Motherboard makers brace for sales slump

In the PC hardware business, as in many others, sales tend to peak around the holiday season and slow in the cold winter months afterward. It’s what the number-crunchers call seasonality. Well, according to DigiTimes, things are going to be a bit backward in the motherboard market this year. Quoting unnamed sources, the site claims motherboard makers are bracing for lower sales in the second half of 2012 than in the first half.

Reportedly, those firms haven’t yet seen sales increase in the second half of 2012, and they’ve been forced to revise their shipment estimates for the year. DigiTimes adds:

The sources pointed out that Apple’s iPad, in addition to notebooks and desktops, have strongly impacted the PC DIY market and could result in an on-year sales drop of more than five million motherboards in the branded motherboard market in 2012.

Judging by that particular snippet, it sounds like the whole story is about branded motherboards—i.e. the ones that sell at Newegg and occasionally make it into major retail stores. The situation may be different when it comes to the motherboards that power pre-built machines from the Dells and HPs of this world.

In any case, DigiTimes quotes revised 2012 shipment estimates of 23.2 million motherboards for Asus, 19 million for Gigabyte, and eight million for ASRock. Just to put things in perspective, the same site reported last December that ASRock has set a 10-million-unit shipment target for 2012.

Comments closed
    • Bensam123
    • 7 years ago

    A lot of really far fetched claims popping up in the comments all by a ‘predicted’ outcome by a unamed source.

    I really don’t see this year being any different then any other years as far as trends go. Bad economy will negatively influence sales, but it’ll still have the same trend. Why would it be any different?

    • moog
    • 7 years ago

    Is there a need for techreport 5 yrs from now?

    Those buying closed systems don’t need sites like these because the device manufacturer and Google and Apple will make all the decisions for us.

      • indeego
      • 7 years ago

      Note shift of TR away from component reviews. And Anand to mobile-heavy space.

      • Bensam123
      • 7 years ago

      This is quite a big jump to make an assumption like that… There will always be PC enthusiasts and prebuilt system makers. I don’t think Apple or Google will ever make decisions exclusively for people. I don’t think people will ever switch exclusively to prebuilt systems either.

    • oldog
    • 7 years ago

    As far as I’m concerned the only interesting segment of the desktop market is the mini-itx form factor.

    The new Gigabyte Z77N-WIFI board looks very interesting paired with a Silverstone case and a discrete GPU.

      • pedro
      • 7 years ago

      Totally agree.

        • Deanjo
        • 7 years ago

        I can’t agree. The appeal of a desktop system is it’s expandability (and I’m not talking about 15 separate boxes tied together in a jumble of cables and wall warts). Personally for my desktop systems I wish they started making larger boards with more slots and internal connectors.

    • UberGerbil
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<]Judging by that particular snippet, it sounds like the whole story is about branded motherboards—i.e. the ones that sell at Newegg and occasionally make it into major retail stores. The situation may be different when it comes to the motherboards that power pre-built machines from the Dells and HPs of this world.[/quote<]Yes, the so-called "enthusiast" market. The "pre-built" OEM market is largely driven by business cycles; that's about all that's left of the generic desktop market, since the consumer / student segment is heavily weighted to laptops (and the business segment increasingly is, also). And business purchases are as much about depreciation schedules as anything, at least in the US, though the economic crisis disrupted things (we saw waves of upgrades in '99 in anticipation of Y2K, and then in '03 and '07 driven largely by 4 year depreciation schedules, but the '11 wave got derailed). These days companies have other things to spend their capital dollars on when their 4-year-old (or more) machines are "good enough" (and Windows 7 is also -- a lot of companies don't upgrade the OS except by buying new equipment, and it's not at all clear Windows 8 is going to do anything to drive that).

    • Chrispy_
    • 7 years ago

    How long will it be before we don’t actually need a motherboard?

    SoC’s are coming, whether us enthusiasts like them or not. Take a Macbook air; The board on that is barely bigger than the slot 1 riser board my Celeron 300 came on.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 7 years ago

      It still has a board, though. Until you buy CPUs with built in memory, USB, SATA, etc. you will need a motherboard. I would strongly prefer we not get to that point in the desktop space; no reason you can’t have a small box with a CPU socket.

      • flip-mode
      • 7 years ago

      Not needing one (or much of one, as derF pointed out) doesn’t mean that won’t be people that still want one. I figure as long as there are people that want to build their own computers, there will be a market for selling retail motherboards.

