Steam gamers hurry to upgrade to 32GB RAM, and Linux breaks above 2% user share milestone, in latest survey

Steam Hardware Survey May 2024 results
(Image credit: Steam)

Steam just released its monthly hardware survey, and there are a few noteworthy trends worth commenting on. While the majority of Steam users have 16GB of RAM (47.08%), a good number are quickly migrating to 32GB. Users with 32GB are still a far second at 28.72%, but this number jumped by 0.63% compared to the previous month — the largest growth in any of the RAM configurations Steam lists.

On the other hand, 16GB systems saw a massive 1.18% drop. This is a curious development, especially as Microsoft set 16GB as its default requirement for AI PCs. However, it could be just the case of many users upgrading their 16GB PCs to 32GB (or beyond). Nevertheless, considering the other percentage changes, 0.78% of 16GB PC users upgraded their RAM to something higher, while the remaining 0.4% seemingly downgraded their systems.

These changes vary between 0.02% (for less than 4GB) to 0.16% (for 8GB systems). While we cannot explain the increases for computers with less than 8GB RAM, the small jump in 8GB systems could be explained by the existence of ultrabooks and gaming laptops that still come with just 8GB of RAM out of the box — something we will never recommend that you buy, unless you plan to upgrade it swiftly.

Crucial Pro Overclocking DDR5-6000 C36

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The increase in systems with 8GB RAM could also be attributed to Apple, especially as all its Macs and MacBooks start with that default quota, except for the 16-inch MacBook Pro, Mac Studio, and Mac Pro. Even though Apple claims 8GB equals 16GB on PCs, many say that it’s nowhere near enough for professional workloads. Apple uses its RAM as Unified Memory, so the CPU, GPU, and NPU would all have to vie for this limited working memory space.

Another interesting development among Steam users is the increase in the use of other operating systems. Windows remains the top dog, with Windows 10 users at 50.35% of the overall user base. Windows 11 is also slowly getting more market share, which increased by 0.93% to 46.088, especially as Microsoft finally allowed some users to upgrade after blocking them for a few years.

But aside from Windows 11’s slow success, we see Linux has the most impressive recent growth, with its Steam user base going from 1.9% last month to 2.32% — which is a 0.42% increase. While it’s still not quite as big compared to the Windows user growth, the small number of Linux users (versus Windows) means that this is a significant change for the community.

Steam is also making inroads with Mac gaming, especially as Apple is somewhat pushing its users towards gaming by introducing Game Mode in macOS Sonoma. That’s why we see its market share grow by 0.12% to 1.47% — small but not insignificant. Apple’s efforts to get gaming on Apple-silicon Macs could also help Windows, especially as it has recently launched Arm-based Snapdragon X processors to compete with Cupertino’s laptop offerings.

Steam’s survey results show the direction the market is taking in terms of hardware. For example, the survey shows that the most popular GPUs are mid-range cards from RTX 2060s to RTX 4070s, with a few entry-level cards like the GTX 1650, GTX 1060, and GTX 1050 Ti in the mix. This shows a change in where the entry-level GTX 1650 was the most popular last year. However, the survey is not without its pitfalls, with Steam sometimes returning questionable data, like in December 2023, when the survey suggested that more people bought an RTX 4090 than a Steam Deck.

Freelance News Writer
  • ezst036
    Well, yeah.

    Windows by itself takes up what, 5 to 10gb? The most common way to solve this problem is to throw hardware(DRAM sticks) at it.

    Games are naturally getting larger over time as well.
  • rluker5
    DDR5 doesn't work up to specs at 16GB so 32 is likely from that.
  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    DDR5's larger modules help, but 16GB has long since been needed for every Windows system to prevent paging.
  • Makaveli
    Did this upgrade in 2021 back then 16GB's was already pushing it.
  • mike.stavola
    I really doubt that more than 1% of users are upgrading their memory to utilize Microsoft's AI Moneygrab.
    It's actually half the reason why I'm in the Linux percentile, now. The other half being that I hate ads in my OS, and I hate forced upgrades, and I hate how broken their software's become.
  • hwertz
    I mean I don't know if I was responsible for that entire 0.02% of less than 4GB? But I had someone give me a mega-potato Core 2 Duo notebook with 2GB in it (and I ended up with a second one with 3GB). Yes, I got the message on them to submit the info to the Steam Hardware Survey! No I'm not crazy enough to actually try to RUN any Steam games on there... OK I admit I did (edited Proton settings to disable Vulkan use and use the OpenGL-based WineD3D instead..), and it was horrible. But it has a REALLY nice keyboard, trackpad, and screen, and the Steam Remote Play on it is silky smooth!

    When I have a friend over and we both want to game (often Deep Rock Galactic, highly recommended!), instead of being holed up in front of my desktop, I can play on the couch on one notebook remote play and he can play a game directly on the newer notebook.

    My real gaming systems, my modern notebook has a 11th gen Intel CPU with "Intel Xe" graphics and 20GB RAM. Mesa driver for it is very good, full OpenGL, Vulkan, and so full DX9/10/11/12 (except raytracing I think) for Windows games. My desktop has a Coffee Lake i7-8700, 32GB RAM, and Nvidia GTX1650. Those both have Ubuntu 22.04, haven't ugpraded them to 24.04 yet.

    (With stock Ubuntu 24.04 it booted to desktop with about 500MB RAM free; with KDE (I didn't reinstall Kubuntu, just installed the kubuntu-desktop package) about 1GB.) So barely enough to run Steam, let alone Steam AND a game. Besides the GPU having virtually no 3D capabilities (OpenGL 2.1/DirectX9 with almost no shader capability.. shader model 1?).

    Shockingly, this 18-year-old GPU in this thing isn't just "still supported" by some driver they didn't remove yet, it's supported by the fully modern Mesa Gallium 3D drivers written from scratch within the last 4-5 years. Which doesn't affect it having virtually no 3D capability by modern standards but is still remarkable that support extends back THAT far.
  • DavidMV
    Good to know SSE3 is at 106.85% and AVX is at 103.64% :ROFLMAO:. Whats up with so many being above 100%???
  • diminishedfifth
    Just received the survey for my first time lol. I always wondered how they collected the data, I looked through Steam if there was a page to submit PC info lol
  • 35below0
    diminishedfifth said:
    Just received the survey for my first time lol. I always wondered how they collected the data, I looked through Steam if there was a page to submit PC info lol
    You can't make Valve include your hardware info. That would open the doors to skewed survey results on account of biased users, which is against Valve's policy of skewing survey results using their in-house methods. /s

    You can always compare your hardware in Help -> System information.
  • vijosef
    DavidMV said:
    Good to know SSE3 is at 106.85% and AVX is at 103.64% :ROFLMAO:. Whats up with so many being above 100%???
    Just came here to complain about that, and found my complain completed 106.85%