back to article PCs will get pricier and you're gonna like it, say Gartner market shamans

PCs should become more expensive this year but consumers will continue to buy them, Gartner has read in the tea leaves. The market analysis firm has realised that PC components (we're looking at you, DRAM and SSDs) are getting more expensive around the world. And although vendors are absorbing some of the costs, they're also …

  1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    Value for money?

    Prices going up is not always a problem if you get a MUCH better machine from it. SSD is generally an improvement (except for big volumes of data) and more RAM is always needed to cope with the muppets behind web browser software, but also what of display quality?

    Will see an end to shitty sub-HD resolution laptops? Will we ses desktops coming with worthwhile monitors like 2560 x 1440 at 27" as default?

    1. Halfmad Silver badge

      Re: Value for money?

      We get semi-decent PCs at work, although an SSD would be a massive help when juggling a VM and a large unwieldy spreadsheet people demand I use.

      The biggest problem without a doubt though is the f*cking monitors. They're all widescreens, it's like looking through a letterbox compared to the 4K monitor I have at home. The one I'm using just now is 1600x900

      900! I'd rather have a 1080P monitor than this sh!t.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Value for money?

        I've found out that widescreen monitors aren't that bad if they have a proper tilt and swivel feature.

        Tilt it to portrait orientation for web browsing, email reading, working with documents etc.

        If you're feeling adventurous, get two widescreen monitors with very thin or no bezels, put them close together, tilt them both to portrait and set up a dual monitor display output.

        Landscape widescreen is only useful if you watch movies or play certain games e.g. flight simulators, first-person shooters.

        24-inch monitor seems to be the sweetspot screen size for for this. Any bigger, and your desk would require tremendous real estate. Any smaller, and you would have to squint.

      2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: Screen sizes

        Then you get the webites that have gone totally do-lally with vertical whitespace totally ignoring that most users will only see part (a small part at that) of the page forcing the user to scroll up and down all the time.

        Frustration reigns.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Screen sizes

          "Then you get the webites that have gone totally do-lally with vertical whitespace"

          Sadly, the bit about vertical whitespace is superfluous. Website designers will go doolally with any and all possible parameters.

          Frustration indeed.

      3. CheesyTheClown

        Re: Value for money?

        Semi-decent PCs? Without SSD and without decent screen resolution?

        This is 2017. Semi-decent is a core i5, 16GB RAM and 500GB SSD and at least 2500 pixels wide. Decent is i7, 16GB, 1TB and 3000x2000 and nVidia graphics.

        I bought that 2 years ago and have absolutely no inclination to upgrade. Microsoft can get a few extra bucks from me if they sell an upgraded performance base, but for about $750 a year per employee for their PC, it's a cheap option. I'll consider a new one in 2 more years if they come with at least double the specs and a minimum 2GB/sec SSD read time. Otherwise, I'll it will be a $600 a year PC, then $500.

        Employers obviously have to consider the cost of buying dozens, hundreds or thousands of PCs. But leasing with an option to buy makes sense if the CapEx is scary. But spending less than $2000 on a PC can be very expensive. There are very few good machines on the market that cheap.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Value for money?

      The problem with SSD is that there are many relevant new technologies coming out from various vendors: Samsung does its thing, Intel does its thing, Toshiba does its thing etc.

      The technologies must consolidate and be standardized across all vendors before prices dip. We're paying for their R&D adventures now.

      1. CheesyTheClown

        Re: Value for money?

        I don't understand. Are you suggesting it's better to stick with spinning disks on laptops and desktops because you can't find a company who makes a SSD based on a stable technology?

        Was there ever a moment in history where the hard drive business wasn't like that? Have you ever complained that the methods of suspending magnetic heads over the drive surface on different vendors of hard drives was different? Have you ever complained that the boot code on a western digital drive wasn't the same as on a seagate?

        Are you worried that there is something magically different on a SATA cable when using SSD as opposed to on spinning discs?

        Are you worried you have to use mSATA, M.2,, PCIe. You don't.

    3. fobobob

      Re: Value for money?

      1366x768 needs to be banned on displays larger than 10 inches. Seriously, computing like it's 1989? I had a late 80s Compaq 14" CRT that could (poorly) handle 1280x960, and did acceptably at 1152x864.

