While Intel keeps getting their CPUs slightly faster each year, and slightly less power hungry each year, Microsoft keeps making Windows slightly better going from 7 to 8 and then 8.1 (yes, I think Windows is getting better despite Metro UI) – the elephant question in the PC universe is “why sales go down each year?”. Wintel tried netbooks and failed. They tried ultrabooks and failed to reverse market trends. Many people were quick to declare death of PC, but I think that PCs are more mature than ever, they are more powerful than ever, and we see decline in the “renewal” purchases, because experience with PCs purchased 3-5 years ago is still good. There is no incentive go out and buy new PCs unless you are into extreme overclocked dual- and triple- GPU gaming or bitcoin mining. If anything, PC sales were eaten by cheaper RAM and SSDs. For most home users 8GB RAM is a lot, and by replacing HDDs with SSD, any PC gets tremendous boost, which is enough to delay purchase for another 3-4 years. I personally use Core2Quad overclocked to 4GHz , with SSD, and only thing that I might need to upgrade, is gaming GPU (HD5870).
That was prelude, however. What I would like to emphasize now, is that “normal” users usually do not know GigaBytes from GigaHertzs and couldn’t care less. For them, incentive to upgrade will come solely based from feeling rather than from technology buzzwords. I suggest, that the next upgrade wave will be triggered by fully silent and fanless PCs. Note here, I am not talking here about laptops or ultrabooks, those still got many things to improve technologically, e.g. speed/battery life, and for F### sake, outdoor display readability.
Intel’s BayTrail Quad core CPUs in the J2000 series look like a very close hit. I have used 2 previous Atom generations for htpc, and this one, finally, seems like a non-compromise htpc for family movie/web usage. It is powerful enough to simultaneously show several movies and keep torrenting in background, along with a cloud file sync and even host my web development projects. And it is fully silent, and low-power, so that I can keep it on 24x7.
Let’s revisit this in 3 years time and see how it went, ok?