According to hardware marketplace Massdrop, the high prices of graphics cards as a result of cryptocurrency mining won't be alleviated anytime soon. Massdrop's reasoning? A recent talk with Nvidia, and Nvidia's supposed prediction "that the pricing in the market will continue to go up through Q3 of this year most likely before we start seeing any type of relief."
In a discussion post on a GTX 1080 Ti on Massdrop (login required), tech community lead Brian Hutchins talked about a visit from Nvidia to Massdrop HQ, in which they discussed the causes for the current shortages. "All new cell phones coming out by Apple and Samsung (and others) last year started using the same memory as graphics cards," Hutchins writes. "Apple and Samsung are willing to pay more for this memory to make sure they get it first and all of it that they need. This has created a shortage of memory for the much smaller companies like MSI, Gigabyte, Asus, and EVGA to make graphics cards."
Now right here we have to pause for a moment and point out that all the current top smartphones are using DDR4 and DDR4L, so this is incorrect information. Most modern graphics cards (including all Nvidia 10-series and AMD Vega/Polaris models) use GDDR5. However, DRAM manufacturers may be shifting more production to DDR4 instead of GDDR5 because of the smartphone demand for memory, so it may still be a factor.
There's also the question of future GPUs. Historically, we're due for a new architecture on the consumer cards, as Pascal is nearing its two year anniversary. Either Ampere or Turing (or both) are supposedly launching this year, more likely than not before Q3. Predicting a lack of relief in GPU pricing without seeing what the new products may offer doesn't seem like something Nvidia would do.
We've speculated on what would happen to card pricing if there's a cryptocurrency collapse, and it's possible something like that could reshape the market sooner than Q3, but it's also possible no collapse will happen. "Unfortunately the end to this is not right around the corner and we have not seen the worst of it yet," writes Hutchins. He also went on to pledge that Massdrop will continue to list graphics card deals when it can, and that it's currently selling cards "right above our cost just barely covering back end expenses."
"As long as I can bring them a better deal than what is currently available I will continue to do so. That being said MSRP is kind of out the window at this point so keep your eye on market price VS Massdrop as you will not see any cards out there anywhere close to MSRP for a while to come."
We reached out to Nvidia for comment, but as expected it wouldn't discuss the details of any contracts with its partners. The sentiments Massdrop shares may have just been casual talk as opposed to official statements. Whatever the case, we'd take the prediction with a healthy dose of skepticism.
Regardless, for now graphics cards continue to be priced excessively high. With Massdrop you're committing to a price for a product that you won't receive for several weeks, during which time the market could change. Our advice is to avoid paying substantially more than MSRP for any graphics card, and $950 for a GTX 1080 Ti certainly falls into the seriously overpriced category.