The coming end of Anandtech?

Warning, speculative and pointless drama ahead!

I’ve been checking the site out for the last 6 months waiting for the announcement that Anand is retiring and moving on to some PR/technical job with Intel (or some other chipmaker).

Two years ago Anandtech had reclaimed its place as one of the premier hardware sites. They seemed to be on the cutting edge of the transition from PC to mobile in the tech review world, Anand was very interested in mobile chip technologies and their constant improvement and commoditization, he was having interviews with Senior Intel heads, ARM and AMD, Brian Klug was on the cutting edge of mobile phone reviewing. They uncovered widespread and persistent benchmark cheating among smart phone manufacturers. Brian’s and Anand’s last mobile show together at MWC in February 2014.

And the site has basically been run by other people since then.

I listened to every podcast he released, before he stopped making them, and it seemed clear he was tired of generic PC reviewing. Running benchmark tests on some table full of 80+% Gold Star power supplies was the last thing he wanted to do now. He seemed genuinely shocked when he spoke with one of his hardware reviewers for the first time in person and learned that, from the horses mouth, all the guy wanted in life was 7% overclocking headroom on his CPU, when it seemed so clear to Anand that the user-serviceable PC marketplace was a dead man walking and overclocking in general was just so mundane. He only seemed to come to life when he was interviewing Industry people in a professional manner and setting, about professional issues, not grousing about some foible of some consumer product with some bros. Brian Klug started dropping hints here and there that part of his expertise was that he was simply reporting what other, more skilled hackers were doing - still a great guy and all, but maybe he wasn’t three gold star material but perhaps two gold stars and a silver. Brian’s hardly done anything at Anandtech in months, and their last podcast he seemed dejected and resigned about the state of the smart phone industry, and his Twitter feed seems dead. And then Benchmarkgate is likely to have sabotaged much of Anand’s goodwill he had earned with mobile and chip makers, right when he wanted to make the transition away from boring PC parts reviewing; and worst of all, for no real effect, because nobody gives a shit about mobile benchmarks at all except those nerds that hack their Nexus 7s, a thankless self-sacrificing public service about for the “public” doesn’t care.

So, over and under? Brian resign this year? 50%. Anand retire from day to day running of the site? Probably 25% or so if it hasn’t happened already. Anand closing up shop and going underwater in a non public position with another company? 50% over two years. /sigh

Benchmarkgate? His recent phone reviews have been thorough.

I remember about 4 years ago I was contemplating a new PC and looking at benchmarks, the latest i7-extreme cpu scores, ATI and nVidia, ram timings, etc. Somewhere deep in a post on his blog he mentioned that his day to day PC was a 3-year old Macbook. That blew my mind, this was someone who was supposed to be on the leading edge. I knew then that the whole PC hardware industry was about to falter, none of it was really worth it. I bought a cheap computer with a Core i3 and a $140 graphics card, and now years later it still runs everything extremely well (Titanfall recommended specs, not minimum, not that I have any interest in Titanfall). I stopped reading Anandtech regularly but I do check it out occasionally.

I’m not sure what happened but I think that computing technology has approached the “good enough” level for most people and both software and hardware have stabilized. Apple played a big role through emphasis on usability and design. Now phones and tablets are now at the “good enough” level, so what’s left to be excited about? Watches? VR? 9 hours of battery life instead of 8.5?

(edited for language)

The PC market is in a plateau stage. It won’t stay there, but that’s the current situation. I know there were some issues with (iirc) some CNET reviews a couple of years ago, but I didn’t think that Anantech was a part of that.

As a PC user both at work and at home, and a huge gamer, your post makes me think the guy is a complete asshole.

I started reading anandtech back in the late 90s when it first started, my “go to” hardware sites back then were anandtech, sharkyextreme, voodooextreme and to a lesser extent tomshardware. Over the years I have found myself going to anandtech less and less and I have found the pace of new content to have slowed and the site in general to be less helpful than it used to be. The forums I think are pretty awful. I pretty much stick with hardocp and pcper now for all my pc master race needs.

Interesting point you make about the mobile switch the site made a few years back, looking back now I see what you mean.

Wasn’t Anand offered like tens of millions for the site during the dotcom boom?

I think thats a bit too harsh. i just think it’s more like the site has reached the end of its lifespan, there are other sites with people who are still engaged with the enthusiast scene and anand is ready to move on with his life beyond the site he started when he was in his teens.

I loved Brian Klug too. Such a brilliant guy. His leaving was a real mystery. Anand certainly didn’t fire him, and nobody’s talking about why he left. I suspect some sort of personal or family issue cropped up.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that Anandtech is on its way down the drain. It’s certainly weaker without Brian, and they stopped doing podcasts, but the site is still frequently updated with high quality content.

I don’t get why you would say that?

Anand has some fantastically thorough reviews, but I still lean towards Tech Report for keeping on top of PC hardware stuff. They only podcast about once a month, but maintain enthusiasm and Scott, the owner of the site is still quite thorough and passionate.

Benchmarkgate was I think their term to describe the persistent, repeated and deliberate cheating of benchmarks by several smart phone manufacturers, by inserting code that looked for a benchmark and then gave the phone 100% access to the cores, pushing all power savings aside. Only Motorola and Apple seemed to not cheat, Samsung was the worst. One can only speculate how this affected their access to smart phone developers.

Anand still has the best reviews of big products. I don’t care about some server motherboard review or whatever, but about 2-3 times a month they have absolutely must read articles for me.

Problem is, that’s not enough. I read them but techreport and tomshardware put out more stuff, and it’s still pretty good.

Anand seems happy and enthusiastic on the podcast, when it does show up. That and the occasional super in depth analysis is about as much Anandtech as I’d want anyway. I agree Brian leaving or whatever was a loss, him and Anand made a great deep tech combo. They never explicitly said he left so he could have just had some personal or health issues or something.

HardOCP has always been my go-to place for proper computer stuff anyway. Those guys are still old skool computer geek reviewers, they don’t give a flying fuck about mobile phones and all the rest of that shit - they barely even mention tablets.

Which of these sites has an article on PC graphics card roadmaps, because I want to find out if there will be a new generation before The Witcher 3 in February. I hope that’s been revealed by now.

“Old school” reviews are borderline payola with their breathless enthusiasm for every shiny new piece of tech. It’s like the 7/10 joke of game reviews. Most HW reviews are worthless uncritical “glad we got it for free” reviews.

I know what you mean, I remember Anandtech getting like that (I stopped following it after '98 or so IIRC). But HardOCP has always been pretty cynical and critical.

I liked Anandtech for a while, but not the last 3 years or so. It felt too technical in the technical sense. Too esoteric, too much like they lost track of why they were writing about this stuff. I prefer more about is this thing good or bad, and less minutiae about how the thing works.

They were good for thorough hardware reviews, but that was a ridiculously long time ago, before they became too lazy to run decent benchmark suites and then acted like it was an improvement.

I prefer being able to decide for myself what’s good or bad, and being given enough evidence to do so (based on my own priorities, which may or may not align perfectly with the reviewer).

I actually think most hardware review sites are terrible now because there’s not much left to review on PCs. I think this is why sites like Anand started reviewing phones since there’s actual differences and things to discuss that matter there. On PCs Intel dominates CPUs, ram doesn’t matter other than how many gigs you have, SSDs basically saturate SATA channels and dedicated GPUs are so fast that all of them run 1080p fine. So you have all these exotic benchmarks that hold no meaningful information that I’d actually want because the modern PC is super fast for normal average usage. Instead I get more info on 4k framerates or tests with a CPU overclocked to 5ghz.