PC shipments continued to grow in Q2 2021, but signs suggest demand is dropping

Polycount

Posts: 2,870   +576
Staff member
In brief: The Covid-19 pandemic saw much of the tech industry experience an unprecedented sales boom. Demand for PCs, in particular, blew up throughout 2020, with global shipments growing 26.1 percent YoY in Q4. Now that the new year is well underway, growth is still strong but much more subdued as the world adapts to living with the coronavirus.

None of this is a surprise, really -- not 2020's excellent performance figures or 2021's lower numbers. Mid-2020 is about when governments, companies, and schools began ramping up remote work and learning policies to help curb the spread of Covid-19. This prompted individuals and organizations to purchase new machines en-masse, driving up sales.

Now, though, it seems demand has cooled somewhat. According to a new IDC report, the industry has grown 13.2 percent as of Q2 this year when compared to the same period during 2020. However, 13 percent growth is far less than the nearly-56 percent and 25.8 percent (both year-over-year) we saw in Q1 2021 and Q4 2020, respectively. IDC believes this difference in demand could be an early indicator that purchasers are beginning to adjust their spending priorities after almost a year of "aggressive PC buying."

Of course, there could be other reasons besides lower demand that may account for the growth decline. As IDC points out, the notebook industry has been facing significant supply scarcity, affecting available stock for end users. Though desktop machines are faring somewhat better, they haven't been free from pandemic-related shortages either (and snagging reasonably-priced individual parts feels like a fool's errand).

Will the holiday season rekindle demand, or will growth drop even further? For now, we'll just have to wait and see how the industry handles the rest of 2021.

Regarding company-specific performance, IDC puts Lenovo, HP, Dell, Apple, and Acer in its top 5 list for worldwide "traditional" PC shipments. Lenovo shipped just over 20 million units in Q2 2021, with HP trailing close behind at 18 million units shipped.

Dell is further back, having shipped almost 14 million units, and Apple and Acer are statistically tied with roughly 6 million shipments each.

Permalink to story.

 

QuantumPhysics

Posts: 5,225   +5,927
The best thing about pre-builts is an entry-level-PC Gamer can get up and plying in no time...

...at 1080p or 1440p
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 953   +1,766
Apple shipping 6 million might not seem like much but if you also take into account all ipads and iphones as now basically part of the same ecosystem at least from a developer standpoint, that's significant.

Significant enough that they might start claiming back even more market share by 2022 specially with an effective M2 (or even M1X) chip and product line.
 

Watzupken

Posts: 315   +303
The rally is losing steam and expected to. People won't keep buying PC or PC components. The initial rally was triggered by global lockdown and work from home requirement. It has been more than a year since, and not expected that demand will decline. In addition, OEMs and PC component manufacturers have been busy increasing prices which is another factor that is pouring cold water on the otherwise hot demand. At some point, the price increase will dampen buying as it becomes out of budget.
 

Bulllee

Posts: 215   +136
Apple shipping 6 million might not seem like much but if you also take into account all ipads and iphones as now basically part of the same ecosystem at least from a developer standpoint, that's significant.

Significant enough that they might start claiming back even more market share by 2022 specially with an effective M2 (or even M1X) chip and product line.
6 million?
Good joke there.
Somewhere.
 

Bulllee

Posts: 215   +136
The rally is losing steam and expected to. People won't keep buying PC or PC components. The initial rally was triggered by global lockdown and work from home requirement. It has been more than a year since, and not expected that demand will decline. In addition, OEMs and PC component manufacturers have been busy increasing prices which is another factor that is pouring cold water on the otherwise hot demand. At some point, the price increase will dampen buying as it becomes out of budget.
I agree.
 

Raytrace3D

Posts: 248   +269
With out the ability to reliably buy a video card, I didn't build a new computer this year... had I been able to I would have.
 

Tuxie

Posts: 39   +24
With out the ability to reliably buy a video card, I didn't build a new computer this year... had I been able to I would have.

Same here. I had the money ready to build a new 5900X+6800XT PC at MSRP but I eventually gave up and decided that the 1080ti is good enough for a couple of more years, and just got a 3800XT to replace the 1700X on the old motherboard. Now holding out for the next gen with DDR5 instead, hoping that they will be actually available in stores.
 

arrowflash

Posts: 460   +498
The rally is losing steam and expected to. People won't keep buying PC or PC components. The initial rally was triggered by global lockdown and work from home requirement. It has been more than a year since, and not expected that demand will decline. In addition, OEMs and PC component manufacturers have been busy increasing prices which is another factor that is pouring cold water on the otherwise hot demand. At some point, the price increase will dampen buying as it becomes out of budget.

