Valve Hardware Survey: May Results

Stolen from Valve

It’s Valve’s Hardware Survey time again, wouldyabelieveit, and RPS’ resident person who knows anything about hardware is currently in a bunker four hundred feet below the Earth’s surface, working on a project so top secret that even he isn’t aware what he’s doing. So, er, best of luck to me then.

Based on 1.7 million results, these figures are obviously a massive help to Valve, telling them exactly what tech their audience has. But they are likely poured over by every other developer, keen to get a perspective on where the average PC gamer lies, and a direction for which setups to pitch their games toward. LucasArts, can we suggest you take a look?

Intel still dominate the processors, but AMD aren’t too far behind. 58.5% to 41.5%, despite Intel’s head start with the multiple cores. Talking of which, over 59% of gamers are still working with just the one CPU, with 36.6% spreading the load across two. A lucky few, 4.3%, have a quad core, and a completely mysterious 107 people claim to have 3 CPUs. 227 players (0.02%) report 8 of the buggers, while one person reports 30. Then there are three people lying about having 127 CPUs inside their machines. Unless they are space travellers from the future.

NVidia continue to shit all over ATI, with over 62% of the graphics drivers run coming from the former. ATI only get a 31% share. The GeForce 8800 is on a remarkable 9.35% of people’s machines. (And apparently 71,425 people are still running DX7).

I’m slightly surprised by the lack of a big step forward for widescreen monitors. You’d be hard pressed to find a square TV for sale these days, but still 73.9% of Valve’s users are playing on a 4:3 screen. Only 25.7% have gone 16:9. (3.5% are running multiple desktops. Also in, 3.5% of users like to pretend they are a super-tech detective in an action movie).

Obviously Steam attracts a lot of microphone users, in order that they can loudly announce the sexuality of their opponents, and 64.5% of Valve’s audience say they have a mic. 23.4% say they don’t. Which leaves an extremely troubling 12.1% of gamers who don’t know if they have a microphone. Maybe it’s hiding!

But most surprising, Vista has shown a decrease in its share of users since November’s results. Six months ago it climbed from 7.99% to 16.91%. Microsoft must surely be expecting a significant increase by now, but rather the operating system was reported as being on only 14.95% of machines. No one wants your DX10, Microsoft!

See all the rest of the figures here.


  1. Matu says:

    The 3-core processors should be AMD’s latest Phenoms, released in the end of April, so it should be pretty obvious that only a handful have them. I’m amazed that people actually buy AMDs these days, I just don’t see the point. Lovely that (hasta la) Vista has actually lost users.

  2. restricted3 says:

    Oh, we want DX10, what we don’t want is Vista, thank you

  3. RLacey says:

    Has Vista actually lost users, or is it just that so many more people with XP have signed up to Steam recently?

    I suspect the latter. Although I would say that, given that I’m a perfectly happy Vista user.

  4. derFeef says:

    @ Matu
    The point? Hm.. price/performance ratio? Also AMD is more likeable then Intel in my eyes. But I should stop because I am and AMD/ATI fanboy ;)

    I have to add: I just cant believe some facts. DX7? Low widescreen monitors numbers? People love oldscool :)

  5. Matu says:

    Well, yes, I think that Intel’s price/performance ratio is better. But it might be just me. I was something of an AMD fanboy myself a few years ago, until Intel swept the floor with AMD when they released C2D.

  6. Optimaximal says:

    Also AMD is more likeable then Intel in my eyes.

    So having relatively overpriced, underspecced, heat generating wastes of PCB makes you likeable? So why didn’t anyone like Intel’s Prescott?

  7. phuzz says:

    Well, I’m still gaming on a 4:3 display, until today becuase my new shiney 22″ widescreen has just turned up (£170 from dell).

    Ok, I just wanted to boast about my new screen really, sorry :(

    I am wondering if I’ll have to turn off much eye candy to get the same frame rates moving from 1280×1024 to 1600×1050…

    Edit: also quite impressed to see that at least 3% of the Intel CPUs are presumably overclocked

  8. Pidesco says:

    I have a nice 17″ 4:3 CRT screen, and I’m not getting rid of it until it breaks.

    CRTs are really the only way to go for gamers on a budget, and it sucks that they are disappearing.

    @phuzz: Unless you have a really expensive system, you bet you will have to turn off the eye candy. Haha. :D

  9. John Walker says:

    It’s doubtful that Vista’s figures have dropped, but rather XP’s figures have climbed faster. It’s probably more indicative of Steam’s growth than Vista’s failure, but it certainly demonstrates that people are not upgrading, which must be an issue for MS. Annoyingly, it no longer appears to be possible to access previous surveys to get the figures.

