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Is Now a Good Time to Buy a PC?

by Liam Major

Buying a new PC is a momentous decision. It means changing your trusted hardware and sticking with something new for potentially years to come. It’ll lock you into the games you can play and how fast you can finish your work, even if you do throw a few upgrades at it over the years.

And it’s especially difficult when there always seems to be something new and exciting over the horizon.

All of those typical issues are compounded by the ongoing graphics pricing crisis which has seen GPUs become much more expensive than they would typically sell for. Buying a pre-built gaming PC is still the best way to get a graphics card in 2021, but whether you want a PC for work or play, now is a great time to buy one.

Here are some of the best reasons now is the right time to buy a PC.

CPU and GPU prices are stabilising

Close up image of the top-side fan on the Nvidia RTX 3080 GPU
Image source: Nvidia

The last 12 months have seen processors and graphics cards priced so far above their recommended retail price that it’s been almost impossible to build DIY computers, especially if a high-powered graphics card was required.

Global silicon shortages and demand for cryptocurrency mining hardware have meant that pre-built gaming PCs have been the only good way to get an affordable system.

But things are starting to change.

As global supply picks up and demands lessen in the wake of the cryptocurrency crash, prices of the most important CPUs and graphics cards are starting to stabilise and fall. Like Intel’s 10th-generation Comet Lake CPUs, some processors are selling at their lowest prices since release, making them all the more viable.

Top of the line processors like the Intel Core i9-10900K are now a very viable alternative to newer (and admittedly, slightly faster) Intel 11th-generation and AMD Ryzen 5000 processors, thanks to this reduction.

Graphics cards too are starting to come down in price fast. Thanks to a glut of second-hand GPUs from Chinese miners flooding the market, and both AMD and Nvidia improving their supply lines to combat the shortages and price rises that have been endemic this past year, their prices are now looking far more reasonable.

We’re not out of the woods yet though, and prices will likely remain higher than they should be for some time to come. But, things are starting to look at a little better.

Those same price reductions that are hitting retailers are also bleeding into the pre-built market too, making Chillblast’s gaming PCs better value than ever – especially if you want to use one of the ultra-powerful new generation GPUs from AMD and Nvidia.

Other hardware prices are rising

Image of 2 sticks of G.Skill Trident Z Neo RGB RAM
Image source: G.Skill

Where CPUs and GPUs are finally becoming that bit more reasonable, there’s a growing problem with other component markets: their prices are starting to rise in turn.

Where the global silicon shortage initially hit processors and graphics cards due to their complexity and sheer silicon demands, they’re not the only products to be hit by it. In recent months, the prices of memory, solid state drives, and power supplies have started to rise too.

This can be felt most in the extreme performance kits of memory and with the most high-end PSUs, but it’s an effect that’s nearly universal throughout the industry.

SSDs and RAM are heavily affected because they were operating at historic lows in the years before this recent upturn in cost. As demand ran away from supply this past year, though, the cost of these components, and some others, have begun to shoot up and may not come down again for quite some time.

If your ideal PC means that you’re going to need lots of storage, memory, or a high-powered power supply, you may be better off buying sooner rather than later to avoid having to invest more than you might like on those all-important components.

AMD won’t have anything new for a while

Infographic showing AMD's CPU and GPU roadmap

The last couple of years have seen AMD and Intel release their best processors ever, with more cores, higher clock speeds, and greater per-core performance than anything that’s come before them.

Thanks to chip shortages and some major upcoming changes from both manufacturers, 2021 has been a little quiet – at least so far. While Intel is planning its 12th-generation Alder Lake processors for the latter half of the year, AMD isn’t expected to really launch anything that targets mainstream PC users in 2021.

It should have some new Threadripper processors out in the next few months, and there may be a refreshed line of 5000 XT chips in very late winter (or possibly early 2022), but its true next-generation hardware running Zen 4 cores isn’t coming until the latter half of next year.

That means that for the foreseeable future, the absolute best AMD processors are already available and now with prices becoming a little more reasonable, they’re more affordable too.

Intel’s Alder Lake may be something to wait for, especially since it utilises some exciting new (for desktop) CPU design principles that pair high-performance cores with high-efficiency cores. It’s not yet clear what effect this design will have on raw performance compared to existing high-end options, but early speculation suggests they will be interesting, for sure.

No GPUs Either

Graphics cards are unlikely to change much in 2021 either, with both AMD and Nvidia said to be working on their next-generation cards for a planned latter-half-of-2022 release.

We may see refreshed versions, akin to Nvidia’s Super cards from the RTX 2000 Turing generation, and AMD may be forced to follow suit in a similar fashion. But it’s unlikely we’ll see any major releases in the near future – at least until the supply of existing cards comes under control.

There will always be something just over the horizon that you may want to wait for, but in the middle of 2021, there’s a lot less coming down the pipe than usual. This makes now a great time to buy a PC, whether you want to use it for work or gaming.

Available GPUs are their fastest yet

Promotional image of an Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti GPU
Image Source: Nvidia

Even if you buy the fastest hardware available at any one time, there’s always going to be something that comes along and makes it look a little antiquated a short while later. That’s the nature of the industry and what makes it so exciting. Though, that doesn’t mean you can’t try to time your purchase to get the most for your money.

