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Traditional PC Sales Continue To Slide (zdnet.com) 223

Sales of traditional PCs continue to decline, although the overall PC market is likely to grow slightly next year. From a report: Traditional PC shipments are forecast to drop by nearly eight percent this year, and another 4.4 percent in 2018, predicts analyst firm Gartner. Which means that, by 2019, 16 million fewer traditional PCs and notebooks will be sold than were shipped this year. However, much of this will be offset by the rise in spending on high-end notebooks like Microsoft's Surface and Apple's MacBook, so that the overall PC market will by 2019 be at pretty much the same level it was last year. Tablets -- defined by Gartner as basic and utility ultramobile devices -- will also decline over the period to 2019.
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Traditional PC Sales Continue To Slide

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  • Builders vs Buyers (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 17, 2017 @04:21PM (#55385475)

    Based on the traffic at places like Microcenter I'd offer this: more people have the basic skills now to build a computer on their own rather then buy one. I haven't met a single person in over 10 years that bought a computer, everyone built their own. Corporations are buying laptops for telecommuters and staff versus bulky PCs that are easier to transport, deploy, and use less power for the workloads they deal with.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 17, 2017 @04:28PM (#55385503)
      I used to build my own computers to try to wring every last ounce of performance out of well selected components; nowadays the technology is so fast it just isn't worth it. I'll buy mass market commodity machines for dirt cheap the run circles around even the most ambitious builds I used to do.

      It's a dying art.
      • by ZorinLynx ( 31751 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2017 @04:40PM (#55385613) Homepage

        Yeah, it's sad but true.

        Even with gaming systems, unless you're the sort who wants a flashy LED-lit clear-side case that looks like a spaceship, you can build a top-performing system just by buying a mass market machine and selecting the video card you want to put into it.

        The enthusiast market is still there, but it's mostly for people who want their computer to look like it belongs on the set of Star Trek. I (sadly?) outgrew that once I was out of my 20s.

        • by sinij ( 911942 )
          I want my PC to be a beige box with no preloaded crapware. This is why I still build my own systems, however last one was more than 4 years ago and it is still going strong with more RAM and new video card.
          • I've never been into the flashy stuff either. I build my own mainly because I tend to like to pick and choose my components without paying for components that I don't want, like conventional SSD and/or HDD for example when I have a Samsung 960 Pro NVMe disk that I much prefer. I also like cases with ample room to run big, slow turning fans, and have the drive bays totally gutted for even more slow turning fans, thus the PC is very quiet and well cooled even while running heavy loads.

            That, and I still run an

        • by sycodon ( 149926 )

          Just picked up an iCore 5, 12 gigs, 2 terabtes HD...$197

          Great for porn, web, and most games older than about 4 years ago. It's runs SQL Server 2012, VS 2012, and some other IDEs environments just fine.

          Why would I pay $1k for anything else?

          • by sycodon ( 149926 )

            Forgot to mention...Discount Electronics.

            The had iCore 7s for $300.

          • The only reason to pay $$$ is for the monitor or the looks. Or both.

            I recently bought a cheap HP Stream laptop for about $200. 4GB RAM, 64 GB SSD. Not fast, but very lightweight, and it's good enough for light work when you're traveling. And it has Windows, which for all its faults is still a real OS (unlike what you get on Chromebooks, e.g.).

            That said, where'd you get it? I use an iMac most of the time at home (great monitor, great looks, fast enough for everything I do), but my old PC could use an upda
          • Just picked up an iCore 5, 12 gigs, 2 terabtes HD...$197

            Great for porn, web, and most games older than about 4 years ago. It's runs SQL Server 2012, VS 2012, and some other IDEs environments just fine.

            Why would I pay $1k for anything else?

            For one SSD is monumentous improvement. So much so there is no way you will go back after you experience it. Second since you mentioned SQL Server and Web development it is nice to partition that off in a VM. VirtualBox and Linux KMS is free and for a little more you can upgrade your copy of Windows 10 Home to Windows 10 Pro which comes with Hyper-V for free which is great for running Windows based Vms and of course VMWare Workstation.

