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General Chat Thread, The desktop PC needs a makeover in General; Do you agree and are there any changes you would like to see? I think there is definitely a lot ...
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    The desktop PC needs a makeover

    Do you agree and are there any changes you would like to see? I think there is definitely a lot of room for improvement myself.

    Article: Tech Report

    My PC is full of air and unoccupied slots and bays. I have four 5.25" optical drive bays that I don't use. The top one houses a DVD burner, but I can't remember the last time I stuck a disc in it. I moved to Canada over three years ago, and I'm positive that I've never purchased a blank DVD in this country.

    Half of the expansion slots on my motherboard are set dressing. I only have a dual-slot graphics card and a sound card. In fairness, I use five of my six hard-drive bays—but that's because I'm still holding on to old drives, including a 320GB WD Caviar SE16. If I were to build a new system today, I would probably need just two 3.5" bays, with one 4TB hard drive in each. Add a 2.5" solid-state drive for my OS and applications, and I'd be set.

    I'm sure I'm not alone. In fact, I'm willing to bet the vast majority of PC gamers and enthusiasts out there have just as much empty space in their PCs. Oh, don't get me wrong; leaving room for upgrades is fine. However, in the age of laptops, iPads, and smartphones, it seems a little strange that we should all have humongous mid-tower PCs full of air.

    Over the past few days, I've been trying to picture what a modern desktop PC ought to look like. We could redesign everything completely, of course—introduce new form factors all over the place and wind up with something close to perfection. However, I think we can already improve things greatly with a few simple, practical steps:
    • Let's make microATX the new default for desktops. microATX provides enough expansion for a couple of graphics cards plus one wildcard, uh, card, which is about all most of us will ever need. We can keep ATX around for workstations and extreme quad-GPU rigs.

    • Get rid of 5.25" bays. Just get rid of 'em. Optical media is dead, and there are far better ways to backup your data than to burn a DVD or Blu-ray.

    • While we're at it, let's have smaller power supplies, too. Pretty much nobody needs a 1kW PSU. Heck, I figure most gaming PCs draw less than 500W. I'm sure we don't need to devote a cubic foot at the bottom of every case to AC-DC conversion. Switching to the SFX form factor could be a viable option there; Silverstone already makes a nice 450W SFX PSU.

    • Speaking of power, we could save users a lot of grief by simplifying power cabling. Heck, we could build it right into the enclosure—connect the PSU to the case with a big, standardized connector, and have strategically placed plugs and connectors sprout off where they're needed. All of the sudden, you no longer need loads of space around the motherboard and behind the motherboard tray for cable routing.

    • In line with the above, we might as well integrate SATA data connectors into drive bays, too. Just make every bay behave like a docking station and pre-route the cables. I guess we'll also want an option to bypass or upgrade the integrated cables, since high-end SATA Express SSDs are presumably just around the corner. Not all drives will need a 2GB/s interface, though.

    • Come up with a unified connector for front LEDs and buttons. This is long, long overdue. Seriously, how hard could it be to call up major motherboard makers and make them all agree on a common pin-out? Give it a snazzy marketing name, add it to the list of features along with your military-grade capacitors and auto-overclocking voodoo, and move on. Sheesh.

    • On the cooling side of things, let's try to arrange the stock fans in order to maintain positive internal pressure. And let's avoid having huge, unfiltered grates at the top of the case. You don't see anyone cracking open their laptop to vacuum dust out of it every six months. Desktop PCs shouldn't require that, either.

    • Oh, and give us more I/O at the front. Even high-end cases usually have only four front USB ports, and those tend to be all crowded together. I'd like to be able to leave at least a couple of charging cables plugged in permanently and still have room for chunky thumb drives and USB headsets.
    The broader point, though, is that desktop PCs could use a makeover. With just a handful of good initiatives, and maybe a new standard or two, we could make desktop PCs substantially simpler to build, more straightforward to use, and easier to carry around. Not every enclosure needs built-in cabling for everything plus a dozen front-panel ports, but we should at least offer those options. The easier it is to build a PC, the more people will do it, and the better the industry will be.
    I like the idea of having pre-routed cables and/or integrated connectors because even with large ATX cases such as the one shown below you still have a rats nest of cables behind one of the side panels. Mini-ITX cases are worse still.



    Why haven't all motherboard manufacturers adopted a standard connector for the front panel cables similar to the Q-Connector that Asus bundle with their motherboards?



    With most enthusiasts switching to SSDs, why do the majority of cases still have tons of 3.5" drive bays? In a mid-tower case you often find 3-6 bays for HDDs. If you are going to have that many drives why not move them into NAS and remove a huge source of heat and noise?
    Last edited by Arthur; 17th August 2013 at 01:55 PM.

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    I think the writer is close minded. Those things exist in the most part. He clearly hasn't built a full on gaming PC recently and therefore isn't in a position to judge requirements.

    I've been saying for years that the PC market will be moving more towards a unified approach ala Mac leaving desktops like this for the enthusiasts. There's some good points but I think he's had a very, very limited exposure to what actually happens underneath those steel/aluminium panels and the minds of gamers/performance enthusiasts.

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    "Optical media is dead."

    No it isn't. DVDs, Bluray disks, CDs, retail PC games.

    Having the ability to use the things you own shouldn't be dependent of a specific company staying in business.

