So I just had a chat with a fellow NS'er about computer tech, and wanted to share what I told him with all of you. Several of you are in the market for machines, and many more want to know what is best for video editing. Well, here's my personal observation of the whole scene. The next few years of computer development and progress will be largely focused on decreasing prices, advancements in graphics and storage, and speed for connectivity. This is driven largely by the cinema industry, who strongly push and support 4k mediums.
Processors (CPU) and Memory (RAM) will see very little change in the next few years innovation wise, and will focus largely on becoming cheaper and more energy efficient. This is largely due to the bottlenecks in the other mentioned departments, which do not allow for CPU/RAM to do much more than they do right now. And related to cinema work, they are able to process 90% of the consumer/ns'er market's tasks perfectly fine. Until other products can allow them to work at full potential, quad cores will stay pretty staple.
I see Storage right now is the #1 priority, or, well, the biggest limiting step. Physical spinning disk drives are largely unreliable in the long run and not fast enough for the increasing data rates needed to process information through a whole system. Solid state IS the future, as it can be accessed at speeds way greater than disk drives and is not as delicate as one. Reliability in terms of read/write cycles has increased, and the next and most important step is finding a way to match the pricing of a HDD. You may have already seen this happening in the larger capacity/faster speed memory cards as well as a drop in pricing of them (watch the CF card market for pricing, and the SD card for size). The current ~$.74/GB price of SSDs needs to and will hopefully plummet into something more reasonable (reasonable as in disk drives can be had for $.05/GB these days). Capacity will increase as manufacturing cheapens and technology is further developed.
Along with storage, connectivity is another critical point that will have to change as the market demands. Both inner-system and network require an expansion of data flow when files such as cinema 4K 4:4:4 12bit RAW are now "the standard" of many video professionals. Video especially takes up a HUGE amount of data space and bandwidth and is pushing the limits for pretty much any standard connection used. Thunderbolt, with 10Gbit/s, seems to be a glimmer of hope, as 6Gbit/s SATA III, 3Gbit/s 3G-SDI, and Gigabit ethernet have all severely limited just how much the cine industry can be pushed.
Internet, considered the future delivery method for just about everything, is a fucking nightmare when it comes to data rates. The Google Fiber project is the only one I know of that is attempting to deliver and push full use of gigabit internet by actually delivering it to their customers (in and surrounding Kansas City, MO only...). The rest of the country is for the most part shit out of luck as ISP's severely cripple speeds and jack prices. Finally seeing a change to this mess will spark the next wave of computing innovation IMO, but it will not be for a while, unfortunately :(
The graphics side of things will see quite a bit of attention, but more in the consumer TV section than 'puters. For the most part any video larger than 1080p is severely crippled when most of the screens out there are no larger, and broadcast still uses a 1080i signal. Monitors will be the first step in reaching a 4k standard, while graphics cards will become more and more powerful in preparation. Don't expect the most out of a typical gaming GPU though, the animation industry is also limited by all these factors and won't be popping out 4k games until everything else catches up. Industry workstation cards and those targeted at video editing will however will be incredibly powerful very soon.
Now you're probably wondering, "what the hell does this have to do with me and my purchase?!" Well, here's my reasoning: Just like all technology, it's most likely going to get outdated pretty quickly. I think for those looking to purchase and upgrade either full machines or certain parts, it's good to know what to grab and what to hold out for.
In my opinion, you should do the following for each component:
CPU: Grab the most powerful you can for your budget. I have an i7 3.2ghz Quad Core from two years ago, and there's honestly not a whole lot that has changed that makes mine a joke to work with. The i7 3770k is 3.4ghz Quad, Intel's current TOTL consumer i7-QC does perform better, but not game-changing better.
RAM: Memory is a great example of a product that has not seen much change lately but has been perfected to become affordable in large quantities. 8gb is pretty good, 16gb will be more than enough, and you should know enough to not be reading a suggestion guide if you need >16gb.
Storage: You're going to have to suck it up on this one, unfortunately. Grab something that fits your needs at the lowest price and don't go out of your way to get a super large SSD that's crazy $$. It will be cheaper in 6mo/1yr and by the time you go to upgrade again you'll get all nostalgic that you paid 4x the price for the same capacity.
External wise, if you can find something that supports thunderbolt connectivity with user replaceable drives and your computer supports thunderbolt, get it. You'll be able to change drives out as you go, and will be with a very fast standard that shouldnt change for a while.
Graphics: This one is a split decision, but it comes down to crunching numbers and finding the best one for your needs at a decent price. You'll want performance, but don't kill the wallet for a high end card that offers little benefit. Your card will most likely become the middle of the road model of next year's releases, so don't stress on always having the best and latest.
Anyways, hope this helps. Not 100% of it may be factual, it's mostly what i've observed over the past few years.