      1. Dazed and Confused

        Re: computing like it's 1989?

        Surely in 1989 wpuld have been on 1280x1024 monitors. I know that's what I was using. Lovely sharp Sony reference monitors with no choice of screen res since that just lead to blurring.

      2. K

        Re: Value for money?

        Yes, 100%..

        I recently started a new role, got a sleek Ultrabook with i7. 16GB RAM, 512GB SDD, 4G Connectivity... yet for some reason the manufacturer felt a 1366x768 display was adequate.

        The company might aswell have just brought me an Intel NOC, because as a laptop, this is f*cking useless!

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Value for money?

          i7. 16GB RAM, 512GB SDD, 4G Connectivity... yet for some reason the manufacturer felt a 1366x768 display was adequate.

          But, but, but - it's PORTABLE.

          Which, of course, neglects the fact that (to use it properly) you need a decent monitor(s) to use it properly. Which (kind of) negates the value of portability.

          And, because it's an ultrabook, everything is throttled up the wazoo and so a mid-price 'developer' laptop with (aparrently) much lower spec will outperform it handily. And be more upgradable. And have a decent size (15" is pretty much my minimum) display.

          But it'll look nice and wannbe-MBA's will covet one becuase it'll show their status and coolness, despite the fact that anyone who knows IT will be laughing at them. Even more than usual.

          1. An ominous cow heard

            2001: 1400x1050 on a laptop. 2011: ??? 2017: ???

            Back in 2001 or so, in the dying days of W98SE and Pentium III, Compaq would sell you an Armada E500 laptop with a 1400x1050 display. I actually thought mine (which was very usable, albeit not very light) was 1600x1200, but the readily available quickspecs says 1400x1050 on the top of the range model.

      3. joed

        Re: Value for money?

        You may not get better resolution but now your screen is touch enabled (so pay up). Crappy and glossy = ready for crApps from the Windows Store. SSD is the only real improvement on the enterprise PC laptop scene (that diminishes with the trend towards TLC NAND).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Value for money?

          Windows App Store is irrelevant if you refuse to use a Microsoft account, innit?

          Same as Cortana and Onedrive.

      4. Loud Speaker

        Re: Value for money?

        1366x768 needs to be banned on displays larger than 5 inches.

        FTFY

  2. Tim99 Silver badge
    Stop

    Tea leaves

    Cockney rhyming slang for "thieves" - Price: $6,995.0. Can anyone remember an accurate report from Gartner predicting the future two years out?

    1. theblackhand

      Re: Tea leaves

      "Can anyone remember an accurate report from Gartner predicting the future two years out?"

      Are you referring to their well known report they sent out following a particularly drunken Christmas party saying "Gartner have looked into the future and can still see people willing to pay money for this crap regardless of how wrong we are"?

    2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: Tea leaves

      Misleading headline - real shamans occasionally get it right.

    3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Tea leaves

      Can anyone remember an accurate report from Gartner predicting the future two years out?

      Well - they did report that Windows Phone will have a 25% market share. And that's happened.

      (Nurse! My medication is wearing off - I can see a bit of the sky that isn't cerise-pink!)

  3. NoneSuch Silver badge
    Coat

    Hmmm, my new PC purchase price is planned to be over four times the average. I don't think they are getting as good as they can get.

  4. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    So what?

    All my home PCs are castoffs from work. Plenty of life left in them if you remove Win# and install Linux.

    (the remainder of the family prefers products from the Fruit Factory)

    I now have quad core i5's which I got for free. Hard to argue with that, all it took to get them running was the purchase of a new HDD and the install of Linux Mint (which works a treat, even runs the camera on the laptop)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So what?

      I upgraded my workplace from a tangled mix of PC's going back to Win98 & XP to a large bunch of Win7 Pro refurbs several years ago on a shoestring.