            Did your OEM turn off virtualization? What if you need more ram? Are they

        • I am 41 and got more into it. It's fun and I like the flexibility that I can add another SSD for a raid as an example which I do use for virtual machines.

          You can't just upgrade (to the grandparent here) the graphics card either. PCs today have shitty 190 watt power supplies that will blow or lack slots on the board even.

          Yes you pay more. But my ram is not soldiered in. My chipset let's me overclock, I can fit a water cooler as lastest i9s and i7ks burn HOT like 90C to piss on AMD and vice versa. If my fans

        • by oic0 ( 1864384 )
          They don't put power supplies capable of running decent video cards in most mass market PCs. They also rarely use full width cases anymore.
        • Not exactly (Score:3, Insightful)

          by rsilvergun ( 571051 )
          Dell & HP often skip the full sized PCI-E slot for graphics entirely. When they do include it they've been known to use boards that can't deliver enough power on the slot. Finally their power supplies often lack the extra plug needed for most video cards. Asus & Acer are a little better, but it's not a sure bet.

          The major manufacturers all sell 'gaming' pcs and they'll be damned if you're going to buy an i5 equipped PC on sale for $400, stuff a $200 graphics card in it and get 95% of the performan
        • Building it myself is cheaper and more customizable.

          I may want to use a rackmount case that I already have (or buy a new one), use the power supply, hard drive, sound card etc that I already have. This way I only pay for the components I need right now. When building a new main PC (that I also use for games), I usually keep the old video card for a while, until I buy a new one when it is clear that the old one is too slow. That way I do not have to spend as much money at once.

      • by oic0 ( 1864384 )
        Buying is more cost effective if you want a workstations or web browsing PC. If you want something fast you have to build yourself or you get gouged. Especially if you want a decent video card. They won't just sell you fast guts in whatever you want. They try to make it like buying a car. You have to go on up to the expensive model before you can get a real V8, etc..
        • This was my assumption. At least it certainly seemed that way.

          I built one last fall, focusing on expandability, specifically ram. I have 32 gb of ram and I can expand to 128. The only reason I didn't go for it immediately is because I wanted dual 970s and an Oculus Rift (I know...). Soon, I'll need to buy 1080s, (or maybe just one this time). I'll expand the ram to 64gb and call it a day. It has an Intel thing with 12 threads (hyperthreaded), more than enough for what I'll need during the useful life of th

      • I look for refurb models with last year's high-end hardware, it's so much cheaper and the performance differences are miniscule.

    • The number of people who build their own computers is a tiny, tiny fraction of the market. Your sample data is skewed by the types of people you know.

      It also used to be cheaper to build. It's really not anymore. I still do because I've been building my own, barring laptops of course, for over 30 years and it's fun.

      Very few people in the market build their own though. You are mistaken.

      • Actually it's growing and quite popular as consumer GPUs really started killing the consoles over the past 7 years.

        Asus and gigabyte sell tens of millions of GPUs and gaming motherboards each year.

        Who isn't buying them is Grandma and housewives to text on Facebook.

        • A huge portion of performance parts are sold to smaller shops such as CyberPower PC, etc. They build them and people buy them. I'd welcome any statistics you have that show that end users are increasingly building their own.

    • The only off-the-shelf machines I buy are laptops. I've been doing my own builds since the late '90s. I don't think I'm necessarily getting something better than an off-the-shelf machine, I just enjoy doing the build. I probably end up spending more money than I would have otherwise. That's all right too. If at some point the build-your-own market no longer exists, will I still be able to buy an off the-shelf machine? If not, will I be able to buy a laptop that I can plug a mouse and a full sized keyb
    • lol, what? Are you joking? If anything I'd say the number of people who can build has gone *down* because even moderate computers are powerful these days.
    • Not quite. Prebuilt systems are significantly cheaper. My parents computer died last week.

