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Hardware prices - a mystery

boruvka

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#1
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#2
Agree completely! Maybe I can add some of my own experience: I tried to cut down costs and buying a cheap keyboard (20EUR range). I was back in the shop the other day, because 2 of the keys were already stuck. I returned the keyboard and got a "quality" keyboard for 50EUR, which has a way better feel, btw.

Unfortunately even the life of keyboards and mice is not infinite. Not because they break (although mice tend to break, esp. in the hands of my father ;-)). No, the reason is the change of plugs which happens every few years. The former DIN plug, changed to PS/2, changed to USB. Same for mice: serial, PS/2, USB. Admittedly, you still can use PS/2 with USB using an adapter. The change of motherboard standard to ATX prevented the use of cases and power supplies a few years ago.

Not only cases, keyboards and mice are expensive: I suspect that many companies get rich by selling cables at ridiculous prices. Just recently I bought an ATAPI UDMA/100 cable, round profile for 7 EUR. The flat cable would have been 2 EUR - a reasonable price. I only bought the round cable because the employee told me it was shielded (which it was not). It's simply a flat ribbon cable with a few cuts between some conductors and some plastic tube holding the stuff at a round profile. Extremely low tech - but sold at 3 time the price.

Concerning cases being expensive: sometimes I think that generally big things cost more. It may be simply the raw material costs (need some kg of steel or expensive Al to make a case). It may also be storage or transport costs for these bulky items. I also suspect that for HiFi audio equipment the cost of the (very nice) cases is not negligible.

Generally I think that we are quite lucky with the prices of high tech gear. A graphics card which costs just 200EUR, a DVD burner which costs just 50EUR, is amazingly cheap! I am working in a research lab at university and the prices for non-consumer electronics are waaay higher. We bought a DC power supply 0-250V, 0-16A, which costed 3000EUR. This was the cheap option! It's just a rack mount box with some analog electronics. If you buy a oscilloscope with a bandwidth above 500 MHz, you have to think in the range of several 10k-EUR. Some of them have actually a windows PC built in. Some years ago we bought a PCI card which can measure the dime delay between logic pulses with an accuracy of 0.25 ns. It costed 60k-EUR (including a dual Pentium-III PC as a "goodie"). Admittedly probably only a few hundred of these cards are sold worldwide, if at all.
Compared to this, the price of consumer stuff is really ridiculous low. Obviously the economies of scale kick in here quite efficiently.
 

Specsaver

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#3
The very last phrase bears a strong political accent, which I dislike: "But bear in mind that you are just about to spend a lot of money for really nothing special in terms of our beloved high-tech gadgets – but at the same time you help fund some poor workers in far away countries who just quit their jobs at the tractor firm to start assembling PC cases for us" I mean people do not quit steady job at family farm to work like a monkey on the assambly line. Man, you never worked at the assembly line :D . Some people would be happy to still be farmers as they do not give a shit about PC cases for remote, well-fed corners of the globe. But they have to, because the world ecomics is knocking at their door and no-one needs their beef, rye, potatoes and so on anymore as e.g. rich countries are exporting food at dump prices... Quite selfish I am not trying to critisize that otherwise I could not afford my PC. I am just saying the last bit of this article lacks some sensitivity and could be rephrased or taken out. You know, if you buy coffee you can always go for fairprice option. There is no fairprice option for electronics. The price we are paying here in Europe or in States does not include externalities (costs to the environment, social insurance etctera) Bear that in mind when going for another gorgeous piece of hardware made in China...
 

boruvka

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Video Card(s) Powercolor X800 GTO @ 500/500MHz
Storage Maxtor 6L250R0, Samsung SP2514N (250+250GB)
Display(s) ELSA Ecomo 741 (22NF121) 22" CRT
Case Avance B030 black, 3 x 80mm case fans
Audio Device(s) Intel 82801EB ICH5 - AC'97 Audio Controller
Power Supply Enermax 350W
Benchmark Scores 38-41°C at full load... nice clocker
#4
You got something wrong there :) "Tractor firm" obviously meant a factory which assembles tractors, and workers shift from the "old economy" to, well, also old economy firms which produce flashier (PC) products as those countries became more and more the focus of outsourcing electronics assembly. No political implications intended...
 

Specsaver

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#5
Boruvka I appreciate you replied. Allthough I got carried away with farms: tractors or rye, this does not really matter if you accept one fundamental truth: there are no fair prices for electronics or any other 99% of goods made in developing countries, as what we are paying does not include externalities. So: the very sentence at the bottom I got so agitated about is superfluous. Closing the whole article with the the idyllyc picture of some poor lads happily throwing away their tractor factory tools to join hi tech plant is naive. Do not get me to unwind on that. Other than that I very much appreciate you article and enjoyed reading it.
 

DR.Death

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#6
yes somthing are pricy but u can build or buy a computer with lower qualty parta every fue years or buy a high end system and it will last much longer so the parts are priced acordingly but yes some are over priced but y do u need those parts when u can buy somthing smaler and oc to the other one so u can save money or spend it thats my say
 
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#7
I dunno, I seem to have no trouble recycling a case through two or three motherboard upgrades, so the price of the case really doesn't balk me if it has what I need and isn't cheaply made. Additionally, ATX power supples and PS/2 keyboard/mouse connectors may be headed out, but they are sure dragging their feet and I don't see them becoming unusable for at least another year or two.
 

boruvka

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Processor Intel Pentium M 730 (Dothan) @ 2.5 GHz (12x208)
Motherboard Asus P4P800 SE
Cooling Zalman 7000 AlCu
Memory Corsair CMX 1.5GB
Video Card(s) Powercolor X800 GTO @ 500/500MHz
Storage Maxtor 6L250R0, Samsung SP2514N (250+250GB)
Display(s) ELSA Ecomo 741 (22NF121) 22" CRT
Case Avance B030 black, 3 x 80mm case fans
Audio Device(s) Intel 82801EB ICH5 - AC'97 Audio Controller
Power Supply Enermax 350W
Benchmark Scores 38-41°C at full load... nice clocker
#8
Sure. But don't you share my point, that if you compare different components as to whether they justify their price and look at a PC case, it's just a few bent sheets of metal and some plastic pieces. Technology that in fact end users master, too. Case modders (TRUE modders, not those kiddies that just drill holes and deploy silly blinking lights in existing cases) build cases. It takes some time, but it's nothing you could not manage in your hobby room with a few standard tools.

Now, show me someone who builds his own GPU.

That's why I think that some cases are overprized while processors are relatively cheap.
 

Specsaver

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#9
GPU and CPU production is pretty much concentrated while manufacturers of cases are relatively scattered. This means they have relatively less barganing power when negotiating prices with suppliers, that's probably one of the reasons cases are - as you noticed - "overpriced".
Porter's market model kind of explains a lot in a scholar way (that can be and is disputed)
Nevertheless it is handy to use;)
 

Specsaver

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#10
To ilustrate that take a recent example of Ipod nano prices (just to keep me away from my beloved tractors:banghead:...

So, nanos are quite cheap compared to other flash based mp3 players, but the reason behind it is the overwhelming bargaining power of Apple on the supply market. Samsung had to give them tremendous discount to have the deal that keep them breaking even while Apple can flourish at the cost of supply chain, ergo: developing countries.

Samsung has a strong position in their own market so they wanted to pass the costs on their suppliers, but they are about to get their butt kicked by the local fair trade commision

It is good to be able to afford new GPU avery 6 months if you are living in the privilliged corner of the world, but the price is paid by those, most of us do not give a damn about, i.e. people in developing countries, that's my point....