Analyzing Graphics Card Pricing: July 2018
It’s time to talk about graphics card pricing once again. Similar to our article a couple of months ago, today we’re exploring cards you can actually buy right now and at what prices, how that compares to previous months, which ones are the best value for money, and whether you should even buy one at all right now.
At this point you must be familiar with the story of graphics card pricing. Early in 2017 things were going nicely on the graphics card market; you could find most cards in stock and at prices near their MSRP. But then as cryptocurrency mining started to boom in the later parts of 2017, and especially in early 2018, prices for cards started to soar as eager miners bought them in droves.
The Best Graphics Cards 2018
The market was also affected by increasing memory prices. Graphics card manufacturers have been forced to spend more money to get the GDDR5 and HBM modules used with most GPUs, and that’s led to an increase in the price of manufacturing these cards, which of course is then passed on to the consumer. If you’re looking for someone to blame for that one, send your angry emails to Samsung, Micron and SK Hynix.
The combination of those two factors made buying a graphics card an absolute nightmare at the end of 2017 and start of 2018. There was a point around January this year where you’d be lucky to find a GPU in stock, and if you did, you were faced with prices more than double the MSRP in some cases. Luckily, mid way through March or so, the profitability of mining on consumer GPUs dropped away, and stock started to return to the market. Apparently too much stock, at least if you believe some recent reports suggesting Nvidia over-ordered GPUs to the tune of 300,000 units.
When we last looked at GPU pricing in May, prices of popular graphics cards had dropped significantly since the heights of January, and there was a clear trajectory suggesting the market would return to near-MSRP levels in just a few months. Well, it’s now the middle of July and in some ways, the GPU market is now looking pretty good for prospective buyers.
GTX 1050 Ti
GTX 1060 3GB
GTX 1060 6GB
GTX 1070 Ti
GTX 1080 Ti
RX 560 16CU
RX 580 8GB
RX Vega 56
RX Vega 64
Looking at the current line-up of Nvidia GeForce cards you can see the pricing trend pretty clearly. The current #1 graphics card, the GTX 1060 6GB, was priced as high as $530 in January, more than double its $250 MSRP. That came down to $330 in May and now they are regularly found for $300 or so when looking at ‘typical’ pricing across a range of retailers. While the cheapest cards haven’t hit MSRP just yet, prices are dropping.
It’s even better news for Nvidia’s higher end products. The GTX 1070 was up over $800 in January, and dropped to just $520 in May, but these days you can find plenty available for less than $450 and the cheapest models are available at just $20 above the card’s $380 MSRP. It’s even better news for the GTX 1070 Ti and GTX 1080, which can now be found at the MSRP.
One of the cards that didn’t drop in price all that much from January to May was the GTX 1080 Ti. Last time we checked the card was still more than $0 above the MSRP. Today, that gap has shrunk massively to the point where the cheapest 1080 Tis are just $20 above MSRP.
Switching over to AMD cards and it’s a similar story. The RX 570 and RX 580 in particular were massively inflated in January, costing more than triple the MSRP, and even in May those cards were still well above the MSRP. We’re still not seeing MSRP-like prices today, and I doubt we ever will, but both models can now be found below $300 which a couple of months ago was very difficult.
Vega 56 and Vega 64 cards are more readily available, and in fact this is probably the only time since around their launch in the middle of 2017 that it’s been possible to buy these cards easily. We’re still looking at prices $80 above the MSRP, but both use HBM2 and the price of buying HBM2 chips has increased significantly since launch, so that kinda makes sense.
Looking at price drops since January and a lot of cards have received a 40 to 50 percent price cut, particularly in the high end. It’s only really the lower-end cards like the GTX 1050 Ti and RX 550 that are still inflated, though again memory prices are to blame as a much higher percentage of the manufacturing costs for these cards now lies with the memory modules.
Compared to just two months ago most cards have come down in price by at least 9 percent, if not more, and that’s over a pretty short space of time. Things are settling back down to normal but we’re still not quite at MSRP for most cards.
Nvidia’s top-end cards are at or close to MSRP in the best case scenario, though their lower-end cards are a bit inflated. AMD’s line-up is still at least 15% above MSRP, though like with Nvidia’s mid-range and entry-level cards, I can’t see the price of these cards coming down too much more due to the higher cost of GDDR5 and HBM2 compared to launch.