Latest AMD And NVIDIA Graphics Card Pricing Trends Are A Bad Omen For PC Gamers

Radeon RX 6600 XT
Quick, someone remind us what it was like to buy a graphics card at or near MSRP, with ample stock! What, you don't remember either? Such memories are beginning to fade as GPUs continue to almost always be sold out, leaving buyers having to pay premium prices from marketplace sellers and at places like eBay. And unfortunately, pricing is once again trending in the wrong direction.

Granted, buying a graphics card at MSRP requires a bit of luck and strategy—Best Buy restocks its shelves on occasion, as it did last week, giving gamers another chance to purchase a GPU without an insanely high markup. That said, in terms of the average price that cards have actually been selling for, the GeForce RTX 30 series had been on a bit of a free fall since peaking in mid-May.

Well, the free fall is apparently over, as the average price has been increasing. That applies to both NVIDIA's GeForce RTX 30 series (Ampere) and AMD's Radeon RX 6000 lineup (RDNA 2). Have a look...

Graphics Card Pricing Trend Chart
Click to Enlarge (Source: 3DCenter)

According to price tracking data collected by 3DCenter, the GeForce RTX 30 series rose 204 percent above MSRP in the middle of May, before plummeting in the following weeks, dropping to 'only' 44 percent over MSRP by the middle of August. That still represented a big premium over MSRP, but not quite as obscene as what it had been. The Radeon RX 6000 series also saw a dip from its peak in mid-May, but began slowly rising again in July.

What about now? Over the past few weeks, the average price for a Radeon RX 6000 series graphics card has continued to go up, while the GeForce RTX 30 series is back on an uptick. The average price people are paying for the former is now 64 percent above MSRP, while the average price paid for NVIDIA's GPU hardware is 59 percent above MSRP.

As to what you might see yourself, it depends on where you are located. Earlier this month, the least expense card on Newegg from other series (Ampere or RDNA 2) was an ASUS Dual GeForce RTX that was selling for $799.99 by a marketplace seller. Today, a faster Zotac GeForce RTX 3060 Ti Twin Edge OC is the cheapest available, at $768.21. From there, however, pricing jumps to over $800 and quickly escalates to over $900, even for GeForce RTX 3060 hardware.

Let us reiterate some potentially positive news from gamers, which is that Ethereum is switching to a proof-of-stake model this year. When the switch occurs, it will virtually kill the demand for GPUs for mining Eth. The switch could be delayed, and alternate cryptocurrencies that are still best mined with GPUs (like Ravencoin) could still ruin the fun, but let's be optimistic, shall we?

That said, the real relief will come with the global shortage of silicon eases. That may not happen soon, but at least companies like TSMC and Intel are investing billions of dollars into upgraded and expanded fabs. So, that's something.