The latest Steam Hardware & Software Survey for November 2023 reveals some interesting shifts in gaming PC build trends. While DirectX 12 (DX12) GPUs still make up over 93% of the market, adoption of Nvidia’s latest RTX 30 series graphics cards took a hit. At the same time, more budget-friendly cards like the GTX 1650 and older AMD Radeon GPUs gained ground.
What’s driving these changes in the gaming PC market? It likely comes down to the economy. With inflation and recession worries, gamers seem to be opting for affordability instead of the latest hardware. This shows in the 4.88% monthly drop for the RTX 3060, once the most popular GPU. Additionally, new mobile RTX 4000 series laptop chips saw early wins, hinting at a shift towards portable power.
As we dive into the November 2023 Steam data, two main trends emerge – budget cards filling the gap while users wait to upgrade and DX12 cementing its dominance into the future.
1. DX12 GPU Usage Declines Slightly
The November Steam data shows DirectX 12 maintaining its stronghold in the gaming PC market, even as the latest GPUs decline. Despite a slight 1.66% monthly drop, DX12-compatible graphics cards still make up 93.54% of those surveyed. This indicates that while adoption of cutting edge options slows, DX12 remains the definitive API for the future.
While a small decrease month-over-month, looking year-over-year tells a different story. Back in November 2022, only 88.65% of users had DX12 GPUs. The nearly 5% uptick over the past year demonstrates the continued momentum.
Additionally, competing APIs like DirectX 11 hold just 1.03% share. Other legacy versions like DX10 and DX9 lingered under 1% as well. This shows developers can safely utilize DX12 exclusive features without alienating much of the market. With the latest DX12 Ultimate capabilities like ray tracing and variable rate shading, expect DX12’s dominance to continue.
2. RTX 3060 Remains Most Popular for Budget Gaming PC Despite Drop
The RTX 3060 retains its spot as the most popular graphics card in November 2023, powering 5.04% of gaming PCs surveyed. However, this still represents a notable 4.88% decline month-over-month from October.
Clearly, the RTX 3060 remains a capable 1080p gaming GPU with its 12GB of VRAM and DLSS support. Yet the drop, along with other RTX 30 series declines, likely comes from the allure of brand new hardware. Nvidia recently launched the GeForce RTX 40 series, including the impressive 4080 and 4090.
Still, with higher prices coming with the 40 series, many gamers seem hesitant to upgrade. Until supply and costs normalize, the RTX 3060 appears poised to stand strong. Compared to the next most popular card, the budget-friendly GTX 1650 at just 4.76%, the 3060 offers substantially better performance for not much more money.
Once inflation settles and next-gen gaming becomes more affordable, we could see quicker adoption. For now, the RTX 3060’s still-leading status reflects the economic uneasiness plaguing the gaming PC market. Users want the latest tech but need to rein in spending.
3. Budget Graphic Cards Gain Share in gaming PC
With the latest GPUs still carrying higher costs, many gamers opted for more affordable graphics cards in November. Older budget options saw increased adoption, likely indicating users saving up for future upgrades.
The Nvidia GTX 1650 hit 4.76% share, up 1.13% from October. At under $200 in today’s market, it delivers solid 1080p gameplay that budget-conscious shoppers target. We also saw gains of 0.55% and 0.28% for the GTX 1050 Ti and standard GTX 1050 respectively.
On the AMD side, mainstream Radeon cards increased to 2.07%, a 0.57% uptick. Other models like the RX 580, RX 570, and RX 550 rose about 0.2% each as well. These offer even cheaper solutions capable of running modern games at modest settings.
With inflation squeezing discretionary spending, grabbing an affordable card now aligns with the wait-and-see approach. Savvy gamers future-proof their builds in anticipation of upgrading once economic conditions improve. The latest Steam data reflects the gaming community’s pragmatic reaction to a turbulent landscape.
4. New RTX 4000 Laptop Chips Gain
While adoption of the latest desktop RTX 4000 graphics cards remains limited, mobile variants saw early gains in November. The RTX 4060 Laptop GPU jumped to 2.41% share, a 1% monthly increase. This hints at shifting trends valuing mobility in the gaming PC market.
The 4060 delivers a solid 1080p mobile gaming experience with features like DLSS 3, reflex technologies, and more. Though market penetration stays relatively low, its growth comes from OEMs rapidly integrating these next-gen chips into new laptops.
With gaming rigs no longer confined to desks, users increasingly favor portable powerhouses. Between school, travel, and busy lifestyles, mobile solutions address the demand. The desire for cutting-edge performance and high refresh rate displays also continues rising.
