Hardware [M]adness in 2007: Looking Back

Others/Editorials by Sidney @ 2008-01-01

Changes in the past couple of years in PC hardware were scary to say the least. C2D was a good change for Intel; ATI was a bad change for AMD. Vista was a bad change for Microsoft; all the changes were good to Nvidia.

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A thought of change in 2007

A thought of change in 2007

Changes are good and bad; change is a verb and a noun that scares most of us from childhood. How and what I did before matter no longer; the first day going back to school after a long summer vacation was a scary day for me; a mix and complex feelings. Glad that I would meet my old friends; be afraid of not knowing who I would meet and what kind of teachers awaiting my first mistake the moment I stepped into the school yard.

Changes in the past couple of years in PC hardware were scary to say the least. C2D was a good change for Intel; ATI was a bad change for AMD. Vista was a bad change for Microsoft; all the changes were good to Nvidia.

| Intel E2160 | Intel E4500 | Intel on 45nm |

We saw the change of thermal output of CPU and GPU reducing along with the die size, a good change. We are seeing power supplies getting higher, and higher and higher wattage output, the change certainly does not help the soaring energy consumption. Intel Chipset change(s) in the last 18 months could be at historical rate, 975, 965, P35, P31, X38 and X48, more to come next year.

| HSF Roundup June | HSF Roundup Fall | VGA Coolers | DD Water-Cooling | TTIC Waterblocks | P35 Motherboards | Asrock Budget Board | 1KW PSU | Passive Cooled PSU |

The change in DDR2 pricing was good for consumers and bad for business. The industry is trying to change “us” the PC enthusiasts to go for more expensive DDR3. LCD display screens are changing in one direction, size; the bigger the better. The same applies to case fan which has grown in size to 140 mm; an attic fan size may be next.

| DDR2 Roundup Summer | DDR2 Roundup Fall | 18 Case Reviews |

We have seen the result of some changes that has nothing to do with good or bad. It has to do with time. Joey changed from a hardcore PC enthusiast to a side line observer. John no longer tried the extreme stuffs, he rather spends his time with his new born daughter; may be there is something to do with his wife. At the same time, Jimmy is getting really interested in what John has left behind what a change in how he spends his evening. It will take a determined girl friend to change Jimmy from now on.

| Asus P5W OC | X6800 Under LN2 | A64 with Dry Ice |

If Brain Storming is good and two-heads is better than one; the same for Quad cores are better than Dual Cores. There is no way that I would allow Jimmy’s rig runs faster than mine, hence my high frequency of PC turn over rate. This is something that Jimmy won’t change in the foreseeable future, at least not with Penryn is within his line of sight and 8800 GT is looking mighty attractive, now that we know what HD3800 and K10 could do.

| 8800 GT Tested | 10-Way 8800GTS Roundup | 8600 GT | 8600GE | 7-Way 8400GS |

There are more hardware review sites coming onboard too; while the industry seems to be getting smaller. The change from traditional PC hardware into consumer electronics hardware opens up more “opportunities”. Ask Apple, and take a good look at Asus. Who could image the change Apple made in the last three years creates so many millionaires? Looking into Asus product lines lately, the change in PC hardware might be in one word, ASUS in a few years.

| 21 Mousepads | Digicam reviews | Gateway Laptop | Monitor Color Calibration | 20” LCD Monitors Compared |

The change in Asia, especially China has been drastic in a positive manner with strong growth in PC sales. However, another change is needed soon or NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) will not mean anything. There are rules even in a Ping Pong game or we will change winning into cheating.

Madshrimps (c)

2007 is coming to an end soon; whatever changed for better is good, otherwise stay put and don’t change for worst. 2008 will bring more changes. AMD must change from whatever that is not working. Intel must not change to becoming greedy. TMS will make more news next year, thanks to AMD. Nvidia will only be bigger and stronger, thanks to China expansion. Microsoft will only turn into more profit because making Vista DVDs from cookie cutter cost only pennies; whatever amount of Vista sales will be incremental to Windows XP.

