Graphics Card Prices Fall For 7th Consecutive Month But Should You Buy Now Or Wait?

Graphics cards
The GPU nightmare might not be over just yet, but every month we get a little bit closer to waking up to a stabilized market. Whether we get all the way there before AMD and NVIDIA begin shipping out next-gen graphics cards remains to be seen, and that presents gamers with any interesting quandary—does it make sens to buy now, or should you wait?

Let's shelve that question for just a moment and take a look at what's happening in the marketplace. As they do each and every month, the folks at 3DCenter have neatly plotted the latest GPU street price trends on a line graph, which now shows prices having declined for seven consecutive months. Have a look for yourself...

Graphics card pricing graph
Source: 3DCenter

This is not a global snapshot, but what the latest generation graphics from AMD and NVIDIA are commanding at "major German retailers." It's still interesting though, as we can see cards from both companies finally trending downward for an extended period of a time, and how they correlate to Ethereum's fluctuating value.

Around this time last year, GPU prices spiked the same time Ethereum did. They've generally gone hand-in-hand, except for more recently. At present, street prices for NVIDIA's GeForce RTX 30 series are hovering around 19 percent above MSRP at major German retailers, while the markup on AMD's Radeon RX 6000 series is at around 12 percent.

Those figures are down from around 25 percent for both AMD and NVIDIA last month, whereas at the beginning of the year AMD's cards were 78 percent above MSRP and NVIDIA's cards were 85 percent over MSRP.

Is it a mirage? Not exactly—last week NVIDIA and its hardware partners launched a "Restocked and Reloaded" campaign. The message is that graphics cards are back in stock in the US, and when we checked, that was true. It's not without caveats, though. Specifically, you'll still have a hard time finding a Founders Edition model in stock, and most custom cards are still selling for a markup. However, prices are closer to MSRP than they have been in a long time.

In some cases, there's not much of a markup at all, which had been unheard of up until last week. For example, MSI's Ventus GeForce RTX 3080 Ti is available for $1,209.99 at Newegg after $30 mail-in-rebate, whereas the MSRP on a Founders Edition 3080 Ti is $1,199. That's a nominal $10 premium and MIR hoop to jump through for a custom cooled card.

Buy A GPU Now Or Wait For Ada Lovelace (NVIDIA) and RDNA 3 (AMD)

GeForce RTX 3090 Ti
This brings us back to the quandary mentioned at the beginning of this article—does it make sense to buy a graphics card now, or are you better off waiting for next-gen GPUs from AMD and NVIDIA? The answer is, it's complicated.

It really depends on your situation, and how desperate you are to upgrade your GPU. One thing we've learned over time is there is always...ALWAYS...something newer, faster, and shinier around the corner. You risk being afflicted with permanent upgrade paralysis by playing the waiting game, and the only cure is to stop playing.

On the flip side, there are times where it really is best to wait. You could make an argument that now is one of those times. While pricing has come down on the GeForce RTX 30 series and Radeon RX 6000 series, you're still looking at paying above MSRP in most case. That's an especially tough pill to swallow when considering that in normal times, you might find GPUs selling for below list price at this point in their lifecycle.

NVIDIA is expected launch Ada Lovelace this year, and likewise AMD should be rolling its RDNA 3 products by the end of 2022. If you want the latest and greatest, you should wait. We'd offer the same advice if you're rocking a GPU that still gets the job done with little-to-no compromises in your gaming experience.

However, if you find yourself dialing back the image quality settings and/or having to drop down a peg on the resolution scale for a smooth gaming experience, then it's perfectly fine to upgrade now even with a new generation of GPUs right around the corner. Then you can busy playing actual games instead of the waiting game.