For nearly two years, you’ve had to be incredibly lucky, skilled, or patient to get an Nvidia or AMD graphics card at MSRP. We’ve liveblogged and livetweeted that hell of trying to buy a GPU online, fighting against an army of bots to navigate the buggy websites of retailers who didn’t have enough reason to care.
But, yesterday, I did the unthinkable. I saddled up to Best Buy’s website eight hours after the retailer’s weekly drop and bought an RTX 3070 Ti Founders Edition for its $599 MSRP.
I had a $499 RTX 3070 Founders Edition in my cart, too. And those finds weren’t a fluke: both of those GPUs were still available when we checked back this morning. The 3070 FE is still there as I type these words. So is the 3070 Ti. AMD.com currently has the Radeon RX 6750 XT, 6900 XT, and 6950 XT in stock for MSRP, too.
I dashed over to eBay to run the numbers — the same ones I’ve been compiling since December 2020 to show you the true street price of a GPU. Sure enough, this week is the week the most popular graphics cards finally hit MSRP on the secondhand market as well. The RTX 3080 is hovering around $700, the exact price Nvidia originally said it would cost.
Over the past six months, the street price of a modern GPU has been chopped in half. Almost every graphics card we track fell by more than 50 percent on eBay since January — 30 percent of that since April alone.
It was also Nvidia’s most popular and best bang for your buck cards — the RTX 3060 Ti, RTX 3070, and RTX 3080 — that saw the biggest dips. Of those cards, the 3060 Ti is the only used GPU that can’t be had at or under MSRP on average. Meanwhile, an average AMD card will cost you $100 less than MSRP.
The secondhand market even seems to be normalizing prices of Nvidia and AMD’s more overpriced GPUs. You can buy a used 6900 XT for $300 off its $999 MSRP, and I saw eBay buyers get an average of $318, $466, and $540 off Nvidia’s 3080 Ti, 3090, and 3090 Ti, respectively.
I think it’s safe to say: the great GPU shortage is over.
But should you actually buy one? That’s a way tougher question — because the forces that are finally driving supply and demand to meet are not all in your favor.
WHY YOU MIGHT OR MIGHT NOT BUY A GPU RIGHT NOW
First, let’s state the obvious: the chips that power these GPUs are now two years old. In October 2020, $500 might have been a great price for an RTX 3070, but is it still a great price in July 2022 now that new ones are on the way? The RTX 40 series and AMD’s RDNA 3 are both expected this fall and could offer significant performance jumps.
That goes double if you’re looking at one of the cards that Nvidia and AMD introduced later in the GPU shortage at a higher MSRP than their performance would suggest. I recommend taking a look at this handy 3DCenter / VideoCardz chart of how much GPUs should cost, normalized against an RTX 3070.
The age of these GPUs might matter even more if you’re considering a used GPU since it might have already been worked for those two years and might have even spent time doing hard labor in a cryptocurrency mining rig.
Reportedly, one big reason used GPU prices are tanking is because crypto miners are flooding the market with cards that are no longer profitable due to the ongoing crypto crash, where the total market cap of all crypto assets has fallen by two-thirds since its peak of $3 trillion last November. (Miners have been switching away from GPUs for some time, though.)
Whether it was used for gaming or mining, maybe buy locally or from a site with good buyer protection — there have been reports of damaged GPUs among the flood. If you do get the chance to test, here’s a Gamers Nexus video that can walk you through potential red flags.
Prefer new instead of used? Outside of my Best Buy Founders Edition finds, things aren’t quite as rosy — because you’re going to have to deal with the desire of Nvidia and AMD board partners and retailers to make as much money as possible now that they have inventory to clear.
In its last earnings call, Nvidia CFO Colette Kress suggested that supply had just about caught up to demand. “Channel inventory has nearly normalized, and we expect it to remain around these levels in Q2,” Kress said. But supply chain sources tell Digitimes (via VideoCardz) that Nvidia and AMD may now actually have too many cards and are trying to order fewer new ones from TSMC because they allegedly overestimated demand.
Nvidia has reportedly pushed back its launches of the RTX 4090, 4080, and 4070 to as late as October, November, and December, respectively, according to Wccftech and VideoCardz, which might mean today’s GPUs won’t be yesterday’s news for a bit longer. But, that means it might also be longer before current-gen RDNA 2 or RTX 30 series GPUs see a price cut.
Falcodrin, the GPU hunter I profiled last December, tells me that new GPU prices have been all over the place, and it’s not hard to find evidence of that: Best Buy is stocking third-party RTX 3060 Ti cards that cost substantially more than the more powerful RTX 3070 I had in my cart. If you want to buy a card with a fancy cooler for twice MSRP, you’ve still got plenty of options because an across the board price drop hasn’t yet arrived.
Instead of drops, they’re still trying to attract customers with sales, like EVGA’s anniversary sale today, where an RTX 3080 can be had for only $80 over MSRP and both the 3080 Ti and 3090 Ti are under MSRP.
But, if you’re the kind of person who will be satisfied with a current-gen GPU instead of waiting for next gen, it sounds like those price cuts might be coming. Seeing how some first-party GPUs can be had at MSRP, EVGA’s sales, and that 3DCenter price index, it’s not hard to see room for the rest of the prices to sink.
That said, it depends on whether gamers notice that the prices they were waiting for have finally returned. Moor Insights & Strategy analyst Anshel Sag thinks they will. “GPUs will likely return to normal levels as people who held off on building PCs or buying GPUs actually start to build them, now that prices have come back down to reality,” he tells me, adding that “There’s a lot of pent up demand from actual gamers and consumers that have been holding off for the last two years due to the chip shortage, supply chain disruptions and crypto bubble.”
And while some people are tightening belts due to inflation or will wait for next-gen GPU launches this fall, he doesn’t think they’ll keep gamers away. “You have to remember that for a lot of these consumers, this is their primary source of entertainment and socialization,” he says, adding that many who’d wait for an RTX 40 or RDNA 3 card “understand that the latest and greatest will also be a lot harder to get their hands on than what’s already available now.”
But he agrees that the GPU shortage is now over. The prices speak for themselves.