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Hard disk factory floods cause PC prices to rise by up to £60

Western Digital's factory in Thailand under water

Thai floods shut down hard disk factories and send PC prices rocketing

The usual trend for technology prices is to drop slowly over time, but the cost of certain components – such as memory – fluctuate daily. Sometimes this means PC builders have to increase their prices, and that’s the situation they’re in at the moment.

Memory isn’t the culprit, though – it’s hard disks. Due to the vast flooding in Thailand, many thousands of homes and factories are under 6ft of water, which shows no signs of receding at the moment. Several hard disk manufacturers, including Western Digital, have been affected, as production cannot be resumed until the water has gone and the clean-up operation is finished. Most estimates point to this happening in three to four months.

Naturally, this means a limited supply of hard disks which, in turn, means higher prices for buyers. Virtually all the PC builders which submit machines to Expert Reviews have already called us to say that their existing stocks of disks have run out, and they are now having to source disks at prices up to triple what they were paying back in October.

Due to the low profit margins that PCs are sold with, these price increases cannot simply be absorbed and have to be added as a surcharge on existing models. We recently gave a Best Buy award to Chillblast’s Fusion Shadow, which cost £450 inc VAT. The firm has added a surcharge of £60 for the increase in price of a 1TB hard disk, bringing the new total including VAT and delivery to £510. This tallies with the price you can now expect to pay for a 1TB disk from resellers such as In October, a Samsung SpinPoint F3 1TB was around £50, but now it’s almost £110 inc VAT.

Other system integrators which have announced surcharges on desktop PCs are:

Arbico: £19 inc VAT

DinoPC: £25 inc VAT

Palicomp: £50 inc VAT

Yoyotech: £50 inc VAT

Wired2Fire: £61 inc VAT

It’s possible these prices will vary depending on the availability of hard disk stock, but they should slowly drop in the new year until prices return to their levels in October by around June 2012.

In the meantime, if you’re buying a PC that’s built to order, it may be worth specifying an SSD (Solid State Drive) instead. You’ll have around 10 per cent of the storage space (a 120GB SSD costs around £120), but you’ll have a much faster PC to which you can add a large hard disk when prices have dropped again.

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