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Nvidia GPU Share Continues to Increase, According to Steam

Asus ROG Strix RTX 3070 Ti
(Image credit: Asus)

The latest Steam Hardware Survey shows a big jump in Nvidia's share, helped by the recent laptop and desktop GPU launches. The best graphics cards remain in short supply, and even cards from one or two generations back still sell at unreasonable prices according to our GPU price index, but if you believe Steam's data (#SpoonfulOfSalt), Team Green is doing a better job at getting its latest cards into the hands of gamers. It's not just Steam, though, as a recent JPR GPU market report also confirms these results.

We've used the data from Steam's API page, selecting GPUs that support the DirectX 12 API — this helps to eliminate a bunch of old cruft, including potato GPUs integrated into old Intel CPUs. Of course, there are plenty of caveats, like the fact that the percentages don't add up properly to anything close to 100% for all GPUs on the various APIs, but we've adjusted things to account for only the cards shown in the tables. And here's how things break down, looking at the past few months:

Steam Hardware Survey DirectX 12 Share
GPUsAprilMayJuneJulyAugust
RTX 30-Series3.69%4.10%4.95%5.68%7.75%
RTX 20-Series15.02%14.85%15.80%14.61%16.09%
GTX 16-Series16.77%16.91%17.15%17.44%17.47%
GTX 10-Series29.65%29.13%28.20%27.35%26.54%
RX 6000-Series0.20%0.22%0.33%0.40%0.43%
RX 5000-Series2.13%2.15%1.87%1.90%1.72%
RX 500 and Vega Series5.71%5.62%5.19%5.22%4.77%

All told, the past three generations of AMD and Nvidia GPUs account for about 75% of the DirectX 12 GPU share, according to Steam's nebulous statistics. However, most of that still goes to the old GTX 10-series and RX 500-series GPUs, followed by the GTX 16-series and RTX 20-series. Nvidia's RTX 30-series Ampere GPUs meanwhile now account for more total share of the Steam userbase than all of the past three generations of AMD GPUs combined.

Based on the Steam data, it looks like RTX 30-series has outsold AMD RX 6000-series by a factor of about 18 to 1. Which, of course, raises some interesting questions. The latest JPR report shows AMD dedicated GPUs accounting for 80% of the market, and AMD only has 20% of the market — that's for both desktop and mobile GPUs. So either the Steam data is suspect (it is!), or proportionately more of AMD's latest generation GPUs are ending up in the hands of miners that never participate in the Steam Hardware Survey, or both.

What's interesting to note is that the latest August data is how many new Nvidia GPUs now show up: RTX 3070 Ti, RTX 3080 Ti, RTX 3050 Laptop GPU, RTX 3050 Ti, and RTX 3050 are all there for the first time this month. Oddly, the RTX 3050 Ti Laptop GPU first showed up in June. In contrast, the only "new this month" entries from AMD are the Radeon 540X Series and the RX 6800M, which together are only 0.06% of the Steam userbase.

There are plenty of reasons to question the Steam HW Survey, of course. It has had problems in the past where it counted gaming PCs at internet cafes multiple times, for example. But arguably, the biggest red flag is that Valve itself doesn't provide details on how the data gets collected. Without purely random sampling, the numbers can skew wildly.

The RTX 3070 Ti is a great example. Last month it didn't even show up, but this month it's already at 0.23%. That's the biggest first month showing on the Steam Hardware Survey that I can recall from the past year. So was RTX 3070 Ti really that popular, or does Steam skew toward sending more survey queries to PCs with new/unknown hardware? Either is entirely possible, but I suspect there's truth to the latter. That should help new AMD GPUs as well, though, so it's still unclear as to why the Steam HW Survey data tends to be so different from what we hear elsewhere.

Looking at the latest generation GPUs only, the RTX 3070 continues to be the most popular card, with 1.56% of survey respondents. RTX 3060 meanwhile showed significant gains this past month, increasing its percentage by 0.38% — it will pass the 3070 in two more months at the current rate. Overall share actually dropped on the RTX 3080, to 0.83%. That could just be the margin of error in the sampling, or it could mean fewer RTX 3080 cards are being sold and manufactured now that the RTX 3080 Ti is available.

