After a week of surveying its player base’s hardware specs, Valve reports some very humbling pie for developers and marketers eager to cash in on performance enhancements brought by Vista and DirectX 10 hardware.

Valve has released the results of its computer hardware survey, gathered over its proprietary online Steam network and comprising over 400,000 sampled machines.

Broadly speaking, the data is a sobering reminder that for all the brouhaha over the latest and greatest graphics cards and processors, the vast majority of not merely PC owners, but PC gamers, are apparently running very much vanilla hardware.

Less than 0.28 percent of those polled reported running 2GB of RAM or more; 22.5 percent reported 1.5GB to 1.99GB, 5 percent fell into the 1GB to 1.5 GB category, and a full 47 percent scrape by on 512MB to 999MB of RAM. Still 22 percent more live off rations of 256MB to 511MB.

On a positive note, a little over a fifth of respondents said they were running dual-core processors, and AMD and Intel share a roughly equivalent number of users. Also, the bulk of respondents are clocking in between 2.3 and 3.3 ghz.

The most striking statistic from the vantage point of game developers working on new projects is that a mere 3.6 percent of Steam survey subjects reported running a Geforce 8800 video card, which arrived six months ago and which carries full DX 10 support. Likewise, only 5.4 percent report running Windows Vista, the only OS that runs DX 10 software.

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