Thanks to the rise of cryptocurrency (and cryptocurrency mining), the consumer market for graphics cards has been decimated over the past 6-8 months. Due to the high demand for graphics cards, GPU prices have skyrocketed over the past year.
Gamers who have been looking to build their own computer have either been forced to wait, pay more for less performance in their systems, or buy a pre-built gaming computer.
In fact, for the first time since I have been covering PC hardware (and likely for a lot longer), it has actually been more feasible to buy a pre-built gaming computer than it has to build one.
That is because companies that offer pre-built computers often have pre-arranged pricing agreements with GPU manufacturers. And, so, despite the insane price increase for stand-alone graphics cards, companies that provide pre-built systems have been able to continue grabbing graphics cards at their MSRP (or lower). This, in turn, allows them to sell their pre-built computers at prices lower than what it currently costs to build a computer with similar specs.
The good news, though, is that there appear to be some signs that GPU prices could soon return to more reasonable levels.
In this article, we’ll go over a few different things that should help stabilize the graphics card market and that are either happening right now or are set to happen soon.
GPU Prices: Reasons to Be Optimistic
There are three different reasons why I feel optimistic about the graphics card market returning to normal sooner rather than later. They are:
1. Crypto Prices Are Falling
In my opinion, the most significant indicator that GPU prices could be returning to normal soon is that crypto prices have dropped significantly since the late 2017 and early 2018 monumental price increase they went through.
And, what this means is that the lower crypto prices are, the less profit there is for miners to mine crypto coins.
And, the less profit there is for miners to mine crypto, the fewer miners there will be. (I’m sure you can see where this is going…)
And, the fewer miners there are, the lower the demand for graphics cards there will be.
And, the lower the demand for graphics cards, the more graphics cards will be available. Which, should result in the reduction of GPU prices.
2. Prices for Used GPUs on Ebay Are Dropping
Just a month or two ago, I was contemplating listing my GTX 1070 for sale on eBay. People were selling their used GTX 1070s for as high as ~$500-$600. I bought my GTX 1070 for $420 brand new…
I’m kicking myself for not selling my GTX 1070 because now it appears that secondhand graphics card prices are normalizing (or, at least, are a lot lower than they were a month ago.)
Browsing through the recently sold items on eBay, I can see that used GTX 1070s are going for as low as $375, and most are right in the ~$400 range. And, while that is still high for a used 1070 in the grand scheme of things, that is a substantial downward trend in second-hand GPU prices.
This is more than likely the result of miners dumping their graphics cards on the market after the fall in profitability of mining crypto coins.
And, as many expected, this would be the natural first step in seeing graphics card prices stabilize. Because, now that the second-hand graphics card market is offering gamers the opportunity to finally pick up a solid mid-range (or higher) card for a decent price, more people will be buying second-hand cards than paying exorbitant amounts for brand new cards.
And, why not buy a used card? When the option is to either get a pre-owned graphics card or get no graphics card at all (if they can’t afford it or find one available), a lot of gamers are going to end up taking the risk of buying used so that they can finally build or upgrade their systems.
If gamers start buying up the more reasonably-priced pre-owned cards, the demand for newer cards will fall and, so, too, will their prices. (Hopefully!)
3. New NVIDIA GPU Architecture is Coming Sometime This year
The consensus around the industry is that NVIDIA’s next generation of GPUs will launch sometime in the second half of 2018. That could be as soon as 2-3 months away (or, as long as 6-8 months away).
While the release of new cards won’t completely fix GPU prices, pushing a new set of cards onto the market will at least increase the supply of cards available.
And, a new generation of cards will likely help push down the prices of the current generation of cards as well.
Ultimately, more options is a good thing regarding pricing, and NVIDIA’s upcoming architecture will help accomplish that.
GPU Prices: Reasons to Be Pessimistic
Just as there are reasons to be optimistic about the prices of graphics cards returning to normal, there are also a couple of reasons to be pessimistic that they won’t come down to reasonable levels. We discuss those reasons below:
1. The Crypto Market Can Bounce Back At Any Time
While the crypto market has dropped significantly since the end of February, there is no reason (at least, in my opinion) to think that it can’t jump back up again.
I am not a cryptocurrency analyst by any means, but the market for crypto trading has been extremely volatile (in spurts) over the past year, and so it would stand to reason that there is a chance that it could rebound again.
And, again, as GPU prices have been negatively affected by the rise in the profitability of mining crypto coins, another increase in the cryptocurrency market could mean that all of these miners who now appear to be dumping their cards on eBay, could turn around and start buying them back up again.
2. The Price of Graphics Cards is Still High At Most Online Retailers
While, logically, it would seem that the drop in price for used graphics cards on eBay would be a good sign for the price of new graphics cards, a lot of gamers are probably in an “I’ll believe it when I see it” kind of state.
Graphics cards are still sitting at ridiculously high prices at most online retailers.
GTX 1070s are still sitting in the mid-to-upper $500s on Amazon and Newegg.
GTX 1060s are sitting in the mid $200s (3GB) and mid $300s (6GB).
These are all tough price tags to swallow. And, if there is any movement towards GPU prices falling, they have not yet started to show up in the actual market for brand new cards.
What Do You Think? How Long Until GPU Prices Normalize?
Nobody knows for sure when GPU prices will normalize. All we can do is speculate.
Still, though, with the drop in crypto prices and the lowering price on used graphics cards, there may be a glimmer of hope on the horizon for anyone looking to get a graphics card for a reasonable price.
How long do you think it will take for the graphics card market to stabilize? Leave your answers in the comments below!