Back in September, we posted the Three Big Reasons that you should wait until 2021 to Upgrade your PC. I’m going to be providing some additional advice based on that original post to help you make the most of your Black Friday.
- Next Generation of Ram Memory Arrives
Starting in 2021 we’ll begin seeing the top end computer systems including new type of RAM memory DDR5. The performance increase should be similar to what you saw when moving from a Hard Drive to an SSD. Most of us won’t see this in computers we purchase in 2021, but it will drive down the cost of all computers using the obsolete DDR4. It is worth noting that the new DDR 5 ram has error checking. This is a huge upgrade, because desktops didn’t have error checking ram previously, and error checking ram will help your computer run more reliably. We still won’t see this RAM hit any normal systems in 2021, but RAM is at historically low prices, so a RAM upgrade on DDR4 for a computer you are going to hold onto for a long time is a good way to spend some tech dollars, as it will likely take deep into 2021 before DDR5 starts hitting the market.
- Big Breakthrough in Graphics Processing.
Nvidia has just released their new 2020 version of video cards and they are coming into the marketplace with a price that is designed to crowd AMD out. The new cards allow up to 8K resolution at 60 frames per second. This is huge for a few reasons. First, the value or cost for what you’re getting on those cards is going to be a big change from what we have been paying previously. Additionally, at 8K we are now approaching the end of video cards. Meaning, we are approaching performance levels so high, the eye can no longer see any difference from the upgrades. Not too long ago, computers had a card for sound. When sound cards became so good that additional improvements couldn’t be heard, people stopped buying sound cards and just used the sound chip included on the motherboards. I predict that within 5-10 years we'll be in the same place for motherboard video chips.
From here, we are going to see the cost of video cards drop dramatically and unless we can come up with something that existing video cards aren’t offering, like ray tracing, new generations will no longer be able to compete on resolution, refresh, or features. That leaves only reliability and cost as differentiators. So, we can expect to see video card prices go down dramatically.
Right now, it is very difficult to get one of the new video cards except from scalpers/eBay where they are charging crazy high prices. But if you can get them for MSRP or below from a reputable seller (Don’t WISH these!), they are a good way to spend your tech dollars if your family is into PC gaming and want a video card upgrade.
For most of the rest of us you’re better waiting until about April, when all the old video cards from the people who have been upgrading will flood the second-hand market and drive prices down generally.
Advice is: Wait until April 2021 unless you want to buy a new Nvidia or AMD graphics card. You’ll get about the same performance on an AMD card and save some $$. So, I personally would be going AMD for my video card, unless I was willing to pay the premium for the historically better NVIDIA drivers.
It is worth noting that the new NVIDIA cards require special connectors and generate significantly more heat and take up more room then prior generations. So, make sure your motherboard and power adapters needed as well as lots of space in your case for the larger video card are factored into any upgrade decisions.
ALL OF THE NEW CARDS DRINK POWER, make sure your Power Supply can handle it!
The new AMD cards are: The new NVIDIA Cards are:
RX 6900 XT – MSRP $999 GEForce RTX 3090 -MSRP $1,499
RX 6800 XT – MSRP $649 GE Force RTX 3080 – MSRP $699
RX 6800 - MSRP $579 GE Force RTX 3070 – MSRP $499
What other things should we consider if we want to upgrade?
Well, if you really feel that tech calling your name, Apple has done some amazing work with their new M1 chip. While I’m not typically an Apple advocate, their new M1 based chips are several times faster then their already competitive previous versions, and their battery life is so long it is next level from really anything else on the market.
In order to achieve these levels, they’ve put the video card, memory, and CPU on a single chip. This makes upgrading nearly impossible, but has some significant benefits on the efficiency and performance side.
All that said, I recommend the MacBook Air with the new M1 Chip (make sure you don’t get an earlier version without the M1 chip). MSRP $999
Monitors are a great place to spend your tech dollar. Lots of great mature tech out there, and we haven’t seen anything recently that is going to make you regret not waiting if you go out and get that new monitor you’ve been wanting. I would recommend making sure they have a display port connector as that seems to be the most common connection type on newer computers.
SSD’s or storage are a good price right now. And prices continue to drop rapidly. 1TB and 2TB SSD’s in the consumer market are now available for reasonable prices. While they continue to get faster, as long as you get an SSD of some type, it will be fast enough that you won’t regret your purchase. So, an SSD purchase is an OK choice. If it was me, I’d consider getting PCIe 4.0 x4, if the price isn’t too different. In most testing done the difference in speeds between a SATA SSD and a PCIe 3.0 x4, or PCIe 4.0 x4 is not huge so don’t spend too much money on something you’ll likely only notice for a second or two in your most storage intensive tasks.
SSD Storage Speed chart:
PCIe 3.0 x4
PCIe 4.0 x4
When do you recommend getting a new computer?
Well, sometimes you simply cannot wait. If you can, I recommend April of 2021 as a good time to purchase new computers. A lot of the new tech should have caused the market to adjust, and any problems should have been sorted out. So, waiting until April of 2021 is the best time to buy a new Windows 10 based laptop or desktop.
What about people who are building their devices themselves? Well, you are likely pretty tech savvy already, and have a good idea of the trade-offs you face by pulling the trigger now. But if you do decide to build a new machine, make sure you oversize your power supply by a generous margin, as video cards seem to keep getting hungrier. You may also want to make sure that your power supply has the correct cords available for the new NVIDIA video cards. With all the heat that is being tossed off by the new SSD’s and video cards you are going to want to make sure that your heat management is up to the challenge.
I understand, but I still want a new computer. What should I do then?
Well, you’ll likely regret not waiting, but I’ve been there.
Currently I have been watching a series that secret shops a bunch of different vendors. It tests their product delivery, tech support, and value. I’ve been impressed by the HP team.
If you absolutely need a new computer, I’d recommend going with an HP computer or a Lenovo computer.
I hope that this has been helpful and may your holiday shopping be merry! All the best.
If you have a specific tech question send us an email @ firstname.lastname@example.org
-Office Smith LLC