It's been a tough year for gamers who needed to upgrade their GPU, but were stopped dead in their tracks by inflated price tags and a general shortage on most mid-range and high-end graphics cards. Thankfully, that is mostly in the rear view mirror. One of the reasons why is because Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have become less profitable to mine, and subsequently plummeted in value.
Consider that Bitcoin was trading for nearly $10,000 in parts of April and May. Before that, it had approached $20,000 and had investors talking about an eventual $50,000 or even $100,000 value on the horizon. Instead, it came crashing down and is fast approaching a less-than-$5000 trading price (it's currently at $6,171 and falling). Sure, it might rebound at some point, but for now there is some relief for gamers.
Cryptocurrency mining is not the sole culprit—the memory market had a hand in the inflated price tags as well—but it did play a role, and potentially a big one. According to Jon Peddie Research, cryptocurrency miners snatched up 3 million AMD and NVIDIA graphics cards in all of 2017, totaling $776 million in revenue for both companies combined.
"Gaming has been and will continue to be the primary driver for GPU sales, augmented by the demand from cryptocurrency miners," Dr. Jon Peddie, President of Jon Peddie research, said in February. "We expect demand to slacken from the miners as margins drop in response increasingly utilities costs and supply and demand forces that drive up AIB prices."
Dr. Peddie was right, as we have been able to see for a few weeks now. For the most part, graphics cards are not selling for double and even triple their MSRPs anymore. Here is a partial snapshot of where things are at:
- Zotac GeForce GTX 1080 Mini—$499.99 (down from $1,399 earlier this year)
- MSI Gaming GeForce GTX 1070 Armor OC—$417.35 (down from $719 earlier this year)
- EVGA GeForce GTX 1060 SC Gaming 6GB—$279.99 (down from $429.99 earlier this year)
- Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1060 Windforce OC 3GB—$239.99 (down from $379.99 earlier this year)
- Sapphire Radeon Pulse RX 580 8GB—$299.99 (down from $387 earlier this year)
There are plenty of other examples, and if you're curious, pluck a retail URL from Amazon and plug it into CamelCamelCamel to see the price trend.
While bad for miners, this is good timing for gamers. NVIDIA is getting ready to announce its GeForce GTX 11 series (Turing), and is rumored to be stockpiling inventory to make a big splash. Without mining getting in the way, we're crossing our fingers that the new round of cards will be accessible and sold at MSRP, wherever that ends up being.