There's also the fact that Moore's Law is deprecated and might not come back in our lifetimes. Nowadays even a 10+ year old PC can be more than good enough for basic use when well maintained. 10 years ago, even a workstation/enthusiast-tier 10 year old PC was so obsolete that it had little use other than a doorstop. That's why PC sales have been on downtrend for years before the pandemic in the first place - people just don't need to upgrade / replace PCs as often as they did in the past, when PC technology and processing power were advancing much faster. This might be one of the main reasons why the industry is starting to make moves to push the forced obsolence paradigm of the Android ecosystem into PCs, like Windows 11 and it's senseless requirement of recent CPUs.

Whenever this discussion comes up, one common theory is to argue that the reason for the decrease in demand is because people have been replacing PCs and laptops for mobile devices. This might be true for some and exert some influence but I don't think it's the main reason.
 

orbital

Posts: 41   +43
Exactly what I was about to say. An overclocked 6th gen. Intel CPU (or even a 4th gen.) or the equivalent of a 1XXX AMD one with 16/32GB RAM 3GHz+ and a GTX 1080+ GPU can easily support like 90% of everything a home/workstation consumer uses their computer for - from gaming through streaming to rendering. A 6-core (overclocked) CPU with 12 threads from 2016 with a RTX 3XXX/6XXXXT can still do great for 1440p and even reasonable 2160p gaming.

I am personally planning to upgrade my main system entirely just to get the best of what I can currently receive, however know that simply more cores and some more GPU power won't bring me significantly more performance that what I have at the moment. On the top of that I have an u.2 professional Intel drive and MLC m.2 ones that I don't want to replace for QLC ones that supposedly have better speeds but will last less and the claimed performance is based on a limited SLC cache only. Is this an upgrade to what I currently have, especially the u.2? I also don't think the latest GPUs are the best one can get currently as despite of being times better than the 1080Ti/5700XT series for example, they are not optimized and are extremely power hungry, yet struggle to provide the needed 2160p performance in certain titles with RT enabled. The next generation will hopefully provide the ultimate UHD (and even true 4K) performance with RT and 100+ FPS on all titles for years to come.

Manufacturers are not only raising their prices but are trying to sell a comparatively inferior product (storage memory, VRAM size - GTX 1080Ti came with 11GB when RTX 3080 with 10 only) etc. RTX 3090 is in another price category, this is why I compare to 3080. The only way a planned obsolescence can take place is via the mobile/tablet/laptop line and through forced software upgrades (Windows 11). Otherwise a top-end 5-7-year-old (overclocked) PC with enough RAM and top-of-the-line GPU at the time can easily give you everything you need for at least another 5 years, if not many more to come.
 

Puiu

Posts: 4,864   +3,749
TechSpot Elite
Apple shipping 6 million might not seem like much but if you also take into account all ipads and iphones as now basically part of the same ecosystem at least from a developer standpoint, that's significant.

Significant enough that they might start claiming back even more market share by 2022 specially with an effective M2 (or even M1X) chip and product line.
It depends, but I don't think Apple will get to claw back market share (or if it does it will be insignificant).

2022 will be a big year for PC with next gen platforms from AMD, Intel and Nvidia: smaller process nodes, new sockets, new chipsets, DDR5, PCIe 5, chiplet GPU architectures, 3D stacked cache for CPUs, etc etc etc (and yes, even Windows 11 is a big factor)

I haven't seen a convergence of this much new technology in a single year ever. it's incredible.
 

fadingfool

Posts: 232   +230
That's an old stock picture of a Dell Inspiron 530s circa 2007. Didn't have any later stock pictures of a PC shop display?
 

eforce

Posts: 401   +509
I'm waiting for DDR5 and 4000 series gpus.

Don't see much point upgrading a 1st gen ryzen with 1080ti atm, plays everything well at 1440p.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 8,167   +6,925
Just the oh so typical rise and fall of the markets .... been going on for decades, no reason to get excited other than peripherals, chips, memory, etc. will eventually drop in price giving us all a better deal. I'm still waiting for Harley to come out with their own laptop with a kick starter ......
 

Watzupken

Posts: 315   +303
There's also the fact that Moore's Law is deprecated and might not come back in our lifetimes. Nowadays even a 10+ year old PC can be more than good enough for basic use when well maintained. 10 years ago, even a workstation/enthusiast-tier 10 year old PC was so obsolete that it had little use other than a doorstop. That's why PC sales have been on downtrend for years before the pandemic in the first place - people just don't need to upgrade / replace PCs as often as they did in the past, when PC technology and processing power were advancing much faster. This might be one of the main reasons why the industry is starting to make moves to push the forced obsolence paradigm of the Android ecosystem into PCs, like Windows 11 and it's senseless requirement of recent CPUs.

