The American writer Mark Twain wrote, "The clothes make the man." To some degree, I agree with Mr. Twain's declaration. After all, our society does place some value in how good something looks. If it didn't, people totally devoid of talent or discernible intelligence (teen idols and many vapid celebrities fit this description, as do certain figures in politics) would have been culled and have never risen to any sort of prominence that they enjoy today.
Mr. Twain's adage also holds true in the world of personal computing. Performance is not the end-all be-all. Aesthetics also play a big part in why we make the purchasing decisions that we do.
Let's look at certain categories of PC parts.
CPUs, you could argue, are fairly simple creatures in an aesthetic sense. The only differences between the competing products are that AMDs have pins and Intels do not. The presence (or absence) of pins are not, I would posit, aesthetic considerations. So CPUs are boring, just square/rectangular pieces of silicon and plated copper with some printing, and some gold contact points underneath. Big yawner.
But see, they can afford to look so staid because they get covered up. What wins the huge style points is the cooling system that guarantees the CPU's survival as it's doing its work.
Air coolers are not all alike. Some, such as the Thermaltake V1, are hideously ugly (just in my opinion; some people dig this design).
Other designs, such as the Zalman CNPS9700, are praised for their great looks. Again, this is just my opinion (though a survey of enthusiasts would likely reveal that this design is considered to be aesthetically successful).
Now, conduct a random count of users of these particular heatsinks (we really ought to count Zalman's CNPS9500 as well, since the CNPS9700 is just a slightly bigger version of it). I'm willing to buy you a cheeseburger that there are more Zalman users than there are Thermaltake V1 users. And one of the arguments users would cite is the product's looks.
(To be continued in Part 2 - Cases)
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