back to article PCs continue to sell like hot cakes and industry can barely keep up with demand – analyst

Notebook, desktop and workstation shipments in Europe, Middle East and Africa swelled to almost 24 million units in Q1 as distributors and retailers gear up for potentially the biggest sales year on record for the humble personal computer. Some 23.87 million machines were offloaded during the three months, up 44.1 per cent on …

  1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    It looks as if not everyone agrees with the notion that you can do everything you need to do on a tablet.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yes, but the sods use up the parts used in servers too.

      I may need to set up a new platform soon in two DCs (because you never do it in just one) and suppliers have already warned me that they can't even predict which parts could be months late. The delays are all over the map.

    2. illiad

      Tablet??

      Only idiots think a tablet will do everything!! try using gmail ** the same way** you use it in windows.. filters, forwarding, etc..google's fault or not??

      And most pc users cannot even find or know about anything other than FB etc... :O

      The apple ipad is bad enough, just to clear ALL the tabs opened, it takes about 6 or 7 steps (this was on a friends **ancient** one! tvguide co uk tries to load app, but it fails- too old OS!!)

    3. Alan Bourke

      That whole 'everything on tablets' notion, along with the 'consoles are dead' notion, was patently ridiculous to anyone who has ever done anything involving a lot of typing on a PC, or any serious gaming beyond noddy bullshit like Candy Crush on a PC or console.

  2. katrinab Silver badge
    Meh

    "In addition, there are over 400 million PCs running Windows 10 that are over four years old today, which is an enormous PC refresh opportunity."

    4 years ago we had Kaby Lake. How much of an improvement is Rocket Lake over Kaby Lake? Not that much, and Kaby Lake is absolutely fine for remote working, Zoom, Netflix and so on. Even Ivy Bridge is fine for that task.

    1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

      At Katrinab, re: Intel.

      I just bought a desktop computer yesterday morning (see above post). It's an AMD R7 with 16Gb RAM & 256Gb SSD for $700. A similarly specc'd laptop was listed as over $1K & had a two week backorder.

      If anyone wants (much less needs) to buy a new computer, going the AMD route may not only prove a less expensive alternative, the availability (of even laptop much less desktop) parts may mean getting the new shiny in a few days rather than weeks.

      Just my two bits of copper plated currency. =-)p

      1. Martin an gof Silver badge

        Re: At Katrinab, re: Intel.

        But you can no longer buy AMD A-series processors, which up until last year were extremely good value for money for most desktop, remote, streaming or business uses. The lowliest Ryzen costs at least twice as much as the old A8 and is very much overkill for the home NAS I want to rebuild which currently sports an AMD E450.

        Low- and mid-end AMD graphics cards are out of stock everywhere, and when you do find one it's twice the price it would have been a year or so ago. I wanted to buy a £30-£40 card as an easy upgrade to an old system that's been getting a hammering recently, but no joy.

        Intel still sells cheap processors but they're not terribly impressive, nor the motherboards into which they fit. I might find an Intel processor which would suit my NAS but none of the motherboards into which it would fit has more than four SATA ports, and I need six.

        It's only a few years ago that I was building 'good enough' desktops for under £200. These days to hit that price point you'll have to be looking at a Raspberry Pi!

        M.

    2. Mikko

      A ten year old i7-2600k can still keep up with most tasks, despite the security slowdowns that have hit Intel processors in recent years. Higher-quality capacitors were already a marketing item in the motherboards and PSUs of that era.. a well-specced PC from 2011 could still work for several more years?

      1. Gene Cash Silver badge

        As a data point, I'm running an i7-3770 on a 9 year old ASUS P8Z77-V Pro motherboard. SSDs keep it very peppy.

      2. ayay

        I have an i7 950 running in production for rendering work, being tortured daily for 11 years and counting.

        Would I like something snappier? Hell yeah.

        Do I have it handy? No. Does it still run? Yes! So it will.

