Why Are Graphics Playing cards So Costly?

Graphics playing cards have gotten progressively costlier through the years. Whether or not you select AMD or NVIDIA, you may have to spend nicely over half a grand on the very least to get your arms on a high-end GPU.

Nevertheless, this wasn’t all the time the case. So, what precisely occurred to the GPU market? Why are customers pressured to shell out hundreds of {dollars} on a flagship graphics card right this moment?

Right here, we take a look at the the reason why graphics playing cards are so costly. Many of those elements are apparent. Others, nonetheless, may shock you.

1. The Lack of Competitors

The dearth of competitors within the mid-2010s and early 2020s, particularly from AMD, has been one of many driving elements behind the ever-increasing GPU costs. When NVIDIA launched the Pascal-based GeForce 10-series graphics playing cards in 2016, the corporate adopted an aggressive pricing technique because it was already dealing with warmth from AMD with its RX 300 sequence of GPUs.

However following this launch, AMD simply fell aside with its RX Vega launch in 2017, because it had no GPUs that had been a match for NVIDIA’s flagship 1080 Ti. And resulting from this lack of competitors, NVIDIA grew to become assured sufficient to launch the newer RTX 2080 Ti for a price ticket of $1,299 in 2018—for a considerably worse value to efficiency than its predecessor. Once more, AMD did not have any playing cards to compete within the high-end market and as a substitute centered on mid-range GPUs.


Two years later, a seemingly extra assured NVIDIA launched the Ampere-based RTX 30-series of graphics playing cards, with the RTX 3090 sitting proper on the high for a whopping $1,500. And if that wasn’t sufficient, the corporate did one higher by launching a extra highly effective RTX 3090 Ti for $2000 in 2022. Though AMD has began competing once more within the high-end GPU market this time round with its Radeon RX 6000 graphics playing cards, NVIDIA nonetheless holds the efficiency crown.

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2. The World Chip Scarcity

Why are GPUs so costly? Economics, my pricey Watson. Provide, demand, and the allocation of assets all decide how out there or costly items or providers are, particularly with what most of the people sees and has entry to.

We’re at present amid a worldwide chip scarcity that would proceed indefinitely. We use semiconductor chips in every part, from computer systems to airplanes; producers from all around the globe have needed to cut back or restrict their manufacturing because of the scarcity.


Chip scarcity has impacted not simply graphics playing cards however different sectors as nicely, together with laptops, telephones, and online game consoles.

3. The COVID-19 Pandemic and Inflation

We get that the COVID-19 international pandemic is previous information, however you may’t deny the truth that it has drastically modified how folks and companies select to work. Extra folks have began to make money working from home, which has resulted in an elevated demand for private electronics. GPU costs are excessive proper now as a result of the market is hungrier for them than ever.

Whether or not it is for work or for leisure, numerous folks need to purchase digital gadgets like computer systems, smartphones, or tablets. This has drastically elevated the demand for graphics playing cards, which is why graphics playing cards are so costly.

One other consequence of the pandemic is damaged provide chains. Whereas COVID-19 is now not the prime cause for this, different elements such because the Russia-Ukraine battle have disrupted international provide chains in 2022.

Which means that folks residing in several elements of the world might not have quick entry to the graphics playing cards they want, forcing them to look into importing from international markets. These outdoors markets, attracting new enterprise for one cause or one other, then turn out to be overburdened; inflation, corruption, and different indicators of imbalance might then ensue.

Lengthy story brief: this is the reason graphic playing cards are so costly. There are fewer GPUs floating round than folks with the means, the necessity, and the money to purchase them, and it is partially COVID’s fault.

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4. US Tariffs on Imports

Throughout Trump’s tenure as US President, new tariffs had been being imposed on imports from abroad weekly, together with a tariff that added a 25 p.c tax on high of the asking value for graphics playing cards imported from China. This further value is handed alongside to US customers by means of larger costs.

The Biden Administration has not introduced any plans to dial again Trump’s tariffs on China. The workforce intends to reevaluate its present commerce agreements earlier than shifting ahead with any new methods.

5. Cryptocurrency Miners

Miners want a superb graphics card and software program to mine cryptocurrencies resembling Ethereum effectively. They typically have excessive necessities for what sort of graphics playing cards they want for his or her set-ups; the quicker the cardboard, the quicker they’ll mine, so higher-end playing cards are extra fascinating.

Though miners have stayed away from stocking up graphics playing cards in 2022, because of the bear crypto market, the tables might flip at any second. A bullish market typically ends in miners shopping for as many graphics playing cards as doable, additional disrupting the demand and provide.

Crypto miners are sometimes educated, well-connected, and adequately funded sufficient to purchase out graphics playing cards and purchase the very best of the very best earlier than anyone else has an opportunity to chop in. Fortunately, NVIDIA has managed to alleviate this drawback with its LHR graphics playing cards, which cuts the mining hash charge in half, successfully making them undesirable to miners.

6. Scalpers Promoting {Hardware} for Revenue

Crypto miners aren’t the one ones crowding out the graphics card market; scalpers in search of financial achieve have additionally disrupted the graphics card market, though they make use of totally different techniques to fulfill their ends.

Scalpers resell items for a fast (and normally giant) revenue. Whereas scalping is not restricted to graphics playing cards, they’re scorching commodities in the intervening time because of the surging demand. In consequence, they’re excellent for reselling at excessive costs to determined customers.

Generally, scalpers might acquire their inventory by means of questionable means. In lots of elements of the world, nonetheless, scalping in any type continues to be a authorized follow. There aren’t any federal legal guidelines prohibiting scalping within the US, though a couple of states have carried out legal guidelines that discourage the follow.

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Through the 2021 vacation interval, US politicians unveiled a brand new invoice—the Stopping Grinch Bots Act—to stop scalpers from utilizing bots to safe items on-line. On the time of writing, this invoice was nonetheless solely a proposal and was but to turn out to be regulation.

7. Higher Specs and Efficiency

Not like the graphics playing cards of the early 2010s, fashionable GPUs use superior supplies and top-of-the-line designs. Usually talking, they’re higher-quality and tougher to fabricate than those from the earlier generations. Merely put, you may contemplate larger manufacturing prices one of many most important the reason why fashionable GPU costs are so excessive.

Producers can solely manufacture what they’ll afford. On account of elevated manufacturing prices, producers should get inventive about maximizing their income with out compromising a product’s high quality or amount.

The present crop of graphics playing cards from NVIDIA and AMD is pushing the boundaries of laptop graphics in additional methods than simply body charges. With cutting-edge applied sciences like ray tracing and FSR (DLSS), these fashionable GPUs are designed to ship the very best gaming expertise doable at larger resolutions like QHD and 4K.

In some ways, you’re technically getting what you pay for, however it’s merely one other issue to think about when scoping out your choices the following time you are able to improve your graphics card.

All of the Causes Why GPU Costs Are So Excessive

We have listed all of the the reason why graphics playing cards are so costly, however sadly, GPU costs aren’t inside our direct management. So long as the demand stays larger than the provision, graphics playing cards will proceed to be costly.

With inflation factored in, it is best to now not anticipate high-end graphics playing cards with sub-$500 value tags as you probably did 5 or 6 years in the past. Instances have modified, and know-how continues to maneuver ahead to ship new and higher experiences to the patron—for a value, after all!