Question concerning accuracy of statement on cost of computer hardware

I'm trying to write an article about the relative costs of computer hardware today.  Would you say that the following statement is defendable?

"The cost of computers has roughly come down by a factor of four since 2000.  You can’t get the same computer because they don’t make computers that bad any more, but you can get a computer with five times the memory, hard drive space, and CPU speed for around a quarter of what a PC cost six years ago."
Alan SilvermanOwnerAsked:
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Hello alanlsilverman

I think you're going to have problems defending that, but you're not too far off.

5 years ago I was able to buy a low-mid spec classroom PC (inc. CRT monitor) for £450.  The spec of the machine at the time was an AMD K6III-450, with 128Mb RAM.  Today, I can still buy a low-mid spec classroom PC (inc. TFT monitor), for £450.  Yes, there is an obvious upgrade there - the monitor.  The processor would be in the low 2Ghz, the memory 512Mb and the hard drive, 80Gb

So, the monitor is better (can you quantify this as 5 times?)
The CPU speed has increased from 450 - 2000 (almost 5 times)
The memory has gone from 128Mb to 512Mb (almost 5 times)
The hard disk space has gone up (almost 5 times)


The power requirements has gone up (by how much?)
The heat dissipation has gone up (by how much?)
The noise level has gone up too much!

Apart from my little grievances, you're probably right about the 5 times more bang for your buck, but it's definately not a quarter of the price - it's almost the same (even in real terms).

I hope this helps,
Steve : )

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b0lsc0ttIT ManagerCommented:

What you say will mainly depend on the market you are in.  I would say that the cost part of the statement is not true in the western US where I am located.  One or the other may be true (i.e. size, speed, etc vs. price) but not both.

In most cases you can not find or use hardware that was available six years ago but if you could then you may pay 25% of the price.  However you may also pay a premium (i.e. 2-4 times the original price) for hard to find replacement hardware.

We spend about the same on new computers that we did six years ago.  One exception may be monitors.  We definitely get a much better machine than we could have then but it is the same relative quality.  In our market I have not seen that much of a cost change in "top of the line" computers or even in medium quality computers.

Just my 2 cents (or whatever the equilavent is in your country :-)).

No.  For common consumer PCs, higher performance for sure, 2 to 4 times RAM, and about half the cost.  Common spec for an entry level PC in early 2000 as best I recall would have been:

600MHz to 800MHz Celeron or Duron CPU
20GB or 30GB 5400RPM HDD
On-board or 2X AGP video
17" CRT monitor
Win Me

Price from about $800 to $1000

High end (gaming) systems have decreased little, if any, in price; but performance is much greater.
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Alan SilvermanOwnerAuthor Commented:
I'm not looking for great precision here, as the article is intended for the average computer user, the person who might go out and buy a low end dell on sale.
I'm trying to make an eye opening statement.  I won't have to defend it in court, but I don't want to make claims that are clearly false.  That's what I mean by defendable.  
I recently bought a Dell with a 2.6Ghz Celeron processor, 512MB DDR, 80GB hard drive and 19" LCD monitor, for a final price of around $400.  I remember getting an IBM system in 1997,
200Mhz processor, 17" CRT monitor, 64MB ram, can't remember the hard drive, and I swear the retail price was somewhere around $3000.  Though I may be showing my age here.  
Best regards,  

In 1997, your IBM would have been on the high end (performance) and it was an IBM (read more expensive).  For a number of years (about 1988 to 1998, as I recall) the average entry level home PC was around $1500 including printer.  Then the price wars started and prices have plummeted since.

2000 was a year of rather rapid advancement.  I still have a system built in the latter part of 2000 that is still perfectly servicable.  1.2GHz Athlon T-bird, 512MB DDR266 (yes DDR) RAM, 40GB 7200 RPM HDD, 64MB GeForce2 AGP video, Gigabyte 7DX mobo, and SoundBlaster Live.  Original optical drives were 12X DVD ROM and Plextor 8X CD-RW.  Optical drives were upgraded to 48X CD-RW and 8X DVD-RW.  Runs XP and most applications well.  Original OS was W2K.
Alan SilvermanOwnerAuthor Commented:
That's nicely clarified what I'm trying to say.
Thanks all,
I'm as old (or as young) as you are.  Long term memory is better than short term, maybe that's why we recall all this stuff.

Glad to help.
b0lsc0ttIT ManagerCommented:

Thanks for the grade and the fun question.
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