      They bought a rediculous over specced PC all in one with a 27 inch 2K 1440P screen, i7, SSD, 16 gigs of RAM and even a gaming card Nvidia GTX 950ti for $999. All my Dad needed was the big screen for his 70 year old eyes LOL

      That would be well over $1500 if you home brewed it.

  • longer lifetime (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 17, 2017 @04:21PM (#55385477)

    I think people are keeping their machines for longer and longer as time goes on.

    • Re:longer lifetime (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Headw1nd ( 829599 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2017 @04:42PM (#55385625)
      This is most likely the case. Twenty years ago, a six year old computer was basically worthless. Now unless it's for high-end gaming, a six year old home computer is fine.
      • Re:longer lifetime (Score:5, Interesting)

        by jwhyche ( 6192 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2017 @05:15PM (#55385859) Homepage

        It isn't "most like" the case. It is the case. Fifteen years ago I was changing out processors or memory every 6 months. Now I design my personal workstations with a 5 year lifespan. I have a friend that did the same thing. Now he has a 5th generation i7 that is almost 3 years old. He said he has no intention of upgrading anything till something fails or some radical advancement in technology comes out.

        I'm in the same boat. I have a i7-6700K which is a 6th generation processor. Intel just announced they are about to release the 8th generation i7. From looking at what is being release I see no real performance gain over my 6th generation.

        My linux server is a centos 6 running on a AMD 8350. As a server it has different requirements than my workstation. Its my file/plex server. It's been doing that role since 2013. It is entering its 5th year in that role and I see no reason to update it for the next 3 or 4 years.

        As for your mundane computer users, the PC used to be a oddity. Now they treat a PC more like an appliance than a oddity. Its more like a refrigerator than a computer. You don't upgrade your refrigerator every year or so. This is even if they have a PC. Most now have laptops and treat them the same way.

        • Same here I used to buy a new PC every 2 or 3 years, when the next generation of much quicker processor and graphic card came.... Now It usually take 5+ years and most of the time I just switch off Anti Aliasing and I am fine (and since I am short sighted I don't care a yota about AA).
        • GHz for GHz, Kaby Lake (Jan 2017 desktop release) is only about 20% faster [hardocp.com] than Sandy Bridge (Jan 2011 desktop release). 20% improvement in 6 years. I'm still telling people with Sandy Bridge systems not to bother upgrading. Unless you want more cores (i3 to i5 or i7), some of the newer features (like USB-C support), or want lower power consumption, there's no reason to stop using a Sandy Bridge system.

          Clock speed has also been relatively static. 3.6-3.9 GHz in 2011 [wikipedia.org] to 4.4-4.5 GHz in 2017 [wikipedia.org]. A 19% inc
          • by jwhyche ( 6192 )

            GHz for GHz, Kaby Lake (Jan 2017 desktop release) is only about 20% faster than Sandy Bridge (Jan 2011 desktop release). 20% improvement in 6 years. I'm still telling people with Sandy Bridge systems not to bother upgrading. Unless you want more cores (i3 to i5 or i7), some of the newer features (like USB-C support), or want lower power consumption, there's no reason to stop using a Sandy Bridge system

            This is the reason I upgraded from my old AMD 8150. It wasn't because of processor performance. I upgraded because the features I anted, USB-C and decent m.2 support, where not available on AMD at the time. Large jumps in PC performance are not because of processors but due to better I/O devices like PCI-e M.2 modules.

      • by antdude ( 79039 )

        Yep. I used to upgrade my custom built computers about every two years because I was a gamer. Not anymore. I rarely play them too and managed to find free time to resume playing old games from a decade ago from my mostly the same gaming computer and OS! :O Some things are slow like the HDDs and same video card (512 MB of VRAM). Overall, still usable for Internet stuff.

