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Valve Releases Recent Hardware Survey Results 86

Posted by Zonk
from the feel-the-love-for-vista dept.
Freastro writes "Last week, Valve reset their on-going Hardware Survey in order to 'keep on top of what kind of hardware everyone out there is running.' Little has changed statistically since their first 200,000 responses, and it gives some interesting insight into what hardware and versions of Windows people are actually running. Their news article gives the following statistics and the full results can be found on their Valve Survey Summary page. According to the survey, 'Just over 1% of respondents can run a DX10 path for graphics. About 78% of you have microphones plugged in for voice communication. This will help you out a lot in TF2. A little under 5% of you have upgraded to Vista. Around 20% of your PCs are running multiple CPU cores."
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Valve Releases Recent Hardware Survey Results

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  • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @08:43AM (#19395527) Journal
    Am I to understand that exactly one person has tried running a Valve game on a Transmeta processor?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by east coast (590680)
      Within the timeframe of the survey, yes. AFAIK this most recent survey took place in the last 5-6 days. I had my system polled for this over the weekend.

      So if a large sector of the Steam population didn't happen onto this in the last few days you're going to end up with some skewed results.

      I don't recall the last time the survey happened but I'm wondering if there is a wide swing in both the number of participants and the types of hardware/software used since most colleges are out. I know in the days when
    • Most likely that box could have been a server.
      • by Nos. (179609)
        I assume you mean running a game server, for example, a Counter Strike or Day of Defeat server. That's probably not the case since game servers don't run the steam client, and thus wouldn't be in the poll.
        • Half Life 2 DM dedicated server option is available in Steam. Therefore you can initiate the dedicated server from Steam.
          • by Nos. (179609)
            Sorry, I should have specified... its not required to run the Steam client to run a game server.
  • DVD! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @08:48AM (#19395589) Journal
    With 95% of these people owning DVD drives, can we please move to DVD-ROM as an industry standard, and drop support for the 10-CD-in-a-box versions?

    (Just in time for the PS3 and xbox 360 to go to HD formats, or in other words, about damned time!)
    • Only in America (Score:4, Informative)

      by Winckle (870180) <mark@[ ]ckle.co.uk ['win' in gap]> on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @08:55AM (#19395701) Homepage
      One thing I have noticed about PC games releases in recent years, in Europe most games are on one or two DVDs, but in the USA almost all releases are on large numbers of multiple discs, which was a bit of a shock to me when I spent some holiday money in a games shop!
      • by feepness (543479)
        One thing I have noticed about PC games releases in recent years, in Europe most games are on one or two DVDs, but in the USA almost all releases are on large numbers of multiple discs, which was a bit of a shock to me when I spent some holiday money in a games shop!

        Don't know where you were shopping, but I've gotten everything on DVD for at least five years.

        I suppose spending it in a games shop is your first problem... why pay 20% more than you have to?
    • But then they can't sell you a Collector's Edition on DVD for $10 more.
      • Are you by chance referring to Burning Crusade? The rare and expensive Collector's Edition comes, I am told, with both CD and DVD versions. It's pretty outrageous that Blizzard thinks that a DVD version is some kind of "bonus" when it should be a mundane, standard feature. Most games come on DVDs, at least in Europe.
        • At least Blizzard puts some effort into their collector's editions - they truly are for collector's and fans. I'm talking about games like NWN Platinum, where it was $10 more just for a DVD instead of 3 CDs. Unfortunately, I can't think of any more examples at the moment, but I thought it was a common practice.

          Blizzard definitely should have shipped WoW and BC on DVD. WoW was a pain in the ass to install from those 4 CDs. What hurt even more though, was a $10 month-long trial in stores about a year afte
    • by Schnapple (262314)
      Jason Bergman (of 2K Games) a few years back posted [shacknews.com] that the problem with Steam is that it represents the "super hardcore" market (i.e., the people who play high-end first person shooters) and so it's not really representative of the rest of the market (that also spends most of the money). So while it's nice that 95% of the people who play games like Half-Life 2 and Counter-Strike Source also own DVD-ROM drives, it doesn't mean that 95% of the people who play The SIMS 2 do.

      Granted, this was late 2005 befo
      • Actually I believe this is incorrect, CS has (at least until recently, I haven't checked) been the number 1 game in the world. It may have been supplanted by WOW. The 95% DVD drive is actually really impressive, most lan houses and other places where there are low end computers don't have a need for a ROM drive at all.