      3. juice Silver badge

        > a well-specced PC from 2011 could still work for several more years?

        I picked up a used Xeon last year since I wanted something with a bit of video-encoding grunt. Dual quad-core CPU at 3ghz (aka 16 cores total with hyperthreading) and 16GB of ram; IIRC, this cost me around £200. And then it turned out that CEX was selling off a bunch of 2GB DDR DIMMs for £2 apiece, so I was able to bump it up to 24GB for under a tenner.

        This replaced an i7 3770k, and has been a little bit of a mixed bag; single-threaded stuff feels a bit more sluggish, but it's around 50% faster at video encoding. You pays yer money and you takes yer chances...

        Either way, while I can't remember exactly which model it is, I *think* it's a pair of x5670s, and these were released in Q1 2010. And the i7 3770k it replaced was released in Q2 2012.

        And I don't really see any applications on the horizon which would require me to upgrade it. Nor have I seen anything which would offer a significant speed boost at a reasonable price.

        The only thing which might make me upgrade is the power usage; it looks to to add about 50p a day to the electric bill if I leave it switched on. And sadly, the hibernation/sleep mode is a touch hit and miss.

        But still. Given the cost and hassle of buying new hardware and migrating over to it, I can live with switching it off when it's not in use!

      4. Clunking Fist

        I've just replaced my i7-2600 (in a lovely Silencio case from Coolermaster) with an i5-10400F, running 1x 1440 + 2x 1200 monitors. I now need to use a heater, as the system just will not produce the heat of my old i7. I am readying the i7 for my mum and anticipate a least a year or two of life, as long as win 10 drivers/updates continue to be available for it.

        I only upgraded as the slowdowns were getting a bit irritating.

    3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Absolutely agree. A 4-year old laptop or PC today is not worth replacing.

      The last time I upgraded my desktop was in 2015, and it's still doing its job fine. The only reason I'm starting to oogle replacement parts is because I'm a gamer, and those new graphics cards are becoming very, very attractive.

      But my work laptop that I've had since 2012 ? I'll replace that the days it dies, not a second before.

      Sorry Pat, the notebook market is not the mobile phone market. You're not going to get 400 million refreshment sales any time soon.

    4. jake Silver badge

      My "road warrior" is an 18ish year old laptop running Slackware.

      By way of reference it's an HP zv5105, upgraded to 2G of RAM[0]. It works just fine, and I can still use it as a daily driver, should I have the need (and sometimes I do).

      I'm not a gamer ... the ATI Radeon 9000 IGP (64Megs shared memory) works just fine for my needs.YMMV.

      This machine was built just before the second wave of bad caps.

      [0] Yes, you can. The second stick is under the keyboard ... HP says it wont work, but it does. She does run a trifle warmer than with the stock quarter gig. Don't try this upgrade at home unless you're familiar with sub-#5 Torx screws that have been locktite-ed ...

      1. juice Silver badge

        > My "road warrior" is an 18ish year old laptop running Slackware

        I've got two laptops which I've nursed along, both Toshiba.

        The first is a fairly ancient dual-core machine which a family member gave up on. I can't remember exactly what the hardware was but to give some idea of the age, it had a 60GB HDD.

        So (IIRC) I upgraded to 8GB and slapped in one of those hybrid SHD drives. And a friend's been using it as their main machine for the last six months or so.

        The second machine was a far newer machine running a dual-core celeron. Alas, Toshiba decided to use storage space as a selling point, so they'd given it just 4GB of ram and slapped in a dog-slow 1TB HDD.

        So again, that got upgraded to 8GB and I put in an SSD. Which didn't improve matters as much as I'd hoped, but it's still usable on a day-to-day basis.

        I also did some basic benchmarking while I still had both machines to hand. And the ancient dual-core Pentium delivered roughly the same grunt as the much newer dual-core celeron.

        It's just that the older laptop is probably double the weight of the newer one, and a lot more power-hungry.