      £70 per PC, with a Win7 Pro Microsoft Authorised Refurbisher's license and Office with VLK's from value licensing for around £100 per PC where the PC's were licensed on PKC's we didn't want to carry over (ie, office 1997, office XP, 2003 etc) Result, an office running Win7 on Core2Duo's replacing some truly crap hardware for a project cost of around £130 per PC in total (including the replacement licensing)

      Those C2D's are still humming along quite nicely with a few trivial and cheap life extensions such as filling them up with memory and shoving a bulk buy of ebay sourced multi monitor cards in them. The final life extension is a box of SSD's (£50 each) to replace dead or severely degraded HDD's and keep the hardware running until 2020, the official out of service date due to Win7's EOL.

      I'm not convinced that come 2020 the business is going to be able to afford to simultaneously replace every single PC with brand new equipment so chances are that the refurb vendors will be delivering another few pallets worth of then obsolete equipment (that as of today somebody else probably hasn't bought yet) for either me or my successor to shove an image on and deploy.

      Simply, "old" equipment is still perfectly task adequate for most office jobs. I don't think anybody notices the difference between a C2D and an i7 running MS office.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So what?

      My home PC is usually more powerful than the one at work, and my company buys workstation level hardware... it's just at home I run heavy tasks as well....

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: So what?

        My home PC is usually more powerful than the one at work

        My home PC is a dual-Xeon server with a large amount of RAM and all-SSD drives. Running linux. With lots of VMs..

        (Well - I also have a couple of Fruit-flavoured laptops and a mix of fruity-and-robotic tablets..)

  5. JimmyPage
    WTF?

    I call bollocks ...

    When are these "PC sales will recover" stories going to end. They're starting to sound like the end-of-the-world stories we hear every so often.

    PCs are a mature market. Everyone who needs one has one. And younger generations don't need at all.

    1. Andy Non Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: I call bollocks ...

      Agreed. I won't replace mine until it dies and then I'll just buy another high spec SSD Linux desktop again directly from the manufacturer.

    2. JimmyPage
      Thumb Up

      Re: I call bollocks ...

      Bad form to reply to oneself, however ...

      Just a quick census of chez Page, and no machine is more recent than 5 years old. My media "server" is 10 years old, and the desktop MrsPage used to use (until she got an iPad - there's a clue there) is 8 years old.

      Both running Linux, as is this 6-year old laptop.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: I call bollocks ...

        An RPi is almost all you need as a media server, depending of course on the number of clients. I think we'll see more such dedicated devices at home and the odd explicitly Android PC. This will put enormous downward pressure on devices unless they have desirable specs, ie. are not PCs.

        Companies are starting to move from PC purchases to rentals (CapEx to OpEx) and that is bound to put pressure on prices because the lessor will want to protect margins. There's still a business there (printers moved this way a few years ago) but it won't be driven by the faster, higher, shinier products. White label manufacturers who can deliver reliable devices are the ones who'll benefit.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: I call bollocks ...

      "PCs are a mature market."

      And increasing component prices won't help at all.

    4. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: I call bollocks ...

      "PCs are a mature market. Everyone who needs one has one. And younger generations don't need at all."

      no, not true.

      The problems with the modern PC market can be summed up in a few things. I've said all this before. I know I'm right.

      1. No perceived "better than what I have" in the new machines. (upgrade existing one instead)

      2. Windows "Ape" and Win-10-nic are DETREMENTS to the user experience for a majority of users. They would rather stick with what they have than be FORCED into DOWNgrading their experience like that.

      3. Too much focus on fondle-slabs, not enough focus on the existing user base.

      4. Marketeers look at SALES FIGURES to extrapolate the user base. That's like looking at a derivative to extrapolate an integral. You ignore the value of 'K' and you're just plain wrong.

      there are more things, like the effects of 'Moore's Law' 20 years ago vs 10 years ago vs now, the lack of software that truly takes advantage of multi-core, lazy programming practices that assume "oh you have a faster machine so we can afford to be lazy now and write inefficient code because it's easier" (particularly in Windows, i.e. UWP and "the Metro"), and a general lack of TRUE innovation that would make people want a new box just to "get it".

      Remember how cool Windows 3.0 was to a lot of people? You saw the solitaire application running its demo in the computer store, and got it for your computer because it ran on top of DOS (which you already had). And '95 was cool, too, so people wanted it.

