What things can Intel, AMD, Nvidia and Microsoft do to make PC desktop better?

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Dresdenboy

Golden Member
Jul 28, 2003
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citavia.blog.de
Situation at a big german car OEM (R&D): Laptops everywhere (+docking station and monitors) and a few stationary computers for specific tasks. Many of us live through the day in meetings. Mobility is the key. And of course there is also the occasional electronics and software testing in the car.

Other companies I know use more desktop PCs.
 

Madpacket

Platinum Member
Nov 15, 2005
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Desktops can be made better in many ways.

Some of my thoughts:

For me form factor and heat / noise are becoming bigger issues. I can't really stand anything larger than ITX form factors but even most ITX cases are still too large or poorly designed. There's really no need (other than available RAM slots or multi GPU) for anything bigger than ITX. Everything integrated is good enough now. Heat and noise can be an issue with ITX but with clever hardware choices this can be mitigated dramatically.

I think we need new and smarter form factors to allow for more efficient cooling and much smaller cases. No the Intel NUC or Gigabyte Brix isn't what I want, they're too limiting.

Some of the new smartphone designs that allow you to swap out components, i.e modular smart phones have the right idea and the desktop should follow this model more closely.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modular_smartphone

I think desktop PC's should be more like that where there is very little wasted space but is still upgradeable if need be. Tight integration of components is key and now that we have HBM and components with MXM modules we should be able to design a truly pluggable and portable motherboard / case.

For really high powered devices like 150 W+ graphic cards you could even sacrifice some of the design with external radiator / water cooling but make this modular.

The traditional desktop is just outdated in design, they're extremely wasteful space wise and inefficient. Look inside almost any modern PC case and there's so many bad design choices for today's hardware.

Why the hell do we need 4-5 - 5 1/4 inch drive bays? Who uses DVD-ROM's any more? Why are memory sticks vertically aligned with heatspreaders inches in height limiting cooling choices? Why can't memory be horizontally aligned on the backside of the motherboard with easy access ports? Why do motherboard manufacturers still have on-board headers removing valuable space and instead outfitting them with legacy devices like serial and parallel ports, AC-97 audio headers or 3X USB 2.0 headers? Why do we need ATX power supplies when we can fit 600+ gold rated power supplies into much smaller form factors?

Anyways I think you get the point. The only reason desktops are still around is not because they're cheaper than laptops or last longer, it's because they're customizable and *upgradeable*.

But we need better form factors, basically smarter and more efficient designs that still offer the ability to upgrade. I'm tired of the traditional desktop. No one wants gigantic loud computer cases that looks like a drunk Autobot threw up some spare parts.
Elegance is key.
 
Apr 22, 2012
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The size factor definitely matters. I cant magine using anything but ITX as well.

And this is really the large repellant for buyers. We can see something like NUC sales increase rapidly. People want small efficient desktops.
 

dark zero

Platinum Member
Jun 2, 2015
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Even NUC are not growing as spectacularly as the Pc on this times... Phones and Tablets pretty much crushes them in terms of sellings.
 

Essence_of_War

Platinum Member
Feb 21, 2013
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There's really no need (other than available RAM slots or multi GPU) for anything bigger than ITX.
Yes, there clearly is. ITX gets you exactly 1 pcie slot.

That can get you a graphics card, but it sure can't get you a graphics card AND any number of other common expansion cards. WiFi w/ chipset of your choice, firewire, sata or sas, fibre, additional nics w/ chipsets of your choice, thunderbolt (assumign the board has a header) etc.
 

R0H1T

Platinum Member
Jan 12, 2013
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Even NUC are not growing as spectacularly as the Pc on this times... Phones and Tablets pretty much crushes them in terms of sellings.
This mainly, tablets are pretty much flat to slightly up that's unless you count convertibles in that category, in which case they're growing to be an important market segment.
 

dark zero

Platinum Member
Jun 2, 2015
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To being sincere the best solution is... To let the Pc market fully die.
 

Madpacket

Platinum Member
Nov 15, 2005
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Yes, there clearly is. ITX gets you exactly 1 pcie slot.

That can get you a graphics card, but it sure can't get you a graphics card AND any number of other common expansion cards. WiFi w/ chipset of your choice, firewire, sata or sas, fibre, additional nics w/ chipsets of your choice, thunderbolt (assumign the board has a header) etc.
I figured someone would bring this up. Most newer ITX motherboards have A/C Intel or Broadcomm WiFi chips, what else do you want? Also, you can change these modules with one simple tiny screw if the chipset is that important to you.

