As we all know, graphics card prices are falling – at least on the best auction sites. If you’ve been following recent computer and gaming news, this won’t shock you.
But the fall in prices on eBay really tells us only one thing: the much-maligned market for scalpers is finally drying up. People are no longer paying these inflated prices. We’re still waiting for prices to come down at Amazon and other major first-party retailers. If you’ve been putting off buying a graphics card, chances are you’ve still been waiting for that golden MSRP listing.
This got me thinking: what do retailers think will happen next? When – if at all – do they expect prices to stabilize?
To find out, I asked a number of retailers in the US and UK what they think. I also asked about the advent of lite-hash-rate graphics cards on the market – GPUs that are poorer for cryptocurrency mining, if you’re unfamiliar. This is good background information to have since graphics card prices are so strongly tied to the profitability of crypto mining, and because readers have asked us about it before.
Most retailers were reluctant to respond. But Tyler Davies, head of PC components at Box.co.uk, was happy to talk to us. As one of the UK’s largest computer retailers, Box.co.uk has been battling the inflated graphics card market for 18 months, and Davies is watching the region closely.
Did lite-hash-rate GPUs make a difference?
First, I asked if the LHR cards had any impact on demand. Davis said:
“Initially, yes, we saw a slight drop in demand for LHR cards compared to standard cards, but given the intensification of the market…we quickly saw demand for LHR cards increase by a month. on the other.”
Many editorial sites, YouTubers, and other industry commentators have concluded that graphics card prices are correlated with crypto prices. Simply put, if demand is still extremely high for these cards, chances are there will still be enough player demand to keep these prices inflated at major retailers – for a while, at least.
Based on Davies’ answer, my guess is that the LHR cards haven’t had the satiating impact on the gaming market that Nvidia was hoping for. If demand is still very high for LHR cards, it likely means either players are starting to gobble them up at increased rates or crypto miners are considering clever workarounds. It’s probably a bit of both.
Interestingly though, I also asked if we should expect more LHR cards in the future, to which Davies replied, “I would expect more LHR cards to come from Nvidia given that the Crypto mining is still going strong and the demand for graphics cards outside of gaming use is still going strong.”
Crypto isn’t going anywhere, that’s obvious. But Box seems fairly confident that Nvidia will commit to more LHR cards in the future – most likely with increasingly sophisticated throttling methods. The players hope so in any case.
So when will GPU prices drop?
Then I asked the golden question: do you expect graphics card prices to drop, and if so, when? To this, Davies replied:
“I expect GPU prices to realign in the market, given that the market boom is now coming to an end. By the end of April, beginning of May, we should start to see things return to a more attractive level. the price.”
To my knowledge, this is one of the first estimates given by a major retailer. It’s intentionally vague, of course, omitting any ballpark figures on what an “attractive price” might be, but its suggested date will be good news for many.
And, it’s a lot sooner than I would have expected too. Previously, my most educated guess (admittedly playing it safe) was a 30% price hike by the end of the year.
Let’s say we see that prediction come true by the end of April – not by the end of 2022. If so, we’re well on our way to scoring a shiny new card without the prospect of being completely ripped off. Huge grains of salt aside, there’s plenty to hope for.
Conclusion: when to buy a GPU?
So should you save your pennies for the end of April and then rush to get yourself a GPU? Good, maybe. Davies’ predictions are hopeful, but there are caveats that could throw a spanner in the works.
First, we are currently in a crypto market bounce. After a disastrous start to the year, we are now seeing many currencies (including Ethereum) starting to rally again. This boom and bust nature makes it very difficult to predict what will happen down the line. Could we see Ethereum mining make a huge comeback before moving to proof of stake? If so, graphics card prices could start to climb again.
It’s also worth noting that the graphics card market is, in general, rosier at the moment in the UK than in the US, where prices have resisted more stubbornly. Box is a British retailer, and Davies’ comments mostly reflect the state of the market on this side of the pond. As someone who tracks pricing in both territories, I’d say the US is headed in the right direction, but way behind on pricing and availability at Newegg and other big names retailers. In short: it’s wise to push those estimates a bit further if you’re based in the US.