      Name more than one or two people who actually *WANT* Win-10-nic or "Ape". Exactly. Now, name people who wish they could still get a new comptuter with 7 (or even XP) on it!!! You got it!

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I call bollocks ...

      Agree. I think a couple of things are happening. First, the younger generation uses their phone for just about everything. If it doesn't work on a phone, they are not using it... which causes app providers to design apps which work well on phones. There are some situations, like writing a paper or report, where a phone isn't practical. In those situations, they use Chromebooks which are lightweight (in all senses) and do the job well for docs or spreadsheets and web browsing. Second, as most people receive some sort of laptop at work and have a phone, they just use their work PC at home when they need a PC and their phone for most things, which cuts down on people having a personal PC and a work PC. Third, no one really needs to update their PC on a regular basis anymore. The amount of spec in a five year old PC will work just fine for most uses. People are using PCs until they break and not refreshing on a regular basis.

      I don't really think people, the vast majority, want a better PC. They'll take a better PC. They would rather have a less costly PC and a better phone... as the phone, for most people, is their primary computing device.

  6. Erik4872

    Desktops and laptops have their niche

    I think what's happening is that desktop and laptop vendors are going upmarket. The average consumer watches their Netflix and updates Facebook on phones and tablets now, so the consumer market for these machines is pretty dead. But, there are plenty of people who are doing actual work in a non-BYOD environment. For them, a full machine running a full version of Windows is still a good choice.

    A couple of years ago, the industry mantra was "BYOD everywhere" and "tablets for everyone." This certainly came true in some market segments, but most traditional businesses are at least offering the option of a company-owned, company-managed PC. Not everyone wants a locked-down device they can't install software on, or they prefer the form factor. I know I'm the recipient of a few looks when I pull out a 15" laptop in a conference room full of Surfaces and phones, but it's just more comfortable to work on.

    Now that PCs, laptops and workstations really are niche devices, vendors also see the opportunity to increase margin. They don't have to buy bargain basement crap components. They can invest in features that niche users want. And in the case of consumer models, they don't have to make 150 different brands/models for each big box retailer.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Desktops and laptops have their niche

      But, there are plenty of people who are doing actual work in a non-BYOD environment.

      No doubt, but quantify plenty and put it alongside those who will be happier with BYOD. My hunch is that the second bunch is growing even as the overall category shrinks.

    2. theblackhand

      Re: Desktops and laptops have their niche

      "I think what's happening is that desktop and laptop vendors are going upmarket."

      They've been trying for years - outside of Apple they haven't had a lot of success and Apple see their year-on-year sales consolidating around certain models in each range.

      The problem for manufacturers isn't so much the volume (as it drops it drives consolidation as the market is still pretty big at around 250+ million units/year), its that there is no real innovation driving a need for new PC's.

      CPU's have plateaued in-terms of single core performance and the mainstream desktop software market hasn't really found anything to capitalise on multicore to drive sales.

      While SSD provides benefits, it has to get down to the US$35 or less/unit cost to compete with HDD - laptops and enterprise storage are driving the price drops so it will happen eventually.

      Combined with tablets/mobiles/games consoles the edges of the market will continue to shrink, probably at the low end of the market. So maybe Gartner will be right this time and average prices will increase...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Simple solutions

    Get a mechanical hard disk drive and cheaper RAM (e.g. Kingston ValuRAM). Run a 32-bit OS so you only need 4Gb of RAM, max.

    On-board video cards are getting better every year, unless you're a hardcore gamer, you don't need the latest and greatest from AMD or nVidia.

    And if you're not a hardcore gamer, there's no need to splurge on a fancy 4K gaming monitor. There are very nice monitors for general/business use these days. And you can always pick up a refurbished monitor at a discounted price, especially those 4:3 or 5:4 monitors which are nearly extinct now because everyone has jumped onto the widescreen monitor bandwagon.

    Caveat: Gartner has got things wrong before (e.g. "Windows Mobile will dominate the smartphone market!"), so take its prognostications with a pinch of salt.

    1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: Simple solutions

      The little old lady next door was asking me what computer to get - I'll pass your comment on to her.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Simple solutions

        "The little old lady next door was asking me what computer to get - I'll pass your comment on to her."

