The Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) is among the most vital components of a PC. Unfortunately, for some time now, it has also been one of the most expensive ones as well.
Over the last few years, GPU prices have risen considerably. Although the prices were going up even before it, the Covid-19 pandemic drastically sped up the process. As a result, in 2023, the GPU market saw some graphics cards selling for up to 91% more than their MSRPs (manufacturer’s suggested retail price).
Amid the rocketing prices, the question that PC owners were desperate to get an answer to was: Will GPU prices ever go down?
And as per recent studies, the answer to that question is in the affirmative. According to Tomshardware.com, a 9% decrease in GPU prices was recorded in the first half of March. And this decrease is steadily continuing.
The Cause Behind the Price Hike
The main reason behind the increased GPU prices was simply a shortage of supply.
Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, people had started hoarding GPUs during the increase in Ethereum mining. And if things weren’t bad enough during that time, the pandemic came in December 2019, and the world froze up.
We all remember those days, don’t we?
Due to the lockdowns and trading restrictions, there was a huge dearth of GPUs in the market. This led to a very lopsided balance of supply and demand: with the overwhelming tilt being on the latter side.
During this shortage, retailers took advantage of the situation and started selling the products in their inventories at larger profits.
Some people also resorted to ‘scalping’ and gathered up stockpiles of GPUs to sell for exorbitant prices later on.
And to make things worse, people kept on buying the cards at these prices, which further bloated the confidence of the sellers. But then again, the general public is not to blame.
A lot of people who didn’t have PCs were forced to buy them since the pandemic had brought the reign of ‘working from home’ in its wake.
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How Bad Was the Price Hike?
To get an example of just how much the GPU prices rose, let’s look at a couple of examples (the figures are taken from Dr Jon Peddie’s research posted on Graphic Speak).
The GeForce RTX 3090 Ti had an MSRP of $1,999. However, after the price surge, it was selling for around $3,820 in March 2023. This was a staggering 91% increase in the retail price.
Similarly, the RTX 3080 came with an MSRP of $699, and it sold for $1,220 in March 2023. This was a 75% increase.
The GeForce RTX 3090 had an MSRP of $1,499. In March 2022, it was selling for a 42% surplus at $2,129.
There is one main thing that we can understand from the above: the retailers sure had fun.
The Solution for Bringing the Prices Down
Recently at the beginning of 2022, the shortage has somewhat lessened, and the supply-demand balance has been restored to some degree. Although prices are still on the higher side, they are coming back to normal.
This basically means that even if the current situation continues, the prices are eventually going to revert to normal.
However, to boost this process, i.e., normalizing the prices, there is a step that all PC owners can take. And that is to simply abstain from needlessly buying GPUs.
While people who have a genuine need should go right ahead and buy one for themselves, enthusiasts should practice some control on themselves and patiently make do with their current ones.
If a consistent abstention from buying GPUs is observed by everyone collectively, the prices are going to plummet drastically.
And even those people who have a real need should try and not buy the cards that are currently being sold at high prices. This can (and most probably will) make retailers more confident with the inflated prices.
Rather, only those cards should be bought that are relatively closer to their MSRP. According to the study by Dr Peddie cited above, Nvidia cards had seen a much higher price hike as compared to AMD GPUs.
So, for the time being, PC owners should try and get AMD cards in order to show their disapproval of the increased prices.
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The Final Answer and Conclusion
Seeing the current situation, we can hold a strong hope that GPU prices will go back down to normal. Things are already starting to look better.
The main thing that we should keep in mind during all this is that this whole problem started when people began hoarding and bulk-buying GPUs. This happened even prior to the pandemic.
So, if the same thing happens again, viz., the bulk-buying and hoarding, the prices won’t come back to normal as easily. Patience and abstinence are key right now.