Late May 2017, TechPowerUp started a front-page poll asking people which processor they use. 37 days and 16,140 responses later, we have a general idea of where the desktop processor market stands among our readers (predominantly PC gamers and enthusiasts). The top-two responses to our survey were 4th generation Core “Haswell,” followed by the preceding two generations (“Ivy Bridge” and “Sandy Bridge”). This speaks volumes as to the hole Intel dug itself into, due to lack of competition from AMD. Processors that are 4-7 years old still run today’s gaming PCs, and don’t bottleneck today’s games, as long as graphics cards keep getting faster (where there has been relatively more competition than the CPU market).
Despite being newer, fewer respondents use 6th generation “Skylake” and 7th generation “Kaby Lake” processors than older generations, because those on something like 4th generation “Haswell” or even “Ivy Bridge,” don’t see the value in upgrading. But then something changed in 2017 – AMD became competitive again, and forced an increase in CPU core counts across the segment. AMD’s Ryzen processor family, including both its 1st and 2nd generations, are better received in the market than Intel’s competing 8th generation “Coffee Lake” and 7th generation “Kaby Lake.” The data stands to validate the “Ryzen effect,” the idea that the introduction of Ryzen disrupted Intel’s near-monopoly, increased core-counts, and brought innovation back to the segment.
More of our readers use AMD Ryzen processors than Intel Core “Coffee Lake” and “Kaby Lake.” So in the period following Intel’s launch of 7th generation “Kaby Lake” (slightly before the launch of Ryzen), more AMD processors were installed among our readers. This of course doesn’t mean that there are more AMD users, since we’re not counting pre-Ryzen Intel generations such as “Skylake” and “Haswell.” This seems to suggest that the “Ryzen effect” is not a myth.
In the time since 2nd generation “Sandy Bridge” (circa 2012), very little innovation has been there from Intel for PC gamers. The mainstream-desktop segment has had to content with no more than 4 cores, and there’s been very little IPC increments between generations to warrant upgrades. The result is that there are plenty of people with >4 year old processors, which are fast enough for today’s gaming. The data also shows that in a shorter span of time, AMD sold more Ryzen chips.
Of course there are limitations to our survey. The data is sourced from a user poll among our readers, in contrast to the Steam Hardware Survey, which gets its data by probing the hardware of a machine. As we mentioned earlier, our readers are composed of PC gamers and enthusiasts, and hence our data isn’t in line with the general market (that includes other use-cases).