        Unlike the video card market (whih I think is what you were thinking of) hardcore gamers do make up a large part of the market (the PC market, which is what this survey relates to). Taking t
      • Re:DVD! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by 0123456 (636235) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @10:05AM (#19396883)
        "Jason Bergman (of 2K Games) a few years back posted [shacknews.com] that the problem with Steam is that it represents the "super hardcore" market (i.e., the people who play high-end first person shooters) and so it's not really representative of the rest of the market (that also spends most of the money)."

        Yeah, that'll be why so many Steam gamers have FX5200 cards, 40% of them use AGP systems, and most of them run their monitors at 60Hz.

        I'm continually surprised at how low-spec so many systems are in the Steam surveys.
        • Re:DVD! (Score:4, Informative)

          by ddillman (267710) <dgdillman@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @10:27AM (#19397213) Journal
          Yeah, that'll be why so many Steam gamers have FX5200 cards, 40% of them use AGP systems, and most of them run their monitors at 60Hz.

          I'll agree with the first two, but not the last. Running your monitor at 60Hz is perfectly fine for anyone using a flat panel, which is the current trend. My take on this was that it indicated a lot of folks using new(er) monitors rather than older CRT technology.

          • by Babbster (107076)
            LCD use forms the bulk of the explanation, but there are two other groups that would add into the 60-Hz majority: 1) Folks who just never realized they could change their refresh rate and 2) folks who are running at the highest resolution their CRT can handle, even if it only supports 60 Hz. So, it's really easy to end up at 60 Hz, even with a CRT. :)
        • Re:DVD! (Score:4, Interesting)

          by default luser (529332) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @11:36AM (#19398653) Journal
          I'm continually surprised at how low-spec so many systems are in the Steam surveys.

          Why are you surpsied? Many of these people only have Steam installed to play Counterstrike 1.6, whch is STILL more popular than CS:Source.

          I originally played Half-Life on a Rendition 4MB v2200 graphics card, on a machine with 64MB ram. I originally played Counterstrike on a 16MB Matrox G400. Is it any wonder you can play CS 1.6 today on any old Intel GMA 900-series with geat framerates?

          Also, you'd be suprised how smoothly CS:Source runs on a FX 5200 if you run it in DX7 or DX8 modes. Most serious CS:Source players play with all the details turned off anyway.

          The one that's really stumped me over the years is how ATI lost their spot on-top in the Steam survey. The first Steam survey, fueled by the impressive price / performance ratio of the 9600 series and the Half-Life 2 voucher program, put ATI on-top. It took two years of ATI continually ignoring the midrange, but they finally lost that spot to Nvidia's 6600 series. ATI continued to ignore the midrange, allowing the 7600 to become entrenched, and only now are they producing enticing midrange products.

          It's really amazing how accurate a picture this survey is of the PC 3D gaming industry.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by darkwhite (139802)

            The one that's really stumped me over the years is how ATI lost their spot on-top in the Steam survey.

            Do you think it might possibly be due to the fact that ATI has sucked and lagged badly behind nVidia in the past 2 years? They may be able to cobble together a massively overclocked monster with a higher power draw than a whole low-spec desktop, but like you say, they produce poor midrange products and have had a severe shortage of viable alternatives to cards in the 6000, 7000, and 8000 series. At some price points, I can now buy an nVidia card that draws half the power and works twice as fast as an ATI c

        • by Lord Crc (151920)
          I'm continually surprised at how low-spec so many systems are in the Steam surveys.

          I know several people who play CS and similar games because it runs on their old hardware.
      • by JPrice (181921)
        Ignoring the Steam numbers, common sense still seems to suggest getting rid of most games on CD-ROM.

        Yes, there are people out there with 5 (or 10) year-old computers that still don't have DVD drives, but I can't imagine that the intersection of the sets of "computers that don't have a DVD drive" and "computers that can play most games from the past two years" is very large.

        (Yes, I appreciate that there are still "casual" games being released that have lower system requirements; I'm not talking about those..
        • If a game is going to require you to drop $50 on the game and $200 on a video card, another $40 or so to buy an optical drive really isn't much. That's $40 or so for a DVD burner; you could probably spend less than $20 now for a cheap DVD-ROM drive -- less than the game itself!

