(Photo: PCMag/John Burek)Valve Software has released the results of its March hardware survey, and there’s been some movement on the leader board. The gaming and hardware developer regularly asks users of its Steam software to allow it to poll their PC’s hardware. This information provides Valve and the public at large with a glimpse of what everyone’s got under the hood, so to speak. This month’s data dump is significant as it marks the first time the majority of CPUs polled feature at least six CPU cores.
This means collectively we are advancing towards more powerful CPUs being the norm, instead of the exception. This will theoretically spur game developers to optimize their titles for more powerful hardware.
The Steam survey results can be viewed here, and it’s broken down into several categories. We’ll be focusing just on Windows users here though, not Mac and Linux. The survey info covers the previous five months, allowing you to watch the numbers rise and fall. As we can see, six-core CPUs now account for 34.22 percent of all CPUs polled, a rise of 1.19 percent from February. That was enough to displace those crusty quad-core CPUs, which fell 1.27 percent to take second place on the podium. For context, in September 2020 quad-core CPUs were at 46 percent, with six-core CPUs at just 25 percent. The next-most utilized configuration is eight-core CPUs, and beyond that the numbers fall off a cliff. For example, only 0.1 percent of Steam users have a 32-core CPU, and that number hasn’t changed in the five months listed. Overall 68.45 percent of Steam users have an Intel CPU, with 31.53 percent running an AMD chip.
On the GPU front, the venerable GTX 1060 remains the most-used GPU, still. However, the GTX 1650 is nipping at its heels. The GTX 1060 came out five years ago, and is a Pascal GPU. The GTX 1650 came out in 2019 as a budget Turing GPU, with a now-shocking $149 sticker price. Those were the days, eh?
Though Nvidia’s Turing GPUs made a lot of gamers roll their eyes due to several factors, the RTX 2060 is surprisingly the third most common GPU now. At the time of its launch it was billed as a GPU that would provide affordable ray tracing, even though not many games offered RTX back then.
Still, the pattern here is quite clear: Nvidia’s x60 cards are the company’s biggest sellers, and people keep them around for many years. The most popular AMD GPU is integrated graphics, which are simply listed as “AMD Radeon Graphics.” The next most popular is the RX 580, which underscores the pattern that midrange and low-end cards are what people actually buy. It’s fun to discuss the flagship GPUs, but they clearly represent a minuscule proportion of the gaming market. For example both the RTX 3080 Ti and RTX 3090 are only in-use by 0.5 percent of Steam users.