Product reviews, deals and the latest tech news

The most popular GPU on Steam isn’t the one you might expect

Steam is the undisputed king of personal computer (PC) gaming platforms, with tens of millions of players who regularly use the service. As a result, Valve’s online store has access to a wealth of user information, some of which is shared with the public through the monthly hardware survey. The lowly Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 has unexpectedly risen to the top of the graphics card industry this month.

For completeness’ sake, it probably won’t shock anybody who is either an analyst for the gaming business or a dedicated observer of PC statistics and trends. Even though you’re awesome, I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t tweet at me.

The GTX 1650 is now the best graphics card available, surpassing the GTX 1060 from 2016. A little more than one in twenty Steam users are now wearing the cheap hardware on their gaming PCs, with the latest top of the GPU crop holding just over 6 percent of the market. Just behind it at 5.58 percent is the GTX 1060, and at 4.46 percent is the RTX 3060 in its laptop form, the first graphics card from the latest generation to make the list.

The RTX 3070, at 2.35 percent, is the first mid-high card on the list, although it has less than half as many users as the GTX 1650. Even though Nvidia products predominate, other RTX 3000 series cards are having a hard time breaking into the top 13. The first entry for AMD is the generic and integrated “AMD Radeon Graphics,” which accounts for 1.86 percent of all GPUs. 2017’s Radeon RX 580 is AMD’s first discrete graphics processing unit (GPU) to make the cut.

Released between April 2019 and June 2020, the several GTX 1650 versions are a major upgrade over the GTX 1060. The “16” series was an affordable alternative to the new RTX cards, offering a small improvement over the 1000 series. However, when people think of the opulent, high-powered PCs seen in PC build instructions on YouTube or Reddit, they don’t picture a 4GB GPU that debuted around the $150 mark and still fetches $175-200 at street pricing owing to great demand.

While Steam’s numbers can’t be taken as a whole picture of the PC gaming industry, they do serve as a reliable indicator. Developers, retailers, and elitist tech writers like me would do well to remember that not everyone cares about 4K resolution and 120 frames per second (FPS) when it comes to gaming technology. The recent significant price increases by Nvidia are also put into perspective, as is the customer backlash against these increases, as well as the moves by AMD and Intel to price new cards a bit lower and substantially cheaper, respectively.