          Any games I ever release (probably indie/homebrew) will be on CDs only if they fit on less than one CD. Otherwise, DVDs, or a later standard.
  • Good insight (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ACS Solver (1068112) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @08:50AM (#19395617)
    I really like Valve's surveys. They provide a good insight about what hardware people have... the respondents are obviously gamers, and Valve provides very sober results that counter the claims of some l33t kidz that everyone has 2+ GB of RAM and a dual-core CPU. This time, I'm impressed by the high amount of people still working on 512 MB RAM, and the relatively high amount of GeForce FX 5200 cards. As many remember, those were a disaster, with Shader 2.0 support on paper while slowing down to 2 FPS maximum as soon as any scene with them is rendered. Other interesting points are that nVidia users are notoriously bad at upgrading their drivers, and that 96% of multi-GPU users use SLI, with only 4% for ATI Crossfire. Hmm. Of course, since this is Slashdot, I am obliged to assert my happiness that only 5% are using Vista and call them poor souls.
    • by dc29A (636871) *
      This should open eyes at Microsoft, that gamers, those with fairly recent hardware can't really run Windows Vista that well. 70%+ have 1 gig or less RAM. Definitely an interesting set of data.
      • While I definitely agree, I'm sure Microsoft's response would be that Vista can run on 512 MB and runs "fine" on 1 GB.
    • ...only 5% are using Vista and call them poor souls...

      Hey man, Vista adoption is blowing Windows 2000 adoption out of the water! It's the best thing ever, and not at all like OSX, and...Hey, where the hell are you going?!!?

      Heh. That was the first thing that leapt out at me as well. The second was the whole 60hz thing. Do people WANT to go blind? Ug.

      Other high notes:
      PCI Express has passed the magic 50% adoption point

      Most people have ~10 gigs of free space and 100+ gigs of space, which means, obviously, that
      • Re:Good insight (Score:4, Insightful)

        by WaZiX (766733) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @09:11AM (#19395909)
        Heh. That was the first thing that leapt out at me as well. The second was the whole 60hz thing. Do people WANT to go blind? Ug. About all LCD's have a 60Hz refresh rate....
        • by Sporkinum (655143)
          Why not change your monitor even though the CRT still works fine.. Besides, if I got rid of my giant CRT, the cat would have no warm place to sleep.
        • by emilng (641557)
          About all LCD's have a 60Hz refresh rate....

          I got my lcd 5 years ago and it has a 75Hz refresh rate.
          Both lcds at work also have 75Hz refresh rates.
          A more likely reason is that people don't realize they can switch to 75Hz.
          • by friedmud (512466)
            They only have 75hz refresh rates if you're _not_ using DVI. DVI is always 60hz.

            This is exactly why I still use a vga cable with my LCD monitor. It accepts DVI and I did have it hooked up that way for a while... but my LCD will do 75hz with a vga cable... so I switched back.

            It's not that the refresh rate is hard on the eyes or whatever like it used to be... but I just find motion to be smoother at 75hz (dragging windows around in particular... but also playing games).

            Friedmud
            • Wrong, DVI can do faster.

              I am running an ASUS LCD at 1280x1024 in digital mode at 75hz, and the monitor OSD says digital, 75hz. So it's not all monitors, of course there is a bandwidth limit, the higher resolution you have, the lower amount of hz you can have, I guess some monitors DVI "processors" are slower than others, my old monitor for example, a Gigabyte, can only do 60hz.
    • This is derived from their Steam software, yes? If so, the insight is on Steam subscribers' hardware, and it's probably useful to extrapolate it out to gamers, but beyond that it gets a little dicey, no?
    • by IndieKid (1061106)

      Of course, since this is Slashdot, I am obliged to assert my happiness that only 5% are using Vista and call them poor souls.
      If you assume that gamers will probably be the last people to upgrade to Vista given the performance hit and the current state of video drivers (especially those from nVidia), 5% is actually quite a high proportion.
    • by bigmaddog (184845)

      Is it really good insight? Sure, it tells you a lot about a chunk of the market that you collected data from but it tells you nothing beyond that. What about the people who run Steam but declined to take the survey? Their computer preferences could be totally different - maybe they are hot for Vista and would've significantly altered the apparent adoption rate as well as aggregate hardware specs have they participated? What of the people who hate Valve and spend their days playing Doom 3 or Unreal Tournamen

