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Consumers continue to favor lower-end desktop PCs and notebook computers over high-performance models for this year and beyond, with the top-end systems accounting for only 6% of the market in 2012, according to an IHS iSuppli market research company.

“For the desktop as well as the notebook PC market, the continuing domination of lower-end computers is due to the rising performance overall of PCs and their greater affordability to the purchasing public,” said Peter Lin, senior analyst for compute platforms at IHS.

Modern PCs Now Good Enough for Everything

This year, the mainstream desktop PC category tied with the value PC category in the share of the global desktop PC market, with each segment projected to claim an evenly matched 46.9% by year-end. In comparison, performance PCs will be left far behind in third place, with a meager 6.2%. Meanwhile in the notebook computer space, the value notebook segment will take 46.8%, compared to 44% for mainstream laptops and 9.2% for performance models. IHS claims that the market calculus does not change in the years ahead, with performance PCs continuing to hold down a minority position compared to either the mainstream or value segments.

“While the highest and most potent specifications are still reserved for expensive PCs belonging to the performance sector, computers now in the mainstream or value segments are powerful in their own right, and cannot be deemed as throwaway models. Instead, these more affordable systems feature current-generation technologies that prove adequate for most uses, or boast increased microprocessor power that raises the performance bar even for seemingly rudimentary machines,” explained Mr. Lin.

High-end, Mainstream, Value PCs Described

Price is a secondary concern given that the pursuit of ultimate performance is the primary consideration, and performance parameters are reflected in the machine’s processor, memory, hard disk and graphics capabilities. Premium prices in the range of $1000 and up are usual in this category, and towers and minitowers are the most common form-factors. Processors used here include Intel’s Core i7, Core i5 or AMD’s FX and A10 chips.

In comparison, the mainstream PC reflects the most common specs and functionalities available on the market. These models use the latest-generation technology, but not the fastest speeds, and are matched with competitive pricing. Such a combination, in fact, meets the requirements of a vast majority of both the consumer and corporate markets, accounting for the tremendous appeal of mainstream PCs. The machines come in minitower, desktop or small-form factors, and are typically priced from $500 to $1000. Processors used here include Intel’s Core i3 or AMD’s A6 and A8 chips. 

Value PCs, on the other hand, do not use leading-edge hardware components, especially as price is the principal issue for this category. In light, however, of the increasing performance of microprocessors, value PCs are proving more than adequate for many consumer and corporate markets, which are happy to use the machines for web browsing, email and simple productivity tasks. Desktop and small-form factors are common in this category, with prices topping out at $500. Processors used here include Intel’s Pentium and Celeron, as well as AMD’s A4 and E2 chips.

From Extreme to Mainstream to Value

As processors become more powerful, more computers will also ship with increased computing capability. Quad-core processors, which were top-of-the-range high-end chips which cost $999 per unit just six years ago, will be found in 179 million notebook PCs by 2016, equivalent to 59% of all notebook computers available on the global market by then. Among desktop PCs, fully 100% of the machines will be running 64-bit operating systems by 2016, making the slower and older 32-bit operating system obsolete by that time.

The positive projections for mainstream and value PCs do not hide the fact that the overall PC market continues to be bogged down by slow growth. Ultrabooks and other ultrathin computers have yet to make a dent on the market, and PCs as a whole have been sidelined by popular devices like tablets and also by smartphones with near-PC-like functionalities.

Tags: Business

Discussion

Comments currently: 8
Discussion started: 11/08/12 05:08:14 PM
Latest comment: 11/11/12 09:31:32 PM
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1. 
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0 4 [Posted by: tedstoy  | Date: 11/08/12 05:20:26 PM]
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2. 
This article is stating the obvious.
Toyota sells more cars than Ferrari as well and both get you from point A to B! Well duh...