AMD's best selling RX 6000 series card is the RX 6700 XT, coming in at 0.13% of respondents, with the RX 6800 XT at 0.10%, RX 6900 XT at 0.08%, and RX 6800 at just 0.04%. The RX 6600 XT only just came out last month, so it hasn't shown up on the survey yet — it would be great to see it make a big splash like the RTX 3070 Ti.

The good news is that more and more gamers are getting their hands on RTX 30-series GPUs, and it saw overall growth from 5.68% in July to 7.75% in August. AMD's RX 6000-series only went up a bit as well, from 0.40% to 0.43%. Hopefully things will start to improve with the looming end of Ethereum mining — it's hard to imagine things getting any worse.

Jarred Walton

Jarred Walton's (Senior Editor) love of computers dates back to the dark ages, when his dad brought home a DOS 2.3 PC and he left his C-64 behind. He eventually built his first custom PC in 1990 with a 286 12MHz, only to discover it was already woefully outdated when Wing Commander released a few months later. He holds a BS in Computer Science from Brigham Young University and has been working as a tech journalist since 2004, writing for AnandTech, Maximum PC, and PC Gamer. From the first S3 Virge '3D decelerators' to today's GPUs, Jarred keeps up with all the latest graphics trends and is the one to ask about game performance.

  • Phaaze88
    Yikes, but not unusual right now...
    Reply
  • spentshells
    If all you want to do is play games the 10 series really did it right.
    Reply
  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    It's not that Steam's data is SUSPECT, it's just that it's a sample of a sample of the world market. Valve reported back in January that Steam has 120 million monthly users worldwide, which is a fairly representative sample size in most countries Steam is available in, but remember that not all users participate in the hardware survey, and in countries outside the USA, especially APAC countries such as China and Vietnam, internet cafés are much more prevalent than here in the USA, and that's something that Steam directly targets (Steam PC Café). It was reported last year that internet cafés were using their machines to mine cryptocurrency while they were shut due to Covid restrictions, so if a cafe gets 100 nVidia cards in so they can flog away at ether, those machines are still going to be running Steam for gaming as well, so the user share of nVidia increases.

    The real test is going to be when Intel gaming GPUs start getting on the market...
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    Alvar Miles Udell said:
    It's not that Steam's data is SUSPECT, it's just that it's a sample of a sample of the world market.
    Probably the biggest sample that anyone has access to short of other publishers who keep their stats for themselves.

    I find it a little weird that many people periodically say that the Steam survey is biased because they claim they have never received a survey participation request or haven't received one in a very long time. I receive one every 3-4 months and have been receiving those for as far back as I remember the survey becoming a thing. I got my third one for this year, second one since upgrading my PC just yesterday.

    As for Asian internet cafes multi-counting on the survey, I'd imagine this wouldn't be happening to the usual extent while most cafes are closed and I'd hope the survey data has some sort of fingerprint (ex: Steam install ID) to remove most duplicate entries from the final tallies.
    Reply
  • daworstplaya
    When most of the AMD GPUs go to miners directly from the AIB, what's there to count? :rolleyes:
    Reply
  • Unolocogringo
    Nvidia sells 8 cards for AMDs 2 cards.
    They have 80% +/_ market share of discrete GPUs.
    So in reality 80% +/-of discrete GPUs should be NVIDIA in steams survey.
    Reply
  • GenericUser
    InvalidError said:
    Probably the biggest sample that anyone has access to short of other publishers who keep their stats for themselves.

    I find it a little weird that many people periodically say that the Steam survey is biased because they claim they have never received a survey participation request or haven't received one in a very long time. I receive one every 3-4 months and have been receiving those for as far back as I remember the survey becoming a thing. I got my third one for this year, second one since upgrading my PC just yesterday.

    As for Asian internet cafes multi-counting on the survey, I'd imagine this wouldn't be happening to the usual extent while most cafes are closed and I'd hope the survey data has some sort of fingerprint (ex: Steam install ID) to remove most duplicate entries from the final tallies.