      • You assume that people who play Doom 3, Supreme Commander or Starcraft don't have Steam, and vice versa.
    • by uncledrax (112438)
      Keep a mind on Steam's game lineup now.. it started with upper/mid endish requiring games, and now it offers up PopCap games and XCom:Terror from the Deep... hardly anything that requires even what would be considered 'lower' level in the current scale of hardware.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by illumin8 (148082)

      Other interesting points are that nVidia users are notoriously bad at upgrading their drivers,

      Having owned both ATI and NVidia cards, I think the reason for this is that the Nvidia drivers are just so much more stable and bug-free than the ATI drivers. With most ATI cards I've owned I had to upgrade my drivers every 2 weeks just to fix annoying bugs and try to resolve slow framerate issues. During the ATI 9x00 line of cards, it wasn't uncommon to get a 10% framerate increase from a driver update one week,

    • Yeah because X-Com: Terror of the Deep and Bookworm are such high end system games.

      Steam is not a system only for the Half-Life series and mods. It also includes low, low, low end games like Bookworm which would be ported to cell phones if text entry wasn't so difficult and X-Com: TOTD was practically considered to be abandonware for almost half a decade (if you search around abandonware websites enough its still possible to find old DOS copies, it was originally released in 1996). The fact that the averag

    • by VON-MAN (621853)
      Yes, it is interesting stuff.

      nVidia users are notoriously bad at upgrading their drivers
      For me, I've never really had a specific reason to update my nvidia drivers (besides being up-to-date). Perhaps more people feel that way.
  • Looking at the video card update list I wonder if valve might want to put a front end filter to the database information that would email people with links to updated drivers for your cards.

    "Valve collects statistics on your machine for analysis. Before this data reaches our database and is annonymized it is preprocessed to provide you with notices like this. For a look at the overall statistics we collect please visit Valve at VVV.

    Your hardware, a XXX video card is using driver YYY. Please be advised the v
    • Just pop it up through a Steam update, that also provides a convenient wrapper around the nVidia/ATI driver downloads/installers. Note that nVidia, at least, does not actually provide any kind of auto-update for their drivers, so Steam is as good a place to do that as any.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by transmetal (904896)
        Funny you should mention that. It looks like Valve's going to be distributing ATI driver updates through steam. Quote from Gabe Newell...

        I'm pretty excited about finally getting some display drivers - the ATI announcement included that - where rather than having the situation they have right now where there are literally tens, close to hundreds of display drivers out there on people's machines, that everybody will have the most current, the most up-to-date driver, automatic bug-reporting and things like tha

        • by nuzak (959558)
          I hope that Valve QAs them instead of just letting ATI plop their newest steaming pile of Catalyst drivers on us with automatic updates. I usually let the new drivers shake out for a month or so before checking the boards to see what the latest disastrous bugs are with the latest version. They still can't manage to keep the "easy install" for Catalyst drivers from locking up if you have a TV Wonder card.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Keep in mind that many of these people are probably using laptops. More often that not, OEM's do not provide fully up to date graphics drivers for laptops and official drivers from Nvidia/ATI won't install on older laptops.

      (Slightly off-topic, but now that Apple supports Windows on their notebooks through Boot Camp and provides a set of drivers which they update somewhat often, I wonder if perhaps Apple will maintain constantly up to date notebook graphics drivers for Windows. It would be rather ironic if
    • by BKX (5066)
      Actually, there is such a filter but it's set ridiculously low. I know because shortly after Lost Coast came out, I was forced to upgrade past version 5x.xx.
    • by Darundal (891860)
      Why is it Valve's job to make sure that the end user is using the latest graphics driver? How do you know that the user using the old driver isn't intentional (say, the new driver(s) happen to break some application or other or cause some odd instability in their system)? And what does it do if it knows what card you are running, but can't ID the driver (which could very well happen if you are running third party drivers)?
  • by mattgreen (701203)
    This is wonderful news, nobody is upgrading to Vista! Just like Luke Skywalker, now we can assault the M$ Death Star, overload the reactor, causing a chain reaction that will destroy it from the inside out! Then, we can bring about a New Empire, this one based around the Almighty Ubuntu!

