The Changing Landscape of PC Gaming: Windows 11, CPU Cores, and RAM

Steam’s latest hardware survey for December 2023 provides valuable insights into the current trends within the PC gaming market. One notable development is the steady rise of Windows 11, which is gradually inching its way towards parity with its predecessor, Windows 10. While Windows 11’s overall market share remains relatively low at 26%, compared to Windows 10’s dominant 67%, the gaming community seems to have embraced the new operating system more willingly. In the December survey, 44% of respondents reported using Windows 11, while 51% were still on Windows 10. This 4% swing in favor of Windows 11 compared to the previous month suggests that its popularity among gamers is on the rise.

In addition to the operating system preferences, the survey also shed light on the evolving CPU landscape among gamers. While data on physical CPUs can be variable due to the presence of Intel e-cores and their influence on system configurations, one noticeable trend is the increasing popularity of processors with higher core counts. Currently, systems equipped with eight cores make up over 20% of the overall share. Meanwhile, dual and quad-core systems, as well as laptops, are gradually losing their dominance and are now mainly found in the cheapest of systems. As the gaming industry continues to push the boundaries of performance, dual and quad-core laptops are likely to be phased out in favor of more powerful alternatives.

The Rise of Higher RAM Capacities

RAM capacity is another aspect that has undergone significant changes in recent times. The survey reveals that systems with 16GB of RAM now comprise nearly 50% of the market share. On the other hand, systems with 32GB experienced a slight decline, potentially offset by the introduction of 48GB systems. The declining popularity of systems with 8GB or less of RAM is not surprising, considering the increasing demands of modern games and the prevalence of gaming laptops with 16GB of RAM. Additionally, the availability of affordable memory kits in 2023 has made upgrading from 8GB to 16GB of DDR4 a cost-effective option for users with older systems.

Exploring Other Noteworthy Trends

The December hardware survey also uncovered a few other interesting findings. Firstly, there was a noticeable increase in the number of Steam users adopting VR headsets, albeit still at a relatively small overall percentage of 2.24%. However, this represents a 0.4% month-on-month growth, indicating a significant 20% increase. On the graphics card front, while the RTX 40-series models, particularly the RTX 4060 mobile graphics, have yet to gain significant traction, Nvidia continues to dominate the GPU market over AMD.

It is important to note that the Steam Hardware Survey provides a rough idea of market share rather than a comprehensive snapshot. Nonetheless, the survey offers valuable insights into the preferences and hardware of the gaming community. As the landscape of PC gaming continues to evolve, it is clear that Windows 11 is making strides in the gaming community. The shift towards higher core count CPUs reflects the demand for improved performance, while the rising popularity of higher RAM capacities indicates the need to meet the increasing requirements of modern games. Furthermore, the survey highlights the gradual adoption of VR technology and the ongoing dominance of Nvidia in the graphics card market.

PC gaming is an ever-changing landscape, shaped by technological advancements and the evolving needs of gamers. As new hardware and software innovations emerge, it will be fascinating to see how the preferences and configurations of gamers continue to evolve. The Steam Hardware Survey allows us to catch a glimpse of these changes and gain valuable insights into the world of PC gaming.


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