Nvidia reigns supreme in discrete GPUs – but is that bad news for consumers?

An Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 slotted into a PC with its fans showing
(Image credit: Future)

Nvidia has never had a tighter hold on the GPU market, looking at new figures representing the battle of the discrete graphics cards from a well-known analyst firm.

You may be familiar with Jon Peddie Research (JPR), and the company’s latest report on the GPU arena for Q3 2022 emerged earlier this week, showing a savage drop in sales as we reported at the time. But now, we’ve got a fuller range of figures showing the state of the discrete (standalone) GPU market, and Nvidia’s supreme dominance therein.

Wccftech highlighted JPR’s breakdown of discrete GPU share which shows Nvidia with a mighty lead having secured 88% of the market in Q3, compared to just 8% for AMD. Intel holds the remaining 4% share.

The overall picture is gloomy, as you might expect, with discrete GPU sales dropping to just 14 million units in Q3 – for comparison, in the same quarter of 2021, 24 million graphics cards were shifted. So that’s a drop of 42% year-on-year, quite a frightening decline, particularly when Q3 is normally a stronger quarter (with back-to-school sales, and the Holiday season coming into view).

Analysis: Paying for the privilege of Nvidia

What’s seriously telling here is how the picture has changed from the previous quarter. In Q2 2022, Nvidia was still king of the GPU hill by a long way, of course, but held an 80% share with AMD on 15% (and Intel on 5%). To see Nvidia shoot up to an 88% share in Q3, and AMD’s market share cut in half to 8% must be a serious worry for Team Red.

Yes, this is purely focusing on discrete GPUs, so doesn’t tell the full story (with no accounting for laptop graphics cards or iGPUs), but as a snapshot of the desktop market, Nvidia has to be very pleased with this.

Indeed, we’ve never seen Nvidia have such a dominant share in the JPR reports in recent history. For consumers, though, this obviously isn’t such a healthy state of affairs.

Why not? Because Nvidia having such a strong grip on the market will buoy the company’s confidence that despite selling GPUs at eye-watering prices these days, folks are still clearly happy to pay for the privilege of owning a Team Green product.

And that’s part of the reason why, no doubt, Nvidia feels it can continue to charge a seriously chunky premium for its high-end graphics cards when it comes to the new Lovelace GPUs that recently hit the shelves. A particular case in point is the RTX 4080, which even though it isn’t the flagship Lovelace product, has a price that’ll make you think otherwise (particularly the more premium custom boards from third-party card makers, which are truly exorbitant in terms of their price/performance value ratio).

So, what about the figures we might see for Q4, when the sales of those Lovelace graphics cards come into play? (Remember, these weren’t available in Q3, so aren’t reflected in the current stats). From what we’ve heard on the grapevine, Nvidia has shifted a fair few high-end cards, and of course, AMD doesn’t have its rival RDNA 3 GPUs out yet (they won’t appear until mid-December, and so will have a more limited impact on Q4 figures).

Which prompts the thought: could Nvidia actually reach a 90% level of dominance for Q4? It seems entirely possible, and possibly entirely worrying that this might encourage Team Green to think all is okay with its desktop GPU pricing, and it can forge ahead with MSRPs for the Lovelace range that are distinctly less than wallet-friendly.

As a final note, it’s also interesting to see that Intel’s discrete GPU share is now a relatively substantial amount (and was in Q2, to be fair), given how early it is in the game for Arc graphics cards. Perhaps this is an angle where GPU pricing competitivity can be pushed further in the future, particularly as Intel is making headway with continually refining its drivers – we can but hope that Team Blue might provide a challenge on this front as time goes on.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).