As for me, the color and density of my hair changed quite a bit in the last 12 months. I am glad my peers at [M] are healthy and remain enthusiastic in what we do best, something that I would not want to see changes. Whatever you plan on changing for betterment next year, don’t forget to drop into our forum and share with us your progress.
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Comment from jmke @ 2007/11/15
interesting editorial, you are quite right about the change of interest!
Comment from Sidney @ 2007/11/16
Just my thought; everyone is welcome to put in whatever they feel making this the "Holiday Greeting" or something similar to wrap up the year.
Comment from Sidney @ 2007/12/05
A great year for PC enthusiasts as far as "cost" of PC hardware is concerned. My favorite are the E2140/60, any P35/P31 low price board and 8600GT matched with aXeRam from Transcend. If I were a gamer; or If my gaming skill is any good, I would get the 8800GT when the price is "right".

Wish you the best of the holiday season!
Comment from thorgal @ 2007/12/09
As a reviewer, what's in a word , what struck me in 2k7 is the complete lack of performance gains together with the total lack of "progress" in the hardware industry. This is in my opinion true for all the major components of your PC : cpu, motherboard, graphics cards, memory, hard drives, psu's, cd/dvd drives, you name it.

What motherboards are concerned we do get two new chipsets, but they are hardly better than the previous generation. X38 is hardly better tha P35, which only betters P965 on front side bus performance. Clock for clock improvements are scarce, we're talking 1 or 2 % if you're lucky.

Same goes for memory : Intel is pushing DDR3, and yes, you can get a whole 3-5% improvement emptying your pockets for that, but DDR2 is really a sitting duck : nothing happened in 2007, kits that were available a year ago outperform those available today.

CPU's then : let's not talk about AMD who have nothing by this year's end, at most a cpu recall which should happen but is of course not going to. Intel does not have much more : a die shrink this year that isn't available to end users, a new stepping of the same cpu's launched in 2006, with thermal improvements, but nothing else.

Graphics cards : however hot 8800GT is at this moment, it's nothing new. And it's slower than last year's high end part. And let's again not talk about AMD. The only small light there is the availability of the 3850 gpu, which is good. 3870 is nowhere to be seen (we're talking early december here, this might improve). Whatever, 3870 is a whole 2% faster than 2900XT, which cannot even compete with 8800GT, which luckily for DAAMIT is not available as well.

All in all, a pretty disappointing holiday lineup if you ask me, from a reviewer's point of view. But there is one very big consumer advantage of course : year over year : prices on all components have halved. This is great news for the customer, and all because of the lack of progress...
Comment from Sidney @ 2007/12/09
Thanks for your "kind" words , Thorgal.
Comment from thorgal @ 2007/12/09
Originally Posted by Sidney View Post
Thanks for your "kind" words , Thorgal.
It is getting really close to the time; come on guys, we need more participants.
Well, I put it into the negative scope of course, but I end up completely agreeing with your editorial
Comment from Massman @ 2007/12/09
A bencher's point of view on 2007.

Processor ...
2007 has been a fairly good year for the overclockers and benchmarkers as Intel has been releasing good overclocking cpu's continuesly. The C2D 65nm and 45nm have determined the top scores last year and will do so in 2008 as AMD's Phenom turns out to be not that phenomenal. Yes, it may seem that the clock-per-clock performance is on par with the 45nm yorksfield, but AMD doesn't not succeed in running the chips above (or even close to) 3GHz, whereas Intel has been releasing processors at those frequencies ... stock. When talking about coldbugs, Intel is once again the winner as AMD manages to develop processors which have problems at working decent at temperatures of +10°C. The internal memory controller seems to be a problem after all ...