Firewire, really? Okay, if you're the 1% that needs this maybe grab a USB to firewire converter?

Lot's of ITX board have 4-6 on board sata ports and even one e-sata on the back. That's more than enough. Also, NAS's exist for a reason. SAS, Fibre, Additional nics, etc?

Your response shows you're clearly leaning towards a server of some kind. Not a desktop PC.
 

NTMBK

Diamond Member
Nov 14, 2011
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Yes, there clearly is. ITX gets you exactly 1 pcie slot.

That can get you a graphics card, but it sure can't get you a graphics card AND any number of other common expansion cards. WiFi w/ chipset of your choice, firewire, sata or sas, fibre, additional nics w/ chipsets of your choice, thunderbolt (assumign the board has a header) etc.
Outside of a workstation, who needs that stuff? WiFi comes integrated onto the motherboard.
 
Mar 10, 2006
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I figured someone would bring this up. Most newer ITX motherboards have A/C Intel or Broadcomm WiFi chips, what else do you want? Also, you can change these modules with one simple tiny screw if the chipset is that important to you.
Agree. On-board Wi-Fi has worked really well for me.
 

Essence_of_War

Platinum Member
Feb 21, 2013
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I figured someone would bring this up. Most newer ITX motherboards have A/C Intel or Broadcomm WiFi chips, what else do you want? Also, you can change these modules with one simple tiny screw if the chipset is that important to you.

Firewire, really? Okay, if you're the 1% that needs this maybe grab a USB to firewire converter?

Lot's of ITX board have 4-6 on board sata ports and even one e-sata on the back. That's more than enough. Also, NAS's exist for a reason. SAS, Fibre, Additional nics, etc?

Your response shows you're clearly leaning towards a server of some kind. Not a desktop PC.
My point is that despite the fact that 80% of the population only uses 20% of the possible features, each of those 80% may use a different 20%. So as a result, saying things like there is no need for anything bigger than ITX is kind of silly.

Also, USB <-> firewire doesn't exist. Firewire is peer-to-peer and can do isocronous transfer, USB is master-slave.
 

R0H1T

Platinum Member
Jan 12, 2013
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My point is that despite the fact that 80% of the population only uses 20% of the possible features, each of those 80% may use a different 20%. So as a result, saying things like there is no need for anything bigger than ITX is kind of silly.

Also, USB <-> firewire doesn't exist. Firewire is peer-to-peer and can do isocronous transfer, USB is master-slave.
You man asynchronous transfer :p

Anyway the point others are making is that the world, as a whole, is moving towards more compact & portable devices. The ones that really need anything more than a notebook will be getting their full fledged desktop, all else are a part of niche market segments & are likely shrinking, definitely not growing, plus seems to me like it's an irreversible trend.
 

Dresdenboy

Golden Member
Jul 28, 2003
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What we see is just a diversification. There are more options now to get the devices that fit the needs. And having flexible hardware (like CPUs or APUs covering a wide range of uses) is one key to cope with that.
 
Apr 20, 2015
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My current desktop needs the extra space because i'm about to add a custom fan to my new GPU, a smaller case or motherboard would have meant this was imposable. I also have a pci wifi card and a soundcard that is able to drive a decent set of headphones.

My new media centre PC needed to use my old hard drives, thus having a large case next to the large amp was worth it.

My other media centre looks nice in its cabinet. If it was smaller it would look weird and take up the exact same shelf space anyway.

My GF's smaller desktop sits nicely in the book case next to the computer and takes up less room than some of her uni text books.

Really don't see the need to make cases smaller for the sake of it. Especially when it often has so many costs for many users. If someone wants a tiny PC they can buy one, if they want a larger one, with all the benefits that brings, they can get that as well.

I would suggest ease of access would be much more important for bringing that last 15 percent of users onboard. Can users with poor eyesight really enjoy using a pc? Can those who cannot read actually use a windows PC- what happens when something breaks?
 

ehume

Golden Member
Nov 6, 2009
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I would suggest ease of access would be much more important for bringing that last 15 percent of users onboard. Can users with poor eyesight really enjoy using a pc? Can those who cannot read actually use a windows PC- what happens when something breaks?
I've been trying to interest the devs at Firefox about this for years.

You can improve visual access by using a minimum font size in Firefox and use the Theme and Font Size Changer extension. Windows has 125% system fonts, and the various apps can be customized.