Whenever this discussion comes up, one common theory is to argue that the reason for the decrease in demand is because people have been replacing PCs and laptops for mobile devices. This might be true for some and exert some influence but I don't think it's the main reason.

Not too sure about Moore's law, but I do believe that mobile devices have been, and will continue to eat into the PC space. At least, I have friends that don't bother buying or upgrading their laptop/PC because they told me the phone is good enough. And we can certainly see that trend where PC sales have been weak or declining for years before COVID hit and the work/ study from home requires a PC/ laptop for better experience. In addition as you've mentioned, it is also true that most people actually don't upgrade their systems that frequently. It is normally when it fails before they replace it. COVID again being the reason for the sudden surge in demand because 1 household may likely have insufficient PCs to support everyone using at the same time. So everyone went out to grab 1 or more PC/ laptop resulting in a surge in demand that caught PC makers by surprise.
 

Danny101

Posts: 1,834   +790
There's also the fact that Moore's Law is deprecated and might not come back in our lifetimes. Nowadays even a 10+ year old PC can be more than good enough for basic use when well maintained. 10 years ago, even a workstation/enthusiast-tier 10 year old PC was so obsolete that it had little use other than a doorstop. That's why PC sales have been on downtrend for years before the pandemic in the first place - people just don't need to upgrade / replace PCs as often as they did in the past, when PC technology and processing power were advancing much faster. This might be one of the main reasons why the industry is starting to make moves to push the forced obsolence paradigm of the Android ecosystem into PCs, like Windows 11 and it's senseless requirement of recent CPUs.

Whenever this discussion comes up, one common theory is to argue that the reason for the decrease in demand is because people have been replacing PCs and laptops for mobile devices. This might be true for some and exert some influence but I don't think it's the main reason.
Thus forced obsolescence with Windows 11 as you said. Microsoft and chip makers. This was a pointless post. I had nothing really to add.
 
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arrowflash

Posts: 460   +498
Exactly what I was about to say. An overclocked 6th gen. Intel CPU (or even a 4th gen.) or the equivalent of a 1XXX AMD one with 16/32GB RAM 3GHz+ and a GTX 1080+ GPU can easily support like 90% of everything a home/workstation consumer uses their computer for - from gaming through streaming to rendering. A 6-core (overclocked) CPU with 12 threads from 2016 with a RTX 3XXX/6XXXXT can still do great for 1440p and even reasonable 2160p gaming.

I am personally planning to upgrade my main system entirely just to get the best of what I can currently receive, however know that simply more cores and some more GPU power won't bring me significantly more performance that what I have at the moment. On the top of that I have an u.2 professional Intel drive and MLC m.2 ones that I don't want to replace for QLC ones that supposedly have better speeds but will last less and the claimed performance is based on a limited SLC cache only. Is this an upgrade to what I currently have, especially the u.2? I also don't think the latest GPUs are the best one can get currently as despite of being times better than the 1080Ti/5700XT series for example, they are not optimized and are extremely power hungry, yet struggle to provide the needed 2160p performance in certain titles with RT enabled. The next generation will hopefully provide the ultimate UHD (and even true 4K) performance with RT and 100+ FPS on all titles for years to come.

Manufacturers are not only raising their prices but are trying to sell a comparatively inferior product (storage memory, VRAM size - GTX 1080Ti came with 11GB when RTX 3080 with 10 only) etc. RTX 3090 is in another price category, this is why I compare to 3080. The only way a planned obsolescence can take place is via the mobile/tablet/laptop line and through forced software upgrades (Windows 11). Otherwise a top-end 5-7-year-old (overclocked) PC with enough RAM and top-of-the-line GPU at the time can easily give you everything you need for at least another 5 years, if not many more to come.

I wouldn't worry too much about upgrading solid state drives - IMHO differences are minimal and only really noticeable on benchmarks, even between an entry level DRAMless SATA SSD and a high end NVme SSD. People only notice that 3s - 4s difference (at most) in Windows boot times and game loading screens between entry level and high end drives, because they're naturally looking for it and paying attention when comparing drives.

