VR gaming appears to have hit an all-time high

VR gaming seems to have reached an all-time high, with a notable report suggesting a nearly four-times increase in users in the past month. Those figures come from a survey and might not be exact, but do indicate an ongoing trend of more and more people joining the VR gaming revolution.

It’s really not surprising since very affordable and solid VR systems have been around for several years. As early adopters help work out the bugs and introduce new players to the experience, virtual reality will undoubtedly continue to grow until it becomes another mainstream option.

The latest results recently came in from Steam’s Hardware & Software Survey, which is a monthly review of what types of computer hardware are being used. A list of VR headsets used with SteamVR is included in the data and the percentage of computers that are connected to Steam while using a VR headset is shown, and the results are pretty astounding.

What stands out is a huge increase in the use of VR headsets, climbing from an average of 1.87% to 6.67% of Steam players using a VR headset in July. Taken at face value, VR gaming just took a monumental step forward in terms of user base.

But as recently pointed out by UploadVR, there may be some problems with the numbers. A similar but lesser surge to 3.24% was seen in May before returning to about 2% in June. Since the survey is a random sample, it will vary over time and the overall average is a more useful number. A four-times increase in one month is highly unlikely; however, an overall rise does seem plausible.

Even if the size of the surge itself isn’t accurate, these results could show that the number of people that own VR headsets may be higher than what’s been previously reported.

Meta’s Quest 2 headset led the pack with a 50% share in July. It’s really a bit unfair to other manufacturers because Meta subsidizes the cost, giving this great quality headset an incredibly low price. Even with the recent price increase, it remains the most affordable, mainstream VR headset available.

Valve’s Index took the No. 2 position with 15%. Other Oculus (Meta) and HTC Vive VR headsets, having a wide variety of models, made up most of the remainder.

Meta Quest 2 makes virtual reality affordable

An overall increase in VR systems isn’t unexpected and follows the pattern of new technology, particularly in gaming. Arcade gaming inspired affordable, in-home console gaming which slowly got better and became more commonplace. Even early PC gaming was slow to get started since the internet didn’t exist and its lower-quality graphics couldn’t compete with well-established console gaming systems.

Now this story continues with VR headsets challenging the status quo as another fringe idea moves toward the mainstream. Virtual reality has had a particularly long incubation period, but it finally seems to slowly be winning people over.

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The latest Apple TV 4K is at another all-time low of $109 for Prime Day

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The Apple TV 4K has seen its second price drop in as many days and the 32GB model is now available on Amazon Prime Day for $109, the lowest price we’ve seen yet. That’s a steal for Apple’s premium streaming device that offers features like 4K Dolby Vision movies, 120Hz gaming, the Siri Remote and more. And if you need more storage, the 64GB model is also on sale $129, a generous discount of $70. 

Buy Apple TV 4K 32GB at Amazon – $109
Buy Apple TV 4K 64GB at Amazon – $129

As I just said (checks calendar) yesterday, the latest Apple TV 4K model garnered a 90 score in our Engadget review. That’s thanks to the extra refinement, updated Siri Remote and a more powerful A12 Bionic chip that delivers HDR video at up to 60 fps, while also offering improved gaming performance.

It’s certainly true that you could do much the same with, say, a $40 Roku stick with the Apple TV app. However, Apple’s own device has a nicer interface, better remote and superior experience for folks in the Apple ecosystem. Siri in particular handles voice commands very well, and the remote feels nice in hand.

You can use AirPlay to share video, photos and more from your other Apple devices to your TV. There’s the option to see a live feed of HomeKit-enabled cameras and to control smart home devices through Apple TV 4K, and, if you have the relevant subscription, an ever-growing library of games available through Apple Arcade.

Naturally, it also supports all manner of streaming content including Netflix, HBO Max, Amazon prime Video, Disney+, Hulu and of course, Apple TV+. The biggest drawback is the price, but a $70 discount on both the 32GB and 64GB models is a perfect balm for that pain point. As usual with Amazon Prime deals, it’s best to act soon as deals like this get snapped up right quick. 

Get the latest Amazon Prime Day offers by following @EngadgetDeals on Twitter and subscribing to the Engadget Deals newsletter.