    Also, hooray for Phuzz’s new monitor!

  10. MeestaNob! says:

    You can get DIRT cheap 22″ widescreens that are respectable for $200-$250 AUD, isn’t that about 140 pounds?

  11. Colthor says:

    They did seperate out x86 and x64 flavours of Vista this survey; the total is 17.6%. Did they in the previous one? If not that would explain the “drop”.

  12. Muzman says:

    derFeef says:
    Low widescreen monitors numbers? People love oldscool :)

    The day that they make an LCD or other widescreen that is a) up to my colour standards and b) that I can afford…is some ways off (and when it gets here it’ll be something besides an LCD I suspect).
    Likewise, I would have thought the figure would be higher as well. Everyone and his dog that I know has got some dell package or similar and they’re pretty cheap and pretty decent (a lot better than package deals used to be) and all come with some stripe of widescreen LCD. They’re not gamers though. Maybe gamers spend their money on speed upgrades first.

  13. Pidesco says:

    @MeestaNob!: But that doesn’t include the cost of having a system that can keep up with a 22″ monitor’s fixed resolution.

  14. DosFreak says:

    But they are likely poured over by every other developer, keen to get a perspective on where the average PC gamer using STEAM lies, and a direction for which setups to pitch their games toward.

    Fixed that for ya.

  15. MeestaNob! says:

    But that doesn’t include the cost of having a system that can keep up with a 22″ monitor’s fixed resolution.

    True, but a 3850HD etc is only about $150 as well, then you’re laughing* (erm, 80 pounds? I’m not sure).

    *Unless your CPU is ancient.

    EDIT: Gah my HTML makes baby jesus cry.

  16. Alex Hopkinson says:

    MeestaNob!: £140 is still £140 too much if you have a perfectly operational, good quality 4:3 LCD you paid £140ish for 3 or 4 years ago.

    Plus there’s the hassle of getting a whole new batch of wallpapers for Windows! :)

  17. James G says:

    Okay, ‘fess up, who has the 30 core system?

    Edit: And 3 people with 127?

  18. Kareem says:

    I’m not a fanboy of any particular corporate hardware manufacturer. I had AMD and ATI hardware for a long time when I felt the price to performance ratio of the processors and the late 9000 series of cards was great.

    Now that Intel has a better price-performance ratio and NVIDIA is blowing ATI out of the water I’ve got an Intel/NVIDIA setup.

  19. The_B says:

    Part of me is dissapointed that you didn’t go for the obvious “Results May Vary” pun in the title. :(

  20. Pidesco says:

    True, but a 3850HD etc is only about $150 as well, then you’re laughing* (erm, 80 pounds? I’m not sure).

    That’s still a lot of money for someone on a budget, and furthermore, it doesn’t take in consideration that with an LCD you’re essentially stuck with the native resolution, thus pushing you to upgrade your system a lot sooner than you would with a CRT.

  21. Alec Meer says:

    I find hardware fanboyism absolutely fascinating – it’s amazing how some people feel this football team-esque personal attachment to a giant monolithic corporation, and can assign personalities to them – Intel this greedy monster, AMD the plucky underdog fighting for the good of the people… I mean, either one would construct a processor from the bones of human babies if they thought it would turn a profit.

    I can understand why people get that way about Mac products or certain brands of phone or whatever, because that’s based on personal preference of interface and features, but a processor or 3D card isn’t something you interact with in a meaningful way. It’s just in there being fast enough or not fast enough.

    I guess it’s the case that either a bad experience with one company’s product or the need to justify spending so much money on a single item convinces folk to pick a side and stick to it.

  22. Tommyboy says:

    Take that you fanboys.

  23. Alex says:

    I can understand why people get that way about Mac products or certain brands of phone or whatever, because that’s based on personal preference of interface and features, but a processor or 3D card isn’t something you interact with in a meaningful way.

    It’s still silly. Same happens with Nintendo fanboys – they really have us, the gamer, at heart.. etc.

    Apple, Nintendo, any of them – they’re all corporations trying to make money and as much of it as possible. I think it’s healthy to have no illusions about that.

    We all try to eek some sense of identity out of which products we choose, I guess, some more than others.

