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Top 10 Most Expensive Computers of All Time

Top 10 Most Expensive Computers of All Time

Computers were once massive, building-encompassing devices only utilized by the most reputable scientists and researchers. Of course, computers are everywhere nowadays, even in our pockets (looking at you, smartphones)! But what are the costliest computers, and why are they so expensive?

The most expensive computer of all time is the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE). This computer system was completed in 1963 and cost approximately $8 billion. SAGE was so massive that it spanned more than 20,000 square feet and sat inside a four-story building.

Whether you’re looking for a high-end desktop PC or curious about which computers are the priciest, this ranking will get you up to speed on the priciest computers ever created.

Here are the top 10 most expensive computers of all time:

10. Aventum X (64-Core) – $11,967

photo source: Digital Storm

The Aventum X is pricier than the average tower PC. It has a price tag of $11,967! But for that price, you’ll enjoy the upgraded 64-core processor (AMD Ryzen Threadripper PRO 5995WX).

This 64-core processor makes nearly all computing tasks a cinch, running the show at up to 5.2GHz. Most desktop PCs top out at 3.5GHz. Of course, the processing power isn’t the only thing to love about the Aventum X.

For example, this computer has a potential storage space of 64TB (compared to the average 1TB). It’s also liquid-cooled, so it’ll never suffer from loud fan noises, even when completing complex tasks.

Of course, adding one of the most expensive computer keyboards could make this desktop PC even more valuable!

Why Is It So Expensive?

High-quality components are the primary reason why this computer is so expensive.

With a massive storage space of up to 64TB and lightning-fast processing speeds, everything about this desktop PC exudes performance. But that level of performance comes at a high price.

9. 8Pack Polaris MK2 – $17,850

photo source: Overclockers UK

Ian Parry, better known as 8Pack, is an overclocker and bodybuilder known for creating some of the most technically complex high-performance computers. The Polaris MK2 is no exception. It features two NVIDIA RTX 3090 liquid-cooled graphics cards and 64GB of 5200MHz memory.

Capable of functioning with multiple top-of-the-line PC monitors, this tower is ideal for gamers who want to take their gaming experience to new heights. You could run even the most graphically complex and demanding games on this computer while enjoying flawless performance and processing.

The only potential drawback might be the $17,850 price tag. Still, you’ll soon see that this price is comparatively low for an 8Pack creation.

Why Is It So Expensive?

This 8Pack PC is expensive because of its components, customization options, and builder.

After all, 8Pack is a record-breaking overclocker who only makes a handful of gaming PCs for interested buyers. Getting your hands on an 8Pack computer is a huge deal.

But the Polaris MK2 isn’t the most powerful (or costly) gaming PC ever built by the infamous overclocker.

8. 8Pack Supernova MK2 – $26,000

photo source: Overclockers UK

If the Polaris MK2 is impressive, then the 8Pack Supernova MK2 is a spectacular tour-de-force. This massive double-tower water-cooled gaming PC can render graphically demanding games in stunning 4K resolution without breaking a sweat.

That’s because the Supernova MK2 features:

  • 256GB of DDR4 memory
  • Two NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090 graphics processors
  • Up to 36TB of storage

For perspective, the average gaming desktop PC has a maximum storage space of 1TB and about 16GB of memory.

So, even though this customizable gaming computer costs $26,000, every dollar spent goes toward enjoying the ultimate gaming experience.

Why Is It So Expensive?

There are many reasons why the Supernova MK2 has such a hefty price tag.

Firstly, it features two towers, which is necessary considering the computer’s insane amount of top-tier components. If you were to go shopping for a gaming PC at a chain tech store, you’d probably never find a computer with such impressive graphics capabilities and processing power.

Secondly, this computer was built by one of the most revered overclockers in the world, 8Pack (Ian Parry). Anything built by this guy sells for top-dollar prices due to his fame and ability.

7. 8Pack OrionX2 – $35,700

photo source: Overclockers UK

As we’ve established, 8Pack makes some of the world’s priciest (and highest-performance) desktop PCs. But the costliest of the bunch is the 8Pack OrionX2, a gaming computer with a lot to offer.