Intel has done it's best, releasing multiple new chipsets with constant improvement. Whereas the i975x chipset had problems running at high FSB speeds, the i965 and P35 managed to run at 600+ MHz FSB. Great, though you really need a world-class processor capable of running that kind of FSB. For those who want two videocards ... but ATI, as the only chipsets compatible with nvidia's SLI are those developped by nvidia itself, namely 650i and 680i which have problems to run memory at very high speeds.

DDR3 is here! It rocks ... or maybe not. As an overclocker, I advise users to stick with DDR2 as long as possible as it's way cheaper and can outperform DDR3 sticks easily. At the moment there is no need for 1GHz memory, not even using Intel's 45nm chips as recent tests have shown. I have no idea why exactly Intel is pushing users to switch to DDR3 but the money factor may play a role in this issue...

Nvidia is back ... and how! Having released a new DX10 card way earlier than ATI it won the public's interest and is now more than ever the way to go. Nvidia users have an enormeous amount of cards available to choose from and - let's be honest - Ati isn't really offering an alternative. Of course, we have the X2900XT and the upcoming X3870XT, but tests have already shown that it doesn't offer a noticeable improvement over the GF88 series. When looking at the middle-end class, we see nvidia controlling the market with the successtory of the 8600GT(S), especially since manufacturers redesign the cards to let them run at higher speeds and thus higher performance.
Comment from piotke @ 2007/12/09
I have to slighty disagree.

Both Intel and AMD have 3 GHz chips in their top series. Amd is trying to reach every target group. Low power comsumption series, low price series, overclockers (think of the black editions). They're trying to struggle trough the hard times.
While Intel is relaxed surfing. Early this year Quad cores, a bit later 1333 fsb chips, and now the new Yorkfields. Inbetween this all they also released cheaper and fairly low consuming chips (E21xx series). But price wise a very good year, as until now prices dropped more then 50 % compared to beginning 2007.

Amd should have Phenom. But this phantom can't be really bought anywhere in Belgium, performance is not convincing and a bug workaround in the new series would even drop performance an extra 10 %.

Grafic card wise about the same. ATI brought us the 2900XT, which couldn't really convince. The same for the new 3700 series. Nvidia has the interesting 8800 series with the 8800 GTS 320 being the most bang for the buck card until recently, when the 8800 GT 512 was released. The last isn't very good available, but there is still the GTS 320 in case sant can't get you a 8800 GT in time.

Seems like AMD/ATI is more the never the underdog, and struggling.

Chipsetwise I haven't really followed things a lot. But I think there wasn't much to follow, P965 got better and became P35. P35 has a stronger brother, X38, but in the end it remains the same -Intel- family.
Nvidia has something like the 680 chipset, but that one doesn't work very good with Intel's latest.

Hard disk become bigger, but most important, price drops. 500 gig disks can now be bought for half the price compared to January. And the price drops are even more insane when looking at DDR2 memory.

While most devices became more power efficient (CPU's, VGA switching to lower fabrication process, hard disk become SSD disks, ...), the power supplies become bigger and bigger. The record has been set to 1600 watt if I'm not mistaken. Power intake measured at my room doesn't even consume that much, and I'm running a few computers, screens, audio sets and even phase change cooling.

2007 was the year of "go with the flow", and large price drops. Nothing really fancy happened.
Comment from geoffrey @ 2007/12/10
2007 is for me, a year of transaction, we've not seen many new stuff of utmost interest, but what we've seen is a large amount of products which offer high-end performance at very affordable prices. People with 750€/$ to spend could afford a high performing 8800GTS, a high performing quad core cpu, high density dynamic memory, not to mention the choice of what motherboards suites them the very best.
High-end workstations, high-end gaming computers, high-end server boards, you name it, in 2007 it all came available for the man who has to spend 'some' money, the only bugger for this year is the slow progres in high density video support in retail market it seems.

