The last Week In Tech

goodbye

Apparently, Intel will soon be selling CPUs with onboard AMD graphics. I have now, officially, seen everything. Yes, that includes a man eating his own head. I’m therefore leaving immediately for Nepal, where I intend to live as a goat. Which reminds me. It’s been nearly six years since my very first story and I’d like to think I’m unrivalled on RPS when it comes to the shameless recycling of other people’s gags. But, whatever. This is, ladies and germs, goodbye-ee. It’s also time to consider what’s become of the gaming PC over the last half-decade or so…

The go-to narrative in recent years, of course, has been the PC’s inexorable slide towards irrelevance and, ultimately, oblivion. No question, the PC as multi-purpose domestic computing device has taken a hammering.

Most sources indicate PC sales peaked around 2011 or 2012 and have since been declining. But hang on. A lot of PCs are still sold – about the same number last year as 2007. So there’s an element of the usual capitalist obsession with constant growth in the negativity regarding the PC. 2007 wasn’t exactly the dark ages, for goodness sake, and over 250 million PCs will still find homes in 2017.

What’s more, predictions that the tablet would kill the PC haven’t been borne out. Tablet sales are tanking a bit, too, while the PC’s slump looks to be slowing.

Of course, total PC sales are one thing. Gaming PCs are another. Teasing out gaming PC figures from those of regular PCs isn’t easy. Just as a for instance, one might consider the sales of discrete GPUs as an indicator of gaming PC volumes. But the emergence of graphics integrated into the CPU itself has pulled the rug out from under the low end of the video card market. So mere comparative volumes of graphics cards don’t mean much in a gaming context.

Anyway, those who make it their business to count this kind of stuff say that gaming PC sales are actually on the up. In the US, analyst outfit Gartner expects Stateside unit sales to grow from six million in 2015 to around eight million in 2018. Likewise, Jon Peddie Research reckons global gaming PC sales and related clobber breached the $30 billion barrier in 2016.

Meanwhile, the 500lb gorilla of the PC industry, Dell, predicts gaming PC sales will grow fast over the next five years, driven by eSports and VR. One can argue the toss about various figures and sources or ponder whether VR will ever really take off. But all the available info is pointing in the same direction for the gaming PC: Up.

From the anecdotal perspective of someone routinely mucking about with the latest hardware, it’s the same story. The range and capability of PC hardware has only gotten better over the past eight years. Sure, there’s been some slowing in the rate of progress in terms of performance by some metrics. It hasn’t helped that AMD spent about five years or so launching failed CPU designs.

Likewise, Moore’s Law at least as it applies to CPUs and GPUs has come a little unstuck. AMD and Nvidia languished on 28nm production for over four years – an eternity in relative terms – and Intel’s process updates have slipped slightly, too.

But if you look at what’s on the market today in terms of key gaming PC components, they absolutely blow away anything that was for sale a few years ago, much less eight years ago. In fact, with Intel and AMD currently engaged in a quite preposterous competition of core-count one upmanship, PC hardware has arguably never been more vibrant.

OK, those multi-core monsters aren’t that relevant for gaming. And the graphics card market is a teensy bit stagnant of late (again partly as a consequence of AMD dropping the ball, this time against Nvidia). But there’s some fantastic kit out there. Actually, that new Intel-AMD chip is one of the most extraordinary and genuinely exciting developments for years. It should enable some properly gameable and seriously thin and light laptops, not to mention stuff like gaming NUCs and other small form factor rigs.

It’s also, almost certainly, a glimpse of the future of gaming PCs more generally. And I’m not entirely sure it’ll be all good news for we mere punters in the very long run. But that’s a story for another lifetime.

In the here and now, I wouldn’t quite say all is simply well. But given sufficient funding, one can play gorgeous looking games on huge, curved screens at frankly insane 4K resolutions. Or enjoy a pretty darn nice 1080p experience for relative pennies. Full HD panels can now be had for under £100 / $100. So, it’s not just the those core CPU and GPU components that have progressed dramatically. The explosion of new gaming-relevant screen innovations like adaptive sync, curved panels and latterly HDR defines the Laird Era, as it won’t become known, too.

I can’t take a shred of credit for any of it, of course. I am but a hack and a lowly one, at that. And there was arguably a conspicuous late-term lull in CPU hardware during my incumbency on RPS. But as I hang up my keyboard, at least in terms of regular bi-weekly posts around these parts, I leave the gaming PC in rude health. The PC is, as it was, by far the most powerful and exciting video gaming device on the planet. Long live the gaming PC. And God speed to all of you.