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Samsung’s 1TB 980 Pro SSD returns to an all-time low of $140

Maybe you were finally able to get your hands on a PS5 not too long ago, but now you find yourself quickly running out of space on it. Now’s a good time to invest in an SSD that can expand your console’s storage because one of our favorites from Samsung is back on sale for an all-time-low price. The Samsung 980 Pro drive in 1TB is 33 percent off and down to $140. A few other drive we recommend from brands like PNY, Patriot and Crucial are also on sale right now, too.

Buy Samsung 980 Pro (1TB) at Amazon – $140
Buy Samsung 980 Pro (1TB with heatsink) at Amazon – $170

Normally priced at $210, Samsung’s drive comes in a compact, M.2 form factor and supports read speeds up to 7,000 MB/s. It uses a special thermal control algorithm and a nickel coating to manage heat levels, plus a heat spreader label to help manage the temperature of the NAND chip. It’s also compatible with Samsung Magician, which is management software that lets you monitor its overall health and keep it up to date.

The biggest issue for PS5 owners is that the drive’s standard configuration doesn’t come with a heatsink, which you’ll need to install it in the console. However, you can get the SSD with said heatsink for only $170 right now, which is 26 percent off its normal rate.

Also on sale is our favorite PS5 SSD, the Patriot Viper VP4300: the 1TB version is down to $130 and the 2TB model is on sale for $255. This drive supports sequential read speeds of up to 7,400 MB/s, plus it comes with a heatsink preinstalled so it’s ready to use with the PS5. If you’ve got a tighter budget, a couple of Crucial and PNY drives might be better fits. Crucial’s P5 Plus SSD in 1TB is 20 percent off and down to $128, while PNY’s XLR8 CS3040 SSD in 1TB is a whopping 42 percent off and down to $105.

Buy Patriot Viper VP4300 (1TB) at Amazon – $130
Buy Crucial P5 Plus (1TB) at Amazon – $128
Buy PNY XLR8 CS3040 (1TB) at Amazon – $105

Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter and subscribe to the Engadget Deals newsletter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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GameStop’s Black Friday deals include all-time low prices on some Switch games

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GameStop’s Black Friday sale is underway, and it includes some killer deals on games. Several have dropped from $60 to $27, which is the lowest price we’ve seen for them to date. The most notable title here is probably , which is widely considered one of the best games ever. If you haven’t yet checked out the open-world adventure, now’s a great time to do so ahead of the sequel’s .

Several other Switch games have dropped to an all-time low of $27 at GameStop: , , and . As spotted by Nintendo Life, , and are also available at that price, which matches their respective previous lows.

The physical and digital editions of each game are on sale. If you’re buying one as a gift, a physical copy might be the nicer option, but it’s worth noting that GameStop’s free shipping doesn’t kick in until you spend at least $35. So, you might want to treat yourself too.

You can also find deals on . Among them are a third off a year of PlayStation Plus and savings on games including Deathloop, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Far Cry 6 and FIFA 22.

Get the latest Black Friday and Cyber Monday offers by visiting our deals homepage and following @EngadgetDeals on Twitter.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Animal Crossing, Mario and Pokémon Switch games drop to all-time lows

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If you have somehow not jumped on the Animal Crossing bandwagon yet, now’s your chance to do so for less. Amazon and Best Buy have the popular Nintendo Switch title for $45, or $15 off its normal price. It’s also a new low since we’ve only seen the game drop to $50 in the past. The only caveat is that the sale is only on the physical version of the game, not the digital download.

Buy Animal Crossing: New Horizons at Amazon – $45 Buy Animal Crossing: New Horizons at Best Buy – $45

New Horizons came out in March 2020, which meant millions of players found an escape from the pandemic in its adorable animations, pleasant music, ASMR-like sound effects and its open-island gameplay. You’re tasked with building your personal island from the ground up with seemingly endless customizations, while you spend your days fishing, catching bugs, making friends with your neighbors and more. And with online multiplayer mode, you can visit your friends’ islands at your leisure.

If you’ve already devoted countless hours into your Animal Crossing island, there are a bunch of other Switch games on sale right now as well. Super Mario 3D World + Bower’s Fury, Super Mario 3D All-Stars, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Pokémon Snap are all down to $45. That’s a record-low price for all of those titles, so it’s a good time to stock up on new games if you’ve been waiting for a decent sale.

Buy Super Mario 3D World at Amazon – $45 Buy Super Mario 3D World at Best Buy – $45

Buy Super Smash Bros. Ultimate at Amazon – $45 Buy Super Smash Bros. Ultimate at Best Buy – $45

Buy Super Mario 3D All-Stars at Best Buy – $45 Buy Pokémon Snap at Best Buy – $45

Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.