Mid-2021 represents a great time to buy a new gaming PC because there have been some big improvements in the latest hardware from Nvidia and AMD to make them more worthwhile.

Nvidia just released the RTX 3070 Ti and 3080 Ti GPUs, both of which offer an uplift in performance over their non-Ti counterparts. The 3080 Ti is particularly impressive, as it almost matches the RTX 3090 in most games, and yet costs far, far less. Its 12GB of GDDR6X memory should make it a much more future-proofed graphics card for 4K gaming as new games increase their VRAM demands, too.

AMD hasn’t launched anything new recently and is unlikely to in the near future, but it has benefited from the classic AMD “fine wine” approach to graphics card releases.

Thanks to continued optimizations and improvements in its drivers, AMD’s new-generation RX 6700 XT, 6800, 6800 XT, and 6900 XT, have all been reported as performing better in mid-2021 than they did at their launch – in some games, by up to 10%.

This isn’t a trend that’s unique to AMD, but its cards tend to get far better with age, whereas Nvidia’s are often more capable right out of the gate. If you were impressed with AMD’s RX 6000 cards when they first debuted, you’ll be even more impressed with them now.

Windows 11

Promotional image for Microsoft Windows 11 showing a laptop open with Windows 11 on screen with the words 'Introducing Windows 11' on the wall behind it
Image Source: Microsoft

Microsoft may have originally pledged for Windows 10 to be the last Windows operating system ever released, but Windows 11 is here anyway. This winter, it will launch officially, rolling out across new systems and upgraded Windows 10 PCs in the months that follow.

Although Chilblast and other system builders will offer PCs equipped with Windows 11 when it’s released, if you would rather upgrade when the time comes, or want to get an early look at it now as part of Microsoft’s Windows Insider program, you’ll need to meet the operating system’s new demands.

Even though Windows 11 doesn’t have overly strict system requirements, they are heftier than Windows 10.

You’ll need a 64-bit processor, and at least 4GB of RAM. However, the biggest change from Windows 10 is the need for a CPU that comes with Trusted Platform Module 2.0 support. This is a security feature that’s only present in processors from Intel’s eighth-generation onwards, and AMD’s Ryzen 2000 series or newer.

If you don’t have that, you’ll not be able to run Windows 11 now or in the future. Fortunately, even modest new-generation processors and PCs can run Windows 11 with ease. If you want to have a PC that’s ready for Windows 11, buying one now would be a great idea.

Get ready for 2021’s best big games

Poster for the upcoming Bethesda game Deathloop
Image Source: Bethesda

The summer is usually a bit of a slump when it comes to game releases and 2021 is no different.

Some of the year’s biggest game releases have already come and gone, but there are also several great games slated to make their big debut in the coming months.

Getting yourself a gaming PC now that’s ready and waiting for the hottest releases as they come – and more than capable of playing the best of the best games already released this year – is a great way to set yourself up for stellar gaming experiences this autumn.

Deathloop

Deathloop is one of the hottest upcoming games of 2021, putting you in the shoes of a hotshot assassin who must end the lives of eight individuals in one 24 hour period. Fail, and you’ll have to start all over again. Die by your enemy’s hand, or at the end of the barrel of a rival assassin who’s hunting you the whole time, and you’ll have to start again.

It’s a gorgeously stylized game with a great retro aesthetic that will look fantastic on new gaming PC’s this September.

Game capture image of Deathloop by Bethesda showing a female character dodging bullets

Far Cry 6

For a more typical FPS open-world experience, Far Cry 6 promises to be the best entry in the series when it debuts this October. With luscious foliage in its tropical setting, could this finally be the game that takes the crown from Crysis as the best looking island adventure yet? It’s certainly going to be the biggest and most bombastic Far Cry game, giving you all the more reason to play it on a brand new gaming PC.

Far Cry 6 promotional photo
Image Source: Epic

Age of Empires IV

More of a strategy fan? Age of Empires IV is just around the corner, and though it won’t be as demanding on your PC as some of the cutting edge shooter experiences, it’s still the best looking Age of Empires yet, and you’ll want a nice high frame rate if you want to play competitively.

Age of Empires IV game capture screenshot
Image Source: Steam

Forza Horizon 5

Forza Horizon 5 could be the most taxing game to debut this year, with its mix of real-time ray-traced audio effects, and some of the best looking cars ever made. Playground games have made sure that it’ll run on a PC with hardware that’s a few years old, but if you want to experience the true beauty of this next-generation racing experience at blistering high frame rates, you’ll want one of the new generation graphics cards in a powerful gaming PC.

Game capture image from Forza Horizon 5 of a group of cars driving down a mountain
Image Source: Steam

Perfection, the enemy of the good

Image of a Chillblast PC against a white background

There’s never a perfect time to buy a new PC, as there will always be something that comes along to make it feel less than perfect in short order.

Unless you have the deepest of pockets, there will always be someone with a more powerful PC than you, too. But that’s not what buying a new PC is about. It’s about getting a better experience than you have now, whether it’s work or play, and enjoying it for what you can do with it that you couldn’t do before.

If there’s a game out now or coming soon that you want to play, get a new PC to enjoy it to its fullest. If your work is suffering because your PC isn’t fast enough, get a new one so that you can be as productive as possible.

There’s never a perfect time to buy a new PC, but if it’s a good time for you, then it’s a great time to buy one.

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