Friday , 31 October 2014
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Feature: Are desktop PC’s becoming obsolete?

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Desktop PC’s have been a foundation of everyday life for most people for over a decade now. If you were to do a case study of computers and their hardware history, one fact remains a constant. Hardware just keeps increasing work capacity, while also decreasing in physical size. With the ever growing explosion of laptop sales and the ever shrinking stature of desktop components, how long is it until the two sources of computing become one. When will the desktop PC become a legacy item?

With laptops capable of running faster and storing more than most desktops, the question popped in our minds of the future of the PC tower. What would have to change and how would our lives be different as we know them if there were to be a notebook revolution? I think we are already in a notebook revolution. WiFi and other wireless solutions are going to undergo heavy growth within the next 2-3 years.

The growth of wireless technology can only lead to one thing. A super gadget! Or at least we hope so. A contraption that houses not only a fully functional computer, but also a GPS system, with full integration to cars and other vehicles. Also with Internet telephony options and integrated social capabilities to interact with the people around you. This is just a pipe dream, but the creation of such an all-encompassing gadget is inevitable. With the shrinking desktop hardware constantly decreasing to palm sized technology, the death of the desktop is upon us. And there is nothing anyone can do to stop it. — Andrew Dobrow

16 comments

  1. Agreed. The desktop tower is finished. It wont belong until Best Buy stops stocking them. I wonder if Apple will also only sell notebooks.

  2. No no no it is not obsolete. No console or laptop on the planet has the processing/ 3d graphics rendering capabilities of a PC. The technology isnt there yet. my 2 radeon 4770 HD’s running in crossfire mode, to quote my neighbor “holy crap thats like 5x better than a playstation 3! it looks like real life!.” This was the comment he made when he saw how Team Fortress 2 looks on my PC.

  3. The *only* time the PC will ever become obsolete is when the technology required to render graphics far better than gaming consoles shrink enough to fit in a notebook, and when notebook RAMs could also match a PC with multiple cores. That, plus extensions in usage-based battery life.

    Laptops have:
    – mobility
    – built-in Wifi connectivity + connection port for LAN cables
    – webcams + microphone
    – speakers
    – bluetooth

    Sooner or later we’ll be seeing companies packaging laptops with a free USB mouse and a portable HD on the customer’s preference, for a slightly higher cost but cheaper than what it’ll take to buy both separately. It’s bound to happen.

    Long-term potential upgrades to the laptops would be: [1] efficient charge-ability via solar power, [2] waterproofing the chassis, [3] construction from recycled computer material, and/or [4] technology to surpass the PC in graphics and computing speed.

    Though I think the only thing people will care about would be #4. It’s the most practical and is a clear trend right now since laptops are becoming more efficient as time passes thanks to the big corporations’ immense R&D expenses.

  4. For Dan’s purposes, sure. For anybody else who doesn’t game or is more than satisfied with a console system, in their minds, desktops aren’t becoming obsolete – they simply already are.

    Case in point – me. Currently boxing up my desktop and the rat’s nest of wires that go along with it.
    Why? Bought a netbook and simply haven’t had a need to use the dsektop for several months now.

    With Wi-Fi, portability and the ability to store/transfer data on ever-increasing-in-size SD cards( 2 TB within five years), it’s a no-brainer. for me. I’m just as sick of the discs everywhere as I am of the desktop; good riddance to both!

  5. I should also mention SD cards have made CDs obsolete. Have a stereo now that doesn’t even have a CD player. It just uses USB/SD cards. Take one, single, solitary 16GB card and stick several thousand songs on it, and that’s the only thing to pack around in your vehicle. SIMPLY FANTASTIC!

    Start up for the music is instantaneous too. No waiting for the CD to boot up. Pop card in and it plays – Bam!

  6. Dan,

    I read your blog and actually thought this Team Fortress 2 on PC was worth checking into. If your neighbor thinks this looks like real life then your neighbor is an idiot, and so are you for posting such a dumb statement.

  7. The Desktop PCs are not becoming obsolete.
    There is some reasons to buy a lap or netbook like: mobility, built-in wifi connection, web cam, speakers, etc, that sounds great if you are only a tweet, facebook addict and want stay connected but if you are a Gamer or just need a fastest PC then an iPad is pure garbage.

    Now there is a lot of reasons i personally prefer a Desktop PC, for example:
    Easy to find replacement parts, you can upgrade your pc if it is running low or just have a better PC.
    The Processors, memories, graphic cards and almost every componnets are fastest, longer life time and are cheaper than laptop or netbooks.
    There is nothing in the world NOTHING!, that have the graphics, performance and storage of a High End PC

    Concluding, Portable Computers for tweets, Desktops for high performance. It always been in that way and always will be.

  8. Lol at dan. doubt he was being serious. But there is no way a laptop will ever be able to surpass the desktop. even if size of gpu’s can be reduced, which isnt too hard to overcome, heat dissipation is the main problem, the harder the cpu is working, th hotter its gonna get. Laptops now have problems with dissipating heat from celeron or sempron. Even if technology can be made smaller, the laws of thermodynamics cannot be changed.

    Now that i think about it though if extreme cold liquid cooling systems(like liquid nitrogen pretty much) could be implemented heat wouldnt be too mcuh of a problem…

    But the only reason an article like this is even out is because laptop sells are higher than desktop sells because of teens and early adolescents. Can’t really bring your desktop to college and everyone that goes to starbucks wants to look like the homos that live there because they cant afford their own internet.

    Also, laptops cant be upgraded easily, and some things can’t be upgraded at all. so anyone who knows enough about computers to build their own would not choose a laptop over a desktop for gaming especially.

