Valve’s Steam Hardware Survey is one of the most reliable indicators of true tech buying trends when it comes PC components. With a worldwide user base and used by players from all walks of life, it doesn’t just show us what enthusiasts are talking about but what people are buying and using. To that end, it’s a significant event that the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 now tops the Steam hardware survey.
Historically, the Steam hardware survey has seen low to mid-range graphics cards and CPUs be the most popular, due to the fairly obvious fact that more people can afford the lower-cost products. But it’s precisely this ‘lower-cost’ aspect that is likely why it has taken nearly three years since its release for the RTX 3060 to gain top spot, despite it being the most affordable RTX 3000 series GPU from the most popular GPU maker.
At launch, the RTX 3060 price was $329, which was already a fairly high price for a ’60 class of Nvidia GPU. However, thanks to huge GPU demand over the last few years due to COVID-19-related lockdowns, peaks in cryptocurrency mining, and large uptake in data centers, GPU prices were grossly elevated for the better part of two years and availability was nearly non-existent. That meant even getting hold of an RTX 3060 was tricky, let alone paying anything close to the MSRP for the card.
Finally, though, with GPU demand having settled down, a new generation of RTX 40 cards (such as the RTX 4060) having taken over peak demand, and the RTX 3060 being readily available and relatively affordable thanks to an MSRP price drop to $279, it has become a popular affordable option. Plus, the steady uptake of nearly three years on the market has meant it can finally claim top spot as the most popular card in use on Steam.
The RTX 3060 takes over from the GTX 1650, which is a card that’s another couple of years older but notably was always a far cheaper card, with an MSRP of just $149. If anything indicates the steady rise of graphics card prices over the last few years, it’s this nearly doubling in price of the most popular card.
Interestingly, the change in ownership rate for the RTX 3060 is quite significant, considering it’s just a month since the last survey. It jumped up 1.4 percent, from 4.87 percent to 6.27 percent. That may not sound like a lot, but the next most popular card only has 4.78 percent usage and by the time you’re outside the top ten most popular cards, the total usage rate of other cards doesn’t exceed two percent.
As for how Nvidia compares to AMD for graphics card usage, Nvidia still dominates. ‘AMD Radeon Graphics’ does claim twelfth position, with 1.88 percent usage but this is probably mostly made up of integrated graphics from laptops and low-end PCs. The first individual AMD GPU on the list is the ancient RX 580 with 0.95 percent. Meanwhile, not a single AMD RX 7000 series GPU makes the list, despite the RX 7600 being clearly the best budget graphics card available at the moment.
Will you be adding to the RTX 3060 ownership rate or will you be swinging the balance back towards AMD with your next graphics card purchase? And does the recent addition of FSR 3 to AMD cards might change your opinion?