We who need thing far away have special computer glasses that make the large part of bifocals focus to 36 inches, while the small part focuses to about 10-15cm. Jerry Pournelle pioneered computer glasses 40 years ago -- just not universally known.
 

Revolution 11

Senior member
Jun 2, 2011
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Virtually every IT manager I've ever worked with avoids laptops as much as they can with their limited budgets because of how many employees drop them. The cost is massively substantial when you start adding up all the downtime for sending them back to repair centers related to broken screens / hinges / keyboards.

Further -- there remains a performance delta between what a high end laptop can do and what a high end desktop can perform (Desktops aren't handicapping performance in consideration of battery life). Lol... Customer service isn't the only home for desktops in the workplace.
Agreed. My employer uses both laptops and desktops for analyzing data. The laptops have a higher rate of failure in terms of hours lost to maintenance and people avoid them whenever possible because they have a tendency to throttle at the most critical stages. This could be because both the desktops and laptops are ancient. The two desktops that are new are always coveted by the staff for their reliability and speed.

I don't understand why management is so short-sighted. The cost in IT repairs and loss of productivity due to downtime is easily several times higher than the cost of new hardware. We are still running Windows XP on networked hardware from 2006. And we handle lots of confidential medical data. D:

From a labor point of view, there definitely is a suppressed need for better corporate hardware. I have seen it in every company I have been in. From a management point of view, there is a need for better education on long-term costs.
 
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davmat787

Diamond Member
Nov 30, 2010
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Microsoft has done an amazing job with class drivers to limit the amount of third party driver code. No other single effort has made Windows more reliable and reduce bugchecks. IHVs don't make money with drivers, writing drivers isn't sexy and thus doesn't attract top devs, and investment in drivers is often minimum.

Given the bloated nature of NVIDIA and AMD drivers along with inconsistencies between games and SLI problems I would like Microsoft to investigate what else they could move up the stack and away from 3rd party code. A common SLI spec and driver within DirectX and the display driver framework could be huge and greatly simplify using SLI. This would also be a huge boon for game compatibility.

Unfortunately the % of users with SLI probably doesn't warrant the investment in moving this to a common spec and in house code.
 
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Blitzvogel

Platinum Member
Oct 17, 2010
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What we see is just a diversification. There are more options now to get the devices that fit the needs. And having flexible hardware (like CPUs or APUs covering a wide range of uses) is one key to cope with that.
I agree with this. The desktop, laptop, and mobile markets are starting to settle now that all sorts of computing platforms have been on the market for a while, and people can decide what works for them in what situation. The problem is in truly knowing what each platform is capable of. *See below*

Interestingly enough, I think the current trend towards thin convertible laptops/ultrabooks might end up sending some people back to desktops for gaming and high end computing, because the performance/price ratio is just so much better.

This Lenovo Yoga I bought for me and my fiancee in May is a generally decent machine for basic entertainment, office and internet browsing, but good god it throttles like hell due to the thermal constraints of the platform. Calling the graphics HD 4200 is a joke, when in 30 seconds it throttles down from 850 MHz to less than half of that when it gets loaded up by a game. That is despite some of the changes I made to the power profiles like setting max CPU utilization to 99% to avoid Turbo Boost and using a fan equipped lap board. Any dreams of manageable gaming-on-the-go I had for this have been thrown out the window.
 
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NTMBK

Diamond Member
Nov 14, 2011
8,175
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This Lenovo Yoga I bought for me and my fiancee in May is a generally decent machine for basic entertainment, office and internet browsing, but good god it throttles like hell due to the thermal constraints of the platform. Calling the graphics HD 4200 is a joke, when in 30 seconds it throttles down from 850 MHz to less than half of that when it gets loaded up by a game. That is despite some of the changes I made to the power profiles like setting max CPU utilization to 99% to avoid Turbo Boost and using a fan equipped lap board. Any dreams of manageable gaming-on-the-go I had for this have been thrown out the window.
I have a similar problem on my Venue 11 tablet, the Haswell SoC starts throttling like hell when you load up a game. Best solution I found was actually to use the hard plastic case:



Seems to act as a heatsink and help reduce throttling, bizarrely. Makes it chunkier to hold, but helps with heat problems.
 

Bradtech519

Senior member
Jul 6, 2010
501
1
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I think a lot of it ties into transforming the desktop into a more compatible device with mobile applications or interaction with mobile appliations running on mobile devices for all of these companies to succeed in the desktop market & maintain profitability offering solutions for desktop segment. Along with possibly something to do with home automation/media servers. Anymore it seems hard for companies or developers to start caring about something other than iOS or Android. Desktop is relegated to power users, enterprises, or enthusiasts.