High end and enthusiast pc builds will always be niche markets. What are they expecting 99% of people buying a new cpu will buy the extreme chip from Intel and graphics card will buy the 690GTX?
More bang for your buck in the mid range, And many will just overclock cpu past the extreme chips speed anyway.
1 0 [Posted by: ozegamer  | Date: 11/08/12 10:27:10 PM]
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I think the people that overclock their hardware are also only a minority.
I think the main reason is just that mid range pc are so good these days you don't need much more to game decently. I mean most games are still aimed at consoles that are so far behind by now even a mid range pc is years ahead of those.

When the new consoles come you might want/need to upgrade again, but even then I'm not expecting a huge jump.

Besides that, mainstream games are also made to run on mid range hardware, they want as many people to play their game after all.

And finally, if many people would get high performance hardware I'm pretty sure companies like Intel would jump on making something even more high end/exclusive. Simply because there are always people willing to pay to have something more exclusive.
Companies have these line ups exactly to cater to different levels of society, if many people buy high end stuff they will just shift the pricing/performance so most people fall into a "mainstream" category again.
1 0 [Posted by: whythisname  | Date: 11/09/12 03:40:15 AM]
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"High end and enthusiast pc builds will always be niche markets."

That is true, but the very definition of what "high-end" market is changing. 5-10 years ago, $1000 PCs were not high-end but mid-range. The consumer is gravitating towards cheaper laptops/desktops and spending extra $ on tablets/smartphones instead. Only Apple's laptops are seeing minor growth for high-end computers. Macs themselves are barely growing.
0 0 [Posted by: BestJinjo  | Date: 11/09/12 10:32:18 AM]
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I will have to agree with you there, I am guilty myself, Am looking at a new smartphone(note 2) and a 10inch tablet(nexus 10), Not exactly sure why I need them but still.
It won't effect my pc builds at all but yeah you are right, For average joe out there they will most likely just focus on the phone/tablet and cut back on the expensive pc parts.
1 0 [Posted by: ozegamer  | Date: 11/10/12 04:23:18 PM]
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3. 
Why are big companies always so short sighted?

I have not bought very much Intel stuff lately because they haven't brought out anything worth buying, they need to speed up migration to new tech not slow it down!

Yes, AMD doesn't seem to have anything to compete with Intel past about $200 but I don't go out and buy an Intel chip just because AMD have something competitive I buy any chip when there is sufficient progress made since the last one i bought.

IB was a big disappointment, I was hoping for much better clocks and would have liked to see more cores. Its really not surprising Intel's sales have fallen when they release menial performance increases like that.

In the cold light of day, if AMD did have something competitive at every price point we would have 8-core, 5GHz mid-range chips right now and the x86 market would be booming, but instead Intel have no competition so are slowing things down and then wondering why sales are slowing down!!

We have had quad-core hovering around 4GHz for over 6 years, its time to move on!!!
0 0 [Posted by: loadwick  | Date: 11/10/12 11:03:38 AM]
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True but at the moment there really isn't any need to have faster GHZ speeds on the cpu's, And on the core front the software also isn't using anywhere near all the cores on a processor,My 6 core cpu is constantly using less than 50% even with multiple windows/programs running. I also blame consoles for the slowdown in tech, They need to bring out the next gen so entire industry(mainly gaming) can move forward, It's been too long.
0 0 [Posted by: ozegamer  | Date: 11/10/12 04:30:33 PM]
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4. 
Earlier this year I built a dual CPU system with DDR3-1600; I took a chance with CAS 9 memory not approved for this platform because I didn't want the approved CAS 11 stuff. My previous system was a single (earlier generation) CPU with DDR2-667 with CAS 5. My new system is definitely faster, but not 10x faster. I blame memory latency.

Frankly, I see diminishing returns from CPU frequency scaling until major improvements are made with memory. What is point of increasing CPU or memory speed by 20% is memory latency also goes up by 20%? Are we actually gaining anything?

Imagine how fast the computer on your desk right now would be if 80% of that memory latency were eliminated.
0 0 [Posted by: guyr  | Date: 11/11/12 09:31:32 PM]
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