Although there does seem to be a trend of
prices increasing or remaining static, some areas of the computer component
industry are actively becoming better value. Here’s what to keep an eye on if
you’re looking for a real bargain in 2012:
As recent production problems continue to
affect hard drive prices, soild-state drives are starting to become better
value. They’re still some way off becoming as cheap as traditional drives, but
in 2011 the price of 64GB SSD drives dropped by 30%, while the price of 128GB
SSD drives dropped by 20%. We’ve already seen similar pricing trends affect pen
drives, so it won’t be long until SSD drives are looking like fantastic
bargains. The only hard part will be deciding exactly when to strike, because
there’s no indication that prices are going to rise anytime soon.
In the last few weeks, NVidia’s Kepler
architecture has finally been launched – a little late but still no impressive
reviews. The first Kepler card is the GeForce GTX 680, which offers substantial
improvements in both power consumption and performance, and it’s instantly
become more desirable than any Radeon competition – a fact which has led to
intermittent shortages that might actually lead retailers to nudge prices up.
But the strong performance of Kepler has
caused the prices of any non-Kepler NVidia card above $300 to instantly drop.
The price of a GTX 580 has dropped over 20% in the last few weeks: in January
the cheapest units were $570, but at present you can pick one up for $450 if
you shop around. Until Kepler stock shortages are resolved, it’s unlikely that
the price drops will affect AMD’s graphic cards, but it shouldn’t be long until
you see a downward correction there too – all of which spells good news for
anyone looking for a bargain graphics purchase.
Although the price of laptop PCs is staying
fairly static, top-tier notebooks are starting to come down in price as
manufacturers try to tempt desktop owners away from their familiar setups and
towards something more portable by making the power and pricing as close to
equivalent as possible. It certainly helps that AMD’s Fusion APUs are shedding
pounds fast – the A Series APU offers better battery life and media performance
than Intel’s equivalent chips.
As with regular notebooks, the best time to
buy will be just prior to Windows 8’s launch, because that’s when retailers
will cut prices to clear out Windows 7 machines as fast as possible. If you can
stand to have something that isn’t bleeding edge (and let’s face it, Windows 8
will probably be riddled with problems at launch anyway), then that’ll be the
best time to buy.