Steam hardware survey suggests the average gaming PC is getting slightly slower | PCGamesN

Steam hardware survey suggests the average gaming PC is getting slightly slower

The results of June 2012’s Steam hardware survey have just been published on the Valve site, and there’s something interesting going on. According to the data, PC’s are getting slower.

The Steam hardware survey is a rolling survey that continually polls a segment of the Steam audience to see what hardware is being used. Before we continue, it’s important to note that the data on display is affected by a bug that Valve introduced earlier this year that prevented new computers from being polled. The effect of this is that any changes appear to be suddenly introduced in April 2012, when the bug was fixed. The trends remain the same; it’s just they appear all of a sudden.

Here are the interesting data points.  

The first: the rise of Intel Integrated Graphics. Traditionally, Intel’s integrated graphics aren’t suitable for gaming - but now 11% of computers polled by the Steam survey rely on them, from a rolling average of between 3% and 4%.

The second: the increasing volume of dual core processors: previously on the decline, from 48% of PCs polled, to 50%. Similarly, the percentage of computers using single core processors has increased from 5% to 7%.

Digging further into the numbers, the growth rate in GPUs is at the low end. The proportion of DirectX 11 GPUs increased only by .06% over the course of the survey. DirectX 10 GPUs increased by half a percentage point. But DirectX 9 level GPUs (including the various types of shader model) increased by 1.5%, making up nearly 20% of the total number of PCs polled.

Most interesting though, is combing through the resolutions Steam users use.

The most popular resolution, by far, is 1920x1080 - that makes up 25% of the Steam userbase. The second most popular resolution is 1366x768, at 18% of Steam computers. 1680x1050 follows at 10%, then 1600x900 at 7%.

Here’s what I think is going on: gamers are starting to install Steam onto their laptops.

It’s important to note that the bug mentioned earlier meant that new installs of Steam weren’t being properly polled by the Steam survey program. That meant that if, say, you’d installed Steam on your main PC a few years ago, but recently installed it on a laptop, that laptop may not have been checked.

But the data supports the hypothesis. A bit. The growth of dual core processors, integrated graphics, and DirectX 9 GPUs suggest that lower spec PCs are being added into the mix. The growth of the laptop friendly 1366x768 resolution suggests they’re portables.

What’s more, the big success story of the past two years of PC gaming is in the growth of smaller indie games that require a low end PC to run: think Dungeons of Dredmor, Super Meat Boy, Plants vs Zombies, Dungeon Defenders, Torchlight and Terraria. There’s the success too, of the Humble Indie bundles, which are mostly distributed as Steam keys.

Meanwhile, there are a number of publishers pursuing projects that work increasingly well on a laptop: think Civilization, Total War (Creative Assembly have put a lot of work in making the latest Total War games playable on laptops) and the monster that is Football Manager.

Put simply: there are lots of very good reasons to install Steam on your laptop.

There are a couple of other possibilities. The first is Steam’s growth outside of the West, where there might be many lower end PCs still in circulation. The data for the Windows language used doesn’t help here: the language use is mostly stable, with the only significant increase seen in PCs set to English.

The second is slightly oddball, but worth considering. I wonder if the incredible success of Minecraft might have a minor influence on PC gaming in general. Minecraft doesn’t need a high-end PC to run at all - it’s the kind of game you install on an older PC or laptop which you then hand it over to your younger brother or sister. I’d love for this to be true - it would mean that there’s a whole new generation of PC gamers growing up, and they’re gradually being introduced to the PC’s amazing back catalogue via Steam.

Login or Register
Try these free to play games
?

These are affiliate links - clicking them and playing the games directly supports PCGamesN

Spotlight
?

Our Spotlight units plug content our journalists have made, that our advertisers want to promote. Sometimes the promotion is paid for, but the content they go to is always independent with no client oversight or approval.

Alienware - Game VictoriousTurtle Beach
E3 preview: Star Wars Battlefront’s Hoth leaves us cold

Star Wars Battlefront

E3 preview: Star Wars Battlefront’s Hoth leaves us cold

World of Warships proudly sails into global open beta

World of Warships proudly sails into global open beta

The Town of Light is a first-person psychological thriller that occurs in a real insane asylum

The Town of Light is a first-person psychological thriller that occurs in a real insane asylum

Team Fortress 2's Gun Mettle update adds CS:GO like weapon skins and campaigns

Team Fortress 2's Gun Mettle update adds CS:GO like weapon skins and campaigns

Star Wars Battlefront alpha game client details leaked

Star Wars Battlefront alpha game client details leaked

Dota 2 International 2015 prize pool achieves $15 million dollars; Axe immortal and comic unlocked

Dota 2 International 2015 prize pool achieves $15 million dollars; Axe immortal and comic unlocked

Interview: Unity boss John Riccitiello talks a swamped Steam and the future of PC

Unity

Interview: Unity boss John Riccitiello talks a swamped Steam and the future of PC

War Thunder's Cold Steel update turns down the thermostat and adds 20 new vehicles

War Thunder's Cold Steel update turns down the thermostat and adds 20 new vehicles

Renowned Explorers gets a new trailer and a release date

Renowned Explorers gets a new trailer and a release date

Smite expands its Hindu pantheon with Ravana, The Demon King of Lanka

Smite expands its Hindu pantheon with Ravana, The Demon King of Lanka

Report: Warner Bros. knew about the Arkham Knight PC problems months ago, sources claim

Report: Warner Bros. knew about the Arkham Knight PC problems months ago, sources claim

Diablo's Eternal Conflict comes to Heroes of the Storm

Diablo's Eternal Conflict comes to Heroes of the Storm

Final Fantasy XIV new player guide

FINAL FANTASY® XIV: A Realm Reborn™

Final Fantasy XIV new player guide

Wargame publisher Slitherine and BAE Systems, the defence contractor, join forces

Wargame publisher Slitherine and BAE Systems, the defence contractor, join forces

V.Next is an episodic stealth adventure that will release weekly

V.Next is an episodic stealth adventure that will release weekly

Why Starcraft 2 doesn't get balanced like a MOBA

Why Starcraft 2 doesn't get balanced like a MOBA

Lorne Lanning on VR: a lot of developers “are in lala land”

Lorne Lanning on VR: a lot of developers “are in lala land”

Here’s what happens when Apple bans your game on the App store

Here’s what happens when Apple bans your game on the App store

Path of Exile: The Awakening gets out of bed July 10, includes 2 new challenge leagues

Path of Exile

Path of Exile: The Awakening gets out of bed July 10, includes 2 new challenge leagues

Kerbal Space Program launches new official Asteroid Day mod

Kerbal Space Program launches new official Asteroid Day mod

Orcs Must Die! Unchained closed beta updates PvE

Orcs Must Die! Unchained closed beta updates PvE

Minecraft has now sold over 20 million copies on PC

Minecraft has now sold over 20 million copies on PC

Dirt Rally picks up 12 new stages in Tarmac Terror update

Dirt Rally picks up 12 new stages in Tarmac Terror update

Star Citizen FPS module hits delays

Star Citizen FPS module hits delays