      • We typically have a 3-year rolling upgrade program, but my work laptop is now 4 years old. The newer Intel CPUs are only about 20-30% faster and until they start supporting LPDDR4, I'm stuck with a choice of 16GB of RAM (the same as my current machine) or a crappy battery life (10W+ idle power consumption for 32GB of DDR4). GPUs are quite a bit faster, but I don't use the GPU much for work.
      • 20 years ago, a 2 year old computer was basically something you toss at your poor friend so he can play some old games while you bought the bleedin' edge computer that allowed you to at least run the new stuff at decent framerates.

    • Re:longer lifetime (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ZorinLynx ( 31751 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2017 @04:43PM (#55385631) Homepage

      Systems are not becoming obsolete as quickly as they used to.

      I remember how back in 1995, a computer from 1991 was considered slow as hell and could hardly run any current software.

      Now in 2017, a computer from 2013 is still perfectly usable and fast. The rate of performance increase has slowed to an utter crawl. The biggest advancements in recent years have been reduced power consumption and increasing density in solid state storage, and the latter can be an upgrade to your old machine.

      • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

        by MightyYar ( 622222 )

        increasing density in solid state storage, and the latter can be an upgrade to your old machine.

        Yup, this. I'm using a 2009 laptop with memory and SSD added. It's definitely getting long in the tooth, but performance is still acceptable (even if battery life is not). My father had his 5-year-old mid-range desktop die on him. For roughly $200 he can replace it with a brand new machine with the same specs. And there's no reason for him not to do that.

        The problem is they very much do make them like they used to.

      • Re:longer lifetime (Score:5, Insightful)

        by darkain ( 749283 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2017 @04:54PM (#55385737) Homepage

        It isn't so much that performance has not continued to increase. It is that we've hit the point of diminishing returns for 99% of applications. a single-core 1GHz processor will run Microsoft Word about the same as a 10+ core 3+GHz CPU. And with even low end budget GPUs nowadays offering hardware decoding of 4k h.264, the rest of the computational power of the CPU and GPU isn't really meaningful for the majority of consumers.

        Gamers, content producers, and scientific researchers are really the only fields left to push the boundaries of computational power.

      • My desktop is from 2010, and it still keeps up quite. To be fair, it's a 3.2GHz 6-core Phenom II with 16GB RAM, so reasonably high-end for the time, but I honestly think I could keep using it just fine for at least another 3-4 years, before noticing any shortcomings. The graphics card (GTX460) is its weakest point by far, once I upgraded to an SSD.

    • by oic0 ( 1864384 )
      You can blame that on Intel and their sandbagging. Why would I build a new PC when it would be less than 25% faster than my 5 year old one. Especially if you overclock. The new stuff is not going to blow away my 4.8ghz 3770k.
      • Re:longer lifetime (Score:5, Interesting)

        by jwhyche ( 6192 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2017 @05:28PM (#55385935) Homepage

        You can blame that on Intel and their sandbagging

        No you can't. I doubt that Intel is sandbagging anything. If they where then AMD would be running away with clockspeeds. But if you look at AMD processors you will see they are running at the same clock speeds as Intel.

        The reason processors are not going any faster is we have hit the limit of what can be done with the current technology. Over the next few years we might see a increase in a few hundred mhz here and there. But there will never be another leap of 2 or 3 ghz again. Not with what we have.

        To go any faster it will take a radical shift in the basic process of comptuer. Quantum processors maybe.

        • by Targon ( 17348 )

          There is the whole issue of lowest common denominator when it comes to computers, and what developers base their designs around. Intel really has not been improving processor performance, or system design for a long time, due to AMD not being competitive in the low end. The result is that we still see the majority of new chips being two core processors, up until the 8th generation came out, and not long enough to actually impact the market. AMD is finally competitive again, which is pushing Intel int

          • by jwhyche ( 6192 )

            I don't believe we will be seeing a shortage of uses for dual core cpu's for a very long time. Of course I think I said the same thing about single cores too, so take that with a gain of salt. I would say that most things that a PC needs to do can be done quite nicely with a dual core CPU..

