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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  • DwayneAK - Wednesday, November 30, 2016 - link

    Also MSI, Gigabyte, and XFX are pretty good. And as far as AMD's 'lousy' partners go, I think Powercolor and Sapphire are pretty underrated.
  • Michael Bay - Thursday, December 1, 2016 - link

    After using their 980 for a year, I don`t think EVGA is especially good. My next purchase, if I`ll even bother, will be ASUS as usual.
  • just4U - Friday, December 2, 2016 - link

    I never had any more issues with Ati/Amd drivers then I had with Nvidia drivers... not ever.. I always believed it was just a rumor put out to try and keep Nvidia sales up and ati/amd down.
  • vladx - Wednesday, December 7, 2016 - link

    And now you know you were wrong and they were in fact very real. Heck, I had to sell my old laptop and buy a new one with Nvidia card and thus lose hundreds of euros because of how bad AMD drivers were.
  • zmeul - Monday, November 28, 2016 - link

    quick question: why are you using the term "GPU" interchangeably with video card?!
    in one paragraph you talk about video adapter, discrete graphics and in the next you say "various manufactures sold xyz GPUs"

    the GPU is the chip inside the video card and has been the de facto definition since 1999:
    "a single chip processor with integrated transform, lighting, triangle setup/clipping, and rendering engines that is capable of processing a minimum of 10 million polygons per second"
  • TheinsanegamerN - Monday, November 28, 2016 - link

    Aside from you needing to be pedantic about grammar, the term "GPU" has been used to describe a video card for years. It's nothing new.
  • heffeque - Monday, November 28, 2016 - link

    Don't mind him. He's been living under a rock and can't catch up with normal tech language.
  • zmeul - Monday, November 28, 2016 - link

    the term GPU is already defined (since 1999) and it's not used to describe a video card
    the people who use it to describe a video card, do it wrongly
  • BrokenCrayons - Monday, November 28, 2016 - link

    Is it worth mentioning that you didn't even attempt to use correct punctuation or capitalization while nitpicking about the usage of technical jargon? :)

    Anyway, the fact that you understood what the author meant when using the term "GPU" to refer to a video card means that the intended message reached the recipient, was decoded correctly, and information was shared. The goal of effective communication was achieved.

    Besides that, English hasn't quite caught up with computer industry jargon. Credible dictionary publishers don't really include GPU in their work and there aren't defined, formal rules regarding its usage. In fact, you could argue that the term "GPU" was just something Nvidia made popular during the introduction of the first GeForce graphics cards. It became a commonly used term in the industry, but it was originally just marketing jargon that helped the company differentiate their video processors that included hardware transform and lighting from other competing products. Getting wrapped up in the terminology just seems sort of silly given its origin. There's also the idea of linguistic drift either which is something else you're ignoring because it doesn't support your barely relevant criticism.
  • Meteor2 - Wednesday, November 30, 2016 - link

    This was confusing me too. In an article discussing shipments of AIBs and GPUs, it's best to be precise, because they *are* different things.

    It would be like calling a complete computer a CPU.

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