  9. Yes for the mainstream consumer the desktop pc is pretty much dead.

    And still no point of arguing about pc v console gaming any more since our consoles are playing games in HD now.may have been true that pc games were better graphics 5+ years ago, but now you will probably have to buy a computer that costs upwards 800 for a computer that can match the graphic capabilities of the ps3.

    For those of you who doubt the ps3’s graphics i have two words for you, Killzone 2.

  10. Idontgiveoutpersonalinfoontheweblol

    I think desktops in the traditional sense will become obsolete, however in a specialized sense they won’t ever become obsolescent simply for the customization they have. In all intents and purposes a console is simply a dumbed down specialty desktop. However it is important to note that because of desktops ect we have these breakthrough’s with “3D HD” ect ect, companies like nvidia develop these technologies for Desktops first, and then other systems. certainly we live in a society obsessed with mobility but you can’t hold the power of a desktop in the palm of your hand, like a previous comment stated head dispersion is a major obstacle. Desktops will certainly decrease in sales but will probably never be replaced in the business community simply for security reasons, and easy repair. Also, I own a Galaxy S which is a mid range smartphone. It’s gotten hot enough to be uncomfortably warm even through a rubber case. However I am optimistic in the future that this technical problem can be solved by the newer lower voltage processor technology that intel and AMD are developing for laptops that being said the fact that they are lower voltage is sacrificing something else so in a very real sense desktops will always have a niche.

  11. Anyone who thinks that Desktop computers are becoming obsolete in comparison to Portable devices on a hardware level is nothing but an idiot. This group of idiots includes the author of this article, and I’ll quote them on the reason why.
    “With laptops capable of running faster and storing more than most desktops,”

    How in the world can a Laptop possibly run faster and store more data than a Desktop, when a desktop is physically larger and has more space for hardware and cooling systems? Sure, a brand new laptop will perform better than your decade old Desktop, but a brand new Desktop will perform better than any laptop in an equal price range. You’re paying for the MOBILITY. Even if you were to pay millions of dollars upgrading a laptop, the money you spend could get you better results with a desktop.

    I dare someone to make a laptop that has performance, viewing resolution, and storage equal to a desktop PC with three HD5970’s running in crossfire, 10 full size internal Hard Drives, a six core i7 990X Extreme CPU, 24GB’s of RAM and liquid cooling.
    It’s just not going to happen anytime soon, and by the time it does the Desktop PC will once again have more capabilities due to the simple fact it has more room for it.

    Laptop Keyboards, Mice, Speakers and screens usually also suck when compared to high end Desktop peripherals and screens, so even in that aspect the PC wins.

    It’s nice to be able to bring your laptop to your friends house, or anywhere you want at any given time, but nothing beats a desktop with a large and a desk when you’re really looking to get something done or entertain yourself. For this reason I will always have a high end Desktop that’s superior to my Laptop.

  12. The arguments over desktop power/performance vs other devices is irrelevant. In the future all your applications, web browser, data , pics, music, games and movies will all be licensed from, stored on and accessed through someone elses servers. And youll pay subscription fees to use and access all of it to one or many companies.

    Desktops will become obsolete. All youll need is an “access terminal” device that lets you view and interact with “your” data on their servers. What we think of as a television, a desktop and a game console will probably all merge in some way and become a singular device for home or work computing/research/entertainment etc. Mobile devices will simply become portable “access terminals”.

    Not saying this will happen by 2015, but it seems to me that this is where alot of the big players are trying to take things.

  13. The fallout of the desktop computer is painful for a lot of people who like to tinker around and build their own computers. Laptops are far too small, and far too delicate to survive being ripped apart and put back together as many times as my old Dell desktop has been. It’s comparable to the automobile industry, take a classic 80’s Mustang, pop the hood, there’s plenty of room to access all the parts without having to meticulously take out parts until you can get to the one you’re looking for. Now take a new 2011 Camaro, look under the hood, you can see the top of the engine, some hoses, and places to put fluids. Wanna change the belt, it’s a serpentine belt, have fun with that. All I’m saying, is that though this may not impact whether or not we’re soon to see the end of the desktop computer, I will just continue to buy them for as long as their manufactured.

  14. I hate to admit it but its slowly becoming a fact, with the huge sales of tablets and smartphones desktops aren’t needed.

  15. Tablets are a fad that wont last. Smart phones will be around a long time because they are actually useful. Tablets dont offer anything in the way of power, battery life, or portability over a smartphone and are actually LESS convenient then a typical late model laptop. They are just a bulky version of a smartphone. And they wont get any more powerful than a mid-high end smartphone and keep a low price point, which is the only thing that makes them viable to begin with. They may morph into something more useful eventually, and touch screen is here to stay, but current tablets are just low prices and manufactured demand. Noone actually needs one and they arent actually useful enough to replace laptops, let alone desktops.

    Whats more is that those devices dont really compete directly with the overall desktop PC market. There may be some overlap where a person simply needs a computing device and doesnt care what they end up with, but those people were probably buying more laptops than desktops anyway. Desktops will hold less of the general consumer market, but digital artists, programmers, hackers, gamers, enthusiasts, DIYers, and any professional or hobbyist who works in digital media or otherwise needs a computer will still need a desktop. They will still be the most powerful and useful computing tool available.

    Eventually all devices will be phased out and replaced by server side computing and centralized content/databases making the devices, hardware, software and everything else obsolete and well have to pay to access our own lives.

  16. Billy Pennington

    There is no way a tablet, laptop/netbook, or smartphone will ever be a server, PERIOD! Also there is no way that the government or private industry is ever going to replace the PC with any of the above to do business. The PC may die down in personal ownership but never forget that by todays standards yesterday’s super computer is like an abacus. PC technology will continue to evolve towards the ‘High End’ side while other platforms ‘dummy down’ for profit from the masses.

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