    • Kougar
    • 7 years ago

    It’s also what happens when Intel doesn’t release any major performance advancements at the high-end in quite some time. X79 hasn’t seen a new SKU or price cuts in a full year since it was launched, so why would enthusiasts want to buy into it now?

    I would like to build a new system due to odd issues and a lack of UEFI / SATA 3.0 with my current X58 motherboard, so the need is there. But I don’t see any reason to buy into an overpriced platform that hasn’t seen any updates and will only get a negligible performance bump with Ivy Bridge E before Haswell-E requires a completely new socket anyway.

    Until now I’ve always bought the higher, more cores model CPUs and held onto them for a few years, but Intel has to earn my money and I see no reason to buy anything they currently offer. I’ll wait for Haswell before I will consider buying into a new system at this point, even with the issues my X58 board has right now.

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 7 years ago

    When Intel is focusing most of its advances on improving the power utilization of its CPU’s, you know that performance is not going to advance at rapid enough rate to compel most users to upgrade their CPU+MB+memory very often. If you have any SSD (and it’s got TRIM), then you pretty much don’t need to upgrade that again unless you need more capacity and with prices only now actually dropping sharply, you’ll see users getting the 128gig or 256gig drive and then being done for a long, long time.

    If you’ve got a modern GPU (AMD 4000, 5000, 6000, 7000 series or nVidia Geforce 400, 500, or 600 series), assuming you ignore the multi-monitor craze and are running 1080p/1200p or lower, then you won’t need to upgrade as long as games are ports from consoles that were behind modern gaming PC’s at their launch (that’s six-ish years ago). That’s another reason why Intel doesn’t need to push CPU performance much higher than it’s already at. Why push performance needlessly high at the expense of power and heat when no one needs it?

    Microsoft killed the discrete sound card with the change in sound models in Windows Vista that carried over to 7. 8 might introduce a new system, but even Creative finally went fully software with its latest crappy line of cards. Physics died with the buyouts of PhysX (by nVidia) and Havock (by Intel). Neither company really doing much with said purchases beyond bulletpoints on slideshows.

    In short, PC’s are damn fast and there’s little out there to compel users to need to upgrade now that MS is on a mad rush to the bottom to make Windows work on as low end a device as humanly possible (ie., “Let’s remove Aero completely from Windows because having the option enabled might reduce battery life by 10 minutes!”).

    Those of us who can remember back in the day of the Celeron 300a overclocking or the days of the Athlon/Pentium wars, those were the days when a new version of Windows would make you WANT that new upgrade to get responsiveness back. Those days are long past us.

    Now what we have to look forward to are the days when motherboard manufacturers become increasingly niche, raise prices because economies of scale will get worse over time as less people build PC’s or upgrade them. We’ll think fondly back to now and pine for the days of $100 motherboards and $200 enthusiast CPU’s. Higher costs will drive away a lot of enthusiasts, reducing sales even more and eventually even Intel won’t have a reason to bother with an enthusiast-oriented CPU built for overclocking.

    I’m pretty sure the AMD story ends with bankruptcy or a SOC maker finally ceasing their work on x86 chips and discrete GPU’s.

    This is where the downward slope begins that dramatically alters the enthusiast Build-Your-Own PC industry. Hopefully, it doesn’t go the way the old “Build your own TV” market went.

      • flip-mode
      • 7 years ago

      That was too much talking just to say people feel the computers they have are fast enough.

        • ronch
        • 7 years ago

        I’m too lazy to read his wall of text. Thanks for summarizing it.

      • Helmore
      • 7 years ago

      I don’t think things will change as drastically as you seem to imply. Yes, if this trend continues then there are bound to be some changes to how the market functions. The market for DIY PCs, mainly aimed at the ‘enthusiast’, will never disappear though, is what I believe.

      Another thing that you should consider is that the PC gaming market will again change once the next gen X-Box and PS have been released. Once that happens your Radeon 5000-series GPU won’t cut it anymore for example.

      • Deanjo
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<]Microsoft killed the discrete sound card with the change in sound models in Windows Vista that carried over to 7. 8 might introduce a new system, but even Creative finally went fully software with its latest crappy line of cards.[/quote<] Ummm, no. The soundcard market died because the onboard solutions got good enough for the average person and because of increasing cpu capability the overhead that once made an impact with a full hardware solution became less and less of an issue to the point where a pure hardware solution offered little to most end users.

        • Krogoth
        • 7 years ago

        Pretty much.

        Discrete audio cards have become nothing more than overglorifed DACs. They are still worth it provided you are driving quality speakers and headphones.

