Steam Hardware Survey Shows Big Bump in AMD CPU Popularity

CPU thermal paste
(Image credit: AMD, Robert Hallock)

As we begin August, we have the dubious pleasure of getting another month of Steam Hardware Survey data to pick through. The last month on record was a great one for AMD’s CPUs, but not so good for its GPUs. Meanwhile, it's starting to look like Linux could overtake MacOS as the second most popular Steam gaming platform within a few months — no doubt thanks in part to the Steam Deck.

Red CPUs Run Rampant

Turning our attention to the CPU landscape first, it looks like AMD has achieved a new record Steam user share. According to the latest data, AMD’s CPU share went up 2.22% in July. That is a mighty bump in a single month.

(Image credit: Future)

The latest stats suggest AMD CPUs power 33.73% of Steam user PCs, with Intel CPUs coming in at 66.26%. We are nearing the end of the Zen 3 vs Alder Lake battle, with the conflict between Zen 4 Ryzen and Raptor Lake looking to win PC gamers' hearts and minds in the coming months.

Again, it's worth noting that the Steam Deck might be factoring into this equation, as it uses an AMD processor. There's also the difficulty of Valve not providing clear details on how the data is collected. There are many opinions on what might be happening, but the only truly valid way of gathering statistics would be fully random sampling, or just sampling every PC that logs into Steam. We suspect neither option is currently used.

Red GPUs Green with Envy

When it comes GPU sales data, we prefer to use the DX12 API data as our reference point, as it provides far more granular detail than the overall Video Cards table. It also eliminates truly old hardware that's not DX12-compatible as an added bonus.

We've taken Valve's data and then adjusted it (i.e., dividing by the monthly percentage sum of all GPUs in the table) so that the totals equal 100%. (They actually sum to anywhere from 89.13% to 92.18%, perhaps because the remaining GPUs weren't DX12 capable.) If you're wondering why our figures are slightly different than those listed in the survey, that's the explanation. Here's the breakdown.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 MARAPRMAYJUNJUL%CHG
RTX 30-series15.76%16.52%17.54%18.61%19.74%1.13%
RX 6000-series0.67%1.30%1.45%1.52%1.81%0.29%

The latest Nvidia advances have pushed back against gains AMD had started to enjoy over the preceding few months. Comparing the most modern Nvidia RTX 30 series and AMD RX 6000 series GPUs looks a little more positive for AMD. Here you can see consistent growth month-by-month for the red team, but the increases aren’t inspiring. Indeed, AMD’s progress with the RX 6000-series is a small compared to the RTX 30-series' adoption over the same period.

At present, Nvidia GPUs represent 5.85X as many surveyed PCs as AMD GPUs. Looking just at the current generation Ampere and RDNA 2 solutions, Nvidia holds a 10.9X advantage. AMD's most popular RDNA 2 GPU right now is the RX 6600 XT, sitting at 0.4% of the total surveyed PCs. Nvidia's most popular Ampere GPU by contrast is the RTX 3060 for Laptops at 3.59%, with the desktop RTX 3060 coming in slightly lower at 2.76%.

Overall, current generation AMD and Nvidia GPUs represent 21.55% of all surveyed PCs. The top three most popular GPUs meanwhile represent a combined 20.18%, and they're all older models — GTX 1060, GTX 1650, and GTX 1050 Ti. The most popular AMD GPU is still the RX 580, at 1.58%.

Windows 11 User Share Slips

Lastly, we saw some interesting movement in the Operating System data. Most curiously, Windows 11 has slipped in July, down 0.11% during the month. At the same time, Windows 10 has taken a step forward, by a rather convincing 1.91%.

MacOS fell to 1.74% of user share in the most recent results, which is down 0.71%. Conversely, Linux is up, as the OS of choice for 1.23% of users. If this pivot continues, it wouldn’t be a surprise for Linux to elbow past MacOS, and we reckon the Steam Deck with Steam OS might be adding some weight to the Linux side.

While the Steam Hardware Survey provides interesting data, it has rather nebulous survey policies and methodologies. Valve provides no insight on how users are selected, confidence intervals, or margins of error. It doesn't even claim to use random sampling or full sampling, which would be required for the data to be statistically useful. Still, it's the best publicly available information on what hardware PC gamers are currently running, and for better or worse, we have to take what we can get.

Mark Tyson
News Editor

Mark Tyson is a news editor at Tom's Hardware. He enjoys covering the full breadth of PC tech; from business and semiconductor design to products approaching the edge of reason.

  • blppt
    Well, the X3D is the current king of the hill for gaming, and before that Zen 3 had a decent reign of fastest gaming cpus before the 12 series Cores came out. Not shocking AMD has made gains in gaming.
  • -Fran-
    My laptop got surveyed, yay!

    None of the PCs has been though, lol.

  • AgentBirdnest
    Wow! If I'm remembering right, the split was somewhere around 10/90 immediately before Zen debuted. Those are impressive gains toward the blue behemoth in just 5 years.
    Now step it up and do the same for your graphics department, AMD. : P
  • toooooot
    Easy math. I purchased first Zen after a quick research.
    Attractive prices, great intergated GPU that you can actually use to play games like Minecraft
  • cryoburner
    As usual, these articles are pointless, since the Steam Hardware Survey does not provide stable results from one month to the next.

    The last couple paragraphs about operating system usage share should make that very clear. Are we supposed to believe that Mac usage actually dropped from 2.45% down to 1.74% over the course of a single month? That's implying that Steam either lost close to 30% of their Mac users, or that users of other operating systems ballooned by over 40%. Neither option seems all that probable.

    Last month's Steam survey article was titled "Gamers Start Embracing Windows 11, According to Steam Data", and focused on how Windows 11 usage share climbed by 1.64 percentage points. This month, usage is shown to be down slightly, while Windows 10 increased by 1.91 percentage points in its place.

    Now, we see "Steam Hardware Survey Shows Big Bump in AMD CPU Popularity". Going by their data, the usage share of AMD CPUs among Steam users has fluctuated around the 31-32% range for the better part of the last year. Are we really to believe that it suddenly climbed to 33.5% within several weeks? Again, that seems unlikely. Will the headline next month suggest people are dumping AMD systems if these noisy results show them return to where they were before?

    Also, It looks like people are dumping English, as it dropped 2.14 percentage points from the prior month. Some other languages like Japanese saw even larger relative losses. Russian, German, Polish, Turkish, Ukrainian and Latin American Spanish all saw huge gains though. : P

    Another amusing statistic... "Steam users with VR Headsets" went up from 1.87% to 6.67% since last month. There are apparently over 3.5 times as many VR headset users on Steam as there were several weeks ago. Why is this not the focus of the article? : P

    The numbers in these surveys jump around way too much to make any meaningful analysis of trends from one month to the next. The language data shows that the demographics being surveyed this month vary substantially from last month, so what we are seeing is not a change in the hardware install-base, but rather a change in who Steam decided to send survey requests to this month.