        And for me, the fact that a modern budget laptop delivers the same performance as a decade-old mid-range laptop very strongly suggests that we've generally hit peak-CPU levels for most day to day activities...

    5. LybsterRoy Bronze badge

      My contrtibution:

      PC-Specialist 2014, i74700MQ, 16GB RAM, 1 120GB SSD, 1 1TB SSD and hereticaly W7x64

      No intention of replacing until smoke starts comming out of the vents

    6. Trigun

      My old Sandybridge with 1333 DDR3 RAM is doing just fine. Admittedly, it's got a few enterprise grade SSDs and a 1070GTX in it, but it keeps up with everything I throw at it without issue.

      When I do upgrade I might give AMD another go as I've been with Intel for quite a while now.

    7. Wellyboot Silver badge

      A lot of posts proving the point that a computer is only as good as it's weakest component.

      Decade old CPUs generally have a lower core count but until they start to top out they are not the weakest point, swapping to SSD & maxing out the RAM will transform an old box, upping the GPU can also give an improvement depending on the O/S-driver-bus combo in use.

    8. Adelio Silver badge

      But PC are now powerful enough for most people that a 5 or 7 or even longer lifetime is acceptable.

      I am still running an i4-4330 at work. must be at least 6 years old.

      16Gb ram and a SSD so it runs ok.

      For home i want something more powerful and i have an i7.4790 w 16gb > 5 years old. I plan , if I can ever get a reasonably priced video card to upgrade to an AMD Ryzen 7 5800X.

      Thing is I have no idea when video cards will actually be available, and at a reasonable price.

      I was never an avid gamer requiring a TOP end card, last time i spent <£200 of my video card. Now looks like I am going to have to spend double. again assuming I can actually get a card.

      1. hoola Silver badge

        I have an HP Microserver Gen8 that came with the basic Celeron 1610 bought shortly after they were released (I think late 2013 or early 2014). That did for a year as a NAS then I replaced the CPU with a Xeon 1265L and upped the RAM to 16GB.

        Since then it runs as a file store and a virtualised lab environment with up to 6 or 7 modest VMs running. Memory is the issue rather than CPU but other than that, with some SSDs on a P420 it is hard to beat. I would struggle to make the case to replace it with a Gen10 as they are so expensive.

        Fingers crossed that it does not die irreparably.

    9. illiad

      kaby lake, ivy lake, its a bit like arguing that 'stick shift' is better than 'automatic' !!!

    10. Stork Silver badge

      My son had online school on a 2006 intel iMac running Linux Mint last spring. Zoom was just fine.

      Unfortunately power supply died since

  3. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    I kind of agree...

    First off, a laptop is pretty much required if you have to take it to some fast food place & use their WiFi to get online, but if you have home internet service then a desktop is a much better solution. The performance difference between (say) a 10th generation I7U (ultra low voltage / mobile) system & a 10th generation I7 (desktop) based one is like comparing a bicycle to a motorcycle. Yes they're both wheeled transportation, but they're not even in the same time zone.

    I just bought a desktop from a site yesterday (Saturday) morning around 0900 & their ETA on delivery is *later today*. A similar spec laptop had a backorder of over two weeks. So if you have a choice of what kind of new computer to get & you're pretty much stuck at home, why bother with a laptop?

    1. katrinab Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: I kind of agree...

      Laptops have webcams. Generally very rubbishy potatocams, but webcams all the same. When I bought a decent webcam, the backorder on it was a couple of months. I'm not sure if it is any better now.

      1. captain veg Silver badge

        Re: I kind of agree...

        Recently bought an M1 Mac Mini, which is known to be picky about web cams. Had no problem at all locating several of the models known to work with it, none exactly cheap, simply by walking in to the tech section of a local department store.

        -A.

      2. juice Silver badge

        Re: I kind of agree...

        There's plenty of good webcams out there; the problem is finding them amid the morass of cheap and nasty ones.

