It’s been a tough few years for… well, actually for everyone. But as a side effect, it has also been difficult for PC gamers hunting for graphics cards. Between the explosion of GPU-based cryptocurrencies, the global shortage of critical semiconductors, and aftermarket speculators looking to profit from both (not to mention the boom in PC gaming during the pandemic), it’s been almost two years since you could reliably buy mid-range graphics cards. and high class at reasonable prices. But everything passes, and it seems that the worst of the lack of GPUs is behind us.
The turning point was the catastrophic fall in the value of the cryptocurrency. To summarize a complex topic, the bubble of speculative investment in bitcoin, ethereum and other cryptographic tokens has finally burst. After skyrocketing to nearly $70,000 last November, bitcoin has fallen by less than a third of that amount, with its associated cryptocurrencies experiencing a similarly sharp fall. The reasons are complex and exacerbated by several additional factors, such as the loss of investor confidence even in cryptocurrency exchanges. But suffice it to say that we are in for a long crypto winter and gamers are ready for a snowy day.
With the value dropping like a rich teenager’s first Ferrari, and the power and computational costs of actually “mining” cryptocurrencies continuing to rise, mining simply doesn’t make economic sense for most people anymore. Thus, everyone from large “industrial” miners to hobbyists who have put together a rig with multiple GPUs are reluctant to buy new hardware and may want to sell their existing GPUs for cheap.
What was once a double whammy of market forces keeping GPUs out of the hands of gamers has more or less completely changed. While shortages of chips and labor still exist, falling demand for new cards and an oversupply of used cards in the secondary market are bringing prices back to pre-pandemic levels. In some cases, we even see discounts on high-quality, high-margin hardware.
If you feel like waiting even longer, there are some pretty good reasons to do so. New generations of graphics from Nvidia and AMD are expected later this year if all goes well. In addition, for the first time in decades, a new player has entered the market: Intel will introduce its discrete desktop GPUs globally in the second half of 2022. And with the introduction of PCIe 5, there will be a pretty significant shift in compatibility.
But frugal and patient PC builders will always find a reason to wait. For the first time in a long time, we have a good reason to buy and build right now. If you’ve been waiting a year or more to find a fair price or even a graphics card deal, pull the trigger before someone decides we need to mine NFTs in space or something.