Thursday, October 30, 2008

Why I'll never buy a high-end PC ever again

Although I've been a computer geek since forever, until two years ago I'd never really forked over the bigger bucks for a PC. I've always bought the model or the parts that were not great but did the job acceptably well, almost never the cheapest junk though.

About two years ago it was time for a serious upgrade, i.e. a new PC, and this time around I decided it was time that I owned a really high-end machine. So I did some research, bought the right parts - some of them released no more than a week earlier - and built a pretty awesome PC based on a nice Intel Core2Duo CPU, sporting dual 17" TFT-monitors with the appropriate Nvidia-card to drive them, three hard drives (two of them in RAID1) and buckets of RAM. The box set me back about 19.000 SEK (which is roughly $2600 with today's rates). Granted, this was not a crazy ass machine but on a scale of 1 to 10 in awesomeness, with 10 being the most insane gaming rig money can buy, I believe it was at the time a solid 8 at least. Since I hardly play PC-games at all, I'm a console kinda guy, it was more than sufficient to satisfy my needs and much more.

Well, two months ago I bought myself a 20" iMac and consequently had less use for my monster-PC. So I decided to sell it.

I read somewhere that a PC supposedly loses about half of it's worth in a year so in two years a PC is worth one quarter of it's original price. Since originally buying the PC I'd upgraded it a little bit with some more RAM and better cooling so I thought that I should be able to get 4.500 SEK for it right? Wrong.

It seems the second hand market for complete PCs really doesn't exist. PC-parts is a whole other thing, but a complete box just isn't worth anything at all it seems. I've been trying to sell my PC through multiple channels (auctionsites, ad in the newspaper, etc.) for weeks now and the interest is really non-existant. I've gotten a couple of e-mails from people asking me to lower the price or asking if I'll sell it for less with this or that part taken out, but no one has taken the bait for real so far.

I'm completely dumbfounded here. What is it that makes the second hand value of a PC virtually zero? The only machines that seem to have any real second hand value are Macs. I mean, there are old G4 MacMinis with half the horsepower and a quarter of the storage going for almost the same as I'm asking for my monster-PC. Are the Apple-fanboys the only ones that have money to spend or what's up with this? It's just crazy.

It's not like I thought I'd make my money back selling my two year old PC, but I thought that in a world where the majority of people use PCs there would at least be somebody enticed enough by the prospect of owning said machine. I guess I'm just really surprised that my assumptions were so wrong.

I discussed the whole thing with a friend and we came to the conclusion that most people don't really get the quality of hardware that's in my machine, all they see is a two year old computer that costs as much as a low-budget Dell that's brand new, so they go buy the Dell instead because it's, well, new, although it's way crappier than my machine is. Also, the people that do understand the real value of the machine would probably rather buy new parts and build their own rig so they pass on it for that reason. So basically, once again, the market for second-hand PCs (and high-end ones in particular) is shit.

However, the market for second hand PC-parts seems to be a little better so if my PC still has no buyer by next week I'm chopping it up and selling the bits and pieces individually. That should make me enough money to buy me and my girlfriend a decent sushi dinner at least :-P

So lesson learned, never buy an expensive PC again unless I really, really need that much juice. From here on any PC I buy will be just enough to get things done. No more, no less.

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