  24. Sam says:

    Ah, Alec, but it’s about the stated policies of the companies as well – for example, ATi have been dogged by issues with sub-standard drivers (and still are, certainly in Linux), and have historically been worse at “engaging” with their community than nVidia. If there’s anything that builds loyalty, it’s appearing to care about your customers, you know.
    Similarly, there’s a tendency to “stick it to the man”, and AMD are conveniently in a position to be a proxy for this, versus Intel. Not that this is succeeding very well, at the moment – but then, if they did, presumably they’d lose some of their support as they became more like Intel…

  25. Dinger says:

    Well, maybe it’s Steam’s recent releases that attract different segments of the PC population. Sure, something like the Orange Box will be picked up by a considerable number of people who hadn’t logged on to Steam (I mean, when I bought TOB, my old account was two PCs old, and probably not working), and the OB buyers will include a lot of top-end new machine owners. But what’s the overall impact of Audiosurf? Could it appeal to a broader demographic? How many people signed on to Steam just to play a $10 music game?

  26. sluzzuls says:

    “it’s amazing how some people feel this football team-esque personal attachment to..” i was thinking this about religion the other day. wars equaling fan riots and all that. anyway.

    i think its amazing that 1024 and 1280 are the resolution standards. i havent had something that low since the turn of the century and i could never ever survive that way now.

  27. Paul Moloney says:

    I’m an old skool CRT user too (21″, I think) and won’t upgrade until I absolutely have to, and hopefully by then LCD monitors will have at least some of the remaining issues sorted out, including their poor color rendering. Possibly I’m just been exposed to poor monitoring, but the one I’m looking at displays colors as a different shade even if I change my angle of viewing by a few percent.


  28. Pete says:

    That’s pored over John. Unless we’re talking about that very special Valve sauce. Mmmmmm, Valve sauce.

  29. Rob says:

    I’m using a CRT too, but that’s just because I can’t justify buying a new one when this one still works so well.

  30. Lightbulb says:

    Paul Moloney – They have ‘fixed’ that problem. The problem is not that its that the cheapest (of 3) types of LCD is the most popular. You can get a perfect 24+” widescreen LCD but you are looking at between £450 to £1000. When my CRT cost me 20 quid and performs as well i’m not seeing the point.

    I’d also like to point out that the processor speed survey is utterly useless. Woo 22% running at 2Hz. Its that a 2hz q6600 or a 1999 celeron?

  31. Nimic says:

    Hmm… I have AMD and Nvidia, is that a bad idea? Just seems like everyone is either AMD/ATI or Intel/Nvidia :x

    Oh, and 17 inch monitor ftw!

    It’s strange (maybe not), but even though I upgrade my computer relatively often these days, getting a new monitor hasn’t even crossed my mind so far. Either way I’m not going to spend a small fortune on a monitor, so unless I can get a cheap, reliable LCD (with no big problems) I’m going to stick with my old one as long as I can.

  32. Rook says:

    You can get new Dell 2407s with 3year warrenties and no dead/stuck pixels off of ebay for £350.

    It’s TN+film (super cheap) that have that horrible colour shifting, but everyone is suckered into the pixel response time of them (2-6ms) and cheap price. Despite the fact that they’ll never notice the response time compared to monitor lag and they’ll always notice the shitty colour/viewing angles.

  33. nakke says:

    Weird to see so few with quad core, imo. Q6600 has been reasonably cheap for quite some time. I guess more gamers are opting for the performs-better-in-games-currently-since-very-few-support-quad alternative, the E8400, then?

  34. meatpeople says:

    About the hardware fanboyism, well I think it’s to a large extent about the loyalty the companies deserve. I use Linux for everything but gaming so support is important. NVidia were generally far superior to ATI for supporting Linux so I bought them. Now AMD have bought ATI and are open sourcing driver development. If it pans out my next GFX card purchase might well be ATI (AMD).

    About the Vista usage drop figure – do track changes in hardware config? Wouldn’t be hard given that it’s account based. It’d be interesting to see if it were more XP sales or people switching from Vista back to XP.

  35. MeestaNob! says:

    Uneducated comment, please correct if need be:
    I imagine the cost of living in UK/Europe is a big factor in the argument from your side. my understanding is that’s its fairly dear to live there so perhaps there isn’t the money for computer upgrades and other non-essentials?

    To me hardware is ludicrously cheap for bang/buck junkies. Current $150 (80P) equivalent tech used to be $600 (250P) not 18 months ago.

    Here in Aus we complain about how dear stuff still is, but it seems to be more ‘affordable’ in general for our population despite this.