        I think you can still get reconditioned Lenovo machines with 7 pro on them...!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Simple solutions

        Gently remind her to backup her data. For an old lady, I would presume it's photos and documents, not porn and warez and movies.

        Should be easy with a combination of cloud storage and a USB thumb drive. Or a secondary (external) hard disk.

  8. adnim
    Meh

    This is Gartner

    <me>hands out pinches of salt</me>

    1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: This is Gartner

      With Gartner, you'd need the entire annual output of the Siberian salt-mines under Stalin.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hey Gartner what happened to Windows phone, isn't it supposed to have a 30% market share or something like that by now according to your seaside fortune teller predictions ?

    I have as much faith in Gartner as I have in a Met Office medium range weather forecast.

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      I have as much faith in Gartner as I have in a Met Office medium range weather forecast.

      Well - the Met Office forecats are somewhat based on science..

      Gartner however - I suspect they have gone back to using sheep livers for divination. Or, maybe, the pattern that the swallows make as they hunt for insects in the evening sky..

      Either that or heavy use of LSD and magic mushrooms.

  10. a_a

    1080p....

    ...or higher should be banned on 13" laptops until Microsoft can figure out display scaling.

    1. Ramazan

      Re: 1080p....

      When I run Xorg with VESA driver and Xorg with intel driver on the same PC, they use different display DPI settings (and therefore different default font sizes). So I had to edit xorg.conf and set screen size manually. Maybe it's possible to do the same in Microsoft Windows, if you don't like how Microsoft figures out display scaling on 13" 1080p screen...

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: 1080p....

      "until Microsoft can figure out display scaling."

      Your use case isn't everyone's.

    3. Down not across Silver badge

      Re: 1080p....

      ...or higher should be banned on 13" laptops until Microsoft can figure out display scaling.

      I hate Win10.

      It does, however, do faiirly adequate job with display scaling.

  11. earl grey
    Trollface

    appetite for better components.

    so, no windows 10 then?

  12. jason 7

    Don't want new ones.

    I can get clean and tidy Core i5 boxes with 8GB of ram and 120GB SSD for £250.

    Save the new expensive box for the guy that thinks he knows about Video editing.

  13. Ramazan
    Windows

    PC will get pricier if you value your privacy

    https://libreboot.org/suppliers.html

    https://minifree.org/product/libreboot-d16/ -- €5,350.00–€7,500.00 depending on configuration

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: PC will get pricier if you value your privacy

      WOW!

  14. Ole Juul

    Rolling release

    I use a really big box with a decent PSU and everything else just gets updated with the times.

  15. RudderLessIT

    But is it really about the brandless components?

    Look at the cost of Apple anything.

    Look at the cost of Microsoft branded devices.

    No-one is arguing about their performance or their design - but lordy, look at the price tag!

    So what does the competition do? Give up and aim at the emerging market? Or go after the same market with their own high spec & very pretty devices... and since the big boys are putting on a big price tag...

    Re: Gartner - I just don't get why anyone other than software sales people even talk about them.

  16. Roopee
    Happy

    Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

    I don't understand why so many corporates sell their expensive 5-year-old i5/i7 laptops instead of refurbishing them, but I'm very grateful that they do! New SSD, new keyboard if it's really worn, clean install of Windows 7 using the existing licence - voila, a better than new laptop (in both senses) for a fraction of the price...

    And back to the topic - an interesting study The Reg could do would be a comparison of Gartner Predictions vs Actuals going back to the 90s. I confidently predict almost nil correlation.

    BTW R, R, R was a Greenpeace slogan from the early 90s, I've still got the T-shirt somewhere.

  17. JacobEye

    Well, it is true. This weekend, I was searching online and I visited a few tech shops near my place to get a Titan Xp. Originally it is for $1200. But the market was fluctuating badly and people were asking for a maximum of $1450 due to its unavailability.

    The guy, who I purchased from happens to be a good friend of mine too, he suggested that the prices of parts and whole PC rigs will go up now in a few months time. PC demand is in boom and the products are not supplied as much as the demand is.

    And the rest, technology is improving and is so is the cost and so are the prices.

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