While desktop CPUs and GPUs hold onto their superiority, laptops continue making huge strides towards closing the gap. Incremental share gains for chips like the RTX 4060 reflect gamers adopting this on-the-go capability and freedom.
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5. DX11 Hangs On
While DirectX 12 stands supreme, its predecessor DX11 refuses to fade away. The November Steam results show DX11 GPUs comprising 1.03% of surveyed systems, a minor 0.20% increase. This marginal gain proves the legacy API still retains some foothold.
Cards supporting DX11 but not DX12 remain in use for secondary rigs and older machines. For example, Intel integrated HD 4000 graphics from 2012 STILL hits nearly 25% DX11 share. Upgrade costs and part availability also contribute to this lingering market slice.
However small, the increment indicates there exists a subset of holdouts unwilling to switch over fully. Yet with DX12 adoption over 90% and developers focused squarely on modern features, DX11’s relevance dwindles each year. Its negligible uptick merely showcases a shrinking but persistent batch still chugging along.
Unless support ends suddenly, DX11 should gradually decline until disappearing altogether. But the latest figures suggest reports of its death seem premature, even as just an echo from a bygone era.
6. RTX 40 Series Adoption in Gaming PC
Nvidia’s brand new RTX 40 series graphics cards show early promising signs despite their current limited adoption. The flagship RTX 4090 holds 0.94% share after a 0.30% climb since last month. Its younger sibling RTX 4080 also grew 0.05% to 0.72% penetration. Clearly interest exists in what these next-generation GPUs enable.
However, their premium pricing restricts participation to enthusiasts and high-budget builds for now. Once costs eventually decline post-launch, supply bounces back, and competition heats up, expect 40 series numbers to swell. Its advanced technologies like DLSS 3, AV1 encoding, and massive performance uplifts entice gamers.
Yet with most builders practicing prudent spending, the 4090 and 4080 serve as aspirational but distant upgrades today. Those who grabbed the 40 series now likely represent early adopters with disposable income rather than general gaming PC market trends. Until economic challenges fade, anticipation will outpace adoption.
7. Decline of RTX 20 Series Cards
With Nvidia’s latest RTX 30 series and newly launched 40 series dominating buzz, the previous generation RTX 20 series continued fading from the gaming PC landscape. Both the RTX 2060 and RTX 2060 Super posted over 2% decline in November.
The RTX 2060 dropped from 6.22% share to 3.86% now, while the RTX 2060 Super fell from 1.77% to 1.29%. These significant decreases showcase builders upgrading their GPUs to newer offerings with advanced features. Even with ongoing supply and inflated costs, many 20 series owners likely took the plunge.
Considering the RTX 2060’s launch back in 2019, long-term owners may have felt ready to jump up a tier as well. And with GPU lifespans typically lasting 4-5 years before replacement, the dip aligns with typical turnover rates too. During transitional periods between generations, dropping usage of previous flagships commands expected.
The downward direction of 20 series adoption echoes the endless technology climb pursuing better performance. For builders seeking the heights on existing rigs or planning future budget gaming PC, leaving the 20 series behind quickens that ascent.
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8. Resurgence of Older Nvidia Cards
Outside modern budget options, some older-generation Nvidia GPUs rebounded slightly in November. The once immensely popular GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 series all saw small upticks, likely from long-term Nvidia fans.
The venerable GTX 1080 now hits 0.92% share, a 0.08% monthly increase. Its newer Turing-based RTX counterparts still dominate, but a few builders stuck to the tried and true 1080. We observed similar slight bumps for the GTX 1070 at 0.29% and GTX 1070 Ti at 0.02%.
This possibly indicates buyers more cost-conscious today who previously ran Nvidia builds. Instead of jumping to pricier modern replacements, grabbing older second-hand models may fit budget gaming PC constraints. Builders possibly delay upgrades as well amid economic uncertainty or piece together rigs gradually as funds allow.
Whatever each scenario, among buyers sticking to Team Green, tapping capable albeit dated options bridges today’s climate with future ambitions when conditions improve. The modest resurgence of yesteryear Nvidias echos the measured mindset permeating the gaming PC sphere.
9. Comeback of AMD Cards on Gaming PC
AMD graphics cards showed signs of rebound in November after ceding market share the past few months. Mainstream Radeon options rose across the board, reaffirming AMD’s strength in the budget and mid-range GPU segments.
The Radeon RX 580 rebounded to 1.04% share, a 0.28% uptick from October. We observed similar jumps for the RX 570 at 0.21% and RX 580 2048SP variant at 0.15% too. Even the integrated Radeon Vega graphics climbed to hover between 0.6% and 0.65% penetration.
