Part 4: The Steam Survey: Our Changing Screens

In our final part of the Steam analysis, we look at display resolution. Screens have undergone several important changes in recent years: Increased resolution; a wider variety of sizes; changes in aspect ratio to support widescreen films and notebook formats; and increasingly common multiple-monitor configurations.


Widescreen monitors are gradually gaining in popularity, with nearly 25 percent of 2008 respondents using a 16:9 aspect ratio screen. Larger-sized widescreens are increasingly common also.


The 1024×768 resolution dominated the early years of the survey, but now 1280×1024 or 1280×800 resolutions are more common. Multiple monitors remain a relatively uncommon phenomenon. Valve has only been collecting data on dual-display systems since the April, 2006, survey but in that time the number has risen to 3.6 percent from 2.4 percent.

Powering these monitors are a number of chipset options that speed communication between the CPU and the video card. The dominant standards are PCI express and AGP. PCI16x is the clear choice in the most recent survey.


Finally, displays need drivers. On a PC platform, this means DirectX. While DirectX9 is the preferred driver today, an increasing number of systems reported their DirectX10 capability (which is why this chart exceeds 100 percent.)


* Part 1: Part 1: Valve’s Steam Survey of 1M+ Desktops & Their Components
* Part 2: The Valve Survey: Steam goes global
* Part 3: The Steam Survey: How much storage is out there?
* Part 4: The Steam survey: Our changing screens