Gaming is a big reason why PC shipments remain strong despite a silicon shortage

Gaming PC
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The PC market is alive and well, in case anybody is wondering. Proof of this can be observed in the latest tracking data by IDC and Gartner. The former notes that "PCs remain in extremely high demand," driven in large part by gaming, while the latter points out that the PC market just experienced its fastest year-over-year growth in two decades.

What about the component shortage that is rocking the industry at large? Certain silicon is in short supply, relatively to demand, including CPUs and GPUs, the building blocks of every PC (in that order, since GPUs can be integrated into the CPU). The numbers are partially skewed because of it.

IDC says global shipments of PCs (desktops, laptops, and workstations) in the first quarter of 2021 grew a staggering 55.2 percent compared to the same quarter a year ago. A main reason for the "unusually favorable year-over-year comparison," however, is a shortage of PCs when the pandemic first began.

The numbers are not completely misleading, though. It's also because of the pandemic that demand for PCs over the past year has been so strong, as a spike in people working and educating from home has created an increased need for PC hardware.

IDC goes so far as to say "a fundamental shift has occurred around the PC," resulting in a more positive outlook for years to come. The market research firm also credited gaming first and foremost for the increased demand in PCs.

"The continued resurgence in the PC market as well as increases in average selling prices (ASPs) have primarily been driven by growth in gaming, the need for higher performance notebooks in the enterprise, and an increase in demand for touchscreens within the education segment," IDC says.

Gartner, another major market research firm, echoed similar sentiments, in regards to the pandemic's impact on PC shipments. The numbers are a little different—Gartner recorded a 32 percent year-over-year increase, which might not take into account workstations.

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"This growth should be viewed in the context of two unique factors: comparisons against a pandemic-constrained market and the current global semiconductor shortage," said Mikako Kitagawa, research director at Gartner. "Without the shipment chaos in early 2020, this quarter’s growth may have been lower. However, semiconductor shortages are now adversely affecting the supply chain once again, with shipment lead times for some PCs extending to as long as four months."

Even so, Gartner agreed that "PC demand could remain strong even after stay-home restrictions ease."

As for the component shortage, well, it's an ongoing situation. IDC says it's likely to be an issue for the remainder of 2021, while Gartner notes the lead time for some PCs is up to four months long, because of the impact the shortage is having on the supply chain.

Paul Lilly

Paul has been playing PC games and raking his knuckles on computer hardware since the Commodore 64. He does not have any tattoos, but thinks it would be cool to get one that reads LOAD"*",8,1. In his off time, he rides motorcycles and wrestles alligators (only one of those is true).