My laptop is nearing 10-years old. Thus I'm starting to do some research on any potential new computer purchase. The problem is, I feel like currently we are in the worst time to buy a new computer. I feel that we are at the tail end of x86. And unlike phones, I expect my computer to last for around 10 years, not 4 or 5.
Problem 1: Windows 11
As expected, my Windows 10 laptop is not eligible for Windows 11 because it doesn't have a supported processor. Problem is, Microsoft drew a really harsh line on processor requirements, with minimum being 8th gen intel, which were just released in 2018. That's just three years ago. Sure, Windows 10 is supported until 2025. However, it begs the question whether an x86 computer I buy today would even be supported on a future version of Windows 5 years from now. Highly suspect. Of course, coincidentally 2018 is roughly the first batch of Snapdragon supporting Windows 10 SoCs. With Microsoft themselves doing their own ARM chips, to me Windows 11 is akin of the "Big Sur" of Windows, aka it's a telltale of Microsoft' transition to ARM, by quickly abandoning anything 4 years or older x86 processors. It really begs the question if buying a Windows computer today (which are not cheap thanks to the shortages), a good idea if the whole x86 platform is being left behind?
Problem 2: intel
We know intel's lackluster performance per watt, although they boosted their performance a bit with the 11th gen. But what if intel themselves are ditching x86? Intel is acquiring SiFive. That's a huge hint of intel themselves are transitioning. Of course, the problem for a consumer is that today, intel is still making x86 processors. But it's not a good feeling when you bought an expensive laptop, and see the processor manufacturer itself abandoning the architecture mere years after. Then you add the Windows anxiety above.
Problem 3: the rest are moving to ARM
nVidia is acquiring ARM. That's obvious. Qualcomm is doubling down on their Windows supporting SoCs. Even AMD is rumored to have ARM processors in the making. And of course, we have Apple, the first in line.
So why I think it's the worst time to buy a computer (that I want to last and supported for 10 years or so)? As a consumer, I feel:
- right now, I see expensive x86 laptops at the tail end of the architecture
- consumer ARM solutions for Windows is not yet here, so we are in a transition vacuum
- looking at Apple, also expensive, they only have the M1 ready at this point, and Apple is known to drop support of machines more aggressively
It's obvious that Microsoft's stringent Windows 11 system requirements is to nudge people to buy new computers. But as a more tech savvier consumer, now I feel that I would need to hold on to my old PCs even longer to wait for the ARM transition instead of wasting money on a dead-end x86 architecture. 🙃
Here's hoping my laptop is not dying anytime soon.