This gaming PC combines the specs and capabilities of two or three computers into a single system, resulting in unrivaled processing power and high-quality graphics that can make any video game come to life.

Of course, at $35,700 (originally £29,999.99), you’ll probably need to be a professional esports gamer or gameplay streamer to get your money’s worth from this PC. Still, considering the two Intel processors and trio of NVIDIA RTX 3090 graphics cards, it’s almost impossible to find a better pre-made system to help you take your gaming to the next level.

The only way to make this gaming PC even more impressive would be to add one of the most expensive gaming mouses to the mix.

Why Is It So Expensive?

This water-cooled PC tower might be the world’s most powerful pre-made gaming computer. It’s made of the best and priciest components, and it was also designed by 8Pack (Ian Parry), a record-breaking overclocker with a gift for building PCs.

Considering these qualities, it’s no wonder that the OrionX2 is such a costly computer.

6. Edge XTI EXTIDL-6234DR8 – $40,800

photo source: Next Computing

The Edge XTI EXTIDL-6234DR8 is one of the most capable deep-learning computer workstations, featuring multiple Intel CPUs (processors), two NVIDIA Quadro RTX 8000 24GB graphics cards, and a 1TB solid state hard drive (technically 1,024GB).

But this computer also features multiple drive expansion bays and ports so that you can increase this computer’s storage space and capabilities almost infinitely. Of course, this kind of processing power and customization comes at a cost. If you’d like to make this tower workstation yours, you’ll need to spend $40,800.

Why Is It So Expensive?

This tower PC isn’t a casual computer. Instead, it’s explicitly designed for deep learning applications. Deep learning is a type of machine learning, a process that’s integral to AI development.

Deep-learning computers handle vast amounts of data, requiring top-of-the-line processors and competitively-sized hard drives. Because deep learning and machine learning processes are so complex, only the most capable computers (like the Edge XTI) are up to the challenge.

In short, this computer is expensive because of its high-end components and specialized capabilities.

5. Apple Lisa Computer – $94,949

photo source: RR Auction

The Apple Lisa was the Apple company’s first easily accessible consumer computer. While previous consumer-friendly computers required users to operate via a series of typewritten commands, the Apple Lisa had icons that users could select via a computer mouse!

Sadly, many Apple Lisa computers released in 1983 are now defunct due to age and use. But the one that sold for $94,949 in 2021 was still functional. It once belonged to Roger Wagner (a software designer who once worked for Apple)!

It’s also a rare version of the Apple Lisa, as it features dual floppy disk drives (known as the Twiggy configuration) on the righthand side of the device, next to the monitor screen. While this early Apple PC wasn’t one of the brand’s most popular releases, it’s still an iconic part of the Apple legacy.

Why Is It So Expensive?

Few Apple Lisa computers have survived into the 2020s, and it’s not challenging to understand why.

Only about 10,000 of these PCs were sold during the early-to-mid 1980s. Over time, as newer devices hit the market, many Apple Lisa owners likely tossed their computers in the trash, as electronics recycling programs weren’t popularized until much later.

Finding a still-functioning Apple Lisa is almost impossible. This one stuck around primarily because it belonged to an Apple software designer, Roger Wagner. This Apple computer’s rarity, coupled with its historical significance, makes it a valuable find.

4. Steve Jobs’s Original “Apple Computer A” Prototype – $677,196

photo source: RR Auction

For most of the 1990s, Apple computers remained far less popular than their Windows counterparts. But everything changed when Steve Jobs released the first iPod and iPhone models. Since then, Apple has become the main competitor to Windows-based devices, though their devices tend to be pricier than those featuring Windows operating systems.

Still, the story of Apple PCs and consumer-friendly devices stretches further back than the 1990s. In fact, Steve Jobs and his partner Steve Wozniak were creating prototype computers during the mid-1970s!

One of these, the “Apple Computer A” Prototype, sold for $677,196 when it went to auction in 2022.

Why Is It So Expensive?