        It's especially a pain on Amazon, since when I last looked, a lot of "5-star" webcams had reviews which were clearly for another product. Which I'm guessing means that there's some loophole in Amazon's processes which lets you build up a review score on something, and then completely rewrite the listing.

        Personally, I had a dig around on Amazon and found a webcam for about £20, and which seemed to have legitimate reviews. And from a video-capture perspective, it was great - it was measurably better than the webcam built into my work Thinkpad.

        But from an audio perspective, it was atrocious; heavily distorted and low volume levels.

        So I wrote a little review, sent it back and ordered a different one. And this one's been pretty much perfect.

        In fact, if anyone is trying to find a webcam, then...

        This is the one I wouldn't recommend:

        https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08GM7M11Y

        And this is the one I'm happy with.

        https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B088LW8MZP/

        The latter is currently £29, but Amazon looks to be doing some wierd promotion where you get 40% off if you buy one or more. Which'd bring it down to around £18...

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: why bother with a laptop?

      Well, some (eh, a lot of) people don't have the luxury of a home office. I know some people who work in their bedroom, or kitchen.

      Okay, the bedroom might do with a desktop, but you're not setting up a desktop with Ethernet in a kitchen.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: why bother with a laptop?

        Ethernet in the kitchen? Talk about overkill ...Everybody knows that a Kitchen Computer can't handle more than a Switched 56 leased line ...

        1. JohnnyFahtsmellah

          Re: why bother with a laptop?

          I have my full sized IBM tower in the kitchen. Connected to Ethernet (100 MBS). It lives in the island that separates the kitchen and the dining room. The monitor is on an Ergotron wall mounted arm that holds the monitor and the Velcro attached USB hub that the keyboard and mouse connect to. All the cables run through the arm into the wall. I also have my Samsung monitor/TV connected to the cable TV box. I can remove the mouse and keyboard and move the monitor flat against the wall if I need to use the full space of the island (which is eight feet long). I sit on the dining room side. The printer is also in the base cabinet of the island. When I print something, I just reach down to retrieve it. Epson Eco-tank printers rock !!

  4. Scott Broukell

    Over recent years I have purchased refurbished kit when needed. Yes, I know, it's not the very latest shiny shiny, but I honestly can't recall having any issues, at least none so serious that I couldn't fix them myself and the specifications have been just fine for my needs. With such strong demand expected and with shortages of chippery etc., I for one would hope that recycled / refurbished kit could play an important part in the overall supply. Just a thought.

    1. David Hicklin

      refurbished kit ?

      Try getting one at the moment, they have all been snapped up and are getting silly prices on ebay

      1. Peter2 Silver badge

        Your looking in the wrong place mate. Look at the distributors who collect and refurb these boxes.

        Even the low level refurbers are holding thousands of laptops. I know because i'm getting the emails with offers, then then again i've bought refurbs before so i'm on their mailings lists.

  5. DJV Silver badge

    "According to those blessed with the third eye at Gartner"

    Going by the shit-poor accuracy of their usual predictions, is that the one they use in lieu of a butt plug?

    1. TimMaher Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: "butt plug”

      Well, it would have been.

      Except that they couldn’t find their butt, using both hands.

  6. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Sure at the moment while there is lot of home working and online schooling there is a high demand for PCs. But this won't last once the pandemic gets under control and kids return to school and people return to offices, there is probably going to be a lot of kit bought in the last 12 months going surplus. I hope these companies can see that demand for PCs is probably going to fall again in the next 18 months.

    I also don't buy into the refresh of 4 year old PCs is going to make much of an impact on sales. Certainly if they are 4 year old desktops that have been sat in empty offices, then some of them have hardly been switched on in the last 12 months, so really only have had 3 years of usage.

    1. Trigun

      Agreed. I've been saying this to my colleagues who don't seem to be acknowledging that there is a finite market. Sure, take advantage of it, but be mindful that it will end and then there will be over availability for some years afterwards.

  7. Tron

    Never buy brand new shiny.