    • Ashbringer
    • 7 years ago

    Everyone already has machines that work, and I doubt tablets are the cause to that effect. If I need to upgrade my PC, I usually look towards CPU, RAM, or GPU. The motherboard is a afterthought. The only reason to upgrade the motherboard is because of incompatibility. Being a AMD user I don’t worry about sockets cause nearly everything is AM3+. Makes it easy to go from one generation to the next. A year ago ram was an issue cause I was still using DDR2, but DDR3 is nearly 50% or more cheaper. Made sense to upgrade the motherboard just to avoid buying expensive ram.

    Also it’s not like motherboard makers are doing anything innovative either. I’d still like to see SoundStorm like sound on motherboards. High quality audio should be standard on nearly all motherboards. Realtek should be something that only OEM would use.

    Don’t blame the tablet market for something totally unrelated. Make better cheaper motherboards, cause there hasn’t been many reasons to replace current motherboards for years now.

    • ronch
    • 7 years ago

    I remember back in college when I upgraded my CPU every year for four years. I used a Pentium-200 > Cyrix 6x86MX-P233 > AMD K6-2/450 > AMD Athlon 800. For someone who digs CPUs more than anything else, there’s nothing more fun than going home with a new CPU/system.

    • Derfer
    • 7 years ago

    It will swing the other way when new consoles come out. We’ll get poorly recompiled ports that will demand absurd processing power to run at the same res as the consoles. This will greatly improve sales. As it is now no one has a reason to upgrade, or even anything to upgrade too. A lot of people already jumped on the 1155 wagon.

    • ronch
    • 7 years ago

    As upgrade cycles become longer and longer because the PC has become ‘good enough’ for 99% of things people want to do, it’s gonna be harder and harder for PC companies to stay in business unless they diversify, which is exactly what they’re doing. Mobile computing devices (i.e. smart phones and tablets) are keeping them afloat but they too, won’t keep improving forever and years from now they’ll also meet the same fate as PCs today. So the question is: should chip makers continue to make ever-faster processors? Even today’s ‘low end’ Phenom II X4 PCs are ok; I’m using my Phenom II X4 for almost 3 years now and it can still run today’s games just fine. I wanna buy an FX but it’s not because I need more performance but rather because I just find the architecture very interesting and I could use some excitement. Same goes for Intel’s stuff: I don’t really need an Ivy Bridge. This situation is even more applicable to me because lately I only play old games such as Thief 2 and 3, Oblivion and console emulators for PS1, etc. as well as DOSbox sometimes. My Phenom II will last indefinitely as long as I stick to these applications. And obviously reading articles and commenting on them here at TR only requires a PC capable of running a modern browser, where even an E-350 is more than enough.

    • Shinare
    • 7 years ago

    I used to be a “PC Enthusiast” and built a complete gaming system every year using the best and latest… a couple years ago I bought a DTR laptop, then an android smart phone and then this year I bought my first android tablet.

    Other than a computer sitting on my desk at work, I see no need ever again to build a huge bulky desktop system. (and really, I could probably think of a better system for my work desk as well.) The only thing I wish my phone and tablet did that they can’t is print.

    I honestly can say I don’t see why people tie themselves to a particular chair at a particular desk with a “desktop” PC anymore.

      • hansmuff
      • 7 years ago

      They do so because a decked out desktop machine will beat anything mobile in terms of performance. Some applications don’t need the performance, but some do. Gaming on laptops is workable, but needs very expensive machines that age too quickly compared to desktop parts.

      Then there are peripherals. I just like having two large screens and a solid, mechanical keyboard. By the time I add those to a laptop, I might as well have a desktop.

      • ludi
      • 7 years ago

      You can have your DTR when you pry it from my warm, open fingers.

      I have a desktop system that would cost approximately $1200 to rebuild from the ground up or nearly $2000 to replace in a DTR form factor. It blitzes right through high-res digital photo processing, and my gaming needs are light enough these days that I don’t feel deprived if I don’t have it with me everywhere. Meanwhile, I wouldn’t actually carry a DTR around even if I did have it because it would be hot, heavy, and short on battery life.

      Is that descriptive of everyone’s needs? Unlikely. But I surely do not want or need my workhorse computer confined to a DTR chassis. I have a Timeline 1810TZ and a Touchpad; when I need to be on the road, those are plenty.

    • brucethemoose
    • 7 years ago

    I’ve looked for an excuse to upgrade my Phenom II X4, but no game, or any piece of software I use, has really stressed my system enough to warrant one. Same with my 6850s, and I game at 2560×1440/80fps.

