This is the fear of all people purchasing anything. Will my new purchase be obsolete soon after I purchase it?
The answer is a profound YES!!. No matter how you look at it. But it does not mean it is useless. Cars, computers, and other things work similar in the supply/demand chain. Once you purchase it, the price lowered already (most people want NEW things), and also there is a new model bound too come out soon.
But not all is lost. Here is a little tip. CPUs have marginally becoming faster. There is a 10~15% improvement from CPU gen to CPU gen, but it doesn’t mean always faster. Since most computer sales are laptops or portables, power plays a big role now. So, from Intel Core I-6th Gen, to the 7th Gen there was virtually no performance increase, but there was a 10 to 15% power reduction (or you can argue that the performance per power ratio has increased a 10~15%, Just Semantics). From 5th to 6th gen there was a 5~10% increase, because power also decreased.
The exception is the new Ryzen and Intel Core I 8th Gen. They lower speed, but increase Core count, which can give you from 25 to 50% increase performance. But these are in low quantity in the market, and very few computers had this chips. Of course the landscape will change in 2018.
So, if there is little change, how can we minimize the feeling that our purchase is depreciating fast? The answer is a lot simpler that you might realize, but can be more complex that you would like.
The truth is that with anything you need to know what you are purchasing, and make some concessions. Most people don’t go to a car dealer, and ask for a brand new car for $10000, that has the latest iCar, AndroidCar, etc, and all the other bells and whistles. And even if you wanted all the bells and whistles you already know next years model might have better version. Even at that point, your concession is that you are paying premium price for it.
Not realizing, most people settle in the middle and higher for their purchase. Often, the most sold cars, are medium priced range, with extra options, not the basic, and not the cheapest model. But here is the interesting part, even the cheapest car will take you from point A to point B, and pretty much in the same time. Why? because at the fundamentals, all car work similar, and we have speed limits on the road.
Computers however don’t have it. And people know that a Ford mustang GT can do a quarter mile a lot faster than a Honda Civic, but we have to pay a premium for something we won’t do. it is nice to have, and fun, but not a requirement. In computers we forget that. We want our computer to be the fastest, to download large files in a flash, to show web sites in an instant, and have tons of tabs open at the same time. We want all that, but we want to pay the price of a cheap bicycle. Yep, I said it. the problem is “US” the consumer. We want the best, but we want to pay next to nothing (TVs are suffering the same problem currently).
Lets do a little breakdown.
An average Intel Core i5 CPU is $220 and up. A decent touchscreen monitor running at 1080 is $120. Want a 4K? that would be $400 (non touch) for just 30″. Without adding anything else we are at $600. In a laptop you will need a custom case, a motherboard, power supply, Wireless, Bluetooth, keyboard and track pad, warranty, retail and distribution. Even if it is a desktop, you have the same problems, except it is easier to change components in the desktop because you have more space and a more standardized platform (ATX variations and BTX).
Most OEM computers have a part that is cheap. Sure, all have the same or similar CPU, same quantity of memory, etc. So how do the OEM make money? Honestly, it is difficult for them, CPU in bundles have small discount. Windows in quantity have huge discount, but still adds cost. So most of the time the savings come from the power supply (electric principle, which is too complex to explain, but the better the metal, the more stable the power. the more stable the power, the better the computer works), lower quality or speed memory, same with the hard drive. Besides the power supply, the other part is bloatware. Some companies pay OEM to include its software like Antivirus, backup utilities, and games. Some software “spies” on you to collect data which can then be sold (most OEMS have been found guilty of doing this at one time or another). Sometimes the computers have poor quality testing, and the support is subpar.
Everything has a cost. If you want the lowest cost, then you need to invest something else, or give up something else. So, what is the best way? There is no perfect answer, but it mainly goes like this:
Invest time before hand, and research what might be possible options, always start from the middle, and never from the bottom, and setup realistic expectations from your next purchase.
My main gaming desktop has an aging Intel Core i7-3770K. This is from 2010. Of course the video card has been updated once already, but I know that this system can only do so much gaming. my monitors are 2K, and for most games it can do it well. Very new games, I need to give up. However, I have a similar setup for work, and it works perfectly fine.
I put these 2 desktops together in 2010, the gaming setup was close to $2500 total, while the work setup is $1500. However both have 4 monitors, excellent quality parts. Sure, they both have 32GB of RAM and lots of hard drive space, but all parts are higher quality. If I had done a cheaper setup, I might have needed to upgrade already. Neither setup would work with a Celeron, Pentium or Core i3. They might have worked with a Core i5, but the Core i7 was just a little more and gave me more room. I have a Surface Pro 3, and it is the Core i5 version. Why? because there is little performance difference with the Core i7 for what I use it for (CPUs for laptop are different from desktop), but even then the Surface with keyboard and dock was about $1400, and that does not include the 2 monitors I use with the docking station (I repurposed my old gaming monitors).
Would I love to have upgraded to a Surface Pro 4 when I came out? Of Course, it is half the weight. Would I love to switch to a Surface Laptop 2? Ohhh YEAHH. Do I need to? Nop.
In the end, it is not if it is obsolete when the new version comes out, is picking the right product to make sure you get the most out of it. For most people look at laptops in $1000 and more. Unless you have a single purpose, then a cheaper one if OK. I like a lot the $600~900 range, if I can replace the hard drive with an SSD and add more RAM (which can add another $150 to the total, but give me a much faster laptop). If you are not comfortable doing that, then go higher range. And please, do not just look at RAM and hard drive to chose a computer. There are a lot more components that will affect the experience