Believe it or not, graphics card prices seem to be headed down. 3D Center has been tracking and reporting pricing trends for GPUs in Germany and Austria. There’s good news: prices are indeed on a downward slope. Even better; this is the third month in a row they have declined, so we can’t just write it off as a one one-time fluke. That said, here’s the bad news: even if this trend continues, which is a big if, prices are still so inflated that months of “progress” may only result in GPUs returning to MSRP, supply issues notwithstanding. At this point we’ll take what we can get.
The report by 3D Center for February mirrors the company’s report from last month, which we covered here. There’s a noticeable downward trend in pricing for both AMD and Nvidia GPUs. It’s almost shocking to see after so many reports of price increases. The trend is undeniable. According to 3D Center, the February price of AMD’s Radeon RDNA2 cards has fallen 18 percent, to 145 percent over MSRP. For Nvidia’s Ampere GPUs, prices fell 20 percent, leaving them 157 percent over MSRP.
So what forces are at work here? 3D Center lists several, stating that it thinks the main reason is simply an increased supply of cards, measured by the broken blue line in the chart above. It says the way this situation can be characterized is that individual GPUs are “immediately available” now, which is the way things were before the pandemic, and the descriptor of “poorly available” no longer applies to any GPUs. The site notes that in Austria/Germany, supply actually exceeds demand, which has resulted in dealers (online and brick and mortar) lowering prices to compete with each other.
GPU Prices are Finally Moving
Another factor pushing prices southward is the volatility of crypto lately, as ETH saw a massive drop in January, which might have scared off miners temporarily. Both currencies have recovered a little, but ETH prices can have a direct and immediate impact on GPU prices. Both AMD and Nvidia also released new budget GPUs during the relevant time period. These GPUs are “budget” models, and priced at $199 and $249, respectively. This has dragged down the price of GPUs overall. 3D Center regards this particular influencing force as “tolerably small.”
Obviously nobody is dancing in the streets because GPUs are “only” 150 percent over their list price, but the trend is finally, finally heading in the right direction years of it doing the opposite. If you take another glance at 3D Center’s chart above, you’ll note that monstrous green spike, which was when Nvidia GPU prices hit their pandemic peak of 318 percent above MSRP in the middle of last year. AMD peaked a tiny bit earlier than Nvidia, hitting 216 percent over MSRP in May.
Of course, the biggest caveat here is this is just looking at one part of the European market, so the US situation is likely at least somewhat different. The lack of centralized reporting makes it harder to tell. We’re also entering into what should be a prolonged quiet time in the GPU market as it’s doubtful either AMD or Nvidia will be releasing any more GPUs on either Ampere or RDNA2, aside from variations on exiting cards like the rumored 4GB RTX 3050. There’s also Nvidia’s now-delayed RTX 3090 Ti. Both Nvidia and AMD will launch new hardware later this year based on a refreshed Ampere and AMD’s RDNA3 microarchitecture.