With the 2011 Gate's Grant round edging onto our radar, I thought it prudent to update quotes and offerings. Boy was I surprised. Our standard system build is still a relevant build and one of the better deals available, but pricing seems to be going in the wrong direction. They are now about $150.00 more than when they started.
I decided to investigate. Was it this particular configuration? Within the scope of Dell's offerings the answer was no. When I expended the search to include competitive brands like HP and Lenovo that were close in price last year, the answer was still no.
Here's why, from what I can tell. Basic component costs were bottomed out last year. Labor shortages coupled with increased labor and materials costs in major supplier countries like China are a direct influence.
Tech Spot - Mother Board Prices to Rise in First Half of 2011
The story is similar with memory prices - http://bit.ly/gKeBtY - and other basic components that are used to make the various parts that make up a computer. It seems that computer manufacturers and vendors are already anticipating (or experiencing) the rise in component costs and have adjusted current pricing accordingly.
What does it mean for you? Whether or not you're library is a Gates' Grant recipient for the 2010-2011 cycle, it means the computers will be a bit more expensive for a similar configuration this year. You can buy much less PC for fewer dollars, a bit less PC for the same dollars, the same PC for more dollars, or more PC for much more dollars. For those of you not in the Gates' round, you could wait it out, prices do tend to fluctuate up and down like a sign wave. There is no guarantee that they'll come down anytime soon though.
My recommendation? Be aware of the current pricing increases. Keep an eye out for good deals. And purchase PCs as needed without worrying too much about the longer term pricing fluctuations. The title was mostly a hook ... As one of my favorite guides cautions - "Don't Panic"