Hardware Statistics

Here’s another article that differs a bit from our usual software testing blogs: hardware statistics. It can be a dry topic, but it is one that comes up quite a bit in our labs. Many of our clients are developing applications that have meaningful hardware requirements that need to be met, and in some cases look to us to provide input on where things like minimum requirements should be set. While testing can obviously provide a great deal of insight, we all need a reasonable place to begin.

When it comes to statistical breakdowns of different hardware components, there are typically a couple of places that we look. The Steam Hardware & Software Survey is the first one: http://store.steampowered.com/hwsurvey/. Based on data collected monthly from users of Valve’s Steam client, the Hardware Survey is a trove of several million systems’ worth of data. The caveat here is that Steam users are gamers and traditionally tend toward the high end when it comes to hardware. An interesting point with Steam is that there are still archival pages of old data available from 2004-2007, which can be helpful when planning support for a product that intends to support a very wide range of hardware.

Another source of hardware data is Unity 3D’s Web Player Hardware Stats: http://stats.unity3d.com/web/index.html. Unity also provides these statistics for its mobile and standalone players as well. Unity’s data is an interesting contrast to Valve’s – while both are collecting statistics from the gamer demographics, the Unity 3D data appears to show more influence from non-US sources, particularly from China. It makes for a fascinating contrast with the Steam data, and probably better reflects a ‘casual gaming’ community with a larger share of older and/or traditional ‘non-gaming’ hardware.

Taken together, these two sources provide a great deal of information and insight regarding the kinds of hardware configurations and components that are currently used ‘in the wild’. While both sources are derived from gamer demographics, they provide a great overview of a huge number of system configurations and are extremely useful in planning out support requirements, or just getting your daily dose of hardware trivia.

Evan

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