The widespread incremental gains showcase AMD’s appeal for cost-conscious builders in today’s climate. With newest generation GPUs still carrying higher price tags, AMD cards offer comparable performance per dollar. Not groundbreaking, but wholly capable of smooth 1080p gameplay with some bells and whistles enabled.
Additionally, longtime AMD users possibly upgraded aging R9 series cards to maintain Team Red status on a budget. While RDNA3 introductions looms, past generation RX 5000 and 6000 cards sufficed for many holding out ephemeral financial uncertainty. AMD’s comeback underscores their renewed traction in the value sphere.
10. Growth in Integrated Graphics
With discreet GPU pricing still inflated, more cost-focused builders paired integrated graphics solutions when assembling gaming PCs. Both Intel and AMD CPUs now feature capable integrated graphics. While no substitute for dedicated graphics power, integrated GPUs offer a cheaper temporary option that some embraced given current conditions.
Intel Iris Xe leads the charge with 2% share following a sizeable 0.53% monthly gain. Intel UHD graphics also climbed to 1.45%, up 0.34%. Together over 3% of Steam users now utilize Intel integrated graphics, hinting at its allure for budget-conscious upgraders.
Similarly, AMD Radeon graphics increased 0.59% month-over-month to 2.13% share. And AMD’s integrated Vega graphics variants hover around 0.6%-0.65% each. Paired with AMD Ryzen CPUs, buyers save on graphics costs today.
The growth in integrated GPU adoption shows pragmatism in configuring budget gaming PC. While seldom a permanent solution, tapping free integrated performance suits the measured spenders dominating now. Once graphics card price normalization resumes, discretionary builds will likely shift back towards discrete GPUs long-term.
11. Low-end laptop GPU surge
While high-end mobile chips grab headlines, more affordable entry-level laptop GPUs saw expanded adoption in November. Models like the Nvidia GeForce MX450, MX350 and MX250 all posted share gains, likely from price-conscious student and casual gamers.
The MX450 jumped to 0.18% penetration, while the weaker MX350 climbed 0.15%. Even oldest 10-series chip, the MX150, secured 0.16% share. Together, budget laptop GPUs amounted to almost 1% of Steam users surveyed.
And with AMD Radeon integrated graphics also increasing, integrated solutions remain a popular pairing for basic 3D acceleration. While these workhorse chips still pale compared to RTX dominance, their double-digit rises spotlights grassroots interest below the high-performance tier.
More users seemingly valued laptop versatility and mobility over maximized frame rates. Students on budgets, travelers wanting entertainment, and mainstream users represent segments that a serviceable mobile experience satisfies. The surge in entry-level GPU adoption underscores gaming laptops’ expanding appeal beyond just enthusiasts.
What is Steam Hardware & Software Survey?
The Steam Hardware & Software Survey is a monthly data collection conducted by the gaming platform Steam to track various statistics about their user base’s gaming hardware and software. Here are some key points about the Steam survey:
- Automatically collected from a random sample of Steam users
- Looks at parameters like type of CPU, GPU, display resolution, VR headset ownership, OS version etc.
- Provides insights into popularity and adoption trends across different PC gaming hardware and components
- Data is anonymized and aggregated each month before public release
- Intended to assist developers and hardware manufacturers in understanding the capabilities of the devices used by Steam gamers
- Helps ensure games and new GPUs/CPUS target appropriate performance levels for the current ecosystem
- Serves as a benchmark for minimum and recommended spec decisions for new game releases
- Tracks longitudinal trends in gaming technology on the PC platform
In summary, the monthly Steam Hardware Survey gives us a snapshot of the gaming PC landscape – the hardware and software gamers currently use to play games. It allows interested parties to analyze changes in adoption rates for things like graphics cards, assess performance targets, and identify potential market opportunities. The public transparency allows everyone to tap the same dataset.
The latest Steam survey highlights how current economic challenges shifted GPU adoption trends in the gaming PC space. With cutting-edge options still carrying higher prices, savvy builders opted for affordable holdovers instead. At the same time, mobile capabilities saw interest, hinting at increasing preference for portability.
While DX12 and premium cards remain center stage driving future innovation, budget picks filled the void. The pragmatic choice to save on costs now aligns with eventual upgrades down the road. This calculated move echoes the careful consumer mentality copying with inflation and recession fears.
Once next-generation graphics cards become more accessible, we could witness a floodgate of delayed purchases. For the time being, fluctuations reflect restraint as the market awaits friendlier conditions. Yet the enduring dominance of DX12 despite these ebbs and flows reaffirms its position leading the gaming world into tomorrow.
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