Well, it finally happened. According to the Steam Hardware Survey, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 and RTX 4070 Ti GPUs were both among the top ten most purchased (or at least, ‘most recently plugged in and connected to Steam’) graphics cards in February 2023.
This comes after months of stock limitations and controversies surrounding Nvidia’s new GPUs, and could signal a shift toward the current generation of graphics cards among PC gamers. Interestingly, the flagship RTX 4090 was absent from the top ten list, despite being undeniably the best graphics card on the market right now (read: it’s because it’s phenomenally expensive).
In comparison, AMD saw very, very modest market gains in February, with the most-sold Radeon GPU being the last-gen RX 6600 XT, which is an excellent choice of budget graphics card right now but still only accounts for 0.38% of all the cards owned by Steam users. For comparison, the trusty old Radeon RX 580 is used by 1.1% of gamers on Steam, while the most popular overall is still the three-year-old Nvidia GTX 1650.
Analysis: These gains are good for Nvidia, but bad for gamers
I’m not overly pleased to see Nvidia’s next-gen graphics cards gaining traction in the PC gaming market, personally. The RTX 4080 is a disappointingly expensive GPU that I wouldn’t recommend to anyone given the currently-available alternatives, while the RTX 4070 Ti is far better but still carries the controversy surrounding its release. As for the RTX 4090, well, that’s simply more money than any gamer needs to spend on their PC.
I’ve accused Nvidia (and just about every PC hardware company, to be fair) of anti-consumer moves in the past, and the current trend of GPU pricing makes me want to tear my hair out. Don’t even get me started on Nvidia reportedly throttling RTX 4090 stock in order to shift unsold 4080 units nobody wanted to buy – although judging by these Steam statistics, that plan may have worked.
The simple fact is that while Nvidia’s new GPUs are great, nobody really needs them. DLSS 3 is coming to previous-gen Nvidia GPUs, and AMD’s price cuts to its RX 6000 cards are a sight for sore eyes too; why bother dropping $800+ on a GPU when you can pick up a 4K-capable (with upscaling turned on, anyway) card like the RX 6800 for under $500? Those cheaper GPUs don’t come with a chance to set your PC on fire, either.
Perhaps I’m worrying too much, though. While the RTX 4080 might’ve been the sixth most purchased GPU in February according to Steam’s data, the RTX 4000 cards are nowhere close to being the most-used on the survey. The actual top ten list is populated almost entirely by Nvidia’s budget xx50 and xx60 cards, with four being older GTX models. The most popular next-gen card is the RTX 4090 (understandable, since it launched first) all the way down at position 56, garnering a feeble 0.31% of users.
Keep it up, gamers. We don’t need those stupidly overpriced GPUs – I stuck with my trusty GTX 1060 for years, and before that I was gaming on a bulky old laptop with a GTX 950M. As is always the way, vote with your wallets. Come on, Nvidia; give us the RTX 4050 already.