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Steam's PC Survey: The Future Is Almost Now

It’s always fun to take a nose at where PC gaming in general is at these days, and Valve’s regular Hardware survey can give a pretty good picture of that. From the latest results, it’s pretty much as you’d expect: the vast majority of gamers are running Core i7 (and not even the Extreme Editions) systems with just 12Gb of RAM and only three SLIed GeForce GTX 295s. Which is a dispiritingly low-end spec for the average system, suggesting the recession is hitting gamers much harder than has been anticipated. PC gaming is indeed doomed

Ahahahaha, etc. In fact, one thing these surveys do reveal is how little take-up there is on the ludicrously high-end components that the tech sector ballyhoos about: only 2.40% of systems on the Steam survey have multiple GPUs, for instance. SLI/Crossfire may be neat marketing tools, but in the real world they’re just not something that the vast majority of gamers really want or even need. A cheap PC can do so much now, and we should never forget that.

Good to see that dual-core systems are now the norm, however, as that really does make a difference to a lot of gaming and everyday performance alike. Meantime, the number of quad-core CPUs out there is almost level with the number of one-core systems. Times have definitely changed in processorworld, though Intel’s near-40% lead over AMD chip ownership is a little depressing in competitive-market terms.

Similarly, NVIDIA is way ahead of ATI for graphics card adoption, at 63 to 29%. A little surprised by that, as a lot of ATI’s recent cards have been astonishingly good bang-per-buck value; I don’t give a rat’s ass who’s in the lead, but would have thought gamers would flock to the cheaper option. Also surprising is DirectX 10 take-up: despite its whipping-boy legacy and even though we haven’t had an upgrade mania-inciting game since Crysis, there are more DX10 cards out there than anything else by quite a margin now.

This is despite the most common OS remaining the resolutely non-DX10 (without hacks, at least) Windows XP, Vista and 7 remaining quite some distance behind. Though it’s interesting to note that Windows 7 64-bit is pretty hot on Vista 32’s heels, and quite some distance ahead of both Vista and 7 32-bit. So gamers are interested in 7, and word seems to be out that we really should all be switching to 64-bit OSes now.

Those are the broad strokes, anyway – finer detail here, if you’re interested.

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Alec Meer

Senior Editor

Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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