Do enthusiasts get ripped off?

Written by Mark Mackay

September 7, 2009 | 10:40

Tags: #enthusiast #motherboard #overclocking

Companies: #asus

As just about every bit-tech reader will know, hardware that falls into the ‘enthusiast’ bracket often carries a fat price tag. People who take hobbies seriously are - more often than not - willing to invest serious amounts of money in them and hardware enthusiasts are no different. But are manufacturers taking it too far with their pricing of enthusiast products?
The most notable and long-standing enthusiast product might well be Intel’s Extreme Edition CPUs. They’ve certainly got the cool name and the bragging rights that inevitably come from such an exclusive price tag. I wonder how much it costs Intel to actually unlock the CPU multiplier? Clearly, that's not what you're paying for - so Intel also claims that the chips are taken right from the centre of the wafer where the silicon is purest, harbouring fewer miniscule imperfections which could potentially lead to instability when pushing overclocks to Timbuktu and beyond.

Do enthusiasts get ripped off? Do Enthusiasts Get Ripped Off?
The Asus Rampage II Extreme is arguably the pinnacle of enthusiast motherboard design. But does it give us our money's worth?

Another example of pricey 'enthusiast' kit might be MSI’s N260 GTX Lightning or Razer’s Mamba mouse. The Mamba was a hell of a mouse but when it comes to value it's little better than atrocious. I'm not denying companies need to, and should be looking to, make profits, but I can't be alone in suspecting that the mark-up on the Mamba is probably a good deal higher than on some of Razer's more mainstream models.

Perhaps it's not all that surprising that a top-end product has a fat profit margin on it. I'm sure Ferrari and Lamborghini make more margin on their cars than Ford does on its latest Fiesta, but I do think the rampant over-pricing of enthusiast kit means there's an opportunity to be taken. Not all performance cars cost the same as a Ferrari - hot hatches, for instance, offer speed without the luxury trimmings to keep their prices slightly more sane - so why doesn't a hardware firm make a line of products where the focus is on delivering maximum performance at as reasonable a price as possible. Forget the fancy packaging, forget the gimmicky widgets and screw the fancy paint jobs and novelty heatsinks.

Sure there are a lot of people who want all these trimmings, but there must considerably more that want rapid kit without spending on money of boxes that are going sit under the bed collecting dust or features that they’ll never use. Considering that most hardware publications benchmark most hardware and rate the all important price to performance ratio as paramount, such a product line would soon make a name for itself in the community.
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