PC market poised for rebound, but consumers must seek SSDs

The PC market has struggled recently due to consumer preference for lower-cost tablets and sophisticated smartphones, but it may be poised for a comeback in 2014. Users will increasingly return to laptops and desktops as they seek to finally upgrade older machines and improve their productivity with faster processors. Since PCs will be used more frequently for tasks like media playback, file transfer and video storage, buyers should opt for SSD drives for optimal performance. Aftermarket SSDs may be the best choice, since many OEMs are still shipping their PCs with middle and low-end HDDs in order to reduce costs.

Whether individuals have new or old PCs, they usually have tablets or other mobile devices to go with them. A recent IDC survey cited by Hot​ Hardware's Joel Hruska found that almost two-thirds of respondents had smartphones and 45 percent had tablets. The proliferation of these devices may have slowed the PC upgrade cycle. Still, nearly all respondents stated that a PC was their main computer and a better productivity tool than more mobile alternatives. Forty percent planned to upgrade their hardware within 12 months, likely because of mounting frustrations over slow load times, inadequate playback speeds or slow read/write storage speeds.

Aftermarket SSDs key to getting value from PC hardware
A commercial SSD drive is essential for users who need speedy performance while editing or transferring files like videos and dense optical disc images, but many buyers are not getting the storage that they need when they purchase inexpensive laptops. Many PCs still come equipped with 5,400 RPM HDDs, meaning that new hardware often offers only a modest improvement over previous models. Aside from mobile proliferation, this shortcoming may explain why consumers have been more measured in upgrading their PCs.

"If you've upgraded to an SSD from a hard drive, you know that it's one of the most important speed boosts you can get," wrote Hruska. "It delivers the feeling that jumping to a new processor used to offer. There's an enormous [benefit] associated with going SSD, but top-end laptops are actually getting slower as far as storage is concerned."

Procuring an aftermarket SSD drive for video may be key to getting the most of out a computer that comes equipped with an HDD, since manufacturers appear to be prioritizing cost over performance.

For users who also handle large quantities of photos, a Blu-ray burner or external hard drive may also be needed for reliable storage. Writing for Forbes, Tony Bradley noted that cloud-based solutions can help, but that some services throttle upload speeds. Local storage may be a valuable supplement to online backup.

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