Hardware [M]adness in 2004: a Recap

Others/Editorials by SidneyWong @ 2004-12-05

The year is ending in a few short days. In looking back a few months ago, we, the enthusiasts certainly could say ?what a year!?

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Just A Thought

2004 - What a year!:

Madshrimps (c)

The excitement of A64 was brought forward from last year and continues to make noise; a lot of noise. In recent weeks S939 Winchester shines even more with AMD stock quickly picked up steam in last two months. Followed by new motherboards with higher HTT and tighter timing memory modules to supplement the new chip performance, it was hell of a few months for hardware review sites.

| A64 90mn | A64 FX @ 3Ghz | Asus A8V | MSI K8N Neo2 | DDR on A64 | DDR on P4 | OCZ DDR Booster |

Madshrimps (c)

The year has not been kind to Intel. The long awaited Prescott only proved to be the so called “Hot Potato” with “not so hot performance”. Despite some the die-hard fans support, it loses the once “shining star” status to AMD. Of course, Intel does not make processors alone, it creates the industry in turning out DDR2, PCI-e and BTX related products. When the processor failed to shine, so did the impact on these products.

| Prescott OC | Corsair DDR2 | Crucial DDR2 | Kingston DDR2 |

Doom3 and Half Life 2 surely have stirred up some attention. Mastering the new games becomes the main focus for many.

Madshrimps (c)Madshrimps (c)

Both ATI and Nvidia continue to compliment each other with hot products equally accepted and welcomed by their fans. The competition proved to be win/win for both Companies in terms of stock value. ATI will march into venturing chipsets in pursuit of what Nvidia started a year ago.

Madshrimps (c)Madshrimps (c)Madshrimps (c)

The unprecedented growth rate in heatsink size surely was amazing. It seems like they grow in size on a daily basis from all over. Of course, the noiseless thingies; huge passive cooler, power supply, water cooling may be taking roots as if we all be joining “ZEN” style of living with IPOD standing by.

| P4 HSFs | Athlon XP HSFs | Passive PSU | Swiftech | AlphaCool | Xice | Danger Den | asetek | Cool Cases |

Madshrimps (c)Madshrimps (c)Madshrimps (c)

Every other month, a new design water block is surfaced keeping some enthusiasts looking over their shoulders constantly.

And, how can we forget Bill Gates with SP2 episode, and the $32.6 Billions give away. I’m sure there is hell a lot more I have missed.

Beneath The Surface

The Hardware business in the last two years has not been good to say the least. Personally, I know a dozen retailers; sales are running about half of what it used to be "Say four years ago"; the cut-throat pricing further reduces gross margin. Ask your sponsors how good business/profit is; what do you hear?

This is where I don't get. They are not making money, yet keeping new products coming out weekly ......

One of the reasons causing this came from E-commerce (Website sales) in recent two years which is running at below 10% Gross profit..... That’s why you see pricing change constantly. This applies to both U.S. and EU market. The exception is in China and India where growth rate for next year is a +30%.

I do believe some of the hardware review sites are unable to see this trend but cater to the very low percentage of hardcore. In order to improve ROI, manufacturers must be able to make good use of invested tooling. In general, the ordinary consumers are running six months to a year behind technology, which makes the pricing more inline to what they could afford to spend.

It is kind of "funny" to have read some enthusiasts' beliefs, such as:
1) Water cooling will become mainstream.
2) X800; 6800GT could be found in most household.
3) High power PC is designed around Doom3, HL2....

What do ordinary people look for at local computer shows?
1) Replacement parts or certain low end upgrades - HDD, Monitors, and Memory.
2) Build a low-mid cost PC to replace PII/III or K-2, from S423 P4 or Athlon t-bird to Celeron D and AXP.
3) Buy a case so that they don't have to pay for expensive freight.
4) FX5600 and ATI 9600 are good video cards.
5) Direction to hook up two computers at home using DSL.

These are real people spending money representing 90% of sales revenues for merchants.

This is the very reason I mentioned before, writing how to article in choosing the best bang for the buck will service the general public well. Does a P4 550 rig improve my office productivity comparing to my old P4 2.0? Or, does an A64 S939 help my wife’s home business comparing to the AXP2400+ we purchased two years ago?

Some of us may say “so what, who cares”, “they are the one, two, three cuts kind of guys below me”. Well, I hear you. It depends on your stand and most importantly your value system.

Looking into 2005:

Carried forward into 2005 will be plenty; perhaps, PCI-e and DDR2 will find their place in A64? SLI will be the hot topic? How about Dual core processors from both AMD and Intel? New approach from Intel may “surprise” us? Who knows how big heatsinks will be a few months from now? Would power supply exceed 1,000 watts before the end of 2005? How will the economy turn out? Will China and India become the “hot spots” for enthusiasts and gamers? What kind of new games do we expect?

Those question marks and more will be answered in due time.


Personally, I like to see a healthier industry with which we spend so much time on. This means increase in Corporate Purchase; better funding in education in replacing the aging PC’s in school; more emphasis on 3-4 tiers market in touch with regular consumers in their PC needs; be more street smart so that more articles are written for general public.

How about new products that will aid some of the not so fortunate?
  • A mouse or a pointing device that will help people; such as arthritis sufferers unable to navigate using what we have.
  • A keyboard that allows a senior to operate.

    Well, you know what I am referring to.

    Surely, we all can have some kick once in awhile in testing the latest Vapor Chill or exploring the highest possible speed in overclocking; testing the very limit possible.

    Driving a Viper, or Lamborghini, or Porsche 986 daily, you may have missed some of the finest restaurants in potholes filled street of Chicago and other major cities.

    Thanks & Wishes:

    I thank all the hardware manufactures in keeping this industry alive; our sponsors at [M]; the dedicated people and fellow writers in our field; the wonderful readers and my peers. Of course to my editor, I thank you.

    Madshrimps (c)
    Madshrimps (c)
    Madshrimps (c)
    Madshrimps (c)

    I wish you all very happy holidays and safe trips to where ever you need to travel during this holiday season. Happy New Year!

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