    As far as motherboards go, there isn’t much of a reason to buy a high end mobo today. On the Intel side, your basic H67/H77 motherboard has more features than you’ll ever use, and a basic AsRock Z68 Ex3 will take a 2500k as high as it’ll go. SB-E is silly expensive, and isn’t any better with most software. On AMDs side… well, things haven’t moved forward in awhile. Llano/Trinity are interesting for HTPCs I guess.

    Ironically, once the new consoles come out, I think we’ll see a sharp rise in DIY PC hardware sales. Only then will games actually stress our hardware.

      • ronch
      • 7 years ago

      Well, apart from supporting newer processors, new motherboards only give you what, more USB 2.0 ports than you’ll ever need, more SATA 2/3 ports than you’ll ever need, perhaps 2 or 4 USB 3.0 ports that you don’t really absolutely need anyway, and perhaps PCIe 3.0 that you also probably aren’t in any hurry to adopt. In short, motherboards have, apart from sporting fancy heatsinks and pretty colors, become quite boring. If you want a good motherboard and you don’t have like, 10 expansion cards and a ton of USB devices to plug in, $80 will buy you a fine one sporting all the ports and slots you’ll ever need and using solid caps that can last you for ages, which again exacerbates the problem of long upgrade cycles which hurts mobo makers.

    • leor
    • 7 years ago

    Also, there’s nothing really worth upgrading to. When was the last time we saw a dramatic jump in performance? AMD screwed the pooch so intel is having a little snooze.

    I have a 1366 system damn near 3 years old, I built an ivy bridge system and moved the 1366to another room, and I see no difference whatsoever. There are no situations where I can tell the difference between which system I’m using, I’m sure there is a small difference but this is the first time in the history of my computer building experience that a platform 2 generations old performs comparably with the newest and fastest.

    I considered going to a SB-E setup, but the motherboards are awful and silly expensive. It’s kind of depressing actually. At least the ball is moving forward on the GPU front even if the games aren’t. My current favorite game is a brand new dx9 title.

      • oldDummy
      • 7 years ago

      Agreed.

      Have a SB and Gulftown boxes both running windows 8 now. The delta is gfx; 580gtx vs 680gtx….not cpu related.

      One has a Asmedia vs Intel controller which shows in benchmarks. In truth; performance is good for both.

    • pogsnet
    • 7 years ago
      • TEAMSWITCHER
      • 7 years ago

      You can always make a Hackintosh! I love being able to run OS X and Windows 7 on the same Hardware. Both have their strengths and weaknesses and I honestly can’t say that one is universally better than the other. The only way to win the PC vs. Mac battle is to have both.

      • ronch
      • 7 years ago

      Not really. Windows 7 is perhaps one of the best Windows yet and I guess it’s gonna be hard for MS to come up with something that will make people ditch WIn7. Plus, Win7 looks and works just fine. Most folks won’t bother buying a new OS.

    • halbhh2
    • 7 years ago

    Here’s an idea for the MB makers: band together to make standards for a 15.6″ laptop and a 10″ tablet, and then start making boards for DIY laptops and tablets! If you print it, we will come!

      • DancinJack
      • 7 years ago

      Then they can’t charge you extra. You’re nuts man.

      • ronch
      • 7 years ago

      I’m not sure many folks would like to build their own laptops or tablets like the situation is for desktops. For some odd reason I don’t really find building mobile devices exciting, and that’s coming from someone who always builds his own desktops.

    • joselillo_25
    • 7 years ago

    Power consumption is the only reason to upgrade these days.

    And SATA 3.

      • ColeLT1
      • 7 years ago

      Agreed, well… in my case, heat, but they are related. My room temp drastically dropped from my I7 950 @4.1 vs 3570k @4.7. SATA/USB/PCI 3 were all nice upgrades.

    • tootercomputer
    • 7 years ago

    I would not be surprised if there is indeed a slump in enthusiast boards, or even pre-built systems. The hardware has gotten so much better, less demand for updating. Geez, I’ve got an almost 3 year-old Lynfield system OCed to 3.6GHz with 8g of ram and an SSD OS drive and it runs great, still no hurry to upgrade. I suspect I’m not alone. But add in smart phones and tablets, and it’s obvious the personal computing landscape is changing. Businesses and schools will still need pre-built systems, but the advent of Surface with Office built-in could signal a change there as well.

    I first became interesting in personal computing in the mid 1980s, and this is one of the most dynamic periods I’ve seen. IMHO.

