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The typical enthusiast PC is more decked-out than you might think


Dissecting the TR Hardware Survey 2014
— 9:42 AM on September 29, 2014

Typical PC enthusiasts may spend more on their PCs than you might think—and by the looks of it, their taste for high-end hardware isn't just limited to core components.

Those are two of the main takeaways from the TR Hardware Survey 2014, in which we invited readers to answer 26 questions about their PCs. Around 4,000 of you participated over a period of about a week and a half, and the results paint an enlightening picture of current trends in the hobbyist PC realm.

The results also gives us a sense of brand preferences for processors, graphics cards, and motherboards. The GPU results are particularly interesting, because they show us the AMD vs. Nvidia split for each generation, indicating which of the two vendors has been gaining ground (and which one has been losing it).

We've split our findings into three sections, each with the actual poll results at the bottom. Then, at the end, we've used our data to reconstruct the average enthusiast PC. The vote counts aren't exactly the same for each poll, so there are some very minor discrepancies here and there. Overall, though, the trends are pretty clear and unambiguous.

So, without further ado, let's get into the results!

TR readers don't skimp
One would of course expect the audience of a PC enthusiast site to go for speedy hardware, but we were surprised by the extent of that trend. For starters, roughly 80% of all respondents said they have 8GB or more memory in their PCs—and 41% have 16GB or more. Considering today's memory prices, that's pretty impressive.

And it's just the tip of the iceberg. 89% of respondents said their processor has four or more cores, and of those who said they have Intel CPUs, 49% sprung for a Core i7 or Core i7 Extreme. Around 74% of respondents have aftermarket coolers strapped to their CPUs, as well. Just over 67% said they spent $200 or more on their graphics card, with 36% having shelled out $300 or more. (Those figures apply to individual card purchases, by the way, not to multi-GPU setups.)

Overclocking is also pretty widespread: 46% said they overclock their CPU, graphics card, or both.

On the storage front, 81% of respondents have an SSD in their computer, and 57% have more than 128GB of solid-state storage, meaning drives with capacities of 180GB, 240GB, 256GB, and above. Drives like those are enough for Windows and a sizeable selection of games and apps.

Even peripheral choices reflect expensive tastes. 39% of respondents said they have a mechanical keyboard, be it based on Cherry MX switches or otherwise. 39% have multiple monitors hooked to their PC, and 51% said their largest display has an IPS panel. That leaves only 33% with lower-quality TN displays. Our poll questions didn't cover refresh rates, but I'd wager more than a few of those TN panel users skipped IPS in order to enjoy 120Hz and 144Hz refresh rates.

System memory capacity

  • Less than 1GB (4 votes)
    0%
  • 1-1.99 GB (20 votes)
    0%
  • 2-3.99 GB (117 votes)
    3%
  • 4-7.99 GB (673 votes)
    17%
  • 8-15.99 GB (1550 votes)
    39%
  • 16GB or more (1655 votes)
    41%

Number of processor cores

  • 1 (13 votes)
    0%
  • 2 (397 votes)
    10%
  • 3 (44 votes)
    1%
  • 4 (2965 votes)
    74%
  • 6 (284 votes)
    7%
  • 8 (311 votes)
    8%
  • More than 8 (18 votes)
    0%

If you have an Intel Core processor, is it a

  • Core i7 Extreme (106 votes)
    3%
  • Core i7 (1448 votes)
    39%
  • Core i5 (1282 votes)
    34%
  • Core i3 (96 votes)
    3%
  • Other/don't know (263 votes)
    7%
  • I don't have an Intel Core processor (566 votes)
    15%

Type of CPU cooler

  • Stock (1007 votes)
    26%
  • Aftermarket heatsink and fan (2060 votes)
    53%
  • Aftermarket closed-loop liquid (674 votes)
    17%
  • Other aftermarket liquid (147 votes)
    4%
  • Other/don't know (29 votes)
    1%

Price of each (or only) graphics card at time of purchase

  • Less than $100 (173 votes)
    4%
  • $100-$149 (345 votes)
    9%
  • $150-$199 (540 votes)
    14%
  • $200-$249 (662 votes)
    17%
  • $250-$299 (541 votes)
    14%
  • $300-$399 (642 votes)
    16%
  • $400-$499 (354 votes)
    9%
  • $500-$599 (242 votes)
    6%
  • More than $600 (214 votes)
    5%
  • Nothing (I use integrated graphics) (202 votes)
    5%

What's overclocked?

  • Processor (835 votes)
    21%
  • Graphics card (236 votes)
    6%
  • Both (790 votes)
    20%
  • Neither (2155 votes)
    54%

Solid-state drive capacity

  • Less than 64 GB (109 votes)
    3%
  • 65-128 GB (868 votes)
    22%
  • 129-256 GB (1324 votes)
    33%
  • 257-512 GB (629 votes)
    16%
  • More than 512 GB (328 votes)
    8%
  • I don't have an SSD (751 votes)
    19%

Type of keyboard

  • Cherry MX mechanical (1002 votes)
    26%
  • Other mechanical (460 votes)
    12%
  • Rubber dome (1157 votes)
    31%
  • Scissor switch (265 votes)
    7%
  • Other/don't know (909 votes)
    24%

Number of displays

  • 1 (2393 votes)
    61%
  • 2 (1179 votes)
    30%
  • 3 (309 votes)
    8%
  • 4 (34 votes)
    1%
  • 5 (4 votes)
    0%
  • 6 (4 votes)
    0%
  • More than 6 (4 votes)
    0%

Panel type of largest display

  • IPS (1966 votes)
    51%
  • TN (1263 votes)
    33%
  • VA (148 votes)
    4%
  • Other/don't know (482 votes)
    12%