Steam Survey shows Windows 10 and quad-core CPUs on the rise

While we recognize that not all gerbils are gamers, most of us probably put all our fancy hardware to use for some digital escapism once in a while. So, what's your rig like, folks? The latest edition of the Steam Hardware & Software Survey is out, and there are a few interesting needles buried within the haystack of data.

Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1060 Founders Edition

Probably the most interesting bit of news this time around is that Windows 10 is the OS of choice for half of Steam's Windows users. Windows 7 64-bit fell to 32%, Windows 8.1 64-bit trails at 6.86%, and the rest of Steam's Windows user base is spread out across other versions. Windows gamers make up the overwhelming majority of Steam users, comprising 96.24% of customers. Meanwhile, macOS users dropped to just under 3% while Linux remains at under one percent.

Another interesting change over the last three months is the shift from dual-core to quad-core systems. The percentage of users on dual-core CPUs dropped by 3.12% since January, while the share of systems with four physical cores increased by slightly more by 3.27%. That puts 52% of Steam users on quad-core machines, leading well ahead of the 42% of people with dual-core CPUs. Many-core processors also saw marginal upticks: 1.44% of gamers are running a six-core CPU, while 0.49% of survey respondents have an octa-core box. Those increases doubtlessly originated from the launch of AMD's Ryzen CPUs.

Ryzen isn't helping the red team's overall CPU market share on Steam, though. The company's piece of the CPU pie actually declined slightly to 19% from January's 19.8% share. Intel obviously snapped up those losses. The majority of those Intel chips appear to be in laptops, because CPU clock rates between 2.3 GHz and 3.29 GHz saw upticks in ownership, while chips between 3.3 GHz and 3.69 GHz in base clock lost a bit of ground. More than 5% of Steam users are using CPUs with a 3.7 GHz or higher base clock these days.

Over on the graphics card aisle, Nvidia actually expanded its dominance of the PC gaming market. Almost 64% of Steam gamers are using Nvidia graphics cards. That number is up significantly (2.4%) since this time last year, although not all of those gains came at the expense of AMD. Both Intel and AMD lost Steam share to the green giant. The red underdog came in at 20.5% of the market, while the blue team's integrated graphics hold 15.5%. The Nvidia GeForce GTX 960, GTX 970, GTX 1060, and GTX 1070 make up 10% of Steam users all by themselves.

1 GB might still be the most common graphics card memory capacity on Steam, but its share is dropping slowly. Every VRAM amount above that saw slight gains, particularly the 3 GB and 4 GB cards. Folks are still overwhelmingly hooking those graphics cards up to 1920x1080 displays, which account for 48.77% of the survey. Higher resolutions are growing, though, particularly 2560x1440. Most of the lost share in this space came from 1600x900 and lower resolutions, although 1440x900 and 1536x864 in particular saw marginal upticks.

One of the long-standing questions anytime a new CPU gets released is "when will the new instructions see some use?" As an example, Intel's Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX) first debuted with Sandy Bridge and are now supported by most chips produced by Intel and AMD. Despite that widespread support, the instructions don't seem to be used a lot in games. Steam's data shows that both AVX and the crypto-related AES-NI are available on the machines of more than three-quarters of the service's users now, as both types saw an uptick to the tune of more than 2% in the last six months. Hopefully this will encourage game developers to sit up and take note.

Finally, over in the VR world, both the Oculus Rift retail unit and the HTC Vive saw minor upticks in market share. Both gained their boosts from the Rift development kit units that are being phased out of service. The Vive controls almost 61% of the market, while the Rift retail unit holds a little under 35%. Those numbers don't mean much, though—less than one-half of a percent of Steam users have a VR headset of any kind.

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