Components: a recipe for success

All the right components can make up a very good PC. But choosing the contents of your new machine can be tricky, because technology moves so quickly these days. We look at the components market, and asks the question: How do you beat remorse?

"What I buy today may be obsolete tomorrow." I am sure that most resellers are sick and tired of those words, but the fact of the matter is that, to a certain extent, they are true.

If you take into consideration the GHz race, the 64-bit race and (now) the dual-core race, it is understandable that customers could perceive technology as moving too quickly to invest in.

According to World Computer Systems (WCS) MD, Mohammad Denath, customers should not put off buying a piece of equipment.

"Components are built with a certain application and lifecycle in mind," he says. "If you buy the latest and greatest today, chances are strong that you will not need anything more powerful for a while, even if new products come out."

"The technical specialist has his opinion on specifications -- while the end-user has a clear idea on what is required from an application perspective. It is meeting both their objectives, through an appropriate 'mix' of quality components and technologies, that is often a difficult task," adds Michael Hann, business manager at Rectron.

The end result, Hann says, should be a commercially viable, reliable, performance-orientated and future-proofed PC or server, which represents sound value for money.

Granted, component hype is something for which the media is largely to blame, but, as Nick Christodoulou from Workgroup says, hype is no substitute for being 'clued up.'

He says that while anyone may preach "investment protection" as the key attribute of an enlightened technology purchasing decision, this does not always make a lot of sense in the component space, where uncertainty seems to be the only upshot of constant hints at the latest and greatest developments.

"Faced with this reality, most organizations simply adopt a wait-and-see attitude, hoping to short-circuit any technology buying that would leave them with outdated equipment before it is even installed," Christodoulou says.

"But this approach may not always be a feasible cure for organizations that need to replace equipment as a matter of necessity, but are still not sure what to buy. In the server space, in particular, hesitation prevails right now, with a host of new technologies being brought to market. These technologies are allowing you to have your cake, and eat it, too."

Mobility is still the flavor of the month, and it should be for a while. According to Denath, the integration of wireless functionality has reached epidemic proportions, with everything from PDAs, to cell phones, and even MP3 players, incorporating some form of WiFi support.

Also, with 64-bit memory addressability being introduced in both AMD and Intel's processors, and the introduction of dual-core, software seems to have a lot of catching up to do to take full advantage of the performance increases.

"PCI-Express," says Bobby Richter, LightEdge Technology technical director, "is still scarce, but has revolutionized the dated PCI bus, and will soon replace current AGP 8x graphics bus slots."

According to the various vendors promoting PCI Express, the performance gains on graphics are very much worth the small price premium over existing AGP offerings.