    I have no facts, just basing on what I’m hearing here.

  36. Valentin Galea says:

    You know what always surprised (and saddened) me at these surveys?
    802,295 people – 64.93 % – are running with 60Hz screen refresh rate! 60hz is one way ticket to eye problems land!

  37. derFeef says:

    @ Valentin Galea
    Thats std. for LCD screens, so maybe thats why the numbers are that high :)

  38. Kitt Basch says:

    Wow, there are 166 people using 6″ monitors.

    Are they playing Peggle on digital photo frames?

  39. Sam says:

    Dunno – it can’t even be Asus Eee PCs, because they have 7″ displays…

    In fact, I bet that’s what the 567 people with widescreen 7″ displays are using.

  40. Lukasz says:

    equipment cost in australia isn’t bad. especially if you buy from small neighborhood shops and internet.

    but games are horribly expensive. New games 100 dollars, sometimes even more (88 American dollars for CoD4)

    Nobody wants to see AMD and ATI go bankrupt. who would replace them? no competition = shitty products.
    So people support them.

  41. Dean says:

    I’m using two 17″ LCDs, so any move to widescreen would be backwards in terms of screen space, plus it gives me extra desktop space without having to massively upgrade the PC to run games at full res. I really do find it the best of both worlds.

  42. Yhancik says:

    I’m always a little surprised (although it’s getting expectable) by some people’s reactions when such results are published.

    “OMG some people are still using *that 3 years old technology* when you can get a *3 months old technology* for only xxx€/$/£”.

    Sure it’s probably better to play at maximum details on a 22″ screen on a 7.1 audio system.
    Does it make the experience on a modest computer on a CRT screen with stereo speakers that terrible, unbearable, miserable ? Am I missing much ? I don’t think so.

    I’ve played some games both on low-end and mid-high systems in the last years, and I can’t really tell that the pleasure of a better technical quality ever increased my enjoyment enough to justify any investment.

    And even if I can’t play some newest games (because of pixel shaders compatibility), it’s not a big deal. I haven’t finished Stalker. I haven’t finished Mafia. I haven’t finished Fahrenheit. Hell, I still have to finish Outcast :p

    I can see the point of upgrading, I’m not an amish :p But a part of the gamers population seems to give more importance technical excellence and always-getting-the-latest-stuff. Good for them, and their money is certainly helping the gaming industry. But then it’s not surprising that we hear stuff like “PC gaming is expensive”, which, in the end, isn’t really good for videogames as a creative medium.

  43. caesarbear says:

    I can understand why people get that way about Mac products or certain brands of phone or whatever, because that’s based on personal preference of interface and features, but a processor or 3D card isn’t something you interact with in a meaningful way.

    Just how meaningful is this relationship you have with your iPod?

    If you’re not the kind of person to think about nuts and bolts, then of course you wouldn’t look past the shiny exterior of a gadget. Yet for those who like to be familiar with the inner workings of their PC, they’ll see it as a collection of specific parts. Why then wouldn’t the same irrational loyalty of brand names transfer to those specific parts?

    Plus, if ground up baby bones make my system faster, cooler, better, cheaper, I’m all for it.

  44. Lightbulb says:

    Well blood is supposed to be a better conductor of heat than water and we have water cooling already…

  45. wcaypahwat says:

    Im running a 17″ samsung lcd. I have limited living space to deal with, so anything bigger just isn’t viable. Hell, my keyboard barely fits on my desk.

    And yeah, friendly neighbourhood stores are much better. Got a dvd drive the other day for $30, where all the bigger stores sell the same model for $99.

  46. ggregg says:

    LCDs are a big fat lie, at least for gamers. Fixed resolution is a definite no-go. Plus, I have yet to see colors better than I get on my pro – quality 21” trinitron which I got on sale for E100 three years ago.

  47. nakke says:

    ggregg: the only problem is that really, nobody makes or sells CRTs these days. Yes, obviously you can buy used, but that’s not really a viable option for big tournaments or big gaming cafés.

    OLED ought to fix the crappy colors and response time issues, though. Might be 5 years until OLED screens are cheaper, but they’re coming..

  48. brog says:

    lol @ crts. big fat ass monitors!

  49. itsallcrap says:

    I can understand why people get that way about Mac products

    Trying to internally justify the amount of money they paid for them, you mean?


  50. spd from Russia says:

    PC gaming is dying haha

    if this is really representative, no wonder modern PC game dont sell that well – only minority (like ~25%) can run them