Just in time for the Fourth of July, AMD's Ryzen 5 1600 rocketed from the No. 5 spot on Amazon's bestselling CPU list to the second place position over the weekend, unseating Intel's Core i5-7600K. Amazon's best seller list is hardly indicative of overall market share--a multitude of other factors complicate the issue--but it serves as a somewhat decent indicator of the state of the upgrade market.
First, the caveats. Amazon updates its list of bestselling CPUs hourly, so the results change frequently. We keep an eye on the list and also monitor price changes, and based on our casual observations over the last month (we haven't charted the progress, and we don't have access to historical data) the Ryzen 5 1600 has frequently occupied the 6th place position. That changed recently as the Ryzen 5 1600 moved up to displace the Intel Core i5-7600K, the long-running second-place processor. Intel's Core i7-7700K still enjoys the leading spot.
That move up is an encouraging sign for the Ryzen lineup. Intel has stood resolute in its current pricing scheme for Kaby Lake processors, but more competition might change the company's calculus.
Although the Ryzen 5 1600 is obviously enjoying success in the enthusiast/upgrade market, the Amazon list is a poor indicator of overall market share. The majority of processors ship in OEM systems, and those numbers aren't reflected at the retailer.
AMD's decision to eschew integrated graphics for the Ryzen lineup affords the company the advantage of higher core counts and the ability to offer lower prices than competing Intel models, but it also restricts the addressable market. As horrible as it may be, many OEM systems leverage integrated graphics, so that limits AMD's penetration opportunities. Nevertheless, more OEM Ryzen systems are coming to market and the company's forthcoming APU lineup, which includes integrated graphics, will help broaden its appeal.
AMD is obviously gaining traction, and it's important to note Intel's Pentium and Celeron processors routinely enjoy the fourth and fifth positions on the chart. These low-cost processors also represent a big chunk of the OEM market, and AMD doesn't have direct competitors for those models yet, at least until Ryzen 3 comes to market in Q3. Provided the Ryzen 3 processors are competitive with Intel offerings, and initial signs do point in that direction, we could see even more changes to Amazon's best seller list.
Passing The Mark?
Passmark posts quarterly updates that outline the number of benchmark submissions the company has received, and AMD submissions have increased. Due to an incredibly misleading chart and article title, many mistake the results as an indicator of AMD's market share. The results do not represent actual sales figures, and certainly do not represent market share.
Passmark's Q2 chart showed that submissions with AMD systems rose from 18.1% the previous quarter to 20.6%. The jump appears more pronounced in the chart above due to the daily update cadence. The rise in submissions may not be indicative of actual market share, but it does indicate that something is happening. We've included a quick breakdown of the numbers behind Passmark's chart at the end of the article.
It's Getting Steamy In Here
We headed over to Steam's hardware survey to see how AMD is doing on the gaming front, at least on the dominant online gaming platform.
Admittedly, we didn't expect to see a reduction. According to Steam's hardware survey, AMD systems have declined by 0.85% over the last several months. We dove into Steam's more detailed data, which breaks down the users by frequency range (windows), to attempt to ascertain if the changes just represent old AMD systems that gamers are retiring. Oddly, the reductions seem to be pretty steady across the board. It's certainly conflicting information compared to other indicators, but we have to remember this survey isn't an active tracker.
There's no doubt that AMD's new lineup is changing the status quo for desktop processors, particularly in the pricing department. It isn't surprising to see the Ryzen 5 1600 enjoying success; it has a great price point and solid performance trends that merited its recent inclusion in our Best Gaming CPUs recommendations. AMD's processors might not lead in gaming performance, but the price to performance ratio is impossible to ignore.
The company has already gained significant traction in the mid-range, but it's only the beginning. AMD has even more models, including the highly anticipated ThreadRipper, coming to market later this month. That could change the paradigm on the high-end desktop market while the Ryzen 3 squeezes the low end. Mobile processors also make up roughly two-thirds of the processor pie, and AMD hasn't released its mobile variants yet.
It appears that Intel has responded, at least partially, by lowering prices for its mid-range Skylake-X models (compared to the previous generation). Unfortunately, the company hasn't changed pricing on its existing mid-range processors. Perhaps we'll see a reaction when Intel releases Cannonlake later this year.
Here's some more information about the numbers behind Passmark's chart:
This graph counts the baselines submitted to us during these time period and therefore is representative of CPUs in use rather than CPUs purchased.The Quarters are by the calendar year rather than financial. (i.e. Q1 starts January 1st)Baselines can be submitted from anywhere therefore these are global statistics.We do receive a small number of submissions of CPU types other than AMD and Intel however the percentage is so small as to make it not worth graphing. This combined with rounding off the percentages to 2 decimal places will account for each quarter not always adding up to exactly 100%.This chart only includes x86 processors and does not include other chip architectures these manufacturers may sell.This chart only includes CPUs installed into PCs and does not include game consoles.As the PerformanceTest software only runs on Windows OS and counts on user submitting their benchmarks. This chart may be non reflective of non Windows user base.
Update, 7/3/17, 9pm PT: We originally presented the chart, and the numbers contained therein, that included the first three days of the new quarter. Passmark clarified the chart update cadence, and we have amended the article accordingly.