Concerning software, 2007 turned out to be an exiting year for the gaming industry. Crysis, Call of Duty 4, Need for Speed ProStreet, Unreal Tournament 3, Half Life: Orange Box, Colin McRae D.I.R.T., Hellgate London, Age of Empires 3, Bioshock, .... do I need to continue? The introduction of Vista and DirectX 10 has questioned many, either you like it or not, Vista is here to stay, atleast for few years now, with more software making the change it's only a matter of time when people will have to make their jump. Other software companies are slightly jumping in this new era, Windows XP is still favorite but will autimaticly be phased out just because the lack of support, too bad considering XP was doing great last few months.
Comment from jmke @ 2007/12/11
2007 is the year Microsoft OS flopped big time, Vista has received no big welcome, not by end users, not by big companies. Hardware manufacturers were ready to profit of the increased system requirements for Vista, but this turned out a bad idea in the end, since Vista didn't sell very well, hence memory prices reached a new low this year, as well as VGA cards being available at half the price of the last year's high end products with the same performance.

Let's hope XP SP3 has a few years still to live, so we can forget Vista and the fake marketing trick called DX10. As it currently stands, nothing is keeping Microsoft from providing DX10 for XP, they just want to push their bloatware Vista which takes up to twice the PC power to run half as good as XP.
Comment from Rutar @ 2008/01/01
I made a fresh install with SP3, besides faster boot/shutdown there are no improvements but it certainly keeps an install much cleaner than all those updates.

PSU manufacturers probably hate the second half of the year with everything becoming a lot less power hungry just after they went on the 1KW+ trend.

The prices are really exciting, we got a cheap highend card (8800GT), a cheap Quadcore (Q6600), a cheap highend chipset (P35) and cheap fast memory (DDR2 800). I can't see a reason to complain.

2008 has potential, LED backlights in LCDs, improvements in SSD availability, speed and price and cheap 45nm Intel chips.
Comment from geoffrey @ 2008/01/01
Originally Posted by Rutar View Post
PSU manufacturers probably hate the second half of the year with everything becoming a lot less power hungry just after they went on the 1KW+ trend.
time that they come up with something catchy
Comment from Wolf2000me @ 2008/01/02
Much of what was good in early 2007 is still good now. Anyone who made a purchase then has made good for the money. It has everything to do with Intel & Nvidia dominance in 2007. You can get more of the same cheaper now but the performance won't differ much, relatively anyway.
So I agree. Nothing fancy happened. This year will be quite a lot more interesting.
Comment from Kougar @ 2008/01/03
Q6600 went from $850 to $266
X6800 went from $999 to $266 (E6850)
8800GTX performance can now be had at half the price (8800GT)
Infamous R600 can be had for half the price with a third the power consumption
DDR2 fell from $200 to $20 per 2x1GB 800MHz kits
DDR3 fell from ~$800+ to <$200 per 2x1GB kit

Y'all have some good points... not much new has been introduced, but having yesterdays best tech at even budget prices is just as good, if not better.
Comment from jmke @ 2008/01/03
but the future may not be as promising, with less competition the next new might be expensive for quite a while
Comment from Kougar @ 2008/01/04
ATi is still in the running... An Nvidia insider commented the 9600 performs double a 8600... no question that Nvidia will be around.

AMD is having all manner of problems, but if they have any plans for staying in business then they are making sure their 45nm transition this year goes better. Phenom still scales better than Clovertown in HPC setups, and Intel is going to have to deliver on Nehalem and not stumble either.
Comment from jmke @ 2008/01/04
Originally Posted by Kougar View Post
An Nvidia insider commented the 9600 performs double a 8600...
8800 = 2x8600 already now
Comment from Sidney @ 2008/01/04
The sooner memory manufacturers switch production to DDR3 and price them to below $150 2x1GB, there is a silver lining for them not to go too deep into financial chaos. The move could also stimulate sales of motherboards supporting DDR3.

The last DDR2 took longer to become mainstream because AMD was doing well with its S-939/DDR.