Steam survey suggests players ditching 1080p gaming monitors

Gaming monitor with Steam logo on screen and blurred games library backdrop
(Image credit: Valve / Future)

The latest Steam hardware survey is in, and Valve’s figures suggest the gaming PC winds are changing. While the majority of players are still using the now seven-year-old Nvidia GTX 1060 and playing games on 1080p monitors, there’s reason to believe that a resolution revolution is on the horizon. That latter part sounds like a Red Hot Chilli Peppers album, but I’m sure you get the idea.

Not to sound dramatic, but the gaming PC scene is developing somewhat of a problem, particularly in terms of performance expectations. For example, if you’re unfamiliar with the realm of high-spec rigs, you’d perhaps think you can grab a graphics card for around the same price as a PS5 and match its performance using the best gaming monitor

In reality, just a GPU like the RTX 4070 will run you more, and cheaper alternatives like the Nvidia RTX 4060 can’t quite perform the same 4K tricks as a new-gen console. Not even upcoming Prime Day PC deals will necessarily save you from this fact, as while we may see a few premium graphics card discounts, you'll still have to fly uncomfortably close to the four-digit price sun.

Naturally, that means that many PC players sort of have to stick with 1080p gaming monitors, and it’s out of performance necessity rather than preference. Don’t get me wrong, there are esports enthusiasts out there who will be playing FPS games at 1080p to boost fps, but a chunk of Steam users out there will simply be looking to play PC games with what they can afford. Simply put, if those same people could pick up a 4K GPU in 2023 for less they would, but there’s a solid premium price barrier surrounding UHD resolutions.

Steam Hardware Survey percentage figures of resolutions used on PC

(Image credit: Valve)

That said, players are apparently managing to make the leap from 1080p to 1440p and 4K. Steam hardware survey figures for June indicate that 2.33% of storefront users have ditched the latter resolution, opting instead mostly for more pixels per inch. I say ‘mostly’, but the figures appear to also reflect the fact more people are playing on handheld PCs like the Steam Deck and Asus ROG Ally, which are better suited to resolutions like 720p.

The percentage above doesn’t sound massive, but when you consider the fact that Steam has around 120 million monthly users, it’s perhaps larger than you’d think. Theoretically, it means somewhere in the region of 2.7 million players made the switch from 1080p to something else in June alone, a large number of which are now seemingly using 1440p and 4K gaming monitors

Of course, the switch from ‘full HD’ to what’s commonly referred to as UHD, or ‘Ultra High Definition’ isn’t surprising, especially given that new graphics card models are now readily available. High-resolution screen prices are also normalizing, and with Amazon’s big yearly sale just around the corner, we’ll no doubt see plenty of Prime Day monitor deals pop up to entice players. After all, if you’re looking to upgrade your display, it’d be wise to at least consider picking something up that can punch a bit harder than 1080p. 

Today's best monitor deals ahead of Prime Day

Need a living room screens? Check in on our Prime Day TV deals hub for a selection if discounted screens. Alternatively, take a look at out PS5 Prime Day picks and pair your panel with a new-gen console.

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.