For the most part, graphics card pricing has been out of whack for the past several months, due to both a memory chip shortage and a boom in cryptocurrency mining. It's been depressing for gamers, but the good news is there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel. While graphics cards are still selling for above MSRP, prices are trending downward, and in some cases are significantly lower than just a few months ago.
This is true of both AMD Radeon and NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards. Mid-range and high-end options from both sides are cheaper now than they have been, and hopefully the trend continues towards normalization in the marketplace. That will depend in part on supplies continuing to improve, both in memory chip production and with regards to AMD and NVIDIA kicking out more cards. We also suspect that increased difficulty in pulling a profit from mining cryptocurrency is playing a role.
Whatever the case might be, we are just happy to see prices going down finally, rather than up even higher. Looking at AMD's stack, its Radeon RX 580 8GB cards on Amazon are inching towards MSRP. Take for example this XFX GTS Black Core Edition Radeon RX 580 card. Today it's listed for $410 on Amazon, whereas it spiked to $700 back in January. And just last week, it was selling for $500.
It's not just Polaris that is dropping in price, either. Looking at AMD's newer Radeon RX Vega cards, the company's Radeon RX Vega 56 is on downward slide. There is some fluctuation going on, but recently we saw these cards selling for $650, versus as much as $2,000 in January, and closer to $950 throughout most of March.
Thankfully this trend is not unique to AMD. The same situation is playing out with NVIDIA's mid-range and high-end cards, including its GeForce GTX 1060 6GB, GeForce GTX 1070, and GeForce GTX 1080.
Looking at NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition, it's priced at $699 currently. That's $150 over MSRP, making it a bad buy currently, but it's the price history that tells the story. These cards peaked at $1,200 for a short while in January, were going for as much as $950 in March.
There are too many graphics card models and SKUs to graph them all out, but the trend is the same across the board, save for a few specific third-party iterations here and there. One reason to be optimistic is the introduction of an Ethereum ASIC. Bitmain, the largest supplier of ASICs, has begun taking pre-orders for the Antminer E3, a new Ethash ASIC that is purpose built for mining Ethereum and other cryptos based on the Ethash / Dagger-Hashimoto algorithm. It remains to be seen how that will affect the market in the long-run, but in the short-term, but what's promising is that the Antminer E3 boasts a hash rate performance that is roughly on par with eight GeForce GTX 1080 GPUs, for $800.
What's also promising is that cards are more readily available for purchase. While still above MSRP, there was a long period where vendors were consistently sold out of graphics cards, even at inflated prices. Here's crossing our fingers that things continue to improve.