    Refurbished kit is fine, cheap and plentiful. For basic work it can be more than a decade old and still work fine. Just pop in enough memory and back-up regularly. Have a replacement ready, use external storage and be ready to switch to the next machine when it starts making grumpy noises.

    1. AMBxx Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Never buy brand new shiny.

      Not for business use in the UK. The new 'super deduction' against corporation tax only applies to new equipment. My accountant tells me that to qualify I need to buy a complete computer, not components. That changes my normal calculations significantly.

      Current plan is top of range but in a cheapo case, cheapo PSU and small HDD. Then use the internals to upgrade my 'proper' PC.

      Looks like my old bits will fetch a good price on ebay!

  8. Johnny Canuck

    Can't buy a video card

    I just built a new Ryzen system and I'm stuck using my old GTX 1050 because there are no new video cards available at a decent price.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "According to those blessed with the third eye at Gartner”

    Brown eye?

  10. Adelio Silver badge

    I respect people that prefer laptops.

    Me i hate them and always have. Rubbish keyboard, I hate the mousepad and the screen too small (I use dual screens at home and work)

    I have never needed anything portable. Why would i want to lug a laptop around with me?

    1. Martin-R

      Mostly I'd agree with you - in the last year my laptop's lid has really only opened for access to the power switch. But in normal times I'd have to visit clients one or twice a week so then I do need a laptop. Running a laptop and a desktop and keep everything in sync (even with all the cloud tools) is more grief than I can face, aside from the expense of two machines :-(

      Also open to suggestions on a small screen laptop that will drive two external monitors - I don't need a QHD touch screen when the lid is shut, but all the smaller ones I've found seem to only support one external monitor

      1. Steve K Silver badge

        Display Port

        With Display Port, even if there is only one port on the laptop, you can still chain monitors (assuming that the monitors have a Display port output too)

        1. keith_w

          Re: Display Port

          You also need to be sure the monitors are set to support DP 1.2, not just 1.0

      2. Boothy Silver badge

        Most, or at least many, modern laptops now have at least one USB-C connector, which can typically be used as an extra Display output in addition to whatever the laptop supports directly.

        As an example my company Lenovo T14 has a standard HDMI output, then two USB-C ports, both of which can be used for power to the laptop, and for external monitors.

        Also depending on monitor, if it natively supports USB-C (such as the ThinkVision P24h) you can daisy chain the monitors together, and even power the laptop from the same single USB-C lead.

    2. Julian 8

      Have a dock. At home I have a Lenovo docking station attached to two monitors, so I can drive both and the internal screen. Likewise the clients laptop are invariable not lenovo or newer models and so I have them connecting to a higher end Lenovo USB-C dock that provides power and dual screen.

      The current clients laptop has to me, a naff keyboard and trackpad, whereas I like the lenovo keyboard and I am a trackpoint fan.

      If I do have to make my way into a coffee shop or a client site, I work on the basis there is no decent keyboard or second screen so I have a logitech setup on a universal usb adaptor and a USB screen that works on all devices I have tried - also great if I am not able to get into the home office for whatever reason and need to decamp to the kitchen

      1. Stork Silver badge

        Trackpoint? I thought it was called the g-spot.

  11. trevorde Silver badge

    Meanwhile at Apple...

    ... [tumbleweeds]

    1. TimMaher Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: [tumbleweeds]

      Is that a new Swift array type?

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: Meanwhile at Apple...

      But they have a purple phone now! Did you hear me? IT'S PURPLE! Talk about innovative!

      (From a real conversation I overheard on 1st Street East, outside the Maya Restaurant in Sonoma. This guy was actually drooling over his just ordered telephone because it was a cutting edge shade of purple. I guess haberdashery is more important to others than it is to me ... )

  12. dave 93

    Other computer manufacturers are available...

    Apple sales of Macs were up 111% in the same period - 6.7 million units, or 8% of the market...

    https://www.macrumors.com/2021/04/12/mac-shipments-q1-2021-idc/#

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