The best time to update your graphics card is now

Players and others users of high-end PC graphics cards (crypto miners, video editors) are experiencing an unusual kind of sticker shock lately: hardware prices have fallen so low, so quickly, that it seems something is wrong do not go.

Just a year ago, gamers who wanted to upgrade from an older graphics card to a next-gen card packed with GPUs like Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3080 or AMD’s Radeon RX 6800 XT simply couldn’t find them without pay huge Ebay markup or get lucky when a supply trickle appeared at retailers like Best Buy or Newegg.

The wind has turned. As anticipation grows for the next generation of graphics cards and card makers attempt to eliminate inventory, and demand from cryptocurrency miners has eased, supply and prices have stabilized . In fact, retailers and manufacturers who sell directly, such as EVGA and MSIare offering discounts on many graphics cards, something we haven’t seen in a while.

There will be many, like those who need the latest iPhone when it comes out, who will choose to wait for the latest and greatest cards at premium prices. But for casual players, this can be a great time to buy, while there is still inventory and prices have returned to normal or even lower.

Why have the prices fallen?

Back in April Jon Peddiea veteran researcher who follows the graphics industry closely, has predicted that a massive price drop could occur soon, with board dealers still burdened with excess inventory.

That largely seems to have played out. But Peddie says what’s happening is that the supply and demand cycles of players in the graphics industry – Nvidia, AMD and now Intel (which is getting into gaming-focused GPUs)—return to predictable normality.

According to Peddie, what got us to the point where graphics cards are disappearing from retail channels and selling at huge margins in secondary markets is a combination of factors, including “mining and recessions , stock market crashes, wars and pandemics, and whatever else you could think of to just screw up that nice predictable curve that we forecasters used to create our models,” he says.

Surprisingly, says Peddie, it wasn’t supply chain issues or Covid itself that caused the shortage, it was scalpers and crypto farms. The Covid factory shutdowns, he says, “lasted maybe a week or two at most”, and the graphics industry operates on cycles of three to five years, so even big disruptions don’t hurt. keep long-term planning and ordering too far away.

But on the demand side, we saw the rise of crypto-mining farms using powerful graphics cards to accelerate their business, and greater demand for cards as old and new players tried to upgrade. their systems during the 2020 pandemic lockdown to play new games.

Now, however, there is much more inventory in retail channels and a refresh cycle of new products is overdue, he says. “It’s price elasticity everywhere,” says Peddie. “If you need a graphics card, now is a great time. You couldn’t do better.

What should you buy?

The type of graphics card to upgrade depends on the type of games you want to play. If you still enjoy the games you played three years ago (say, Surveillance, Controland Apex Legendslike me), you might only need a budget or mid-range card, like something based on Nvidia’s 3060 GPU or something with AMD’s Radeon RX 570 in the price bracket from $200 to $350.

If you want to tackle more demanding novelties or monsters such as Cyberpunk 2077 Where Hitman 3, with all the eye candy set to the highest settings, you might want an Nvidia 3080 or Radeon 6700 XT. Ideally, you want something powerful, but a high-end card might be overkill. The next step down, in the $500-$700 range, is more than enough for most games, and you’re getting a hefty discount. Not everyone wants to pay $1,000 or more for a graphics card, even if it’s upgradable for the next three to five years.

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