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AMD Gaining Fast in Steam Hardware Survey

An image of AMD campus.
(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

It's no secret that since taking over, Dr. Lisa Su has driven AMD to immense success, and the Zen CPU architecture certainly played a big part in that. Now, according to Steam Hardware Survey, AMD's CPU share on Steam climbed over most of 2020 (November to November) to 26.9% total Steam share today. 

November last year, AMD's share according to the Steam Hardware Survey sat at 20.5%, and while that 6.4% might not seem like much, that's a huge increase in user count over the course of a single year.

Normally, these kinds of transitions happen very slowly -- mainly because people aren't buying a new CPU every year and throwing out their old one -- and the dataset includes all CPUs from all active systems participating in the automated survey, so that includes PCs running 8-year-old chips (or even older), and laptops. With a 6.4% gain in steam gaming share in just one year, if safe to say that people must have been buying AMD chips in greater amounts than before.   

Steam Hardware Survey CPUs

(Image credit: Valve)

Is AMD Winning? Or is Intel Losing Badly?

Of course, there's a handful of factors at play here. One is that there's a global pandemic and tons of people are buying PC parts for gaming, and AMD has the best value options and has offered some great bundles throughout 2020.

The second factor is that Intel is struggling enormously with its 10nm and smaller process nodes, and seems to be unable to jump ahead in manufacturing. Sure, Rocket Lake is nearing, but it's still on the 14nm process, as Intel chips have been for six generations now, going on seven, while AMD is already on its second-generation 7nm chips with the Zen 3 family and approaching 5nm when Zen 4 launches next year.

Lisa Su Zen 3

(Image credit: AMD via YouTube)

With Zen 3 in the Ryzen 5000 series CPUs, AMD also achieved a few slam-dunks, and the company is unable to keep up with demand. We made a 'Where and How to Buy AMD Ryzen 5000 CPUs' post that we try to keep updated with inventory, but most of the time your chances of securing an order are slim without turning to scalpers. Of course, you can blame Apple and consoles for taking up so much of TSMC's manufacturing capacity, but that doesn't change the fact: AMD is gaining on Intel quickly.

Intel did tease double-digit IPC increases for Rocket Lake, but as it remains a 14nm product, power consumption will still be problematic.

If you look at the figures of which CPUs people are actually buying, AMD's CPUs now take up 20.1% of desktop x86 CPUs. This figure is lower, but consider that this dataset includes all desktops, not just those on the Steam Hardware Survey.

On the GPU front, AMD's cards climbed to 16.5% from 15.5% the year before, though Nvidia still dominates with 73.9% of all GPUs in gaming systems.

  • d0x360
    Early 2021 when I upgrade intel will lose another person to amd. Upgrading my i7 5820k.(6 core all core @ 4.6ghz stable to 5.3) to a 5900x.

    My cpu has treated me very well... It was the "low end" i7 for it's Generation but I got an amazing chip because it's base clock is 3.3ghz and with a 240mm rad aio liquid cooler I can do an all core of 4.6ghz and a regular OC to 5.3ghz.

    It's just been recent games that have just been too much for the cpu at 4k which is unfortunate but I wanted ryzen anyways I just wanted to wait for gen4 because of the new socket which would allow for 4 years of upgrades but...what can you do lol.

    Also going to replace my 2080ti with a 6900xt(probably). I know nVidia has the edge in ray tracing performance and amd has no DLSS yet but I'm confident that they will soon.