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    There are hundreds of options for cases and systems doing pretty much what he said about. The reason for things to exist the way they do is standardisation, making it possible for as many things as possible to interconnect whilst still leaving things very much open. It's obvious that single connections would never work, and frankly if anyone finds that sort of thing a little beyond them, then they shouldn't be building a PC. They should be buying off the shelf, clearly. It's not having a go at people; you wouldn't buy a kit car if you didn't have a clue how to fit it or the importance of each part. I've re-read the article to see if my original comment was harsh, but I stand by it, the guy is a muppet.

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    I also think he's wrong about DVDs being 'dead'. Apple think that they are, but Apple have an incentive to get rid of them, which is forcing the end user to buy everything they want to watch/listen to through iTunes.

    I'd expect a case I bought to have a DVD bay, and two 3.5" bays for hard disks. Many enthusiasts will have a pair of drives, with a SSD as a system drive and a high capacity platter for stuff. I've been using Shuttle XPcs for a few years now (well, about 8 years) and the one I'm on at the moment has that. I still need and regularly use my DVD drive.

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    tbh i think the desktop pc is a dying breed. i suspect apart from enthusiasts who often want/need lots of hdd bays (my desktop has 3 hard drives os/my docs/av and my microserver 6). as above you can get small cases but inbuilt wiring looms cause issues as a current board might have sata ports say bottom right but next years they might move somewhere else making the case useless or in need of adapters. i suspect the closest thing to a desktop in the near future will be like the intel nuc's and large amounts of data will be nas based or cloud based

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    Quote Originally Posted by Flatpackhamster View Post
    I also think he's wrong about DVDs being 'dead'.
    You're right. Optical media isn't completely dead yet since cheap super fast broadband isn't ubiquitous and streaming video is nowhere near as good quality as you get with Blu-ray. However, many people are happy subscribing to music services like Spotify/Rdio, uploading the music they already own to Google Play/Amazon Cloud Player, renting movies through Netflix/LoveFilm and buying PC games from Steam, Origin etc.

    For the people that do need a optical drive, why not get an external USB DVD or BD drive? After all, if you need a floppy drive you would most likely buy a USB floppy drive.

    Quote Originally Posted by Flatpackhamster View Post
    I'd expect a case I bought to have a DVD bay, and two 3.5" bays for hard disks.
    Why can't more case manufacturers mount optical drives vertically? There isn't any reason for them to take up a 5.25" drive bay or even be internal.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Arthur View Post
    You're right. Optical media isn't completely dead yet since cheap super fast broadband isn't ubiquitous and streaming video is nowhere near as good quality as you get with Blu-ray. However, many people are happy subscribing to music services like Spotify/Rdio, uploading the music they already own to Google Play/Amazon Cloud Player, renting movies through Netflix/LoveFilm and buying PC games from Steam, Origin etc.

    For the people that do need a optical drive, why not get an external USB DVD or BD drive? After all, if you need a floppy drive you would most likely buy a USB floppy drive.


    Why can't more case manufacturers mount optical drives vertically? There isn't any reason for them to take up a 5.25" drive bay or even be internal.

    cus having a load of external usb connected things is rubbish. DVD drives are about 20 quid, and considering they are most home users backup for their home vids (this won't change too quickly) I can't see them disappearing.

    As for slot loaders... didn't we all learn from VHS recorders, kids love to post things in holes like that (Ok I am biased because my little one has just started crawling, I'm already spotting things which need to be... err baby proofed :P )

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    We all appear to be forgetting one thing with regards to the lack of optical drives and the apparent "onslaught" of online services.

    Go outside the surburbs and tell me how good the broadband is there.

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    Agree with that, my bb is a whole 2 meg. I can almost watch in nearly SD quality....

    Nowhere near HD! :'(

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamo View Post
    Agree with that, my bb is a whole 2 meg. I can almost watch in nearly SD quality....

    Nowhere near HD! :'(
    Your lucky yours is twice the speed of mine...

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    Nothing beats sitting back with a DVD boxed set for an entire series. Likely picked up cheap, no adverts, watch everything in episode order and no worries if your net is slow or down.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arthur View Post
    With most enthusiasts switching to SSDs, why do the majority of cases still have tons of 3.5" drive bays?
    I understood the Intel NUC was meant to be the first of a new motherboard standard - I can't remember the standard name, and the Wikipedia entry is surprisingly short:

    Next Unit of Computing - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    However, a 10cm by 10cm motherboard capable of supporting Core i7 processors, 32GB of RAM and two mini-PCIe slots does make for a very capable computing platform.

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    Quote Originally Posted by synaesthesia View Post
    We all appear to be forgetting one thing with regards to the lack of optical drives and the apparent "onslaught" of online services.

    Go outside the surburbs and tell me how good the broadband is there.
    even in the suburbs 4 miles from leeds 700k

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arthur View Post
    For the people that do need a optical drive, why not get an external USB DVD or BD drive? After all, if you need a floppy drive you would most likely buy a USB floppy drive.
    That seems to be the argument being made by Apple, who are charging £85 for one. That does mean more desk clutter, though. Printer/scanner (or two separate units), leads for phone/camera, speakers, backup hard drive, external DVD drive...

    I suppose it depends if you have acres of desk space and like trailing leads.


    Why can't more case manufacturers mount optical drives vertically? There isn't any reason for them to take up a 5.25" drive bay or even be internal.
    No reason, I'm sure. IME a full-size DVD drive lasts much longer than one of those dinky little jobbies but I'm sure my experience isn't 'proof' by any measure.

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