    Who is with me?
    • by Shuhadaku (958679)
      Hey, that would be great! Then I wouldn't be able to use my laptop, because Ubuntu blows up whenever I try to install it or run the LiveCD. I bought Linux for Dummies and spent 6 hours digging through mostly-incomprehensible documentation before I gave up.

      (No, I don't have much experience with Linux.)

      I had no trouble whatsoever installing a copy of Windows XP on said laptop. I also have no trouble using a Damn Small Linux LiveCD.

      That doesn't bode well for the future Ubuntu Empire.
      • by mattgreen (701203)
        Maybe we can reform and be the Damn Small Linux Empire. Got a ring to it, don't you think? We're hip, we're agile, we can keep up with the kids and their trendy methodologies!
  • Note that the survey did not ask for multi-core CPUs but rather the number of physical CPUs.

    I didn't realize that so many people had multiple CPU machines - over 20%!
    • by mdm-adph (1030332)
      Yeah -- I wanna know which eleven joker's are risking getting fired for running CS on their workplace's 8-chip enterprise servers...
  • Or are there still Windows 98 or ME users out there? (wouldn't be surprised) It's unfortunate they don't get a little more specific about that.

    And still that category is only 0.1%? I wonder if that is the usual proportion of linux/wine gamers.

    Or does wine showup in whatever OS you set it to (e.g. "Windows XP")?
    • Actually I think the Crossover Office people(who unlike Cedega actually roll back their changes to Wine) are working on getting HL2 and Steam to even work in a Windows simulation environment.
    • by kalirion (728907)
      There still are Windows 98 users out there. I know because I am one. Someday I'll get me a new computer with Windows XP. Someday.
    • by Chabo (880571)
      For me (using Gentoo, with a recent version of Wine), running Steam in Wine caused it to show up as Win2K.
  • Obligatory (Score:5, Funny)

    by erareno (1103509) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @11:08AM (#19398087)
    You just gotta wonder how the 2 people with "Unknown" for language are speaking....

    My Guess, Klingon.

  • by MichailS (923773) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @11:26AM (#19398471)
    is that you only see what people use NOW, not what they might want to use but does not work well.

    I have sent E-mails to various websites over the years that only work with IE to complain about this fact, and received answers that "We focus on IE because according to our logs that is what people use". Well duh. I'd be surprised if you got any data at all on Mozilla then.

    In this instance it would for example be folly to assume that DX10 is uninteresting since most people can only run DX9. It may well be the case that people are holding off both Vista and DX10 because Valve games don't use it - but the second they started implementing it on a broad scale people would buy 8800's by the dozen?
    • by malkavian (9512)
      Vista is a big cost. They'll sell at what they assume to be the target market. Why target something at where your market will be in a year's time, when you need to sell now?
      Yes, games companies releasing games in DX10 only will finally be what drives the market to Vista over XP (same as they did with Win95 to 98). But you can't afford to produce a game these days and just hope that people will upgrade. When sufficient numbers have trickled through, then the market gets big enough to make the jump (i.e.
      • by McP (5183)
        Yep. 5% of Half Life 2 players will be able to play Halo 2.
  • It's astounding how many people (gamers no doubt) don't have 1GB memory, dual cores, and a sound card of all things, the standard hardware of average users must be insanely low.
    • by Chabo (880571)
      Meh, my setup works just fine for me, and I mostly play Source games. I have a P4 3.2, 1GB RAM, and a 6600GT (and I run games at full res on my 1440x900 monitor). It's lasted me several years. Because of this, a new computer is a want, but not a need. If I can run HL2:Ep2 with all the auto-detected features at full res with a decent framerate, I will. Otherwise, I'll turn down the settings.

      Some people think they need to run games at 100fps with 8xAA, 8xAF, and they're willing to spend the cash to do it. I'm
  • A lot of people are surprised about the lack of "uber" hardware.

    My guess is that a lot of these people are playing the old CS - not exactly a demanding game.
  • I notice many people commenting on the high numbers of old cards. I'm personally not all that surprised. I play DoD:S a lot, and I recently upgraded from an X850 series to an x1950 series...and after about a half hour of playing, disabled nearly every whiz-bang graphics feature it offered that my old card didn't. The biggest issue was lighting...maps that were too bright, or that had poor placement / aiming of lights, resulting in bright spots fading down to dark spots, whereas on the old card lighting w

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