Barring unforeseen shocks, the signs point towards a strong 2024 for the global PC market

 Stylised image of gaming laptops.
Stylised image of gaming laptops.

2023 has been a year to forget for PC manufacturers. After the work-from-home boom and seemingly endless global political and economic instability, a slowdown was always likely to happen. But if a new analysis from Canalys is to be believed, 2024 is shaping up to be a much better year for the PC market.

Canalys (via TechPowerUp) forecasts the global PC market to return to 8% growth in 2024. It attributes this growth to 'tailwinds including the Windows refresh cycle and emergence of AI-capable and Arm-based devices.'

I'll begin with Windows 12. Microsoft hasn't announced a new Windows, but rumors are growing that it will launch sometime in 2024. Commercial Times, a Taiwanese financial newspaper, believes it will launch in June 2024. Windows 12 (if that's what it ends up being called) is expected to introduce a new user interface and ramp up support for cloud and edge based AI functionality.

Artificial Intelligence is all the buzz. Mainstream PC buyers are less likely to be impressed by a 10% CPU performance improvement than they are about a new functionality subset. If end users really start thinking they need AI functionality for whatever task they perform, be it personally or professionally, then that alone will create incentives to upgrade.

Personally, I'm really excited to see Arm make a move into the laptop space. Qualcomm’s X Elite chip really could be a game changer if Qualcomm's own performance predictions are true. The key thing here is that it doesn't just offer very competitive CPU and GPU performance, but it does so with hard to believe power efficiency. If laptops with these chips perform as well as Qualcomm says they do, and they're marketed properly, then a 2024 laptop with Windows 12, AI functionality and vastly improved efficiency will entice a lot of upgrading.

In terms of desktop PCs and gaming, the second half of 2024 is looking pretty good there too. Nvidia, AMD and Intel are all expected to release new graphics card families. Affordable 14th Gen 65W processors will launch early in the year with Arrow Lake to follow late in 2024. AMD will launch its Zen 5 chips too. If all that comes to fruition, then we're looking at basically a complete refresh of the desktop PC market.

So, combine Windows 12, an edge AI explosion, competitive Arm options, Intel's Meteor Lake and all-new desktop products with an improving global economy and hopefully an end to the Ukraine and Middle East wars, and 2024 starts to look a lot better for the global PC market. PC Gamers have a lot to look forward to.