Skip to main content

How USB 3.0 Could Help Kill The Desktop?

A press release landed in our inbox recently, announcing the launch of a new series of laptops from a well known manufacturer, with the entry level model sporting 8GB RAM.

Today's market is such that you can get an extremely powerful laptop with a many-core processor running at multi-GigaHertz speeds, a huge hard disk drive and oodles of RAM for under £400.

And given that Microsoft has been working hard to streamline Windows - since Vista - to be as resource-efficient as possible, I'm left with the impression that never in the history of computing, has so much computational power been thrown at such undemanding software.

Add to that, the industry drive to cloudify and mobil-ify everything and one has to wonder whether traditional desktops (I'm not talking about thin clients here) are still relevant.

I believe, though, that the democratisation of one piece of technology, USB 3.0, might be the final nail in the coffin for the good ol' desktop.

The most compelling reason to choose a desktop over a laptop, other than performance, is expansion capabilities. Apple knows this, and has consequently been pushing Thunderbolt across all its laptops to allow users to connect everything from storage to monitors and more to their mobile computers.

PCs are not there yet. USB 2.0 does not have enough bandwidth to service the breadth of devices that are often connected to one computer. USB 3.0 promises to change all this sooner rather than later.

At the moment, I am running two full HD screens, one via my D-SUB port and the other via a USB port, with my laptop screen being the third display. Performance for the USB monitor is still sub-par and suffers from lag.

With USB 3.0, the experience is likely to be seamless, with far greater bandwidth available. And with qHD (2,560 x 1,440 pixels) USB displays just around the corner, combined with much better chipset support for multi screens from x86 and non x86 players, that could well be what power users need to break away from the desktop legacy and embrace laptops.

Desire worked at ITProPortal right at the beginning and was instrumental in turning it into the leading publication we all know and love today. He then moved on to be the Editor of TechRadarPro - a position he still holds - and has recently been reunited with ITProPortal since Future Publishing's acquisition of Net Communities.