Image: Intel

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

Image: Valve

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.

Source: Steam (via OC3D)

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Peter Brosdahl

As a child of the 70’s I was part of the many who became enthralled by the video arcade invasion of the 1980’s. Saving money from various odd jobs I purchased my first computer from a friend of my...

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7 Comments

  1. No doubt this number will change when Steam Deck is out in the hands of the masses. I believe that thing has a quad-core Zen 2 CPU.

  2. [QUOTE=”ViewPort, post: 46717, member: 5185″]
    So this means we can use Steam numbers for GPU market share too? 😉
    [/QUOTE]
    Yep according to them the GTX 1060 is still the most popular one. Probably explains why so many people around the world are desperate to get a 30 series or 6000 series card. LOL!

  3. I admit that I finally, for the last time, retired my old 2600K over the summer. Still runs like a champ but even at 4.3 GHz that thing was having a tough time with the games I play when trying to go over 144 FPS. Granted, I know I’m still a ways from the ceiling with that thing as we’ve all heard stories of 4.5 to over 5 GHz, but at that point there’s other factors to take into account to achieve it. I was just using an old Hyper 212 on it. I also got one of those old core2quad processors in a rig in the closet next to my old P4 Prescot build. I’ll always look back at those rigs with good memories though but that 2600K rig was a record breaker for me for its longevity and adaptability for over a decade.

    Meanwhile I’ve still got an old 4930K for 4K gaming and other projects in the cave. I’ve got it running at a modest 4.3 GHz as well and that 6c/12t processor is starting to show its age too. Still works well but I can absolutely see a difference when playing the same games on the 3700X rig and both of them have 3090s. However, that’s where their similarity ends. Not to mention that 3700X is far more power efficient.

  4. [QUOTE=”Peter_Brosdahl, post: 46737, member: 87″]
    I admit that I finally, for the last time, retired my old 2600K over the summer.
    [/QUOTE]
    My friend built his 2600K machine in 2011, and while he did replace it with an X570 machine in 2019, the Sandy Bridge one is still in service. Whenever I go to his house to do some multiplayer/co-op gaming, I use his Sandy Bridge system. Sh1t is still very capable. I imagine it won’t get used so much anymore if one of us gets a Steam Deck though.

    [QUOTE=”Peter_Brosdahl, post: 46737, member: 87″]
    I’ll always look back at those rigs with good memories though but that 2600K rig was a record breaker for me for its longevity and adaptability for over a decade.
    [/QUOTE]
    D4mn straight.

  5. I’ve still got a i7 920 running at my office – going on 14? years now. I admit though, Sandy was a big jump over Nehalem so it wasn’t quite as big of a thing. My Nehalem gaming rig got upgraded with a 4790 (5ghz on air my ass, but it was still a nice chip), but if I had a Sandy I probably wouldn’t have jumped on Haswell.

    I wonder if Skylake will go down as well regarded – it had almost half a dozen respins and +++’s and still exists in E-cores in Alder Lake

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