Strolling down the different stands at the local technology fair - Infotech 2012 - one gets the dire impression that desktop computers are on their last leg. Laptops and tablet computers are, or have already taken over.
True for the majority of us, but not for a select few. Those few are the connoisseurs who may invest in anything between Rs 40,000 to may be up to Rs 1 million or more in a desktop computer. "A high-end custom made computer may well go up to Rs 1 million" says 29 years old Varun Sarveswar Ramburn.
The statement of this baby-soft skin face computer techie and self-confessed digital sound and image connoisseur is quite an astonishing disclosure to ordinary computer users.
Varun is himself the proud owner and builder of a desktop computer which he evaluates today at around Rs 150,000. But his "beast" has been continuously upgraded in the past where the money involved may have well been around Rs 450,000 to date.
“I could have bought two second-hand cars with this money”, says Varun, ex-system administrator who has turned his hobby and passion for building and engineering high-end computers into a life-time job. He is to-day well-known to computer enthusiasts, gamers and audio-visual connoisseurs who flock to his shop, Tornadoware, at Orchard Centre, Quatre Bornes www.facebook.com/tornadoware
There he and his team build three categories of high-end desktop computers. Those of the "Value Series" (low-end) start at Rs 20,000, the "Performance Series" (mid-end) start at Rs 40,000 and desktops of his "Extreme Series" (high-end) start at Rs 100,000. But those having the means will unresistingly invest much more.
It is a well-known fact that those crazy for high-end computers usually go beyond this Rs 100,000. They might, for example, invest in high-end IPS or THX-certified monitors costing up to Rs 50 000 each. These units can be assembled in group of 3, 6 or 12 to give a bigger screen. Thus a 12 unit monitor may cost you around Rs 600,000.
But Varun insists on the fact that high-end computers are most often of the domain of DIY (do-it-yourself) people and are rarely built at one go. Nevertheless, owners of computer costing more than Rs 1 million are no ordinary users. They are those who live in the amazing world of computer games, digital art, multi-instrumental music, DJ extraordinaire, high end photo retoucher or extreme digital video effect creator.
They are those who crave for the utmost high-fidelity audiovisual reproduction standard for movie, music and games. They will use THX certified equipment to get the best sound effect and they will save penny by penny to purchase, for example, a Rs 30 000 THX surround sound 7-1 speaker system for computer. Or they might go for a Rs 1 million Mark Lewinson custom made speaker system. These speakers are nevertheless rarely used with computers, but crazy and rich users will go to any extreme to get the best of the best for their home custom built desktop.
As the proof of the pudding is in the eating, Varun Sarveswar Ramburn sometimes opens his world to the curious seeking to have a taste of the sound and picture quality of those high end computers. He does not use Mark Lewinson speakers. His Rs 150 000 computer sits on an old style office furniture in his minimalist decorated bedroom at Plaine des Roches, where he lives.
"I will put the computer on for you, but do not touch any part of it" he says as he powers on his black beast, which was initially built in 2007 and still looks to-day as new as a recently unboxed one due to the brushed aluminium finish of the chassis and the crystal-like acrylic neck and bezel trim of the high-performance LED monitor.
One cannot but be flabbergasted by the THX-certified sound and video delivered by his computer. Very clear and intelligible lyrics of songs or film dialogue, spine-tingling music quality and mind-blowing sound. Far better than those we experience in our cinema theatres offering digital surround sound.
Seated in front of his backlit Logitech G15 gaming keyboard and handling his SteelSeries Sensei mouse, Varun insists that high end computers are not bought as one will buy a Jaguar car for example. "These customized computers are built, engineered and even modelled by their owners or by specialists and upgraded little by little" he says.
But building a high end computer requires experience, patience and precision. So, most of those ordering high-end computer parts will most often ask Varun to carry out the building or upgrading job for them because of his very meticulous approach.
So every morning he drives from Plaines des Roches to Quatre-Bornes to live a passionate day’s job and give a new life lease to desktop computers to the few who will never migrate to laptops or table
(Read the French version in the next issue of l’express dimanche)