Exactly. Earlier this year I finally upgraded from a i5 4690 (4th gen) / 16 GB DDR3 / SATA SSD to a i7 10700K / 64 GB DDR4 / NVme SSD. For me that i5 4690 was still a BEAST of a machine for most tasks, other than playing the most recent AAA games, 7th gen console emulation and video encoding. I only upgraded because like you I wanted the best, and also because the hardware was beginning to show signs of waning reliability and component stress, pointing that the end of its useful life was drawing near (maybe I would've stayed with it for a few more years if it wasn't for this last part). Still, of all new generational upgrade PC builds I've done since the 1990s, this is the one that has brought me the smallest returns in noticeable performance improvement, despite it being the longest upgrade cycle since I got my first PC. Even my previous upgrade from a Core 2 Duo E8400 / 8 GB DDR2 / HDD to the i5 4690 has brought far more noticeable performance improvements in all areas. (GPUs are a bit complicated to add into the equation and a different story, because I tend to upgrade them more often, usually 2 times over the course of an upgrade cycle so I usually carry the last one over to the new build - I currently have a 2060 Super which is more than good enough since I'm a semi-casual gamer who uses a 1080p screen).

I have also upgraded my HTPC this year, for the same reasons - going from an A6 6400K / 8 GB DDR3 / HDD to a Ryzen 5 3400G / 32 GB DDR4 / SATA SSD. Same story with perceived diminishing returns.

Keep in mind none of my previous or current machines are overclocked - I don't do overclocking, always run stock. So in my opinion it's not necessary to overclock an older PC, unless it's a really, really old outdated machine that you want to extract every bit of juice from it to extend its usefulness a little longer.

Unless there's some unexpected major breakthroughs in VLSI/CMOS semiconductor technology and manufacturing soon, that make the advances in PC processing power go parabolic again, I'm expecting all this new hardware to serve me well for nearly 10 years if they don't fail before that.

It depends, but I don't think Apple will get to claw back market share (or if it does it will be insignificant).

2022 will be a big year for PC with next gen platforms from AMD, Intel and Nvidia: smaller process nodes, new sockets, new chipsets, DDR5, PCIe 5, chiplet GPU architectures, 3D stacked cache for CPUs, etc etc etc (and yes, even Windows 11 is a big factor)

I haven't seen a convergence of this much new technology in a single year ever. it's incredible.

>smaller process nodes
>new sockets
>new chipsets
>DDR5
>PCIe 5
>chiplet GPUs
>3D caches
>Windows 11

All memes, other than maybe chiplet GPUs. Consumerist bait memes that won't bring any significant noticeable increases in performance even fully converged.

Of course for late millennials and zoomers who haven't lived through and witnessed the parabolic performance increases every year in the 1990s and early 2000s, it might look like a big deal, but for us old timers it will be meh. Though I admit it wasn't all roses: it wasn't very fun experiencing your top-end $4000 gaming PC end up demoted to a toaster in only 18 months and to a potato in only 3 years (or even earlier).

Not too sure about Moore's law, but I do believe that mobile devices have been, and will continue to eat into the PC space. At least, I have friends that don't bother buying or upgrading their laptop/PC because they told me the phone is good enough. And we can certainly see that trend where PC sales have been weak or declining for years before COVID hit and the work/ study from home requires a PC/ laptop for better experience. In addition as you've mentioned, it is also true that most people actually don't upgrade their systems that frequently. It is normally when it fails before they replace it. COVID again being the reason for the sudden surge in demand because 1 household may likely have insufficient PCs to support everyone using at the same time. So everyone went out to grab 1 or more PC/ laptop resulting in a surge in demand that caught PC makers by surprise.

Sure, mobile devices do eat and will keep eating into the PC space like you say. I only disagree with the notion that they're the main driving factor.
 
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wiyosaya

Posts: 6,393   +4,725
Wait until CPU/GPU prices come back down to Earth. I've been hearing this death-knell chant for years. So far, it has proven to be something akin to "The sky is falling." šŸ¤£
 

Puiu

Posts: 4,864   +3,749
TechSpot Elite
I wouldn't worry too much about upgrading solid state drives - IMHO differences are minimal and only really noticeable on benchmarks, even between an entry level DRAMless SATA SSD and a high end NVme SSD. People only notice that 3s - 4s difference (at most) in Windows boot times and game loading screens between entry level and high end drives, because they're naturally looking for it and paying attention when comparing drives.

Exactly. Earlier this year I finally upgraded from a i5 4690 (4th gen) / 16 GB DDR3 / SATA SSD to a i7 10700K / 64 GB DDR4 / NVme SSD. For me that i5 4690 was still a BEAST of a machine for most tasks, other than playing the most recent AAA games, 7th gen console emulation and video encoding. I only upgraded because like you I wanted the best, and also because the hardware was beginning to show signs of waning reliability and component stress, pointing that the end of its useful life was drawing near (maybe I would've stayed with it for a few more years if it wasn't for this last part). Still, of all new generational upgrade PC builds I've done since the 1990s, this is the one that has brought me the smallest returns in noticeable performance improvement, despite it being the longest upgrade cycle since I got my first PC. Even my previous upgrade from a Core 2 Duo E8400 / 8 GB DDR2 / HDD to the i5 4690 has brought far more noticeable performance improvements in all areas. (GPUs are a bit complicated to add into the equation and a different story, because I tend to upgrade them more often, usually 2 times over the course of an upgrade cycle so I usually carry the last one over to the new build - I currently have a 2060 Super which is more than good enough since I'm a semi-casual gamer who uses a 1080p screen).

