A couple of weeks ago we contemplated, with astonishment, that the price of graphic cards went up again. In this article we made an analysis of the situation, identified the culprits and saw that the situation is not going to improve in the short or medium term. We will not start to see a real improvement in prices until 2022 at the earliest and by that I donâ€™t mean theyâ€™re going to magically normalize, but we will start to see slight improvements, in theory.
That’s the reality that we have on the table right now. HoweverI do have one concern that has been on my mind for the last few days, which has been the result of my constant review of the technology landscape over the last year and a half, both the graphics card market and the tech industry in general. My concern is that the situation may never return to normal, meaning that we may not get back to where we were until October 2020. I donâ¤?t want to sound like a prophet of doom, but thatâ¤?s the feeling I have right now.
If we stop to analyze for a moment the situation that the cryptocurrency mining market is experiencing, we see that on this occasion the bursting of the second bubble has had a minimum durationand has not been enough to facilitate the long-awaited normalization of the graphics card industry. In addition, the measures taken by NVIDIA, AMD and the various retailers have not helped to normalize prices.
It’s not complicated to explain, and it’s not complicated to understand. Limiting the mining performance of GeForce RTX 30 graphics cards has had minimal impact, and the same applies to sales restrictions to reduce the impact of resale. In the end, the real problem is much deeper than what we see, and the images, which we see on social networks, of pallets full of new graphics cards going straight into the hands of the big miners are a clear example of this.
To all this we must add, moreover, the scarcity of the semiconductor marketand other components necessary for the manufacture of graphics cards. This is a well-known issue which, as we all know, is not only preventing an accelerated increase in production, but is also driving up costs, due to the increase in the price of silicon wafersÂ at different nodes.
Finally, we should not forget that even now that there is stock available of all the new generation graphics cards, prices have not only not gone down, but are still increasing. This is a bad sign, but at the same time we can make a slightly positive reading, and that is that if there is stock it is because the demand is not as high as it used to be, and production is not as limited. Tying things together, we could think that retailers are also resisting to lower prices because they know that, in the end, the user will pay “whatever it takes” to get a new generation graphics card.
How to deal with the crisis in the graphics card industry
After this simple but important analysis of the current reality of the sector, I would like to share with you a series of recommendations that will help you to face this shortage of graphic cards. This time, I’m going to go into much more detail, I’ll be more precise and I’ll give you more advice so that you can all find what you need, depending on your needs and your budget, the best alternative to face this reality.
Before we start, it’s important to keep in mind that the market situation could change suddenly. It’s unlikely because, as I said, right now the circumstances in the graphics card industry have created a perfect hotbed but it is something that we must keep in mind, and that is why it is advisable to periodically check the sale prices of the different graphic cards that may interest us, as there may be an interesting offer at any given time.
Now we are ready to get into the tips I promised you. As always, if you have any doubt about it, you can leave it in the comments and we will try to help you to solve it. In any case, I want to point out, before we start, that right now the best thing to do is, plain and simple, wait for prices to normalize to buy a graphics card.
1.-Learn the recommended prices of graphics cards
This is essential to have the foundation we need for deduce if that graphic card we are interested in has a good priceor if on the contrary it is too inflated. Knowledge is power, and in this case it is fundamental to establish that minimum base from which each graphic card starts, and to determine to what extent a certain price increase can be acceptable.
For example, if we see a Radeon RX 6700 XT available for 550 Euros, and it is a high quality custom designed model, could be an acceptable investmentas the reference model costs 489.99 euros. However, if we see it for 700 euros it would clearly be a bad buy, always taking this recommended price as a reference.
Remember that each assembler uses different designs and implements very different qualities of constructionso premium graphics cards can cost up to 300 Euros more than the reference model. With this in mind, let’s take a look at the recommended prices of the new generation graphics cards from AMD and NVIDIA:
- Radeon RX 6600 XT: $389.99.
- Radeon RX 6700 XT: £489.99.
- Radeon RX 6800: €599.99.
- Radeon RX 6800 XT: €699.99.
- Radeon RX 6900 XT: €1,099.
- GeForce RTX 3060: €335.
- GeForce RTX 3060 Ti: £419.99.
- GeForce RTX 3070: £519.99.
- GeForce RTX 3070 Ti: £619.99.
- GeForce RTX 3080: £719.99.
- GeForce RTX 3080 Ti: £1,199.
- GeForce RTX 3090: €1,549.
2.-Try to improve the performance of your graphics card
This could help you extend its lifespan, and allow you to wait a little longer before you have to upgrade. Improving the performance of your graphics card doesn’t have to be complicated, we’ve already explained how to do it safely and without spending money in this article, but it is important to keep in mind that the actual result, i.e. the improvement you will get, can vary a lot depending on the graphics card you have.
For example, on a low-end graphics card the improvement will be minimal, and at the end you will find yourself in the same situation you were in at the beginning. This is normal, since this kind of models have, as a base, very low specs and they offer very low performance.
