50% of Steam users now use 6-core or 8-core processors
Over 50% of Steam users on Windows now use systems with more than 4 cores
Published: 12th January 2022 | Source: Steam Hardware Survey |
The end of Quad-Core Era is coming - The Era of 6/8 Core CPUs has arrived
Steam's hardware survey can be a valuable source of information for developers and other analysts. It can track hardware trends over time and help developers to optimise their games around the popular hardware that PC gamers use today. If your game/software doesn't run well on the hardware that most gamers process, you are limiting your potential audience, and increasing the number of potential refunds that Steam will need to provide.
Currently, 47.43% of PC gamers have systems with 16GB of RAM, making that a great target for PC developers. Nvidia's GTX 1060 remains as Steam's most popular GPU, and that means that most PC games should be able to run well on that level of graphics hardware. Even today, 4-core CPUs remain the most popular core count on Steam, which means that most games should be designed to run well at that core count. That said, things are changing.
The Quad-Core era is coming to an end
Back in July 2020, quad-core CPUs were used by 46.5% of Steam's userbase. Today, only 35.3% of Steam users use quad-core processors. Over the coming months/years, that number is expected to decrease further, as 6-core and 8-core desktop CPUs are becoming dominant within today's gaming landscape.
On Windows, over 50% of PC gamers now use 6-core or 8-core processors, with 6-core CPUs being used by 33.25% of Steam users while 16.78% of users utilise 8-core CPUs. Together, these gamers account for 50.3% of Steam users on Windows.
The high core count PC gaming era has arrived!
What changed? Why are 6-core and 8-core CPUs becoming so popular?
With the launch of AMD's Ryzen series of desktop processors, the PC market started to get access to CPUs that featured six or more cores at affordable prices. After AMD launched Ryzen, Intel also started to release higher core count desktop processors with their 8th generation and newer Core series processors.
Today, most processors that are targeted at PC gamers feature six or more CPU cores, and many modern game now run much faster when played on processors with higher core counts. Today's best gaming CPUs now feature more than four CPU cores, and software has started to utilise these higher core counts.
The Call of Next-Gen
PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, and Xbox Series S all feature 8-core Zen 2 CPUs from AMD. While Xbox One and PlayStation 4 already used 8-core CPUs, their modern equivalents now deliver much higher clock speeds, and utilise AMD's powerful Zen 2 architecture. The latest consoles now use high performance 8-core CPUs, and that means that new software will be developed with this hardware in mind.
Gamers know that they will need a CPU that is equivalent to or stronger than the CPUs uses in PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series consoles for their systems to continue playing modern AAA games. This has helped to fuel upgrades to 6-core and 8-core CPUs, and will ensure that quad-core CPUs will continue their decline in future Steam surveys.
Quad-Core PC Gaming is Declining, but it isn't dead
Steam may be seeing 6-core and 8-core processors become increasingly popular amongst PC gamers, but that doesn't mean that quad-core CPUs will soon be useless for PC gaming. Remember, over 30% of Steam users still use quad-core processors, and developers are still targeting quad-core processors with their latest titles.
Valve's Steam Deck handheld will launch this year with a quad-core Zen 2 CPU, and that alone is evidence enough that quad-core processors will remain "good enough" for PC gaming for years to come. Yes, 6-core and 8-core CPUs will soon be recommended for new desktop gaming systems, but that doesn't mean that all PC games will be unplayable on quad cores.
Remember, over 30% of Steam users on Windows still use quad-core CPUs. PC developers would be silly to ignore that userbase, even if 50% of Steam users have more cores in their systems. The PC market is moving away from quad-core CPUs, but that doesn't mean that quad core CPUs aren't still useable.
You can join the discussion on 6/8 core CPUs dominating AMD's latest Steam hardware survey on the OC3D Forums.