We’ve been tracking the monthly updates of the Steam Hardware Survey to create a more detailed window into the GPU replacement cycle than we’ve typically provided in the past. There are a number of interesting trends currently playing out in the GPU market. Nvidia is the midst of an all-hands-on-deck effort to convince gamers that ray tracing is the Next Big Thing and that its Turing GPUs represent a worthwhile investment, even considering their increased costs relative to previous generations. AMD has aggressively positioned its lower-end GPUs to combat Pascal and Turing, with a lot of market buzz around 7nm and its upcoming Navi family. So how are consumers responding to these arguments?
Probably not as well as Nvidia would like, though the company remains the overwhelming player in the gaming GPU market. According to Steam, Nvidia’s overall market share is ~75 percent, with 10 percent of gamers on Intel solutions, and 14.7 percent using AMD. There’s a little good news for AMD in these results that we’ll discuss as well. First, though, let’s check out the state of Turing versus Pascal.
The slideshow below compares the percentage of Steam users with a given GPU, measured in the months after that GPU launched. There’s a 0 percent period in the graphs to show the time lag between when cards debut and when they actually appear in the Steam Hardware Survey. If a GPU launches in May, May is considered to be Month 1 of launch. The RTX 2080 and 2070 use a 7-month period to reflect the time since launch, while the RTX 2060 uses a three-month window (it launched in January).
I’ve dropped the 1080 Ti from these comparisons because the Steam Hardware Survey suffered a major discontinuity in terms of the data set back in August 2017, and we’re now bumping into that period relative to the 1080 Ti’s launch window.
Because Turing GPUs sell at higher prices than their Pascal counterparts, we’ve also included price-matched comparisons that compare cards based on their actual price rather than branding. In these cases, the GTX 1080 is compared against the RTX 2070 and the GTX 1070 takes on the RTX 2060.
The entire data table is shown below:
So, what do we see in aggregate? Mixed results. The gap between the 1080 and 2080 widened by a fraction, but scarcely enough to notice. The gap between the 1070 and the 2070, on the other hand, exploded. Adoption of the GTX 1070 surged once the cards were widely available in-market, while the RTX 2070 has yet to benefit from an equivalent leap. The GTX 1080 versus RTX 2070 comparison shows improvement, with the RTX 2070 gaining on the GTX 1080 as far as current adoption at the same place in their respective life cycles. This is good news for Nvidia.
The RTX 2060 similarly shows mixed results. Steam appears to have a cutoff at roughly 0.15 percent when it comes to whether a GPU rates being included on the survey. The RTX 2060 hits this adoption rate more quickly than any other RTX card, appearing in our survey in the third month post-launch. As you can see, none of the other Turing GPUs hit this point until Month 4. It also enters the survey at the highest adoption rate — 0.27 percent, compared with 0.22 percent for the 2080 and 0.17 percent for the RTX 2070. Again, this is a sign of increased uptake and better sales.
But while the RTX 2060 has had the best introduction of any Turing GPU judged on SHS adoption, it doesn’t hold a candle to either the original GTX 1060 or the GTX 1070. The availability of multiple GTX 1060 SKUs complicates this story, which is another reason why the GTX 1070 may be the better RTX 2060 comparison. Even here, however, the GTX 1070 is decisively ahead.
Nvidia has said that Turing drove far more revenue than Pascal during the early days of launch, and that may be true. Nevertheless, the best public data source available suggests that Turing has not been as widely adopted by the gaming community as Pascal was at the same point in its life cycle.
Modest Gains for AMD
AMD has been aggressively positioning its Radeon GPUs for months, and those price cuts are paying off. The RX 580 was the third-largest mover on Steam this month, jumping 0.16 percent for a total market share of 1.1 percent. To put that in perspective, however, the RX 580 is currently listed as the most popular AMD GPU on Steam.
Not actually all that popular.
The RX 570 grew modestly, at 0.06 percent, for a total market penetration of 0.34 percent. RX Vega launched in August 2017 but only appeared on the Steam Hardware Survey in January 2019 at 0.16 percent. Now the two GPUs are up to 0.22 percent share. It is unclear whether this includes the Radeon VII.
One point these comparisons hammer home is just how lopsided the GPU market currently is. It’s absolutely fair to compare Turing and Pascal or to discuss the overall GPU market in 2016 versus 2019, but right now, Nvidia doesn’t have much competition. It’s going to take more than price cuts for AMD to reverse its current market share.