The Steam Hardware Survey is a monthly survey conducted by the digital distribution platform Steam to collect data on the computer hardware and software setups of its users. The survey helps provide valuable insights into the types of gaming PCs and configurations that are most popular amongst Steam users.
Introduction of Steam Hardware Survey
The Steam Hardware Survey has been running since 2004 shortly after the launch of the Steam platform by Valve Corporation. It started as an opt-in survey but became an opt-out survey in 2013, meaning all Steam users are included in the survey by default unless they choose to opt out of it. Participation in the survey is entirely voluntary.
The survey data is made publicly available on Steam’s website, offering a glimpse into current trends in PC gaming hardware and software. Game developers, hardware manufacturers, and PC gamers all make use of the statistics provided by the survey.
The Steam Hardware Survey collects a variety of data points on a user’s system each month, including:
- CPU model, speed, number of cores
- GPU model and vendor
- Amount of system RAM
- Operating system version
- Display resolution and refresh rate
- VR headset models
- Peripherals like controllers
This hardware information is combined with software data, such as:
- DirectX and OpenGL versions
- Audio drivers
- Browser version
- Steam version and configuration
Opting Out of the Steam Hardware Survey
While the Hardware Survey runs automatically in the background for most Steam users, it is possible to opt out of the data collection completely. This can be done through the Steam client settings under the “Privacy Settings” section. Players who wish to exclude their data from the survey can simply uncheck the box that says “Participate in the Steam Hardware & Software Survey”.
Usage and Applications
The Hardware Survey data has a number of practical uses:
- For Gamers: PC gamers can examine the survey results to see what the most common gaming setups are amongst Steam users. This helps them gauge if their PC hardware is above or below average. The survey also shows trends over time, revealing shifts in popularity of certain CPUs, GPUs, and resolutions.
- For Developers: Game developers use the Hardware Survey to better understand what hardware capabilities their target audience is likely to have. This enables them to set minimum and recommended system requirements accordingly. It also helps identify future hardware adoption trends.
- For Manufacturers: Hardware companies like AMD, Nvidia, and Intel can gain valuable feedback on adoption rates for their latest products among Steam’s large PC gaming user base through the survey statistics. It provides market share data and sales penetration insights.
- For Steam: Valve benefits by using survey data to optimize and improve the Steam service and software for the predominant hardware used by players.
Criticisms and Controversies
Despite its usefulness, the Steam Hardware Survey has also garnered some criticism over the years for how it functions. These include:
- Sampling Bias: Critics argue the survey may over-represent high-end gaming rigs since budget builders who can’t afford expensive hardware may opt out at higher rates.
- Lack of Mobile: The survey does not represent the quickly growing segment of Steam Deck handheld users. It remains focused on desktop PCs.
- Changes in Methodology: Alterations to the survey methodology over time, like going from opt-in to opt-out, may have skewed results and reduced historical comparability of the data.
- Privacy Concerns: Some Steam users are not comfortable with the amount of system information the survey collects being sent to Valve each month, prompting them to opt out.
Despite these drawbacks, as a whole the Steam Hardware Survey continues to offer valuable insights into the PC gaming landscape that are not easily available elsewhere. It provides an important benchmark to gauge adoption rates for the latest hardware and software. As long as the limitations and biases are understood when examining the data, the survey remains a useful tool.
Key Statistics and Trends
Here are some of the major trends and stats highlighted by the Steam Hardware Survey results over the past year:
- Windows 10 64-bit is the dominant OS, with 92% share. Windows 11 reached 13% share.
- 1920×1080 resolution remains the most popular at 63%, but higher 1440p and 4K resolutions are slowly gaining ground.
- Nvidia graphics cards make up 79% of systems surveyed, versus 15% for AMD GPUs. The RTX 3060 Ti and RTX 3060 are the most popular Nvidia cards.
- 90% of CPUs are quad-core or better. The Intel Core i7-9700K is the most common processor at 4% share.
The average system has 16GB of RAM, though 32GB configurations are rising quickly.
- DirectX 12 now accounts for 75% of users, overtaking DirectX 11. Vulkan is up to 43% support.
These statistics highlight Steam users continue to steadily adopt newer hardware and software, but mid-range components still dominate. The survey helps capture the nuances of the evolving PC gaming landscape.
The Steam Hardware Survey has become an institution in the PC world, providing technology companies, game developers, and PC gamers unique insights since its inception. Despite some criticisms about precisely how it functions and the data it collects, the survey remains a valuable gauge of the gaming market. Moving forward, it will be interesting to see how trends shift as new hardware like the Steam Deck takes off and whether Valve institutes any changes to the survey methodology. One thing is certain – the Steam Hardware Survey will continue serving an important role in shaping decisions across the industry.
How often does Steam conduct its hardware survey?
The Survey is conducted monthly and captures data on users’ gaming PC setups. The results are published publicly on Steam’s website.
What kind of hardware data does the survey collect?
It collects data on CPU, GPU, RAM, storage, operating system, display resolution, peripherals, and more. Software data like DirectX and driver versions are also gathered.
Who benefits most from the survey data?
Gamers, game developers, and hardware manufacturers all use survey data to understand the PC gaming market. It helps guide development and manufacturing decisions.
Can Steam users opt out of the hardware survey?
Yes, users can opt out by disabling participation through Steam’s account privacy settings if they don’t want their data included.
Does the survey include new platforms like the Steam Deck?
Not currently. The survey remains focused on traditional desktop gaming PCs. Mobile and handheld platforms are not represented yet in the data.
Is Steam Hardware Survey legit?
Yes, this Survey is legitimate. It is conducted by Valve and provides authentic data on the gaming PC market, though there are some criticisms about potential sampling bias.
How often is Steam hardware survey?
The Survey is conducted monthly. It collects data from Steam users’ computers and publishes the results publicly every month.
How do I check my hardware on Steam?
You can check your PC hardware through the Steam client by going to Help > System Information. This will show details on your CPU, GPU, RAM, OS, and other components.
What is the most popular graphics card on Steam?
Currently the most popular GPU on Steam is the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti, powering around 9% of surveyed Steam users’ systems based on the latest published hardware survey results. The RTX 3060 and GTX 1060 are next most popular.
Hi, I’m Shivam Kumar, the person who started this blog. I work on this blog all the time to make it really useful and full of good information. We write about things like Customer Satisfaction Surveys and what’s on the menu at different restaurants. Most of our information comes from their official websites. We also talk to the people who work at these restaurants and their main offices to get more details.