Even though this prototype is just a rough chunk of motherboard, it’s worth a small fortune thanks to its historical significance. Without the creation of this prototype, Jobs and Wozniak might have never developed the first consumer-friendly Apple PCs.

3. Apollo Guidance Computer – $746,000

photo source: Sotheby’s

When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the surface of the moon in 1969, it was a moment that changed human history. But this feat wouldn’t have been capable without the help of a powerful onboard computer like the Apollo Guidance Computer.

This multi-module digital computer helped astronauts and mission control guide the Apollo spacecraft through space and onto the lunar surface. While this type of computer wouldn’t exactly appeal to the average computer user today (it used a calculator-like interface and display screen), it was an essential part of NASA’s ability to fly men to the moon and back.

The Apollo Guidance Computer sold at a Sotheby’s auction in 2021, garnering a hefty $746,000 from the final bidder. Originally, its maximum estimated sales price was $300,000, meaning it sold for more than twice the estimated value!

Why Is It So Expensive?

This computer is historically significant in several ways.

It was one of the first compact computers ever created, being smaller than a two-door refrigerator, unlike other computers available at the time. It also helped NASA astronauts complete their mission to fly to the moon!

Consequently, it’s a museum-worthy piece that will become more of a technological treasure with the passing decades.

2. Apple 1 Computer – $905,000

photo source: Bonhams

When you think about computers, you probably think about a computer tower, a monitor, and a keyboard. But at its core, all computers are essentially just motherboards with connections.

That’s certainly the case with the Apple 1 Computer, also called the Apple 1 Motherboard. This green bit of fiberglass might be the first Apple computer ever created, functioning as a prototype that gave way to the official Apple 1.

Although it’s essentially just an exposed piece of motherboard, it has connection ports that allow users to connect a keyboard and monitor. This strip of cutting-edge tech (cutting edge for its time) sold for $905,000 at a Bonhams auction in 2014, making it the priciest Apple computer in the world.

Notably, this classic desktop computer is more valuable than several of the most expensive laptops!

Why Is It So Expensive?

Apple is one of the world’s most successful and profitable technology companies, in no small part due to their consumer-friendly computers. While the first Windows PC debuted in 1985, Apple released its iconic Apple 1 way back in 1976.

Consequently, this prototype-like motherboard is a piece of history. This historical significance makes it irreplaceable and exceptionally valuable, hence its almost $1 million auction price.

1. Semi-Automatic Ground Environment System – $8 Billion

photo source: Wikimedia Commons

The most expensive computer is the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment System (SAGE). This computer system (consisting of 56 AN/FSQ-7 computers) spanned more than 20,000 square feet and cost approximately $8 billion to create. However, some estimates put the final cost at around $12 billion!

Although the SAGE computer is no longer operational, being decommissioned in 1984, it helped the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) monitor North American airspace for over two decades (starting in 1963). This system was vital during the Cold War, which officially ended in 1991.

Unlike modern computers, SAGE was massive. It required a ton of space to operate and was housed in a four-story building.

It also had several monitoring sites throughout the United States and Canada, allowing NORAD officials to get a “big picture” of the skies over North America, thus allowing them to track potential airborne threats (like missiles) over an incredible radius.

Why Is It So Expensive?

This computer (or rather, computer system) is the world’s most expensive because it featured cutting-edge technology, consisted of more than 50 AN/FSQ-7 computers, and was vital to helping NORAD monitor airspace over North America during the Cold War.

If this computer system failed to deliver, the US military wouldn’t have been able to warn the American people of incoming missile attacks, and it wouldn’t have been able to take a proactive response to stop those attacks. In short, this system was a crucial line of defense that needed to be flawless in every way, and that kind of technological perfection doesn’t come cheap.

What’s the Most Expensive Computer of All Time?

The most expensive computer in the world is the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment System (SAGE). Technically comprised of 56 computers, this massive system was built to help the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) monitor the airspace over the United States and Canada.

It took several years to build SAGE, with construction completed in 1963. The total cost of building the SAGE system is estimated at $8 billion, though the true cost could be as high as $12 billion.

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