Graphics Card Prices Are Finally Improving, but Is It Time to Buy?
Back in February, we covered the enormous surge in graphics card prices and the impact this had on AMD and Nvidia hardware. For the past few months, our recommendation has been to avoid building a PC with a discrete GPU at all, and to instead make do with older hardware, used cards, or an APU. Intel’s Hades Canyon was another possibility. But it’s been a few months since we checked in on GPU prices (See on Amazon), and we know the crypto market is cooling off — so is it time to buy?
That’s going to depend on what you’re looking for. All prices are current as of today (5/10/2018) and were sourced from Newegg. We did not include temporary sale prices on GPUs, but took the lowest price listed as a non-sale price. We’ve run the lineups for AMD and Nvidia, covered below.
Here’s Nvidia’s price stack, with MSRP, the price on February 27, and the price on May 10. The “Increase over MSRP” column has been updated to reflect May’s pricing, not February’s. Only one GPU, the low-end GT 1030, has actually returned to MSRP pricing. The other cards have either held steady at higher price points (GTX 1050) or come down markedly from February highs. Some, like the GTX 1060 6GB, are only modestly overpriced.
The end result is that the GTX 1060, 1070 Ti, and 1080 are now back to something approaching normal, while the 1080 Ti, 1070, 1050 Ti, and 1050 all remain significantly inflated. And, of course, there’s another wrinkle to the situation. Nvidia is widely expected to launch new GPUs in the next few months, which makes these cards intrinsically less attractive to anyone trying to maximize their return on investment. Of course, the ongoing GPU price pressure from the cryptocurrency market means that any new cards that debut could be incredibly expensive and hard to find themselves. That makes this situation harder to call.
AMD’s GPUs were more inflated than Nvidia’s when we checked in February, and that’s still true today.
Unfortunately, AMD’s GPU pricing is still bad enough to be distorting the entire market relative to Nvidia. The RX 580 ought to be priced against the GTX 1060. Instead, it’s running substantially more expensive. Similarly, Vega 56 has been pushed out of its 1070-competitive bracket and into a price point that’s well above the GTX 1080’s, as has Vega 64. The good news is that AMD GPU prices have come down substantially. The bad news is that they still need to drop more before they’ll represent a good deal for enthusiasts.
So, is it time to buy a new GPU? My honest answer is no. If you’re an Nvidia fan, the smartest thing to do is to wait and see what the company rolls out this summer. If you’re an AMD fan, these prices are still too hot to be worth the investment, especially when the Polaris architecture is closing on two years old. AMD may not be planning a desktop refresh this year (it isn’t, as far as we know), but that doesn’t mean pulling the trigger on bad deals is a good idea.
If GPU prices continue to drop, however, we should see them approaching target MSRP within the next 4-6 weeks. ExtremeTech recommends waiting a little while longer if you can manage it. But if you have to buy today, at least you won’t have to sell a kidney to do it.