      • BoilerGamer
      • 7 years ago

      With the DIY market shrinking a bit this is to be expected, also this Q4 is the dead-period of mobo manufactures anyway because the only new CPUs are Piledriver & Trinity Desktop, neither are going to sell as well as a Intel CPU.

      The new Intel CPU in Q4 is 3970-X, an uber expensive binned 3960-X which simply won’t sell much because its price and X-79 platform.

      The best they could do is put out a few AMD boards while designing their Z87 boards.

      Next year should be a little better for them with Haswell and Z87 in Q1 and Ivy-E & X89(maybe?) in Q3 but as pointed out before the need for upgrade is substantially less than before as modern hardware already does what we need to get done pretty well.

      • flip-mode
      • 7 years ago

      My ‘puter turns 3 this month: X4 955 in a 785G mobo, 8GB DDR 2, couple of HDDs, HD5870. Does everything I need, but it needs an SSD.

      • cegras
      • 7 years ago

      Before my motherboard shat itself I was running an E7200 @ 3.4 and a HD4850 about 4 months ago.

    • NeelyCam
    • 7 years ago

    This is what happens when everybody already has “good enough” systems. I personally have no reason to upgrade my systems – or at least the mobos. Adding graphics or upgrading SSD/HDD is fine, but SB/IB or anything Phenom is perfectly fine for many years to come.

    Fritzt

      • DancinJack
      • 7 years ago

      I have an aging P55 board that I want to upgrade. I’m waiting until Haswell for an upgrade, but I would love to have SATA 3, native USB3, and no PCI slots NOW.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 7 years ago

        Right, but what you said was kind of NeelyCam’s point. Nowhere in your list is overall performance. You don’t want to use add-in cards, which is fine, but what you want NOW can be had on current boards.

          • DancinJack
          • 7 years ago

          Quit spilling logic and reason. I won’t listen.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 7 years ago

            LOL! +1

        • sschaem
        • 7 years ago

        You would upgrade for removing PCI slots ?

        And cant you get an $8 USB3 / SATA3 card for you P55 MB?

          • phileasfogg
          • 7 years ago

          Hmmm… I have a P45 motherboard with a couple spare x1 PCIe slots. Are you saying I can buy a PCIex1-> USB3 card for $8? Where can I buy one for this price?!

            • Deanjo
            • 7 years ago

            Why choke USB 3 on a PCIe x1 slot?

            • jihadjoe
            • 7 years ago

            PCIe 2.0 x1 does 5GT/s 8/10 encoding makes that 4Gbps, which is very near the 5Gbps max USB 3.0 promises. Considering USB 3.0’s 5Gbps is occasionally outperformed by eSATA at 3Gbps I don’t think it will even saturate the 4Gbps from a single PCIe 2.0 link.

            • Deanjo
            • 7 years ago

            This is true however if he is suggesting a USB3 / SATA3 card it isn’t just the USB 3 he has to worry about. This is why the good USB/SATA3 cards are usually x4 cards. And don’t forget that the bandwidth on the PCI-e x1 slot is really only good for 1 USB3 connection.

            • phileasfogg
            • 7 years ago

            thanks for the feedback guys. Well, my P45 board only has x1 and x16 PCIe slots. No x4 slot to spare, I’m afraid.

      • squeeb
      • 7 years ago

      Yea my OC’d X4 965 is still kicking ass and taking names paired with my 7870. I won’t be upgrading for a while.

      • l33t-g4m3r
      • 7 years ago

      Nothing that couldn’t be solved by lowering prices. If “Enthusiast” hardware dropped the premium for checkbox “features”, and were more reasonably priced, they might see more sales. A decent drop would pick up all these “good enough” stragglers sitting on the fence.

      • ronch
      • 7 years ago

      Nowadays, unless your system goes toast any midrange/top end processor should last many years. It’s interesting how much computing power you can buy for $200 nowadays, but it’s also notable how you’ll probably have fewer and fewer of those days when you go home carrying a large plastic bag containing boxes of different PC parts, gushing with excitement to put it all together. I miss those days, but even if I’m financially ready to buy new parts, I just couldn’t justify doing so unless I just wanna plunk some cash for no important reason.

      • anotherengineer
      • 7 years ago

      Yep. Happy with my Plextor 256GB M3 SSD.

      • albundy
      • 7 years ago

      thank you! I’ve have my phenom2 955 running like a champ! sure i could use a better viddy card and an ssd, but if everything runs smoothly, why fix what aint broken?

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