It has been 15 years since the first introduction of the Intel Core 2 Quad and AMD Phenom single-wafer quad-core CPUs in 2007. These processors helped usher in a new level of gaming and computing performance that helped define an era. Enthusiasts from around the world would continue focusing on overclocking each new generation as they were released.
Over the years, the once niche market for aftermarket CPU cooling would explode to include a plethora of air- and liquid-cooling options never seen before in the consumer PC market. Along with other components, enthusiasts found themselves with the ability to reach new speeds from this next level of multicore CPUs. From off-the-shelf to homebuilt, the internet is filled with stories of what people have managed to achieve with them. In turn, professional overclockers began using exotic solutions such as LN2 to push the processors even further, thus setting world records. Now that era is seemingly coming to an end, as the latest Steam hardware survey shows that roughly only 35 percent of gamers are still using them.
December 2021 Results
The Rise of More Cores
Six-core processors are barely a few percentages away from taking the reins as the number-one, most-used processor. Eight-core processors are climbing in the ranks as well, with over 17 percent reported. The two combined make for over 50 percent of users now, and it wasn’t that long ago either were barely above single digits. Back in July 2020, quad-cores still held over 46 percent, which shows how quickly users are now switching over.
AMD and Intel still manufacture quad-core CPUs. Their stock performance levels now rival what some overclockers had to aim for back when they were introduced, and prices are relatively cheap compared to their six- or eight-core counterparts. During the era of the quad-core, the rise of ARM has also happened, and it continues to make waves of its own with its design architecture and low power usage.
However, multithreaded performance needs have increased significantly in recent years as developers adapt to having access to more cores. Quad-core CPUs are still viable for a budget gaming build but will definitely run into limitations for CPU-intensive games, even when heavily overclocked to the once highly sought-after speeds of over 5 GHz. However, they still can have their place in many office work or retail-related applications. Meanwhile, from console to PC, laptops, tablets, smartphones, and even smart TVs, many devices are now using more cores, so the results of this latest hardware survey should not really come as a surprise.