After multiple years of skyrocketing prices, shortages and scalping in the graphics cards market, the crash of cryptocurrencies in 2022 is driving down the cost of GPUs across the board. Shortages first started in 2020, coinciding with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the virus emerged, global production and shipping lines were disrupted, limiting the number of graphics cards produced and shipped to the North American market. Coincidentally, all of the time spent in isolation during these months resulted in increased demand for GPUs, straining the market on both the supply and demand side. Scalpers took control of the market, listing GPUs on secondhand sale sites for more than double the MSRP of the components in some cases. But the market has been coming down to earth in recent months, and the crypto crash gives even more hope to buyers looking for a new graphics card.
The start of 2022 wasn’t any more promising for the graphics card market than the previous two years, despite the recent shift. Russia’s invasion and prolonging conflict with Ukraine were expected to extend the chip shortage because both countries refined and exported critical components used to produce microchips. Furthermore, Intel — one of the largest microchip fabrication companies in the world — said in May that the availability of manufacturing tools would limit the market’s recovery. The market hasn’t entirely reflected the overarching predictions, though. Despite the concerns, Asus slashed the prices of some of its graphics cards in March. Now, the cryptocurrency crash is lowering the demand for graphics cards, bringing down costs.
Though cryptocurrencies hit record highs in 2021, the same can’t be said about 2022 so far. Bitcoin, for example, hit an all-time high of $68,000 in Nov. 2021 but has dropped below $30,000 in 2022. Bitcoin is the most notable and recognizable example, but the market crash has impacted cryptocurrencies of all kinds. Though crypto is pretty well-known as a volatile investment method, even the stock market is suffering. However, the cryptocurrency market is directly correlated to the graphics card market since GPUs power the blockchain. Therefore, when the cryptocurrency market is failing, the price of GPUs crashes, and vice versa.
GPU Prices Dip Below MSRP
Tom’s Hardware has tracked the trends in graphics card prices in 2022, and things are looking grim for GPU sellers — and great for buyers looking for a new card. According to the report, graphics card prices dropped 15 percent in May of 2022, and that’s on top of massive drops earlier in the year. The cost of graphics cards has steadily decreased by 10 to 15 percent each of the last few months, matching the downward trend in the cryptocurrency market. That’s because GPUs are integral to processing cryptocurrency transactions, and when the market is strong, there is a lot of money to be made mining cryptocurrency. When it is weakened, the value of GPUs decreases, flooding the market with graphics cards at prices that can be below MSRPs, in some cases.
Micro Center, a popular U.S. electronics retailer that has maintained stock of graphics cards through the shortages is listing GPUs at shockingly low prices. Buyers can save up to $230 off MSRP on select RTX 3080 and 3090 cards at the company’s stores and find a slew of other cards at or below retail prices. The downside is that consumers can only purchase most cards in-store, and locations are limited to a few metro areas. Best Buy is offering slightly worse deals, at up to $150 off of the sticker price, but locations are more prominent throughout North America. Regardless of where a buyer searches for a graphics card in 2022, they will likely find that the components are both more accessible and more affordable than in recent years.