Ooh, it's been a while since we last delved into the silicon minutia of Steam's Hardware Survey . As it's a new year, let's treat ourselves with a quick rundown of the recently released December stats. Through them, like hushed archaeologists on a giant mound of plastic, we can glimpse at the habits of the prehistoric gamers of that ancient era known as 2013.
First, a disclaimer. Steam's hardware survey is an interesting snapshot, but one of a very specific cross-section of digital entertainment manipulators. For one thing, it's opt-in, meaning plenty of Steam's more than 65 million users aren't included in its trawl through PC innards. For another, it's Steam only. Some of the biggest games on our platform - from Minecraft and World of Warcraft, to League of Legends and Battlefield 4 - aren't being played through Steam. As such, there's no guarantee that their many collective players - or their varied PC set-ups - are being catalogued here.
With that out of the way, let's talk about operating systems. If you need to sprint off for a cold shower first, I'll understand. Given Valve's continued push toward Linux - including the beta release of their own SteamOS - I'd expected the open-source platform to have overtaken OSX as Steam's second OS. In reality, it's not even close. Linux accounts for 1.07% of polled users, while Mac has over triple that at 3.36%. Even taking into account that some of the mysterious 0.71% in the "Other" category could belong in the Linux camp, it's a big difference between the two tiny numbers.
Clearly, then, Windows is still the undisputed champion. But which Windows? Well, Windows 7, obviously. Between its 32 and 64-bit versions, W7 accounts for a 63.35% share of polled users. That number is falling, albeit slowly. In fact, the only OS making any significant gain in the charts is Windows 8's more palatable 8.1 version. All told, 19.97% of accounted systems used Windows 8, with 8.83% of those running 8.1.
Graphics cards remain scattered about the gaming landscape like the detritus blowing in the wake of a beautifully rendered explosion. Steam's most popular, for instance, is Intel's HD Graphics 4000. Thanks, laptops. Of the real 3D cards, Nvidia's GTX 660 is their most popular (2.2%), thanks to its neat balance between price and graphicsability, while AMD are slightly behind with ATI Radeon HD 7850 (1.25%). Overall, Nvidia are currently winning the eternal war for our pixels, with 51.67% of the share of Steam's survey taking userbase. Although AMD probably can't hear Nvidia's gloating over the sound of all the next-gen console cards they're making.
My favourite statistic of this whole damn list is regarding monitors. Obviously 1920 x 1080 remains the standard (32.06%), even with Steam's laptop owning population. Pop over to the multiple monitor section, though, and we can see some people really living large. 0.87% of people are basking in 3840 x 2160, aka 4K UHD. And even those guys pale next to those 0.04% of users with an eye-bulging 7680 × 4320 arrangement. That's the equivalent of sixteen 1920 x 1080 monitors.
ENGAGING DAD JOKE MODE: It looks for those lucky few, 8K was their new year's resolution.