In our third part of the Steam Survey analysis series, we look at storage. Games take a lot of space. Not just on hard drives, but in memory. Valve has been carefully monitoring available storage and RAM since the start of their study.

The storage analysis demands a bit of explanation. In each survey, Steam puts total and available storage into “buckets” such as “70-79.9 GBytes.” These charts look at the relative percentage of respondents who fell into each bucket. In other words, if more people fell into the 80-89.9 GByte bucket in December, 2004, then that bar would be the tallest.

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Desktop storage has grown significantly over the course of the survey, with “spikes” at common drive sizes — 40, 80, and 120 GBytes, for example. Despite this, most users seem to have 10-20 GBytes free.

Nearly all of that storage is formatted NTFS. Hyperthreaded chipsets, which can speed up I/O significantly, were commonplace but are now being supplanted by dual-core processors.

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Finally, gamer desktops have lots of RAM, which is generally the best way to speed up systems. More than half of respondents in the February, 2008, survey have over 1GByte of RAM, up from under 10 percent in 2005.

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* 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

Disclaimer: The components of gaming systems have changed greatly in four years. In 2004, for example, many video cards and drivers simply didn’t exist; while today, 4-year-old cards are obsolete. Valve also surveys different things over time, and the number of respondents varies from survey to survey. So while we’ve made an effort to normalize the data here, it may not be entirely statistically accurate.