Has anyone else noticed how dang expensive graphics cards have become over the last few months? Yeah that’s basically a rhetorical question since I’m sure you have. Not only video cards, of course, but memory as well. What’s the deal?
Well one of the big reasons is quite obvious to all you internet geeks: Bitcoin and the great cryptocurrency craze of 2017. Like the California gold rush of 1849, people are clamoring to mine this new digital gold however they can. This often means using number-crunching graphics processing units (GPUs) — frequently the same hardware that’s in your gaming rig. It’s a story as old as neoclassic economics: more demand plus less supply equals sad gamers everywhere.
I long for the good ol’ days, like way back in 2010, when you could pick up a new, high-end graphics card for about $500. Today, good luck finding a flagship card like the GTX 1080 Ti for under $700.
A quick look at pcpartpicker shows rising GPU prices across the board, with most models more expensive today than they were several months ago at release. The GTX 1050 Ti, for example, is currently trending at $170, about $30-40 more than it cost when it was released a year ago. The GTX 1060 and 1070 have similarly appreciated since their debut. Who would have thought investing in video cards would be a profitable venture (aside from mining)??
Even more dramatic has been the rise in memory/RAM prices. Honestly, this has kept me from doing any serious upgrade to my home computer in three years. Again, a look at the price charts paints a startling picture. The now-standard 16 gigabytes of DDR4 RAM has increased on average from less than $100 to $180+ over the last 18 months. PCGamer suggests that a number of factors are to blame, but most influential perhaps has been the recent mass adoption of DDR4 RAM by cellphone manufacturers. Again, supply and demand.
With any luck prices will begin to stabilize soon as production ramps up and (perhaps!) cryptocurrency begins to lose some of its momentum. That would be welcome news for those like me waiting to buy [hardware] on the dip.