As we head deeper into March, there’s no relief in sight from the ongoing video card shortage. In fact, Nvidia GPU prices are getting worse, at least in the case of the RTX 3080.
This data comes from Michael Driscoll, the same individual who provided analytics on the impact of scalpers on console, CPU, and GPU markets a few months ago. Driscoll spoke with PCMag and provided our sister site with an update on his findings. GPU prices skyrocketed in February across the entire Ampere family, and while they’re trending back downwards now, they’re still elevated far above where they were in January and during 2020:
“The prices stopped going up exactly when the 3060 launched, so that can’t be a coincidence,” Driscoll told us. “Not a huge drop, but significant. For the increases, I have no way of confirming this, but I know many employers give out year-end bonuses in February, and people are starting to file and receive tax returns, which could be driving some of the price increase.”
Cryptocurrency mining could also be driving part of the increase. We have to give credence to the idea, if only because Nvidia has been taking steps to guard against it by reactivating older GPU SKUs like the RTX 2060. The RTX 3060 may have brought prices back towards the Earth, but we’re still talking about a situation in which most GPUs are running between 2x – 2.5x above MSRP.
Tariffs haven’t helped this situation and are responsible for some across-the-board PC component prices. Desktop hardware loadouts aren’t as nice right now as they were a few months ago as far as performance-per-dollar. It’s not clear how much of that is specifically tariffs and how much is being caused by silicon shortages, but the market is out of whack.
We took a stroll around eBay’s completed GPU listings today, and the data certainly backs up Driscoll’s point. While a handful of actual RTX 3000 GPUs appear to have sold for $800-$900, almost every auction that moved for this price turned out to be for digital art or a reprint of a box. One enterprising individual labeled their auction “NO HUMANS,” which piqued our curiosity:
A great many cards have sold for between $1,100 and $2,500. When they’ll actually get back to normal is still a complete unknown. Nvidia has attempted to take steps to limit the appeals of newer GPUs for cryptocurrency mining but has also said that cryptocurrency-related sales only accounted for ~$300M out of more than $5B in total revenue last quarter. Then again, Nvidia has historically had a problem estimating how many of its GPUs are sold for crypto mining. The 2020 lawsuit against Nvidia alleging that it deliberately hid this information is still winding its way through the court system.
If Nvidia can alleviate these shortages and the situation begins to improve, we might see normal-ish conditions in the market by mid-year. The chip shortage could persist until the end of 2021 in some segments, but we don’t have insight into which ones or for how long. It’s still possible to get lucky and snag good deals — I’ve seen the Ryzen 7 5800X in stock at Amazon twice in the past 36 hours — but there’s no way of predicting whether you’ll be able to do so.
Right now, it looks like 2021 will be one of the all-time worst years to attempt to build or buy a new computer.
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