AMD - They need to offer a product cheaper than Intel that performs the same or out performs them like they used. Don't foresee it happening. They could get into the mobile space in regards to Windows/Android Tablets but Intel has them beat in that space too. They are going the ARM route maybe they can keep x86 alive if they succeed.

Intel - Continue to ramp up performance with each generation as ARM becomes more powerful and could possibly invade low end desktop market. Offer low power consumption, high performance chips that kill ARM and make it irrelevant in this space.

Microsoft - Find a way to port mobile centric applications into the desktop. While maintaining a desktop interface for power users. Windows 10 is the right step.

NVIDIA - Discrete graphics are mainly needed for media creation, video games, and enthusiasts. Need to work with game makers and look more into VR peripherals that take PC gaming into the future. Possibly use the GPU to compute games based around new VR technology like Microsoft Hololens when someone using it sits at a computer and fires up a game. This also applies to AMD's GPU division.
 
Mar 27, 2009
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With so much capable used hardware floating around out there (I am thinking specifically of the Vista era
LGA 1366 Workstations) not licensed, maybe Microsoft should offer a way for an older machine to receive a lower cost license.

Maybe some kind of refurb license, but for regular consumers?
 

JDG1980

Golden Member
Jul 18, 2013
1,523
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I think that as time goes by, the outdated ATX form factor is becoming a bigger and bigger albatross in the PC market. Many power users would like something that offers modularity and upgradeability, but doesn't result in the tremendous waste of space that ATX does. Even Mini-ITX just scales things down without fixing some of the underlying issues (such as poor thermal management and a ginormous PSU).

In my opinion, the 2013 Mac Pro offers a lot of innovative ideas that PC manufacturers would do well to adapt. The unified thermal core is great - imagine something like this in a modular PC form factor, maybe four-sided instead of three. You could have the motherboard/CPU on one face, GPUs on one or two of the others, and the fourth used for hard drives/SSDs or for future expansion. Motherboards could be redesigned to put the RAM slots on the back side (presumably in an angled low-profile form factor) as well as the M.2 slot. With a unified thermal core, GPUs wouldn't need their own heatsinks any more, they would just rely on the one that comes with the case. The entire thing could be cooled with one large fan (something like Silverstone's excellent 180mm offerings) on the bottom, blowing upward through the central heatsink.

The Mac Pro uses components that aren't particularly known for low TDP (LGA 2011 CPUs and two mid-range AMD GCN GPUs) and it can still handle the heat. So a design like this wouldn't need to involve compromises in power or modularity, while it could mean a far smaller physical footprint and less noise.
 
Mar 27, 2009
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I think that as time goes by, the outdated ATX form factor is becoming a bigger and bigger albatross in the PC market. Many power users would like something that offers modularity and upgradeability, but doesn't result in the tremendous waste of space that ATX does. Even Mini-ITX just scales things down without fixing some of the underlying issues (such as poor thermal management and a ginormous PSU).

In my opinion, the 2013 Mac Pro offers a lot of innovative ideas that PC manufacturers would do well to adapt. The unified thermal core is great - imagine something like this in a modular PC form factor, maybe four-sided instead of three. You could have the motherboard/CPU on one face, GPUs on one or two of the others, and the fourth used for hard drives/SSDs or for future expansion. Motherboards could be redesigned to put the RAM slots on the back side (presumably in an angled low-profile form factor) as well as the M.2 slot. With a unified thermal core, GPUs wouldn't need their own heatsinks any more, they would just rely on the one that comes with the case. The entire thing could be cooled with one large fan (something like Silverstone's excellent 180mm offerings) on the bottom, blowing upward through the central heatsink.

The Mac Pro uses components that aren't particularly known for low TDP (LGA 2011 CPUs and two mid-range AMD GCN GPUs) and it can still handle the heat. So a design like this wouldn't need to involve compromises in power or modularity, while it could mean a far smaller physical footprint and less noise.
As far as power supply innovation goes, I would just to see something like this for DIY:

https://youtu.be/vLbWZA0L49c?t=63

(pretty amazing the PSU it can removed with disconnecting any cables, for a cramped SFF case I reckon that could really help making builds easier as well as potentially helping airflow)

P.S. As far as PSU for Mini-ITX goes, going SFX can help reduce size (and I really like how Corsair has bumped fan size to 92mm on their SFX unit. Thats got to help airflow and/or noise in a space constrained case compared to 80mm all things being equal).
 


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