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AMD’s notebook PC share climbs to an all-time high of nearly 20 percent

AMD’s share in the notebook PC market is now the highest ever, just under 20 percent, the company said Tuesday night.

AMD’s market share of X86 notebook PCs now stands at an all-time high of 19.9 percent, according to the company, citing a Tuesday report by analyst firm Mercury Research. Though PCWorld did not have access to the full report, Dean McCarron, the Mercury analyst who authored it, confirmed the accuracy of AMD’s statement in an email.

Though neither AMD nor Mercury cited the reasons for AMD’s strength in the notebook PC market, it’s reasonable to assume that AMD’s mobile Ryzen 4000 is the cause. AMD’s latest mobile chip is blowing away Intel in terms of performance. Notebook sales more than doubled during AMD’s recent quarter. AMD’s mobile Ryzen 4000 now powers 54 notebooks, and there are 30 more waiting in the wings, AMD CEO Lisa Su said.

Meanwhile, AMD’s share of the desktop X86 PC market is nearly as high, at 19.2 percent. This is the highest share of the desktop PC market for AMD since the first quarter of 2014, when AMD was shipping desktop processors based upon the “Jaguar” architecture. 

In terms of overall share in the X86 client market, (excluding IoT) AMD stands at 19.7 percent, its highest point since the first quarter of 2012. AMD’s overall X86 share, factoring in everything, is 18.3 percent, according to the Mercury numbers cited by AMD.

“It was a record quarter of mobile CPU revenue, but not a record
for units—higher average prices is what made the record revenues happen,” McCarron wrote in an email. “Mobile CPUs continued to grow their share of the market—they now account for more then 60 percent of all processors sold, a new record. The desktop CPU market  continues to decline and hit a 24 year low in terms of units shipped in the second quarter of 2020.

“AMD gained share in every segment and in overall CPU shipments due to
strong growth in AMD’s SoC CPUs shipping into gaming consoles,” McCarron added. “AMD’s mobile share was a new record high at 19.9 percent. Growth of
Ryzen 4000 was particularly strong this quarter.”

Intel struggles, but it’s still the big fish

Based upon the traditional dichotomy of the PC market, any gains by AMD reflect losses by Intel, and more data released by Mercury on Wednesday reflect that. Intel’s notebook PC share, for example, fell 5.8 percentage  points year-over-year, while its desktop CPU share fell by 2.1 percentage points. Intel’s share of the notebook PC market is now 80.1 percent, while its desktop share is 80.7 percent.

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AMD’s notebook PC share soars to an all-time high

AMD’s market share in notebook processors has reached a new all-time high, according to new market research, thanks to the powerful mobile Ryzen 4000 processors AMD released in March. The numbers were compiled by Mercury Research for the third quarter of 2020, and released Tuesday.

AMD’s notebook market share, excluding processors sold into the Internet of Things market (IoT) has reached an all-time high of 20.2 percent, climbing by 5.5 percentage points in the past year. AMD’s overall market share (including products for the IoT market and also system-on-a-chip processors, or SoCs) increased 4.1 percentage points in the third quater, and 6.3 percentage points total over the past year. It now totals 22.4 percent, its highest point since 2007, according to Mercury.

mercury x86 q2 2020 market share IDG

The respective market share for AMD and Intel, across various categories in the third quarter of 2020. (Source: Mercury Research)

With nearly all of the X86 processors sold into the PC market coming from either AMD or Intel, a gain by one rival is a loss for the other. Intel’s share in the notebook PC market sank to 79.8 percent, down 5.5 percentage points from a year ago. Intel’s overall share now stands at 77.6 percent—still an enormously commanding lead.

Those numbers will shift once again as Intel’s partners begin shipping notebooks with its Tiger Lake processors. Intel said in its recent conference call that demand for Tiger Lake has essentially doubled. But AMD, too, has another processor waiting in the wings: the Zen 3-based Ryzen 9, or the Ryzen 5000. 

In the desktop, at least, AMD’s rise has been slightly blunted. AMD’s share grew only 2.1 percentage points over the past year, to 20.1 percent. Intel’s share stands at 79.9 percent. 

If the market-share numbers don’t round to 100 percent exactly, there’s a reason: Via Technologies, whose own legacy X86 chips still make up a barely tangible 0.1 percent share of the desktop PC CPU market.

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