Abnormally high GPU pricing has been an issue for a long time now, but things really hit a peak when AMD launched its Radeon RX Vega series last month. Immediately, the graphics cards were nearly impossible to find, and those that were in stock were found with seriously inflated prices - sometimes with a nearly $200 premium due to price gouging merchants playing the supply and demand game. Unfortunately, it also appears that consumers looking at picking up an NVIDIA graphics card are also now starting to feel the burn of a higher street price.
While AMD cards are often sought out first for their cryptocurrency mining prowess (with Ethereum for example), NVIDIA's GeForce 10 series has also more recently shown strong crypto-crunching chops. Naturally, that means miners are seeking out these cards as well now, increasing demand, and ultimately the pricing that everyone else will end-up paying as a result.
Supply and demand is one thing causing GPU prices to rise, but so too is the fact that GDDR memory prices are also going up, something that will inevitably increase pricing for higher-end cards with large amounts of memory on board. In talking to Asian equipment manufacturers, analyst Vijay Rakesh found that NVIDIA could end up shipping more GPUs this quarter than originally anticipated, which should make the cards cheaper - but not so. Other predictions show a 40 percent price hike to DRAM in the near-term, due to shortages, which would be the most significant increase recorded in many years. The increased DRAM pricing of course means that will also trickle down to graphics cards, raising their cost basis.
We're living in a strange time, or at least a very different time, where graphics cards are concerned. GPUs have been popular for general compute workloads for quite some time now, but it would have been hard to predict a decade ago what the battle would look like today, which is essentially "miners vs. gamers." In fact, it's almost become a faux pas to call them "gaming" cards, given their rich compute capabilities. Either way, whether or not this kind of supply issue is a short-lived problem is hard to gauge, but at this point, it seems like compute demand is only growing and so too will pricing as a result.