Steam survey suggests players are leaving 1440p gaming monitors behind

Corsair Xeneon 1440 gaming monitor with Steam logo on screen and blurred library in backdrop
(Image credit: Future)

It’s needless to say there are quite a few 1440p gaming monitors out there, but Valve’s latest Steam survey hints that players are moving away from QHD resolution. While the standard is still sitting pretty in second place just below 1080p, the published statistic might be a sign that players are either finally upgrading to 4K, or deciding to harness faster refresh rates at lower resolutions. 

You only have to glance at the best gaming monitors around to know that 1440p panels are popular. Sure, they lack the definition of fancy 4K models, but playing at lower resolutions is a PC gaming norm. Simply put, there are players who will actively choose QHD displays, but now that both UHD models and the graphics cards required to drive them are getting cheaper, we’ll potentially see a big shift towards higher spec screens. 

Ultimately, that’s what Steam Hardware Survey results for November 2023 seem to be implying, as 1440p resolution usage dropped by a whopping 7.17%. These figures are based on a random anonymous sample, so they naturally aren’t a definitive representation of every player on the platform. Nevertheless, we’re used to seeing minimal percentile differences in usage when it comes to resolutions, and this specific stat sticks out like a sore thumb.

(Image credit: Valve)

1920 x 1080 (1080p) remains the PC players’ go to resolution standard, equating to 60.09% percent of last month's sample. As mentioned above, 1440p sits behind UHD with 15.97%, followed perhaps surprisingly by 1366 x 768 with 4.10%. The rest, including 4K, come in at under 4%, which perhaps illustrates how many people out there are potentially still not quite ready for UHD. 

It's worth noting this isn't the first time we've witnessed a dramatic display usage dip this year. Back in July, Valve's survey suggested that players were ditching 1080p monitors. For context, the decrease was by a lesser 2.33%, making this months shift look pretty chonky by comparison. 

Should you buy a 1440p gaming monitor?

Some of the highest spec gaming monitors out there right now are 1440p, and lower cost isn’t the only reason to pick one up. Opting for a lower resolution can enable you to run PC games at even higher refresh rates than 4K, as UHD currently caps out at 240Hz. If you care more about color and contrast than pinpoint clarity, investing in a QHD OLED or QLED screen over a traditional 4K panel will help you prioritise your preferences, rather than just aim for more pixels without purpose. 

Of course, your gaming PC will also somewhat dictate which gaming monitor to go for. After all, if you’re not rocking one of the best graphics cards, you’ll struggle to play the latest releases at 4K without compromising on settings. In those scenarios, using a 1440p display instead makes sense, as it’s hard to appreciate sharpness if you’re playing below 30fps with lower settings enabled.

If all this talk of screen resolutions has put you in the mood for an upgrade, you’ll find some of the top gaming monitor deals down below. Alternatively, those of you specifically into the idea of finally upgrading to UHD will want to swing by our best 4K monitor for gaming guide, as we’ve tested a whole bunch of Ultra High Resolution screens using our experienced peepers.

Looking for a wider selection of screens? Check out the best ultrawide gaming monitors and best curved gaming monitors for something a little bit different.

Phil Hayton
Hardware Editor

I’ve been messing around with PCs, video game consoles, and tech since before I could speak. Don’t get me wrong, I kickstarted my relationship with technology by jamming a Hot Wheels double-decker bus into my parent’s VCR, but we all have to start somewhere. I even somehow managed to become a walking, talking buyer’s guide at my teenage supermarket job, which helped me accept my career fate. So, rather than try to realise my musician dreams, or see out my University degree, I started running my own retro pop culture site and writing about video games and tech for the likes of TechRadar, The Daily Star, and the BBC before eventually ending up with a job covering graphics card shenanigans at PCGamesN. Now, I’m your friendly neighbourhood Hardware Editor at GamesRadar, and it’s my job to make sure you can kick butt in all your favourite games using the best gaming hardware, whether you’re a sucker for handhelds like the Steam Deck and Nintendo Switch or a hardcore gaming PC enthusiast.