Gaming GPUs Are Gaining Traction, But Mainstream GPUs Are Still Strong

In our overview of Q2 2016, we mentioned that shipments of higher-end graphics processors were growing, whereas sales of mainstream GPUs were declining in the recent years as a result of major improvements of AMD’s integrated graphics and Intel’s iGPUs. In particular, sales of enthusiast-class adapters hit 5.9 million units in 2015, which was a record. This year is not that good for expensive graphics cards, but shipments of gaming-grade desktop GPUs are still very high.

Sales of enthusiast-class desktop AIBs in Q3 2016 were considerably lower than sales of enthusiast-class standalone desktop GPUs in the same period a year ago. Nonetheless, we are still talking about around ~1.5 million units, which seems to be higher than what we have seen historically. Moreover, since JPR considers everything that costs between $250 and $900 as “enthusiast”, it is obvious that unit shipments do not necessarily reflect revenues earned by AMD and NVIDIA. Moreover, since AMD and NVIDIA officially sell the Radeon RX 480 and the GeForce GTX 1060 for $249 and demand for these products (which performance is on par with much more expensive predecessors) was probably very high during the quarter, it is likely that some of the “enthusiast” buyers were classified as “performance” ($249 and below) buyers in Q3 2016.

Fall 2016 GPU Pricing Comparison
Market Segment AMD Price NVIDIA
$250 - $900
  $1200 TITAN X (Pascal)
  $599 GeForce GTX 1080
  $379 GeForce GTX 1070
$100 - $249
Radeon RX 480 (8GB) $249 GeForce GTX 1060 6GB
Radeon RX 480 (4GB) $229  
Radeon RX 470 $199 GeForce GTX 1060 3GB
  $139 GeForce GTX 1050 Ti
Radeon RX 460 (4GB) $119  
Radeon RX 460 (2GB) $109 GeForce GTX 1050
No New GPUs <$100 No New GPUs

Despite the fact that shipments of higher-end standalone video cards dropped year-over-year (YoY) in the third quarter, gaming-grade graphics adapters (enthusiast + performance) hit around seven million units. The industry still supplied over five million of mainstream boards in Q3, which is quite a lot. Nonetheless, performance and enthusiast-class desktop AIBs have been outselling mainstream graphics cards for five consecutive quarters now.

Q3 2016: Good for GPUs, Mediocre for PCs AMD: Polaris Now Accounts for 50% of Channel GPU Revenue
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  • Shadowmaster625 - Monday, November 28, 2016 - link

    It's actually rather sad that discrete GPU sales are only up 10% vs a year ago when they had been sandbagging on 2011 process tech for 4 years. I would have expected 14nm/16nm to provide a larger boost to sales.
  • lefty2 - Monday, November 28, 2016 - link

    This is because no one is buying desktops anymore. All the top tech companies give there employees laptops, not desktops:
  • TheinsanegamerN - Monday, November 28, 2016 - link

    And the majority of those desktops were using integrated solutions, not dedicated ones. Business moving to laptops hasnt had that big of an impact.
  • Sarah Terra - Tuesday, December 13, 2016 - link

    The slower sales are because of this reason: Nvidia has been milking process and architures for abnormal periods in order to maximize profts. As such a 2-3 generation old GPU is usually still "good enough" for most poeple, much like how users clung to sandy bridge. Back in the day, if you had a 3 year old GPU you were left in the dust, upgrades were far more frequent and necessary to keep pace. Nvidia is eseentially monopolizing themselves to a smaller market share, more competition will boost sales.
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  • OldManMcNasty - Thursday, December 8, 2016 - link

    Our engineers get whatever they want, I have a SurFace Pro 4 but I also have a virtual workstation with a Nvidia vGPU. If you're not an engineer, you're given a virtual desktop or you can select an iPad.
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  • nathanddrews - Monday, November 28, 2016 - link

    Larger than 10%? Why would you expect that?
  • DanNeely - Wednesday, November 30, 2016 - link

    Steadily bigger died and more efficient 28nm designs kept the performance gains coming, despite the process lag there wasn't a correspondingly huge buildup of demand.
  • BurntMyBacon - Thursday, December 1, 2016 - link

    @Shadowmaster625: "It's actually rather sad that discrete GPU sales are only up 10% vs a year ago when they had been sandbagging on 2011 process tech for 4 years."

    You are making a perhaps faulty assumption that most people buying GPUs know or care what processes nodes do for the video card they are buying. In my estimation, more people are concerned with how much it costs and if it does what they want it to do. I don't suspect many of them track how new cards compare to the last gen products, much less the several generations back that they would need to know to be aware of the process node stall.

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