For the past six months, every CPU, GPU, and console gamers have wanted to buy has been between difficult and impossible to find, depending on your luck, skill, and willingness to pay scalpers a monthly fee for a chance to buy hardware. We’ve kept an eye on the situation as it has developed, and there’s even the ghost of some good news to report if you’re a console buyer. PC customers, unfortunately, shouldn’t expect relief any time soon.
First, the good news: A new analysis by The Verge shows prices for the PlayStation 5 coming down. More and more systems are selling on eBay for lower prices or aren’t selling at all at sky-high targets. Sean Hollister writes, “Over a seven-day period, eBay moved 5,284 PS5 consoles, and yet plenty of PS5s that were listed didn’t sell. PS5 scalping is becoming less profitable, eBay’s getting flooded, and things are slowing down.”
“Slowing down” is still a careful qualifier, considering that Sony has told people it doesn’t expect big improvements until the back half of the year, but at least the analysis demonstrates positive motion. The Verge’s findings on GPUs were not so rosy.
Now, it just so happens that I performed a similar analysis almost exactly three years ago. Let’s take a look at MSRP data from today against how hot things were running back three years ago. Verge’s data is above, here’s our 2018 data below:
Back in 2018, we had five GPUs out of 16 running more than 2x above MSRP. Today, no fewer than 7 GPUs out of 9 are running above 2x, while two are running above 3x. This is the worst GPU prices have been in my two-decade career. It’s not even close. The cheapest GT 1030 from an OEM brand I recognize (Gigabyte) is $133. The cheapest 1050 Ti is $262. A new RX 580 is currently selling for $649 for the 8GB flavor. The GTX 1080 is no longer on sale at a $500 price point, but the RTX 3070 is supposed to be. The current price of $1,239 as measured by the Verge makes the $776 inflation from several years ago seem nostalgic.
This tweet summarizes the situation quite well:
Today it’s just $540 for a $330 video card.
If you win a raffle.
— Sean Hollister (@StarFire2258) March 15, 2021
GPU manufacturers reportedly expect Nvidia availability to remain scarce into Q3 2021, and we can expect holiday demand to surge for Q4 like always. I’ve tried to remain positive in our various update articles on the GPU pricing debacle, but it increasingly looks like the market will be tight for the entire year. I’m not going to say this means nobody will get a card for MSRP — GPUs continue to ship, and clearly, some customers are getting them at retail — but it doesn’t look like you can depend on getting a GPU at MSRP this year, at any price point. Hopefully, as the year progresses, TSMC will be able to allocate more capacity for GPU manufacturing and finally get ahead of mining demand.