If you’re looking to build a PC today, chances are you’re in trouble. Cryptocurrency mining has driven the prices of GPUs from “inflated” to “utterly absurd.”
In fact, prices are so high, they’re actually higher, in some cases, than we’d expect a person to spend on an entire computer. It’s one thing to say people shouldn’t buy in when a GPU (See on Amazon) is running $50 to $100 over MSRP (and we’ve railed against these kinds of price wars before), but the pricing here is nuts. AMD’s Vega 56 and 64 are running at $800 to $1,500 — and that’s if you can even find a card.
Meanwhile, GTX 1060s are floating around $390, the cheapest GTX 1070 or 1080 ships in an eGPU chassis for $700 (oddly, both the 1070 and 1080 are $700) and a GTX 1080 standalone will cost you an easy $750 to $1,200. Yes, in some cases, GTX 1080s are actually cheaper than GTX 1070s, which would be a weird and wonderful result for people looking to score a video card if either of these GPUs were at anything approaching its proper MSRP.
The problem with the cryptocurrency bubble is that it’s not likely to quit anytime soon. And the price distortions are so high, it’s going to have a significantly negative impact on the PC market as a whole. It’s impossible to recommend people buy into PC gaming when a high-end GPU is the approximate cost of a mortgage payment.
There’s not much hope in midrange cards, either. The RX 570 is selling for $329, while the RX 580 is $429. AMD and Nvidia aren’t making bank here either (well, at least AMD isn’t), because GPU prices are typically fixed by the manufacturer of the chip itself. MSI, Asus, and other vendors set their retail prices themselves, which means it isn’t the GPU manufacturers making money. At least, not over and above selling lots of GPUs.
Bitcoin’s price has been dropping and spiking this week, but there’s little sign the “adventure” is over. GPU prices similarly leapt fairly recently — as recently as a few weeks ago, prices were running high, but not nearly as high as this. These inflations are bad enough to recall the massive inflation that hit AMD GPUs back in 2013 and tanked Hawaii’s uptake in the market. Back then, by the time prices completely returned to normal, Nvidia was already prepping to launch Maxwell and Hawaii’s overall momentum was badly blunted.
These recent price jumps are more equally distributed across Nvidia and AMD, but it’s still a kick in the teeth to gamers who wanted to build new systems right now.