The PC hardware leak culture is spiraling out of control, according to Gordon Mah Ung of PC World and Steve Burke of Gamer’s Nexus. The frequency and pace of stories, videos, and other coverage of rumors concerning upcoming hardware, mainly CPUs and GPUs, from Intel, AMD, and Nvidia are at an all-time high. Ung and Burke discuss the implications of leaks and their impact on these companies, with the most significant problem being inaccurate leaks leading to unrealistic expectations.
The Impact and Implications of Leaks
One example of this is AMD’s Ryzen 3000 not hitting the rumored 5GHz. It disappointed some enthusiasts, even though it was a very competitive CPU, by any sensible measure. Another significant issue is that PC enthusiasts plan builds around the information contained in leaks. There is also the possibility that manufacturers themselves are behind at least some of the so-called “leaks.”
Ung and Burke recognize that leaks are what readers and viewers want, and they themselves engage in some leak coverage. They also acknowledge that leak culture ultimately reflects the genuine interest in new hardware. It’s because people are excited about new processors and graphics cards that the leak industry exists. However, the challenge is on how media outlets handle leaks and how consumers process them. They want more fact-checking and more clarity as to the veracity and quality of unofficial information from content producers, and then a less credulous attitude from readers and consumers.
As Burke points out, the leak industry is now so big that entire organizations exist on the back of propagating and discussing leaks. It’s subjective to determine which websites and YouTube channels are most guilty of reporting a high volume of more dubious leaks. There’s little value in naming names. However, most PC enthusiasts will be familiar with the usual suspects and have worked out roughly which sources have a decent hit rate and which spam any old thing in the hope of driving traffic.
The further out from the launch of a product, the more skeptically any unofficial information should be treated. Likewise, the basic sanity checks usually work. If some or other rumor doesn’t make sense or falls well outside the usual expectations for generational performance improvements, it probably isn’t right.
Long story short, leaks can be interesting, informative, and fun. But it’s definitely a good idea if none of us take them, or ourselves, too seriously.