In contrast, some graphics cards can improve significantly and offer an increase of several FPS which, in the end, will make a clear difference in certain titles. In this sense, the GTX 970 and GTX 980 Ti are two of the models that improve the most with a simple overclock, I can confirm this since I had both graphics cards.
You should also not forget that, in the end, be aware of the limitations of your graphics card can also help you to cope better with each game. In addition to this, adjusting the graphics settings of your games, following a suitable pattern to minimize quality loss, will improve performance, making the situation more bearable and allowing you to stretch the life of your graphics card a little further.
3.-Buying a laptop, or an APU, may be a good idea
Some may tell me that pre-assembled PCs can also be a good option, but the truth is that, seeing the prices they currently move, I do not agree at all. For example, a preassembled PC from PC components, which integrates a GTX 1660, a Ryzen 5 1600AF, 16 GB of RAM and a 480 GB SSD + a 1 TB HDD is priced at 962 euros. By 999 euros we could buy an ASUS TUF Dash F15 laptop with a 6GB RTX 3060 Mobile.
Gaming laptops have become an excellent alternative to get out of the way if we need to change our PC. I am not exaggerating, for 580 euros we can find gaming laptops with a GTX 1650, and if we go to the 800 euros range we can find much more interesting configurations. In the end, for a little more than it would cost us the mid-high range graphics cards we can take a complete team capable of delivering excellent performance in 1080p and 1440p (in the latter resolution from a GTX 1660 Ti).
APUs have also become an interesting option in certain cases, as they integrate a relatively powerful GPU that allows you to play certain games smoothly in 1080p. However, we must be aware of their limitationsSince it is an integrated GPU, it relies on RAM to be used as graphics memory, so it is affected by the low bandwidth of using a 128-bit bus (dual-channel RAM) and DDR4 modules. This will improve with the arrival of the DDR5 standard.
On the other hand, remember that AMD APUs use a design, at the CPU level, based on Zen 3, but with important particularities that, in the end, reduce their performance, and place them halfway between Zen 2 and Zen 3. This is mainly due to the reduction of the L3 cache from 32 MB to 16 MB.
4.-Second hand market has improved
And this has been quite a surprise, really. I think that this is mainly due to the fact that there was no stock of graphics cards beforewhich allowed anyone to ask crazy prices for something as modest as a GeForce RTX 2060. Now that there is availability of graphics cards like the RTX 3060 and the Radeon RX 6600 XT, the used market has had to adjust to realityand this has led to a considerable drop in prices.
This is not to say that the prices of used graphics cards have completely normalized, but it is possible to find interesting options at reasonable prices by looking around. For example, i’ve even seen some RTX 2060 for 300 eurosa high price for what it is, but reasonable considering the reality of todayâ¤?s market.
If we look for older graphic solutions the prices go down, obviously, although some people still try to sell them at ridiculous prices. In this sense, I have seen some GTX 970 with prices of up to 300 eurosthe same as that RTX 2060 would cost, but I also found a unit for 140 eurosa figure that, without being really good, is Â “reasonableÂ”, taking into account everything we have said about the reality of the graphic sector.
In conclusion, if you have no choice but to buy a graphics card, the second hand market represents, right now, a more interesting option than a few months ago. Do not hesitate to take a look, you may find graphics cards at an acceptable price, but I recommend you to take it very calmly, as the situation is quite unstable and price swings can be huge.
5.-Xbox Series S is a fantastic alternative
PS5 and Xbox Series X are completely sold out, and it’s almost impossible to get one at their recommended retail price, but fortunately Xbox Series S hasn’t suffered the same fate. This console has a good level of stock, and it’s it can be bought without any problems for only 299 eurosa very good price for a new generation console that is capable of good 1080p performance.
To understand it better, let’s remember its specifications:
- AMD APU with 8-core, 16-threaded Zen 2 CPU clocked at up to 3.6 GHz (8 active threads, 3.4 GHz with 16 active threads).
- RDNA 2 GPU with 1,280 shaders at 1,565 MHz, 80 texturing units, 32 raster units, 20 ray tracing acceleration units, 4 MB L2 cache, 128-bit bus.
- 4 TFLOPs on FP32.
- 10 GB of GDDR6 (8 GBÂ at 224 GB/s and 2 GB at 56 GB/s).
- 512GB SSD at 2.4GB/s with uncompressed data and 4.8GB/s with compressed data.
- Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1, Dolby TrueHD with Atmos sound.
- Includes a wireless remote.
Not bad for 299 euros, right? With that kind of money we couldn’t buy any current mid-range graphics card, actually, the closest we have found is a GTX 1050 Ti, which is around 250 euros. Needless to say, itâ€™s not worth it, as itâ€™s a 2016 graphics card that is no longer capable of moving all current titles in 1080p while maintaining a good level of quality and fluidity.
The graphics card crisis, and the speculation around the graphics card and Xbox X Series and PS5, has made the Xbox S Series a real lifesaver, and a fantastic option if you want to enjoy a next-gen experience for cheap. Worried about the cost of the games? Well, you shouldn’t be, because you can get your hands on Game Pass and start playing lots of titles for just $12.99 a month.