Over the past few months, we’ve talked about the GPU market running hot and the corresponding impact on customers. What we haven’t discussed are the specifics of how the cryptocurrency craze is hitting specific GPUs or how the impact varies between AMD and Nvidia. No graphics card (See on Amazon) is a great deal right now, but there’s quite a bit of variance between how bad they are.
There is, however, a substantial caveat to this discussion: GPU prices have been bouncing around since the cryptocurrency market surged and they haven’t exactly settled yet. The prices in this article are current according to Newegg as of Feb. 27, 2018, but they could be obsolete as early as the next morning. There’s not much we can do about that.
Let’s start with Nvidia. Here’s the current list of Nvidia GPU prices, the current MSRP on GPUs, and the list prices.
The GT 1030 and 1050 are both well above MSRP, but the difference in actual dollars isn’t huge — an extra $ 22 for a GT 1030 and an extra $ 40 for a 1050. Neither one of these GPUs is a good deal at this price, but they’re still affordable if you grit your teeth. Above the GTX 1050, things start getting uglier. The GTX 1060 6GB is worse than the 3GB variant and the GTX 1070 is running at more than double its base MSRP. The 1070 Ti and 1080 don’t jack up the cost curve quite so much, with the GTX 1080 just $ 8 more than the GTX 1070 Ti. The GTX 1080 Ti is “only” inflated by 1.3x, though this is enough to peg it to the $ 900 price point.
There is a bit of a loophole on the GTX 1080. Gigabyte is selling an external enclosure with a GTX 1080 priced at $ 700.
Back in 2012 to 2014, AMD was the absolute king of cryptocurrency market; Nvidia’s then-current Kepler architecture couldn’t hold a candle to the mining performance of an AMD GPU. This well-known fact may account for some of the reason why AMD’s cost curve is so different (it’s one of the only things I can think of that might be the cause).
AMD’s cost inflation is actually much worse than Nvidia’s, but also more irregular. The subsequent competitive positioning is also much worse. The GTX 1050 Ti should face off against the RX 570, and AMD is quite competitive at that price point normally, but with the RX 570 running $ 349 compared with the 1050 Ti’s $ 229, it’s no contest. The RX 580 8GB is actually cheaper than the lowest-priced RX 580 4GB, but that doesn’t matter either, given that the RX 580 is $ 40 more expensive than the GTX 1060 6GB.
AMD’s Vega parts, meanwhile, eat huge price increases. Vega 56 is running 2.5x over MSRP, while Vega 64 is 2.4x over MSRP.
These tables illustrate why we aren’t recommending anyone upgrade their GPU right now. While you can possibly swallow an extra $ 20 for a GT 1030, every GPU past that stacks on a larger financial hit in actual dollars for both AMD and NV. Pascal’s age also increases the likelihood that Nvidia has new hardware coming to replace it.
AMD isn’t expected to introduce new hardware in the near-term future, but its GPU prices have been driven into the stratosphere to an even greater degree than Nvidia’s. As much as we hate to say it, some owners will find it more cost-effective to build an entirely new PC than to upgrade an existing GPU. These issues are terrible for the retail channel and individual DIY builders, but they’re great for mainstream and boutique manufacturers. In some cases, we’ve seen modest gaming systems selling for less than the cost of a high-end GPU.