    I haven't been requested to do a hardware survey in about 6 or 7 years. Honestly curious about what their criteria is for deciding which users to ping for one (though not to imply accusations of bias).
    Reply
  • spongiemaster
    daworstplaya said:
    When most of the AMD GPUs go to miners directly from the AIB, what's there to count? :rolleyes:
    Indeed. Don't tell the AMD faithful that. According to them it's Nvidia selling all their stock to miners.

    https://wccftech.com/cryptocurrency-mining-hardware-retailer-receives-a-large-shipment-of-powercolor-sapphire-xfx-amd-radeon-gpus/
    Reply
  • BeedooX
    InvalidError said:
    Probably the biggest sample that anyone has access to short of other publishers who keep their stats for themselves.
    AMD GPU owner here; plays games but don't have a Steam account.

    I can assume I'm not the only one.
    Reply
  • JarredWaltonGPU
    Alvar Miles Udell said:
    It's not that Steam's data is SUSPECT, it's just that it's a sample of a sample of the world market. Valve reported back in January that Steam has 120 million monthly users worldwide, which is a fairly representative sample size in most countries Steam is available in, but remember that not all users participate in the hardware survey, and in countries outside the USA, especially APAC countries such as China and Vietnam, internet cafés are much more prevalent than here in the USA, and that's something that Steam directly targets (Steam PC Café). It was reported last year that internet cafés were using their machines to mine cryptocurrency while they were shut due to Covid restrictions, so if a cafe gets 100 nVidia cards in so they can flog away at ether, those machines are still going to be running Steam for gaming as well, so the user share of nVidia increases.

    The real test is going to be when Intel gaming GPUs start getting on the market...
    The internet cafe multi-counting problem occurred a couple of years back and Steam fixed the problem. Outside of that, the data is suspect simply because Valve has never said how it samples. If you don't do a pure random sampling — for example, if you bias toward sampling "new" or "unknown" hardware, or even PCs where the hardware configuration has changed since the last sample — then it screws up the statistics in a very bad way. Steam doesn't disclose how many PCs were sampled each cycle either. Theoretically, it could be "all PCs connected to Steam," but then why actually ask for people to opt-in on the HW survey? So, it's a possibly not random sampling, and that's by far the biggest issue.

    As for Steam not representing all users, that's less of an issue. Presumably there's very little correlation between AMD GPU owners not using Steam and Nvidia owners not using Steam — though Intel GPU users not using Steam wouldn't be as surprising (eg, a lot of business PCs don't ever run Steam). We're mostly interested in gaming GPUs used to play games, and Steam is by far the most popular gaming distribution service. If Steam China takes over for regular Steam in that country and its users no longer count toward the totals, that would be a potential problem, but AFAIK regular Steam still works in China. If anything, I'd expect China to skew more heavily toward Nvidia (it's a more respected brand there, again AFAIK), with or without Internet cafes.

    I should note that the overall percentages of the market, according to Steam's DX12 data, are 80.48% Nvidia, 14.81% AMD, 3.98% Intel, and then 0.73% "other." It's interesting that the Intel percentage is so low, as everything with UHD 500 or later should be DX12 compliant I think. I suppose most people with Skylake or later CPU aren't using the integrated graphics? Or maybe it needs to be Kaby Lake or later?

    Another interesting fact: If you look at the Vulkan API numbers, things get really screwy. Go ahead and add up the first 15 or so percentages in the Vulkan GPU list. https://store.steampowered.com/hwsurvey/directx/ I'll help you out. For August, the first 15 GPUs in the Vulkan list sum up to 103.70%. Oops! In fact, the entire list of 384 GPUs sums up to 194.80%! Clearly something is fubar with the way Steam presents that data. The DirectX 12 GPUs, all 212 of them, sum up to 84.44% for August as well, which indicates a different sort of problem. I divided all of the numbers in the list by the total percentage in order to normalize things to 100%, but the data might still be wrong.

    Fundamentally, Steam may collect data incorrectly (non-random sampling), and the API list doesn't properly sum up to 100%. We're looking at ALL GPUs that can run a specific API, so it should be 100%, and it's not. That's bad and reduces confidence in the underlying statistics. Basically, you can't trust the Steam Hardware Survey, even if it's the best publicly accessible set of data that we have.
    Reply