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Specs – No Longer Useful

It is good to be at this stage of technology. You can now walk into a store and pick up a piece of software knowing that 80% of the time it will work on your computer without issues assuming your PC is not more than 4 years old. Things used to be very different. I remember looking anxiously at the software I bought hoping that my PC met the minimum system requirements. The tiny label at the base of the box was very important.

Remember this label? SVGA graphics. Heh.

Remember this label? SVGA graphics. Heh.

Not Anymore 

We have to a stage where the increase in performance between processor generations is not game changing. This is obviously for the desktop/laptop end. Between Core2Duo to the upcoming Ivy Bridge, changes have been massive architecturally but the end result is similar for 90% of mainstream users. You won’t necessarily get a gaming performance boost or an increase in productivity if you are only using Office styled applications. Power users will of course see a difference but that is a different case altogether.

The early part of the 2000s saw the continued focus of increasing clock cycles. This is your CPU’s speed. We tapped out at about 3GHz stock. Then Intel went towards the Pentium D series which was a pretty primitive form of Dual Core. The game changer came with the Core2Duo/Quad series. Innovations beyond that were incremental for the mainstream user.

Intel's Core2Duo. The point where the mainstream stops worrying.

Intel's Core2Duo. The point where the mainstream stops worrying.

The same goes with RAM. We hit 4GB mainstream for 3-4 years and it has not changed. Sure you can do 32GB on the cheap now but again mainstream users will feel no difference.

The only component that continues to thrive and improve in a major fashion are graphics cards. Generation by generation AMD and nVidia have been knocking themselves out with significant improvements.

So there you go. On the desktop end, specs are important only to a very minor degree for mainstream users. As long your PC isn’t past 3-4 years in age and you have a decent graphics card, you are good to go.

Mobile Platforms 

It is even more incredible to see people slugging out a spec war on mobile platforms. I’ll begin with iOS. There is absolutely no reason to be excited about more processing power or memory on iOS devices. Your apps are already fully optimized, upgrading just for specs yield zilch end user detectable improvements. Take the ‘new iPad’ as an example. The only spec worthy to upgrade for is the higher resolution screen. The increase in CPU and GPU power means nothing to the end user. The only reason why these have been bumped is to ensure that apps can function as smoothly as they were before now that they face a 4x increase in resolution. The new specs alone will not make your apps run faster or smoother. iOS is a well optimized platform with apps that run smoothly. There is absolutely no reason to go gaga over higher clock cycles or more cores.

The same goes for Windows Phone. I find it baffling that some carriers cite the lack of a dual core processor on a Windows phone. Are you kidding me? That’s like complaining that your domestic auto car does not have a Ferrari engine. Windows Phone is yet another closed platform and a beta one in itself. It runs perfectly smooth with just a single core. Like iOS, it is very well optimized and the apps and operating system does not need more that what it has. Stop asking for more specs when there is completely no necessity for it. I am sure when Microsoft bumps Windows Phone to v.8 (Apollo) there would be a need for an increase in specs. But definitely not now. Bemoaning the lack of a good CPU shows an incredible lack of knowledge of the industry. Shameful comments from so called insiders.

Closed Platform Devices do not need to bother about specs

Closed Platform Devices do not need to bother about specs

I can understand why specs are important for Android users. Android is open. Used and abused by many third party manufacturers. Touchwiz, Sense UI, etc are customized versions of Android modified and run by Samsung, HTC, etc phones. Yes, they need the specs to be bumped because Android is an ever expanding platform with no real hard limits set by an authoritative review team like that of iOS and Windows Phone. Some apps require a ridiculous amount of power to run, so specs are important. Android does feel like the PC days of yore as mentioned above. So if you are an Android user, specs are important. If you are comparing to iOS or WP, stop looking at their specs. They mean zilch. All their apps run buttery smooth without the need of overpowered components.

Mindsets 

It is common for geeks to go crazy over specs. The legacy of the PC world (early 2000s) made many of us concerned about components. In this day and age such worries are over for mainstream consumers. Even more so for the mobile space bar Android. So the next time someone talks to you about specs, ask yourself – Is it really useful in an end user’s point of view?

The answer is probably – ‘Not’.

Dave Junia

Dave Junia | administrator

Analyst. Cyclist. Photographer

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