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Valve Software, a developer of popular games like Half-Life and Counter Strike, has made a yet another survey among users of its Steam application, an engine that allows to acquire and update computer games via the Internet, seeking to reveal users’ preferences in hardware and software.

0.5 Million Votes, No Fakes

“More than half a million respondents have taken part so far,” claimed Valve Software at press time.

The survey asked users to submit information about their PCs hardware and software configuration the installed Steam software gathered. It is unclear whether around 530 thousand of respondents represent a substantial part of all Steam users, though, the way of the poll excluded possibilities to present any fake details.

The results of the survey revealed some interesting trends that are going on among gamers in terms of software and hardware. It emerged that more and more gamers migrate to hardware by companies like AMD and ATI Technologies, though, market leaders – NVIDIA Corp. and Intel Corp. – still sustain their strong market positions.

ATI’s RADEON 9800 Assaults Market, but GeForce4 Stands Still

ATI Technologies’ RADEON 9800-series graphics processor that was the fastest and the most future-proof offering in 2003 according to a bunch of analysts and reviewers, including those at X-bit labs, was installed into 10% of computers used by gamers among Steam users.

Still, the most widely installed graphics card is the GeForce4 MX, which can be found in 12% of computers used to play Steam games. The survey also lists around 10% of “GeForce4 Series” graphics cards, it is unclear whether such name points at the MX-series or the Titanium-series of the GeForce4 graphics processors.

Current high-end graphics cards, such as NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GT and ATI RADEON X800 PRO, were used by around 0.75% and 0.75% of users respectively. Contemporary top-of-the-range offerings from ATI and NVIDIA – ATI RADEON X800 XT and NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra were found in 0.23% and 0.20% (or 1176 and 1065) of computers respectively with installed Steam software at press time.

ATI RADEON 9700-, RADEON 9600- and RADEON 9500-series are used by 13% of Steam customers. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200-, 5500-, 5600-, 5700-, 5900-series graphics processors are used by 18% of users.

In overall, about 55% gamers used NVIDIA-based graphics, approximately 35% users decided to use solutions powered by ATI Technologies’ products.

AMD Eats Intel’s Market Share

Processors from Advanced Micro Devices, which can be found in around 15% of computers shipping quarterly, found themselves in nearly 48% of computers used by Steam subscribers. Intel-based machines were used by 52% of voters, however, the margin between Intel’s and AMD’s shares declined from the previous survey.

50% of processors supported SSE2 technology, meaning that these were either Intel Pentium 4, Intel Celeron, Intel Celeron D chips based on the NetBurst architecture or AMD Athlon 64, AMD Athlon 64 FX or select AMD Sempron chips. 15% of all chips featured Hyper-Threading technology, a feature that emulates presence of two virtual central processing units within the system.

The survey results revealed that the absolute majority, approximately 55% of users, still use computers with processors clocked at 1.70GHz – 2.70GHz, which probably includes machines with chips that are marked with model numbers instead of frequency, such as AMD Athlon 2500+ that functions at 1.83GHz. Only about 10% use computers with chips clocked from 2.70GHz to 3.00GHz.

Gamers’ PCs Have 256MB of Memory?

While games nowadays require pretty powerful computers, not all gamers intend to afford expensive systems, it can be concluded from Valve’s survey.

About 20% use computers with less than 256MB of memory, PCs of approximately 52% of customers have less than 512MB of memory installed, only 25% of Steam users have from 512MB to 999MB of memory, while no more than 2% of systems with installed Steam boast with more than 1GB of memory.

Virtually all subscribers to Steam used Microsoft Windows XP operating system, 46% have updated to Service Pack 1, 26% installed Service Pack 2, about 16% did not update Windows XP.

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