            I think the real performance increases for the next 10 years will come in storage. One of the reasons I upgraded was to get a m.2 module for my workstation. There is still plenty of room for performance increases

      • FYI the new AMD CPU Ryzen are 8 core 16 threads and Intel's response coffeelake CPus are 6 core 12 threaded i7s .

        Don't know what your workload works like but I thought I would mention it as AND got competitive again.

    • The hardware may last longer before failing, but I'm not sure PCs have gotten much better in terms of processor speed and overall performance. Of course, the newest processors use less energy, but that's been the case for older processors, too. One big advance is the introduction of Solid State Drives (SSD) which make boot up almost instantaneous compared to their spinning drive cousins. The increase in RAM also increases performance by allowing memory hog applications to run fast. With PCs having these cou
    • by Targon ( 17348 )

      The reason people have kept their machines for longer is because the new machines are not all that much faster. When new machines are a significant improvement over older machines, people are more inclined to upgrade. I will note that the smartphone market has slowed for that very reason, the new phones are not significantly better until you look at the improvements over three generations, not one.

  • I wonder how much of this is related to Intel's ~7 competition-free years in the desktop processor market. I, for one, have not yet felt compelled to upgrade beyond Sandy/Ivy Bridge. Still not quite there yet, as I just don't need more than 6 cores at 4GHz+; the power consumption improvements are looking pretty enticing though.

    Does anyone out there keep statistics specific to 'enthusiast' platform (LGA2011, TR4) sales? I wouldn't be surprised at all to find that those have spiked a bit.
    • I'd say it has more to do with the fact that tablets and smartphones are generally okay for most people to do the majority of their computing tasks these days. For those that need a desktop or laptop, one from several years back is sufficient. Gamers and some professionals need the latest and greatest. For example, my parents got a new laptop only because their last desktop died and only for certain things. They use their tablets/phones for things like checking mail and reading news.
  • People never liked the x86 PC, but had to have them to use the Internet's content consumption aspects.

    But the issue I have is this: I currently have a Lineage OS Running Phone, and a DD-WRT Router that I have to re-flash to fix a terrible security vulnerability. (KRACK) and due to the design of these things, the update could possibly soft brick them. I neevr had this issue with my x86 PCs

    • Could be worse, I have a Motorola (now Lenovo) phone from 2014. It was their flagship phone when it was released. It hasn't received a security update since 2016
      It's not like I expect it to run the next version of Android, just a security patch level later than 1 August 2016

    • Never liked?

      x86 is the greatest tune,tinker & upgradefest in computing history.
      Current alternative offerings are glued to last warranty at most.

      Countless patches, fixes, whoring BIOS glitches and aftermarket parts to keep it running and extended, it's the ugly dutiful locomotive that owes respect, not your shiny new Tesla.

    • by jwhyche ( 6192 )

      People never liked the x86 PC

      No. Back in the day a few hackers and engineers didn't like the x86 PC. I wasn't a big fan of it back then ether. I liked the 68K line.

      Then and now most people didn't give a shit what processor their PC was running as long as it did the job. I'm willing to bet that most of the people out there don't know what processor their phone is running. I bet even less of them realize that their smart phone is a really just a mini computer they can carry.

      Now today most hackers and engineers embrace the x86 PC

      • People never liked the x86 PC

        No. Back in the day a few hackers and engineers didn't like the x86 PC. I wasn't a big fan of it back then ether. I liked the 68K line.
        Then and now most people didn't give a shit what processor their PC was running as long as it did the job.

        I don't think they mentioned x86 because they thought people didn't like the x86. I think they mentioned it because all those other things were also personal computers, and they wanted to differentiate. It was true, too; until about the Windows 95 era, a PC was considered by many if not most people both inside and outside of the industry to be the lame but affordable option. If you were in the industry, you were comparing it to "real" computers like ones from Sun, or even other machines from IBM; if you wer

      • I was a die-hard m68k fan... but in retrospect, that's because back in the early 90s (right before DOS4GW), writing programs in anything besides realmode assembly was damn-near impossible.

