Friday I saw a story from a financial publication suggesting that DDR3 DRAM prices will be increasing soon due to increasing demand for PCs, thanks to Windows 10’s release and the back-to-school season.
That got me thinking, and while memory prices aren’t at an all-time low right now, they are pretty cheap. A Crucial Ballistix Sport 16GB kit runs about $105 right now. About two years ago, I paid $99 for the same kit. According to the pricing history available to me, the cheapest it’s ever been was $70, and the highest it’s been is $160.
Last year I got a Samsung LN-S2338W 23″ LCD TV at an insanely low price. The catch was that it didn’t behave very well–the buttons didn’t always work, and the TV liked to turn itself off randomly, or sometimes it even turned itself on.
It wasn’t haunted–it needed a power supply. Samsung TVs of this era had a recall due to defective capacitors in their power supplies, but either this one never got fixed, or wasn’t fixed completely. But it’s not too difficult to fix it yourself.
I’m not particularly worried about this, but under the very worst case scenario, certain solid-state disks can theoretically lose data in a week or two if they’re left without power. But that doesn’t instill panic and get clicks when you say it like that.
But you knew I was going to write about it. Let me tell you why I’m not worried.
SSD pricing continues to be competitive, and if I were buying an SSD today, I would have a tough decision ahead of me. The Crucial BX100 would be the obvious choice, with its good speed, super-low power consumption, and attractive price, at $99 for the 250GB model and around $185 for the 500GB model.
But there’s an underdog: the PNY CS1111. Bear with me on that one: It’s a little slower than the Crucial, but costs 15% less.
Over Thanksgiving weekend I picked up a discarded 23-inch LCD HDTV, a Samsung LN-S2341W. The television’s biggest problem, it turned out, was that it didn’t have an ATSC tuner so it couldn’t pick up over the air broadcasts after analog broadcasts came to an end in 2009. Read more
I’m not quite ready to upgrade to a 4K (4096×2160 resolution) monitor yet, but if you are, Samsung’s 28″ 4K display is on sale for $400 (down from $700) for Cyber Monday.
At that size and resolution, it works out to 165 pixels per inch, which is very close to what we used to call “near letter quality” in the days of dot matrix printers. To me, this seems more practical than using a 42″ 4K television, and the refresh rate is much better.
Keep in mind you do need Displayport to drive a 4K display. Most video cards costing $100 and up have those these days, but even some Geforce 210 cards have them, like this Jaton.
If you’re in the market for some new PC gear, it helps to measure reliability and quality of hardware. How do you measure that? How about buying the one that induces the least buyer’s remorse? That’s an approach you can take with the data from Hardware.fr. It’s in French, but Google Translate works.
This doesn’t measure long-term reliability–only DOA rate and short-term reliability–but it’s data I haven’t seen before, so I think it’s a welcome resource.
Every once in a while I get a question about what SSD I recommend, since I’ve been buying them a long time. I always recommend the best price you can get on someone who makes their own memory chips, which means the cheapest drive you can get from Micron/Crucial, Intel, Samsung, Toshiba, or Sandisk.
Back in the spring I bought a used computer. My wife wanted one, and while I probably could have cobbled something together for her, I didn’t have any extra Windows 7 licenses. So I bought a home-built Pentium D-based machine with Windows 7 on it from an estate sale for $70. The Windows license is worth that, so it was like getting the hardware for free.
When I got the hardware home to really examine it, it turned out not to be quite as nice as I initially thought. It was a fairly early Socket 775 board, so it used DDR RAM and had an AGP slot, limiting its upgrade options. The system ran OK, but not great, and it was loud.
The hard drive was a 160 GB Western Digital IDE drive built in 2003. That’s an impressive run, but a drive that old isn’t a good choice for everyday use. It’s at the end of its life expectancy and it’s not going to be fast. This weekend I got around to replacing it with an SSD. Read more