Intel erased all the market share gains AMD CPUs made this year

Intel 11th Gen Core Rocket Lake Processor
(Image credit: Intel)

Since the beginning of the year, AMD had been chipping away at Intel's market share lead among gamers on Steam, but that has all come undone in a single month. Looking at the latest numbers, Intel gained back all the share it lost this year, and then some.

I'm not talking about huge monthly swings—just a few percentage points—but it is an interesting trend that likely reflects the short term unavailability of AMD's best CPUs for gaming based on Zen 3 (Ryzen 5000 series). Even right now, the Ryzen 9 5950X and Ryzen 9 5900X are both out of stock at places like Amazon and Newegg, save for listings by marketplace sellers who have jacked up the prices.

(Image credit: Valve)

Granted, Steam's hardware survey is not completely scientific, but it is the best snapshot we have of PC gaming hardware trends. And what we see for the month of June is Intel taking a 1.72% usage share away from AMD, to land at 71.58%. That's a 3.44% swing (Intel gained 1.72% and AMD lost 1.72%).

While not shown, Intel's share in January of this year was 66.51%, versus 33.49% for AMD. So over the first half of the year, Intel has managed to grow its dominant share by an additional 5%, at the expense of AMD. That's a not insignificant 10% swing in CPU share among gamers on Steam.

I'm a little big surprised by this, given the deservedly positive reaction of Zen 3. Even though the top two SKUs have been hard to get, the more affordable Ryzen 7 5800X and Ryzen 5 5600X have been easier to come by (plus a couple of OEM-only SKUs, the Ryzen 9 5900 and Ryzen 7 5800).

Steam's hardware survey doesn't provide the 'why' and 'how', just the 'what' when it comes to tracking trends in hardware. But I have to think AMD's slippage and Intel's resurgence is a combination of a silicon shortage and discounted prices on Core processors.

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Take for example the Core i7-10700K (Comet Lake). It was selling for $380 at the beginning of the year, and is now marked down to $320 on Amazon. And looking at the price tracking history on CamelCamelCamel, it briefly dipped all the down to $260 last month. That's just one of many examples—it's like AMD and Intel suddenly swapped personalities, with the latter now the one with the bang-for-buck proposition.

The GPU shortage could be having an impact as well. It's been a rough time to try and build a completely new PC from the ground up, mostly because there have not been enough graphics cards to go around. And for a short while, inventories of higher end power supplies were spotty as well.

Speaking of graphics cards, the GeForce GTX 1060 is holding steady as the most used GPU on Steam—it accounts for around one out of every 10 GPUs. That's followed by the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti. The top 12 spots all belong to Nvidia, with AMD's Radeon RX 580 ranking No. 13, followed by the GeForce RTX 3070, the only Ampere part with a greater than 1% share.

There are signs that the GPU shortage is easing ever-so-slightly. If that continues, it will be interesting to see how things swing by the end of the year, though next year will be even more intriguing, with Intel having entered the discrete GPU fray.

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).