42 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    pertusaria says:

    I’m not a regular commenter on this series, but I’ll miss your straightforward and funny, non-macho approach to tech. Hope you’re a frequent guest in these parts if you’re no longer going to be a regular. Good luck in your other ventures!

  2. Vanderdecken says:

    The only column on RPS I’d regularly click on without even caring what the subject was each week. Lord love you Laird. Signing off with combined Blackadder, Pete & Dud and M*A*S*H references just spanks it.

    • Cyber Ferret says:

      Indeed. I don’t have the same regard for RPS I once did, but Jeremy’s features have been a consistent source of quality content over the years–easily the best on the site in my opinion.

      I chalk its loss up to another sign of a declining civilization, and wish Jeremy the best in future endeavors.

    • Premium User Badge

      geoffreyk says:

      Articles to click on, regardless of the subject, and even more so regardless of whether it was a subject I already felt fairly well-versed in: I always appreciated the perspective they added, and they were usually broadly-enough focused that I could keep a feel for things even when I wasn’t reading HardOCP, Bit-Tech, Anand, and Tom’s on a daily basis.

      Good luck, Mr. Laird! Do come back and visit from time to time!

  3. dangermouse76 says:

    Always a pleasure reading your stuff. And a shame I was hoping with the buy out and possible expansion of RPS I would see more hardware reviews and analysis.

    Any word from the hive mind on their intentions for the hardware side of things ?

    • Premium User Badge

      Graham Smith says:

      Expect news next week.

      • dangermouse76 says:

        Jazz club…….groovy.

      • Carr0t says:

        First Pip, now Jeremy? I hope this is unfortunate timing with the closeness of people leaving, and not the buyout meaning a ‘cleaning house’ of sorts :( Anyone else jumping ship in the near future?

        • Premium User Badge

          syllopsium says:

          Yeah.. new owners, established journos leave. More hardware reviews that are frankly below par compared to all the other sites that review hardware. What seems like more adverts. More than a sniff of advertorials. Is it my imagination that the site is slower, too, it definitely isn’t faster.

          That reminds me, must download all the DRM free stuff from humblebundle before their site turns to crap and they decide to stop providing access because reasons.

          • Premium User Badge

            MajorLag says:

            I too find it difficult to believe this is all a coincidence.

            And shit, I too have to do that with my Humble account.

        • shoptroll says:

          And Richard before them :(

  4. FurryLippedSquid says:

    Tara son.

  5. racccoon says:

    Nice n agreed.
    I don’t think VR will be the second coming either, its way too cumbersome & not really good for our vision or mindset, you are unable to visually look away as your forced into a closed box. Your eyesight can not adjust in the normal one one thousand of seconds of adjustments to different various sights like it does so freely normally, with VR its totally locked inside a box & focused on one visual point for a long time. I think my eye sight is far more important to me than using a device that’s going make me even more blinded just for fun. VR just ain’t or shouldn’t be going to be the bee knees at all.
    The PC however is best device in world today for you built your device or should have done.
    The PC is the best tool to do computer work freely & unencumbered if you like raw coding or just playing about it can do anything you want it too.
    ‘Long Live The PC!’

    • spacejunkk says:

      There’s a method for letting our eyes focus naturally in VR using multiple panels (link). Don’t expect to see it in consumer devices for a while though!

      P.S. Thanks for the articles Jeremy, good luck out there.

    • DoomBroom says:

      So you have any evidence to back up those claims about VR being bad for our eyes? Or are you just pulling that out of thin air?

      I certainly have not had any trouble with my eyes using VR for the last 4 years.

      Also VR/AR or some variant of it will eventually replace our monitors in the long term. Form factor will change and tech will improve in the coming years, this early and it’s already working pretty good. If I have to guess we’ll probably use some kind of light field tech instead of the lenses we use today, like what magic leap does. The tech is just to damned useful and fun to go away.

  6. Person of Interest says:

    It’s been a pleasure to read Jeremy’s thoughts over the years, and thanks to RPS for giving me a forum to discuss (and occasionally disagree) with an author who has such a deep understanding of his subject matter.

    I especially appreciated reading Jeremy’s perspective on monitor tech and driving sim setups.

    Unfortunately, RPS’s recent flurry of “light” hardware reviews don’t seem like they can fully replace Week In Tech. The reviews haven’t done a good job of evaluating the product compared to other competing products, and the authors’ added insights haven’t been very convincing. RPS has never seemed too interested in the numbers & graphs aspect of hardware reviewing, which is fine. But I hope future hardware articles will be a bit more Laird-y with the authors’ personal takes.

    • LewdPenguin says:

      I must agree with you on the new hardware ‘reviews’ we’ve been seeing, I had wondered why someone else was writing them for RPS and this sadly confirms my worst fears.

