Microsoft and its “patch-of-the-week” for security.


For me I’m concerned about value for money. With a new PC on the cards
for next year, I’m grudgingly looking at Vista and DX10 cards but am also
aware that they probably aren’t worth the money ATM, but the XP2600 is
starting to drag a bit. I’m not interested in portable devices at all,
with the new 3g phones being able to do anything I need a portable PC to
do anyway.


My biggest concern is probably my ability to run future software without
being forced to upgrade my operating system (read Vista) and my graphics
card (read DX10 compatible). I fear that application developers will
get on the DX10 programming bandwagon long before they get on the 64-bit
and/or Dual Core bandwagon (as evidenced from the severe lack of 64-bit
software and dual-core “enhanced” software available today).

My next biggest concern is simply reliability of components as
manufacturers continue to try to make things cheaper and cheaper. I
would like to see prices level out or even go up a little bit if it
means quality/reliability improves (I’m sure most are ready to club me
for saying that, lol). I’m a firm believer that for many things, you
get what you pay for. I’ve had 4 or 5 RMA’s so far on the 10 or 12
components I purchased over the 6 months I’ve owned the system. That is
nowhere near 6-sigma levels that this industry should be able to
achieve. My last system only had 1 RMA, and that was after 30 months of
operation when my Athlon XP 2200+ went bad.


My main prorities for my next desktop computer now are:

  • Cool and quiet (I learned my lesson with 60mm fans 🙁 )
  • Fast enough to play Half-life 2 at max settings
  • Tons of storage (60gigs was not enough)
  • Smaller form factor
  • Bigger monitor (19″+), widesceen is a plus


My primary concern…price.

I’ve had an overclocked watercooled desktop for years, but now that it’s
time to upgrade, the price of mid- to high-end components is through the
roof compared to where it was a few years ago – $1000 for a video card
and another $1000 for the CPU??? That just doesn’t seem right when a
basic computer costs only a few hundred.


I now carry out my personal tasks entirely within Linux, save for a
virtual W2K machine within VMware, and have no interest whatsoever in
Vista, gaming, or any of that malarkey – if I wanted to play games I
would buy a dedicated console: both Vista and gaming on a PC are, from my
point of view wasteful, of resources and just plain silly.


Reliability (both hard and software!), data security, back-up solutions…
To me it’s about having a super stable system. The OS concerns me most.


My priorities for the most part is how an average Joe (no pun intended) is going to continue to be able to keep a computer capable of running the latest and greatest software if it is going to take more and more and more horsepower to run it. Not everyone can continue to buy a new core system every 12 months just to play games and run the latest OS if it is going to double the amount of RAM required, take a quadrupled wattage power supply, and a video card that costs more than my complete system does right now. This is beginning to look ridiculous.


My PC priorities in a nutshell:

  • Not buying stuff that’s about to be obsoleted (DDR 1 systems, non DX10 GPUs, P-ATA disks, AGP, etc.)
  • Not spending loads of money and ending up with something hot and loud.
  • Finding a way to avoid Vista for as long as possible (Ubuntu?)

I have to say readers are striking a lot of sympathetic chords with how I feel about Vista and the impact on the enthusiast of its anti-piracy provisions. I am all for cracking down on warez, but I don’t want the hassle of jumping through hoops when I change out components. I also have to agree that $500 power-hungry video cards are NOT where I am today. Finally, I don’t need all the upcoming expensive OS/video bells and whistles to do what I want with my PCs.

I hope we can explore more alternatives to PC and OS bloatware in future articles.

AND the winner drawn at randowm from enails submitted is Filip Czarnecki – I have a Kingwin Sound Extreme external HD enclosure that needs a home.

Thanks to all who took the time to respond – VERY interesting responses.


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