I have also upgraded my HTPC this year, for the same reasons - going from an A6 6400K / 8 GB DDR3 / HDD to a Ryzen 5 3400G / 32 GB DDR4 / SATA SSD. Same story with perceived diminishing returns.

Keep in mind none of my previous or current machines are overclocked - I don't do overclocking, always run stock. So in my opinion it's not necessary to overclock an older PC, unless it's a really, really old outdated machine that you want to extract every bit of juice from it to extend its usefulness a little longer.

Unless there's some unexpected major breakthroughs in VLSI/CMOS semiconductor technology and manufacturing soon, that make the advances in PC processing power go parabolic again, I'm expecting all this new hardware to serve me well for nearly 10 years if they don't fail before that.



>smaller process nodes
>new sockets
>new chipsets
>DDR5
>PCIe 5
>chiplet GPUs
>3D caches
>Windows 11

All memes, other than maybe chiplet GPUs. Consumerist bait memes that won't bring any significant noticeable increases in performance even fully converged.

Of course for late millennials and zoomers who haven't lived through and witnessed the parabolic performance increases every year in the 1990s and early 2000s, it might look like a big deal, but for us old timers it will be meh. Though I admit it wasn't all roses: it wasn't very fun experiencing your top-end $4000 gaming PC end up demoted to a toaster in only 18 months and to a potato in only 3 years (or even earlier).



Sure, mobile devices do eat and will keep eating into the PC space like you say. I only disagree with the notion that they're the main driving factor.
"memes" - If you can't actually make a good counter argument then please don't be sarcastic about it. It's annoying as hell.

For example: the 3D cache was already proven to bring big improvements in performance; DDR5 will also bring big improvements (as long as you don't buy the first gen modules that have loose timings); PCIe 5 will bring a lot more I/O in the motherboards, it's not just about games. And I can go on but it's not worth my time to explain more to you.
 

orbital

Posts: 41   +43
Even my previous upgrade from a Core 2 Duo E8400 / 8 GB DDR2 / HDD to the i5 4690 has brought far more noticeable performance improvements in all areas. (GPUs are a bit complicated to add into the equation and a different story, because I tend to upgrade them more often, usually 2 times over the course of an upgrade cycle so I usually carry the last one over to the new build - I currently have a 2060 Super which is more than good enough since I'm a semi-casual gamer who uses a 1080p screen).
I used to have the same C2D E8400 @3GHz, 8GB DDR2 Adata (upgraded from 4) and a 7900GT initially (upgraded a few times), haha. This PC, no joke, still runs without problems as an office and web browsing computer that can still power Microsoft Flight Simulator X with no add-ons at reasonable FPS on a 1200p monitor. The only real issue I've ever had with the CPU was that it struggled to play anything above 1080p on YouTube and other streaming websites. 4-core CPUs, including mobile, were a Godsend... And anything on the market after 2015 (Intel and AMD but especially AMD) is like eternal with top end GPU, particularly if they are paired with NVMe or even good quality SSDs, fast RAM (at least 16, preferably 32GB+) and good cooling. I always played tightening the RAM timings and overclocking to squeeze every last bit reasonable performance at adaptive and lowest possible voltage. This is A Religion and could not be explained to guys that buy pre-assembled by some factory bot screens with attached battery (including laptops) who "don't need anything else as it met their needs"... Would have been funny if they did really realize how this is just another of the many ways for a forced 2-year or less planned obsolescence they blindly contribute to just because it's so much easier this way.
 

arrowflash

Posts: 460   +498
Haha, same story with me... the most recent news I have about my old C2D E8400 is from 2 years ago, when it was still being used by a former neighbor (I have moved) who was using it as a web browsing PC.

One of the main reasons I had upgraded it to the i5 4690 was because, even paired with a GTX 285, the C2D couldn't really handle most games at 1080p. And again, hardware was starting to show signs of unreliability and component stress. My neighbor had to call a repair technician a few times since I donated the PC to him, but it kept going. One of the technicians actually formatted the PC and installed Windows 10 (I had delivered it with Windows 7) - I did take a look and Windows 10 was running surprisingly well on it.
 
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