The Price of Technology

Dave's Computer All Built

We all know that technology continues to get cheaper and cheaper every year.  But this was brought into sharp relief yesterday when I looked up the invoice for Dave’s computer to see what components it contained.  I built Dave’s computer in 2006.  It was a graduation present from my parents and meant to be Dave’s computer in college.  At the time he was really big into WoW and other video games and he had a crappy old HP computer.  The total price of the computer was $2421.92.  It included a 500 GB Seagate drive (I was really into Seagate then) for $280!  Nowadays you can get a 500 GB drive for around $50.  The DVD burner didn’t fall as dramatically in price.  The one I bought him was $36 and you can get a pretty decent one now around $20.  I’m not going to focus on the motherboard price because those tend to actually stay constant for a standard entry board; around $100.  The next expensive item was the graphics card.  It was a PCI Express x16, 512 MB Radeon card and it cost $600.  Nowadays you can get the same thing for less than $50.  The RAM was 4 GB for $439!  I just bought that much RAM for $90.  Finally, the Pentium IV 3.8 GHz processor for $621.  Newegg no longer carries P4s.  Last time I shopped for one, about two years ago, it was $50.  (The keyboard and mouse were gaming-specific so they sold for a premium, and Windows XP was $89)

The interesting thing is that an equivalent computer with today’s technology could be about $2000 – so it would still be cheaper than the equivalent computer four years ago.  Of course, if he were to go with SLI/Crossfire and an Intel Hexacore processor – then he’d probably be in the same price range if not surpassing it a bit.  I mostly wrote this simply as a comparison point of what a difference four years makes in the price of technology.  I’m not suggesting that people should wait too long because they you’re getting yourself into a place where you can’t upgrade.  For example, for Dave’s computer he can’t go up to the next highest graphics card without replacing the motherboard.  And at that point, with all the tech that’s come since then, he’s also be replacing the processor and RAM.  But, it certainly gives hope that you can have today’s technology at an affordable price if you’re willing to wait a year or so.

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