GPU prices started going up (roughly) in March of 2020 when all hardware went up in price or went out-of-stock. It happened slowly at first, then faster and faster, until widespread unavailability became the norm!
During the worst of the worst, it was so bad that you could not buy most graphics cards, no matter what price you were willing to pay! I am very glad that the worst is over.
But we aren’t out of the woods just yet.
The state of GPU prices
It is hard to pinpoint a specific date when things began to get better (the author of this article was curled up in a corner crying over the Intel 7nm rebadge fiasco), but things were clearly better by the middle of 2021. By early August, all PC parts were not just in-stock, but available for MSRP. All except GPUs.
Ah, GPUs. The curse and salvation of every gamer, miner, and scalper. How is a man supposed to kill the Eye of Kilrogg in 8K at 400 FPS without a good graphics card?! Or generate a shiny new Cypruscoin—which is not a meme, and will surely inflate in price by tomorrow to make us all billionaires that own the moon?! Modern life creates a serious need for GPUs, and that need has been hard to satisfy for a while.
The price inflation and stock shortage affected GPUs so horrendously that GPU prices remain the only PC hardware prices that have not returned to normal. Things are better, yes, but they are not good. Depending on your luck, the time of the day, and the position of Jupiter relative to Neptune, GPU prices are between 50% to 100% higher than MSRP. Now, that’s still better than the height of the stock shortage, when prices were up to triple the MSRP. Whew!
It felt horrible to recommend US$200 cards that were selling for US$600 or more. But that is about to change completely… we can now feel horrible about recommending US$200 cards for US$400!
Our Newest Method of Addressing the Graphics Card Situation
In order to make real-world recommendations that can help PC buyers, we looked at good cards that are 2 or 3 generations old and added them back into the guide at real-world prices.
We have updated all the performance numbers of all the cards that we recommend, and we are grouping cards that perform close to each other, even if the prices are different. Prices are still high, still fluctuating, and still slightly illogical.
On the negative side, that means the numbers on our chart may continue to line up poorly with reality in some situations, despite our best efforts. On the positive side, though, that means you might find this week’s US$1,100 alternative card for sale at a much more logical US$800 next week.
A GPU Chart for our Main Chart
The full list of performance numbers, along with the old vs. new placement on our charts, is as follows:
|GPU||PERFORMANCE||ORIGINAL TIER||CURRENT TIER|
|GTX 1650 Super||28%||Fair||Fair|
|RX 5500 XT||30%||Fair||Fair|
|GTX 1660 Super||38%||Good||Very Good|
|GTX 1660 Ti||38%||Good||Very Good|
|RTX 2060||46%||Very Good, Great||Great|
|RX 5600 XT||46%||Very Good, Great||Great|
|RTX 2060 Super||52%||Superb||Superb|
|RX 5700 XT||58%||Excellent||Excellent|
|RX 6600 XT||59%||Excellent|
|RTX 2070 SUper||60%||Excellent||Excellent|
|RTX 2080 Super||69%||Excellent||Outstanding|
|RTX 3060 Ti||73%||Excellent||Outstanding|
|RX 6700 XT||75%||Exceptional|
|RTX 2080 Ti||80%||Outstanding||Exceptional|
|RTX 3070 Ti||87%||Enthusiast|
|RTX 3080||100%||Exceptional, Enthusiast||Extremist|
|RX 6800 XT||101%||Exceptional, Enthusiast||Extremist|
|RX 6900 XT||106%||Extremist, Monstrous||Monstrous|
|RTX 3080 Ti||108%||Monstrous|
|RTX 3090||110%||Extremist, Monstrous||Monstrous|
(Items with names in purple were not on the list before this update)
If you need to buy a graphics card, now you know what to look for… as well as what to expect.