Global PC Shipments Fell Off a Cliff at the End of 2022

hundreds of pcs lined up
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Research outfit IDC has just published its latest quarterly PC tracker data, which charts shipments for the global desktops, laptops, and workstations market. According to the data, PC shipments "continued to slump" in the last quarter of 2022 — shipments were 67.2M, down 28% compared to the same quarter last year. 

There were some bright spots raised in IDC's report: full year shipments for 2022 remained higher than in the pre-pandemic period, and a consumer-side rebound is expected, beginning in Q3 2023 or perhaps early 2024.

Interestingly, IDC notes that Q4 2022 PC shipments were comparable to those in 2018, when Intel was suffering from supply challenges and the industry was feeling the impact of the resulting component shortages. The researchers claim that the latest figures show "the pandemic boom is over for the PC market," even though the 292.3M units sold last year were still well above pre-pandemic levels. (That number is definitely below the 350.1M total PC units sold in 2021, however.)

According to a report by Canalys late last year, U.S. PC shipments dropped 12% year-over-year in Q3 2022. That report only looked at PC shipments within the U.S., however, while IDC's data is worldwide.

(Image credit: IDC)

Another problem for the PC industry across the last few months is that average selling prices (ASPs) have been falling. IDC suggests prices have been cut due to excess channel inventory to spur demand. It doesn't mention that pre-built PCs are cheaper than ever due to falling prices for key components such as GPUs, RAM, and storage. 

 IDC says the consensus among analysts is that the PC market as a whole will return to a growth cycle in late 2023 but it may be more like early 2024 before the consumer segment sees noticeable green shoots of recovery.

Driving forces that could see stronger PC-buying in the commercial segment include both the end of support for Windows 10 and a building refresh cycle. 

On the consumer side of the equation we can see enthusiasts and gamers building or buying whole new systems this year with the attractive advances recently launched from AMD, Intel, and Nvidia. Consumers may also decide it's time to hop onto a new platform with DDR5 and PCIe 5.0. There are also new laptops and mini-PCs coming out that are more capable than ever (where pre-builts are the only option).

Will RTX 40 Laptops boom?

(Image credit: Nvidia)

Do readers think this will be more of a buying year or a saving / waiting year? Let us know if any of the recently launched/announced processors or components could inspire you to buy a new system.

Mark Tyson
Freelance News Writer

Mark Tyson is a Freelance News Writer at Tom's Hardware US. He enjoys covering the full breadth of PC tech; from business and semiconductor design to products approaching the edge of reason.

  • TechieTwo
    Most unemployed people in an economic recession don't buy new computers.
  • lmcnabney
    I was planning on replacing my PC last month. Didn't do it due to the terrible GPU pricing. May end up buying my first console since Atari 2600. The industry is reshaping itself into a low volume but high margin market.
  • LolaGT
    If all of them lose their shirts I don't care, that is just karma taking a chunk out of them for trying to fleece the masses.

    I recently did exactly what I suggested others do several months back.
    Found a used ps4 at a price that was too silly cheap to pass up(these things are clogging the market as many upgrade to the ps5) and have a ridiculous catalog of gaming to choose from and many great games at a couple three bucks each.

    If you were the guy who was never ever going to blow 400-700+ dollars on a gpu this option is golden and you won't be left wanting for good looking games that run fine.

    Until the PC gaming market and consumers get a sanity check that genre is sewage right now.
  • bigdragon
    I think PC sales will continue to suffer in 2023. The drop in shipments will likely get worse. Some system components -- particularly GPUs -- are priced unreasonably high. The most frustrating part of all this is how some systems will hit a reasonable price and then shoot back up after a day. The rapid and unpredictable changing of prices makes it harder to identify and purchase a device during a sale.
  • bit_user
    I have 2 systems I'm trying to replace. For one of them, the motherboard has been unavailable for most of 2022. The manufacturer recently switched ethernet MACs, so I'm expecting it to start reappearing in the channel.

    The other was blocked on unavailability of ECC DDR5 UDIMMs, for virtually all of 2022. Now, the price of the CPU and motherboard have gone up, which I was planning to use. I'll probably still buy the same spec, but maybe I'll at least wait a couple months.

    I definitely plan on upgrading before the next geopolitical shoe drops. I was lucky that I didn't need to buy any hardware during the pandemic. I think I'd better not waste the opportunity to avoid getting trapped by the next supply crunch.