With the situation surrounding coronavirus looking grimmer by the day, headlines have started to appear from various outlets that PC hardware prices could be about to jump in the near future as manufacturing dwindles in countries such as China, impacting on stock levels and driving up costs. At the moment, not much has changed, at least here in the UK, but looking ahead, we don't really know what the future holds.
The worst-case scenario is that the lockdowns continue, supply falls, and that we see a spike in PC hardware prices, although this hasn't happened in any significant way yet, at least for those of us in the UK. It wouldn't be the first time this has happened, though. High RAM prices are still a recent phenomenon, hard-disk costs rocketed as factories were flooded a few years ago and who can forget the price of GPUs during the crypto-mining craze? The difference this time, of course, is that we may see several areas affected.
This begs the question - if you already planned on upgrading or building a PC this year, is now the best time to do it? Avoid the price hikes if they happen and build the best PC you can now? Well, there's probably some logic to that argument. It's unlikely prices will remain completely unaffected after all, but there are some other very good reasons both for splashing out now, but also to wait and see how the year progresses.
Starting with the former, and getting back to prices, there are some very good deals around at the moment. AMD has cut the price of swathes of Ryzen CPUs, with the 12C/24T Ryzen 9 3900X now retailing regularly for less than £400, while it would set you back around £500 at launch. The Ryzen 5 3600, which retailed for close to £200 at launch, can now be had for less than £150. Given AMD's previous antics around launches, both its own and the competition's, these prices are likely to fall further, too.
Even Intel has processors have seen some rare price drops, with the Core i9-9900KF - the integrated graphics-less version of the Core i9-9900K - can be had for less than £470. There's also the fact that competition in the graphics card market, at least below £400 is quite healthy. Nvidia's RTX 2060 FE saw its price cut to compete with AMD's RX 5600 XT for one and there are plenty of good third-party Radeon and GeForce GTX and RTX cards now, too.
Of course, on the flip side of things are the imminent product launches. Intel looks set to enable hyper-threading on all of its desktop CPUs, giving successors to the likes of the Core i5-9400, Core i5-9600K and Core i7-9700K a much-needed multi-threaded boost and tantalisingly, for similar prices, if the latest rumours are to be believed. AMD, on the other hand, has 4th Gen Ryzen CPUs in the works, which are expected at some point soon after, plus a high-end GPU, with the latter likely to mix it up with new models from Nvidia.
In short, the current uncertainty has come at a very tricky time for both enthusiasts looking to upgrade as well as manufacturers planning big launches with the usually well-oiled supply chains to actually get products to consumers later this year. My advice is not to shy away from buying now. There are some good deals to be had, after all. If you plan on waiting, though, the next few months will be very interesting from a hardware launch point of views, but could be extremely unpredictable in terms of supply and pricing depending on where you live.
Are you planning on buying now to beat potential virus-based chaos or do you want to see what AMD, Intel and Nvidia have up their sleeves first? Let us know in the comments.
December 11 2020 | 17:30