      Hopefully either the author herself or RPS editorial leads can take on board the criticisms of her writing and make changes going forwards, because whilst I doubt any of us really expect anyone new to fill another writers shoes exactly, the sort of gushing advertorial content about things like a overpriced, rather niche monitor that would have been something to shout about a few years ago but now looks more outdated than awesome (just to use the most recent example) doesn’t really sit so well on a specialist site like RPS, and would frankly still be cringeworthy to read in ‘mainstream’ non gaming related media.

      As others have said I wish Mr Laird all the best for the future, and hopefully there’ll still be space for him here in the future, even if on a less regular basis.

  7. welverin says:

    “What’s more, predictions that the tablet would kill the PC haven’t been borne out. Tablet sales are tanking a bit, too, while the PC’s slump looks to be slowing.”

    I always found it ridiculous that people compared a new piece of technology and market to an established one and extrapolating the death of the old thing based on the growth of the new one. On top of that, people would go on about how fast the technology for smart phones and tablets was advancing and would catch and even surpass PCs and consoles as if they weren’t improving over time as well.

    Anyway, your articles will be missed Jeremy.

  8. shoptroll says:

    Thank you for your writings, and wishing you the best of luck in future endeavors!

  9. Scrote says:

    I love your column Jeremy, best of luck with what you do next!

  10. Premium User Badge

    Skabooga says:

    You certainly did your part in demystifying the reams of seemingly arbitrary numbers that accompany every hardware device. Many thanks to you, Jeremy, for all the hard work!

  11. Goodluck Jonathon says:

    As someone currently in Nepal who clicked on this article for a sleepy morning read after being woken up by the sound of goats, the opening paragraph momentarily broke my brain. Thank you. And good luck Jeremy.

  12. craigdolphin says:

    Well, dang it. I always looked forward to Jeremy’s weekly epistles and trusted his opinion. Learned a bunch too. Very sad to see you go Jeremy. I hope you prosper going forward.

  13. Grizzz says:

    Echoing the many above me, your column was always an excellent and interesting read and I enjoyed your style (and your taste in tv humour). I’d noted the rising number of techy posts by others here and worried it signalled this departure.

    Best of luck to you in the future and I hope you find another outlet for your techy posts as I think they’ll always find an appreciative audience.

  14. AbyssUK says:

    I will miss the no nonsense hardware reviews and news. I do hope RPS plan on keeping something going that isn’t a video blog or some nonsense..

  15. Ghostwise says:

    So long, and thanks for all the articles.

  16. Premium User Badge

    Mungrul says:

    Here’s to you Jeremy, and an interesting future whatever you may choose to do!

    Would it be wrong to guess Katherine will be taking the tech helm from hereon out?

  17. Retne says:

    Very sorry to see you go, Jeremy. I always enjoyed your proclamations, finding them more straight forward and, frankly, entertaining, than the drier tech-focused columns.

    I was slightly addicted to your columns above all others – if you didn’t post or were late in doing so, I’d become all angsty!

    Let us know where you’re headed.

  18. Shiloh says:

    Good luck in the future Jeremy, I’ll miss your articles, I hope you’re leaving of your own volition, and equally that this doesn’t presage the beginning of churned-out syndicated tech PR fillers…

  19. sonofsanta says:

    Alas and alack! I am bereft! Undone! This was probably my favourite weekly column, and I will miss it dearly. I have long since outgrown staring at minute differences on bar graphs, and your focus on “what’s actually worthwhile subjectively speaking” was perfect.

    Good luck and god speed indeed.

  20. gi_ty says:

    You will be missed! I hope to look you up wherever you go next, you are my favorite tech reviewer and describer by far. I read lots of pure tech sites but I always found your take to be the most informative in terms of the experience as opposed to raw numbers. Good luck and I hope to read your work again soon!

  21. wackazoa says:

    GG and good luck.

  22. Premium User Badge

    Don Reba says:

    I would call 4k adequate at 27″. It is only frankly insane on phone screens.

  23. Premium User Badge

    The Almighty Moo says:

    I have always enjoyed these pieces, for similar reasons to those eloquently stated above. Is there anywhere that we can continue to receive an infrequent digest from you Jeremy? I have always found them incredibly useful.

  24. Premium User Badge

    edna says:

    I would just like to echo the thoughts above. A subjective viewpoint delivered with humour and enough techy detail to keep me entertained is a rare thing. Not that I have scoured the internet in searching for equivalents, but I haven’t needed to because you have been here.

    Hope you will keep up the good work somewhere else. I’ll keep tabs on your name. Do I take it you are the same JL who tweets about car tech?

    Thanks for all the articles and best of luck for your next move.

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