        I remember how I discovered (sometime around 1992 when I was in college) that every x86 from the 386dx onwards HAD orthogonal registers & could do flat addressing... then went in literal circles for MONTHS trying to find anything that resembled documentation or development tools.

        To this day, I have no idea whether publ

  • Traditional PC shipments are forecast to drop by nearly eight percent this year, and another 4.4 percent in 2018, predicts analyst firm Gartner.

    Forrester says they doubled in the last month and will increase hundredfold by the end of the year.

  • by alexandre ( 53 ) * on Tuesday October 17, 2017 @04:37PM (#55385585) Homepage Journal

    Buy 4x the amount of ram people buy, be good for 10 years.

  • by RobinH ( 124750 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2017 @04:49PM (#55385681) Homepage
    I opted to just install an SSD rather than upgrade our PCs at home, and definitely got a few extra years out of them. However, the SSDs are maxing out the data rate of the SATA ports, and now they're coming out the NVMe drives that are 4 times faster than SSDs but you need an M.2 port (as I understand it a direct connection into your PCI bus). For these you typically need a new motherboard. So whereas the upgrade from an HDD to an SSD was very simple and easy, taking the next step means a new motherboard, so if you were already delaying buying a new PC because you did the SSD thing, you're almost certainly going to buy a new PC next time. There's a lot more incentive now.
  • Used to we had to get new computers to run the latest software and to keep up. If your computer was five years old in 1995 you were working on a joke.

    I have an 11 year old computer in my computer as an HTPC - it supports plentiful RAM, has four cores and plenty of storage room with room for upgrade. I've got a computer that's about eight years old that I'm using for gaming - and I don't have to stick with just ancient stuff, even most modern games that aren't boundary pushing first person shooters run fine

  • In other news, sales of full sized family wagons have declined for the last 20 years.

  • apple lack of new hardware on the desktop then the imac. Both the mini and pro are very out of date at high prices.

    The imac pro is going to have down clocked cpu's due to the it being thin.

  • Have they forgotten Windows 7 is near EOL soon. I would surely hope they don't count on IT departments waiting until the last minute to migrate like they did during XP.

    I know bank of America has already started their migration early this year and is replacing their fleet of aged hardware as they go on

  • Why would you buy a new machine? You can get a $60 refurbished C2D that will meet a regular user's needs comfortably. Or you can get a $150 i5, just add a $150 video card, et voila, a solid gaming rig for the same price as a current console. Some people may want something more high-end, but that's a bit of a niche.

  • Traditional PC shipments are forecast to drop by nearly eight percent this year

    I'm getting ready to put together a monster water-cooled gaming PC build in the next month or so when I start seeing sales on components. Will that count as a "PC sale" or does that only apply to people who go to the Wal-Mart and buy whatever horseshit is sitting on the shelves?

    You know what? Maybe I'll just go to that iBuyPower place and order me up some sick Intel Ultimate Pantyripper Black Box Edition and let them do the hea

  • Considering that Ryzen has pushed the PC industry for the first time in close to ten years, and the resulting excitement for people to buy or build their first new system in over six years, I doubt that the PC market is slowing down. The pre-built PC market may be slowing, due to a lack of Ryzen based systems by the large OEMs, and that means people are building their own systems. On the low end, you don't see the new chips showing up in large numbers yet as well, though that will improve in the next f

  • First of all, the table that ZDNet has in TFA is outdated from the newest table available on Gartner's actual website:

    https://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/3560517 [gartner.com]

    The PC numbers on Gartner's website look more rosy for the PC than the ones in ZDNet's article. Also, here is an important snippet from Gartner's website that ZDNet conveniently did not include in their screenshot:

    Note: The Ultramobile (Premium) category includes devices such as Microsoft Windows 10 Intel x86 products and Apple MacBook Air.

    The Ultramobile (Premium) category is growing 11% this year. I would count x86 devices running Win10 or macOS as part of the PC marke

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